It’s Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH - story fullscreen Fullscreen

It’s Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH

This old BMW E46 shows just how much weight you can remove from your race car

This old BMW E46 shows just how much weight you can remove from your race car

LISTEN 04:28

Building a budget-friendly project car for racing purposes is a goal for many car and motorsport enthusiasts. Luckily, even if you’re not officially versed in the art of wrenching, it is possible to achieve this. This is, in no small part, thanks to channels like ChrisFix. Despite his age, Chris has already proven quite a capable mechanic and his videos are highly informative. This time, it’s all about weight reduction on his BMW 330ix project race car and we’ll see just how much you can remove and how it affects performance.

It's Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH
- image 993471
More weight reduction after adding the roll-cage
The door panels and most of the dash are still on

In every comparison, there is a “before” and “after", which is why we start by gathering some measurable data. We first get the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) times.

The BMW consistently achieves around 6.8 seconds, with the best being 6.79 seconds.

Next, Chris utilizes a set of racing scales in order to determine the car’s weight. As it turns out, the all-wheel-drive BMW weighs 3,370 pounds (1,529 kg) with all required fluids and a quarter of a tank of gas. The goal is to get below 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg). The weight reduction will consist of removing all the seats, trunk liners, plastic bits, carpets, headlining and sunroof, and dashboard.

It's Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH
- image 993479
Removing the seats and changing the battery is just the beginning
All plastic trim pieces are removed. The result is 3,043 pounds

Removing the seats saves 180 pounds (82 kg), while the rear-mounted battery alone weighs 45 pounds (20 kg). That has been replaced by a lightweight battery, weighing just 25 pounds (11.3 kg). Getting “all the junk from the trunk” saved another 75 pounds (34 kg) plus 50 pounds (22.7 kg) worth of a spare tire, tools, and some top-up fluids.

Next up are the interior trim pieces, like the A and B-pillar covers, and door sills. The trick about removing these plastics is using a “hard jerking motion”. The center console is in good shape and worth reselling to recuperate some of the car’s value, so Chris is extra careful with it.

Removing all this saves 50 pounds (22.7 kg), bringing the weight down to 3,043 pounds (1,380 kg).
It's Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH
- image 993474
How do 430 pounds less improve performance?
0 to 60 mph now happens in 5.97 seconds and the stopping distance is almost 30 feet shorter

Next to go are the carpets, which require the throttle pedal to be removed – a surprisingly easy procedure. Removing the carpet requires some careful cutting along the center console, as there are wires behind it. The rear carpet can simply be pulled up and removed. The result is a curb weight of 2,998 pounds (1,360 kg). Goal achieved, but it’s not over yet.

The next step is removing the sound deadening that’s bonded to the metal. The reason is that the roll cage cannot be welded on top of it, since it’s flammable. The solution is dry ice. Simply pour it over, cover it, and in 15 minutes start hammering it out with a rubber mallet. The end result is 2,972 pounds (1,348 kg). The headliner and sunroof drop another 40 pounds (18 kg). A lightweight sunroof delete kit is used to fill the hole on the roof – it only adds 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Another 15 pounds (6.8 kg) were lost from the dashboard and still, there’s more weight to be shed. For now, Chris is happy with the 2,940-pound (1,333 kg) figure.

It's Easier Than You Think To Make Your BMW 3 Series (E46) Faster to 60 MPH
- image 993475
Even before the "diet", the E46 performs valiantly
It manages a 6.79-second time to 60 mph (97 km/h)

A total of 430 pounds (195 kg) were lost from the “diet”. What does this mean performance-wise?

On the third run after the “diet”, Chris managed 5.97 seconds to 60 mph (97 km/h) – almost a full second quicker than before.

More importantly, cornering speeds and handling have also improved. Less weight means better braking times. A significant improvement of 138 feet, compared to the 170-figure from before. More power is always good, provided you can put it to the ground, but this video just goes to show how much difference weight reduction can make.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
About the author

Related Articles

2000 BMW E46 M3 review

1999 - 2005 BMW E46

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: