- Post is under moderationPOWER UP Hardcore, supercharged E46 330Ci
What was once a stock 330Ci has now evolved into a supercharged, track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Viktor Benyi.
’CHARGED BMW E46 330Ci Track-focussed full-on build…
Supercharging a “lesser” model of BMW is something that a lot of people don’t really understand. “Why didn’t you just buy an M3/ M5/M6 in the first place?” they will ask and, in absolute terms, you can see their point. Why spend arguably the same amount of money, or perhaps even more, buying and subsequently supercharging something that isn’t an M car and ending up with around the same sort of power level, when you could have just bought a fully-fledged, finely-honed M machine in the first place? It’s a valid, logical point, but logic has little place in the world of modifying. The thing is that very few people buy a car knowing exactly where they’re going with it, how it’s going to end up and with the specific plan of supercharging it. Sure, some people do, but take a look through this issue, the last issue, pretty much any issue of the mag and you’ll see feature car after feature car owner saying that they really had no intention of going as far as they did with their cars. The other thing is that, generally speaking, something like a supercharger is usually one of the last mods anyone does and that’s because it makes a lot more sense – and here logic can be applied to modding – to sort out the chassis, the brakes, make sure everything else is up to scratch before you start ramping up the power. It’s the right way to do it, really.
Which brings us neatly to Richard Kiraly and his supercharged E46 330Ci. As you can probably tell from the pictures, this is one exceptionally well-sorted 3 Series and, as you won’t be at all surprised to learn, when Richard bought the car there was no plan for anything beyond the most basic of mods, let alone creating a car as full-on as this has ended up becoming. Richard has been a BMW owner for 12 years, though that time period has been divided up between just three cars: his first BMW, an E34 525tds, which was followed by an E39 525d, and now the E46. Thing is, while he may say there was no plan of attack here, both of his previous Bavarian steeds, and a couple of cars before that, have all received some level of mild modding, so we reckon he wouldn’t have been able to leave the E46 alone anyway.
Hailing from Hungary, Richard’s hunt for the right example of what was the most affordable way of fulfilling his childhood dream of owning a frameless window coupé took him all the way to Leipzig in Germany, after six months of searching, and what was then a plain old 330Ci Sport. With car in hand, the mods began and stage one was styling. The E46 Coupé is a fi ne-looking thing, we’re big fans, but go big or go home, right? Go big it was, with Richard giving his 330Ci the M3 look courtesy of the M car’s wings and bumpers before cranking things up to 11 and taking the styling to another level. The front bumper has been seriously beefed-up with the addition of that carbon lip and those full-on corner splitters and even the intakes that funnel cooling air to the brakes are made from carbon. The bonnet? That’s carbon too, a vented GTR item that’s been painted body colour with just the slats of the vents left bare, teasing its carbon construction. M3 mirrors have been added while at the rear there’s a unique diffuser, a set of LED lights and a fibreglass CSL-style boot lid to finish things off nicely. It’s a greatlooking car, all the styling enhancements blending together perfectly and with the M3 body parts on board, the more aggressive aero elements don’t overwhelm the look of the whole car.
The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s, which suit the look and direction of the car perfectly, and while their familiar sixspoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does. It’s a bold, bright blue that doesn’t tie-in with anything, anywhere on the car but wow, does it look good. Somehow it just works so well against that sexy, solid grey paintwork and your eyes are immediately drawn to the wheels. They’re the first thing you notice on the car and you realise that, actually, opting for that punch of colour was definitely the right thing to do as it really makes them stand out. You can probably tell that this car hasn’t been built for show, it’s all about go, and peering between the spokes of the JR3s confirms that beyond any reasonable doubt as that’s when you notice the massive brakes. The calipers come from a 135i, says Richard, with six-pots up front clamping M3 CSL discs, and two-pots at the rear while the suspension has also been suitably uprated and these mods came about when he decided to start making track outings a regular occurrence. BC Racing coilovers have been fitted here, and they deliver a solid drop, along with uprated anti-roll bars, Powerflex bushes, Eibach adjustable rear control arms and front and rear strut braces, completing a comprehensive programme of upgrades. The interior changes, too, have come about from the car’s regular appearance at track days and amateur tournaments; up front, a pair of bucket seats have been fitted, along with a set of Schroth three-point harnesses, while the rear seats have been removed altogether, as has the air-con. White-faced dials have been added to give the gauges a sportier look and Richard has also fitted a digital display in place of one of the central air vents to keep an eye on various under-bonnet temperatures.
So, to the engine. The M54B30 is a great motor, plenty of torque, a lovely top end, plus it sounds lush but by modern standards it’s not going to set anyone’s world alight and with him being so committed to track driving, you can see why Richard wanted a little more performance. NA mods are fi ne and could liberate a bit more horsepower but if you want serious gains then you have to bring out the big guns and go straight for forced induction. What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an ESS TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twinscrew, positive displacement blower, and that means it delivers a huge hit of low-end torque the moment you hit the accelerator, perfect for punching out of turns on track. It’s an impressive piece of kit and puts out some meaty numbers, 320hp and a very healthy 302lb ft of torque. Here it’s been further bolstered by the addition an #AFE high-flow intake, a set of Schmiedmann high-flow cats and a ProEx exhaust system with racing silencer while an S54 oil cooler helps keep temperatures down on track. The transmission hasn’t been forgotten about, either, and Richard’s fitted a lightweight flywheel and Sachs race clutch plus an LSD to help him put all that power down.
We really like Richard’s E46. It’s been built with purpose after being bought with no specific direction in mind. It’s a focussed and finely-honed machine, but one that’s not so extreme that it can’t be used on the road. It looks good and it’s got the power to match the extreme aero additions; it really is an exceptional performance package. Richard has spent eight years getting the car to where it is today, but he’s not done yet and the next round of mods is imminent. “I want to cover the interior in Alcantara,” he says, “and I’ve currently got a CSL front bumper with twin brake air inlets under construction and I’ve also got an ESS TS2+ supercharger kit ready to go,” he adds, which is really going to take this E46 to the next level.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW #Supercharged / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #Japan-Racing / #ESS-TS1 / #ESS-Tuning / #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #ESS-TS1-supercharger-kit , #AFE air filter, #Schmiedmann sport cats, #ProEx exhaust system with racing silencers and black heat-resistant quad tips, S54 oil cooling system. Five-speed manual gearbox, lightweight flywheel, #Sachs racing clutch, short-shift kit, #LSD
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET15 (front) and 9.5x18” ET15 (rear) #Japan-Racing-JR3 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers, uprated anti-roll bars, #Powerflex bushes, #Eibach adjustable rear control arms, front and rear strut braces, #Brembo six-piston calipers with M3 CSL discs (front), #Brembo two-piston calipers (rear), braided brake lines, competition brake fluid
EXTERIOR E46 M3 wings, front and rear bumpers, carbon front splitter, front bumper race air intake, GTR carbon bonnet, E46 M3 door mirrors, custom rear diffuser, E46 M3 CSL-style boot lid, LED rear lights
INTERIOR White gauges, digital data display in central air vent, bucket seats, three-point Schroth harness, rear seats removed, air-con removed, spare wheel well removed, fire extinguisher
“What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an #ESS-TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twin-screw, positive displacement blower”
BC Racing coilovers with adjustable top mounts.
135i brakes have been fitted all-round.
“The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s… and while their familiar six-spoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does”
Bucket seats, harnesses and rear seat delete let you know this E46 means business.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAWESOME BMW M5 Looks good, goes great
How do you improve upon one of the best driving cars #BMW ever put together? Take a leaf out of Andrew Berger’s book. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
Styled and tuned E39 M5
There can’t be many father and sons that have individually made it on to the pages of Performance BMW with their Bavarian beasts. In fact, Andrew and Josh Berger may well be the first. Josh’s E36 M3 was featured in November last year. It’s a concours-standard build that’s been reverted back to its Luxurious spec and slammed on a set of CCW LM5Ts.
With a few choice engine and chassis mods, it’s a show stopper, track car and daily driver rolled into one. And now a year later, it’s his father’s turn to take the spotlight. The E39 M5 is arguably the best performance saloon BMW ever made, and it’s already becoming sought after by collectors and driving enthusiasts. Having reached modern classic status, various finance and automotive publications of late are claiming that it’s set to soar in value. In fact, Paul Michaels, chairman of Hexagon Classics (a man who makes a living out of buying the right collectible cars) claims an immaculate low mileage model is sure to appreciate.
It’s something I’ve been saying for the past year and I now find myself not getting very far with writing this feature as I scour Pistonheads and AutoTrader looking for one and trying to persuade my husband that this should be our new family car. Suffice to say we definitely couldn’t afford the one that was recently up for grabs at a dealership in Ohio. With just 309 miles on the clock the asking price was $149,999.
Anyway, if I’m to meet this deadline without burning the midnight oil I really must get back to the task in hand. A man fascinated with form and function, we’re surprised to learn that Andrew has only been interested in BMWs for the past 15 years, but suffice to say ever since the day he first drove one he was hooked. He did go on to own that very car, an E46 330i, but not before going through a few other 3, 5 and M Series cars. If truth be told, though, he always had his sights set on an E39 M5: “This car has been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line,” confesses the 60-year-old.
