Custom Status Racing GRID Bucket Seats Review

If you know me, you know that I am incredibly proud of my Imola Red x Cinnamon color combination. I spent many hours disassembling Andrew’s original cinnamon interior a few years ago to write my E46 M3 Seat Leather Swap DIY with every intention of keeping it forever. However, sliding around in stock seats and relying on the dead pedal on-track is physically tiring. I’ve been wanting bucket seats for the longest time to keep me in place, but there is one mandatory requirement: they must be color-matched to cinnamon.

I got in touch with Justin at Status Racing to help me figure out what my best options would be for sizing, colors, customization, etc. I’m fortunate to be local to their headquarters/manufacturing warehouse in Temecula, CA so I paid a visit to test fit myself into some seats and check out some colors in-person. He pulled out piles of books and swatches before finally finding my final choice one hour later. Finding a close match to BMW cinnamon is not something you can do online and still difficult in-person. I got as close as I could while being mindful of budget – the result is great considering the stock seat has over 20+ years of sweat and dirt layered on it.



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Status Racing FIA Approved Bucket Seats Are Back!

From my understanding, it has been years since Status Racing has offered any FIA certified options. However, they have recently released two brand-new FIA certified seats for larger builds called the Circuit and Turismo. Now, I’m happy to partner with them to release their new smaller, track-oriented bucket seat with a very satisfying model name: GRID.

Shop Status Racing GRID Bucket Seats

Dual Duty Street/Track Cars

The GRID seat is for us. Status Racing seats are generally more popular with the tuner and drift scene as unique customization is their specialty. Now that the FIA seats are back, they are able to cater to those of us in the track community who may be looking for additional options on top of the usual Sparco, Recaro, OMP, Racetech, etc that meet the safety requirements of going 100+mph in corners. While all of those are tried and true race brands, colorways are limited and it is much more expensive to get upholstery done if you want an OEM+ custom color match like me.

I’ve spent years stuck in a dilemma of how to make this car both a street car and a track car. I’m generally a FUNCTION > FORM person, but I’m so glad that Status has come out with a new option that answers the question: “y not both?” I’m not quite ready to commit to having a roll cage in my daily, but with bucket seats, some kind of harness is required so I opted for the Schroth Quick Fit Pros that secure to the front and rear seat belt receptacles. I understand that this is not a fool-proof safety setup but it’s the best compromise currently available for as long as this car is my daily. With this, I can easily remove the harnesses and put them away when I’m not at the track.

Info on Status Racing

  • All upholstery is hand-stitched and assembled at their headquarters in SoCal
  • All seats are fully customizable, from custom logo embroidery to upholstery patterns (quilted, diamond, etc)
  • You can source your own material and send it to them to create your seat (this is what I did)
  • Sample swatches to check color can be requested before committing to your order. A small price to pay to ensure you’ll like the match
  • Seat cover is removable so you can change design or colors while retaining the same seat shell

Status Racing GRID Product Specs

  • FIA 8855-1999 Certified for racing
  • Perfect for BMW platforms with smaller cockpits
  • 20.25 lbs per seat
  • Vacuum infused, lightweight FRP composite shell
  • Fits 28″ to 34″ comfortably, but allows for MAX 36″ waist size
  • Size comparable to the Sparco EVO-S QRT and Recaro Pole Position N.G
  • Fully customizable from logo color, seat stitching color, back, center
  • Eligible for custom embroidering of logos and images

My setup

Here are all the exact details of the seat color codes of the leather and stitching that I went for. I have heard that Prima Nappa Zimt is the closest match to BMW Cinnamon, however this material alone is about $400 per seat while the Boltaflex Pumpkin I chose was about $195 per seat. For 50% less, I’m very happy with the color-match and quality of the material.

For all bucket seat mounting solutions, I would highly recommend the Macht Schnell Clubsport Seat Mount which is complete with everything you need to install a seat with sliders. I already had the Sparco floor mounts but otherwise would have chosen this so that I wouldn’t need to piece everything together individually.

  • Full premium leather: Boltaflex Pumpkin 480781
  • Status logo stitching color: ISACORD No.40, Col. 1322, Lot no A6021
  • Seat stitching color: DirecTex Strongbond THA-STGBD-B70-3124 Tex 70 Bonded 3124 NYL
  • Macht Schnell side mounts + Macht Schnell sliders
  • Sparco floor mounts
  • Schroth Quick Fit Pro harness (driver)
  • Schroth Quick Fit (passenger, not pictured)



  • Stock seat w/ manual base weigh 54lbs each
  • Status Racing GRID seat weighs 20lbs + 18lbs of mounting hardware (steel brackets, mounting plate, and sliders)
  • Weight difference of almost 16lbs each side
  • FIA approved
  • Fully custom and removable upholstery
  • You are able to order your own material and ship it to them if your desired color is not available thru them
  • Each seat requires approx 3 yards of material
  • You can get brand new seat covers + cushion at any time for $250 standard materials or $500 for premium materials to use on your existing seat shell

The pandemic made me wait a very long time for these but man they were worth it. I’m very happy with how these turned out. Thank you to the team at Status Racing!


BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

Turner Motorsport Pedals DIY for E46 M3

Pedal shopping for my E46 M3

Steering wheel, shifter, and pedals. These three interior items are the main components of the driver cockpit. Of the three, the pedals receive the least amount of attention when it comes to upgrading for functionality and aesthetics. However, the E46 M3 feels a little incomplete without motorsport pedals, considering how rich it is in heritage. Most people upgrade their shift knob/levers first, then steering wheel, then pedals. I did the same. It took me a long time to convince myself whether it was worth the money to upgrade and let me tell you – I wish I did this first.

To be honest, my initial desire for the pedals was purely for aesthetics. I really love the contrast of frosted silver pedals that pop in a relatively dark area of the car and it just looks sick. As I scowered the net for a set, I found a bunch of different types that have different purposes which really made me think about pedal functionality. After nearly 2 years of want, I finally decided on getting the Turner Motorsport pedals after considering three things for a long time:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. We thank you for your support. 🙏

1. Do I need larger, extended gas pedal for easier heel-toe?

It’s kind of cool to say I have extended pedals, but I never really had a problem with heel toe even on the stock pedal because I have pretty average sized feet (US W 7.5). Maybe if I had smaller feet, but frankly I like the shape of the more triangle-shaped pedal as opposed to as a giant rectangle like the dead pedal.

2. Do I want anti-slip on the gas pedal?

This was a really hard decision because I absolutely love the look of anti-slip + frosted silver, but in terms of practicality and daily use, I would probably get annoyed of it quickly as a Californian who has year-round flip flop tans. Anti-slip on the clutch is actually already a bit of a struggle because my sandals get stuck while my foot lifts up. I didn’t want any potential interference with accidental / random shoe problems so I went with the smooth design.

3. Do I really need a motorsport dead pedal?

The only reason I debated this was because I was being stingy – I really wanted it for the look of a complete set for consistency but didn’t want to spend extra for it. Personally, it would drive me nuts if the dead pedal was the only odd one out when everything else looks racey. I won myself over because I realized that the dead pedal is my default “OH SH*T” and *I’m STRESSED* pedal when things get crazy on-track which is extremely important. For that reason, I probably “need” it.

That said, this set fit the bill and look great. I didn’t expect how much anti-slip pedals would actually change the overall driving dynamic and it surprised me a lot. When wearing shoes with actual gum soles, you can definitely feel the extra grip preventing your feet from moving. Especially when heel-toeing and entering a turn, your body and feet actually move a lot more than you think which can cause you to slip off the brakes. I never noticed it before, but I realize how much better this feels now and it’s a little confidence instilling even when I’m going onto a freeway on-ramp. Aesthetics aside, upgraded pedals are so much more functional than I thought they would be. For all the E46’s out there that see the track, I highly recommend looking into a set of pedals for function and racecar vibes.

Installation procedures for most aftermarket pedals are pretty much the same, so these instructions can be used for any pedal you buy for E46’s that comes with screws. The provided instructions guide from Turner Motorsports wasn’t exactly the most helpful, so I hope this guide will provide more clarity.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

Installation Instructions

Tools Required

  • 9mm wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Flathead
  • 1/16 drill bit
  • 3/16 drill bit
  • Drill
  • Small Allen Key (comes with Turner pedals)
  • Masking Tape
  • Marker

Parts List

(Provided by Turner Motorsports)

  • (3) bolt + nut set for clutch
  • (3) bolt + nut set for brake pedal
  • (4) tap screws for gas pedal
  • (4) tap screws for dead pedal

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Install

1. Clutch & Brake Pedal

1.1 Remove rubber covers from the clutch + brake pedal. You can peel these right off with your hands and little effort. Once removed, it will expose the metal pedals.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

1.2. Tape up each pedal with masking tape. You don’t actually need to cover the entire pedal like I did, one strip at the top and one strip at the bottom is enough since that’s where you will be drilling.

1.3. Match up the Turner pedals to the actual pedal and mark the holes to drill. Turner only provides three sets of bolts and nuts for these pedals, so I went with a triangle shape bolt configuration. If you have four sets, put one in each corner.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

1.4. Start with the clutch (if you have one). Drill through the marks you drew on the tape. I used the 1/16 bit to drill small holes first before using the 3/16 bit to follow through because my hands tend to move as I’m drilling with a larger bit. Drilling through the clutch will be fairly easy as the metal is pretty thin.

