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LIBERTY WALK M3 Wild Australian E92
Walk This Way
A Japanese body kit on a European car with American suspension screwed together by an Australian equals something pretty bloody special. Words: Ben Dillon. Photos: Trent Wilson.
Forging a different path in Australia’s modified car culture can be a tricky thing to do as fresh ideas often collide with an iron resistance to change from the established scene, but breaking down barriers is what Ty Isaak and his one-stop modification brand Mode Auto Concepts does best.
Growing up in a hot rod-loving family meant Ty received a healthy amount of exposure to grinding, welding and rumbling V8s from a young age and was himself swinging tools and modifying cars before he had even finished high school. His first foray into the scene was with an Isuzu ute which he chopped, sectioned and bagged and added #V8 greatness to. From there Ty waded deep into Australia’s street tuning scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s just as the Japanese import craze was calming down and the Euro scene was on the rise. Ty built on his fabrication roots and his ethos of unique concepts heavily influenced by his numerous trips to the US by creating a number of cars showcasing his talents.
These included a SoCal lowrider W116 Mercedes and a bagged, pure white A4 Avant, also dropped on its guts.
For his latest car, the stunning E92 M3 you see on these pages, Ty’s inspiration came from a visit to rev-head Mecca: the SEMA modified car show in Las Vegas. This instantly set him on the #Liberty-Walk-E92 body kit course as not only did Kato-san’s (Wataru Kato, Liberty Walk founder) fat creation for the E92 look fantastic but no one had yet attempted it in Australia. Added to this, the build could showcase brands represented by Ty’s business, which gave the project the added pressure of being an advertisement for what his company could do, but the choice of M3/ #BMW-E92-Liberty-Walk was an easy one to make.
“I’ve always been a fan of Euro cars and I appreciate all different marques, but I’m really selective on the models that I like within a brand,” Ty says. “I remember seeing the first M3 and have enjoyed the evolution of the generations; they always appealed to me. They are a really good package with a real motorsport feel.”
As purveyors of some of the fattest body kits in the known universe Liberty Walk is at the top of the heap – but a fat rear end alone was never going to set the world on fire. So, in the planning process before Ty even bought his M3, the concept of the build was given great consideration with the main goals for the car to be outlandish on the outside but still feel as good as it did driving off the showroom floor. “The objective with the M3 was that it should look crazy but feel like something that was made right from scratch, like it came from the factory,” Ty explains. “It has the loudest possible exhaust on it. It’s fully decatted to the x-pipe. And it’s all Armytrix Valvetronic, so when it opens up it’s an absolute beast. I had a guy come up to me with a race M3 and he said my car was louder!” And while the body kit is the focus of much attention, it seems the wheels are the starting point for all conversations on Ty’s E92. “Everyone argues about which side they like more and they all have really strong opinions about it,” Ty says. Those amazing wheels measure 10.5x19 inches on the front and 12.5x19 inches on the rear. You definitely can’t get them on eBay or anywhere else in the retail sphere (at the moment) as they are of Ty’s own creation – from concept drawings to tyred-up, forged alloy finality.
“I own the company Forge Wheels,” Ty reveals. “I went to the States years ago and started my own wheel company because I couldn’t find what I wanted in Australia. The wheels and tyres on this cost $10,000 (circa
£4800 at the time of writing) and so much work went into them in every single aspect. They are not off-the-shelf wheel; every single element has been engineered, designed and checked by me and my team.”
As impressive as all that is, wheels and a body kit don’t just attach themselves to a car, so Ty swung the grinder and sparked up the welder for every step along the way of the transformation of the E92 from muscular factory M3 to barking, steroidal, day-glo-wheeled freak. And there was plenty to do – not least to have US documentary filmmaker and good mate Zach Wingfield (whose showreel alone proves he’s car mad like the rest of us) hovering with a camera for three months solid, filming every single part of the build. “I had to put the front wings on about eight times because Zach wanted to shoot it from every angle, change a lens, or change the lighting,” Ty laughs.
The body work didn’t stop there. Modifications to the firewall ensure that the front wheels actually turn full lock.
Subsequent work involved plating and body deadened, while the rear of the car was mini-tubbed to accommodate those super-wide rear wheels. Again Ty fabricated and fitted the rolled inner tubs himself, sticking to his ethos of ‘if it’s been done right, it can stay like that forever’. But none of this was without drama, especially with the fitment of the Liberty Walk kit. “People have this perception that these kits come in some IKEA-like kit and you just get the screw gun out and screw it into the side of your car but it’s a lot of work to fit it properly. The instructions from Liberty Walk were pretty much just ‘cut it’,” Ty grins. “Getting the fitment right and making sure the car still drives like it did from the factory was the aim from the start. Whether it was legal or not I was still going to do it but I wanted to do it to specification, so I talked to my engineer and told him what I wanted to do. He reassured me I was on the right track.”
While cutting into an M3 to put a body kit on sounds like a #BMW purist’s worst nightmare, snatching out the factory M3 suspension and replacing it with airbag units seems a sure way to draw fire from those who would question how anything could replace M-division’s Nürburgring-honed best. But Ty is adamant that it fits the ethos of the build and his car still handles like a real M car. “A lot of people assume that because it’s on air it rides or drives like sheet but everything people perceive about air suspension, sloppy ride, or lack of handling, is eliminated in the AirREX kit,” Ty explains. This is down to the AirREX design combining the best of coilover and airbag designs with what is basically a damper-adjustable-strut on a fully-threaded body but with an air spring on it where a coil spring would normally be. The end result is something that looks like a coilover but with an airbag on it. “With the combination of the valving and the damping you wouldn’t know it was bagged and it just rides like a factory M3,” Ty adds.
It’s this approach to quality control which marks Ty’s car out from the herd. He’s paid particular attention to how the car now responds dynamically to the mechanical and aesthetic changes he’s made to ensure that it can be used as a daily driver – albeit one that never escapes attention when out in the wild.
“It’s totally ridiculous and a lot of people are in disbelief that I’ve even done it. You can’t drive it on the highway without someone driving up to you to take a photo or a video. It’s fun. It’s like being in a celebrity car,” Ty says with a smile. “I don’t think people even know what kind of car it is.
Nobody knows what #Liberty-Walk is and to have people hanging out the window of a car yelling out and giving me a thumbs up is just amazing.”
It’s not just fellow road users Down Under who appreciate Ty’s M3 either as fans worldwide can now drive this car through the streets of Surfers Paradise in Forza Horizon 3. It’s fitting for a car made on the Gold Coast to appear in a game with an Australian setting. Digital fame aside, Ty has even bigger plans for a ‘Stage 2’ build for the E92, which will see a toned- down colour scheme with the body kit as the sole survivor of the car’s current state in what will be a more track-focused evolution of the current ethos while still retaining street usability.
“Making huge power figure is not of any interest to us. It doesn’t achieve anything; it’s just a number on a piece of paper,” Ty says. “The next stage with this car is a full roll-cage and supercharger which, with the exhaust, tune, intake and underdrive pulley, will still make it a great streetcar but one that we can take on the track or to social track days and have a bit of fun with.” All we can say is bring it on Ty, we can’t wait to see it.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Liberty-Walk / #BMW / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-M-DCT / #BMW-M3-M-DCT-E92 / #Forge-Wheels / #LB-Performance / #AirREX
ENGINE 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , intake, custom ECU tune, #Armytrix-Valvetronic exhaust system with de-catted front pipes, x-pipe and ceramic-coated matt black tips
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 10.5x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) #Forge-Wheels-USA-SV5-FS-spec-SL wheels with 275/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Nitto Invo tyres, #AirREX-Performance air suspension struts with #AirREX digital wireless management system in concealed enclosure, #Rolloface-Performance 380mm six-piston forged performance brake kit
EXTERIOR #Liberty-Walk-LB-Performance widebody kit (version two), Piano black front splitter and ducktail, BMW Performance black chrome kidney grilles and side vents, LED angel eye upgrade, LCI rear light upgrade
INTERIOR Factory interior
THANKS Everyone behind the scenes at MODE Auto Concepts that made this project possible, FORGE Wheels USA, Brian and the team from Armytrix Exhaust, Dizzy and the team from AirREX Air Suspension, Ken and the team from Rolloface Performance, Zach from ZWINGFILMS, Trent from TNW Photography for the behind the scenes photos, and Brad my painter for always telling me “no dramas”
“It should look crazy but feel like it came from the factory”
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- Post is under moderationThe story of these twin GT-Rs is one of classic values, camaraderie, and dreams fulfilled. To hugely misquote Forrest Gump, ‘awesome is as awesome does’… Words: Daniel Bevis. Pics: Olliee Wildsmith. Walk designed in japan, built in Belgium and killing it on the UK’s streets and shows, these two liberty walkkitted R35 #Nissan GT-Rs set the standard.
/ #Nissan-GTR-R35 / #Nissan-GTR / #Nissan / #VR38DETT / #V6 / #Nissan-VR38DETT / #Nissan-GT-R
RUN FORREST, RUN
Twin Liberty Walk-kitted Nissan R35 GT-Rs are a match made in wide arch heaven
As fans of the silver screen will enthusiastically tell you, 1994’s Forrest Gump is one of the greatest tales ever committed to celluloid. It’s not so much the vast budget, the sprawling scenescapes, the all-star cast, or the kickass soundtrack (although those are all, naturally, important factors), but the fact that what seems like a complex story is actually very simple: it’s all about how greatness can stem from humble beginnings, how having strong and clear values will win out in the face of all kinds of adversity. It’s a principle that’s oft retold in various formats, but the heartwarming truth of that now-careworn ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ motif sits at the core of it all.
It’s also a theme that we find mirrored in countless walks of life. Take these artfully matched Nissan GT-Rs, for example, resplendent in Liberty Walk’s finest – the twins are named LB Shadow and LB Pearl, and the story is rooted in humble beginnings. Just ask Phil Hird, owner of the grey car, LB Shadow: ‘I’ve been modifying cars since I got my licence at 17, with my first car being a MkII Fiesta,’ he recalls. Yep, cars don’t come a lot more humble than that. ‘After that I moved onto a diesel Golf, and then I spent a bomb on an Audi A3 which got lost in the floods in 2007.’ It’s not reading like the strongest start so far, is it?
Remember that Vietnam scene where Forrest’s platoon is wading through chest-high floodwater? This whole modifying lark can seem that way sometimes, can’t it. ‘Big ol’ fat rain!’
‘In 2008 I started again with a brand new Audi A5, fitting a one-off bodykit to it,’ Phil continues. ‘But then kids came along, so by necessity I moved onto a Q7. And then the GT-R came into my life in 2014…’
Well, there is an argument to be made for Nissan’s supercoupe being a sensible choice, isn’t there? Everyday usability, baked-in Japanese reliability, strong residuals. Ah hell, you only live once though, don’t you? Coming from a starting point of a tired old 1980s hatchback, if the opportunity to play with a GT-R presents itself, you’d regret it forever if you didn’t pull the trigger. It’d be like slapping fate in the face.
‘I found the car on the Supercar Rooms website, it had low miles and was a great price,’ says Phil, ‘so I called and paid a deposit on it until I could get to their showroom to see it! A week later I drove the five hours to see the car and testdrive it – from the moment I put the pedal down I wanted the R35 to be mine. So as soon as I got back to the showroom I bought it!’ Some might call it reckless to put a deposit on a car sight unseen; others would say you’re just rolling the dice. Sometimes you just have to play it the Gump way, go with the flow and allow history and culture to swell around you.
Phil wasted no time getting stuck into the mods, as the art of tweaking GT-Rs (a car, remember, that Nissan originally claimed was ‘untuneable’!) is now well-established and, frankly, required. He started with a set of 20in Vossen CV4 rims and then moved on to a full-on carbon-fibre Knight Racer kit, complete with bumper fins, full diffuser, and all manner of carbon tricks. Then came the 21in Strasse wheels, at which point Phil opted to take a little time out from the build to go old-school, like Forrest returning to Greenbow, Alabama. The counterpoint to the GT-R project lay in his 1967 VW Beetle, a car – named ‘Elmo’ – that he fully restored himself, running air-ride and winning copious awards. This tells you a little about Phil’s skills, as well as his focus.
But the GT-R was just sitting there all along, its carbon-fibre gleaming, goading Phil on to take the next step. And who was he to refuse?
‘In September 2015 I ended up speaking with Jean-Marie de Roover from the Belgium GTR Store,’ Phil explains. ‘I’d seen his Liberty Walk GT-R on the Battalion30Five Facebook group, which we’re both members of, and a Liberty Walk GT-R was kind of the final dream for my car! We discussed building it, and options we could add to the car to make it a one-of-one styling exercise so it was bespoke, that could be seen as an individual build amongst the Liberty Walk community.
After a few ideas and lots of discussion, a deposit was paid and it was all systems go!’ You see, sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Moving in the right circles helps you, but occasionally these things are shimmered along simply because the cosmos is smiling on you.
‘A few weeks later, Dan and Mike Jackson, who are good friends of mine and utter GT-R fans, heard that a guy from the UK had booked his car in with Jean-Marie,’ Phil goes on.
‘While chatting on the phone one night, Dan was talking about creating an LB build of his own but was unsure who the other person was who’d already signed up with the Belgium GTR Store. Eventually I gave in and told him everything! Dan was very supportive and couldn’t believe what I was actually going to do – and a month or so later it was confirmed that Dan and Mike had also booked their car in for a Liberty Walk transformation.
It makes sense at this point to meet the Jacksons, doesn’t it? Dan and Mike are a father-andson team, with Mike holding the impressive distinction of being, at 68 years of age, the oldest known owner of a Liberty Walk car. Which is a very cool boast, indeed. No battered Micras here, this is a guy who approaches every day with flair and élan.
‘We have always been interested in cars,’ says Mike, ‘especially Japanese cars. Before the R35 GT-R was a 350Z, and we’ve even owned a Nissan Bluebird! But we fell in love with the R35 after driving one at an experience day at Elvington airfield with Everyman Racing.
Not long after, this car was purchased from Alexanders Prestige in Boroughbridge.’ As bought, the guys found themselves gazing lovingly at a totally standard, UK-spec 2009 Black Edition, and it remained stock for quite some time, barring the addition of a Y-pipe and a remap. But the lure of GT-R tuning proved too strong, and their mate Phil certainly wasn’t helping matters…
‘In December 2015, Battalion30Five held their end of year meet at Black Hangar Studios,’ says Phil. ‘I took my GT-R along, with Dan and Mike in theirs, also knowing that Jean- Marie would be coming over from Belgium with his Liberty Walk R35. From the moment we saw his car, we knew we’d made the right decision. His attention to detail was first class, along with his knowledge. We all came away from the event dreaming of the day we’d get to deliver our own cars to Belgium and get the builds rolling.’
And so, at the end of January, the lads boarded a ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge for the overnight trip, driving the next day down to the Belgium GTR Store. They took the tour, chatted over all of their ideas with Jean- Marie, then made their way back to the ferry to play the waiting game. (Which, as Homer Simpson will tell you, is a game that sucks, and you’re better off with Hungry Hungry Hippos.) The cars were in Belgium for three months in all, with Jean- Marie feeding the guys’ enthusiasm with constant photo updates of how the projects were progressing, while they in turn worked hard to create specific design templates of the graphics they wanted applied to the cars for the GTR Store to replicate.
After what felt like aeons of thumb-twiddling and nail-biting, Phil, Mike and Dan found themselves back aboard a ferry in late April, ready to see LB Shadow and LB Pearl for the first time in their classy new threads. ‘Man, I couldn’t stop shaking at the sight of the car that was now coming home with me,’ Phil breathes in an awestruck whisper. It’s evident that this car still thrills the hell out of him, still sends an electric shiver down his spine. ‘And the rest is history, really,’ he says, brightening, returning to reality with a gentle bump. ‘The car lives at home with me, most nights I just sit there and stare at it.’ Well, when he’s not out there enjoying the vast swells of hard-revving fury from that VR38DETT, we imagine…
‘Our car was already a headturner, but now it’s just insane,’ Mike chips in, evidently just as awestruck as his buddy. ‘People video it and take photos everywhere we go. We use it all the time, too – having air suspension means we can pretty much go anywhere without worrying about damaging it, and we’re planning to go to as many car shows as possible so we can just get out there and share the car with everyone.’ A very cheering and altruistic sentiment, to be sure, and it’s clear that these guys are enthusiasts in the old-school sense; they haven’t chosen Liberty Walk kits simply to win the intangible celebrity of Instagram fame, but just because they thought it’d be cool. And they’re right, it is. So now they want to share the whole experience with like-minded petrolheads.
‘Yep, we go to a lot of meets and shows,’ Phil confirms, ‘and charity events for sick children, too. The reactions to the cars are always amazing.’ And that is the crux of the thing – Phil, Mike and Dan didn’t build these cars to show off, they did it just because they wanted to touch a little of that oriental magic; their inherent good nature and strength of character means that these builds are all heart. You see, life really is like a box of chocolates. And right here we have a pair of angular, exotic chocolates with extraordinarily gooey caramel centres.
‘THE REACTIONS TO THE CARS IS AMAZING
VERSION 1 VS. VERSION 2
You’ll no doubt have spotted that the cars’ bodykits are subtly different to one another. This is because liberty walk don’t just offer one identikit set menu, but are always tweaking and broadening the range; LB pearl wears the version 1 kit, while LB shadow is rocking version 2, the principle difference being in the rear spoilers. This makes sense for Phil, Dan and Mike as, while the cars are unmistakably twins, it was important to keep each one unique. You can follow the cars’ respective evolution on their instagramfeeds - @lb_shadowand@lb_pearl
TECH SPEC LB PEARL
ENGINE VR38DETT 3.8-litre 24v V6 twin-turbo, Stage 1 with Ecutek Version 5 maps, #ARMYTRIX titanium exhaust system with remote-control valves, uprated intercooler
TRANSMISSION Stock GT-R transmission
SUSPENSION AirREX digital air suspension
BRAKES AP Racing discs, Ferodo pads
WHEELS 20in custom Gravity rims
INTERIOR Re-trimmed and re-shaped flat-bottom steering wheel with carbon-fibre insert, carbon-fibre effect instrument surrounds, Alcantara centre tunnel, custom instrument cluster with carbon-fibre effect inlays and blue LED backlighting
EXTERIOR Liberty Walk Version 1 kit, Pearlescent White wrap, custom 12-LED Formula 1 brake light, tinted front headlamps, custom LED indicators integrated into the mirrors
THANKS ‘Alexanders Prestige, Middlehurst Motorsport, Litchfield Imports, JM-Imports, Tyremen (Hull), Belgium GT-R Store, AC Speedtech, Andy at R35Audio, Battalion30Five, Darren Tucker’
TECH SPEC LB SHADOW
ENGINE VR38DETT 3.8-litre 24v V6 twin-turbo, Litchfield Stage 4.25 tune, monster intercooler, full Milltek Sport stainless steel exhaust system, Litchfield Forge BOVs, Forge header tank, custom Liberty Walk carbon-fibre engine cover
TRANSMISSION Stock GT-R transmission, Litchfield bellhousing upgrade
SUSPENSION #AirREX digital air suspension
BRAKES Alcon discs and pads (front), AP Racing discs and pads (rear)
WHEELS 20in custom Gravity rims with blue ink clearcoat lacquer
INTERIOR Re-trimmed and re-shaped flat-bottom steering wheel with carbon-fibre insert, extended carbon-fibre paddle-shifters, carbon-fibre wrap on centre console, Alcantara centre tunnel
EXTERIOR Liberty Walk Version 2 kit with ducktail spoiler, 3M matte grey wrap with carbon-fibre accents, custom 12-LED Formula 1 brake light, custom front DRLs, custom LED indicators integrated into mirrors, Valenti taillights
THANKS ‘A big massive thanks needs to be given to Jean-Marie de Roover of Belgium GTR Store, who built the car into what it is today, and to Kato of Liberty Walk for meeting us and putting his signature of approval on the car. Also a big shout out to the Battalion30Five family who are a collection of GT-R owners from across the world.’