He bought the car in May last year from Gas Motorcars, a local dealership in Marietta, Georgia, that specialises in exotic, classic and luxury cars and also happens to be where his son works. He traded in his E36 M3 and M Roadster for it together with a pile of 100 dollar bills. The car had already received a few exterior modifications – some of which were a little OTT for Andrew’s taste, so the first job was to take off what he didn’t like.
As such the car now wears a Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, front and rear spoilers from AC Schnitzer, ECS Tuning brake duct grilles, a painted matt black kidney grille, angel eye headlights and a painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds, all of which combine to make a more aggressive statement without detracting from Chris Bangle’s original lines. The staggered 19” DPE Forged wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware are the perfect finishing touches.
When it came to the interior, Andrew wanted to keep things simple again so he’s retained most of the stock parts (bar the Schroth Racing harnesses) but brought them into the 21st century. As such the steering wheel, sun visors, doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters have been retrimmed in black Alcantara complete with M tri-colour stitching, while the Nineties wood trim has been painted silver and the instrument rings have been swapped out for custom-made aluminium items.
The in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver from Pioneer is the only clue to a custom audio install which resides in the boot and includes a pair of JL Audio W7 10” subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, which are connected up to a set of Hertz speakers, mids and tweeters. Despite having the unbeatable soundtrack of a brutal V8 under the bonnet, the ICE is Andrew’s favourite: “I love taking this car out on a Sunday, putting on my favourite playlist and enjoying my ultimate driving machine,” he tells us.
Saying that, we’re pleased to hear the engine side of things haven’t been ignored. With 400hp already on tap, sensibly Andrew has gone for a selection of mods that help to improve the breathing of the high-revving 5.9-litre engine. The combination of an AFE Stage 2 air intake, custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap by Buckhead Imports and an Eisenmann Race exhaust system not only gives the car extra horsepower, but it also lets the engine rev more eagerly and helps the lazy V8 burble really come out of its shell.
The six-speed manual gearbox from Getrag was critically acclaimed for its slick performance, but improvements can always be made. To that end a UUC short shifter, lightweight clutch and flywheel, have really helped to transform an already revered driving experience with quicker gear changes and improved throttle response. “Getting it past 6000rpm puts a smile on my face every time,” he says and we can certainly believe that.
When you factor in the host of suspension upgrades he’s made, including KW Variant 3 coilovers, Dinan strut tower bar and shock tower brace to help the car feel more planted, responsive and tauter, together with a Brembo GT big brake kit up front and slotted StopTech discs with Hawk pads out back to better haul in the power, Andrew now has the confidence to push this sizeable saloon harder on Georgia’s finest scenic and twisty roads.
Andrew’s plans for the future are to simply maintain its prestige and, with just 55,000 miles on the clock, keep it for Sunday best, and who can blame him? With supercar- chasing performance in a package that is discreet and practical, the E39 M5 is the very definition of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Andrew’s sympathetic approach in modifying is a great lesson to anyone thinking of buying one of these Q cars. Right, can I go back to scouring the classifieds again now, please?
“This car’s been at the top of my bucket list since they rolled off the production line”
“I love taking this car out and enjoying my ultimate driving machine”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #S62B50 / #BMW-S62 / #S62 / #DPE / #AFE / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 , #AFE-Stage-2 air intake, Buckhead Imports custom exhaust manifolds, mid-pipes and ECU remap, full #Eisenmann race exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, UUC lightweight clutch and flywheel, UUC Evo 3 short-shifter
CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET16 (f) and 11x19” ET16 (r) #DPE-Forged-ST7-Hybrid wheels with brushed faces, polished lips and chrome hardware with 245/35 (f) and 285/35 (r) Toyo T1R tyres, #KW-Variant-3 Coilovers, #Dinan strut tower bar & shock tower brace. #Brembo-GT big brake kit (f) and slotted #StopTech discs and Hawk pads (r), #Turner-Motorsports stainless steel brake lines all-round
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner carbon fibre vented bonnet, kidney grille painted matt black, LED angel eye headlights, ECS Tuning brake duct grille, #AC-Schnitzer front and rear spoilers, custom painted gloss black rear diffuser with stainless steel exhaust tip surrounds
INTERIOR Doorcards, handbrake and gear knob gaiters, steering wheel and sun visors retrimmed in black Alcantara with M tri-colour stitching, silver painted trim, custom aluminium instrument rings, Schroth Racing harnesses, full custom boot install with two JL Audio W7 subwoofers and HD1200/1 amp, Pioneer in-dash double-DIN DVD multimedia AV receiver, Hertz speakers, mids and tweetersStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCHAIRMAN OF THE BROAD Wild #Liberty-Walk E92 335xi!
There are wide-bodies and there are wide-bodies… and then there’s this E92 335xi. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Josh Levy has certainly mastered the art of width, as demonstrated by his chunky E92. The extremely wide wheels and body turn this 335xi into an aggressive beast… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
We try not to focus too keenly on one single element of a car when we’re buzzing around a shoot and formulating ideas for the story; after all, you people out there building progressive and exciting BMWs always take a holistic approach. It’s never about one sole piece of the puzzle; it’s how they link together.
This car, however… there’s one thing that just stopped us in our tracks as we were ambling around it – something at the back end of the car that got us rubbing our eyes in disbelief: the rear wheels. Now, this isn’t to sideline the myriad other stunning elements of this E92 – the bulging Liberty Walk hips, the low-slung aired-out stance, the pops and crackles from the quad exhausts – but those rear wheels really grabbed our attention.
They measure a mighty 15x18”. Fifteen inches wide! That’s insane. Remember when you were a kid and you first saw the back end of a Countach, how those wheels seemed cartoonishly wide? They were 12x15”. This brutal 335xi is packing supercar girth, and then some. We’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for that.
It could be the case that owner Josh Levy is exorcising a few demons from his own automotive past. While his personal motoring adventure has been long and diverse, he happily admits that his love for cars was sparked by a build he saw running 13” wheels – and he’s talking diameter, not width. All fit for purpose on a Mk1 Golf GTI, of course, but it shows you how far he’s come. Too much is never enough; it’s all about pushing forward.
“I started modifying cars when I was 17 years old and haven’t stopped since,” says Josh. “It all started when I first saw an ’1984 GTI dropped on 13s, with a roll-cage and just one seat. It looked awesome and I wanted to know more about it. My interest grew and I started my love/hate relationship with automobiles. Whether it’s lowering your car, adding aftermarket parts or whatever, it’s the passion we have for our cars that keeps us going. No matter what car I’ve had in the past, I always wanted to modify it. It’s fun, exhausting, and painful, but I love the feeling when it’s all done. And I actually have a 1984 VW GTI that I’m restoring now.”
A pleasingly full-circle tale then, but how did Josh end up with what has to be one of the widest and most aggressive E92s we’ve seen to date? This sort of thing doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it happen overnight. He must have been harbouring a desire to build such a thing for a while, yes?
“Well, no, I wasn’t really on the lookout for an E92 per se – or, in fact, any car,” Josh recalls. “This project just sort of fell into my lap, really! There were a few mods done to it by a previous owner. It was just an old project that had been hiding away in storage. It needed some TLC but I could see its potential. It simply needed my personal touch to turn it into something badass!”
And when Josh talks about his ‘personal touch’, what he’s basically referring to is tearing the car down to first principles and building it back up again as something fresh, new and exciting. Taking a broad view of the car – which, incidentally, is a 2009 335xi – you can see that there are three key areas to consider: first, there’s the unmissable Liberty Walk bodywork; then there’s the rims and air-ride combo. But there’s also something that’s easy to miss at first glance, given the striking nature of the aesthetics, and that’s the extensive conversion to M3 spec. While the 335xi is a formidable thing in its own right, this example has been treated to no less than the bumpers, front wings, front grilles, lock plates, combination brackets, reinforced bumper brackets and radiator support, mirrors, and side skirts from the mighty M3 – a meisterwerk of parts-sourcing and effort in itself. And that’s before we get to the really juicy stuff.
“I knew my next car needed to stand out and I wanted something that would take really wide wheels,” Josh explains. “I wanted a car that would make a statement no matter where I was going, whether it was at a show or just getting gas. I always loved the E92 M3’s body style, and with the wide Liberty Walk kit it felt like the right way to go… the M3’s body lines mixed with wide flares sure draw you in!”
The next job was rather an important one: wheel choice. “I wanted to build a street monster and show people that having wide wheels isn’t just for looks,” Josh says. “The three-piece Nine1Forged LV6 wheels gave me everything I wanted with their VIP feel and aggressive design. The huge 8” rear lips really help show off that extreme concave construct. I wanted the fitment just right and for my 15” rears to touch the fenders.”
This wasn’t as easy to achieve as Josh makes it sound and a lot of adjustments were necessary, along with rear camber arms: “After I got the fitment I wanted, I realised it was bottoming out and hitting the Liberty Walk kit so I had to make more adjustments and pull more camber out of it! As this is my daily driver I didn’t want to go too crazy, but then again what’s crazy?”
What indeed? There is a certain inevitability to projects like this, where one modification necessarily leads to another until the car’s basically unrecognisable when placed alongside a stock example, but Josh’s commitment to commuting daily in the thing does lend his own personal definition of ‘crazy’ an interesting perspective filter. The best way to categorise it at this stage is ‘exactly crazy enough’. But that’s an elastic concept, and he’s always got a new idea bubbling away.