(Ignore all the extra holes on the clutch, I initially drilled in a square pattern assuming there would be 8 total screws, but later found out there were only 6)

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

1.5. Do the same thing for the brake pedal. However, this pedal is much thicker than the clutch and will actually require a good amount of strength and force to push through the pedal even with the larger drill bit. This pedal is significantly harder to drill through than the clutch.

1.6. Once you’ve got all your holes drilled, you can bolt up the pedals. Hold the nut in the back with your 9mm wrench and hand tighten with the provided allen key from Turner.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

2. Gas Pedal

2.1. There are no preparation steps for the gas pedal, you will simply be attaching the Turner pedal on top of the existing plastic OEM pedal. I spent a solid 15 minutes trying to figure out if I needed to remove the entire pedal assembly and the answer is no.

2.2. Tape up your gas pedal the same way you did for the previous pedals.

2.3. Line up the Turner pedal plate and mark your holes. Note that the pedal itself is not completely resting on the ground, you should lift it up a little.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

2.4. Drill through your holes with your 1/16 bit to pilot the initial holes. You don’t want to use any larger because that will get rid of too much plastic for the self tapping screws. The tap screws need the plastic to stay secure.

2.5. Once you’ve drilled your holes, remove the tape.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

2.6. Use a handheld screwdriver and manually screw in the tap screws to make sure it’s nice and secure. You also want to focus on screwing this in straight and not at an angle.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

2.7. Once you’ve got all the screws in, remove them again. This was to create a pilot hole to make it easier to screw in once you put the Turner pedal in-between.

2.8. Secure the Turner pedal in. (I left tape on in this picture, ignore that)

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

3. Dead Pedal

3.1. Pop off the OEM dead pedal by inserting a flathead underneath the plastic. It should pop off after some force. Don’t worry, there’s no brackets or pins that will break. Just make sure most of the flathead is behind the pedal so it can remove the whole thing at once as opposed to just one corner.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport
BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

3.2. Once removed, do the same thing you did for the gas pedal (steps #2-8). Tape, mark, drill, screw in tap screws. Unscrew, add Turner pedal, screw again.

3.3. Pro-tip: one existing hole can actually match up with a hole on the Turner pedal which helps with alignment.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

In total, this should take less than an hour if you’re a measure twice, cut once kind of person. I’m a measure once, cut thrice type of person which is why this took me much longer than needed.

Here is the finished product on my car. I happen to have the Weathertech floor mats that cover a bit of the dead pedal, but I think it still looks great.

Unofficial Poll: Would you prefer bright or black pedals in your car? Let me know in the comments below.

BMW E46 M3 Pedal Set - Turner Motorsport

Schwaben Oil & Fluid Extractor

Schwaben Oil & Fluid Extractor Review

An Easy Oil & Fluid Extractor

Fluid extractors – do they really work? I’ve been getting a lot of questions about ECS’s Schwaben Fluid Extractor that I’ve been using to do my oil changes and figured this review has been long overdue. Before some of you make assumptions and call me stupid for using this, let me explain a few things.

The reason why I got this pump is because my oil drain plug is stripped and stuck in there for good (courtesy of the previous owner/shop they took it to). I didn’t really feel like blowing a bunch of money to replace my oil pan, so I looked into alternatives.  There are few different pumps out there, like some fancy electric ones with no manual effort involved, or hand pumps. Considering I had no other options for an oil change for less than $1000, I decided to give ECS’s extractor a try.

To address everyone’s number one concern of “does it really get all the oil out though?” Close, about 95% it. If you are thinking about purchasing one of these, you need to understand this will not be as effective as your traditional oil change method of getting under the car and letting it spill out. I can confirm that it gets most of it out because if it didn’t, doing our previous Oil Leveling Sensor DIY would have sucked.  I was honestly surprised to see that barely any oil dripped out when I removed the sensor and expected it to be more messy of a job.

How Does the Oil Extractor Work?

  • There are three tube attachments in different sizes
  • Connect 2 of the tubes together, stick one end into your dipstick hole and the other into the pump
  • Start pumping. A few manual pumps will be needed to start the flow, but once it starts flowing, you can step aside for a few minutes and watch it do its thing.

By the time it extracts 90% of the oil, you will have to do some manual pumping to get the remaining 5% out. How thorough you want to be in your pumping is up to you. If you really want to get 99% out, you will be in for a good arm workout.

The best thing about this extractor is that it makes oil changes so much easier – it literally takes no more than 10 minutes. No need to get down on the ground, jack up the car, find torque specs for the drain plug (18 ft-lbs), etc. The primary compromise as I mentioned before is that the extractor is not as effective as the traditional drain plug method. This is because it may not capture any particles or debris that may be in your oil. Remember that you are suctioning it dry, and hoping that the suction will capture the fluid and debris together as it goes up into the tube. If there is not enough pressure to suction it up, it will be left dry in your engine. By comparison, the drain plug uses the fluid’s downward momentum to sweep up any debris on its way out so you get a cleaner flush.