‘A LIBERTYWALK KITWAS THE FINAL DREAM FORMY CAR’
BELGIUM GTR STORE
As the name suggests, these guys deal exclusively in GT-Ts. So is it worth your while trekking all the way over to sint-truiden to let them have a go on your R35? Their results speak for themselves, really – it’s a full-house offering, encompassing engine and transmission tuning, interior and exterior mods, and they’re keen to express that they love working with carbonfibre. So we’re not just looking at bolt-ons here, this is a shop that passionately wants to make every r35 that comes through the door unique and distinctive. We’ve already seen a number of cool cars with the Belgium GTR store name attached, and there will undoubtedly be many more to come!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAirREX #UK Audi A1/S1 high-performance air suspension kit / #Audi-A1 / #Audi-S1 / #Audi / #Audi-A1-AirREX / #2016 / #AirREX /
AirREX now has a fully comprehensive and fully reversible air-suspension kit for almost all variants of the Audi A1 and S1.
This new kit offers a near ‘plug and play’ fitment for enthusiasts who want a fully adjustable air-ride kit, without the usual hassles that go with custom installs. Ideal for UK roads, these kits are tough, reliable and durable – offering great ride quality with the ability to change the ride height at will.
As with all AirREX digital air management systems, the Audi A1/S1 kit is supplied fully assembled and leak-tested from the factory, saving up to 10 hours installation time compared to rival systems. All the primary control components – valve block, compressor, air tank and purge valve – are contained in a composite wood casing with a smoked acrylic window. Once this case has been secured in position, two simple electrical connections (power and earth) and four ‘plug and play’ plumbing connections (one to each air spring) complete the installation, which can be completed in just one full working day compared to several for a custom build. The AirREX system is fully digital, wireless in operation and minutely adjustable from an intuitive, hand-held commander unit, with each corner controlled either individually, in pairs, or collectively. Ride heights can be configured at pre-set levels to allow for perfect geometry to be achieved, while precise air spring pressures can be monitored from the commander unit’s backlit TFT LCD screen.
The electronic stability of AirREX systems is evidenced by the use of 20A fuses within the power feed – half that normally found in competitor systems – which means that AirREX systems are less likely to overload the electronics of the host vehicle.
In addition to minute ride-height adjustment, the well-engineered AirREX struts offer adjustable damping force for precise control of handling and ride quality. The struts adopt double convoluted bellows and twin-ply rubber construction for improved control and strength over traditional sleeved bags.
Priced at £3,332.50 + VAT, the AirREX kit isn’t the cheapest on the market but when you factor in the reduced labour charges compared to the vast majority of its competitors, plus the integrity of factory-assembled hardware, then the true value becomes readily apparent. Visit www.airrexuk.co.uk or call 01933 685 840 for more information.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAUDI R8 #V10 010 American Blend. This is the first Liberty Walk kitted R8 V10 in the world and we got the fappin’ exclusive!
SEMA SPECIAL: AUDI R8 / WORDS MIDGE / PHOTOGRAPHY CJM PHOTOGRAPHY
YOU CAN FORGET YOUR LUKEWARM AMERICANO. THIS ONE’S A DOUBLE ESPRESSO
It’s pretty hard to believe, but the owner of this amazing R8, Sean Der, has only been modifying cars for a couple of years. Now, I’m not saying this particular Baltimore-based real estate mogul hasn’t always been something of a petrol head. In fact, he’s owned some of the sweetest driver’s cars ever to hit the streets, including RX-7s, BMW M3s, a couple of Nissan GT-Rs, another R8 V10 and a whole collection of Honda NSXs. Apparently these standard motors were just for “driving pleasure”. But we all know that sooner or later getting the hammer down on a regular basis can lead to only one thing – tuning. And that’s exactly how he ended up at his first show in late 2013.
He had a properly tasty NSX at the time, his fourth one as it happens. Armed with a load of custom mechanical and turbo upgrades it made 539 horsepower at the wheels. But even Sean was surprised when it picked up its first of many Best in Show trophies. Understandably he wanted more and pretty soon he was to realise modifying cars is an addiction – once you pop, you just can’t stop.
As for the NSX, after a mental FXMD wide body conversion and a satin white wrap, it was actually the last car to be featured on the cover of Import Tuner Magazine before Sean sold the car to pursue a new project. He even made a profit, but he admits it was a big mistake. The problem was, he learned just days later that the car had been approved for SEMA #2014 . But it was too late to get it back.
Missing the event was to shape things to come though, and Sean was determined to build something extra special for the 2015 season. And that’s how we get to today. I guess the real point is, there’s only one thing to do when you’re a little late to the game – kick it up a notch. And Sean has certainly done that here, with massive supercar-shaped bells on.
Not only is this the first Liberty Walk-kitted R8 V10 on the planet, but it’s only the second car in the world to have the whole lot seam-blended into the bodywork. And before you go thinking there’s no prizes for second place, the first car to get this treatment happens to be Sean’s other project – a rather fruity multi-show-winning Nissan GT-R. Talk about bossing it!
It’s pretty obvious that there was a good reason Liberty Walk’s Kato-san chose Sean to showcase his brand new R8 kit at the world’s biggest automotive event. I’d imagine when a bloke like the crazy Japanese legend requests you get yourself an R8 and appear on his stand that’s exactly what you do – it’s not an opportunity you turn down.
Still, that’s not to say things were easy. Kato-san and Sean shook hands back in July when Sean’s GT-R was picked to lead the parade at the Liberty Walk Summer Bash in Miami. Suffice to say that doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time to build a full-on show car or to find a suitable German base car.
Luckily though Sean happens be to co-owner in #APAC (Auto Performance Aesthetics Center), the very customisation shop that put together his NSX. After being impressed by the impeccable workmanship of its owners Derrick Nowell and Sterling ‘Paco’ Duarte, and becoming firm friends, he decided to invest and use his expertise to expand the business.
As well as a huge new facility, this expansion included a lot of extra curricular activities. After 6pm Sean’s cars get the company’s full attention, and that goes some way to explain why he’s got not one, but two of the most revered motors to ever hit SEMA. It has to be said the Derrick and Paco have an unrivalled eye for detail and something of a magic touch when it comes to cars, not to mention some huge trouser potatoes to go chopping up both of Sean’s supercars. As Sean says himself, “Once you cut, you can’t go back”. And it’s even more apparent when you’ve got one of only 10 limited edition Imola Yellow R8 V10s in the whole of North America. But then again it only took an angle grinder and a stack of skill to make this a limited edition of one. Besides, there’s no other way of fitting a Liberty Walk kit, and that probably helps make them so exclusive.
As you’d imagine, the kit is perfectly installed around those massive custom-made RSV Forged dubs, which look like they weren’t exactly light on Sean’s wallet. The AirREX suspension package offers much the same premium-priced kudos. Admittedly tuning is limited to a Quicksilver exhaust and a spot of electronic wizardry from APR, but would you wanna race it? It is an R8 V10 with the same 540bhp engine you get in a Lamborghini after all.
Perhaps what’s most important to the story though isn’t that it cost over 100K or has been built at the request of Kato-san in just a few months of manic evenings. It’s not even the fact that it’s got the first kit on an R8 V10. No, it’s that they’ve chosen to expertly blend a kit that was probably never designed for that kind of stuff in the first place. We’re getting kind of used to seeing riveted overfenders from the likes of LB Performance, Rocket Bunny and RWB but here you get all the raw Liberty Walk flavour done in a, dare I say it, more finished and totally polished way. You could almost call it European in execution. True it’s not a subtle car – saying that would be ridiculous. But there’s no denying that the blending adds another level of finesse to the whole deal. And a raceinspired, mentalist kitted supercar with an ultimate feeling of luxury and finesse can’t be an easy trick to pull off.
TECH SPEC: #Audi-R8-V10 / #Audi-R8 / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Typ-42 / #Audi-R8-V10-Typ-42
TUNING: Quicksilver exhaust system; #APR-Tuned .
CHASSIS: 10 and 12x20in RSV #Forged RXV wheels with 245/30x20 and 325/25/20 Toyo Proxies and custom Toyo tyre stickers; #AirREX air ride system.
EXTERIOR: Moulded Liberty Walk R8 kit; Limited edition Audi Imola Yellow with Glasurit 90 Line paint; custom decals; window tints.
THANKS LB Performance; Derrick Nowell and Sterling ‘Paco’ Duarte at APAC; AirREX; Anthony Quang at RSV Forged; Leon Lee at Just Tint & Signs; Khris Uybengkee of KU Connection; Byron Mapp and Mo Nasir Iqbal.
“A race-inspired, mentalist kitted supercar with an ultimate feeling of luxury and finesse”
What makes it SEMA worthy?
