IND, the Chicago-based tuner shop, unveils their latest addition to the portfolio of BMW projects: Green Hell BMW M3 Coupe, an update to the last year’s model. As always, IND takes the time to tell us the story behind their project.
“IND as a company is nothing if not extremely lucky. IND’s Green Hell Portfolio Project car was first conceived as a concept immediately following an amazing journey to the home of all European motorsport and BMW’s own home country, Germany. Our yearly pilgrimage to our promised land served as fuel to inspire the original Green Hell project, a car that was built as homage to all things racing and the Nurburgring in particular.
Green Hell was always about pushing the envelope of what’s possible in a street driven M3, and nearly two years ago when the car was first built it was fairly extreme by some standards. When the owner of Green Hell approached us this year to push that envelope even further we knew our luck was in once again, for we had again just completed our yearly pilgrimage to Germany and the Nurburgring, and could not have been more inspired or more motivated to approach the car with new energy and fresh ideas. For us, Green Hell as a Portfolio Project car would once again be a symbol of the human drive to push the envelope. The car represented our endless march toward a constantly moving vanishing point- the desire to be the best, to be the fastest. Even though Green Hell always was and always will be a mixed use street car and track day weapon, this drive to push the boundary is a true reflection of motorsport, in our view, and it is with this drive in mind that we tore into the M3.
Again, the focal point of the project is the car’s engine. Fed compressed air by an ESS stage 2 supercharger kit, the S65 engine in Green Hell is an absolute monster. Generating over 530 horsepower at the rear wheels makes for a car where every supporting modification must be planned around this power level. The acceleration from an ESS stage 2 M3 is brutal. Wringing the car out on the street is more an event than a casual stab of the accelerator- the driver must plan carefully to ensure that nothing is in the car’s path as triple digit speeds appear in a few heart beats. It is this character trait that IND chose to focus on. IND would build Green Hell to be a better car by creating a car that could better harness the amazing power bursting from the rear wheels. We would create a 600 crank horsepower M3 that was forgiving and easy to drive at speed.
Green Hell was an early adopter, and although there were some ESS Supercharged M3s seeing track use in Europe and beyond, supercharging in general had not gained much traction in the E9x M3 community in the United States when we first built the car, and so we had some lessons to learn. Although Green Hell achieved some very strong lap times it’s first season on the track, we realized quickly that the power available from ESS’ stage 2 kit was not something to take lightly. Powering out of corners with the 285 width NT05 tires proved challenging, and we knew some changes had to be made.
Mechanically speaking, getting this precious corner exit grip became our quest when reinventing Green Hell, and we’ve changed the car thoroughly to allow us to use the near 540 wheel horsepower offered by the ESS Supercharger kit. It is this mission that dominated our plan for this year.
We started by widening the already very accommodating rear quarter panels with some custom work. The original sheetmetal was pulled out and reshaped to allow for an inch of additional wheel clearance while keeping a subtle factory-original shape. The wider rear arches made easy work of fitting the 315 width tires installed on Green Hell.
IND contacted BBS Motorsport for the car’s amazing style E88 wheels. These wheels are rarely found far from the racing circuit and are a genuine motorsport wheel. No compromises are made for finish quality, corrosion resistance, or price to ensure that nothing stands in the way of BBS in creating the best possible racing wheel. The three piece construction allows for easy damage repair, and the extremely strong centers will enhance the cornering grip of any car. BBS was kind enough to allow IND to purchase a set of these incredible wheels for Green Hell, and we knew we’d have to give the wheels a special “IND touch” by treating the normally polished outer barrels to a coat of gold that matches the already brilliant gold color of the center. These E88 wheels are sized in 18×9.5 +19 front and 18×10.5 +19 rear, allowing us to use a 275 width front tire with ease.
We had not yet tested the 275/315 tire combination to determine the car’s overall handling balance, but felt it would be a good starting point. This being said, we knew that a good adjustable suspension setup would not only increase the car’s mechanical grip over the factory pieces, but would also give us the ability to tune camber, castor, damping, and spring rate both in bump and in roll, enabling us to arrive at a neutral handling, balanced, and easy to drive car. IND chose to install KW ClubSport coilovers and RD Sport sway bars to handle suspension duties. The ClubSport coilovers have plenty of adjustability in terms of ride height, alignment settings, and damping for our purposes, and RD Sport’s adjustable sway bars add another dimension of tuning possibility with their easy to use stiffness adjustments. The front and rear sway bar have three available positions each which allows for quick and easy tuning of the car’s understeer and oversteer habits. Challenge Engineering chose this project to debut their Aluminum adjustable rear toe arm kit to ensure precise alignment and maximum traction in the rear
Our next move in our plan to increase the car’s grip was to address the aerodynamics. Although last season allowed Green Hell to maintain its street friendly attitude and appearance, we knew that better aerodynamic aids in the front and especially the rear would allow for better performance. Challenge Engineering provided their GT3 complete front aero system consisting of a modular front lip and Carbon-Kevlar splitter. The racing components manufacturer M24 shipped their amazing trunk and rear wing combination all the way from Germany to give Green Hell some much needed rear downforce. The fully adjustable rear wing is cleverly mounted to the trunk in a fashion that does not allow for movement or deflection, but still allows for the trunk to be opened and closed without removal of the wing element. IND custom built a tubular reinforcement bar to tie the two wing uprights together for an even more rigid mounting of the wing.
M24 also contributed to the build by sending us their high performance radiator and oil cooler. Although the E9x M3’s cooling system is impressively robust, adding the oversized coolers will ensure that Green Hell is able to turn lap after lap in any weather, and give the driver the added peace of mind needed to truly push the car to it’s limit.