If you’re like me and care a lot about keeping your car healthy, but you’re also kind of lazy, you need this extractor. I would recommend rotating the usage of the extractor 2-3 times, then doing a traditional oil change every now and then to clean it all out. I have found this to be useful to do last minute track prep, and you can also use the tubes for other fluids or suction purposes.

Schwaben Oil & Fluid Extractor


E46 M3 Fancywide Diffuser DIY

After months of waiting, I finally got to put on my Fancywide diffuser. I’ve had it for a while, but I was waiting for my track “off-season” to be over in the summer so I don’t destroy it on-track. The diffuser itself is made out of aluminum and magnesium, with the sheets/fins 3mm thick. It’s lightweight but has proved to be very sturdy after 10+ track days on Oscar’s car (our tuner), with the occasional spin-outs into rocks and dirt (mostly due to mechanical failure on his car).  The Fancywide diffusers are functional for both aerodynamics and aesthetics, making it a very logical modification for any E46 owner.

However, Fancywide doesn’t include install instructions due to the fact that it’s so different for each car. Trying to install this without instructions can get a bit confusing because they provide a significant amount of extra hardware. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the extras were for, only to conclude that they weren’t needed. Hopefully this DIY will save you some frustration and time!

If you are looking to get one, you can purchase from our store page here: E46 M3 Fancywide Diffuser

Time required

~ 15 minutes to build the diffuser

~ 1-1.5 hours to install

Tools needed

  • 1/8 hex/allen wrench
  • 3/8 drill/bit
  • Ratchet
  • 8mm socket
  • 10mm socket
  • 10mm wrench
  • Pliers
  • Jack / Lift
  • Jack Stands / Race Ramps

Build the Diffuser

As I mentioned before, Fancywide provides a good amount of extra hardware, so don’t expect to use all of it. They have an install video on an E36, but they assemble each piece directly on the car rather than building the entire diffuser out first, which I found to be a lot easier.

Rather than writing actual instructions for this part, it is probably easier to just look at the pictures below and copy it.

Mount to the Car

  1. Follow the normal procedures to jack up the rear of your car and safely keep it up. We prefer to use Race Ramps because it’s much safer than jack stands.


2. Remove the plastic Charcoal Canister Filter Cover behind your rear diffuser. It is held on by 8mm screws all around – don’t miss the two at the top closer to the rear passenger-side wheel. You will not need these screws or the cover anymore.


3. Remove the two center rivets from your rear diffuser using pliers. You will not need these rivets anymore.


4. Remove the two 10mm bolts on the cannister. This is where the back of the Fancywide Diffuser will mount to. You will be re-using these bolts.


5. Line up the Fancywide Diffuser to the mounting points and use a jack to maneuver and support it. On the Fancywide Diffuser, the rear holes line up to where the Charcoal Cannister bolts came from, and the front holes line up to the OEM/CSL diffuser of the car. Screw in the cannister bolts slightly to support it, but not all the way so you can still adjust the Fancywide Diffuser later.


6. For the front part of the diffuser, use the provided cut rubber line as a spacer between the Fancywide Diffuser and actual diffuser. Set up your bolts like below.


7. Secure the bolt with the nut on the backside of the diffuser. Do not tighten all the way to allow for adjustment later.


8. Once the center of the diffuser is lightly secured to the car, line up the sides of the Fancywide Diffuser to your bumper where you will be drilling holes to secure it to the car. Make sure your jack is still supporting the center of the diffuser since it isn’t all the way secured. Make sure that there is enough space on both sides of the hole so that the hole is not too close to the edge. Mark where you want to drill using a sharpie. Repeat for the other side.


9. Drill the holes.


10. Secure both sides using the provided bolts and nuts.


11. Center the Fancywide Diffuser properly between your exhaust tips and tighten the center bolts. Make sure the Fancywide Diffuser has equal space on each side from each tail pipe.

12. Adjust the height/angle of your Fancywide Diffuser on the side where it its mounted to the bumper. Do NOT tighten too much, otherwise you will put too much pressure on your OEM/CSL diffuser and cause it to pop out a little.

And there you have it. The install is actually a lot simpler than it looks, with the hardest part being just centering it properly between the exhaust tips and downwards angle. If I missed any steps or am not clear, leave a comment below so I can fix it. Now that you know how simple the install is, head on over to our shop to get yours: E46 M3 Fancywide Diffuser

BMW E46 M3 APE E85 Flex Fuel Kit

Alternative Performance Engineering X85 (E85) Flex Fuel Kit Review & Dyno

For those of you who didn’t know, I have been testing and running the Alternative Performance Engineering (APE) X85 Flex Fuel Kit for the ‘Straight Six’ platforms for about 5 months now. Most of you haven’t heard of APE before because they are a brand new flex fuel company to the market that started up early last year.

