GHOST IN THE SHELL
Wild, full-on builds have always been a big part of the modded BMW scene and make up a large part of PBMW’s rich history. Digging through our extensive archives for our 20th anniversary issue last month allowed us to appreciate some of the incredible and outrageous machines that have graced these pages over the past two decades and we reckon that Winston Lumanlan’s supercharged, metal wide-body E39 M5 has earned itself a place in the PBMW hall of fame. This is hands-down one of the most impressive cars we’ve ever featured, a build that ticks every box imaginable and which has been so utterly and comprehensively transformed that it’s a struggle to wrap your head around it all. And, while we full appreciate that the end result won’t be to all tastes, the standard and sheer amount of work that has been poured into this awesome project means that even if you don’t love it, you can’t approach this car with anything other than admiration and respect.
While you might assume that a car as eye-catching and downright outrageous as this would belong to a more youthful member of the modding family, we’re going to say that Winston is one of the ever-so- slightly more mature members of the modded BMW community – old enough to know better but young enough at heart not to care, a young head on mature shoulders. As the old saying goes: boys never grow up, they just get older and their toys get more expensive, and we’re glad of that. We would dread to see a day when people on the scene abandon their modded motors for more mundane and mature machinery once they get a bit older. No danger of that happening anytime soon, thankfully.
“I’ve been in the car show scene for about three decades,” Winston tells us as we sit down to chat motoring, past and present. “I started building Hondas and Toyotas but always wanted to fix up Euros but couldn’t afford them back then when I was barely out of school. My wife and I bought our first ever BMW in 2003, it was a 2000 E46. I love the body style of the E46 but we purchased it mainly because it was my wife’s dream car at the time,” he smiles. Since then, Winston has owned no less than seven BMWs in total, including the three he currently has – an E36 M3, F10 535i and this E39 M5 – and modding has been a big part of his automotive life.
In addition to all the Japanese machinery that he’s tweaked over the years he’s also turned his hand to modding two previous E39s and a couple of E Class Mercs. Looking back at his modded car history a clear pattern emerges, with each car having been treated to custom paint, a custom interior, audio, wheels and suspension. That pretty much set the direction in which this build was going to go but with everything turned up to 11, making this is without doubt the most full-on project that Winston has ever done.
Of course, before he could actually get started he needed to buy himself a car and there was only machine he wanted; “For me, this model was the last true M5 that was ever made. Not to take anything away from the other models, but I just love the body lines on this particular one,” he explains and, with his sights set on the mighty E39 M5, the hunt for a suitable car could begin. “This car was posted on one of the BMW forums,” he says. “It only had a single owner and was very well taken care of with very low miles. The owner barely drove it and was going to buy the newer M5. So my wife and I drove to Santa Cruz one Saturday just to ‘check it out’ and I did not have to think twice when I saw it. I drove it home that very same day,” he grins. Of course, being a serial modder meant that Winston had pretty much planned out this car’s modding journey before he’d even bought it in the first place and once he’d made a purchase he wasn’t about to waste time driving stock.
Step one was window tints as, Winston explains, that’s just about always the first mod he does to any of his cars and then it was time to get stuck into this project proper. Unlike most of the cars we feature, this was not a gradual build; Winston went in hard on the mods from the word go.
The first thing on Winston’s list was the styling and, as you can see, this was no small undertaking as just about everything on this car’s exterior is custom and one-off and it’s an incredibly dramatic-looking machine. “Even before I start any project, I almost always already have a vision of what I want to do and how the car will most likely turn out and look like,” he says. “I never put my plans on paper, though, as I am not like others who plan, draw or sketch. It’s just always visions in my mind. I saw it, I verbalised it and Buddha Concept Designs made it happen.
I was never a big fan of the over-fenders wide-body and I wanted to be different from the rest. The only things that weren’t touched were the door handles. I made sure that everything that we did on ‘The Beast’ was one-of-a-kind, from the custom metal wide-body to being the only E39 with a custom carbon fibre roof. The entire process took more than a year and many land and airline miles for trips to SoCal. I didn’t have any problems since Long and I were on the same page on what we wanted to accomplish from the very beginning,” Winston explains. Brothers Long and Jim Le of Buddha Concept Designs have done an incredible job on this car’s styling, especially considering they had to create a completely custom package based purely on Winston’s description of the vision he had in his head, which makes the end result even more impressive.
