- Post is under moderationSafety First 650hp supercharged E90 M3.
Safety cars are always in front – they have to be, they’re there to back the pack up. But in the case of this raucous tribute, it’s in front because nobody else can keep up… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Speedyshots.
THUNDERSTRUCK 650hp #G-Power supercharged E90 M3
Safety cars, or pace cars, have always been a little bit naughty. This makes perfect sense, as they need to be inherently fast and capable machines if they’re going to have any hope of taming a pack of wild racing machines. Sending a farty old Lada out into a field of DTM tearaways would be the very antithesis of ‘safety’.
On the face of it, they’re a necessary evil in motorsport; they break up the action, they slow things down. They’re sent out to haul up the pack when there’s debris to be cleared up or a surprise monsoon has suddenly presented itself, and there’s a natural perceptual bias against them in the eyes of the fans in that, no matter how fast or formidable they may be, they are – by virtue of why they exist – the slowest things on the track.
This, of course, is all rather unfair on the poor beleaguered safety car. But fear not – there’s a groundswell subculture that celebrates these often-iconic creations, championing them for their mighty performance as much as the vital role they play in keeping motorsport ticking. This kind of thing’s been going on since the first appearance of a safety car in the Indianapolis 500 in 1911, while the first example in Formula One – a Porsche 914 – appeared in 1973. Classic NASCAR pace cars have taken on a life of their own as collectors’ items, and arguably the most popular safety cars of recent times are the BMWs used in MotoGP. 2016’s weapon of choice was the shiny new M2, and the series has variously used the M5, M6, X6 M and numerous others; each one has offered aggression in spades and, as you’d expect from an M car, blistering performance. All you need to keep a bunch of wildheart racing drivers safe!
This E90, then, is a tribute to BMW’s keenness to push the envelope of safety car desirability: a four-door missile, caricaturised in all the right places to create something that’s frankly rather quicker and scarier than quite a lot of race cars – or, indeed, race bikes. This project is the brainchild of Karl Jungmayer, who regular readers will remember as the mastermind behind our January 2017 cover car – a 1 Series with a V10 violently shoved into it. The third Karl in line within a #BMW garage in the sleepy enclave of Geiselhöring, southwest Germany (his grandfather, Karl, set it up; he passed it down to his son, Karl, and it then transferred to the incumbent Karl), he spends his days doing unseemly and frankly unhinged things to powerful cars with Bavarian propeller badges. And as bases for project cars go, you can’t really miss the target if you’re starting off with an E90 M3… You’ve got 420hp right out of the box, a sublime chassis and more ingrained passion than you could possibly know what to do with.
Unless you’re someone like Karl, that is. He knows exactly what to do with it. Refract it through a filter of insanity, collect the ensuing scattered beams of light, compress them into a diamond of pure retribution, and throw it full in the face of the tuning scene. “BMW is my life, my family, my hobby, that’s why they’re so special to me,” he says. “I’ve owned a lot of them, and they’ve all had modifications. And for this project? Well, I’m a big fan of the MotoGP, and I’m also a big fan of the E90 M3, so it made sense to combine the two.” There you are, that’s about as complicated as it needs to be. “It’s effectively my interpretation of a MotoGP safety car, with more power and bigger wheels!,” he grins.
That, we reckon, is the best kind of safety car, so let’s look at that power issue first. You see, while the formidable S65 4.0-litre V8 would be mighty enough for many, Karl merely saw this as a starting block, and got on the blower to G-Power to chew over the perennial carnival affair of forced induction. The result was the acquisition and subsequent modification of an SK II CS supercharger kit, a Stage 2 setup that requires its own chargecooler system as well as, of course, plonking a hilarious mass of orange mischief right there on top of the engine like some kind of malevolent jellyfish. characteristics of BMW’s own work, rather than to radically alter and transmogrify, offering (on paper, at least) a broadly similar feel to a standard car, but amplified by several orders of magnitude.
This, however, wasn’t enough for Karl. Too much is never enough. So you’ll also find another mischievous embodiment of modern high-octane lunacy under that freshly-stickered bonnet, in the form of a Snow Performance water/methanol injection kit. The science of this is to reduce inlet temperatures by up to a 100ºC, markedly increase fuel efficiency, eliminate detonation, and ultimately increase peak power by around 20%. Which is all good fun. It basically achieves this by squirting a finely atomised mist of water/methanol mix into the combustion chambers at just the right time in the fuelling cycle for tiny rabbits to be pulled out of hats and all manner of fi reworks to go off. So how does 650hp grab you? By the lapels, that’s how, and it shakes you around all over the place like a damn ragdoll. Just look what it’s doing to Karl’s rear tyres, for goodness’ sake.
You’ll be pleased to note that all of this effervescent combustion tomfoolery is being channelled through a manual gearbox – six on the floor, maximum attack – and the interior has come in for a racy makeover. “It’s got the BMW M Performance seats, pedals and steering wheel,” Karl points out, “and there’s also a Wiechers rollcage, which has been colour-matched in Alpine White.” The insides are neatly fused with the exterior aesthetic, and what an exterior it is; the E90’s lines are naturally brutalist, masterfully combining four-door sensibleness with the sort of cartoonish proportions that make it look like a bodypumped bouncer in a slightly-too-small suit, and Karl’s taken all of this to the next level with an authentic-looking set of MotoGP Safety Car decals. It is, for all intents and purposes, the real deal. Well, the real deal plus 50% or so, really. And it does make for a hilariously imposing presence on the road – think about it: if you’re dressing up a project car in a tribute livery, it is – for fairly obvious reasons – unlawful to mimic the look of a police car or, say, an ambulance. But a motorsport safety car? Sure, that’s pretty much fair game. And no-one will be suspecting the utterly, unspeakably vast quantities of extra horsepower that this canny tuner has shoved into it. At least, not until the lights turn green.
“The car is so powerful,” he muses, thoughtfully, “I like this car.” Coming from a man with a V10-powered 1 Series in his stable, alongside heavily tweaked F11s, E46s, E61s and a whole lot more, this is a stirring (if modestly stated) sentiment. “It does need more power though,” he adds, decisively. “And more boost.”
But of course. We couldn’t expect anything less from a man like Karl. Just remember – however nuts this car becomes, it’s a safety car, it’s there for your protection. If you see him up ahead of you, you’d better not attempt an overtake – although the reasons for that on the road may be very different to those on the race track…
“As bases for project cars go, you can’t really miss the target if you’re starting off with an E90 M3”
“BMW is my life, my family, my hobby, that’s why they’re so special to me”
DATA FILE #Supercharged / #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E90 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E90 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E90 / #S65-Supercharged / #G-Power / #Breyton-GTS / #Breyton-Race / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E90 / #BMW-3-Series-M3
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , modified #G-Power-SK-II-CS supercharger kit with #Snow-Performance water/ #methanol-injection , custom home-made exhaust system. Six-speed manual gearbox
POWER and torque 650hp, 485lb ft
CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Breyton-GTS-Race wheels, 15mm spacers, 245/30 (front) and 295/25 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, #Brembo eightpot #BBK (front), stock E90 M3 brakes (rear)
EXTERIOR M3 CRT front spoiler with carbon fibre flaps, carbon fibre rear spoiler and diffuser, E90 LCI taillights, Safety Car livery
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance seats, pedals and steering wheel, #Wiechers rollcageStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat goes around comes around, so they say, and Nickel Mohammed’s ever-evolving M3 comes around more than most - it’s always changing and we had to catch it quick before it changed again… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: #C3Photography .
BOLT FROM THE BLUE Turbo wide-body E46 M3 Cab
The old saying that ‘lightning doesn’t strike twice’ is a load of toffee. It’s not just possible that lightning will strike the same part of the Earth more than once, it’s basically inevitable; whether it happens within a five-minute span or twenty million years apart, every square inch of the planet gets it full in the face at some point, and then again, and again. And so it is with a certain sense of inevitability that, in the same vein, feature cars can also strike twice. Regular readers may be squinting at this boisterous E46, trying to figure out where you’ve seen it before… and to answer that niggling query, you recognise it from the cover of our January 2014 issue. But fear not, it’s really quite different now to how it was then. You don’t just walk into a Performance #BMW feature you know, these things have to be earned on merit. And Nickel Mohammed’s shouty M3 has earned another spot here thanks to its constant evolution and mould-breaking styles.
So how’s it different now? Well, for one thing it’s significantly less powerful. No, wait, come back! This is a good thing – you see, last time we saw the car, its turbocharged S54 was running 800hp, but Nickel’s since detuned this to a rather more manageable 630hp (which is still frickin’ loads), as the car is developing in line with his driving style, as well as to suit the chilly climes of New York City. There’s no point boasting a flag-waving horsepower figure if all of those rampaging ponies are uselessly spinning themselves away at every corner, is there? Definitely far better to have a robust stable of usable nags.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning, shall we? “I purchased this car brand new, and back then you had to be put on a waiting list,” he recalls. “I signed myself up, and six months later the car was shipped… the wrong car in the wrong colour! I wanted a silver convertible, and they delivered a black coupé. But determination is a damn thing – I said to them OK, put me back on the list, I’ll wait.” And when the desired drop-top did eventually arrive, was Nickel keen to start tearing into the thing according to some grand overarching modification plan? “To be honest, no,” he shrugs. “Not at all in fact, I reckoned I’d keep it stock. The thing was expensive! And I was still young, I couldn’t afford all that stuff. Although I did try – 20” rims and so on, all those terrible choices I made!” Ah, the impetuousness of youth. Inevitably the M3 was going to end up modified, it was all part of cosmic destiny. It just took a little time for the car to find its way.
“I’ve built it up and changed it so many times in different directions, the timetable’s kind of all over the place,” he says, when we try to pin down the chronology. “I knew that the mechanical stuff had to be done first, and that started with the engine back in 2011…”
This was no half-hearted undertaking, with Nickel throwing every one of his chips on the table to get the car ideologically transformed by the lunatics at #HorsepowerFreaks . Their revered Stage 3 turbo conversion brought the howling S54’s peak power up to a stupendous 800hp. These bolt-on kits require no cutting, wiring or welding, and are designed for durability as well as awesome power. But what else would you expect for $30,000+?
Don’t go thinking ‘bolt-on’ means ‘simple’ though. Engineering a car to run these sorts of numbers is a thoroughly in-depth task – hence the cost – and it took HorsepowerFreaks around a year to build up, test and refine Nickel’s motor. But that fastidiousness of engineering has paid off, as the built motor has held up strongly since. “I drive cars hard, I drive them till they break,” he laughs, “but the only thing I’ve wanted to change on the engine in all this time is adding the AEM Infinity ECU - that thing is superb, a learning computer; I mean, big-ups to those techs that take the time to build these things that adapt to your driving!”
This attention to cleverness carries on beyond the engine and into the chassis. The suspension offers up an intelligent middle ground between coilovers and air-ride, comprising #KW Variant 3 coilovers with their cunning Hydraulic Lift System, which offers instant ground clearance at the touch of a button. “I wanted to run the car low enough to drive the city streets of NYC - which are terrible - but still be able to raise the front of the car to clear driveways and speed bumps,” Nickel explains. “In all honesty I feel KWs are the best thing made for this car when it comes to suspension.” The last time this car appeared in these pages it was running full air-ride, so you know this is a considered opinion.
The wheels come from famously pricey custom house, Luxury Abstract. “I’ve had so many wheels before, but these Grassor- Rs were just built for this car,” he grins. “The NeoChrome finish is a neat effect, tying into the Lamborghini pearl paint, and the width and depth really accentuate the body structure.” And you can’t really miss that body, can you? The wide arches are custom hand-fabricated in steel, 1.5” wider at the front and 2.5” out back, thanks to the craftsmanship of Martino Auto Concepts in Long Island. The extra girth is augmented by a V-CSL front bumper and carbon-fibre ducktail boot lid from Vorsteiner, further enhanced by the addition of a Brooks Motorsport Elite carbon wing, along with a set of carbon-fibre side skirts.
The interior has also been comprehensively re-worked since we last saw the car. Inside, you’ll find a pair of fully reclining Manhart #BMW Performance race seats, important for Nickel as, in his own words, he’s sucker cruising with the seat back and the music up, which brings us neatly to that impressive audio install. “I always wanted an empty trunk to carry bags in, so I removed the existing music and had my electronics sponsor build me a system that would not only look superb, but sound phenomenal and not take up any trunk space. I had my rear seats taken out and my racing harness looks like it’s actually going into my audio system. That was an idea I came up with because I didn’t want to fit a roll cage to the rear of the car as it wouldn’t look as clean and it would be too bulky.
“There are a lot of stylistic paths you can follow, it takes a lot of time and due diligence,” Nickel reasons. “You have to research, figure out what has been done and what you can do to make it your own. That’s the key to building a car, how do you make it your own; how does it reflect your personality? That has to come from within.
You have to choose, but that’s why you go on the Internet and talk to your friends and family, and even your techs and people that work on your cars and filter information to help you make your choices. I must have a form: function car. Can’t have a monster in the closet and not be able to let it out because you’re scared that it may attack you! Cars are meant to be driven, and yes they break - you fix it and do it again.”