I went with the APE kit because it is a new product in the market and was curious how it compares to other kits. What really caught my attention was that they are able to offer more customization and features on their app in addition to displaying current ethanol content. The last article we published on E85 was to explain properties of ethanol and debunk any false information about running it. What we have moved on to now is finding the optimal ethanol blend for our E46 M3 S54. There is a common misconception that “more E85 means more power”, but this is only true up to a certain extent. Too much ethanol will actually cause you to lean out and lose power instead – the APE kit helps in trying to find that perfect blend.

There’s not much difference that can be made between flex fuel modules honestly, but the primary attribute that APE has over other kits is that their app has much more features and capabilities than anything else on the market. However, before I do a deep dive into those functions, let’s first talk about the kit itself. Then we can talk about some exciting pricing.

The Kit

When you go on the APE site right now, you will see that they have several kits but not labeled by model. Currently, they are categorized by the fuel injector styles and motor platforms. For the E46 M3, we go with the EV1 style fuel injectors for the Straight 6 platform. However, I have been advised that a specific kit for the E46 M3 will be developed in the very near future.

APE X85 E85 Flex Fuel Kit
  • X85 Flex Fuel Power Module
  • Flex fuel sensor
  • Quick connect fuel fittings
  • 15" of 5/16" E85 compatible high pressure fuel line
  • 4 fuel injection hose clamps
  • APE flex fuel badge
  • APE decal


Update 7/28/19:

These kits are now E46 M3 specific and is completely plug and play. Installation of flex fuel kits are all the same – you can follow these instructions made by our good friend Twinline Garage: E46 M3 Flex Fuel Kit Installation

However, you still need to make sure that the sensor is very secure area. If there is too much movement, you will get inaccurate readings. You may need to work some magic with zip ties like I did to make it secure – there’s not really a proper place or way to secure the sensor under our cars. I created several loops and rings to secure the sensor to.

Each X85 module will have its own individual passkey on the back – be sure to take a picture of this or write it down somewhere because you will need it to connect with the app later on.

APE App & Features

The APE app is available for both iOS and Android (beta). Once you successfully connect to the app using the passkey on the back of the X85 module, then you can start playing around with some of the cool features the X85 has to offer.

Recommended Ethanol Blend & Fuel Calculator

What makes APE significantly different from its competition is their app and features. As I mentioned before, the goal is to find the optimal blend of ethanol and gasoline that would yield the highest power output. The X85 measures the max injector duty cycle (IDC) and the app can use this data to determine a maximum recommended value (ethanol to gas blend), all you need to do is pull redline once your car is warmed up and the module will receive measure data from the car to provide a recommended blend. For my car, my optimal blend looks to be around E65. Note that recommended blends may vary by car due to current injector health and then how lean or rich your DME tune is at WOT.

Once you get your recommended blend from the app, you can use the fuel calculator to determine how much of each fuel type you need to achieve that blend. Remember that the E46 M3 fuel tank is 16.6 gallons or 63 liters.

BMW E46 M3 APE E85 Flex Fuel Kit

Cold Start Enrichment

Fuel with high ethanol content has a harder time starting than gasoline – it is common and completely normal that sometimes you have to crank the car a few times in order to get it to turn over. Especially in cold environments, running a lower ethanol mixture would help in a easier start. The X85 can be configured to add fuel enrichment in cold starting scenarios to assist with that cold start-up.

Advanced Tuning

What’s especially exciting about this app is that you can do some on-the-spot tuning/adjustments. The X85 module and app gives you the ability to tune the fuel delivery over 4 configurable RPM ranges. Simply put, you can basically add more fuel in RPM ranges where you are running lean in order to optimize power. On an Air Fuel Ratio (AFR) graph that you usually see when dynoing your car, higher numbers mean that your car is running lean – not enough fuel is being supplied to the engine and will limit you from making power. This is a game-changer because this is method of fine-tuning your car. However, be aware that making uneducated adjustments could potentially cause you to run too lean or rich – only use this function if you know what you’re doing and have data from a dyno to support your adjustments.

Zero Point Adjustment

The APE X85 module also has a zero point setting – the purpose for this feature is so that the module will properly turn off if it detects that there is no higher ethanol content that what is in pump gas, which is approximately E10. The app allows you to adjust the zero point as needed depending on the ethanol content in your neighborhood gas station. The X85 module’s job is to command the fuel injectors to feed the car more fuel when it detects a higher blend of ethanol, as ethanol burns quicker than gasoline. If the X85 is working correctly then you would see little to no change in fuel trims or AFR readings when switching between pump gas and ethanol. When your car is operating on fully pump gas, there is no need to provide extra fuel as it is unnecessary and would cause an improper air to fuel ratio.