We’ve got a custom metal wide-body that endows this M5 with some seriously pumped-up arches and you can see just how much work has gone into this kit when you clock that the swell of the rear arches starts on the rear doors. The front and rear bumpers have been widened, the former having been fitted with a set of Mercedes E63 AMG side vents; the side skirts are made of metal and enhanced with the addition of carbon extensions, which match perfectly with the carbon front lip. Up front there’s no missing those smoked yellow headlights and the Schmiedmann bonnet with custom vents isn’t exactly shy, either. Then there’s the copious amount of shaving that’s been going on – the front and rear bumper mouldings, door mouldings and wing side markers have all been shaved for a much cleaner look. At the back, meanwhile, you will find a set of smoked LED lights along with a metal boot spoiler, AC Schnitzer Type R roof spoiler and a custom carbon fibre rear diffuser. The finishing touches include colour-coded custom yellow and white BMW badges, black door mirrors and we haven’t even talked about the colour. This custom shade of white is one which pictures sadly cannot do justice as the paint is filled with the most amazing metallic flake that shimmers in the light and picks out every single element of the car’s styling beautifully. There’s so much to take in that we feel like we need a sit down after all that but what’s so impressive is the fact that, despite there being so many elements that have been brought together in one car, it all works. Everything blends perfectly, with every component sitting perfectly alongside its neighbour and the extensive colour-coding of the elements across the car – the yellow, the white, the black and carbon – ties everything together. As far as visual spectacle goes, you’d have to go a long way to find something with more impact than this astonishing E39.
With styling as wild as this, Winston needed a serious set of wheels that would be able to adequately fill those vast arches and deliver enough visual drama to ensure that they wouldn’t get lost among everything else that he’s got going on, and it’s safe to say there’s no danger of that happening. What you are looking at is a set of 20”, three-piece, RSV Forged MS10 custom wheels, with brushed silver centres and just the most massive polished reverse lips. In order to ensure the wheels wouldn’t be lost beneath the cavernous arches, they measure 11” wide across at the front and a monstrous 12” at the back and they just manage to tuck beneath. Of course, there are few things more disappointing then peering through the spokes of a massive set of wheels only to be confronted with the sight of a set of tiny calipers but that’s absolutely not the case here, the yellow calipers of the vast BBK that Winston’s installed reflecting off the mirror-polished lips long before you’ve come face-to-face with them. The kit comes from R1 Concepts and up front you will find eight-piston calipers, with marginally smaller six-piston rears, and matching R1 Concepts ceramic pads and stainless steel brake lines all-round for maximum sustained stopping power.
With such an astonishing exterior there was simply no way the interior could remain stock and while Winston has obviously attended to the M5’s cabin, the amount of work that’s gone into it is almost more impressive than the exterior, which is really saying something. First of all, just about every surface bar the dash top and the tops of the doors has been given a custom finish and, secondly, just look at the seats. We see a lot of custom interiors in PBMW but fitting four bucket seats in an E39 is really something else. “I wanted the interior of this build to stand out. That’s when the idea of putting not just two but four custom bucket seats came in,” explains Winston. “For the rear centre console we built a custom enclosure for three 8” subwoofers and a TV monitor. The boot lid also has TV monitors for the gaming system and there’s an 18” subwoofer in the boot itself. The seats, headliner, door panels, mats and the whole boot setup were wrapped in Alcantara with diamond-stitched black and grey Alcantara (a suggestion from my teenage daughter, Mika) by Thomas Hernandez of Sick Stitches Upholstery,” he says. It’s rare to see cars with this level of ICE being built this these days and Winston’s E39 reminds us of the kind of show cars we used to feature back in the ’00s, bulging with speakers and games consoles, and we love it. The interior is just wild and we love that it carries on the colour-coding from the exterior; the black and grey Alcantara-trimmed carbon buckets have yellow highlights and yellow has also been used for the steering wheel’s centre stripe while the interior trims are white carbon fibre. The boot build is no less wild, with custom-painted yellow air tanks with digital voltage and pressure gauges, the illuminated M5 Ghost side panels and that monster downward-firing sub in the middle of it all while the three boot lid-mounted monitors allow you to have some fun with Winston’s on-board Nintendo Wii, because why wouldn’t you? The whole thing is outrageous, completely over-the-top and insanely fun with it and it just makes us smile, which is exactly what a build like this is all about.
