• NIGHT RIDER

    With custom styling, custom wheels and attention to detail to die for, this is one of the best E39s around. Prowling the dark streets of London is a devilish #BMW-5-Series that makes grown men go weak at the knees… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Rash Bajwa.


    While the 3 Series may still rule the roost when it comes to the modified #BMW scene, it’s nice to see that the E39 is most definitely coming on strong. Back when I bought mine two years ago, there didn’t seem to be many Fives about and hardly any BMs on air-ride at all in general, but now it’s become a killer combination, and there are some stunning E39s about, such as this one, arguably one of the best E39s anywhere. Its owner is Sumil Pancholi and what makes his beautiful 5 Series all the more impressive is not just the painstaking level of detail but the fact that he’s gone from stock to show car in just six months.

    Now, Sumil is no stranger to modified cars, as he tells me when we meet one chilly night for his shoot: “I’ve definitely always been into cars and modding,” he says, “and I used to read Max Power and Fast Car when I was younger. When it was my turn to start modifying cars people had stopped playing with Corsas and Saxos and moved onto German cars so it got more expensive.”

    After a stint with VWs and then Audis, Sumil decided to move on to BMWs to “see what all the fuss was about” and judging by the fact that I’m here writing about his E39 it’s fair to say that he realised the fuss was fully justified and stuck with BMWs.

    The 530i is his third BMW, having been preceded by an E46 330d and an E92 330d: “After the E92 I wanted something a bit different and practical,” he says. “I thought the E39 was a beautiful car originally but I’d never seen one that had been extensively modified. I bought the car as a daily and while I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far,” he laughs. “It’s a Champagne I limited edition model. I specifically wanted a Champagne car – only 150 examples were produced and I’d never had a black car before plus I liked the lightcoloured interior.” Having been produced in such small numbers, however, means that Champagnes are not easy to come by and it took Sumil around five months of searching before this car appeared in Leicester. “I took the coach up, test drove the car, fell in love with it and bought it on the spot,” he grins and while during the first four months of ownership the car remained stock, the last six have been a whirlwind…

    We really should talk about the wheels first because not only are they a main attraction on this E39, Sumil’s actually owned them for four years. We’ll let him explain… “The wheels were originally Hartge Design Es and I had them on the E92 – originally they were Sparkling graphite to match the car and then I went for Midnight purple but for the E39 I wanted something different. On the E92 they were 8.5s and 9.5s but I wanted wider dishes, so I had them resurfaced to make them into Design C, the reason being that on the C the lips are facemounted so you get to see all of them so you get a bigger dish. For the extra width I ordered Radinox lips from Germany, which have taken the wheels to 10.25” wide up front and 10.75” at the rear, and I had the centres finished in a custom red with gold bolts. I knew when I was buying the car that I wanted air-ride so it’d be practical and I could drive it low but still get over speed bumps so I had an Air Lift kit fitted but that was all I had been planning on doing…”

    Before Sumil had bought the E39 it hadn’t been used much and the front arches had started rusting and the rears were also bubbling so he decided to have the car resprayed before deciding to do a bit of work on the styling front. “I hadn’t seen anything I liked and I wasn’t keen on the off the- shelf stuff so I knew that I was going to go down the custom route.” Dips at Custom Cars was tasked with handling all of the styling work on the car, beginning with the front bumper, blending in an E46 M3 front splitter onto the Sport bumper and also blending in a pair of Hamann foglight covers that Sumil got his hands on. The fogs themselves were then tinted and the front plate was made removable to give the car a cleaner look. With the front taken care of, Sumil turned his attention to the rear end, with the intention of giving the car a CSL bootlid and bought an add-on spoiler. This was to be blended onto the existing bootlid, but not before also deciding to go for a shorter rear number plate recess. In order for that to happen, a donor bootlid was purchased for £25 and Dips used the outer sections of the recess to create the requested smaller recess, blending it and the CSL lip seamlessly onto the existing bootlid.


    It has been trimmed down a touch, though, as it was just a bit too high and now, according to Sumil, it looks much better. After the boot came the bonnet with its E92 M3 power bulge. It’s probably the most impressive and dramatic of the styling modifications but making it happen was no easy task: “I wanted the bonnet to be a focal piece,” says Sumil, “and after a lot of searching I found an aftermarket M3 mould in Germany – it was a nightmare to get hold of, it was hard to source and it was hard to communicate with the seller, but in the end I managed to get my hands on it.”

    The job of adding the power bulge to the bonnet began as well as removing the BMW roundel and smoothing the recess. “I hate join lines,” says Sumil, “I like having everything blended in so the car looks like it could have come from the factory like that and so it looks subtle so people won’t necessarily notice the changes. I took a risk by doing something different with the E39 but it was worth it as I love the way the car looks now.” We’re inclined to agree, as the three hit combo of front lip, bonnet and boot is a seriously powerful one, not only endowing this E39 with a sense of aggression and drama that even the Sport models lack, but makes for a truly individual statement, and it’s one that has really made this Five stand out from the crowd.


