Bringing a Last Gen Car to Current Gen Standards

Many cars are a victim of the time period in which they are born. It’s best described as an in-between period where new technologies are just starting to become standard and manufacturers have to decide if this new car model will get the new tech or stick with the old tech.

I bought a BMW E92 M3 a little over a year ago. I detailed my decision making process to purchasing the car and a rather large issue I had with the car. I believe my E92 M3 is one of the “in-betweeners”. Here’s why.

First update to current gen – Angel Eyes LED lights

It is sad that at the time my M3 was new, all of the American muscle car offerings came with white/blue LED halo ring lights in their grills, but the benchmark for all performance coupe and sedans did not.

My M3 came stock with yellow bulbs which are not the most visibly appealing version of BMW’s “angel eyes”. I decided to update the bulbs to LUX H8 160 7000k Angel Eyes.

The big update to current gen – Borla ATAK Exhaust

You didn’t think I was just going to write an article about light bulbs did you?

Most stock exhausts even for performance cars attempt to silence the sounds as best as they can for the consumer market as a whole, sadly it’s not just about us enthusiasts. The new technology that has come out features electronically controlled exhaust notes. In recent years, I would point to the Jaguar F-Type as the first (or maybe best) car where manufacturers began controlling exhaust notes through the computer to produce a desired exhaust note and allowing the customer to choose MILD to WILD through dashboard options.

If you do not know the science of it, basically, an engineer sits in the car with his laptop (and Microsoft Excel or something) and tells the car to spit extra fuel to burn off in the exhaust. This produces the crackles/pops/bangs a car like the Jaguar F-Type produces.

I do not know of any way to cost effective aftermarket way produce this manufacturer technology of telling the computer to do X action to produce Y sound, the only option is an aftermarket exhaust which is manufactured to product the wanted sound based on throttle modulation vs. fuel burn off.

Many aftermarket exhausts provide the desired cruising exhaust note with the more raucous exhaust noise when you get on it. In my opinion, the best bang for your buck option is a Borla exhaust, particularly their ATAK series of exhausts.

This was not my first foray into Borla, my ’13 Camaro SS I owned before the M3 had a Borla ATAK, but it was only axle back. That required me to cut my mufflers off. The exhaust for my M3 is a full Cat-back set up.

How I did it

Borla provides everything you need in the box with the exception of your tools. You get two mufflers (a left and a right), two clamps, and two flared nipples.

The tools you need are 3/8 drive ratchet, a 3/8 drive extension, 15mm socket, 13mm socket, and a bottle of spray lubricant to lube up all of the rubber hangers.

I will tell you, if you have not dealt with rubber exhaust hangers before you will invent a bunch of new curse words. I recommend locating a tool pictured below, I am not sure what to call it, “Rubber Hanger Remover”.

My friend Bryan let me borrow it and without it I am not sure how the exhaust hangers would have released the metal exhaust pieces without lighting it on fire which would have stunk and ruined the hangers. This rubber hanger pain is a frustration on any car with exhaust rubber hangers and no fault of Borla.

I recommend backing your car up on Race Ramps to get at least 6-8 inches of clearance, but I am sure ol’ Wal-Mart special ramps or DIY wood ramps can do the trick as well as long as they are tall enough. The reason I recommend ramps versus jacking the back up on jackstands is to decrease the risk that all the hanger pulling could knock the car off the jackstands. Looking back, it would have definitely happened for a few of the rubber hangers.

Fighting all the rubber hangers I was able to rest my arms and take notice of all the hidden ///M and ///M3 badges.

Do you see the hidden badge in this one?

I am not going to go step by step on how to install the exhaust, Borla does an amazing job already providing detailed directions. I just wanted to provide you some of my tips/tricks on how I made my life easier.

Many DIY installs will mention getting jackstands to hold the exhaust up, but I recommend getting a storage tote (or a Waste Management recycling bin) to hold up the muffler portion and using jackstands just for the piping. If you attempt to jackstand the piping and the muffler you may be playing a balancing game while you are upside down, under a car. Skip that frustration and get something wider with some ability to flex.

The important part you were waiting for

I am a car enthusiast like you, these are just words about an exhaust and my hard work to install it.

It all means nothing, until you hear the before and after of the exhaust.

BMW E92 M3 Exhaust Comparison – Stock vs Borla ATAK from Danny Korecki on Vimeo.

Final thoughts

You cannot go wrong with a Borla exhaust for your car, especially an E9X M3. Some exhausts are $4,000+ and cannot produce this drone free exotic sound.

Since installing the exhaust, I have gotten so many thumbs up and nods on the road from the exponentially increased tone of the downshifts. One guy honked to get me to wind down my window so he could tell me my exhaust was “tuned perfectly”, I soaked up the moment and did not tell him it was 100% the exhaust. No tuning on my part.

Your “in-betweener” ride might not need new bulbs or an exhaust upgrade, but it probably needs something to add more smiles per gallon. I recommend updating a car to current gen standards in lieu of jumping straight into the next generation. You will appreciate your car even more because of the simple modification work into it.

“Buster became a gearhead.”

I recommend you follow my build on my Instagram which is 50% my M3, 25% my dog Loki and 25% of my car culture experiences.