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Blood, Sweat, and Gears: Inside the Driftworks V10 BMW M3 Project

Author: Joe Mackay
Created On: Updated On:

The engine swap. A chance to rewrite the very DNA of your car; to unleash a mechanical symphony unlike any the factory ever dreamed of. The possibilities are as endless as the open road. Sure, your bank account might whimper and your skillset might need an upgrade of its own, but that's all part of the process.

Take the iconic BMW M3, for instance. This Bavarian bruiser has long been a blank sheet for engine-swapping maestros. The most common refrain in this engine-swapping opera? The dulcet tones of the mighty LS engine, a Detroit-born ballet in cast iron which slots into the M3's engine bay like clockwork. But the LS is just one potential verse in this epic ballad. 

Enter the V10. Ten cylinders in glorious harmony, singing a thundering aria unlike any other. In the realm of engine swaps, the V10 is the phoenix rising from the ashes of the ordinary, transforming humble machines into fire-breathing monsters. 

This goes beyond mere car restoration; it's a journey of pushing limits. Driftworks doesn't settle for revival; they're unlocking the true potential of the M3.

The stage is set for Driftworks’ Phil and Jay…

Imagine a once-majestic BMW E46 M3, its gleaming paint dulled by neglect, a whisper of its former glory. This isn't a story of endings but a passionate reunion; a second chance. This is the epic saga of Driftworks' V10 M3 restoration project, an ongoing YouTube series captivating car enthusiasts worldwide.

Phil and Jay from Driftworks standing and smiling

The lead protagonist of this story is Phil Morrison, Driftworks' founder and the previous owner of the M3. "It was my pride and joy when I had it. When I built it. I put everything into it, and it was my pristine daily driver. I used to drive to the Nürburgring to do laps in it and I really looked after it."  And so, the story begins with a “rescue mission” in Episode 1 - Saving my V10 BMW E46 M3 from rusting away in Germany. Here Phil lays out his emotional attachment to the car and determination to restore it despite its current condition: "My job now is to sort of assess damage and create a bit of a plan of what it's going to take to bring it back to life." The recent neglect of the car's condition raises questions about how it went from being in mint condition to its current state - which Phil has since been informed was due to the owner becoming ill. For Phil, fate brought the E46 back into his life, battered but unbroken. This wasn't just a restoration; it was rekindling a flame. As Phil confirms on the Eurotunnel during the rescue mission from Germany, the BMW V10 is his ‘beloved Dr Vitten’.

This isn't a story of a quick fix; it's a four-year odyssey of meticulous modifications, pushing boundaries of performance and aesthetics. Gone are the days of rust and silence. In their place, a symphony of upgrades awaits its fiery debut. Although so much work has already been done to the M3, Phil expresses a sentiment that will be all too familiar to modified car enthusiasts: “the last 10% of a build usually ends up taking 90% of the time”.

Throughout this saga, Driftworks' YouTube channel has acted as a virtual pit lane, offering a front-row seat to the wrench-turning ballet.

First on the agenda: the battle against rust. Driftworks didn't settle for patching things up; they reinforced the subframe with SME braces, ensuring a robust foundation for the journey ahead. 

And then there's the exhaust; a bespoke work of art that screams like ten fire-breathing dragons  converging into a single, earth-shattering roar - Imagine that echoing through the Nürburgring! This isn't just about decibels; it's about unlocking the V10's true voice, letting its symphony sing without restriction. It's a testament to Driftworks' engineering prowess: we see the tubes being bent, the welds being laid, and the raw potential of this Frankenstein creation taking shape.

This isn't just about restoring a car; it's about pushing boundaries. Driftworks isn't content with mere revival; they're trying to unleash the M3's true untapped potential. Custom-fabricated headers, meticulously crafted like works of art, will channel the symphony of the V10. The process has been a masterclass in ingenuity, involving plasma cutting, welding magic, and even a healthy dose of trial and error. The anticipation hangs heavy in the air - how will this monster sound? Phil puts it best:

"I'm like a kid waiting for Christmas morning."

Driftworks BMW V10 project in progress

The S85 V10, resurrected with a new lease on life, snarls with a hunger for the open road. A fresh crank, cams, and an army of new parts breathe fire into this mechanical maestro. But raw power needs control, so VAC Motorsports' dry sump kit steps in, ensuring the oil flows smoothly and clearing the way for a custom oil pump that dances to the V10's demanding tune (thanks to the relocated steering rack).

The upgrades don't stop there. The suspension received a Z4M front-end injection. A tubular crossmember, both strong and stylish, joined the party, while the steering rack, bowing to the V10's reign, got the custom treatment with precision-crafted mounts and machining.

Fuel system and brake lines? Upgraded. ABS module and custom lines? Safety first, even when chasing ghosts on the Green Hell. Interior? Stripped, cleaned, and prepped. Suspension upgrades dance a delicate ballet between precision and comfort, while lightweight components shed unnecessary pounds, sharpening the M3's agility. Every aerodynamic tweak, every meticulously chosen part tells a story of purpose.

Finally, the rolling jewels AC Schnitzer 3-piece wheels, rebuilt, polished, and ready to paint rubber across every corner. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2’s wrap them in physics-defying grip, while Nitron coilovers and Team Schirmer bushes dance a high-performance foxtrot with gravity. Alcon and Stoptech brakes bring this beast to a halt that would shame a freight train.

But this goes beyond the specs. It's the story of a gearhead's unwavering dream; of shoving a V10 where a humble six-cylinder once resided. 

Join Driftworks on their YouTube channel

as they tackle the final hurdles to finally unleash this mechanical beast upon the Green Hell. Witness the culmination of years of dedication, ingenuity, and sheer passion as the M3 conquers corners, devours straights, and leaves a symphony of ten cylinders echoing through the valley.

A thumbnail from a Driftworks YouTube video

Driftworks V10 BMW E46 M3 Restoration Project Modifications

Chassis & Structural:

  • Rust repair: Extensive rust removal and repair throughout the chassis, subframe mounting area, and floor.
  • Reinforcement: Subframe reinforcement using Redish Motorsports plates and SME cross brace.
  • Stitch welding: Additional welding of seams for increased rigidity, especially front and rear.
  • Fabrication: Various fabrication work, including repairs to sills and modifications for engine clearance.

Engine & Drivetrain:

  • Engine rebuild: Rebuilt S85 V10 engine with new crank, cams, and other parts.
  • Dry sump conversion: VAC Motorsports dry sump kit installed for improved oil circulation and clearance.
  • Custom oil pump: Modified oil pump for compatibility with moved steering rack.
  • Exhaust system: Fabrication of a unique 10-into-1 exhaust manifold.

Suspension & Steering:

  • Z4M front suspension: Custom setup using Z4M components for improved performance.
  • Tubular front crossmember: Modified and powder-coated crossmember for added strength and clearance.
  • Rack modifications: Custom mounts and machining for steering rack compatibility with V10 engine.


  • Fuel system & brake lines: Upgraded fuel system with new pumps and brake lines.
  • ABS module & brake lines: Installation of ABS unit and custom brake lines.
  • Interior: Sound deadening removal and cleaning, possible replacement in future.
  • Wheels & tires: Custom AC Schnitzer 3-piece wheels rebuilt and polished.
  • Bodywork: Car sent for professional bodywork completion.

Driftworks M3 project

Phil Morrisons's BMW E46 M3: Technical Specifications


  • Engine: S85 B50 5.0L V10
  • Redline: 8,500rpm
  • Internal modifications: BE Bearings, ARP rod bolts
  • Power: 540hp (original: 343hp from 3.2L inline-6)


  • Transmission: E92 M3 6-speed manual
  • Flywheel: Lightweight single-mass flywheel
  • Differential: 3.91 Carbonetics 1.5-way carbon LSD

Wheels & Tires:

  • Wheels: AC Schnitzer type 2 three-piece, 18x10 front, 18x11.5 rear
  • Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, 245/35/18 front, 295/30/18 rear

Suspension & Steering:

  • Suspension: Team Schirmer Nitron coilovers
  • Bushings: Team Schirmer solid bushes


  • Front: Alcon 6-piston calipers
  • Rear: Stoptech 4-piston calipers


  • Seats: CSL front and rear seats

Electronics & Fueling:

  • ECU: Pectel SQ6M12
  • Wiring harness: Cosworth Motorsports
  • Dash: Pi System
  • Tuning: KMS Racing Engines


  • Rear brace: Specialist Motorsport Engineering
  • Subframe reinforcement: Redish Motorsport


  • Widebody rear arches (custom fabricated)
  • CSL bootlid
  • Custom front bumper
  • Year: 2001


  • V10 engine swap
  • F1-inspired exhaust sound
  • High-performance driving characteristics

Driftworks V10 BMW M3 Project in progress

Overall, the modifications made to this V10 BMW E46 M3 are extensive and focused on creating a powerful, high-performance drift car. 

The project has involved overcoming numerous challenges, such as limited space for the V10 engine and compatibility issues with various components. 

The result is a unique and highly modified car that is sure to turn heads on the track, and we can’t wait to see the finished article!

At Safely Insured we are proud to sponsor Driftworks in their endeavours. If you need any custom parts to modify your own vehicle or even start your own project, is a one-stop-shop for anything you need! And whilst you’re at it, check out our specialist modified car insurance.