    That is, however, only the beginning, as that aforementioned attention to detail is what really makes the difference and there are countless additional styling touches throughout the car that bring all the elements together. Now, red wheels on a black car is a great combination, but Sumil’s theme for the whole car is champagne and strawberries, and so there are actually countless red details throughout the car.


    On the outside the front lip, grilles, spoiler lip and rear diffuser have all been finished in a custom black red shade, so they look black until the light hits them and that’s when you get a subtle flash of dark red, though less subtle are custom blacked-out headlights with red angel eyes… The red theme extends to the engine bay, too, with numerous red highlights plus the fan cowling has been painted black red, but what you’re really going to be looking at under the bonnet, aside from the sexy Gruppe M carbon intake, is the rather flamboyant washer bottle setup: “So, I love vodka,” says Sumil, “and in the E92 I actually had a Grey Goose washer bottle – I wanted to do that again but with the E39 I needed something that would tie in with my colour scheme, so I opted for a Ciroc Red Berry bottle and Dips added a red LED so I can light it up when I’m parked up at a show with the bonnet open.”

    The interior has also been treated to some love and attention; the steering wheel has been retrimmed by Royal Steering Wheels, the rim now being thicker and there’s Champagne stitching to match the seats, which has also been added to the gear selector and handbrake gaiters, while the trims have also been sprayed in the same shade of black red as the exterior elements, with that deep red metallic flake catching the light beautifully. There’s also a custom mounting pod for the Audison Bit Ten DRC controller, as Sumil’s quite into his sounds, as demonstrated by the absolutely astonishing boot build. The E39’s sound system is pretty dire and with in-car audio being so important to Sumil, it was inevitable that he would turn his attention to this area of the Five. Inside, Morel components have been fitted up front while JL coaxials reside on the parcel shelf, all powered by a JL 600/4 HD amp with an Audison Bit Ten processor, while the boot is home to two JL 10W7AE subs powered by a JL 1200/HD amp, and the whole system allows for full wireless music streaming.

    The boot is also where you’ll find the airride install, with the twin tanks painted in the same custom red as the wheels, with gold hardlines just like the bolts on his Hartges, with everything trimmed in Alcantara. It’s seriously spectacular, just like the rest of the car.

    “I’ve done a lot in ten months,” muses Sumil as we stand admiring his E39, and he’s not wrong. It’s been pretty much a non-stop whirlwind of activity from the moment the project got off the ground until now, but it’s been more than worth it as he’s created an amazing machine. “For now I’m very happy,” he says, and while there is talk of a supercharger that’s got to wait a while until his funds recover. There’s no rush, though – as far as Sumil’s concerned, this car is most definitely a keeper and that comes as no surprise as it has become an extension of Sumil himself and is going to be a big part of his life for a very long time to come…

    I took a risk by doing something different but it was worth it Sumil Pancholi.

    19” three-piece Hartges are absolutely stunning while the subtle black red highlights include the spoiler lip.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i-AirRide-E39 / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , Grüppe M carbon intake, custom Ciroc Red Berry vodka screen wash bottle, red engine bay highlights, five-speed #Steptronic #ZF5HP gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10.25x19” (front) and 10.75x19” (rear) #Hartge Design C wheels with 3.25” Radinox lips, custom red centres and gold bolts with 235/35 (front and rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #AirLift-Performance air-ride with V2 management, K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 356mm grooved discs (front).


    EXTERIOR Custom bonnet with powerdome, #BMW roundel delete, washer jets moved to windscreen wipers, custom front bumper with Hamann foglight covers and custom CSL splitter moulded in, custom air intake holes in centre grill, smoked foglights, custom blacked-out headlights, red angel eyes, rear diffuser, custom CSL-style bootlid with custom red lip, shortened numberplate recess, M5 door mirrors, custom LED lit door handles, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler.

    INTERIOR Fully refurbed Champagne interior, thicker steering wheel with Champagne stitching by Royal Steering Wheels, gear selector and handbrake gaiters with Champagne stitching, air tanks painted custom red, gold hardlines.

    AUDIO 5.25” Morel components (front), JL coaxials (rear), JL 600/4 HD amp, 2x JL 10W7AE subwoofers, JL 1200/HD amp, Audison Bit Ten processor, #Audison-Bit-Ten DRC controller, KnuKonceptz wiring.

    THANKS Dips for all his work on the car, my mum, my sister and my partner Vanika for being so patient with me for talking about cars all the time and spending most of my time with Dips or on the phone to him.

    Red colour-coding abundant in engine bay, including funky Cirroc Red Berry vodka washer bottle.

    While I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far Sumil Pancholi.
    • What’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punchWhat’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punched its way to the silver medal position. A Champagne edition E39 530i is a great place to start and this one has been treated to some extensive custom body work, including a custom bonnet with power dome, custom front bumper and custom CSL-style bootlid. A set of custom-finished Hartge Design C wheels with Radinox dishes and red centres have also been added and air-ride fitted for good measure, with a spectacular boot build. The engine bay has red detailing throughout and there’s even a Ciroc Red Berry vodka screenwash bottle with red illumination. With some sensational mods and stunning attention to detail throughout, it’s one of the best E39s about.  More ...