Werner Stark’s E46 330ci has changed hands a few times since it was first built. Early on, it was campaigned in the BMW Car Club of America in various modified classes, but it wasn’t until he bought it from a racer in Pennsylvania — who had just bought another car — that it began to take shape.
When Stark bought the car, he admits, it was a less-than-tidy build. Wires for the equipment that had been removed, such as the seats and airbags, had simply been cut and bundled up and stuffed back under the dash. Stark said he would hear noises under the dash, like wires grounding out, when he would start it up, so that was one of the first things he fixed after he bought it. He replaced the factory dash with an aftermarket model, using the factory instrument cluster, but also adding Auto Meter Pro-Comp series gauges and Traqmate data acquisition. He even went so far as to ship the car up to Bimmerworld in Dublin, Va., to have some of the prep work done.
“It was a mess under the dash, so I had to get all that cleaned up,” he said.
Stark’s racing background is in karting, and believe it or not, he was looking for a less expensive way to go racing. Whether he found that in his is E46 is anyone’s guess, but once he got his license and started racing, naturally he wanted to find a way to go faster. That meant aero and more tire under the car. But he was having trouble sourcing parts.
“Most of the best body kits have to come from Europe,” he said. “They’re hard to get here, and also expensive.”
As you can see from the photos, he was able to find front and rear fascias, fender flares and a sill kit in which to tuck the massive 295 front and 315 rear tires. But here’s the kicker. He made them.
He made the prototype panels from cardboard, then fashioned them from aluminum and fiberglass and bondo. Once he got them to look and fit the way he liked, he digitized the dimensions and then cut them out using a water jet cutter. His company, Ceramic Harmony, in Huntsville, Ala., has the equipment he needed, so he spent one winter offseason making all the panels.
The following season, while he was attempting to pass another car in Turn 3 at Road Atlanta, he spun off into the grass and sideways into the tire wall. He didn’t hit it that hard, but he was concerned for his body work. He brought the car into the pits, expecting the worst, but was relieved to find that the damage was minimal and would, in fact, buff out.
“So then I thought to myself, what if this really happens?” Stark said. “All of that work I did over that winter, I would have had to start all over again.”
So he found a shop in his hometown that could make molds from the parts and then found another shop that could laminate them in either fiberglass or carbon fiber. At that point, he could replace his body kit if it ever got damaged. He also could sell it to others.
“I sent an email to James Clay at Bimmerworld, because I knew him from when I had the work done there,” Stark said. “I asked if he would be interested in selling the body kits, and he sent me an email back that said, “very interested.”
At press time, Stark had sold two body kits through Bimmerworld. He also sells them through his own website, www.stark-racing.com. The kit is an expensive proposition at around $8,000 to $9,000 depending on material choice, and even more when you add in the cost of wider wheels and tires, but he said it makes a big difference in the handling of the car.
His car also has a splitter up front made of balsa wood reinforced with carbon fiber. There rear diffuser is a honeycomb material also reinforced with carbon fiber. The diffuser pulls air up from under the car, routes it through his rear mounted differential cooler and out the back through a screen in the rear fascia above the diffuser. That let him use the NACA ducts in the left side quarter window to cool the driver rather than the differential. The upward rake of the rear diffuser adds to the downforce created by the rear wing. The splitter up front keeps the front end glued down, something Stark knows first hand.
In another incident at Road Atlanta, Stark tore off the front splitter attempting to pass another car in the esses. He gathered it up, but then when he tried to take Turn 6 at his usual speed, he found he had much less grip than he is accustomed to. The good news is that he made the turn— and that he had another splitter.
“A lot of people think the panels are just for show, but they make a big difference in the way the car handles,” he said. “It’s amazing what all those aero parts can do.”
|E46 330 CI
|2,950 lbs. with half tank of gas
|Front: Koni double adjustable coiler over struts, ground control adjustable camber plates and H&R antiroll bar
Rear: Koni double adjustable struts with H&R springs an Ground Control adjustable ride height
|Front: 10.5 x 18 SSR wheels, 295/30/18 Hoosier A6
Rear: 11 x 18 SSR wheels, 315/30/18 Hoosier A6
|Front: Stop Tech four-piston caliper with 350 mm disc
Rear: Stop Tech two-piston caliper with 325 mm disc