Once we were confident in Green Hell’s ability to harness the fearsome power of the ESS Supercharged S65 engine, IND’s staff looked to the car’s brakes for our next area of improvement. Brembo’s 365/345mm GT kit had already proven itself with two great seasons of track use both when Green Hell was still a naturally aspirated car and also once Green Hell became the supercharged monster most of you know. IND chose to add some extra brake torque to this already winning combination by using Pagid RS29 pads for long lapping days, and Hawk DTC70 front and DTC60 rear pads for those track days when the absolute best single lap time is necessary- the huge brake torque available from the DTC70 pads is tough to beat!
With Green Hell functioning as it should be, we could begin to consider an aspect of the car’s personality that is just as important to all of us at IND as the performance- the aesthetics of the reborn M3. Having already claimed the Green Hell theme nearly two years ago, we worked to make this year’s version an evolution of the original, rather than a complete redesign. Porsche’s amazing GT3 Signal Green color made its way from the accents of the car to the entire exterior, with the more extreme paint work reflecting the changes made in the car’s performance and body work. The same pinstripe seen on the car in early 2010 remains, but is an even more subtle touch this year in a black color. BMW Edition front and side grilles with an IND tinted lens complete the exterior without distracting from the car’s theme. We carried the brilliant GT3 Signal Green color into the interior by painting the interior trim, and although we felt that a color matched roll bar would push past the point of good taste, we were able to source some Signal Green metallic flake to augment the gloss black of the roll bar. A steering wheel by OMP and IND’s shifter extension complement our custom upholstered Sparco Pro 2000 seats perfectly for an easy to use cockpit whether you’re on the street or on the track.
Finally, after several months of effort Green Hell was complete. This week, we presented the finished car to our client. As he walked through the shop door and laid eyes on the freshly built car for the first time, his eyes visibly widened, and the smile on his face was one of genuine joy. All of us at IND couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear as we walked around the car and showed him some of the more subtle aspects of the project, and seeing our client’s own smile reflected back at us was all we needed to know the project was a success. Despite the praise pouring forth from our client, we knew from the beginning of the project that nothing would be proven during the delivery process. There is only one proving ground for Green Hell, and that proving ground is the track. We had to know that this year’s car was better, faster, more cooperative and easier to drive than last year’s car, and that is exactly what we set out to do as soon as the car was completed.
Once again we returned to the green expanse of our local Autobahn Country Club, this time with a bone to pick. Supercharging an E92 M3 makes the car a terror in a straight line in ideal conditions, but we would not be going in a straight line, and we would not see ideal conditions. We had to prove that Green Hell could finally harness all of that awesome power. Green Hell would have to prove that it was a true trackday weapon during our first shakedown. Our test driver for the day has been a member of Autobahn Country Club since the club’s inception, and has logged enough laps around the track to be within just seconds of the track’s Spec Miata lap record. He is a true motorsport fanatic, and best of all he has no connection with our M3 and could present us with an unbiased opinion.
The skies above Autobahn were a foreboding grey all day, and late October was making its presence felt with rain forecast for the entire day and track temperatures struggling to reach the 50 degree mark. This would not be an ideal day to shake down a brand new car, but we pressed on. We set out on Autobahn’s cold pavement in the afternoon, just after taking care of basic alignment, corner balancing, and tire pressure settings in the morning. We knew that the updates made to Green Hell would make for a better car to drive at speed, but we had not yet proven the car as a package. All of us stood by in nervous anticipation as our guest driver took his first tentative laps in the car.
As the tires warmed and our driver gained some comfort with the new setup, we began to watch the car closely. Green Hell’s lap times were dropping lap after lap as our driver grew more comfortable with the Brembo brakes incredible stopping power and the car’s amazing ability to harness and control the supercharged engine’s pavement-shredding 530 plus horsepower. Even with a basic setup and no time allotted for true suspension tuning Green Hell proved to be easy and forgiving to drive with an incredible amount of grip. All of us waited with happy anticipation for the car to come into the pits for the next round of adjustments and refinements, when very suddenly our fears were realized and the grey skies above Autobahn opened and it began to rain.
We knew immediately that we would not have the opportunity to truly push the car in the remaining few hours of the day, but while our shakedown and tuning day was cut short, we still had some laps to do and everyone at the track with Green Hell wanted to make the best of it. Although our Falken street tires were less than ideal for wet conditions like this, the car performed flawlessly even in this treacherous weather. Although we were not taking lap times in any sort of official fashion, our test driver managed an approximately 1:16 lap time on Autobahn’s North course in soaking wet weather with very little time in the M3. The same driver achieved a personal best time of 1:07 in his 996 GT3 Cup Car with Hoosier slicks installed in dry weather, so of course we all beamed with pride knowing we did quite well for a first test day! We still have a great deal of tuning, adjustment, and proving ahead of us before anyone can say that Green Hell is truly perfectly set, but our first shakedown of the car was extremely encouraging.
Of course, Green Hell is still not a dedicated racing car. Green Hell will always have a complete interior, navigation, air conditioning, a great BMW sound system, and all the other comforts necessary for true mixed use. Lap times, for this reason, must be taken with a grain of salt as they are not exactly what the car was created for. However, everyone who saw the car perform on its first test day knew that we had accomplished our true goal. Green Hell was compliant, forgiving, easy to drive at speed, and ludicrously fast around the track. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have the AC and radio blasting on our way home, either.
Without the many wonderful people in the industry this car as well as our other portfolio projects would not be possible.
Special thanks to
Danni & Jamie@Race technologies
Craig & Eric@BBS USA for the beuatiful E88’s
Roman & AJ@ESS Tuning
Andreas & Ceclia@Vorsteiner
The Autobarn Limited