True Pulse Width Extension

The default setting of the X85 and other similar products is to extend the fuel injector pulse by adding a second short pulse after the factory ECU has finished asserting it’s fuel injector pulse. With APE’s patent pending feature, True Pulse Width Extension, you can extend the factory ECU pulse – providing a more precise pulse and reduces the current drain on fuel injector drivers. In other terms, True PWE reduces the number of times your injectors need to open and close, ultimately prolonging the life of your injectors.

Sensor Override

In the event that your sensor becomes faulty or damaged, the X85 will remember the last good reading so that you can still run the car properly. you can also use the sensor override function to reset your ethanol content back to the zero point, which will completely turn off the X85 module.

BMW E46 M3 APE E85 Flex Fuel Kit


Now down to the part everyone cares about: drivability and performance gains. I mentioned earlier, but there’s really not much variance that can be made between different flex fuel modules – it either works or it doesn’t. The purpose of the flex fuel modules are to translate the ethanol content into values that the ECU can accommodate and adjust for – as long as the correct values are read by the sensor, the kit should work.  I’ve driven on this kit for probably 5,000 miles already and did 4 track days on it with no kit related issues. I often run full tanks of ethanol during my daily drives for cost effectiveness, and blends for track days and power purposes (the fuel calculator APE offers is especially convenient when filling up fuel jugs). I could definitely feel some additional power at the track when pushing the car to redline, but it wasn’t official until I put the car on the dyno. As always, we went to European Auto Source for our testing to keep our data consistent.

DISCLAIMER: When you analyze the below dyno graph, you will notice that there is a very odd dip in power between 5.2K-6.5K RPMs. There is a mechanical issue on my car that is causing it to pull timing in that range, preventing it from hitting its target. We are suspecting it may be my ignition coils as one of them went out 1 week before this dyno session. Given that I haven't changed them in over 30K miles or potentially more since I got the car, we anticipate that the other 5 may be on their way out. We do not suspect this to be a product of the tune or flex fuel kit. Once I get that sorted out, I will post an updated dyno graph. 

Despite the weird dip, this did not affect the overall max power output. Most obviously at 6.6K RPMs, the gap between my baseline and E85 curve has a net delta of over 20whp. It also starts to climb steeply to make up for the lost power in the earlier RPM range where I suspect there is an issue with my car, but the differences between the curves and power are all there. This car is running on its original motor at 174K miles with all major repairs and maintenance done.  Here are the details of the car and graph:

BMW E46 M3 APE E85 Flex Fuel Kit


  • 2001 E46 M3
  • 174,XXX miles
  • Buildjournal B-Spec Tune
  • APE X85 Flex Fuel Kit
  • eVenturi CAI + V2 cone filter
  • OEM Headers
  • OEM Section 1
  • OEM Section 2
  • Supersprint Race Muffler


  • 76.9 F Outside Temp
  • 73.4 F Inside Temp
  • 25% Humidity
  • Hood Open

As we always emphasize – the numbers we want to focus on are the net changes or deltas, the gap between curves, rather than peak-to-peak power. While there seems to be a mechanical issue with my car, the gaps between the curves are consistent regardless of curve shape. To be honest, I didn’t want to share the graph shape before I confirmed that the ignition coils is the actual issue, but I want to be as transparent as possible in showing that the kit does its job where its supposed to, despite my curve shape.

Maximum Gains

91 ACN vs E54 Blend



Max Delta (Δ)
91 Octane (E11)237.05197.176.32

Max Peak to Peak
91 Octane (E11)317.69252.06

I did play with some of the Advanced Tuning features to adjust the amount of fuel I was running lean in. My AFRs peaked around 5K RPMs, I added more fuel to make up for it. I increased the fuel multiplier to 110% in my highest run to adjust for a slightly leaner range. I didn’t have enough time or the runs to really test this feature more, but will be utilizing it more during my next session and update this article as needed.

Unfortunately, I also  did not have enough fuel to create the optimal E65 blend that was recommended by the APE app, but I am more than satisfied with my results. I achieved a net delta of 23whp and 19wtq and a peak-to-peak gain of nearly 12whp and 7wtq, which is pretty on-par with Oscar’s results with his kit. In fact, I actually have more room to grow considering I was only at an E54 blend.