NO RUBBER GASKETS
It might be the first R8 V10 kit on the streets, but instead of simply riveting it on Sean’s team have blended it perfectly into the bodywork. They still had to cut out more than a couple of inches of metalwork first though. Ouch. This kit is yours for the small matter of 15-grand. Double ouch. www.theperformance.co
RSV FORGED HOOPS
You can’t just slap on any old set of hoops for SEMA. Luckily these crazyspoked RSV Forged items were just the ticket to match the car’s awesome bodywork. These guys offer a whole collection of wicked designs available in just about any size or finish you can think of and they start at £790. If you’ve got a limited imagination they’ll even design ’em for you.
The perfectly slammed chassis here is down to a whole new system provided by the guys at AirREX. What’s clever about AirREX gear is that it all comes pre-assembled in a ready-made box so all you need to do is fit the struts, plumb in the airlines and hook up some power. They’ve just started distributing in the UK too. Go check ’em out. www.airrexuk.co.uk
My other car is…
If there’s one other love of Sean’s life it’s his 711whp Nissan GT-R. This one is the car that so impressed Kato-san at the Liberty Walk Summer Bash and kicked off what’s bound to be plenty of bonkers supercar builds in the future. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this monster in FC very soon.
If Bananaman was crossed with Batman, this would be his car.
So, why build one car when you can do two, yeah? “Well, to be honest, this car would have never happened if I hadn’t have met Kato-san in Miami. When we decided to make an R8 to debut the kit at SEMA I knew I wanted to take the GT-R with it. So we ended up re-painting that specially for the show too.”
Anything else up your sleeve? “Well I want to get back to my first tuning love, so I’ve started another NSX. I’m aiming for 1,000whp this time. I may have to ditch the R8 to fund it though.”
The GT-R, R8 and now another NSX? I can’t keep up… “Yeah mate, that’s the general idea!”
Carbon mirrors are standard on the V10!
This is the first Liberty Walkkitted R8 V10 on the planet. Two banks of 5 = V10.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationONE LAST TIME
If you’re looking to build one last project a #Yas-Marina blue, air-ride #BMW-135i-Coupe sporting 1M styling, carbon and pulled arches is certainly one way to go out with a bang… Mark Stewart wanted to do one last big build and with this 135i, we’d say it was mission accomplished. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Steve McCann.
It may lack the sheer in-your-face impact of the 1M or the more heavily M-administered focus of its next generation counterpart but the 135i remains an awesome performance machine. It’s fast, surprisingly practical and economical when driven with care and an absolute riot. It’s perfectly-sized, nimble and hard to beat for sheer grin-inducing driving pleasure. We have fond memories of our first time behind the wheel of a 135i and we came away massively impressed. It may have been superseded by the M135i and M235i, which is arguably more of a direct replacement, but the 135i still has the potential to impress and surprise owners of more exotic machinery. Out-of-the-box it is certainly no slouch, thanks to 306hp and 295lb ft of torque from the early twin-turbo N54, but it’s the tuning potential of that engine that makes the 135i such a deadly weapon out on the roads. With minimum effort you can be knocking on the door of 400hp, and that will never leave you wanting.
As a base from which to build a performance project, then, the 135i is the perfect choice and that’s what attracted Mark Stewart to what would become his 135i. “As this was going to be my last big build I wanted to build the ultimate 1 Series,” says the car painter from Northern Ireland. “The car was built to make heads turn but not to be all show and no go, which is what made the 3.0 twin-turbo 135i a must. Everything had to be right, from the colour to interior.” And looking at the car, it’s fair to say that Mark has got everything spot-on. In just three short weeks, with the help of friends, he transformed a standard 135i into the machine you see before you now, which is amazing considering just how much work has been poured into the car. If there’s an area in which the standard 135i is lacking, it’s on the visual front. Despite that pouty front bumper, it’s a pretty discreet car with no wild arches or lairy styling. While that’s all well and good if you want to make rapid progress across the highways and byways without attracting unwanted attention, it’s obviously no good if you actually want to attract attention.
So the first step was to beef up that body. And this 1 Series has undergone a heck of a lot of work on the styling front. Up front, there’s that 1M bumper, spilling over with cartoonish aggression and intakes – the perfect choice for giving the front end some more clout. Matched with it are a pair of 1M front wings, themselves chosen to accommodate the wheels, which Mark had his heart set on from the start. The wheels were only available in a seriously low offset, though, and although most of us in such a situation would sigh and choose something else that would fit straight on, that’s clearly not Mark’s style. The wheels in question are 9.5x18” #Cosmis-Racing XT- 206Rs, a sexy single-piece wheel finished in black with a polished lips – very nice indeed. In Mark’s chosen width the only offset available was +10, far too low for the standard width 1 Series arches to accommodate. There was another problem, too. The #XT-206R is only available in a 5x114.3 or 5x100 fitment, neither of which is any good for a #BMW . Normally, you can get around this by chucking a set of adapters on but as they’re essentially spacers and the offset here was so low already, that wasn’t possible. The solution?
Mark had the wheels redrilled to the correct 5x120 PCD so they could fit straight on. A lot of effort but it was worth it as the twin six-spoke design really suits the chunky 1 Series shape. And with the 1M bodywork, the fitment really is on point. Of course, with fat 1M front arches, the rear was now looking rather anaemic so something clearly needed to be done. Mark’s solution was to have them pulled and flared, which has made a massive difference and the rear quarters now mirror the front to perfection, with the wheels filling all four arches and sitting flush as you like.
Beyond the front bumper and beefed-up arches there’s plenty more to admire here, like the E9x M3-style carbon bonnet – which is just one of many carbon additions that adorn this 135i. There are also carbon kidney grilles, carbon bumper intakes, carbon 1M indicators, mirrors, aerial and, at the rear, a seriously aggressive carbon diffuser. It’s the perfect accompaniment for the #AC-Schnitzer-exhaust and custom side skirts complete with blades. It’s a very thorough cosmetic reworking that has totally transformed the rather unassuming 1 Series Coupé into a serious head-turner.
But there was one final piece of the puzzle missing: a killer colour that would burn people’s eyeballs! “The colour was chosen to keep with a BMW colour but one never done on a 1 Series,” explains Mark. The chosen colour is Yas Marina blue from the M3 and M4. It’s certainly not something you’re going to see a lot of, certainly not on the 1 Series. It’s an awesome colour, striking for being so different, a sort of metallic pastel blue that never looks anything less than ultra-bold and bright. We think it’s the perfect choice to contrast with the black and carbon details about the exterior.
So with styling, wheels and paint sorted, it was time to take care of the suspension. With a build of this calibre there was only one direction that Mark could head in, and that involved air. “ #Air-ride was a must to get the stance right,” he says. And you can’t argue with the results. Mark turned to #AirREX for the suspension kit itself, adding #Air-Lift-V2 management, with the controller custom-mounted in the dash where the driver’s side central air vent would normally be and one seriously slick boot build. Twin #Viair-380 compressors sit beneath a clear panel in the black carpeted boot floor while the single air tank has been carbonwrapped, mounted in a carpeted panel and the ends have been painted Maserati yellow to match the full roll-cage. Yes, there’s a full roll-cage, we’ll get to that in a moment.
Aired-out, the car sits so low that the front bumper and side blades are mere millimetres off the ground, while the arches perch majestically on the wheels’ lips. It really is a thing of beauty to behold.
Mark did promise a big build and, heading indoors, he’s certainly not scrimped on the interior side of things either. The first thing you’ll notice, because it’s impossible to miss, is the aforementioned Maserati yellow Dodger roll-cage that curves around the shape of the dash and then soars overhead, disappearing into the now seat-less rear to connect up to the chassis behind the carpeted panel. A matching carpeted custom A-pillar pod houses boost and AFR gauges, the dash trims have all been colour-coded, and a pair of sexy Recaro CS seats have been installed in place of the standard items.
The two gauges are not merely frivolous additions as there’s been a bit of tinkering beneath the bonnet in order to get the N54 performing to its full potential. As we mentioned earlier, this engine is extremely eager to give you more power and the addition of a dual Injen induction kit, de-cat and live remap by Autotune has resulted in power leaping to 386hp with 400lb ft – more than enough for anybody and certainly the sort of go Mark was after when starting out with this project. BMW Performance six-pot front brakes with Mintex fast road pads provide ample stopping power.
This is an exceptionally nice car and arguably one of the best-looking 1 Series’ we’ve come across. Mark promised himself one last big build and in our eyes he’s definitely delivered, this 135i being a suitably big statement to go out on. And, if you’re wondering what on earth there could possibly be left to do, the answer is nothing! This was exactly the car Mark wanted to build. In less time than it takes most of us to get around to buying a car, he took a car from standard to show standard – quite a feat where modified cars are concerned. The 135i has now been sold, a Porsche 911 taking its place, and while Mark may have moved on we can’t imagine he’ll ever forget his magnificent 1 Series.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 / #N54 , Injen induction kit, de-cat, #AC-Schnitzer exhaust, live map by #Autotune , 386hp and 400lb ft of torque, six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 18x9.5” #ET10 (front and rear) Cosmis Racing XT- 206R wheels custom drilled to 5x120 with 215/35 (front and rear) tyres, #AirREX struts with #Air-Lift V2 management, #BMW-Performance six-pot #BBK (front), #Mintex fast road pads.
EXTERIOR Full respray in Yas Marina blue, 1M front wings, 1M front bumper, carbon E9x M3-style bonnet, kidney grilles, bumper intakes, 1M indicators and mirrors, custom canards, custom side skirts, side skirt blades, carbon boot spoiler, aerial, rear diffuser, rear arches pulled and flared.