Admirable sentiment, and it really helps to illustrate the power behind the build. Yes, this car’s an internet-breaker, but Nickel hasn’t just been ticking boxes on the scenester checklist. The fact that it’s such a personal thing is also key to why he changes the spec so frequently. He’s been cherry picking parts from the aftermarket for a decade now, as well as commissioning his own, and Nickel’s not showing any signs of stopping yet – as long as there’s air in his lungs, this M3 will keep evolving.
“You’re never done with a project, not ever,” he says. “There will always be new technology, things that you’ve seen and never got a chance to do.” We ask what his favourite part of the car is right now, and he laughs. “Man, there’s not one part of it that I like more than another, because from the top to the bottom it’s my personality, you know? I love it all. And the key to having a dope build is being able to get in and just have a drive. That’s what it was made for. It’s tuned for cruising NYC.” Damn straight. Nickel’s currently working on his E30 M Tech II Convertible, but we all know that the E46 is his baby. It’s been his from new, through thick and thin, and it’s not going anywhere. Lightning will keep on striking.
DATA FILE Turbo #Wide-Body / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E46 / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-HPF-E46 / #BMW-M3-HPF / #AEM / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned-E46 / #BMW-M3-tuned
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , #HorsepowerFreaks ( HPF ) #HPF-Stage-3-turbo-kit , #HPF-titanium-exhaust-system , #AEM-Infinity-ECU , #HPF carbon-fibre intake ducts, HPF methanol injection, #Rogue-Engineering oil filler ca. Six-speed manual gearbox, E31 850i clutch components with #HPF-Feramic-Stage-3-clutch , #OS-Giken-Super Lock Spec-S LSD, #UUC-Motorwerks engine and transmission mounts
CHASSIS 11x19” (front) and 13.5x19” (rear) #Luxury-Abstract-Grassor-R wheels with 245/35 (f) and 305/30 (r) tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers with #Hydraulic-Lift-System, #HPF-330-subframe reinforcement plates, #HPF carbon fibre strut braces, HPF under braces, #Powerflex race subframe bushes and trailing arm bushes #StopTech #BBK with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs (front), four-pot calipers with 355mm discs (rear)
EXTERIOR Custom steel wide-body, Lamborghini #Blu-Cepheus-paint (three-stage pearl), #Vorsteiner-V-CSL front bumper and ducktail boot lid, #Vorsteiner-GTS3 carbon-fibre side skirts, custom E30 M3 bonnet hinges, OEM BMW hardtop, custom dual-xenon headlights, #Brooks-Motorsport Elite carbon-fibre rear wing with #NeoChrome brackets
INTERIOR Manhart #BMW-Performance race seats, #Schroth harnesses, AEM fuel pressure and 100psi oil pressure gauges, rearview mirror gauge interaction, Kenwood 6.95 double-DIN DDX9902S head unit, JL Audio Monoblock HD1200/1, JL 4-channel amp, JL Evolution C3, JL 12” subwoofer, custom audio box with moulded plexi and LED lighting trimmed in OEM BMW leather, Rydeen reversing camera
THANKS #Motorcepts (Master Tech), Intrack Tyres, #S&R-Paint , #NeoChrome , #Luxury-AbstractStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSIMPLE PLEASURES Finely-honed 400hp 1M
Man, machine, open roads, fulfilment. That’s pretty much the formula for happiness, is it not? Ah, if only life were so simple… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.
All you really need to know is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place.’ So wrote Douglas Adams, and he was a man of sufficient wisdom to have a decent handle on such matters; the world and everything in it (not to mention all the things outside of it) are so mind-numbingly crammed with incomprehensible minutiae that when you start to consider the logic of anything beyond what you’re having for dinner or which Kardashian’s up the duff this week, it can get a little overwhelming. What we need is simplicity. Clarity. Binary black-and-whiteness. And in the case of this crisp and clinical 1M, simplicity is exactly what you get.
It is what it is, and nothing more – no complexity, no ambiguity, just a snapshot… …except, no, that’s not actually the case at all. It’s a cunning illusion, an exercise in smoke-and-mirrors shadow play. “Many people can’t tell what came with the car and what I’ve added,” says owner Manu Sethi.
“I take that as a compliment, because the goal was to always keep the car looking OEM, even after such heavy modifications.” Part of this is thanks to the obscurity of the 1M itself, of course – they’re such a rare sight that most onlookers don’t know what they’re seeing in the first place, let alone that it’s a rambunctiously tweaked example. And this is all just the latest in a long line of BMW affection for Manu. “I’ve had a love for BMWs all my life,” he enthuses. “My first car was an E36 M3 – I had to take two jobs to afford that car, and I was happy to do it. I had a smile on my face every day I drove it! And I’ve gone through a number of BMWs along the way, from 3 Series to 7 Series. I have a deep love for the brand. My next BMW will surely be a European Delivery, it’s been an unfulfilled dream for far too long.”
Manu’s is a bona fide success story, going from those early days of working two jobs to afford the used car he desired to the present day situation that finds him with a gleaming new Lamborghini Huracán on his drive, bullishly flanked by his Audi R8 V10 and his Mercedes E-Class. But while it’s simple enough to stroll into a Lambo dealer and pick up the latest exotic ride, tracking down something as obscure as a 1M isn’t quite so easy…
“I bought the car brand-new in 2011 and, like most 1Ms, it was not an easy find,” he recalls. “I got lucky, really – I drove all the way out to Las Vegas to get mine; the dealer was initially allocated eight cars and ended up only getting two! I was fortunate enough to buy one of them – number 88 out of North America’s allocation of 740. The model was rare to begin with, and its scarcity is only increasing. From day one my car has garnered plenty of attention. Leaving the gym one time, a guy said to me ‘Is that a 1M? How the hell did you get a 1M? You must’ve had to sell your left nut!’ Lucky for me that was not the case!”
Manu’s right when he says that the scarcity of 1Ms is increasing – global economic instability has seen people investing in cars like never before over the last half-decade or so, and anything that fuses quality and desirability with lowvolume obscurity is firmly in the crosshairs of the speculators. More than a few 1Ms have been wrapped up in cotton wool and locked away in private collections, making the disheartening shift from driver’s plaything to investor’s cash cow. Thankfully, however, some people bought them because they actually wanted to use them. And in Manu’s case, that was only the beginning.
“I was excited by the idea of the project,” he says. “I wanted to make a limited car even more limited. But I bided my time to ensure everything was right; I waited two years before I hit the mods hard. The idea was to wait until every aftermarket company released parts for the 1M, and then pick and choose what I thought was the best. As you can see, the build list comprises many different brands. No compromises were made. The BMW Performance seats are a case in point: by the time I was ready to make the purchase, I was notified that they had been discontinued. It was a struggle to locate a brand-new set but the project wouldn’t have been complete without them. After an exhaustive search I got the very last set and they were worth every penny.”