Over the last few months, I can definitely say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the additional power from E85 I’ve felt for both street and track driving. I have driven Andrew and Oscar’s cars before with a different flex fuel kit but because they are both catless, the feeling is not the same and I don’t know where to attribute the power to. On my car, I have 3 variables that give me power, so it is easy to determine where this power came from. As you guys may know, the Buildjournal Team heavily advocates for the usage of E85 – whether you track or not. It is incredibly convenient in the sense that you can run ethanol, pump gas, and whatever mix in-between you want at any time, hence the name “flex”. If you don’t care about power some days and just want to get to point A to point B at a lower cost, you can run ethanol for daily driving. If you have a track day coming up and want every ounce of HP your car can produce, bring some ethanol with you at the track and add-as-needed. The APE X85 Kit offers all the usual benefits of ethanol, PLUS tuning and customization features for the lowest cost in the market. If you are considering running E85 for any reason, this kit definitely needs to be on your radar.

APE is a small, but definitely growing competitor in the flex fuel kit market. I have been in constant communication with the APE team to ask questions and provide as much feedback as possible to the point where I’m surprised they haven’t blocked me. They are incredibly responsive to questions and are genuine, experienced enthusiasts looking to offer another solution. Considering that they are new to the market, they are still in progress of scaling up and further developing their products. However, the product they’ve got now is pretty great – I can’t wait to see the new and improved versions later in the future with their model-specific E46 M3 kit. I am very happy to say that we have another reliable and affordable alternative fuel system option for the E46 M3 market.

APE X85 Flex Fuel Kit Group Buy

For a limited time, APE is offering group buy pricing for the X85 Flex Fuel Kit at a maximum discount of $149 if the group buy minimum of 5 orders are met. This means that you can get potentially 20whp+ for only $600, which is less $/hp than (most) headers. Trust me when I tell you this: you might not ever see a flex fuel kit going for this low ever again. And no, this is not one of those situations where “you get what you pay for.” You definitely get more than what you pay for.

APE X85 (EV1) E85 Flex Fuel Kit


E46 M3 Seat Leather Conditioning and Swap DIY

E46 M3 Seat Leather Swap DIY

Here is a DIY for the E46 M3 seat leather swap. For those of you who have worn out seats and ripped leather, there is an easy way to replace those pieces without having to get them reupholstered. This DIY will go over how to:

  • Replace a broken seat lever
  • Replace a worn out bottom foam assembly
  • Remove back seat foam assembly from seat frame

Since Andrew (the Buildjournal Alpine White M3) stripped his interior for weight savings, I took the rare opportunity to replace my Napa black interior for his cinnamon interior. Only issue was that his front seats have power bases, and I wanted to keep my manual bases. As a result, I ended up pulling off all four of the leather and foam assemblies and swapping them to different bases.

Tools needed:

You can also follow along a DIY video by the 50sKid that I found extremely helpful for the bottom portion of the seats.  I have linked the steps below with the corresponding timing of the video if you need to watch how he did it. Also below are some Amazon links to the products we recommend. Please buy from these links if you plan to buy because it'll help us continue to do what we do!

[amazon_link asins='B00BXQXR3C,B00I9I5FGE,B0002SPCBW,B01K9ELWPI' template='CopyOf-ProductCarousel' store='builjour-20' marketplace='US' link_id='4293decf-5ff7-4e46-a83e-1d6bc236da3f']

1. Remove Front Seats

1.1 - There are two bolts and two nuts on your seat frame holding your seat to the chassis. Remove the caps if you have any. You will need to move your seat forward and backward to access them.

1.2 - Power seats: Before you disconnect the power supply from the seats, move the height of the chair all the way up to give yourself more space to access a bolt in  a later step.

1.3 - Disconnect the power supply from your seat. There is a lever-like clip on the side of the connector, flip it up. Then push the side of the plug outwards and it will release the plug and you can pull out.

2. Remove Seat Base Covers

2.1 - Use a T20 torx to remove the two small screws from the plastic covers on the bottom of the seat. (Video) These screws are really small, so make sure you don't lose them.

2.2 - Remove the two 10mm nuts on the seat base. Once removed, you will be able to pull off the slider. The center pole will also come out altogether like a T. (This is not a required step and the 50sKid did not do this, but I found that it was much easier to work around the seat and access the tabs/bolts.) Note that this seat is a power seat, manual seats are a little more mechanical and there are more levers, but the process is the same.

2.3 - Remove the plastic cover over the seat controls. These are held on together by a total of 6 tabs. 4 of them are fairly obvious on the bottom circled here. You can ignore the small tabs in the middle if you want - these are separate to the cover and technically don't need to be removed.

The remaining two tabs are on the top of the cover, which were the most frustrating to find and not break off. Push down on both of the tabs to release them. You may be able to access the rear one from underneath, and then unhitch the front one at the very end. Don't do what the 50sKid did and break it - watch how he broke it @ 0:39 (Video) and then he realizes it later (Video). The area he broke is circled below.