INTERIOR #Recaro CS seats, full colour-coded dash, #Dodger rollcage painted Maserati yellow, custom pillar mount for boost and #AFR gauges, air-ride controller custom mounted in air vent, 2x Viair 380 compressors, carbon-wrapped air tank with Maserati yellow ends.
THANKS PPG/Nexa Autocolor for paint, Stephen at SC Cages and the Paintworx team (07540 168355).
Air-ride was the only option when it came to the suspension to achieve the perfect stance; air-ride controller has been custom-mounted in the dash.
Carbon galore on the outside with bonnet, grilles, indicators and diffuser just a few of the items now finished in the black weave.
Engine has been treated to an Injen induction kit, a live map, a de-cat, and an #ACS exhaust resulting in 386hp and 400lb ft of torque. Interior dominated by Maserati yellow roll-cage.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBAGS TO THE FUTURE
The BMW E85 Z4 doesn’t get a whole lot of love but, when done correctly, it can look absolutely killer, as this bagged Brit build proves. Ashley Morrell’s Z4 is constantly pushing him further and further down the modifying road. And you know what they say – it’s more about the journey than the destination… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Mathew Bedworth.
The Z4, it has to be said, is quite a weird little car. They generally pass reasonably unnoticed today, thanks to the inherent cushioning system of Father Time’s mighty pendulum – the fact that they’ve been around a few years means that we’re used to them, we’ve accepted them. Radically designed cars don’t stay radical for long – the Ford Ka, the Peugeot 206, the Fiat Multipla, they seemed outlandish and alien and daft-as-a-brush at launch, but now they’re just other cars to blend into the mish-mash of day-to-day traffic.
The E85 Z4 very much belongs in that list too. As a replacement for the Z3, it was a pretty bold step; the Z3 had the classic roadster profile – long bonnet, rearward cabin, stubby tail – and the Z4 built on these design touch-points, but added in a whole heap of strangeness. Look at it side-on, for example, and try to work out what the thinking was behind the front wings; there’s quite a wide variety of lines and angles vying for attention there. The rear bumper appears to be wearing a droopy moustache like a pantomime Mexican villain, while the front end looks a bit like Marvin the Paranoid Android from the 2005 movie adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
This, of course, is all very good. Life’s too short to drive boring cars, and BMW’s decision to infuse a whole bunch of weirdness into a model it knew would be a volume-seller ought to be robustly applauded. Furthermore, it means that modifiers with an eye for the offbeat have an interesting alternative to chance their customising arms on, thanks to the model now becoming increasingly affordable as a second-hand proposition. It certainly flicked Ashley Morrell’s switch. He’s the creative force behind this particular low-down Zed, and it’s by no means the first oddball he’s spannered together.
“I guess I’ve been in the modding scene for around nine years now,” he considers at length, scratching his chin and peering into the middle-distance. “I’ve had four cars in that time, which isn’t a huge number by some people’s standards, but I’ve always been known for doing something a little bit unusual with them. I’m not really keen on doing things that everyone else has already done, I like to put my own mark on my cars.” His first full-on build was a case in point, a Citroën C2 which surfed the swelling tide of the nouveau-rat look, all forced patina and belligerent scruff.
“It was right at the start of the whole nurat thing, and it was a pretty radical thing to do to a brand-new car,” he says, a sparkle in his eye as if the mischief of it all is only just dawning on him. “Yeah, that was pretty out there. My Mk3 Golf got fairly extreme too, I went a bit crazy on it; five interiors, three resprays, three engines and eleven sets of wheels over three years! By the end of that project, I found myself with a set of stupidly wide American rims, and effectively making the car fit the wheels, which involved all sorts of cutting and welding!”
So if he was that deep into the VAG scene, why the switch to BMW? “Well, after going through my thirteenth sump in six months I decided it was time for a bit of a change,” he laughs. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted – part of me was keen on the idea of some sort of estate – and I’m not sure what drew me to the Z4 at first, but once I started looking at them, they got stuck in my head. I knew that was the car I wanted next.”
And so the infamous P22 OKE plate found itself being extracted from the Golf and affixed to a shiny silver 2004 Z4 2.2i. “I searched and searched for the right Z4, which wasn’t easy as there don’t seem to be many here in South Wales – must be something to do with the constant rain,” he reasons. “But one day a friend of mine in Cardiff mentioned that he’d seen one come into a garage local to him. I went to see it straight away, and took it home the next day!”
The car was showing 69k on the clock, stock as a rock, and as tidy as Ashley could hope for. All-in-all, a pretty decent base for a project. So, what manner of madness lay ahead for the wacky little roadster? “Well, there wasn’t a plan as such, not from the start,” he recalls. “Having bought it, I just intended to stick some nice wheels on it and enjoy it. But once the wheels were on, it obviously needed lowering, and it all sort of snowballed from there.”
Yep. Of course it did. We hear that a lot. It’s impressive to note, in fact, that Ashley managed to hold out for an entire year with just rims and coilovers before he began to delve deeper. A new set of wheels beckoned; a brilliantly offbeat foursome of Rial Imola splits, which were reworked in custom candy apple red paint and a spangle of retro Seventies gold metalflake thrown in, but it quickly became apparent that wheels this fancy need a killer stance to set them off. So, with a creeping sense of inevitability, the irresistible lure of air-ride arose.
“At that time there really weren’t many bagged Z4s around, so it felt like something pretty fresh,” Ashley explains. “I bought the kit from Plush Automotive and fitted it all myself, along with a few friends who offered to help.” He ought to be particularly proud of those custom copper hardlines which really set off the boot install, and he’s keen to make the point that anything he was physically able to do on the car, he did himself. Not to show off, but simply as a matter of pride – it’s his car, built his way. “If you ever feel like taking apart the inside panels on a Z4, I recommend you don’t,” Ashley sighs. “Three hours to take off the centre console? Well done BMW! But the only thing I couldn’t do myself was the retrim of the seats; that was handled beautifully by Gary at NeatSeats.”
They do look pretty cool too, resplendent in black leather with diamond Bentley stitching, and they’re complemented by a whole bunch of carbon fibre accents throughout the interior to really imbue it with a premium road-racer vibe. Indeed, since our shoot Ashley’s been busy having various interior surfaces retrimmed in Alcantara, which speaks volumes about his twin focus on function and aesthetics.
The exterior of the car is something that he felt had to be as uncluttered and simple as possible, to accentuate the proportions of the car rather than draw unnecessary attention to its details. For this reason, he’s swapped on a pre-face-lift front bumper which has been extensively smoothed and had its numberplate recess deleted. The vast majority of the factory chrome accents have either been junked or replaced with black items; the kidney grilles and BMW roundels, for example, have lost their mirror shine, and even the lights have been dimmed down to suit. It’s a masterclass in subtlety, with plenty of details for the Zed-nerds to seek out on the showground.
“One thing I get asked a lot is how old the car is, and people are often surprised that it’s a 2004 model given how tidy it is” he says. “I use the car every day, and I run it low. I haven’t really built the car to go on track, and people have said I’ve ruined the Z4’s handling because of the air-ride, but to be honest with the AirREX Sport bags I’d say it actually handles better than when it was on coilovers! On the whole, the car gets mixed reactions – the Z4 purists hate it, of course, but I didn’t build it for them, and it does give me a bit of a kick when people stop to take photos of it. One girl I was on a date with thought I was famous because of all the people taking pictures!”
Amusingly at this point, Ashley seems to be suggesting that the project is finished. He’s got the car the way he likes it, and he’s ready to just enjoy it. But you and I know that’s nonsense, don’t we? Take that old Golf as a lesson; this is a guy who just can’t leave things alone: “Oh, alright, you got me,” he concedes. “I will probably do something with the audio over the winter. I fancy a bit more carbon fibre too. Oh, and there’s always new wheels…”
It’s pretty much a done deal that this car will be looking subtly different next time you see it. Ashley’s move into the BMW scene seems to be fitting him rather well.
Air install is neat and smart and still leaves boot useable while copper hardlines add some flair.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Bagged #BMW E85 Z4 2.2i / #BMW-Z4-2.2i / #BMW-Z4-2.2i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-E85 / BMW-E85
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.2-litre straight-six #M54B22 / #M54 , #K&N filter, custom stainless steel exhaust with back box-delete and twin tailpipes, five-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Rial-Imola two-piece split-rims with polished lips and custom candy apple red with gold metalflake centres and 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) tyres, adjustable front camber mounts at 3.0 degrees and rear camber arms at 5.5 degrees, #AirREX Sport air-ride system with V2 four-way digital management, custom copper hardlines.
EXTERIOR Smoothed pre-face-lift Z4 SE front bumper, black lower valance, black-insert headlights with US running lights, custom clear side repeaters, tinted rear lights, carbon fibre wing mirrors, black roundels, black kidney grilles, flared and rolled arches.
INTERIOR Carbon fibre door handles, handbrake handle and steering wheel controls, 1M gear knob, retrimmed MSport steering wheel by Royal Steering Wheels, seats retrimmed in black leather with Bentley diamond stitching, custom mount for V2 controller.
