2001 E46 M3: Active Autowerke
2001 BMW E46 M3 #JR10704
Supercharged 3.2-liter S54 inline six, 514 crankshaft hp/359 lb-ft
Titanium Silver metallic
Active Autowerke (since 2007)
As soon as it arrived in the US, the E46 M3 became a favorite of enthusiasts. Tuners, on the other hand, were a little wary of adding power to the high-revving, high-compression S54 engine, at least until BMW improved its rod bearings…and reduced redline from 8,000 to 7,600 rpm.
By the time BMW revised the S54 software, Karl and Mike Hugh at Active Autowerke in Miami, Florida had done almost the same thing. Reducing the rev limit to 7,700 rpm, they became the first to supercharge the S54 six-cylinder for big power.
The Hugh brothers grew in Jamaica, supercharging Volkswagens with their car-crazy father, Fred. At the University of Miami, they got into hot-rodding BMWs while studying business (Mike) and engineering (Karl). In 1981, they founded Active Autowerke. Starting with basic service, Active became South Florida’s premiere tuning shop by the mid-1990s, when the E36 M3’s S50/S52 engine encouraged the Hughs’ passion for both super- and turbocharging.
Medical sales executive and club racer Catesby Jones enlisted Active Autowerke to swap his 318ti’s M42 four-cylinder for an turbocharged S50 six. In 1999, Jones and fellow CCA club racer Peter Klein entered the car in One Lap of America and finished first in class, 3rd overall.
Two years later, Active Autowerke started working on a supercharged S54 for the E46 M3, and eight weeks later the team had increased output from 265 to 345 rwhp, torque from 231 to 265 lb-ft. By 2007, its supercharging kit had reached Generation 5. With Active’s own headers and Signature exhaust, total output climbed to 411 hp and 306 lb-ft when Karl Hugh lent it to Jones for another shot at One Lap in 2008.
Teamed with Jose Collado, Jones took home a class victory and 8th overall. “We just wanted to have fun, but we did pretty well just plugging away,” Jones says. “The car was good right out of the box, even though it was nearly stock except for the power.”
BMW and Active Autowerke have both moved on—Active’s latest supercharging kits boost E9X M3 output to 640 hp—the E46 remains a touchstone of BMW performance.
“The E46 M3 is such a special car, one of the last with the real feel of a classic BMW,” he says. “It really expresses how exciting BMWs are—not only to drive, but for the innovations and technological developments that BMW makes with each generation. Then the tuning community brings the cars to a new level. Active Autowerke has been passionate about tuning BMWs for almost 40 years now, and we’ll keep doing as long as we have that passion.”