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over the course of our life time, we have worked on some pretty cool cars, but for both of us, this was a true first. With less than 5000 units ever introduced to the US, the original grand daddy M3 is truly one of the most rare cars on the road today.

This particular model, owned by a great guy out of Colorado, and was in california for a full refresh with motor and suspension work. the icing on the cake was that we were going to do a full blown SQ build in it!

But there was a catch, because of the special nature of the vehicle, we were given strict guidelines on what we CANNOT cut: ANY METAL, and where we were to install the speakers (all the locations you see were dictated by the customer). I think this makes perfect sense in that a car like this should be reserved on the interior, not have pods sticking out of pillars or dashes, and a clean trunk build. So its game on!

Goals:

1. achieve a nice level of SQ utilizing OEM-ish locations

2. Install the subwoofer in the front passenger foot well but not hinder the kick panel speaker operation

3. maintain as stealthy of an appearance as possible, anything we fabricate that is visible must carry that theme.

so lets get started.

first, let us marvel at the gem that is an 1988 E30 M3...this was one of my dream cars while in college, the bulging fenders, the stance, the angular shape...love everything about it :)









the car came with a headunit already installed along wtih some other "audio work" that was pretty bad, the only piece the customer asked us to retain was the JVC kameleon unit, while not exactly our cup of tea, it does offer a decent signal source and if desired, it can always be swapped out later. I went in and cleaned up the wiring a like this is essentially the same as before:



The front stage is pure illusion audio, and consists of a C6 midbass, a C4 midrange and the carbon tweeter. Since the customer asked to put the midrange in the kicks and for us to fabricate a door pod for the midbass, we set out to figure out how best to make it look integrated and OEM.

for reference, this is the oem door, note the map pocket upfront:



after some thinking and designing, joey worked his magic and came up with a set of door pods that are perhaps the best complimentary and stock looking i have ever seen. the shape follows the oem map pocket and naturally extends up to "completion", it is angular like the rest of the car's interior and exterior, and features a trapzoid press fit grille to complete the look.

we had several people come and take a look at the car, and almost all of them thought that was a stock piece :)







the carbon tweeter, with its unique beryllium copper diaphram, peaks out behind the OEM tweeter mounting grille:



the grille is a cosmetic piece and is meant to be on 99 percent of the time, but should one fancy a glance at the carbon C6 midbass, you can pop it off and see it, though not meant to be really displayed, the pod is still finished with a black vinyl trim panel.





here it is with the door closed:



the passenger side:













let us take a look at how these babies were build...

first the map pocket was removed from the door panel, and a piece of cardboard was used to lay out the rough shape:



then the woodworking began, each pod is essentially a three layer construction. here you see them stacked together before the centers were routed out:



one of the panels is seen here with what will eventually become the grille:



after a lot of work, here are all the peices that will come together to form the pod and the grille:



once they are bonded together, they are test fitted to the door and adjustments made:





then they are prepped, painted with high build, sanded down, and after quite a few repeat cycles, you end up with these:











I then took over and ran two pairs of speaker wires into the doors:



and sound proofed the outter and inner door skin with a combination of focal blackhole tile, and STP mat and foam:











then the door pods were secured to the door card, door reattached, and the speaker bolted in place, and the trim panel inserted:





here are three pics of the grille:







It was my job to install the tweeters, and after looking at it, what i did was to remove the grille from the illusion tweeters, pop the oem grilles off, bond the tweeter to the opening from the back, and then reinstall the factory grilles. and voila! factory looking carbon tweeters :)



 

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I then turned my attention to the midranges, which is to go into the stock kick panel location. Since no panels can be cut and the grille cover cannot be modified and needs to remain stock looking, i had to figure out a way to recess the speaker a lil. so i came up with these baffles that mount he illusion audio carbon c4 mids to be the same height as the metal:



it was then coated with truck bedliner, but without any water in the kicks, this purely to make them black and not visible through the grille:



here are some pretty fuzzy pics of the driver side as the lighting was bad.