When your car looks this extreme, you really need to have a bit of grunt to back it up, that’s just an immutable law of the universe. No point expending this much elbow grease on something that’d struggle to haul itself up a moderate incline, there’s little joy to be derived from that. Thankfully, as mentioned, the 335xi is a fiery thing – but that’s not to say that Josh had any intention of keeping the turbocharged three-litre straight-six standard.
“The only issue with buying someone else’s unfinished project is that you can’t totally know what you’re getting,” he admits. “And if you do run into issues, it could be very difficult. I had a few issues under the hood but fortunately it was soon all straightened out. The motor was pretty stock but it felt like the car needed more. I added a full exhaust and that, together with the huge front-mount intercooler, really helped the car open up.” He’s also added a Burger Tuning Juicebox, which sounds like it should be delicious but is actually a rather clever little remap gizmo that’s marketed under the alluring slogan ‘add 100hp to your twin-turbo BMW instantly’. You can’t really argue with that, can you?
So he’s got the look, the power, and he’s the envy of everyone at the petrol station. It’d be churlish not to lavish a little affection on the interior, too, wouldn’t it? After all, that’s where Josh spends a lot of his time – particularly given that he’s using the thing daily. “It came to me as a base model with no extras so I had to do something about that,” Josh grins. “The trim needed some updating along with the doorcards, seats, and there’s now a bolt-in roll-cage from House Motorsport, too.”
This outrageous E92, then, is far more than just a set of ludicrously wide rear wheels. It’s a beautifully finished and surprisingly practical daily driver with oodles of power and that intangible wow factor in spades. The wheels are a pretty good place to start though, aren’t they? When there’s this much for your eyes to process, it’s quite soothing to lose yourself in all that dish.
“Yeah, people do seem to love the car,” Josh declares, amused by the visual and aural assault he unleashes every day upon the local traffic. “I had an idea when I started of what I wanted it to look like but I never thought it would turn out like this. That’s what makes modifying cars so much fun! You can do whatever you like.”
Sage counsel indeed. And with Josh raving about his near-future plans to single-turbo the car, shave the bay, swap the dash, change the boot install, respray the body, replace the wheels and goodness knows what else, he’s certainly taking the ‘do whatever you like’ idea and running with it. We just wonder how much wider the E92 can possibly go.
Rear Nine 1 Forged LV6 rims measure an obscene 15x18” and boast outrageous 8” lips.
If the Liberty Walk kit wasn’t quite wild enough, Josh has added a carbon front splitter and rear spoiler for good measure.
DATA FILE #Liberty Walk / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335xi / #BMW-335xi-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-E92-Liberty-Walk / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-E92-Coupe / #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #Nine1Forged / #Burger-Tuning / #N54-Stage-3 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 , #Dual-AFE downpipes with custom exhaust system, #Burger-Tuning-JuiceBox4-PNP (N54 Stage 3) software, #AFE cold air intakes, M3 washer reservoir, six-speed manual gearbox, Spec 2+ clutch
CHASSIS 12.5x18” (front) and 15x18” (rear) #Nine1Forged-LV6-Extreme -oncave wheels in Blushed Monaco Gold with hidden hardware, 285/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Sumitomo HTR ZIII tyres, Air Lift front struts, #Air-Lift rear toe arms, #Megan-Racing rear adjustable control/camber arms, #Air-Lift double bellow rear air springs, #AccuAir management, dual #Viair-480c compressors and five-gallon aluminium tank, Forge Motorsport front brakes with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs, StopTech grooved rear discs
EXTERIOR Liberty Walk ten-piece body kit including overfenders, carbon-fibre spoiler and front splitter, carbonfibre M3 bonnet, Challenge carbonfibre rear diffuser, custom headlights, M4 headlight arms, OEM M3 upgrades comprising: bumpers, front wings, front grilles, lock plates, combination brackets, reinforced bumper brackets and radiator support, mirrors, side skirts
INTERIOR Carbon-fibre trim, Jaffster gear knob, BMW ‘Rennsport’ Performance Alcantara steering wheel with factory airbag, custom ‘race’ seats with matching doorcards, centre console, gaiter and handbrake cover, House Motorsport bolt-in roll cage
THANKS Thank you to my sponsors @Royal_Stance, @Elite_tuner, @Clean.e93, and @Stance_DailyStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHIDDEN STRENGTH
With its subtle looks, this 135i can slip under the radar, which is handy as it’s got 460whp on tap. This 135i might look fairly ordinary but appearances can be deceptive and there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
Disappointment is sometimes a powerful motivator. Sports teams that lose the championship one year have been known to turn that negative feeling into a springboard that pushes them to win it the next. So it was with Pete Agas and his 135i.
Initially, he wanted a 1M Coupé, but only 200 came to Australia and he missed out on the allocation. He didn’t let that get him down, though. Instead, he purchased an E82 135i and used the leftover funds to change almost every mechanical component to make it much faster than a stock 1M ever was.
The story begins back in late 2012, when he first purchased this Alpine white example fresh from the dealer. Having been inspired to tune cars ever since his youth (when watching Stephen Spielberg’s debut feature – Duel – made him think about tuning cars so he could outrun a psychotic truck driver), Pete wasn’t going to leave it untouched for long, and after posting a few pictures of it in its factory state on his online build thread (complete with the caption: ‘stock… yuck’), he started to modify it to suit his tastes.
As for those tastes? “I build, tune and customise my vehicles for performance over appearance,” he says, and as you can see, the finished car reflects that. APEX ARC-8 wheels, StopTech BBK, #Hartge silencer and M Performance carbon bits aside, there is no indication from the outside that this machine puts out 460whp at low boost and pounds around race tracks with ease. Even looking under the bonnet yields nothing to the casual observer, and unless they were looking hard, enthusiasts would only spot the AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake and M Performance Power Kit 2 as well. Almost everything that means anything is hidden on this build, and that’s the way Pete likes it, especially as it makes it that much easier to goad other, supposedly faster, cars into a little challenge. “I frequently drive around the South Yarra area in Victoria where there are plenty of beautiful Porsches. I may have completely decimated a couple of them in a quick squirt contest…” he says with a grin.
Of course, his E82 didn’t become this fast overnight. Indeed, having missed out on a 1M, he initially wanted just to match that car’s handling, with pure grunt not really on the radar. And even then, for the first year, Pete only drove it around with limited mods. An M Performance exhaust and exterior bits and some Rays G25 wheels upped the game from stock, but they were hardly going to help Pete reach even his initial goal. That’s why, after that 12 months, he started amassing E9x M3 suspension parts in bulk, along with other bits and pieces, so he could be ready for the next stage.
Those E9x parts included sway bars, control arms, bushings, camber link kit and strut tower brace, to which he added Swift springs. Having basically matched the 1M’s key suspension elements, Pete then moved onto the brakes, with M Performance discs, Cool Carbon brake pads and Hard Braking front titanium shims. For a little extra grunt, he added the aforementioned Power Kit 2 and controlled it via a Quaife 3.08 helical LSD in a VAC finned, clear anodised cover. A Burger Motorsports clutch delay valve and clutch stop helped in the driveline department as well. Finally, a few extra M Performance exterior and interior parts helped round it off. Until the most recent major upgrades, the diff was actually Pete’s favourite component as it improved traction no end. “The LSD just puts the power down without the e-Diff having a field day. It was easily the most notable change when driving the car back home from the workshop for the first time.” The fact the Quaife diff works with the stock traction control is a bonus, too, even if Pete doesn’t need it in the dry.
Now, you might think at this stage, having reached his initial goal, Pete would be satisfied and call it a day. After all, he had already created a very quick, but still very usable road car. However, the fact you see this rather faster beast before you shows he wasn’t done. What prompted him to go further were two new discoveries. Firstly, having gone this far into the BMW tuning world, he’d found a “huge amount of aftermarket potential within the BMW brand”, as well as a highly supportive and knowledgeable community to go with it.
Secondly, having built a track-oriented car, Pete was hardly likely to keep it purely on the road, and a visit to Phillip Island one day proved rather comprehensively that while strong, his build wasn’t perfect.
“I quickly discovered the platform needed brakes and cooling,” Pete tells us. “I also learned very quickly of the possibility of a spun rod bearing when pushing wet-sumped platforms on the track, so I quickly picked up an oil pan baffle to prevent this from happening to me.”
Having discovered these weaknesses, Pete also bolted on an oil cooler and decided that even the upgraded brakes he had weren’t going to cut it. So, as part of the final stage of mods, he purchased a StopTech BBK, with ST60 six-pot calipers on the front and ST40 four pots on the rears, matched with StopTech’s own Street Performance pads.
These clamp down on with Trophy Sport two-piece slotted discs to provide a significant upgrade in braking ability. Indeed, these are now Pete’s new favourite parts. “The new brakes not only look great, but they have an amazing pedal feel, are completely modular and replaceable and have a huge range of available pads.”