THANKS I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me with fitting things and some companies that have chosen to sponsor me over this year: my friends Kieran Phillips and Nick Wealleands who helped with the air-ride and hardlines, Tom Beleschenco (@twosugars88 on Instagram) for painting the wheels and other bits, Aaron Brooks (@techho_scenecleanvaleting) for detailing the car, Gary at NeatSeats for the great work on the seats, and my sponsors E11evens, Cleanitkit and GlobalGrind.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBOX OF TRICKS #Audi-A1 / #Audi
Kieran Collick fell in love with the show-stopping Audis he saw rolling low out of Plush Automotive, so he commissioned the guys to go all-out on his A1. Words: Neil Hunt / Photos: Matt Woods
You might be a bit jealous of Kieran for how he came to create his awesome slammed A1. While most of us dream of walking into a main dealer and choosing our next project, for Kieran that was a dream come true, as he told us: “I’d come from a Fiat 500 Abarth and a supercharged Mini Cooper, so my big project was always going to be New Age. I never could have dreamed it’d work out as well as it did, though. I’d decided on the A1 because it just looks so fresh and I hadn’t seen any done the way I wanted. In fact, I hadn’t seen many modified at all. And if I was getting an A1, I wanted to make it individual to me. It had to be a car I could use every day so at first I thought that would mean I couldn’t go too far – until I had my first conversation with Luke Massy, owner of Plush Automotive, that is!”
If he wasn’t such a cool guy, we’d be hatin’ on Kieran right now. How many of us could hope for something this cool at 19? Seriously, where are we going wrong? Kieran continued with a cheeky smile: “I remember it was September 2013 and I fell in love with this A1 straight away. It was absolutely mint, being only two years old, and was a proper one-owner-car. I knew that being this clean and straight I wouldn’t have to worry about a respray or even any repairs to tidy it up. That soon quickly changed, though, but I’ll tell you about that in a minute. It was the perfect blank canvas because I could just get straight on with modifying it.”
Kieran had already planned the start of the project before collecting his keys from Swansea Audi: “I’d already decided that, for me anyway, the king of the best stanced projects in the UK was Plush Automotive up in Leicester. I’d fallen in love with so many cool cars from there that subconsciously it was a massive influence on the look I wanted for the A1. I booked the car in with it immediately for an air-ride system as it was a joke how high the standard suspension was.” And that was the start of what you see now, the first of many trips to Plush.
On that first visit Luke expertly guided Kieran down the route of 18” rims rather than 19s. While the temptation was to go for bigger rims, Luke told Kieran that to get the stance he wanted, he’d be better off with wider 18s to fill the arches when the body was slammed. Another favourite of Luke’s was a must for Kieran’s project, too. “Luke advised I looked at fitting Accuair E-Level to control the AirREX struts and to keep the ride quality there for dayto- day driving,” said Kieran. “I wanted the car to be completely useable and I needed to be able to carry people around in it without faffing around with pressing buttons and changing settings. E-Level is brilliant because it just does it all for you.”
Instead of taking the easy route with a set of ‘normal’ width 18s, Luke and Kieran decided that for a mean stance the WatercooledIND SA07 rims would have to be in extra large widths. Up front they measure an impressive 9.5”-wide – enough to push the limits of most cars’ rear arches, never mind the fronts! Even more impressive are the rears, which measure a staggering 10.5” across. It quickly became apparent that these rims needed wider arches but true to the stanced vision Kieran had, he knew the only true way was to take the massive step to fully custom arches; he just couldn’t bring himself to ‘cheat’ with a body kit. This meant painting the four corners of the car and then blending the colour into the doors so it would all look factory finish. What had started as a simple air install had already snowballed into a second and then possibly a third road trip from Swansea to Leicester.
But with all these plans for major body surgery, Kieran soon realised that, if left standard, the inside of the A1 was going to let the side down. The reason he’d chosen Luke and his team to carry out the work was because so many cool Audis from the Plush stable – including Luke’s own RS4 DRIVE-MY cover star – all wore the Plush signature features, and he wanted his A1 to be no different. The air-ride had to be an install built around a high-end audio system rather than just ‘fitted’. Wheel choice was critical to get the stance Kieran craved. And now, just like the other beautiful Plush RS Audis, his A1 was quickly heading the same way. “Put it this way: it didn’t take much arm twisting for Luke to persuade me that a leather and Alcantara retrim centred around Recaro CS seats and an audio build had to be the next move,” Kieran said. “And before I knew it, I was planning interior retrim colours to work with the red bodywork!”
Cleverly, Luke has used leather trim to give the Audi a full makeover without replacing anything more than just the front seats. By trimming the factory steering wheel rim, headlining and centre console he has transformed the dash area, and completed the interior makeover after the boot install and doorcards got the same leather treatment. The boot install panels are trimmed in the same grey Alcantara as the back of the Recaros and the air tanks have been painted to match. It all oozes quality and is typical Plush, where everything is thought-out as an overall package. Even the sun visors and parcel shelf were trimmed.
With the monster 18s now tucking nicely under the new custom arches, the final signature Plush touch was about to be added, as Kieran explained: “God knows how, but somehow I found myself ‘needing’ bigger brakes even though there wasn’t really anything wrong with the factory setup! I just couldn’t help looking at cars like Luke’s RS4 and Shipsy’s RS6 and wanting to really fill my new bigger rims.
Obviously they weren’t essential but the more I looked at other Plush projects, the more I knew I just couldn’t live without a decent Tarox setup front and rear. Once again the sat nav was set for Leicester…”
So with every feature box finally ticked off, Kieran’s A1 was up there with the best Audis turned out from the Plush stable. As soon as it was built, Kieran couldn’t praise the end result enough: “I had a vision in my mind a year ago of what I hoped the A1 would look like. Thanks to Luke and his team it easily looks twice as good as I dreamed it could have. That final drive back from Leicester was so cool knowing just how good the car looked. I’ve met some amazing new friends along the way and I just couldn’t have imagined I’d have gone this far in only a year.”
But by attracting attention with his finished result, Kieran was soon made an offer way too good to turn down and the A1 now has a new owner. There is some good news, though. “The only way I was prepared to sell the A1 was if I could replace it with another Audi,” Kieran grinned. “You’re going to be even more jealous now but I sold the car to make way for a brandnew RS3. After spending years longing for a Plush RS Audi, the chance came up to finally go for it. Now I can really belong because I’ve got the performance to match the looks…”
Yes, you’ve guessed it; as soon as he got his hands on the RS3 Kieran was on the phone to Luke and his new car is already running air-ride! We can see where this is heading. Watch this space. Check back in about a year or so; we reckon there’ll be a slammed RS3 with all the Plush touches coming to these pages!
ENGINE: 1.2-litre #TFSI remapped to 120bhp.
CHASSIS: Watercooled Industries #SA07 wheels: 9.5x18” front and 10.5x18” rear, #Tar-Ox upgraded discs and pads front and rear, #AirREX air suspension struts with twin air tanks in chrome hardlined boot build, #AccuAir-E-Level management.
EXTERIOR: Factory bodywork with custom wider front and rear arches.
INTERIOR: #Recaro CS front seats retrimmed in tan leather with doorcards, centre console, steering wheel and parcel shelf trimmed to match, boot install and headlining/sun visors trimmed in grey Alcantara.
SHOUT: Luke and the team at Plush Automotive
Despite the incredible transformation, other than the Recaro CS seats, the only thing to be added was lashings of leather and Alcantara. Even the steering wheel is original, just now coated in rather bright hide.
Luke convinced Kieran to opt for 18s rather than 19s and instead focus on filling the custom arches with WatercooledIND goodness.
Air-ride and audio install is, as you’d expect from Plush Automotive, a work of art. How Luke and his team come up with so many original ideas is beyond us? Amazing!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCALIFORNIA DREAMING
Not many people would buy a brand-spanking new F80 #BMW-M3 and then bag it, but here’s what happens when you do. Having finally acquired his dream car, Californian resident Tracy Arnett got to work on making the best even better. Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Richard Le.
At the age of 29, Tracy Arnett hasn’t done too badly – as well as this stunning M3 he also owns a 2013 335i M Sport and a 2014 i3. And unlike some of our US feature cars, he has built this project on the back of his own financial success. Shortly after graduating from San Francisco State University he put his business degree to good use. You see, after being a victim of fraud he hired a law firm to get his credit on track. However, after six months, he still wasn’t seeing the results that he was expecting, so he took matters into his own hands. Whilst working two jobs with limited free time, he managed to accomplish far more than the so-called experts that he previously called upon. It was then that he realised he had a knack for credit repair, and Sacramento Inquiry Removal (SIR) was born.
“It was the best decision I’ve ever made,” stated Tracy. Like any new start-up it was tough in the beginning with Tracy having to do all of the work himself and handling his client’s disputes and record-keeping manually. “I was writing every letter by hand and it took forever. It was a pain trying to organise all of the client files, and as a result I was working 16-hour days.” He knew that something needed to change if he wanted to grow his business, and two years ago he discovered Credit Repair Cloud. After transferring his business to the cloud, his long days of endlessly processing client files were over. With the new client portal he could scale the business as he wanted. Now, just four years after SIR was established, he has three people on his team and is looking to recruit more. “I now only work a few hours a day. I’m very happy; as well as watching my business grow I’m also to spend more time with my family and modifying cars.
“I have been interested in BMWs for as long as I can remember. I first got one in 2007 when one of my clients – the owner of a #BMW dealership – told me if I bought one from him he would give me an amazing deal. It was a 2007 328i sedan and since then I’ve never driven anything else. There is never a moment when I’m not happy driving a BMW.”
To date, Tracy has owned over 60 cars and pretty much all of them have been modified in one way or another. “I had an Infiniti G35 that was heavily tuned and was a lot of fun but it just wasn’t a BMW,” he confessed.
When he got word that the new M3 would be coming out he went straight to his local dealer last year and placed an order: “I’ve always wanted an M3 and as I was in a good position to afford one I decided to pull the trigger.” As he had already bagged the 335i on HRE wheels, complete with a raft of M Performance parts, he decided to make the M3 its twin. With the desire for the delivery of his brand-new car to be a truly magical experience, he asked for the dealership to deliver it complete with the plastic shipping wraps so he could have it detailed himself. As a car care enthusiast the vehicle presentation standards in the motor trade can often fall short of expectations and while we are almost certain that a BMW handover would go smoothly, Tracy didn’t want to risk any fresh swirl marks or fine scratches. Fair enough.