Manu’s approach is founded in a refreshingly honest appraisal of the car, one which may be anathema to some of you but will resonate strongly with the values of others: that the 1 Series isn’t exactly a looker. That’s not to say it’s a fugly mess by any means but it’s arguably not as cohesive as, say, an E9x – the swoop and flow of the bonnet into the wings, the banana-shaped sills, to some eyes it all seems a bit fairground. To others, naturally this suggests brilliant uniqueness and visual drama, and we’re not going to argue with that either. It’s all about perspective.
“The M division definitely helped out with the looks on the 1M, but still there was a lot lacking,” reckons Manu. “In modifying the car, I paid attention to the existing lines and made sure to stay consistent with them. For example, the flat-bottom, half curved headlights were specifically designed with the lines of the car in mind. Similarly, the Revozport bonnet, the radial stripes on the tyres, and the BBS FIs were also chosen to complement the curves on the car.” This is all in-keeping with his optical-illusion approach, he’s basically just toying with people’s perceptions. It works brilliantly.
The game plan wasn’t purely aesthetic, either. Manu was keen to build on the mighty drivetrain of the 1M to create something that’d truly earn its place in his stable of supercars; as such, the feisty N54 now sports freer-flowing Akrapovic pipes, a GruppeM intake, a Forge intercooler, and various other natty little tricks in order to crank that peak performance figure up to something that begins with a four. And while he has almighty respect for the M Division’s chassis-honing abilities, you’ll find a certain forthright reworking underneath the skin too, principally in the form of Öhlins Road & Track coilovers and a Brembo Type III bigbrake upgrade.
“I definitely hit a few hurdles in the course of the build,” Manu admits. “Even though I went with top-notch brands, things still went wrong. You have to expect this when you’re dealing with aftermarket modifications! It’s part of the journey. Through the process I gained a lot of knowledge of the 1M and cars in general; moreover, I forged invaluable relationships along the way. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people. Sometimes products don’t fit or perform like they should but what makes a company great is the people that stand behind it – that’s what you pay extra for, the service.
“The 1M really is a fun little pocket rocket, but practical at the same time. The rear seats can comfortably fit two and the boot is spacious; I don’t use the car as my daily driver but I certainly don’t baby it either – it goes on the canyons and on the track. It’s a hoot to drive! At times it can be scary, unforgiving even, but it’s always a thrill. It’s the immense amount of torque attached to a short wheelbase that makes it a hooligan!”
Mission accomplished, then – Manu’s created a perky little foil to the biggerbrother supercars, and achieved his goal of tricking the eye of many an onlooker. While the 1M may look relatively stock to the casual observer, the robust spec list certainly suggests otherwise. So where does he go from here? “Oh, one is always tweaking to achieve perfection,” he says, a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin curling the corners of the mouth. “I have some plans, just wait and see.” We guess we’ll be needing to keep an eye on his Instagram page (@msethi88). This illusion of simplicity could soon break whole new realms of complexity.
“I wanted to make a limited car even more limited”
“The build list comprises many brands. No compromises were made”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 / #BMW-1M / #BMW / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1M-E82 / #N54B30TO / #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twinturbo N54B30TO, #GruppeM intake, #Forge intercooler, Forge dump valves, #Evolution-Racewerks chargepipe, full stainless steel #Akrapovic exhaust system with cat-less downpipes, BMS oil catch can, #Cobb-V3 with #PTF custom map, six-speed manual gearbox. 400hp
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #BBS / #BBS-FI-R forged alloys with 255/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres, MRG titanium race studs, M valve caps, Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, Brembo-Type-III-BBK / Brembo
EXTERIOR Revozport carbon fibre bonnet, OSS DTM headlights, lightweight carbon fibre front lip, Dinmann carbonfibre side skirts, Vorsteiner carbon fibre diffuser, BMW carbon fibre spoiler, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps, BMW Blackline tail-lights, Macht Schnell tow straps, XPEL clear wrap protectant film and stripes, WeissLicht LED indicators
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance pedals and footrest, LED interior lights, BMW electronic #Performance-V2 steering wheel, illuminated gear knob, BMW Homelink/Compass rearview mirror, BMW Euro visors, M handbrake handle, BMW Performance seats, Euro foglight switch enabled, carbon fibre centre console, Euro MDMStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE RIGHT STUFF
Some cars have it, some cars don’t – but this 625hp supercharged E92 M3 most definitely has a whole heap of it. From its looks, to its stance and what it’s got lurking under the bonnet, this E92 M3 gets everything right. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
What makes a good-looking car? The styling plays a big part, of course, but that on its own isn’t enough; how it sits is also important, as ride height and stance play a huge role in terms of a car’s visual appeal. Furthermore, the wheels are crucial as the ‘wrong’ ones can ruin even the best-looking cars. Get all of these elements spot-on and you’ll build yourself a car that looks right on every level and David Cao has done just that. It helps that he’s chosen to work his magic on an E92 M3, which is a great platform to begin any build, and as an added bonus there’s a bit of extra spice going on under the bonnet…
We have to say that looking at the E92 (and its M3 incarnation in particular) with post-F3x eyes, it looks better than it ever did. Everything about it, from the proportions to the understated but purposeful styling, was and still is right. The F8x M3 and M4 certainly aren’t short of aggression, but the E9x M3 has such a cohesive shape that flows so well, with perfect proportions. Add the overwhelming aftermarket support for the car (so extensive that no two examples are likely to be the same) plus the fact that it’s likely to be the last naturally aspirated M3 that we’ll see and it’s enough to have you reaching for the chequebook.
That’s exactly what David did, and he’s clearly as keen on the E9x 3 Series family as we are, judging by past and present automotive conquests: “I’ve been interested in BMWs since 2007 when I bought my first one, a 335i,” he says, which is certainly a great introduction to the brand. “I bought it because of its twin-turbo engine and the fact that it performed just as well as the E46 M3.” While that 335i is no longer part of the stable, David has employed an E91 325xi Touring for daily duties. Good as the 335i was, when the M3 was launched the lure of its high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 proved impossible to resist and he put his name down, with this white example being the result of that transaction.
The E92 M3 is an awesome machine out-of- the-box, but it has so much untapped potential that it really would seem foolish not to tap it. David has a car history that includes a large number of modified Hondas, so the M3 was never going to stay stock for long. Also, with his modifying roots firmly embedded in the JDM scene, it is unsurprising that David has chosen to let some of those Japanese styling influences spill over to his German machine, and it’s given this M3 a fusion flavour that’s distinctively different. The front and rear bumpers come from Japanese tuning house, Amuse, and are part of the Ericsson range; the bumpers aren’t overly aggressive, just adding a touch of extra ‘swoopiness’ and it’s only really the bootlid, with its unashamedly indiscreet, obtuse-angled integrated spoiler that makes a big impact. The front bumper, with its black corner extensions, has been further embellished with an APR carbon fibre splitter, while the rear item has been fitted with a Downforce USA multi-piece carbon fibre diffuser, which blends perfectly with the bumper.