there is a hornets nest of wires back there from perhaps the old alarm install, i cleaned up some but mostly tucked them out of the way. i then applied stp sound proofing mat on the inside of the cavity:



then i installed the baffles using the oem hardware, and soundproofed the entire area to seal it off:



next i wired up and installed the C4:



and finally, to prevent any contact of the oem kick panel to the speaker, i laid down two layers of foam gasket around the speaker to space the panel out a lil:



the passenger side, done on a different day, is much clearer for yall to see. (not to mention less wires lol)









so thats it for the front stage...or is it? :D

as mentioned before, one thing the customer absolutely wanted was the subwoofer upfront in the passenger side foot well. initially this kinda baffled me as this car really isnt that well suited for a front sub.

there isnt a lot of room to be had under the carpet, and with the midrange in the kicks, we cannot come out very far before severely compromising the performance of that driver. in other words, we had to make a box that is both very shallow and pretty small.

Having previous worked with the illusion audio c10 in an undersized box, we pciked it for this car, even though knowing just how small the box will be still had me worried a lil bit.

another issue we struggled with was what to carpet the box in. the interior carpet is completely faded after 25 years, and no carpet we had even came close to that odd color. after discussing it with the customer, we decided to go with simple black carpet, because at least then it would match the black plastic on the rest of the interior.

so here is the normal view when a rubber floor mat is in place, i would suggest custom fit floor mats in the future, but these do a good job of hiding the enclosure for hte most part:



remove the floor mat and here is what you see, a simple enclosure with a center grille. for the sake of the midrange, we wanted to make the enclsoure as shallow as possible, so this literally as with the sub almost touching the back mold. making a full flush mount would result in the enclosure being built out by another 3/4", and would basically be right up to the grille opening on the kick panel, so we did it this way and the center grille stands out a lil bit:



pop off the grille and the beautiful illusion audio C10 stares at you:





now here is a shot i doubt we will see too often, if ever again, dueling carbons upfront :)



this box, i would sare say, is no more than .4 cub feet, if that...lets take a quick look at how its build.

first oem foam under the carpet is removed, gaining us a valuable coupla inches, then the area was tapped off and the floor mold done:



that mold was then removed and trimmed, and a simple front baffle attached, it was then put back in the car and the edges filled to precisely match the contours of the foot well:



then the enclosure was carpeted and stuffed with focal blackhole stuff:



and installed back into the car:



the breathable grille was then made and carpeted, with a foam pad in the middle to protect the C10's magnet:





 

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now comes the wiring pics, and i only have three in the interior, as all the wires i ran down the driver side, to avoid the factory main power cable on the passenger side, everything is neatly routed and ziptied:







moving onto the trunk. first the battery/fuse.

Joey fabricated a metal bracket that bolts in next to the battery to locate a single mosconi ANL fuse:









The customer wanted a completely hidden and stealthy look in the trunk...but after some discussion, we were allowed to a cutout of some sort to show off the gear. but again, the idea here IS NOT showiness :)

so here is the view with everything closed, up, all looks pretty much normal, a new fake wall is built that comes out about 3" from the oem divider, and thats about it:







grab the pull strap and remove the center grille, and here is what you see, a rack housing three mosconi amplifiers and a mosconi 6to8 DSP is show. again, the idea here is just to give it a lil something to look at, and the way the amps and dsps are laid out is the only way they can all fit back there, thus leading to the non symmetrical appearance behind the cutout. there is a simple vinyl trimmed board to set it all off around the opening.







a quick look at the wiring behind the panel done by me:



A mosconi one 120.4 powers the tweeter and midrange with 120 watts RMS each, two 240.2s power the midbass (240 watts) and sub (700 watts bridged).

