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    A PERFECT PAIR Gorgeous matching modded 2002 and R75/6 Retro Rides

    Building one project can be challenging enough but building a matching modified car and bike combo at the same time takes some real dedication. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
    Matching modded #BMW-2002 and #BMW-R75/6

    Until now, you won’t have seen many motorbikes in PBMW. While we admire BMW’s two-wheeled offerings and respect those who ride (because we’re not quite brave enough to rocket down the road gripping an engine between our thighs ourselves), they’re not really PBMW fodder. However, if you happen to be the sort of BMW enthusiast whose garage is home to both a modified car and a modified bike, and who has poured just as much passion into two wheels as four, then you’re definitely our sort of person. And here we have just such a person. His name is Michael Le and he owns both a stunning, modified 1975 #BMW-2002-E10 and a stunning, modified 1975 R75/6.

    “I grew up on imports,” begins Michael, his first car having been a 1994 Honda Civic Coupé. “Then I crossed the bridge to an R53 MINI Cooper and then moved over to classic BMWs about ten years ago, after I learned more about their aesthetics, performance, heritage, and relative rarity. I feel that cars are my way of self-expression and art. A costly form of self-expression. My first BMW was a 1991 325iS. I got it for $2000 and had quite a few problems with it but for my first BMW it was affordable and a good place to start from.” Once he’d got a taste for German motoring there was no holding Michael back and the 325iS was followed by a 2002, a 1976 Porsche 911, a Euro 635CSi, an E30 318iS and, most recently, another 635CSi. But what we’re really interested in is this really interesting pairing of 2002 and R75/6.

    “I have a habit of abandoning projects and an even worse habit of coordination and matching,” explains Michael. “I wanted to have a unique canvas that few people have, and I wanted to continue the matching four-wheel-and-two-wheel theme that started with my MINI Cooper and Vespa. It’s personally satisfying to walk out to a parking lot and know exactly which vehicle is yours. They stand alone in a sea of modern, bland vehicles and are an extension of my eccentric, old-soul/new-school personality.” Indeed.

    “My focus for these two in particular was a matching set of vintage and unique smog-free machines I could daily drive given my mood,” he continues. “I learned a few things from my first 2002, such as OEM is usually best and that it’s a good idea to keep it tasteful and respectable with just a few personal touches. As for the motorcycle, this is my first bike but my second two-wheel vehicle. I’m a proud self-taught rider with scars to prove it. I knew it would be a cafe racer; the style and simplicity is so appealing.” A café racer, for those not well-versed with modified bike styles, is a lightweight bike built for speed, handling and short, fast rides rather than comfort. The name originates from the ’60s when members of the British rocker subculture (as in mods and rockers) used fast, personalised bikes to ride between transport cafes along the newly-built motorways and Michael’s R75/6 has the classic café racer-look.

    The 2002 was purchased from an enthusiast and already had a number of attractive mods, with an M42 up front, a five-speed gearbox, an LSD, Recaros and metal bumpers. “It was halfway done!” Michael exclaims. “The bike’s previous owner commuted over 50 miles each way on a daily basis for a few years; it had some leaks, as to be expected from a 40-year-old vehicle, but it was useable.” And with both machines in his possession, the projects could begin.

    When Michael says he has a thing for coordination he’s not kidding as the work he’s put in to get these two matching on virtually every level is outrageous. With an emphasis on the individual, styling was extremely important for the both the 2002 and the R75/6, especially as the café racer-look is distinctive and calls for certain mods to achieve the desired style.

    The 2002’s pumped-up look was achieved with a selection offbeat styling additions. “Everyone has turbo flares,” says Michael, “so I got OEM replica flares from 2002 GarageWerks. And everyone has access to the standard 2002 turbo front air dam, so I got a Jaymic front air dam.” He’s also added an Ireland Engineering rear spoiler and rear chrome shorty bumpers, deleted the antenna, and fitted a Cibie third brake light and flat Euro front turn signals. You can’t build a bad-looking 2002 and this one in particular looks fantastic, with period styling that’s got an individual twist to it.

    The bike, by comparison, was a far more involved build as there’s a lot of work required to go from regular old motorcycle to café racer. “Modernised café racers usually retain the exterior gauges or eliminate them completely,” explains Michael, “but I located the gauge in the headlight bucket for a clean look. Garage builders usually don’t do any cutting and keep the two-up tail; I had to get a seat that went along the clean lines of a single seat bike and cut the rear subframe, along with de-tabbing anything unnecessary. When I say I, I mean my friend and firsttime builder Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles. He did nearly everything for the bike except the paint. Let me tell you, for a first timer, he’s professional-grade in my book. We both learned together. His patience was tried and my wallet was tried, but it was worth it.”