In addition to this, Exotic Tuning carbon fibre side blades sit below the skirts on either side and there’s an AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, plus slick-looking ONEighty NYC custom headlights with super-bright angel eyes. These are complemented at the rear with a set of LCI light clusters.
On the suspension front, David has eschewed air-ride on his E92 M3, instead opting to keep things static with a KW coilover kit, though he’s clearly a devout worshipper at the temple of lows judging by how far off the ground the front splitter sits; in fact, we’re amazed it’s survived this long! Of course, lowered suspension is crying out for the right wheels to go with a serious drop and here Dave has once again looked to the Far East for inspiration.
“I’ve had lots of wheels for this car,” he says, “and lately I’ve been aiming for Japanese wheels, which is why I got this classic set of Work Equips.” The simple fivespoke design is perhaps not one you tend to see on E9x M3s, which makes the wheels stand out and gives this car a particular, aggressive, look. The wheels themselves, while not intricate, are gorgeous, from the detailed centre caps with their raised lettering to the contrast of the dark silver faces against the mirror-polished stepped lips, with those deep dishes front and rear catching the light. They really suit the car’s aggressive styling, the thick, chunky spokes sitting perfectly against the sharp, angular looks and giving the whole package a squat, stocky appearance.
Venturing inside, the remnants of the once red interior offer up a nice contrast against the inky blackness of everything else and, while David hasn’t gone wild in here, what he has changed has made a big difference. The two-piece Recaro Sportster CS seats are awesome, a world away from the comfortable but slightly bland standard items, and give the interior a much more purposeful look that matches the M3’s outward appearance. They are joined by a ZHP gear knob, because this is indeed a manual, and a #BMW-M-Performance V2 steering wheel with digital display along with a P3Cars vent-mounted multi-function digital data display and boost gauge.
Now, the E9x M3 is a pretty ferocious performance machine out-of-the-box, the glorious S65 V8 giving it some serious muscle, but it would be a shame if all that additional battle armour on the outside wasn’t backed up with a little something extra under the bonnet. Luckily, this M3 has had more than a little fettling on the engine front and lifting the lid on the 4.0-litre V8 reveals the unmistakable intake plenum of an ESS supercharger kit.
David has opted for the VT2-625 intercooled setup, which is only $600 more than the 595 version but a hefty $1400 lighter on the wallet than the top-end 650 version, making this the sensible choice for those looking to punch through the 600hp barrier on their supercharged M3.
As its name suggests, the 625 kits makes a mighty 625hp, 205hp up on the standard car, with 410lb ft of torque for some serious midrange muscle, with the Vortech V3 Si supercharger running at between 6.5 and 7psi of boost. That pressurised air passing through what ESS says is the largest chargecooler system on the market and an octet of uprated Bosch injectors ensure ample fuel reaches the engine to match all that additional air. Not only is it an awesome-looking kit, it really delivers on the performance front and gives this M3 more than enough of a power upgrade to match the aggressive styling. The supercharger, incidentally, is David’s favourite modification on the car: “The car feels and sounds amazing along with the F1 exhaust,” he says.
Ah yes, we almost forget about that. The quad pipes protruding from the rear valance are far from stock and belong to the IPE Innotech F1 Valvetronic exhaust system. A bit of a mouthful that may be, but this stainless steel system goes from mild to wild at the push of a button, delivering an awesome V8 soundtrack with the valves open, so much so that we wonder if David ever bothers to close them… The finishing touch, and a necessary one to compensate for that massive increase in power, is the addition of a beefy Rotora Street Challenge big brake kit with six-pot forged aluminium callipers and massive 380mm discs up front.
It’s fair to say that David has built himself an absolute monster machine of an M3. It looks that little bit different from the norm thanks to its Asian styling influences and combines striking styling with a whole heap of power thanks to that ESS supercharger. It ticks just about every box you could think of and it really is one of those cars that gets everything so very right.
DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #ESS / #IPE-Innotech / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged-E92 / #BMW-M3-Supercharged / #BMW-E92-Supercharged / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #ESS-Supercharger
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65-Supercharged , #ESS-VT-2-625 intercooled supercharger kit, IPE-Innotech-F1-Valvetronic exhaust, six-speed manual gearbox, 625hp, 410lb ft
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) three-piece #Work-Equip wheels with 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Achilles #Achilles-ATR Sport tyres, #KW coilovers, #Rotora-Street-Challenge #BBK (front) with forged aluminium six-pot calipers and 380mm slotted discs
EXTERIOR Amuse Ericsson front bumper, APR carbon fibre front splitter, ONEighty NYC headlights, Exotic Tuning carbon fibre side blades, Amuse Ericsson bootlid, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, Downforce carbon fibre rear diffuser, LCI tail-lights
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance electronic V2 steering wheel, BMW ZHP gear knob, Recaro Sportster CS seats, P3Cars digital integrated data display and boost gauge
THANKS Viet at Delta Auto Care, John at Speedfreak Detailing, Alex from Autocouture, Rotora brakes and Johnny, Julian and David at BMW
“The car feels and sounds amazing along with the F1 exhaust”
“I’ve had lots of wheels for this car and lately I’ve been aiming for Japanese wheels…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGOING ON TOUR
BMW never made an #BMW-E91 M3 Touring, so this owner decided to build his own… BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring, but if it did, it’d probably look just like this… only not as low and on smaller wheels! Words: Andy Basoo. Photos: Antony Fraser.
It was back on the 22 February 2011 the euphoria started, at 1.15pm to be precise. A build thread began on the popular M3Post forum, which within a matter of days had 35,000 views from around the globe. A dozen or so photos and a handful of words was all it took to spark such excitement; the BMW community was witnessing something special.
The username was #63NP. The thread topic: ‘!!E91 M3 V8 DCT Estate / Wagon Full Conversion..!!’. We don’t need to tell you that BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring. In fact, the German manufacturer has never built an M3 Touring full stop. Coupés, Saloons and Cabriolets yes, but never a Touring. And that’s somewhat surprising considering how much we love estate cars here in the UK. The Audi RS4 has never struggled for sales and the majority of examples you see on the road are wagons. If Audi can make it work, why can’t BMW?
To be fair, BMW has tried its hand at highperformance estate cars in the past. The E34 and E61 M5s were available in Touring format, and BMW even tested the water with the E39, building a one-off Touring version.
They just weren’t big sellers though. It’s difficult to pin down exactly why not, but they didn’t capture the imagination of the public. Maybe it was because they didn’t look different enough from any other M Sportkitted model? The RS4 is wide, beefy, has distinctive aluminium mirrors and looks like it’s on steroids, while the M5s of the past have been much more understated.