Finally, we come to the last stop on our tour of this modified behemoth, also Winston’s last port of call on his modding journey with the car, and that’s the engine. The S62 V8 is a mighty power plant out of the box, packing an exceedingly healthy 400hp from its 4.9-litres and with a mountain of torque to match but there is always room for improvement. “When I started building this car I contacted Dinan and added its Stage 2 engine software, Dinan Cold Air Intake, Dinan 3.45 LSD, Dinan velocity stacks and a few more goodies,” says Winston. “I was happy with the additions but still didn’t get the power that I was looking for so I reached out to ESS Tuning. They provided me with a VT1-560 supercharger system and it was installed on ‘The Beast’ (as my daughters call the car) with the help of good friends Menard, Andrew and Chris Bundoc. It took six hours and a few beers but we finished it with no issue. My goal was to build a one-of-a-kind super sedan, not just for the looks but a complete show-and-go car,” he says and the supercharger most definitely adds that finishing touch to the whole build and elevates it to another level. Of course, with this being Winston, simply installing the supercharger kit wouldn’t have been nearly enough and the whole engine has been attended to in order to ensure that it lived up to the same standard as the rest of the car and there is – unsurprisingly – a lot of custom work to enjoy under the bonnet. The plenum and air box cover and even the cabin filter housing covers have all been painted white to match the exterior and the engine bay itself. The Vortech supercharger has been polished to within an inch of its life and the intake pipes have been treated to a striking custom hydro-dipped finish. Winston has also installed a custom Mishimoto oil cooler system, custom blow-off valve and Corteco engine mounts, while the exhaust system comprises a Supersprint X-pipe with a Meisterschaft GT2 rear section with quad pipes, which delivers a thunderous soundtrack. The transmission, meanwhile, has been uprated with the addition of a UUC 280mm organic clutch and lightweight flywheel and Rogue Engineering short-shift kit plus transmission mounts. As with the rest of this entire build, the performance and transmission upgrades are seriously comprehensive and let you know in no uncertain terms that this E39 M5 is very far removed from being a show queen and can absolutely hold its own out on the street.
Winston’s E39 M5 is really something else. It’s an incredible build that packs in more mods and custom elements than you can possibly imagine and trying to wrap our head around it all is a bit overwhelming really, but that’s exactly why we love it. Even after poring over this car we still feel like we’ve only really scratched the surface – the attention to detail that has gone into this M5 really is astonishing. Of course, it won’t be to all tastes; it will be too wild for some and plenty of people still struggle with the idea of building a performance car and putting it on air-ride but this car is to Winston’s taste and that, ultimately, is all that matters. Before he’d even bought this car he had a vision of what he wanted to create and now, two years on from that moment, he’s staring at the end result and it must feel so incredibly good. “Of all the things I have done with this car, my favourite mod would definitely be the custom wide body and the four bucket seats,” he grins. “The wide-body because it was my vision and I know that it’s the only one on the road. And for the seats, hardly anyone would think, let alone execute, putting four bucket seats in a car,” and that’s just one of the many mods that really makes this car stand out. So, the big question: is it finished? Well, there are no further plans, at least not at the moment, says Winston, though he does casually mention that an S85 V10 swap is on his money-no-object list of mods; “You never know!” he laughs, and we can’t help but feel it might be a case of when, rather than if… Of course, a man like Winston would never have just one project on the go – remember that E36 M3 we mentioned that he also owns? Well that’s his other project and, while he’s not about to give away any secrets, we just know it’s going to be something special. “That’s another sight to be seen when completed,” he grins and that’s saying something when you’ve just built what might be the most incredible E39 M5 we’ve ever seen. Long may it continue to blow minds wherever it goes.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS Supercharged wide-body E39 M5