    Even if you’re not a bike fan you have to admit that Michael’s R75/6 looks achingly cool. Of course, as good as the car and bike looked, they didn’t match at that point, so Michael took them both down to Affordable Auto Body in Hayward where they were sprayed in #BMW Individual Moonstone metallic. He even got his crash helmet sprayed in the same colour. “The finishing touch was done by Lyle’s Vinyl Styles in San Carlos. He does custom vinyl wraps and did some seriously clean BMW M pinstripes on both the car and bike as a subtle theme tie-in,” Michael explains.

    Now, matching paint colours and stripes are one thing but matching the car and bike’s wheels was a much bigger challenge, especially as far as the bike was concerned. “I started off with some black/silver 13” ATS Classics on the 2002 to go with the theme at the time,” Michael tells us. “A few months later I was browsing eBay Germany and came across these vintage gold BBS E76s. I wanted mesh wheels for the car but felt the BBS RS look has been done time and time again. But magnesium 15” E76s? Yes please! I bid on them for fun and ended up winning them. So I then had to change the whole game plan for the car and bike to accommodate the colour scheme of new the wheels,” he laughs. 2002s and cross-spokes go together like toast and jam and the E76s look so good on this car they could have been custom-made for it.

    The gold centres and polished lips are the perfect match for the silver paintwork and they do a fantastic job of filling out those fat little arches. “Since the BBSs were vintage gold with polished hardware, polished lips and red BBS logo stickers, for the bike I had a set of wheels custom-made at Woody’s Wheel Works in Colorado,” Michael continues. “They’re such helpful, friendly and professional people. They made some custom vintage gold spokes, polished nipples, and polished Akront rims. Then I bought some red Akront stickers to place on the rims.” The end result is about as good as you can get considering how different bike wheels are to car wheels. Hats off to Michael for going to these lengths to get the two looking as similar as possible.

    The interior on the 2002 is absolutely gorgeous, a perfect blend of wood and black leather, and Michael has spent some time on the finishing touches. “The car came with these great quality, smooth and perforated leather black Recaro front seats, so I carried the theme throughout the rest of the car and over to the bike,” he says. “The 2002 interior and the bike seat were sent to Super Auto Upholstery in Hayward. The E24 rear buckets were given the same treatment, as well as the door panels to match. Even the headlining was done in black. The car also came with a wooden Nardi steering wheel, a wooden gear knob, and a wooden gauge cluster with black face gauges and red needles. The bike seat is an identical replica of the car seats, down to the size of the stitching, piping, and materials used. I sourced some Harley wood grips that matched the steering wheel as closely as possible. Fernando made them work on the bike and Lyle did a vinyl wrap around the gauge trim to mimic the wood and, yes, the bike’s gauge is black with a red needle.”

    This pair is not simply a case of style over substance, though, as Michael’s put the work in where it counts: the engine and chassis. “The 2002 came with the M42 out of an E30 318iS mated to a Getrag 240 gearbox from an E21 and a 3.73 LSD – really the perfect combo for the peppy and light E10 chassis,” he says. “I considered a turbo to go along with the turbo tribute look and it would have meant having to go turbo with the bike as that’s how anal I am, but I found a good deal on a set of Dbilas ITBs which I couldn’t pass up.” In addition to the ITBs, the engine’s had a coilover plug conversion, a Midnight tuning chip and a straight-through exhaust system with a Scorpion silencer. “When it came to chassis mods, my research suggested that Ground Control coilovers and Koni Yellow adjustable struts were the way to go, along with Ireland Engineering anti-roll bars and a nonadjustable camber kit. It’s the perfect setup for a comfortable daily driver that’s also good for some spirited twisty canyon driving when needed.”

    There’s a lot less that can be done on the bike, according to Michael, so he’s kept things simple: “On the engine front I went for maintenance, cleanliness, and reliability! I had all the seals replaced, valve adjustment done, and cleaned the cylinders, heads, rings, valve covers etc. In terms of chassis mods you can’t do too much for a café racer besides beef-up the suspension and weight reduction, so I ordered some Redwing rear struts and lowered the front with new fork fluid. It looks good and still rides comfortably.”

    On their own, this 2002 and R75/6 are magnificent builds with incredible attention to detail and some really fantastic, unique mods. However, taken as a matching pair they are truly something special. “I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles. I have the vision but don’t possess the talent or patience. There were a lot of favours, switching back and forth between vehicles, and a lot of restless nights in which I nearly abandoned these projects,” says Michael. Fortunately he didn’t and the end result is unquestionably worth all that effort. We all know what we’re signing up for when we take on a new project but not all of us have the mettle to see them through. It’s doubly difficult when you’re working on two projects at once.