2.4 - Remove the four T20 torx bolts below and pull off this plastic cover. You may need to pull a little harder in the rear clip to make it come off. (Video)

2.6 - Use a T30 torx to remove the seat trim bolt on both sides. Then push down on plastic inserts to make them unlatch. (Video)

3. Remove the bottom foam assembly

3.1 - Take a flathead and bend these metal tabs down to allow space to pull the leather out. (Video)

3.2 - Use the flathead to pry the plastic lining of the leather out. (Video) Once you get one part of the plastic lining out, you can just use your hands to pull the rest straight out. Don't worry, that plastic lining is pretty flexible and won't crack. (Video)

3.3 - Once all the lining is pulled out, the bottom thigh rest foam should be able to flap back. Push down and back on the center wire to release the foam from the hook. (Video)

3.4 - To remove the remainder of the bottom foam assembly on the back, put a flathead between the seat frame and trim and pull out towards yourself. Once you get a part of it out, you can use your hands to pull the rest.  Note that some of the foam is slightly stuck on to the frame, use your hands to slowly peel it off as it can rip easily. Then your bottom foam assembly is ready to be pulled out. (Video)

3.5 - Tuck in the back pieces through to the front under the bottom part of the backrest. If you have manual seats, you can tilt the seat forward to give yourself some more space to push the leather and foam out. From there, you can pull the whole bottom assembly off. (Video)

3.6 - If you have heated seats, disconnect the wire (don't cut it like 50sKid did here). My seats were not heated on either set, so unfortunately I don't have instructions on this part.

3.7 - Note that the bottom foam assembly is the same for both Driver and Passenger side, so you can interchange them if your driver side is getting worn. You can also find a better condition one on Ebay and swap them out.

4. Remove the back panel

4.1 - Cut off the push rivets off at the bottom of the back panel. I used a flathead to pry a little bit out, then use pliers/scissors to cut them off. These are one-way push rivets, so you will need to get replacements from your local auto or hardware store.

4.2 - Once removed, slide the back panel down and pull out towards you. It should come off very easily.

5. Remove the backrest foam assembly

5.1 - Remove the head rest by pushing the left insert and pulling up at the same time.

5.2 - Remove the plastic headrest covers by lifting one side and tilt up. It should come off very easily. Be careful removing the left side with the push insert, there are two springs that come off very easily. Remove them and keep them in a safe place.

5.3 - Pry out the leather surrounding the headrest inserts.

5.4 - Remove the seat levers on the side. There are two little tabs on the lever, one on top and bottom. Lifts both of those and pull the lever, it should slide out easily. You can use tools and do it yourself, or just ask a friend to pull it out while you're lifting the tabs apart.

5.5 - Remove the plastic cover by pushing the two top and bottom tabs toward the center. I used a flathead, stuck it above the top tab, and pushed down evenly so I wouldn't break it.

5.6 - Pry out the staples using a flathead or pliers. They're pretty weak and easy to pull off.

5.7 - On the back of the assembly, unhook the two rope hooks and release all the leather from the seat frame.

5.8 - The foam assembly and leather should all be released, and you can pull out and up to remove the whole thing. You may need to fiddle with the foam as it may get caught on edges of the seat frame.

6. Repeat and re-install new leather/foam assemblies

If you are doing a full swap like I did, you will need to do this for all four seats. If you're only looking to replace a worn out bottom foam assembly, no need to remove the backrest. I would suggest that while the you have the leather pieces out, recondition them while you're at it - ideally on a hot day. I will be doing a review on Leatherique Leather Rejuvenator and Prestine Clean next.

Here is the final result.

Black was originally manual, cinnamon was originally power.

I apologize that these photos are not as nice as our usual DIYs, but hopefully they help.  If any of the steps seem unclear, please comment below so I can explain and add it to the DIY.

E46 M3 Meet Bay Area

Bay Area E46 M3 Meet

For those who don’t know, I’m @connie.m3, the red E46 M3 (and gf) of Buildjournal. Most of you guys who reach out about our tune, it is usually me behind the screen. I put together a spontaneous Bay Area E46 M3 meet on pure impulse because I was coming back home to the Bay Area for a few days and wanted to meet other local E46 M3 owners as well as some of our existing customers. Turnout was great with over 30+ E46 M3s and several other M’s. What made this event the most successful was that everyone was truly interested seeing other builds and meeting likeminded people (without the need for burnouts, donuts, etc). Thanks everyone for coming out even though it was on a Sunday!

All of this would not have been possible without our host, Nima at Bimmeronly. He is the owner of this shop and location – a very kind enthusiast willing to lend a hand to us Big Money Wasters (BMW). If you need any work done in the Bay Area, show a local enthusiast some love (and business)! Huge thanks to Brian aka @yasplzz for helping me set this all up and making my last minute plan actually happen.

Attendees also received an exclusive discount code for our B-Spec Tune just for coming to the meet! Living in the Bay Area definitely has its perks right?! Hopefully we will be able to host more of these in both Norcal and Socal in the future.

See some of the dope builds that came out!