Blown LS-swapped BMW 328i M Sport – REFINED

BYE Performance's new skid car demonstrates why all BMWs should come with a blown V8 up front

Photographers: Jordan Leist

Turning your daily driver into a cool project is an awesome trick most of us have pulled at some point, but Justin Pitsikas of BYE Performance has taken it to a new level. The West Aussie started with a 2015 BMW F30 M Sport sedan that served as comfortable daily transport and turned it into this righteous blown event car called REFINED.

First published in the June 2022 issue of Street Machine

Turned out in just three months, this angry more-door was built to bang tyres and showcase the depth of the BYE crew’s talents, while giving the punters something new to look at.

“I bought the car to build a skid car, but because it was so nice, I drove it for a year while I collected parts,” Justin laughs. “I planned this build for quite a few years, as there was a lot to go into it. I wanted something different to skid and something nice to drive. It was a great challenge, and I don’t think anyone is going to copy it for a while yet.”

Black Magic Race Cars handled the job of back-halving the Beemer, cutting out the factory wheel bins, rails and structure so that a custom four-link and tubs could be installed.

Up front, the stock turbo four-cylinder was turfed in favour of a spicy iron-block LS, with the stock K-frame modified to suit. The floor and trans tunnel also copped mods to position the drivetrain in the right spot.

These 5.3-litre truck motors are renowned for their ability to take abuse, and Justin had BYE’s Michael Deards fill this one with a Kelford cam, Isky short-travel lifters, a Callies crank, Carrillo rods and 10.5:1 CP Bullet pistons. The heads are stock Gen III truck items save for Manley springs and Ferrea valves, while Trend 3/8-inch pushrods join the valvetrain together.

Interestingly, this car uses drive-by-wire electronics instead of a traditional cable to operate the throttle, paired with the Link Thunder ECU, which also runs the 16 injectors. A Moroso four-stage dry sump keeps the black gold in the right places when doing high-speed tip-ins, while the Blower Shop high-helix billet 6/71 pump and custom JBR carbon hat top the combo off.

It may not pack the most cubes, but on methanol the angry little-block has made 1100rwhp at 33psi while wheel-spinning on the dyno. Impressively, despite the factory block, Justin has also accidentally turned it to 8500rpm on the pad!

“We tried to keep the engine relatively cheap,” Justin says. “The drive-by-wire controls the injector hat and keeps it off limiter, and the tuneability, driveability and reliability of EFI just can’t be beaten.”

A billet converter from Race Transmissions Australia (RTA) lives in front of the Reid-cased Powerglide, also by RTA, while Final Drive sorted a two-piece chrome-moly tailshaft and sheet-metal nine-inch. The latter has been filled with 40-spline axles, a full spool and 3.2:1 gears. “Ratios can be difficult to sort out with skid cars, because it depends on the car’s weight, the tyre size, rpm range and more,” Justin says.

The biggest challenge in the build actually came from an invisible enemy: electronics. Justin admits his desire to integrate all the F30’s electronic functions significantly increased the project’s complexity. “BMW’s wiring systems are all CAN bus, and it’s just crazy how it all operates,” he says. “Working that out was definitely the most difficult part of the build. We removed every piece of BMW wiring out of it, and I rewired it from front to back. Everything works, including the third brake light, mirror indicators and the vanitylights on the mirror.

“The driver’s seat caused heaps of issues, though, because it has a computer to control it. The only way we got it working was to rip all of that out and use a wiring loom from the passenger side of a left-hand-drive car, and now all the electric seats work just like new.”

For handling, coil-over struts live at each end. There are Silver’s units up front and Strange Engineering items out back, which work with the Black Magic Race Cars fabricated anti-roll bar to provide stable handling.

Once the fab work was handled, Justin had the 3 Series shell resprayed in the factory bright red, but with more metallic and pearl tipped into the mix. It’s a stunning look when paired with the 20×9 and 20×12 custom Simmons OM-1 wheels, which offer a street machine spin on the classic mesh BMW look.

“We had to get all the offsets carefully measured up to suit the front end,” says Justin of the new rollers. “These are complete custom three-piece wheels and they took nine months to build, but everyone loves them. They’re something everyone mentions when they see the car.” On debut at Motorvation 2022, REFINED caused a sensation from the minute it opened activities on Skid Row. However, Justin reckons the project was causing a fuss from the very beginning.

“When we were cutting it up, people thought it was sick and couldn’t believe it,” he laughs. “I tried to nail the project from the get-go so I didn’t compromise on anything, although if I could have found an F82 M-car shell, I’d have definitely done it to that!”

Justin is quick to give BYE’s Gavin Van Breukelen kudos for helping him get the Beemer to where it is today. “He helped me assemble a lot of the car and stayed back with me after hours and weekends over the Christmas break to get it ready to debut at Motorvation,” he says. “He went the extra mile.” Anyone wanting to check it out in the metal will get that chance at Gazzanats Darwin in August, and Justin is also aiming to hit Street Machine Summernats 35 in Canberra next January!

2015 BMW 328i M SPORT

Paint: Red
Brand: GM 5.3L LS
ECU: Link Thunder
Supercharger: The Blower Shop billet high-helix 6/71
Camshaft: Kelford custom
Conrods: Carrillo I-beam
Pistons: CP Bullet
Crank: Callies DragonSlayer
Oil system: Moroso four-stage dry sump
Fuel system: Three Walbro 525 fuel pumps
Cooling: Toyota 105-series Land Cruiser radiator
Exhaust: Custom 2in headers, twin 4in system, custom mufflers
Ignition: LS3 coils, MSD leads
Gearbox: RTA Reid-case Powerglide
Converter: RTA billet
Diff: Sheet-metal 9in, 40-spline axles, full spool, 3.2:1 gears
Front: Silver’s coil-overs, custom K-frame
Rear: Black Magic Race Cars rear clip and four-link, Strange Engineering
Brakes: BMW M3 discs (front only)
Master cylinder: BMW
Rims: Simmons OM-1; 20×9 (f), 20×12 (r)
Rubber: Pirelli; 245/30R20 (f), 345/25R20 (r)

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