That they sit this high in his estimation is a big endorsement, given the rest of the upgrades he fitted at this stage. In the engine bay, he installed a Pure N55 Stage 2 turbo, an AR Design downpipe, Maddad midpipes and the aforementioned Hartge silencer on the hot side. He also fitted the previously mentioned AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 intake, an ETS five-inch intercooler and lower charge pipe, an Evolution Raceworks black anodised chargepipe and GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade on the cool side. Unsurprisingly, given the company’s reputation, a Dinan Stage 3 135iS tune controls the lot.
To further enhance the car’s abilities on the track, Pete also added Dinan Racing adjustable rear toe arms, Dinan front control arm bushings, Turner Motorsport solid aluminium rear subframe bushings and Ohlins Road and Track dampers. Finally, some sticky Hankook RS-3s on those handsome APEX ARC-8 wheels put all the power to the ground.
The results are quite startling. Given the sticky rubber and LSD, you’d think traction wouldn’t be a problem, but with TC off, Pete was able to spin up the wheels well into third gear on our short spot-shoot drive. “This is with the turbo at 15psi, remember,” Pete reminds us. “It’s capable of 27 or even 30psi. Frankly, I think it’d be undriveable on the street like that. I would need drag slicks or something.”
He’s probably right. The biggest impact, though, came from the fact that the power just kept on coming. Starting from around 3000rpm, it genuinely didn’t stop until very close to the redline. Owners of modern, well-tuned turbo cars will no doubt be nodding along to this in recognition, but for those who haven’t experienced such a longlasting rush, it’s quite the memorable event.
Thankfully, all of Pete’s suspension changes keep the car a lot more pinned to the ground, even if traction is a bit of an issue. It’s firm, no doubt, but even the harsh, sharp-edged bumps on Melbourne’s often lumpen roads didn’t jar particularly. It’s a testament to both the quality of the parts and Pete’s careful selections. “I like to think with the right amount of planning and research, most, if not all risks [when building a car] can be mitigated,” he says knowingly. “I checked, re-checked and triple-checked the parts that were chosen for the car and I paid very close attention to their fitment and quality before proceeding with the purchase. That research, coupled with the highly talented team over at SouthernBM (his chosen workshop), made the process easy.”
So, having now built a sleeper that can not just match a 1M but surpass it in every measure (bar width), is Pete satisfied? Is he done? Of course he isn’t. Soon after the shoot, he fitted some Kerscher 1Mstyle front wings and eventually, plans to turn it into a roadregistered track car, complete with rear seat delete, half-cage, Recaro Pole Positions, lithiumion battery, Evolution of Speed N55 manifold, E85 tune and carbon bonnet.
This would leave him without a daily driver, though, so what gives? Well, on 14 October last year, Pete watched the livestream as #BMW introduced the M2, and soon after, strode into his local dealership and ordered a manual one in Long Beach blue. We guess he never did get over the disappointment of the 1M after all…
StopTech ST60 front BBK boasts 355mm discs and six-pot calipers, necessary when you’ve got 460whp to play with.
DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 , #M-Performance-Power-Kit-2 , #Pure-Stage-2 N55-turbo, Pure N55 inlet pipe, Evolution Racewerks N55 Type III Hard Anodised Black charge pipe, #AFE Magnum Force Stage 2 N55 intake, ETX 5” FMIC with lower chargepipe, GFB N55 diverter valve upgrade, #AR-Design N55 catted downpipe with ceramic coating, Maddad midpipes, Hartge quad-exhaust outlet silencer, 42 Draft Designs O2 sensor spacer, Dinan High Capacity oil cooler, Burger Motorsports oil catch can, JB4 ISO 5.9 with flex fuel wires - Map 6, Dimple Magnetic sump plug, Walbro 455 E85 Low Pressure Fuel Pump, Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software map, VAC Motorsports N54 oil pan baffle
TRANSMISSION Standard six-speed manual transmission, Burger Motorsports modified clutch valve, Burger Motorsports Short Throw clutch stop, Quaife 3.08 helical LSD, VAC Motorsports finned differential cover (clear anodised), Dimple Magnetic transmission plug (x2), Turner Motorsport Delrin differential bushings, E46 M3 transmission bushings
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET45 (front) and 9.5x18” ET62 (rear) #APEX-ARC-8-Hyper-Black wheels with 235/40 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Hankook Ventus RS-3 tyres, #Apex / #Apex-ARC-8 wheel stud conversion kit, #Project-Kics open-ended lug nuts, BMW E9x M3 strut tower brace, E92 M3 front and rear sway bars, E92 front upper and lower control arms, E92 rear upper control arms, E9x M3 rear lower camber link kit, Ohlins Road and Track dampers with E82 135i 7” 60Nm/MM Swift Springs (front) and E82 1M 9” 120Nm/MM Swift Springs (rear), Swift Thrust Sheets, Ohlins rear damper adjuster extenders, #Vorschlag camber plates, #Dinan-Racing adjustable rear toe arms, #Dinan Monoball front control arm bushings, #Turner-Motorsport aluminium subframe bushings, #StopTech ST60 #BBK with 355x32mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and StopTech Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (front) and #StopTech-ST40-BBK with 345x28mm slotted, zinc-coated discs and Trophy Sport Aerohat hats (rear), StopTech Street Performance pads, StopTech braided brake lines, calipers painted silver
EXTERIOR M Performance front grille in black, M Performance carbon rear lip spoiler, BMW Blackline LCI taillights, 1M mirror conversion, Hartge dual outlet exhaust diffuser PU-RIM in gloss black, Carbon roundel decals, Philips Silver Vision indicator globes, T10 W5W Amber Chrome side indicator globes, Lux H8 V4 LED angel eyes, Final Inspection Rejuvenation Detail and Full Metal Jacket
INTERIOR M Performance aluminium pedals, M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with yellow stripe, M Performance gear knob and Alcantara shift boot, M Performance handbrake handle and Alcantara boot, M Performance interior in carbon, M Performance illuminated door sills, Alcantara binnacle cover, JB4 Bluetooth module with Android integration, Precision LED E82 LED interior package, 35 per cent window tint
THANKS Harold at HP Autosport, Andrew Brien and the crew at SouthernBMStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE ONLY ONE
Japan definitely does things differently and that most definitely applies to cars, as this Far Eastern 135i illustrates.
Japan does everything differently, including modifying its cars, and this Far Eastern 135i has a look you won’t find anywhere else… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
The Japanese do ‘unique’ better than most. Anyone who’s ever been to the country or even just watched their TV shows will tell you that. From all sorts of bizarre toys and manga to TV shows where they do things like finding out which type of tyre flies farthest off a ski jump, or testing how long game show contestants can stand being immersed in a pool of eels, Japanese culture is about as far removed from Western norms (even today) as it gets. Their modified vehicles are often similarly ‘out there’. From the extreme wings and exhausts of the kaido racers to the utter insanity that is the decotora scene, you are more likely to find off-the-wall cars, bikes and trucks in Japan than almost anywhere else. Even in the #BMW ranks, you can find stuff that plenty of Western folks would maybe consider weird. Like a brown, camo-wrapped X6 complete with matching camo green AC Schnitzer wheels, or itasha examples of various models.
Of course, the majority of tuned BMWs, like the majority of other vehicles in Japan, are fairly subdued, but there are ones that tread that fine line between the extreme and the subtle and achieve uniqueness of another kind – instant, eye-popping greatness because they’re tasteful, but in a way no one has managed before. K. Watanabe’s 135i ‘Kai’ (Kai meaning modified in Japanese) is one of those examples. Like many things in life that are more than the sum of their parts, the basic ingredients for this daily driver are nothing new. Unusual paint colour, nice wheels, big brakes, decent drop, and a funky body kit make up the majority of the talking points, but it’s the way they’ve all come together that makes this work.
Perhaps the fact Watanabe-san is an architect has something to do with this success. Visually-minded and highly trained from the get-go, Watanabe-san is probably less likely than most to turn out an ugly dinger. But, then again, plenty of architects have designed buildings that many hate, so perhaps it’s not that. Maybe it’s just the fact Japan itself, despite the often eye-searing extremes it produces, is generally one of the more educated and aesthetically aware societies out there. Whatever the reasons behind his choices, though, Watanabe-san’s 135i is a stunner.
Obviously, it’s hard to get past the paint as it’s one of the key focal points here. Possibly the main focal point. Starting out as a black 135i when he bought it, Watanabe-san eventually had the whole car repainted in BMW Individual Atlantis blue, and the effect is remarkable. Deep, shimmering and with metal flake that picks out the light just so, it’s one of the best car colours available, in this writer’s humble opinion, and unsurprisingly, it’s also Watanabe-san’s favourite part of the build. It makes you wonder why more BMW customers don’t order their cars like this from the factory. The next major point is the 1M body kit. Studie AG, the tuning house behind the build, has a history of fitting factory widebody kits to its own demo cars, but its customer cars are often more subtle, so it’s nice to see Watanabe-san err on the more extreme side and go with these excellent genuine body panels on his car.
Accentuating the ‘big brother’ bodywork are a Varis vented carbon bonnet, carbon mirror covers, carbon front and rear lip spoilers, an AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, a dry carbon wing and a customised rear diffuser, each element carefully selected to make the most of the already muscular 1M shape.