Now the modifying could begin. First up were H&R Super Sport springs to get the drop that he was looking for. After the 2014 SEMA show, however, Tracy decided to swap out the suspension for a full AirREX Digital Air system offering three programmable ride height presets. It was spec’d with wireless digital remote operation, as Tracy likes the convenience of being able to have his car ultra-low at shows. Not surprisingly it’s his favourite mod. “As AirREX is built to perform, it doesn’t compromise the handling at all; in fact, it’s a blast to drive – completely different to the 335i,” revealed Tracy.
As there wasn’t much available for the car when he took delivery of it he had RFsplitters916 custom-make front, rear and side splitters. “You’d struggle to find better work elsewhere. The company’s craftsmanship is excellent and complements the M3’s bodywork perfectly,” states Tracy. With the bags installed, all it needed now was a colour change; originally Alpine white the new hue would need to make the car stand out but not distract from the bold lines. Tracy eventually decided on matt red, with the team at Imperial Works helping him to decide which parts to wrap or paint in a contrasting colour. As such you’ll find that the car’s roof and aerial, kidney and side grilles, mirrors, bootlip, M3 badge and window surrounds are all gloss back. Together with tinted windows, the end result is nothing short of stunning, and as well as complimenting the Sakhir orange interior the vinyl also protects the front of the car from stone chips – a godsend for a stickler like Tracy.
The finishing touch was a set of brushed titanium Rohana RC1 wheels, as they offered the size and level of concave that Tracy was after. Measuring an impressive 10x20” up front and 11x20” out back, wrapped in Toyo 255/35 and 275/30 rubber respectively, with the car at maximum drop the wheels really set off the M3’s tough look. If there’s one thing that enthusiasts complain about with the new M3 and M4, it is the exhaust. A lot of people miss that V8 sound, including Tracy. Of course, factors such as turbocharging and a different configuration under the body also contributed to a new, different sound. BMW tried to remedy the inline-six exhaust note with Active Sound Design (ASD), a device that was widely criticised. No true petrolhead appreciates a fake engine sound being pumped into the cockpit, and Tracy’s solution was a Magnaflow exhaust with Evolution Racing downpipes.
He also opted for a JB4 map offering up an additional 160hp. The JB4 installation is completely removable with no splicing or cutting of factory wires and allows you to go from factory stock to full race mode (and everywhere in between) at the push of a button on your steering wheel. The JB4 is easy to install (or remove, if required) and includes many unique features including user-adjustable first and second gear boost limiting, map switching in the dash, electronic wastegate control, ethanol fuel support, and built-in advanced CANbusbased diagnostic tools.
Of course, money no object, Tracy tells us he would have opted for bigger turbos or a V8 engine swap but for now, he’s very happy with what he’s achieved over just a few months. He has a few other plans for it in the pipeline, including a #BMW-Performance diffuser, a BMS Performance intake, a set of 19” Art In Motion wheels, Bride seats and a half cage, as he’d like to track the car.
He’s now looking to buy a new M5 or an M6 (as well as an Audi R8) and he plans to modify both cars as much as he can – so we guess his credit rating must be well on track now! Just make sure you come back Tracy and show us the finished results, and that whatever Bavarian choice of weapon you go for, it’s a four-ring beater!
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2015 #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-F80 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #S55 , #Magnaflow exhaust, #Evolution-Racing downpipes and #JB4 map, six-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) brushed titanium #Rohana RC1 deep concave wheels with 255/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Toyo tyres, AirREX Digital Air suspension.
EXTERIOR Imperial Works Matte red wrap, #RFsplitters916 custom-made front, rear and side splitters, roof, aerial, kidney and side grilles, mirrors, bootlip, M3 badge and window surrounds painted/wrapped gloss black, tinted windows.
INTERIOR Suede trimmed boot enclosure with #Lightning-Audio amp and Rockford Fosgate P2 12” subs.
THANKS #AirREX , Imperial Works, Rohana Wheels, Magnaflow, RFsplitters916, Autosport209, Rey Felipe and Zach Felipe for helping me install all of the parts and putting up with my craziness.
11x20” concave Rohana wheels do an awesome job of filling the M3’s swollen rear arches.
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- Post is under moderationCROSSING THE LINE
One of the most spectacular builds we’ve seen in a long time, this #BMW-M135i is quite unlike anything else. Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary
When Bruce Gowans said he had plans for his M135, he wasn’t lying. A year ago, this car was candy red with a modest boot build and Watercooled Industry wheels and now, well, it’s pretty much unrecognisable. There’s modifying your car and then there’s forging ahead with an absolute vision that’s uncompromised and single-minded in its intent. This car is what happens when someone makes that vision a reality.
There is no typical modified BMW owner, and Bruce certainly fits into that non-box of atypicality. He is of the ‘older’ generation, shall we say, and resides in a tiny village in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside, a million miles away from the frenetic and eclectic world that is the modified BMW scene. But this mechanical engineer has a heart that pumps pure petrol and has spent his entire life flitting from modified car to modified car, with an underlying appreciation for BMW but never the opportunity to indulge that interest in Bavarian metal until he acquired this M135i. “I’ve been interested in BMWs ever since I was a lad and grew up into a petrolhead! I’ve been a fan since the first E30 M3 and seeing an E9 coupé on neighbour’s drive when I walked to school and thinking how cool it looked. I bought the M135i, my first BMW, for its ‘performance for the price’ factor and because the drivetrain, the engine and the transmission are such a great combination in this vehicle. I bought it brand-new in 2013 and was going to keep it stock…”
“Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task”
Digital audio explained:
“The system in this car was spec’d to accommodate Bruce’s passion for high resolution audio. It’s cutting edge in the fact it can play any file format he wants and samples up to 196khz with bit depths of up to 24-bit. When you consider a CD (still reference in so many studios) samples at 44.1khz at 16-bit, that’s a huge amount more information. Of course, all of the car’s OEM equipment and functionality is retained and played through the new system alongside solid state hard drives, wireless streaming and various other inputs.”
Carl Shakespeare, Director, Studio Incar
Clearly that didn’t happen. It seems like the car was stock for all of five minutes before Bruce had started tinkering and while the mods started off sensibly and in a restrained manner, once the momentum began to build there was clearly no stopping Bruce (or the M135i). “The first mod was to get a new exhaust developed and fitted by Scorpion Exhausts. Then Luke and the guys at Plush supplied and fitted the air-ride, sourcing components from AirREX and an eLevel system from Accuair. This was closely followed by a carbon-fibre front splitter from SSDD,” he says. “Spring 2014 brought a change in colour, with a candy red colour wrap from Avery called True Blood.
New MD1 wheels from Watercooled Industries were added, closely followed by a Juice Box 4 (JB4) piggyback ECU from Burger Motorsports and a decat downpipe which were fitted at #Performance-Developments in Sunderland. The car went to #Forge-Motorsport in #Gloucester to have one of its high-performance intercoolers fitted, along with one of its dump valves.” With all those mods on board, it made 400hp and 450lb ft of torque on the dyno and considering how blisteringly quick the standard M135i is, that’s going to be more than enough power to keep Bruce happy. “After having the traction control kick in once too often, I took the decision to fit a limited-slip diff to the car. Options were thin on the ground for this platform but Birds in Iver, Buckinghamshire developed a Quaife ATB for it, which has made a massive difference to the way the car drives.”
And that is where the story would end for most people. A dramatic wrap, some exceedingly nice wheels, air-ride and some performance mods. A fine selection of upgrades. Job done. But that’s not where this story ends, as you can clearly see. “At the end of 2014 I planned to make some big changes to the car and started speaking to Carl Shakespeare at Studio Incar about my plans,” he explains. “We discussed my ideas for a rear-seat delete and a high-end audio installation and things just got out of hand. I had already decided to try and get a BTCC body kit. I contacted West Surrey Racing and negotiated with the guys there to buy a genuine race car kit from their 2014/15 BMW 1 Series race car. However, fitting it proved more difficult than you might think! The BTCC cars have front and rear subframes and crash structures that are specified by TOCA and these also provide mounting points for the front and rear body panels. These didn’t match up with the mounting and fixing points that BMW specify! It required the rear wings to be cut and tubbed – scary stuff! Luckily, Stylehaus in Northampton has some serious skills and brought the whole thing together.
“Shakey project managed the whole build with input from me, like my suggestion for the triple tank setup. Once the car was back from the bodyshop, and with a little bit of extra fettling by Fibreglass Phil in Kent (the manufacturer of the BTCC kit), the audio and air install could begin in earnest.” With a bit of direction from Bruce, Shakey was free to run riot inside the M135i. The end result is an interior that feels like it’s very much been built around the air and audio and one look inside leaves you in no doubt that this car’s main purpose is to astound. The rear seats have been removed completely, replaced by the awesome triple floating tank setup that looks like a spaceship, illuminated from above and hovering over the massive 15” Hertz Mille sub which forms part of the incredibly high-end digital audio install, while the rear load space is home to the three Audison amps, on display in a beautifully designed enclosure. There’s acres of Alcantara in here, which reaches up to cover the roof lining as well, while some extremely sexy custom door pods are home to Hertz Mille speakers. Finally, a custom panel in the centre console (also trimmed in Alcantara) houses the controllers for the audio system and the air suspension. It’s one of the most spectacular, special and perfectly-executed builds we’ve ever seen and it’s nothing short of a work of art.
