413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

This E46 drift build was meant to be a budget project, but it’s now turned into a fire-breathing 400whp turbo beast, and that budget’s gone up in smoke…


Words: Elizabeth de Latour

Photos: Jason Dodd

Built to go sideways, this 413whp turbo drift E46 is a serious circuit machine.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

We’ve honestly never met someone who managed to restrain themselves when it came to a build. Sure, people start out with good intentions, small plans, and just a few mods, but it never works out that way. Even when someone has a goal in mind, a plan that involves building something specific without going overboard, the chances of that happening are slim to none. Case in point, Warren Lees. Sure, he’s built himself a drift car, as he set out to do, and that was no accident, but the plan was not to blow the budget creating a 400whp turbo M52 beast. Not that you’ll hear him complaining, mind… Warren is a big BMW fan, owning his first in the shape of an E36 when he was just 19, and he clearly got a taste for 3 Series BMWs because that led to him developing something of a passion for the E46. “All my BMWs are either 325 or 328 E46s,” he grins, and who can blame him? The fourth-gen 3 Series platform is a seriously good offering that still holds up well, even today, but when you learn that Warren runs his own business called E46 Drift Builds UK, you realise quite how far that E46 obsession goes.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

With that knowledge, the fact that we’re featuring an E46 drift build of his will be surprising to precisely no one, but where this project started and what it has become are what makes this build an interesting one. And Warren wastes no time in making it clear that his best intentions to try and keep this build to a budget went out the window pretty quick. “It started as a cheap, sub-£2500 drift car, but the project spiralled out of control,” he laughs. “I found the car 20 miles away, and it was advertised for spares. My plans were to get it back together and see if it was worth spending anything on it,” he explains, and the answer to that question was clearly a resounding ‘yes’, especially considering how much he’s ended up spending.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

“Once the car was back together and in working order, the rear arches were cut out, the rear over-fenders were added, and then the front wings were replaced to make the car wider. Then the BC coilovers wereadded,” Warren tells us, and things just went from there.

The BC Racing coilovers have given this E46 the agility required on track, as well as offering up a huge range of adjustment, allowing Warren to get the car dialled in perfectly. The brakes haven’t been upgraded, with Warren saying that as the car now only weighs 1100kg after its crash diet, the stock stoppers are more than up to the task, though the ABS has been deleted for the track. The other chassis upgrade is the addition of a custom steering lock kit fabricated by Warren, which gives him the ability to get the E46 sideways at ludicrous angles and not run out of lock. The wheels, meanwhile, are 17” XXR 527s which measure a girthy 9.75” across, and they fit perfectly with the whole black and red theme that Warren has going on.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

And speaking of which, this E46 certainly has plenty of flair in the looks department, and that’s exactly what you want from a drift car. “I wanted the car to stand out, and I love red cars,” he grins, and it’s mission accomplished on that front. And as for the black arches, that’s not simply a stylistic choice. “The arches were done in black to hide tyre damage while drifting,” explains Warren, and not only is there a purpose to the colour choice, they give this E46 an even more eye-catching appearance.

Alongside the colour scheme, this E46 has been treated to a selection of other styling additions, with the most prominent one being the widebody kit that Warren mentioned before. It comes from Unique Customs and adds some serious fibreglass flair, giving this 3 Series some real presence, further aided by the high-kick rear spoiler. This E46 also wears some carbon front kidney grilles, DTM-style mirrors and a carbon diffuser which frames the quad exhaust conversion. Of course, a drift build needs serious levels of power, and in stock form, the M52 under the bonnet simply wasn’t going to cut it. “The NA engine was okay but limited in terms of horsepower and torque,” says Warren. “After reading about lots of others in America who have turbocharged theirs, I decided to do mine,” he grins. “I got in touch with a mapper, and he gave me the heads-up on which injectors and MAF I needed to run and the engine build started, changing the exhaust manifold to mount the turbo. The turbo itself is a Garrett GT3582R dual-ball-bearing one with a billet compressor wheel,” and it’s been joined by a selection of supporting mods.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

There’s a modified GReddy intake manifold, a TT Works front-mount intercooler, a Gravity Performance radiator, plus an MT Motorsport external oil cooler. All this combined has endowed this E46 with an impressive 413whp, along with 424lb ft wtq, and that’s more than enough to get the rears spinning up on demand.