However, nice paint, a 1M body kit and a few custom touches don’t a unique street car make. Watanabe-san wanted to make one other change so his machine stood out. “Before I purchased this, I wrote-off my E46 M3 on a wet mountain road after being a bit too enthusiastic. At the time, I wanted to replace it with a 1M, but couldn’t quite afford it, so I thought fitting the 1M kit to my 135i was a nice idea. However, I thought that just fitting the kit as-is would make it a 1M clone, nothing more, so I wanted to customise it. Having talked to the guys at Studie, we decided a one-off, centre-exit Arqray muffler coming out through the rear bumper would be the best way to do it.” And so came arguably the most unique part of this 135i. The twin chrome tips draw the eye like little else on the back of the car (some feat considering the wing) and make it go from regular street-racer-style to actual racer-style in one hit.
The remarkable thing, as no doubt you’ll have noticed, is the fact no paint damage has occurred around the tips. No browning, no blistering, no nothing. This again is down to extensive planning and Studie’s usual high level of workmanship. “I knew having the tips exit the bumper like that would prove a risk in terms of paint damage, so I made it very clear during the design phase that I wanted no damage at all to occur. Thanks to Studie’s expertise and skills, it was able to design and install multiple heat shields to ensure no damage occurred. Despite many spirited drives since, there’s not a single singe or burn mark anywhere.”
Having been privileged to sit alongside Watanabe-san as he pushed the N54 hard, I can report the new exhaust sounds pretty nice, too. A burbling thrum builds to a raspy howl as he moves through the rev range, the AFE pod filters adding some lovely intake noise to the mix as well. When he lifts, the Active Autowerke blow-off valve adds that wonderful trademark ‘chuff-chuff’ for maximum turbo enjoyment.
Given there’s only a small number of other engine mods (Okada Projects’ Plasma Ground secondary spark control and Plasma Direct coils, plus an Active Autowerke AP2 tune), the grunt itself is not ‘smash your head into the seat’ huge but with the N54 in factory spec managing sub-five second 0-60mph times in the right conditions, the extra few horses mean you’re still easily looking at ’90s supercar levels of acceleration in low gears. Perfect, really, given Watanabe-san says a love for supercars is what got him into tuning in the first place. On the handling side are a set of JDM-only 3D Design coilovers and an ARC rear stabiliser bar. While the drive to and from the shoot location didn’t really give us a chance to enjoy any nice corners, it quickly became clear from the few bumps we encountered that the 3D Design coilovers and their relatively soft (especially by Japanese standards) 8kg/mm front and 12kg/mm rear spring rates at least did a pretty decent job of masking any minor road imperfections. Clearly designed for road use more than anything else, that hasn’t stopped Watanabe-san from dreaming about hitting the track, though, even if it’s not something he’s quite got around to. “I have all the gear – spares, helmet, clothing and everything else – but I’ve never actually got around to hitting the track. At least my equipment preparation is perfect!” he laughs.
When Watanabe-san finally does find the time for some circuit fun at least his brakes will also be up to the task. The six-pot front and four-pot rear Brembos, hiding behind Advan RZ-DF wheels, clamp down on twopiece slotted rotors (355mm front and 345mm rear) and will happily slow the 135i down from even Fuji Speedway front straight speeds. Fine for the street as they may be, Watanabe-san may want to think about upgrading his current Advan V105 rubber if he ever wants to attack his local tracks in earnest, though.
Inside, the 135i remains largely stock apart from a driver’s side Recaro RS-G CL seat and a Sportster CL 100H seat for the passenger. These look almost factory, such is the serendipitous colour matching. For those wondering about the things hanging from the wiper stalk, they’re omamori or good luck charms. Available from pretty much any Shinto shrine, they’re a staple of Japanese life and can be bought with prayers inside for various specific purposes. From good study results to an incident-free pregnancy, you can ask the local gods for pretty much anything. Unsurprisingly, given Watanabe-san’s lust for speed and previous accident history, these omamori contain prayers for a safe drive.
Having already had plenty of safe fun in this 135i, though, Watanabe-san’s next step is to give all the mechanical parts a bit of a freshen-up. From the engine to driveline, brakes to the suspension, it’s time to treat this unique machine to a bit of all-round TLC. No doubt that this (together with the omamori) will help him enjoy this very Japanese #BMW for many years to come.
DATA FILE Japanese #BMW-135i / #BMW / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i-Active-Autowerke / #BMW-135i-Active-Autowerke-E82 / #Okada-Projects-Plasma / #Advan
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 , #AFE pod air filters, #Active-Autowerke-AP2 tune, #Active-Autowerke blow-off valve, one-off #Arqray centre-exit muffler, #Okada-Projects-Plasma-Ground -Plasma-Ground secondary spark enhancer, #Okada-Projects-Plasma-Direct coils, stock six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) #Advan-RZ-DF wheels with 245/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Yokoham Advan V105 tyres, JDM-only 3D Design coilovers front and rear, #ARC rear stabliser bar, #Brembo six-piston brake calipers (front), Brembo four-piston calipers (rear), two-piece Brembo discs front and rear
EXTERIOR Full factory 1M Coupé body kit, Studie customised rear diffuser section, Varis vented carbon bonnet, dry carbon rear wing, wet carbon front and rear lip spoilers, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, carbon mirror covers
INTERIOR #Recaro RS-G CL driver’s seat, #Recaro-Sportster-CL100H passenger seat, omamori
Fitting the kit as-is would make it a 1M clone so I wanted to customise it.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLAST CHANCE SALOON
This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.
When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…
What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.
The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”
Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…
“My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.
So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.
“I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.
A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.
The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.
Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.
The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.
Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.
Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.
TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights
INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors
THANKS Infinite Auto Design (www.infiniteautodesign.com), Duraflex (www.duraflexpbushes.com), Carbon Creations (www.carbon-creations.com), Magnaflow (www.magnaflow.com), Stoptech (www.stoptech.com), Cadence Audio (www.cadencesound.com), D2 Racing (www.d2racing.com), Falken Tire (www.falkentire.com), VIS Racing (www.visracing.com), LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (www.accuair.com), and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience
“I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSHOWOMAN SHIP BAGGED #BMW Z4
Jaw-dropping wide-body roadster. With her bagged wide-body Z4, this young lady can teach the boys a thing or two about modding. You want show-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping? This Z4 delivers all that, and even more… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin King Uy.
Take a good look at this Z4. Drink in the details, the extravagance and the sheer amount of modifications. Regardless of whether or not it’s to your style or taste, it’s one hell of a build, and it was built by a 22-year-old college student. Not only that, but this isn’t just Monique Song’s first project car, it’s her first ever car. Where the hell do you go from there?
By her own admission, Canadian Monique was not particularly interested in BMs or even European cars. “When I was deciding on my first car, I looked into a lot of different models and asked around for suggestions. At first I thought about getting a GTR, then looked into buying a Dodge Charger because it would be pretty badass to drive the same muscle car as the police, then I looked at Mustangs… This Z4 wasn’t planned, I’d never even thought of a European car until I walked into a BMW dealership. A family friend knew the sales guy there so we went to visit. While we were chatting and looking up inventories, a blue Z4 3.5i came in and it fitted my needs. I liked that fact that it was a convertible so I could enjoy the sun, and that it was small and girly, which suits me. I see the car as a little sister who accompanies me wherever I go, so I named her ‘Hitomi’ – it’s Japanese, meaning ‘eyes, the eye that sees pretty things, the beauty and wisdom’. I think a Z4 should be a girl and I want her to be a beautiful, smart girl.
“I didn’t have a plan when I first got the car. I barely knew how to mod it at first and this project has been a learning process for me. There’s still lots to improve but for my first modified car, but I think I’m doing well.
Speaking of modification plans, if I had had a plan while choosing this car, I wouldn’t have bought an E89 as there are barely any aftermarket parts for this model,” she says, but looking at her Z4 you’d hard pressed to tell. As these things often do, Monique began with a set of wheels, Vossen CVTs, before things started getting more serious. “After fitting the wheels, I realised the wheel gap was too big. It looked like the car was tiptoeing, so I lowered it on bags and worked a lot stuff on top of this, including camber arms, to make the fitment more satisfying.”
The ensuing year-and-a-half resulted in the car you see before you now. As Monique has already touched on her choice of suspension, that seems as good a place as any to start dissecting this build. Her reasoning for going with air was simple: “What suspension lowers the car but can also easily get over speed bumps? Air suspension!” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I started seriously researching air suspension that I realised how good bagged cars can look. However, there were no E89s on bags at the time, which meant I had to be ‘the first to eat a crab’. It’s a Chinese saying…”
Monique went for the E36 Air Lift air-ride suspension components along with a Megan Racing E85 Z4 camber arm kit and had them custom-fitted to her E89. For management, she went with AccuAir with the controller nicely nestling in her clip-on cup holder.
The air-ride steered the direction of the rest of the build, and from that point on Monique knew her Z4 was going to be a stance car, and that dictated the styling too. “I’ve seen lots of photos online of the Duke Dynamics project Z4 in Japan and I decided that that was what I wanted for my car. It has some GT3-inspired elements to it but the kit is clean looking and not too crazy for street driving. The only thing missing on the kit is a lip. Luckily, Duke Dynamics is based in Vancouver and I managed to get in touch with the owner who made a carbon fibre lip just for my order,” she says.