The 5 Series was also significantly larger and perhaps that’s where the downfall lay? Audi produced a larger RS6, too, and while it’s admittedly a fine machine in its own right, it was never the big seller like the RS4. So maybe 3 Series Touring M cars would have been the way to go? Nicholas Pritchard (aka 63NP), the man who instigated that build thread certainly seems to think so, hence the reason he’s built his own example. And before we go any further, let us tell you, it’s truly OEM quality in its execution.
Nick’s a heavy goods vehicle driver and has always had a thing for estate cars. “I’ve had loads,” he confesses. “I’ve had a B7 RS4, an E61, an E36 and an E30 – that I fitted Montego Countryman roof rails to because the E30 never came with roof rails! I even had a Rover 400 estate. I just like estates!” Which is why when he saw this one, he simply had to have it.
“I was doing a 997 Porsche at the time,” he continues. “This was back in 2009. I used to pop down to a local bodyshop from time to time to see a mate of mine. The owner of the bodyshop had this car tucked away in the corner and covered in dust. It didn’t have any wings or doors or an interior. It was just a shell, although it did have an M3 V8 sitting in the bay but it wasn’t running.”
Nick was interested and asked the owner if it was for sale. He got a firm “no” in reply. The car was a 2007 318i auto, although the original engine and transmission were nowhere to be seen. The cabin was filled to the roof with parts and the wiring loom was in a heap in the corner of the bodyshop.
“Are you sure it’s not for sale?” Nick persisted. “Quite sure, thank you very much,” came the response.
Bearing in mind it was 2009 and this was a #2007 Touring, it was a relatively new car to be chopping about as extensively as this one had been. Not many of us would have the confidence to be so brutal to a BMW that was barely run-in. Nick was so taken with the car that he would drop in occasionally and the two would have the same brief but very polite conversation.
“I noticed towards the end of the year, that the guy’s enthusiasm for the car was waning,” Nick explains, “so at the start of 2010 I asked him again, and amazingly he said ‘yes’. He’d been slowly building it up, so by the time I got it the panels were back on and an M3 interior in it, but it still wasn’t running. I think one of the guys down there had put a jump pack on it to get it started, but a power surge had fried the ECU and a few other things. I would say it was probably three-quarters complete.”
The previous owner had sourced the V8 from a donor car, an E90 M3 Saloon LCI with a slick DCT gearbox. Amazingly, the platforms of the Saloon and Touring are virtually identical. In fact, from the nose right the way back to part way down the rear doors is the same. The rear ends of the rear doors are a slightly different shape to conform to the different boot layout. But apart from that, the layouts remain the same. So, despite there being countless views and rumours about the complexity of an E91 M3 conversion, it’s actually pretty straight forward.
The donor car had been stripped. We mean, completely stripped down to its shell. Engine, gearbox, prop, body panels, interior, dash the lot. The same had then been done with the Touring. As you’d expect, priority had been given to the fitment of the M3’s beautiful 4.0-litre 32v V8 ( #S65B40 ) and its #DCT gearbox. It’s hard to comprehend and perhaps it sounds like we’re dumbing the process down, but there was no fabrication or adjustment made to any brackets. Using the S65’s OEM mounts, the V8 slotted easily in to place, the gearbox aligned perfectly, too, as did the driveshafts and propshaft, and all bolted straight in.
Even the standard Saloon exhaust system fitted. All that the previous owner had to do was to add two thread bolts for the rear box hangers, readily available from BMW, and the quad exhaust sat perfectly.
With the intention being to swap over and utilise every possible optional extra fitted to the M3 donor car, the complete Saloon wiring loom, fuse box and dash were fitted. This meant the all-important iDrive system was also available to the driver.
Regarding the body panels, the complete front end is M3 Saloon. The front bumper, kidney grilles, vented bonnet, and wider front arches were all bolted straight on, and the shut lines matched perfectly. Obviously, a wider front end meant the Touring’s original undertrays and arch liners no longer fitted, so these had been swapped over from the M3, too. Incidentally, before the all of the panels were fitted, the V8’s ancillaries had all been set in their rightful place, including the relevant coolers and bottles being placed in the wings. The goal had been to make this car as OEM as possible.
As you can imagine, this was harder to achieve at the rump end of the Touring. With the car having a wider track, the rear arches needed widening, so M3 Saloon rear quarters had been grafted in and expertly reshaped to meet the lines of the Touring.
The rear bumper is a combination of M3 Saloon and M Sport Touring. It would have been easier to modify an estate bumper, but the previous owner aimed at retaining as much M3 styling as possible, and as such the central vent, angles and lines had all been adopted from the Saloon parts.
Inside the cabin, the Touring’s carpet and panoramic roof had been retained as neither of these were available in M3 guise, but just about everything else you can see and touch is M3 Saloon. Even the rear bench bolted straight in. The rear seat back, however, is Touring, well… kind of. The seat foam had been reshaped to fit and match the bench, and then M3 Saloon covers added.
It was in this overall state that Nick bought the car. “As I said, it was about three-quarters complete when I got it,” he continues. “He’d done a great job. But, obviously the car wasn’t running and it felt tired and a little loose.
So the first thing Nick did was to order a new ECU and cache unit from BMW. After sorting the coding, to his joy the V8 barked into life, enabling Nick to turn his attentions to tightening the whole car up. “There were so many little things that needed sorting,” he explains. “I half stripped the car back down again. As I said, it didn’t feel tight. Things like the doorcards felt a bit loose, some of the trim was slightly squeaky, that kind of thing. As I was taking it apart, I started noticing that a lot of the clips were missing or broken. Some of the trim was scratched or damaged, the screws didn’t match, as you’d expect I guess. That’s what happens when you take a car apart.
“For me though, the whole point of the car was for it to be OEM quality, so I ordered about £1000 worth of clips, screws and trim from BMW. I’ve also got a friend who works in a BMW dismantlers and he was able to help me out with various other parts that were missing or damaged. Things like the membranes in the doors weren’t sealed, so they would have leaked and filled with water if I didn’t seal them. Essentially, the car needed finishing. The bulk of the work was done, but I think it’d been rushed back together when the guy lost interest.”
Nick has therefore invested heavily in transforming this car from the one that he bought. He primarily concentrated on the chassis, replacing the Touring’s factory-fit suspension with a full set of top-spec Variant 3 KW coilovers. He then ordered a set of gorgeous 20” Breyton Race GTS RM forged wheels to tuck under the wide arches, with M3 offsets, of course. Sizeable 9.5x20” wheels fill the fronts, shod in 245/30 Continentals, with broader 10x20” versions out back wrapped in 285/25 rubber by the same brand. He’s is considering nudging the front suspension down just a fraction more, but we have to say the E91 sits beautifully.