Warren has already mentioned the impressive weight loss this E46 has enjoyed, and that was, of course, essential for a full- on competition build like this.

“Drift cars have to be as light as possible and balanced, so all the existing interior had to go,” says Warren, and the interior has indeed been of everything deemed unnecessary. Carpets, rear seats, sound-deadening, basically anything that isn’t necessary has been removed. The rear is taken up by the custom roll-cage that Warren fabricated himself, while up front, there’s a Corbeau Revenge single-piece bucket seat along with an OMP harness, and the standard passenger seat has been retained. Other interior additions include a Sparco deep-dish steering wheel, a taller shifter, a hydraulic handbrake, and a trio of auxiliary gauges, while a SincoTech digital dash display replaces the stock cluster. The boot, meanwhile, is taken up by the two Torques fuel cells, which are connected to a pair of Bosch 044 fuel pumps.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

Warren’s plans for a budget drift build didn’t quite work out. This E46 turned into a fullon project, and the results are seriously impressive. We’d love to say that what Warren’s planning on doing with it now is putting it through its paces on track, but sadly, that’s not going to be happening. “Unfortunately, this car being featured no longer exists after an accident while drifting,” he laments, and that’s a huge shame.

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

But there is good news. “I decided to build another one almost identical, with a few upgrades like a white interior, a white engine bay and a fibreglass bonnet with vents,” he smiles, and, as you can see from the little photo we’ve included, it’s like the 2.0 version of this car. Clearly, Warren was onto a good thing with this build, and it was so good he was happy to build it again. And, if you’re building a new car, it would be rude not to throw a few upgrades into the mix… “I’m in process of building a 2.8 stroker engine for the car; the horsepower goal is 700,” he grins, and that’s going to blow the old build out of the water.

But Warren’s also got his hands full with another project because why build just one drift E46? “I’m already in the process with that; it will be another E46 Coupé with a 5.7 Chevy V8 in it; the aim is a 450hp NA drift car,” he says with a grin. Warren’s love for building wild drift E46s and sending them sideways at every given opportunity knows no bounds, and with machines like this to enjoy, who can blame him?

413whp Turbo Drift BMW 328Ci E46

This was meant to be a budget build, but Warren’s not complaining about the rather more full-on car he’s put together.

All this combined has endowed this E46 with an impressive 413whp, along with 424lb ft wtq, and that’s more than enough to get the rears spinning up on demand

The interior features a Corbeau Revenge bucket seat, a roll-cage, and a SincoTech digital dash display

The NA engine was okay but limited in terms of horsepower and torque. After reading about lots of others in America who have turbocharged theirs, I decided to do mine

TECHNICAL DATA Turbo Drift E46 328Ci

  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.8- litre straight-six M52B28, Creations Motorsport silicone hoses, modified GReddy intake manifold, Garrett GT3582R dual-ball bearing turbo with billet compressor wheel, MT Motorsport external oil cooler, TT Works intercooler, Gravity Performance radiator, custom quad exhaust. Five-speed manual gearbox
  • POWER AND TORQUE: 413whp and 424lb ft wtq
  • CHASSIS: 9.75x17” (front and rear) XXR 527 wheels with 225/45 (front and rear) tyres, BC Racing coilovers, ABS delete, custom steering lock adaptors
  • EXTERIOR: Unique Customs fibreglass widearch body kit, carbon diffuser, DTM-style mirrors, carbon front grilles, high-kick boot spoiler
  • INTERIOR: Custom half-cage, Corbeau Revenge bucket seat, OMP harness, Sparco deep-dish steering wheel, taller shifter, brake-bias adjuster, hydraulic handbrake, AEM AFR gauge, SincoTech digital dash display, 2x Torques fuel cells, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, 2x automatic fire extinguishers

The M52 straight-six has been treated to some serious work, and with that Garrett turbo strapped to the side, it now makes 413whp; twin fuel cells and Bosch fuel pumps are mounted in the boot

The car being featured had an accident and doesn’t exist any longer, but Warren has built himself another, almost identical but better, car, pictured above

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