The Duke kit replaces all the OE body panels, meaning nothing needed to be cut and everything can be reversed if Monique ever changes her mind. “Lots of people ask me if my car is an M model or some sort because it looks more like from factory than a bolt-on wide-body,” she adds. “Unfortunately, the actual fitment of the kit isn’t very good. Europa fitted the kit for me and it took the team there a month and a half to put it together, but they really did their best to make it what it is right now. The kit contains almost all of the pieces except doors, mirrors and the hard-top.
“Painting the kit isn’t much different than painting the whole car so I thought I’d change the colour to create a more dramatic makeover. I loved the original blue too much to remove it all, so I decided on white with a small amount of blue pearl, which really comes through in the light.”
There was still something missing, though… “After staying on the ground with this kit for a while, I noticed the rear bumper was too high up in the air while the front lip was right against the ground. So I got side skirts and a GT3-style diffuser custom-made by Aero Flow Dynamics when I was in LA, and that really helped the car to look even lower when it was on the ground.” The finishing touch involved wrapping the roof to give the illusion of having a soft-top on the car. “I got the idea from the velvet-wrapped cars I’d seen,” explains Monique. “I got the roof wrapped in black velvet when I had the car in LA. The wrapping guys were all confused as to why I wanted that material but after it was done they knew the reason. It really looks like soft-top! I get a lot of questions about it because a lot of people have never seen anything like it!” she laughs.
The styling, however, is no laughing matter as this Z4 is obscenely aggressive. Up front there’s that big splitter and at the rear sits that vicious diffuser – literally, as it has claimed countless ankles whilst parked – with its curved fins below that swathe of carbon fibre. It has to be said that the widebody itself is relatively subtle, no doubt thanks to the fact that the panels are all new rather than piggy-backing on the standard body. The work put in by Europa to get the fit and finish perfect has certainly paid off. Even the most comprehensively styled car is only half done if it’s on the wrong wheels, and with that kit (not to mention the fat arches that needed filling) the Vossens simply weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I like blue and wanted to keep more blue elements throughout the car, so the wheel colour had to be blue. I also needed something in a negative offset to fit the wider body so my choice was narrowed down to custom ordering a set of threepiece wheels. Thanks to Europa Auto Design and SR Auto, I got a pretty good deal with PUR Wheels; the LG02 design I went for just came out not long ago and it’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s very unique and it doesn’t have too many spokes which makes cleaning a nightmare.”
The 19” LG02s look awesome in blue, the angular spoke design definitely stands out from the crowd. The centres are complemented by the Mevius neon blue lug bolts, with mirror polished stepped lips and polished bolts, and the small matter of the massive six-pot Brembo front brake kit visible through the spokes.
The big brakes are not overkill because this Z4 is not just for show – under that long bonnet sits the vastly tunable twin-turbo N54 straight-six, just ripe for a few go-faster parts strapped to it, so it would have been rude of Monique not to indulge. “It started with a ride in a friend’s Subaru STI. I saw this cool COBB Accessport gauge and decided to get one for my car. After reading the manual I found that if I wanted to go to a higher stage, I needed lots of other stuff. I ordered AR Design downpipes soon after, then got an aFe intake from my friend’s 335i.
I got the silencer removed so the car is basically straight-piped now, which sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention. At the end of 2014 I got a sponsor deal from STETT Performance for its FMIC, chargepipe and a blue Tial BOV. I then did some engine dress-up, adding coloured bolts and a custom painted engine cover.” That comprehensive list of engine mods means that Monique has at least 400hp to play with, meaning the Z4 has the performance to back up its neck-snapping looks.
If you thought the exterior was loud, you’d best get your earplugs in because things certainly don’t get any quieter inside. The blue-and-white theme has been carried over to the interior with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication, and it really helps to tie the whole build together.
Originally, Monique’s Z4 had been spec’d with some questionable wood trim, which she unsurprisingly felt didn’t belong in a sporty roadster, so she had it wrapped in brushed blue, which looks fantastic, as do the Bride single-piece buckets.
“Initially, I got a pair of bucket seats from Status Racing, but it wasn’t a great experience. Not only was the product not what I asked for, but the company also sent me the wrong base mounts. It doesn’t have them for the E89 but claimed that E85s and E89s use the same ones, which is not possible at all, as not a single hole lined up.
The seats were also too wide for the small Z4 and rubbed against the door and centre console. Bride was the only company that had the correct base mount for my car so I got the mount from there instead. Also, at the time, a friend was selling his Bride Zeta 3 and Zeta 2 seats so I got both from him. Thankfully, when I later attended SoCal, I met up with another friend who swapped their Zeta 3 for my Zeta 2 and I now I have a matching pair.”
Monique had similar woes when it came to finding the right steering wheel, as she explains: “I got a Vertex Seven Star steering wheel because I loved its stitching design and the red, blue and white colour combo. It was sitting in the living room for the whole winter until spring, when it was finally warm enough for the heated steering wheel to go away. I couldn’t find a steering wheel hub for my car so I tried to fit the E90 Momo hub and it worked. After fitting the blue quick release boss from Worksbell, I realised that the Vertex’s deep dish style made the steering wheel too close to me and too far for me to reach the turn signals comfortably. I had it in the car for 15 minutes before deciding to get a flat-faced one. Luckily, I was in LA at the time and Evasive Motorsports has lots of steering wheels in stock so I walked in, picked up a Personal Pole Position one and that’s what I’ve got in the car now.”
We mustn’t forget about the air install in the boot; Monique’s favourite modification on the car. “It’s nothing as crazy as those cars with mass amounts of hardlines and lights,” she says, “but I played with the word ‘bagged’. The air tank was painted as a NOS tank and sits inside a bag. It looks hidden in a natural way. Since I still drive the car quite often, I need a functional trunk. With the bag as protection, I can slide things in without worrying about breaking any pipes.”
Monique has put a huge amount of work into this car and not only was the experience most definitely a learning curve, having unknowingly chosen to modify a car with so little aftermarket support made the whole experience that much tougher, but she persevered and can now enjoy the fruits of her labours. It’s certainly not a shy, subtle build, but it is an incredibly comprehensive one. This is a build with no stone left unturned. It is an astonishing achievement for someone so young with no prior experience of the modifying world and in one fell swoop she’s put the efforts of a lot of older, more experienced people out there to shame. We can’t wait to see what she does for her next trick…
This Z4 has quite literally been bagged, with the fun boot install both a talking point and good way of keeping the hardware protected.
Blue-and-white theme carried over to the interior, with trims wrapped in brushed blue, and Bride seats.
DATA FILE Air-ride / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Air-ride-E89 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #N54 , Stett Performance front mount intercooler, Stett Performance charge pipe with white paint, #Tial BOV, #COBB-Tuning #AccessPort-V3-Stage-2 , AR-Design cat-less downpipe, #aFe Magnum Force Stage 2 Pro 5R intake system, Downstar accessories including blue engine dress-up bolts, custom painted engine cover and power braces, custom muffler delete exhaust, burnt titanium quad tips, six-speed automatic gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) PUR LG02 three-piece wheels with candy blue faces and polished lips with 225/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, custom fit #AirLift-Performance E36 air suspension, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management system with custom ‘bagged’ trunk setup, custom-fit Megan Racing E85 Rear control arm, #Mevius neon blue lug bolts, #Brembo GT six-piston front big brake kit.
EXTERIOR #AutoTechnic matte black kidney grilles, Duke Dynamics full widebody kit (front bumper, front wings, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper), Duke Dynamics power-vented hood, carbon fibre rear diffuser, #CSL bootlid, custom carbon fibre front lip, Aero Flow Dynamics custom side diffusers, Aero Flow Dynamics custom rear diffuser, custom paint using white base with blue pearl, hard top velvet vinyl wrapped, 88% window tint, tail-light tint, #LuxAngeleyes H8 V4, #WeissLicht LED white turn signal bulbs, interior xenon bulbs, custom boot switchable ambient lights.
INTERIOR Brushed blue vinyl interior trim wrap, #Bride seat rails, #Bride-Zeta-3 bucket seats, Bride head cushions, Bride blue fashion protectors, 350mm Personal-Pole-Position steering wheel, blue #Worksbell Rapfix 2 quick release, Momo steering wheel hub for E90/E92 custom-fit to E89.
THANKS Europa Auto Design, SR Auto Group, PUR Wheels, NightRunner International and all of my sponsors. Also to all of the shops that I’ve been to and friends who have offered valuable help in any form. Most importantly, thank you to my parents for accepting their daughter’s hobby even though they don’t really like it.
The car sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationEASTERN PROMISE Japanese wide-body Z8
THE BODY BEAUTIFUL
Japan loves BMWs and isn’t afraid to do things a bit differently when it comes to modifying them, like turning a Z8 into a wide-body masterpiece, for example… Considering less than 6000 Z8s were ever made, would you have the confidence to chop one up? Fortunately for us Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki did, thus creating something rather special… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.
Modifying a low-volume car is always a scary proposition. After all, if you mess it up it’s not like you can simply go to online and find replacement parts easily. It may take weeks, months or even years to source the right components and restore things to their former glory. Such is the case with the Z8, as only 5703 were produced over its four-year life span. Okay, it may not be an E46 GTR but it’s still a low-volume car by most people’s standards. It’s also arguably among the most beautiful BMWs ever made. With its flowing compound curves and classic roadster proportions, the Henrik Fisker-designed exterior is a future classic. Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking to think about altering those lines.