    Michael just has a few finishing touches to add on both the 2002 and R75/6. He’s currently working with Dbilas on a chip tune specific to his combination of M42 on ITBs, while for the bike he’s lined-up a big bore kit, lightened flywheel, and a rear monoshock conversion. You’d think once that was done he’d be ready to put his feet up and enjoy the fruits of his labours but he’s clearly a glutton for punishment as he’s got an E24 635CSi project in its infancy. “My goal is to make my ideal black-on-black Euro E24 and if I had to continue my four-and-two-wheel theme, I may opt for a motorised bicycle built by Dutchman Motorbikes,” he muses. “They build custom motorised bicycles, either cruiser or café racer style, to your specifications. It would seem fitting to go on the Euro E24’s roof rack!” he laughs, but we don’t think he’s joking.

    “I spent two-and-a-half painstaking years developing both vehicles”

    Leather seat material and design has been mimicked on the bike, as have all the wooden interior details.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #1975 / #BMW-2002 / #BMW-2002-M42 / #M42 / #BMW-M42 / #BBS / #BMW-2002-Tuned / #BMW-E10

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 1.8-litre four-cylinder #M42B18 , coilover plug conversion, #Dbilas ITBs, custom straight-through exhaust with Scorpion silencer, #Midnight-Tuning chip, E21 five-speed gearbox, 3.73 LSD, Z3 short-shift.

    CHASSIS 9x15” ET10 (front and rear) #BBS-E76 vintage gold magnesium wheels with 12mm spacers (front) and 15mm spacers (rear), 205/50 (front and rear) Kumho Ecsta tyres, 2002tii front hubs, E21 250mm rear drum brakes, #Ground-Control coilovers, #Koni-Yellow struts, Ireland Engineering front and rear anti-roll bars.

    EXTERIOR #Jaymic-2002-Turbo-style front air dam, 2002 #GarageWerks Turbo-style arch flares, Ireland Engineering rear spoiler, rear chrome shorty bumpers, antenna delete, #Cibie rear third brake light, flat Euro front turn signals, Vinyl Styles M stripes.

    INTERIOR #Recaro front seats, E24 rear seats, matching fabric and stitch pattern, black pillars and headlining, #Ireland-Engineering Turbo-style gauge pods, Autometer gauges, Nardi wooden steering wheel, wooden gear knob, custom Honda Civic armrest, Esty salt and pepper carpet.


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE 1975 / BMW-R75

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc flat-twin 247, all-new gaskets, rebuilt #Bing carbs, #K&N air filter pods, sport exhaust, #Battery-Tender lightweight battery, #BoxerCafe starter cover, five-speed gearbox, new fluids, seals, and gaskets.

    CHASSIS 19” (front) and 18” (rear) #Akront aluminium rims and vintage gold spokes, 3.25/19 (front) and 4.00/18 (rear) Michelin tyres, stock front springs with new fluid, remanufactured rear drum brakes, #ToasterTan triple tree, Redwing rear struts, #Boxer-Metal rear sets, clip-on bars.

    EXTERIOR De-tabbed and shaved Ural headlight bucket, Motogadget dummy lights, Autometer digital gauge, custom extended bucket ears, shortened rear subframe, frame and body de-tabbed, battery relocated under Thorsten Strenger fibreglass singleseat rear cowl, X-Arc LED integrated turn signals/brake lights, chrome bar end mirrors.

    INTERIOR Custom seat with matching fabric and stitch pattern, wood-style grips, colour-matched Biltwell Gringo helmet and bubble shield, black leather Members Only jacket with custom-sewn armour pockets.

    THANKS My girlfriend Cindy for her patience and letting me ‘express’ myself; Frank and Jesus at Super Auto Upholstery, Joel at Affordable Auto Body, the team at Woody’s Wheel Works, Bryant and Jeriko at Bryko Motors, Le from 2002 GarageWerks, Lyle at Vinyl Styles, eBay.de for not letting me retract my best offer for the BBS wheels, Phill and Jessa for chauffeuring me around, Patrick for letting me borrow his car, Matt for the continual optimism and inadvertent help with naming the vehicles, Tristan for both the motivation and keeping me grounded, Courtney for spotting my 2002 at a local car show, befriending me, and giving me the opportunity to share my art in PBMW. Ultimately, Fernando at Morales Custom Cycles for his patience with my vehicular sickness and making my car and motorcycle visions a reality. Without him, I don’t think my motorcycle would be as ideal as it is. My mom for her sense of art and meticulousness that rubbed off on me while I grew up, and my dad for encouraging me to create my visions growing up as a child via a seemingly endless supply of Lego sets.

    Car and bike have been finished in matching Moonstone metallic and wear matching vinyl M stripes.

    Not something you expect to see in PBMW but this classic café racer is a gorgeous retro machine.

    “Cars are my form of self expression and art. A costly form of expression”
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