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre V8 S62B50, ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system with polished Vortech V3Si supercharger unit, Dinan Tuned Velocity Stacks, ESS Tuning S62 e-flash software, custom hydro-dipped intake system pipes, custom blow-off valve, custom Mishimoto oil cooler system, Mishimoto M-Line oil cooler kit, custom chromed engine covers, Corteco engine mounts, custom painted plenum, custom painted air box cover, Supersprint X-pipe, Meisterschaft GT2 exhaust system. Getrag Type-D six-speed manual gearbox, UUC Performance 280mm organic clutch, UUC lightweight flywheel, clutch delay valve, Sachs Performance clutch stop, Rogue Engineering SSK, Rogue Engineering transmission mounts, Dinan 3.45 LSD
CHASSIS 11×20” (front) and 12×20” (rear) RSV Forged MS10 wheels with brushed centres and polished reverse lips, 285/25 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1-R tyres, Air Lift Performance air-ride, Air Lift Performance adjustable camber plates, Autopilot V2 digital management, custom iPhone wireless remote, Dinan Lower Control Arm Monoball Kit, Subframe Differential Reinforcement Kit and custom polished Strut Tower Brace, ECS wheel bearings, ECS centre tie rod, R1 Concepts BBK with eight-piston calipers and 380mm drilled/slotted discs (front) and six-piston calipers and 356mm discs (rear), R1 Concepts Performance Ceramic Pads, R1 Concepts stainless steel brake lines
EXTERIOR Custom white paint, 3M Paint Protection Film, SunTek CIR 70 window tint, one-off custom metal wide-body, custom widened front arches, rear doors and quarter panels, custom widened front and rear bumpers, Umnitza 6000K HID headlights, 4000K HID fog lights, ICE V6 angel eye upgrade, ION LED License Plate Lights V4 and Reverse Light LED, custom yellow smoked headlights, yellow fog lights, custom black painted kidney grilles, custom yellow/white BMW badges, custom painted black mirrors, Schmiedmann bonnet with custom vents, custom moulded Mercedes E63 front bumper vents, custom moulded fog light covers, custom moulded CSL carbon fibre front bumper lip, custom carbon secondary side skirts, custom metal side skirts, custom carbon fibre roof, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, custom metal boot spoiler, custom rear bumper vents, custom moulded carbon fibre rear diffuser, smoked LED rear lights, shaved front bumper mouldings, rear bumper mouldings, door mouldings and front wing side markers
INTERIOR Four custom white carbon fibre bucket seats, custom white carbon fibre interior trims, Alcantara front centre console, door panels wrapped in Alcantara with diamond stitching, Alcantara headlining, Alcantara pillars, custom Alcantara steering wheel with yellow centre stripe, custom rear centre console, custom Alcantara floor mats, ZHP gear knob, custom Alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters, AC Schnitzer pedals, AC Schnitzer handbrake handle, Umnitza interior LED upgrade, Pioneer 7” DVD head unit, custom 9” monitors in boot lid and interior centre console, Nintendo Wii console, 3x Hertz Audio 8” subwoofers in custom enclosure, 1000/1 amps on custom amp racks, 300/4 amp on custom amp rack, component front speakers and coaxial rear speakers, ST Sounds 18” subwoofer in custom enclosure, custom reversing camera, MPI 400 power inverter, Audio Control 8, LED illuminated rings, LED illuminated amp racks, custom painted seamless air tanks, Viair 380c compressors, custom polished hard lines
THANKS To my wife Trina and to my daughters, Mika and Alex, Menard Matias at 3M Audio Custom, Andrew Lo Grande and Mike Misa at Music’N Motion, Long and Jim Le at Buddha Concept Designs, Rommel Canlas at Canlas Mobile Tint, Martin Trinh at R1Concepts Brakes, Thomas Hernandez at Sick Stitches Upholstery, Cary at MistR Shop, Stan Chen at Toyo Tires, David Nguyen at RSV Forged Wheels/VIP Modular, Devin Hui at Speed Element and Hans at ESS Tuning
“We’ve got a custom metal wide-body that endows this M5 with some seriously pumped-up arches and you can see just how much work has gone into this kit”
“The Vortech supercharger has been polished to within an inch of its life and the intake pipes have been treated to a striking custom hydro-dipped finish”
“The boot build is no less wild, with custom-painted yellow air tanks with digital voltage and pressure gauges, the illuminated M5 Ghost side panels and that monster downward-firing sub in the middle of it all”
20” RSV Forged MS10 wheels measure 11” wide up front and 12” at the back. Custom mounted 18” ST Sounds sub. Custom illuminated side panels. Voltage and air tank pressure gauges. Triple boot lid-mounted screens. Custom Mishimoto oil cooler setup. Custom painted Plenum. Custom polished Dinan strut Brace. Supercharger has been fully polished. Custom metal wide-body is incredible. Triple Hertz 8” subs. Four Alcantara-wrapped white carbon bucket seats have been fitted.