Thankfully, the confidence and skill to do that is not something Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki has ever really lacked. The founder of Japan’s largest BMW tuning chain – Studie AG – and creator of a string of high-profile cars that act as both his personal vehicles and demo cars for his business, Suzuki-san has seemingly never had an issue altering cars (some in quite extreme ways) to suit his needs.
Take, for example, the cars Suzuki-san built after selling the Z8 to its current owner. First there was a bright blue E87 130i complete with factory Motorsport wide-body kit. Then there was a neon pink wide-body E46 M3. Then a bright green Z4 M Coupé with another genuine Motorsport wide-body kit. Currently, Suzuki-san drives a bright orange i8, with a matching i3 for city duties and while they’re not wide-body cars, there’s no guarantee it’s off the cards.
So it’s clear, Suzuki-san likes the wide-body look; in fact, you could say he really, really likes them. However, the issue with making one of the world’s only wide-body Z8s was that, unlike Suzuki-san’s future creations, there wasn’t a factory kit available to do so. This meant that he and his team had to make it themselves.
They started by designing a kit that would add width but look factory. After all, while Suzuki-san clearly has a penchant for loud colours, judging by his later cars, the body panels themselves were almost always OEM. That level of integration was the goal. Next, they made the one-off moulds, then laid up all the fibreglass and painted it white.
It’s hard to argue with the results. Those guards draw your eye initially, of course, adding real muscularity to the Z8’s clean lines. Next, your gaze is drawn down to the flowing side skirts and towards the widened and tweaked front and rear bumpers, complete with aero additions. If you linger long enough you might also notice the stock bonnet has gained some added raciness via custom vents.
The design’s crowning achievement, though, is that level of seamlessness. If you had never seen a Z8 before, you’d never think it wasn’t factory. Yes, the 19” BBS LMs, Brembo six-pots up front (four-pots out the back) and lowered stance on one-off Studie coilovers are a dead giveaway the car’s been tuned but the unsuspecting might only think Suzuki-san had dropped it and added some extra grip and braking. The kit is that natural.
Inside, though, things are a little less discrete. The red leather trim is all stock, but the custom-trimmed Recaro SPG buckets certainly aren’t. Neither are the Atiwe wheel and Schnitzer shift knob. And that completely unique silver carbon dash trim? Yeah, that’s pretty obvious, too. It also highlights a specific need for navigational assistance when driving in Tokyo – something the Z8 never came with from the factory. Again demonstrating the skill and care with which the car was built, though, the Pioneer Carrozzeria headunit looks stock. If the dash was the regular silver plastic, the average Joe would probably think it had been installed in Munich prior to Suzuki-san’s purchase.
Under the bonnet we see a return to the exterior’s integrated theme. The S62 V8 never lacked power but the Okada Projects Plasma Ground secondary spark enhancer and Plasma Direct coils ensure the driver gets the most out of the air/fuel mix, while also remaining invisible to the casual observer. The near factory-looking AFE intake kit and well-hidden Hamann exhaust manifolds, which eventually connect to a one-off Studie silencer, ensure the engine now breathes a little easier and makes a much nicer noise, too. There’s the mandatory performance car bark at start-up and a well-controlled rumble at idle, followed by a lovely smooth roar as the revs rise. It reminds you there’s a reason why so many small performance car makers have used this engine over the years.
Essentially, looking at the car as a whole, it’s clear that what Suzuki-san and the Studie team have done is to take everything that made the Z8 great and made it better. That’s some skill.
Sadly, though, in space-poor Japan, Suzuki-san had to sell the Z8 in 2005 in order to move onto his aforementioned later projects, so this is where current owner Kohama-san comes in.
Kohama-san initially got into the scene after being taken to watch street drag racing many years back, when these things were still a relatively common sight on Japanese roads. He decided then and there that he wanted to drive fast cars. Initially, he started out with classic JDM metal, like an SA22C RX-7 (which apparently burnt to the ground after an engine fire on the Wangan post-sale) and a 3.1 litre ‘full-tune’ L28-engined S130 Z, but soon moved onto BMWs. “They’re just really well-balanced, well-rounded cars,” he says.
Despite his sports car roots, Kohama-san’s first BMW was actually rather sedate, even if it didn’t stay that way for long. An E39 530i Touring, he modified it so it sported Alpina suspension, a Supersprint silencer, #BBS RGRs and M5 body parts. After that came an E61 530i Touring, this time with ACS body parts, ARC suspension, Arqray muffler, 20-inch BBS LM-R wheels and enormous eight-pot Brembos. He did head back to his sports car roots eventually, though, with a Z3 and E85 Z4, both modified with Bilstein suspension, Recaro seats, Schnitzer aero etc. before shifting back again to practicality with his current ACS F31 320i Touring.
All this BMW history meant he spent a lot of time at Studie’s Tokyo HQ, and not just as a customer. Like many of Studie’s clients, Kohama-san spends a lot of spare time there just hanging out and chatting with the staff (when they’re not busy with other work), as Studie stores tend to be more like car culture centres rather than just dreary retail and tuning outlets. Because of all this time spent at Studie, Kohama-san was among the first to know that Suzuki-san was selling his pride and joy. And as soon as he heard about it, he was off to the bank. “It was love at first sight,” he says.
Even better, the car’s timeless beauty and evocative driving experience means he falls “more in love with it every passing year”. “My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it,” Kohama-san says. “It blows away the cobwebs so, of course, I drive it whenever I can.” That means the Z8 is more of a daily driver than a garage queen. Cruising through the city or blasting up mountain roads, this is one #Z8 that gets used. In a world where more and more high-end sports cars are squirreled away for investment rather than enjoyment, it’s refreshing to hear.
Further proving just how special this Z8 is, it’s worth noting that out of all his other BMWs we mentioned earlier this is the only one Kohama-san has held onto over the last ten years. Of course, it’s easily the most unique and rare, but uniqueness and starvalue haven’t stopped others around the world from selling amazing cars after only short periods of time, so it suggests there really is something special about this particular car.
Sadly, not everyone seems to agree, though, as the one negative experience Kohama-san has had over his ten-year ownership period is that the paint ended up being deliberately damaged by some low-life a few years back. Thankfully, Kohama-san got it fixed and, as mentioned, isn’t any more cautious about driving it. He has, however, “become obsessed with applying protective coatings to it” ever since. Of course, this unfortunate event does suggest the ‘lucky’ numberplates Kohama-san has on there (which have been blanked out for privacy purposes), and that he religiously puts on every car he owns can’t protect him from all calamities; but then, what can?
As for the future, the car is now 15 years old so some parts are due for replacement. Specifically, Kohama-san is thinking about refreshing the suspension components, although given the car runs custom coilovers right now, finding off-the-shelf replacements might be difficult. He might just have to go back to Studie Tokyo and ask the helpful staff there if they can make him some new ones. No doubt they’d be happy to oblige, especially as it will mean keeping this unique stunner on the roads for a few more years.
DATA FILE #Studie-AG wide-body #BMW-Z8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Studie-AG / #BBS-LM / #Getrag / #BBS /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 / #BMW / , #AFE intake kit, #Hamann exhaust manifolds, Studie one-off silencer, #Okada-Projects-Plasma-Ground secondary spark enhancer, #Okada Projects Plasma Direct coils. Stock #Getrag-420G six-speed manual, short-shift kit.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #BBS LM wheels with 255/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, Studie custom coilovers front and rear with Studie custom springs, Brembo six-piston brake calipers (front), Brembo fourpiston calipers (rear), two-piece #Brembo discs front and rear.
EXTERIOR Studie one-off wide-body front and rear arches, wide-body side skirts, front and rear bumpers with front splitter and rear diffuser, bonnet ducts in stock bonnet
INTERIOR Custom retrimmed #Recaro-SPG one-piece bucket seats, Atiwe steering wheel, OEM aluminium pedals, AC Schnitzer shift knob, #Studie one-off silver carbon interior trim panels, #Pioneer-Carrozzeria navigation headunit
My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it.
Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interio Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interior, it was an incredible machine. More ...
- Post is under moderationPURPLE HEARTS
Built to commemorate its owner’s late father, this Daytona E36 Cab is a poignant purple project. Kevin Love’s dear departed father used to rock a boisterous purple muscle car. So what better way to celebrate his memory than with a fresh new build in the same vein? Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Love.
From 1969 to 1973, American muscle car enthusiasts were treated to a stimulating palette of glistening new colours in the Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth model ranges. These new HIP shades (standing for High Impact Paint) came to aggressively assault the retinas of passers-by with a lurid and shocking take on the generally considered conventions of the car hue genre.
And the best thing about all of this corporate playfulness was the names that were chosen for these paints: Top Banana, Go Mango, Sub-Lime, Panther Pink, Citron-Yella, and of course Plum Crazy. These were extrovert cars, they deserved extrovert colours.
“My father had a 1968 Dodge Charger in Plum Crazy,” recalls Kevin Love, as he casts a fond eye over his own purple toy. “It was his Purple Haze, and when he passed away I wanted to create my own personal tribute to him, my own Purple Haze.” And that’s just what you see here – a #1995 E36 M3 in Daytona Violet. Sure, its origins lie on the other side of the Atlantic to his father’s old car, but the ethos of the project is the same: a beautiful, aggressive, eye-catching machine with far more horsepower than necessary and race track DNA clearly on display.