the trunk fab is a pretty straightward affair. first a panel was built and all the mounting points preceisely located and a bunch of threaded inserts installed. this panel was then carpeted and handed to me for wiring:



after a few hours, here is the entire rack wired up and ready to go back into the car. it should be noted that i had to remove two of the amps as the big bolts that go into the rivet nuts installed in the metal partition had to go in first (sorry both of us forgot to take pics of those rivet nuts lol)









here is the main vertical panel before and and during carpeting:





joey also fabricagted some metal tabs that bolt to this piece, installed two rivet nuts in the roof of the trunk, and the entire panel is secured by two bolts going up:







and a quick gander at the upholstered panel and grille:





so...thats it! :)

how does it sound? truth be told, i didnt have really high expectations going in...the stock location and the small sub enclosure suggested they would be limiting factors.

but boy was i surprised. after playing wtih the xovers, the phasing, and eq, this car sounds quite good actually! :)

tonality wise, it is very pleasant to listen to, just well balanced overall wtih no obvious issues.

imaging wise, the width is superb and the depth is not too bad, center image is very stable and centered but a lil bit diffuse, which is to be expected. the height is right on top of the dash. just another proof to me that its really hard to make these carbons sound bad and they excel in a really wide range of locations.

but what REALLY surprised me was the sub. the C10 calls for an enclosur of .65 to .75 i would say, and we are about half that :eek: i was expecting something like mt everest in response, a big bump in 60-80hz range, and drastically following off at the bottom end.

well, as soon as i powered up i realized my worries were unfounded. sure there is a bit of bump in the 60-80hz range, but the bottom end is nice and full with very nice extension.

I dont think i have ever installed this powerful of a sub in the front foot wells, and with 700 watts on tap, the first time i played a song with impact, it literally made me jump out of my seat...the front carbons and the sub blends together really well and listening to anything with impact makes your feel it deep in your chest.

a quick RTA look at the NATURAL response of the sub confirmed what i was hearing, as you can see, the bottom end is not too bad at all:



three quick adjustments on the 6ot8dsp, and it was flat as a board...

really got to handed to the guys at ORCA, this is truly an amazing sub....the funny thing is joey had more faith than i did and i had been working with these drivers a lot longer, he told me based on what he has heard from the carbon subs in more optimal enclosures with so much bottom end, it should do fine stuffed in this tiny box...and he was right! :)

anyway, thats it, the car is leaving on a shipping truck to go back to colorado. :)

cheers,

Bing
 

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Can I just come stand in a corner and watch y'all for about a week?
I promise I'll be quiet. lol
 

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I completely agree, those door are beautiful!!!
 

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Another beautiful build, I really like how you were able to do all this custom work and still keep a very OEM looking interior. That takes some real talent. :2thumbsup: If I wasn't in Illinois I'd be thrilled to have you guys do some Fab work on my 93 Eldo SC.
 

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I dropped by on Thursday to go over some options for my ride. Bing had me take a quick audition. He didn't really say much other than " have a seat ".

While carefully jumping in I noticed the detail in the doors-- very nice and smooth. The pods just flowed with the interior. I really like it when speakers don't stand out. These were very well thought out and executed perfectly IMHO. I took a look around and other than the tweets in the sail nothing really stood out to me. Just a nice stealth and stock appearance.

When he turned the music on I was expecting the bass to come from the back, but it was rock solid and very upfront. Once he showed me the stealthy box and that little C10 I was pretty impressed. It was hitting all the upper notes that any 10 can hit, so I was waiting for the low stuff to come along and the sub to no call no show. Well when the low stuff came it hit everything.... with authority. I was not expecting the low stuff to be so solid and just there. No peaks. When he told me the size of the box I was floored. A ten. That solidly went low. In a mini-me box. W O W.

Great execution guys! I wish I had more time to audition, but I try to be respectful of people's time. We are very lucky to have you guys locally. For those that are not local perhaps Bing and Joey are one step ahead and have a preferred hauling service worked out.

You guys are doing something very special in this industry. Know this and enjoy every day!
 

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You guys have become the benchmark for my work....think like you guys and I might get there someday. Everything looks stellar! Pods match the style of the car to a tee!
 

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Very cool build on a classic! You guys are true craftsmen.
And Bing, we'll have to discuss some door Pods for my 9's in the LS. Yep!
 
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