Nick then approached Reyland Motorsport for help sorting the front brakes. “I sourced a set of six-pot Brembo calipers from a C63 Mercedes,” he relates. “They’re basically the same as the BMW Performance calipers, just with different mounts on the back. I dropped them off at Reyland along with an M3 suspension leg so they could get all the brackets right and come up with suitable discs and pads. They used 380mm discs in the end and had my car in for a few days fitting everything up and testing it for me. All the brake warning sensors are still connected and functioning. I want to get a kit for the back now.”
We could go on all day about the fact Nick’s retained the Touring’s loom from the rear doors back because certain things are wired differently; how he’s removed individual pins from the loom plugs to ensure nothing is in place that isn’t needed; how he’s retro-fitted a CIC sat nav system that now runs ‘DVD in Motion’; details of the countless trips to the bodyshop to have blemishes removed, lines redefined and exhaust tips powdercoated in black; and why he’d only settle for BMW Performance front seats, but hopefully by now you’ve realised what an exceptional build this is.
Learning how identical the platforms are, it would appear relatively straightforward to swap all the parts across from one car to another. And to his credit, the previous owner has done phenomenally well in doing just that, but it’s finishing the job properly that takes time and patience to get right, and Nick has those qualities in abundance.
Without his input, this would feel like a fast, yet slightly tired, rattly estate. Thanks to Nick’s input it now possess a true OEM quality. It feels like a genuine M3 with full M car pedigree, not simply a modified 3 Series and that’s a difficult feat to achieve. Despite the photos posted on M3Post, some members still questioned whether or not this car was real, and demanded further evidence. Even the official #BMW staff and technicians at Nick’s local dealer were left puzzled when he first popped in to pick up a few parts. Other impressive E91 Tourings have been built around the world and yet more are in the pipeline, but Nick’s M3 converted example is by far the most wellknown.
Over 100,000 views of his build thread prove that. If you get the opportunity to see this machine in the flesh try and find fault with it. After we spent the day with car, we can assure you, you won’t find any.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-E91 / #BMW-E91 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E91 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-DCT-E91 / #DCT / #V8 / #BMW-3-Series-V8 / #Breyton-Race
ENGINE: #S65B40 4.0-litre 32v V8 from E90 M3 LCI Saloon / #BMW-S65 / #S65 / #BMW , standard #BMW-M3-DCT transmission and LSD, full M3 Saloon manifolds and exhaust system with Saloon hanging threads added to back box
CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Breyton-Race-GTS-RM wheels shod in 245/30 and 285/25 Continental tyres respectively, Bimmerworld bolt-to-lug conversion, fully adjustable #KW-Variant-3 coilovers all-round, six-pot orange #Brembo calipers from Mercedes C63 with 380mm discs
EXTERIOR: Complete E90 M3 Saloon front end comprising wings, inner arches, bonnet, front bumper, undertrays and headlights, rear arches widened using E90 M3 Saloon quarter panels, custom rear bumper fabricated from M3 Saloon item and E91 M Sport Touring bumper
INTERIOR: #BMW-Performance seats, M3 Saloon dash, consoles, trim and wiring, M3 Saloon door cards and rear bench with Touring rear seat back foam modified and retrimmed in black nappa leather to match, M3 Saloon steering wheel, M3 Saloon iDrive with CIC sat nav, AC Schnitzer pedals
THANKS: Reyland Motorsport (0121 458 6010 or www.reyland.co.uk) TRS Motorbodies (0121 4548300)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation4 THE WIN
Bagged, with gorgeous HRE splits, this BMW E93 Convertible is one slick sun-seeking ride. Eva Verzelen isn’t your average modifier, she’s a female and back with her latest toy – an E93 320i – her fourth feature in just as many years. We think you’ll like her… Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.
Successful aftermarket styling has been and will remain a subjective concept. What floats one person’s boat may invariably sink another. Whatever styling cues you take the chances are some will appreciate your work, others will not. However in the case of Eva Verzelen’s E93 320i we beg to differ. The subtle tweaks and revisions Eva has made to her latest motor have created one of the most desirable cars we’ve ever laid eyes on.
Don’t be too surprised though, our heroine’s had rather a lot of practice. You’re currently looking at Eva’s fourth feature in Performance BMW. Previously her ICE’d up E46 316i graced our 01/04 issue. Developing and perfecting this same car, Eva was back in 09/04 with the addition of a two-tone paint scheme, wide-arch styling and fresh leather. Following on from this, a two-year gap gave Eva just enough time to completely overhaul the family pin-up. In 06/06 the final incarnation of the E46 was completed, and this time it had grown up somewhat. Gone was the two-tone paint, replaced by a marvellous House Of Kolor Brandy hue, in place of the Racing Dynamics rollers were a set of gold powdercoated HRE rims, styling was improved with M3 bumpers and a CSL boot lid. It had, unlike so many projects, matured and improved over time. As trends and attitudes changed, the less is more approach to modifying started to catch on and quite rightly Eva was leading this field.
Like any good parent though, she also appreciated there comes a time when, however attached we’ve become, we must let go.
Some two and a half years later Eva is back once again, and she’s got a brand new look. It’s often worrying when previous feature car owners get in touch to say their latest project is ready. It can be a rather awkward situation if we feel their new creation isn’t what our readers are looking for, especially when they’ve already got it right once before. Thankfully and impressively we can put our hand on our hearts and tell you that with each successive feature Eva’s cars have got better and better.
For the past four years, Eva has steadily been building up her Internet business and the hard work has paid off. Like many of us she has always dreamed of owning a brand spanking new BMW, and deservedly she has finally achieved just that. “I’ve always been in love with the E46 Convertible, but when the E93 came out I fell in love all over again! When the hard-top arrived my lust developed to the point where it couldn’t be ignored; whatever the cost I had to have one.”
As a Belgian resident Eva wasn’t struck with the usual performance dilemma as driving a car with any thing larger than a 2.0-litre engine on this side of the Channel is an offence punishable by death, or so we’re led to believe… As such the decision of which lump to go for was removed from the equation, leaving Eva with the enviable task of picking her favourite colour and determining how she would transform the car and earn an unbelievable fourth feature. Before we go any further you need to be furnished with the facts. Eva is married to a gentleman named Geert, who just so happens to be the director of the European chapter of US-based styling forum www.Europrojektz-world.com and drives a dazzling Alpine white, chrome rimmed E60 too.
The pair enjoy weekend jaunts to various shows, sharing a passion for modified cars, as well as each other. I guess it’s fair to say it’s the kind of relationship we all hanker after; no one likes the sour look on a partner’s face when that passion is not shared and you’re trying to justify your latest outlay.