With such a spectacular build going on, the right wheels were going to be absolutely essential and Bruce was keen to move away from the usual suspects, like BBS and Rotiform, and try something different. “I had been in touch with Brada wheels in the States for a year or so, originally to try and get some wheels for my GT3,” he says. “I spoke to Zane and we agreed a design and spec for the wheels that were destined to go on the BMW. However, because the car was away having the body kit fitted, Shakey and I could only make an educated guess as to what the exact widths and offsets of the wheels would be, with us only knowing what the overall width of the BTCC car is and working back from those dimensions…” It can be hard enough to work out your exact wheel specs when you’ve got your car in front of you so this was most definitely a risky strategy but it worked and the resulting wheels are the perfect fit for the M135i. Bruce opted for Brada’s BR1 crossspokes with gloss black centres, matt black lips and stainless steel bolts in 9.5x19” at the front and 10.5x19” at the rear, the fitment perfect for tucking the wheels under the massive arches when the car is aired out.
In terms of styling, the kit alone wasn’t enough for Bruce and he decided to take things to the next level. “The wrap design wasn’t established until quite late in the build. I have always been a fan of the BMW Art Car projects but picking a design to base the wrap for the M135i was tricky. Several of the Art Cars are ‘challenging’, to say the least,” he laughs, “but this Frank Stella design from 1976 was selected – it appealed to my inner engineer! Both Shakey and I thought that translating this design into a vinyl wrap would be a nigh-on impossible task, since the original consisted of lots of parallel horizontal and vertical lines; the hardest thing to do with vinyl wrap… Carl contacted JD Wraps in Essex and a deal was struck. When I collected the car a week later I was amazed. The guys had done an awesome job.” The combination of kit and wrap is one that is both single-handedly responsible for the utterly insane amount of attention this car garners but is also the most polarising aspect of the whole project. Some people love the wrap but hate the kit. Some people hate the kit but love the wrap. Some people hate them both. And some people like everything that this car has got going on! However you feel, it’s a talking point and gets the car noticed. Bruce loves it, however, which ultimately is the most important thing.
Amazingly, all this work took just six months, really not long at all considering just how much has gone into the build and how complete the transformation has been. Bruce chose the Players Classic show for the car’s unveiling. It got as much attention as you’d expect and the sort of reactions you’d expect. “It seems to be very much a ‘Marmite’ car!” Bruce tells us. More importantly, though, he can now sit back and actually enjoy the car. Beyond the looks and the next-level interior, he’s got a fast, powerful car that’s great to drive, with an incredible sound system. It’s a package that just begs to be taken out on the road and enjoyed and, in fact, that’s now his only plan for the future.
DATA FILE #2015 #BMW-M135i-F21 / #BMW-M135i / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #Brada-BR1
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six turbo #N55B30 / #N55 , JB4 piggyback ECU from #Burger-Motorsport , #Scorpion full exhaust including a decat downpipe, #Forge / #Forge-FMIC / , #Forge-DV , stock #ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox #ZF8HP , #Quaife ATB LSD from #Birds
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Brada BR1 three-piece wheels with gloss black lips, matt black faces and stainless hardware, with 235/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) #Goodyear Eagle Asymmetric 2 tyres, #AirREX air-ride and Accuair eLevel management
EXTERIOR #BMW-M-Performance carbon fibre wing mirror shells, #BMW M Performance black front grilles, #BTCC body kit from WSR, Art Car wrap by #JD-Wraps
INTERIOR Interior by #Studio-Incar , full digital audio install comprising Audison AV Quattro amp x2, Audison AV Uno amp, Audison bit Ten D processor, #Audison bit Play HD source, #Hertz-Mille three-way front end, Hertz Mille 15” sub, rear seat delete, custom air installation, Alcantara roof lining, integrated audio and suspension controllers built in to the centre console
THANKS Studio Incar and Shakey in particular for handling this project and for keeping my spirits up when I needed it, Zane and Jacob at Brada, Myles and Chris at Brada UK, Fibreglass Phil, Scorpion Exhausts, Forge Motorsport, the guys at Stylehaus, Luke Massy, Phil James, Kat and the team at JD Wraps, Voodoo Elie for getting me out of a tricky situation, and last but not least, Ed Hamilton at JK Engineering for being a great friend, being just as daft as me and as big a petrolhead as me!
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- Post is under moderationMODERN MACHINES BMW 1 SERIES #E82
Read how this awesome Bimmer went from stock to shock in less than two weeks!
HOT RIDE: #BMW-135i 3.0 TWIN TURBO
TOP MARK... WITH PERFECT PAINT, BLINDING RIMS AND KILLER STANCE, MARK STEWART GETS 10/10 FOR THIS MIGHTY BMW BUILD…
The sign of true talent is when something is made to look easy through great skill. Take Lionel Messi for example. The way he effortlessly glides past opponents gives the impression football is simple. Then there’s F1. Surely it’s all about how good the cars are, so anyone can do it, right? Well, give it a go and see how far you get.
This logic can also be applied to modifying cars. It’s easy to look at a finished project, spot the main mods and think, “Yeah, I could do that”. But most likely, you don’t realise what has gone on behind the scenes with the problems solved, custom parts, the trial and error process, the calculations to ensure things fi t and the taste to ensure it all blends together to make an awesome show car.
Dealing with Mark Stewart can leave you with this false impression, as he makes it all look and sound so straightforward. On many occasions he’s transformed a car from stock to show-ready in almost no time at all. A few years ago we featured his S2000 that he turned around in four days! This BMW 1 Series took a lot longer. A whole 12 days. So it must be easy then, right? Er… not quite! Mark was looking for an RS6 towards the end of last year, when he spotted this rare manual 135i in grey. After a test drive he snapped it up, but only intended keeping the car for a short time. It came with coilovers, but once a set of Schmidt rims were fitted the Beemer was looking well enough that Mark decided to keep it a bit longer and take it a lot further!
A plan was hatched and it was one that required lots of part sourcing, custom work and decision-making. Once the bits arrived, Mark had the bulk of work to do with less than two weeks until the big reveal. Everything had been worked around the chosen Cosmis XT-206R wheels... that were completely the wrong fi t. Mark had them re-drilled to 5x120. But the offset was an even bigger obstacle, or should we say ‘wider’. To cope with the extra girth, M Sport wings and an M Sport front bumper were fitted, while rear arches were pulled and rear bumper and side skirts modified. Only then could the body be hunkered down on AirREX struts and bags to provide the all-important lows.
During this time, Mark finally decided on a new colour. Overall, his idea was to make the 135 look like it was a special edition from BMW, so he picked M4 Marina blue and it really works, especially with all the extra carbon bits added.
This OEM+ theme is continued inside the cabin with just a few touches needed to lift the quality, such as #Recaro CS seats, the yellow show cage and a custom pillar mount for extra gauges. The boot build is fairly subtle too, but classy and high-end, like the rest of the car. Even though the 135i comes packing an awesome 3.0 twin turbo lump, Mark didn’t rest. To help breathing, out came all four cats and an AC Schnitzer exhaust was added, along with Injen induction kits. Finally, an Auto-Tune remap made sure it was all put to good use.
So, there you have it, a show stopping slammed #BMW done and dusted in less than two weeks. Easy? Far from it! The truth is this project called upon all of Mark’s skill, vision and work ethic. The fact he was able to do it all in such a short space of time is testament to his expert planning – and those 12 days included working day and through the night! But, it was all worth it in the end as the car was ready for the big reveal on the Paintworx stand at Dubshed where it went down a storm. Top Mark indeed!
TECH SPEC: #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82
STYLING: Full respray in #BMW-M4-Marina-blue ; 1M front wings, 1M front bumper; carbon boot spoiler; custom side skirt blades; carbon mirrors; carbon V8 M3 style bonnet; carbon aerial; carbon kidney grilles; carbon bumper intakes; carbon rear diffuser; carbon 1M indicators; custom canards; rear arches pulled and flared; factory privacy glass; factory Xenon lights.
TUNING: #N54B30 / #N54 3.0 twin turbo engine; 386bhp; 400lbft torque; 6-speed manual; #Injen induction kits; all cats removed; #AC-Schnitzer exhaust, map by #Auto-Tune .
CHASSIS: #AirREX air-ride with #Air-Lift-V2 management and 2x #Viair-380 compressors; #Cosmis XT206R wheels custom drilled to 5x120; size 18x9.5 et10 front and rear; #BMW-Performance 6-pot brakes; #Mintex Fast Road pads.
INTERIOR: Black #Recaro-CS seats; full colour coded dashdodger roll-cage painted Maserati yellow; custom pillar mount for gauges; boost gauge; air fuel gauge; custom mount for air controller; colour coded dash trims; rear seats removed; custom boot install.
THANKS The Paintworx team!; PPG/Nexa Autocolor for paint, Stephen at SC Cages; Autotrend.
Two cars featured in two months – what have you got for our next issue?
“Well, you may have to wait a bit longer for the next one. Although the BMW is now sold and I do have another project on the go!”
Any clue on what it will be?
“Yes, it’s an RS4 that already came to me in a nice unusual colour, but I’ll be putting my own stamp on it of course.”
How’s the new business going?
“It’s still early days but going well. The website is still being set-up but keep a look out for Autotrend, supplying and fitting AirREX air-ride as well as many other tuning parts.”
Cosmis XT-206R wheels are available from Driftworks.com
“He only intended keeping the car for a short time…”
There are loads of carbon goodies added, such as the bonnet, rear diffuser and mirrors. But look out for the more subtle touches too, such as the 1M indicators, boot lid spoiler and kidney grilles, which all combine to make a difference. Even the compressor tank is coated in genuine carbon fibre. Nice!
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