“Following the success of my M3 convertible, I was ready to hit the ground running with another unique build,” Kevin continues. “That was my first BMW project and it was ten years in the making, culminating in a feature in DRIVE-MY in August 2014.” He’d set the bar high then, having already appeared in these hallowed pages. So, how might one ensure that lightning strikes twice? Presumably by getting things off on the right foot and starting with a solid, decent project base, yes?
“Er, no!” he laughs. “When I bought this car it was in rough shape. I had two choices at that point – either I make it a track rat and just gut it, or turn it into another beauty queen. I did a little research and found the M-Cross interior, and that was the moment I knew which direction I wanted to go with the build. I am an OEM fanatic and I strive to find the rare parts to make the car that little bit more noteworthy.” He’s not kidding – seasoned DRIVE-MY readers may recall how Kevin transformed his convertible 318i auto into an M3-powered show-stopper with an Anthrazit Rain interior and all manner of rare original-equipment bits. If it’s obscure and Bavarian, Kevin will find it.
“I’d created the Colorado BMW Groupë on Facebook, and a fellow member had listed this car for sale,” he recalls. “I liked the car but I wasn’t in the position to pull the trigger at that time. A few months later it was listed once again; the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. The colour is what truly sold me – we arranged to meet up, and when I saw the colour in person I was convinced. And I didn’t waste any time in tearing into the thing either… pretty much as soon as I got it home I went through the car on all the maintenance, refreshing all the suspension components, and I detailed it inside and out. Then I started replacing weather-stripping and seals; I knew exactly what I needed to do right away to make this car have a great starting point to build from.”
The thing with talking to Kevin about his #BMW love affair is that it’s like flicking the switch on a Duracell bunny, you just set him going and he’s off for hours, absorbed in his own passion. It’s endearing – this is a guy who just can’t restrain himself from spending countless hours online, on the phone, in lock-ups and breaker’s yards, and on social media hunting down rare parts, garnering and giving advice, just living the BMW dream. It swims in his blood. Passion that his beloved Charger-toting father, Rodney, would surely be hugely proud of.
“I wanted to challenge myself, I never wanted to look back and be known from my previous build and fall short,” Kevin asserts. “Most of all, this car is my own build and not built for others’ approval. I consider myself an OEM fanatic, but I also appreciate the stance movement, and at the end of the day this is just my perfect M3.
“The first big modification was the Air Lift V2 suspension,” he continues. “I wanted reliability, and not to have to plan my route around town in advance.” Wise sentiment indeed, and something we hear time and time again from owners who’ve made the switch to air-ride – there will always be people hating on the format, but it really can be an all-things-to-all-men solution.
Kevin’s next big decision, having got those arches markedly closer to the ground, was to figure out what to fill them with. “I got in contact with a vendor in Germany selling Carline CM6 wheels – easily my favourite wheel style that I always dreamed of owning,” he enthuses. “With that life goal ticked off, and the wheels’ hardware swapped for 24-carat gold items for good measure, I then fitted my very rare and obscure Dove Alcantara M-Cross interior. In fact, throughout the build I sourced every Motorsport item I could, ending with the strut brace.”
It’s been, as we’ve come to expect from Kevin, an exhaustive exercise in partshunting, touching on such desirable treats as the red Motorsport seat belts, the door handles and, most noticeably from outside, that outrageous GT2 Class II boot spoiler. “I wanted to keep the car as clean and classy as I could make it,” he assures us. “I wanted everything to be as OEM as possible. That Class II spoiler is my favourite and most noticeable exterior modification, and I’ve added lots of little touches to make it my own – for example the headlight retrofit and M-colour pinstriping. I don’t want them to be immediately obvious, more that they’ll be picked up on by people who know what they’re looking for. This is how I feel BMW should have released the M3 from factory!”
Of course, a healthy outlook toward increased thrust is key to a build such as this, not least because we’re talking about an M3, but also in the interest of authentically continuing the Love family line of Purple Haze tuning. Under the bonnet you’ll find the #S50B30 US, based on the M50 with that engine’s less complex head design and twostage Vanos, and lower compression than its European counterpart plus a normal throttle body rather than ITBs, making 240hp.
However, improvements can be made to get the engine feeling a little healthier. The brawny six now enjoys an M50 manifold with an AFE intake, and Kevin’s a sucker for a Rogue Engineering exhaust – possibly, we speculate, because the back box looks a bit suggestive when viewed from behind – so you’ll find one of those under there too. It’s all been electronically tickled by RK-Tunes, with the package finished off neatly by a 3.38 LSD at the rear. Show and go in one brightly coloured and slightly frightening package – much like a ’68 Charger, really. A little more technologically advanced, perhaps, but certainly on the same page.
It’s easy to be blasé about a car such as this, and maybe assume that it’s a chequebook build, particularly coming hot on the heels of another equally detailed project, but it’s important to bear in mind the sheer effort that Kevin’s put into this. His BMW obsession is an all-consuming force in his life; the engine work, for example, was all carried at by Kevin in his garage, along with his buddy Brandon, and he wears the results as a deserved badge of honour. And his focus on the aesthetics is well on par with his mechanical nous.
His description of the interior work is modest, but implies so many hours of work: “The interior was in real bad shape to begin with – typical 20-year-old wear and tear. Dove seats just never look clean, and it had the usual saggy headliner and wilting doorcards. I stripped the whole interior down in order to swap over to Grau Alcantara M-Cross cloth. I also added in the Euro three-spoke wheel wrapped in new Alcantara, along with the shift and e-brake boots matched with M-stitching. It’s finished off nicely with Motorsport door seals, seat belts and OEM carbon-fibre trim pieces.” That he makes it sound like all in a day’s work tells you more about his modesty than anything else.
“I have found parts for this car from all over the world,” he continues. “Luckily the interior was purchased from a seller in California, so shipping wasn’t as dramatic. The wheels came from Germany as well as a lot of the Motorsport items; I started with a clear idea of what I wanted to do with the build, and the only thing that really slowed me down was sourcing all the parts I wanted on the car. I made lots of contacts though, and was fortunate enough to have smooth transactions. And there are so many things I love about my car now – the body lines just work so well together, and I focused a lot on the interior as that’s where I spend most of the time. It has a calming, yet sporty feel. The reliability of the air-ride really makes a big difference too; I can go for my stance for daily driving, then turn the car into a weekend track warrior, beefing up the suspension with a push of a button!”
Kevin has much to be proud of here. The fruits of his labours shout loudly about a man who knows whereof he speaks. There’s an inherent conflict of approach in that, on the one hand, he’s eager for it to have all of the correct parts and look just-so, and on the other hand that he doesn’t do shows and would rather just be out driving the thing… but it’s safe to say that he’s balancing the whims of the two demons effectively. While he describes his kinship with the car as being ‘a love-hate relationship’, he’s fooling no-one. This car is all about love. It’s baked right into it, a Love family tradition. And you can be sure that Kevin’s old man would be proud to see his Purple Haze legacy living on in such fine, muscular style.
Carline CM6 wheels look stunning; DJ Auto headlights with projector retrofit are one of the many smart, subtle additions on this car.
“I can go for my stance for daily driving, then turn the car into a weekend track warrior, beefing up the suspension with a push of a button!”
US-spec S50 has been treated to an M50 manifold and tuned by RK Tunes.
DATA FILE #BMW E36 M3 / #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #S50B30 / #S50 / #BMW-S50 / US tuned by #RKTunes , #Rogue-Engineering DMS exhaust, UUC poly engine mounts, #Mishimoto radiator with electric fan, M50 manifold, #AFE 2 intake, #ZF fivespeed gearbox, #UUC poly transmission mounts, #Autosolutions Ultra Short Shift Kit, 3.38 LSD
CHASSIS 9x17” ET14 (front) and 10x17” ET20 (rear) polished Carline-CM6 wheels with gold hardware with 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) tyres, #Neo-Chrome lugnuts, #Air-Lift-V2 / #Air-Lift digital air-ride, #BMW-Motorsport strut brace, ECS-Geomet cross-drilled and grooved discs, PBR-Axxis-Ultimate brake pads
EXTERIOR Daytona Violet, M Power-coloured pinstriping, #DJ-Auto headlights with FX-R 3.0 projector retrofit, Lux bumper grille, foglight covers, BMW Motorsport door handles, shaved filler cap lid, GT2 (Class II) spoiler with risers, LTW spoiler tray, carbon fibre side skirt splitters, modified GT rear splitters
INTERIOR Alcantara Grau M-Cross seats and panels, OEM carbon fibre centre console and glovebox trim, Motorsport International door sills, #BMW-Motorsport red seatbelts, Alcantara-wrapped Euro three-spoke steering wheel with Tri stitching, Alcantara gear and handbrake gaiters with Tri stitching, Alcantara armrest, E39 autodimming rear view mirror, #ZHP gear knob, #BSW speakers with subwoofer
THANKS Big thanks to my beautiful wife Cori, for supporting me through my builds, and my great buddies Brandon and James for helping me with all the maintenance and retrofits. I call this build my Purple Haze – a tribute to my dad and his Plum Crazy purple 1968 Charger.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.