“I know they cost two thousand pounds darling, I know you’ve been wanting to go on that holiday, but just look at her, she’s 30mm lower all round!” It takes a woman like Eva, or a husband like Geert to smile and say “what’s next?”
So with ample encouragement and a sprightlier bank account than ever before, Eva jumped in head first and purchased a pristine Alpine White III E93. Being a new car Eva was free to spec it as she saw fit, which enabled her to get the foundations of her dream project in place. “I’ve always fantasised about a white BMW with Shadowline trim and a red leather interior and I was finally in a position to just tick a box and have it. Along with the six-speed manual transmission I knew I had all the bases covered, and I certainly had a good idea where I wanted to take the project.”
Even before taking delivery, Eva and her friends on Europrojektz.com had discussed which direction to take the car and unanimously the OEM plus look won the day. “I’d done the wide-arch look, I’d had the two-tone paint and at the time they really captured the scene. In the past few years my tastes have changed and standards on the scene have gone up so it was important to me that my car reflected this.” After only two days of ownership her new toy was subjected to its first enhancements. In keeping with her new clean and simple ethos, Eva ordered a carbon Vorsteiner front lip spoiler and replaced her standard rollers with a set of polished lipped, powdercoated gold 19” 540R HRE rims, the perfect complement to the white paint scheme.
Eva was then keen to get the car’s stance just right, an often under-appreciated side of chassis augmentation that can make or break a car. Regardless of which suspension you’ve opted for, getting the correct combination of ride height, wheel size and tyre profile is paramount to the way a car sits, and Eva knows it.
So much so that she took the plunge and created the world’s first E93 Cabriolet with air-ride. Although common on street rods and mini trucks and OEM on many luxurious cars from the likes of Maybach, Rolls Royce and Lexus, air suspension is still viewed with scepticism, mostly through ignorance than anything else. While it is true that in the past ’bags have been a little unreliable, today, that is simply not the case. The truth is that air-ride is not suitable for everyone.
Basically, if you don’t spend time on track and are more of a cruiser than a racer then air-ride should be recommended. It’s comfortable, useful and enables you to have your car far lower without the normal headaches. Yes it may be expensive but it makes a huge difference to the appearance of any car, and at the touch of a button makes the impractical practical. Eva entrusted the car to JV-Tuning who faultlessly installed the system, which is no mean feat considering it is a world first.
Subsequently this E93 has got its stance just right, and it’s partly because of this that everything else falls into place. The success of the project cannot be gifted to the suspension and wheels alone, as they say the Devil is in the details.
Starting with the exterior transformation Eva has been quick to personalise her ride, her first step being the redesign of the rear bumper. With the help of Jem Design the bumper has been smoothed and a custom rear carbon diffuser integrated. It’s a stunning piece of work that looks like a factory fitted item and hints at the E46 M3 CSL’s rear end. We’re aware Eva’s colour scheme adds to its appeal but BMW’s latest M3 could certainly have benefited from such defining styling cues. Alongside the custom quad exhaust Eva plumped for, it has rear of the year written all over it.
Along with the delicate integration of carbon door mirrors, black kidney grilles and the aforementioned Shadowline trim, every facet that creates the car’s image adds something to the mix.
With the car coming along rather well Eva was keen to break the mould even further. “The air-ride was something I’d always dreamed of but there were other chassis modifications I was desperate to acquire. For me, a big brake kit sets off any car and I had envisaged the look of big red calipers peering through my gold HREs. People thought it was a waste of money because it’s only a 2.0-litre engine, but it’s not the case. The brake kit not only stops the car on a penny and looks a treat, it also ties the interior in with the exterior and that for me completes the car. It is my favourite modification.”
With 335mm front and rear discs and six- pot and four-pot calipers respectively, the XYZ big brake kit was complete and Eva was finally pleased with her car’s exterior.
The interior was, as you’d expect, rather nice to begin with so with the addition of a few M-Tech goodies such as the steering wheel, handbrake, pedals and footrest, all that was left to do was throw in some custom Europrojektz mats, stuff a BMW Performance strut brace under the bonnet, take a few photos and email them to Performance BMW magazine.
DATA FILE #BMW-E93 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E93 / #BMW-320i-E93 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E93 / #BMW-3-Series-Convertible / #BMW-3-Series-Convertible-E93 /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: Four-cylinder 2.0-litre #N42 / #BMW-N42 / #BMW with reworked air box, custom quad exhaust system. Manual six-speed gearbox
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) gold powdercoated 540R 19” #HRE wheels shod in 225/35 and 255/30 Pirelli PZero Nero tyres respectively. BSS air suspension with #Koni adjustable coilovers, #BMW-Performance strut brace. #XYZ big brake kit with six-pot front calipers and four-pot rear calipers mated to 355mm discs
EXTERIOR: Shadowline exterior trim, de-badged, carbon #Vorsteiner front lip, custom rear bumper with integrated carbon diffuser, carbon door mirrors, matt black kidney grille
INTERIOR: Sports seats in Coral red Dakota leather, High Gloss interior trim, black Alcantara carpets with Europrojektz logo, M-Tech steering wheel, handbrake handle and gear knob, pedals and footrest
THANKS: Jurgen at JV-tuning, Dario, Yves and my husband Geert
This E93 has got its stance just right, and it’s partly because of this that everything else falls into place
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- Post is under moderation4.6 V8 1 SERIES Totally transformed 135i
SLAKE THE INTERNET
What started out life as an unassuming 135i is now a fire-breathing, 1M-kitted, 4.6 #V8-powered beast.
It’s an inescapable fact of modern modifying that if your car becomes known online, everyone will have an opinion on it. But this is a good thing – use the love as inspiration, use the hate as fuel, and keep pushing forward… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
“People have very interesting reactions to my car, it sparks a lot of discussion,” says Marco Svizzero, the chap standing proudly beside this rather perky little 1 Series. “It’s an entirely modified bastard, and yet it still seems to appeal to the purists…”
This is a pretty punchy way to set out your stall – after all, that quasi-mythical entity of ‘the purists’ is a notoriously hard bunch to please (although goodness knows why you’d want to try), so to shoo away the perennial spectre of internet hate by appealing to the very people you expect to annoy is something of a fortuitous crapshoot.
Still, objectively – at least, objectively from a PBMW point of view – there’s nothing not to love about this car, given that it’s effectively an M3 stuffed inside a #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 to create the ballistic #V8-1-Series that BMW didn’t think to experiment with. That’s a great way to get into our good books. “This was really my first big car build, and I never intended for the project to go so far,” Marco ponders with the measured consideration of somebody who’s been on a lengthy adventure and is struggling to come to terms with the notion of being home again. “It just snowballed, and once the project got some traction on the forums and partners like Revozport and Performance Technic got involved, it all went to another level.”
This, of course, is the price of notoriety. Once news of your project starts to spread, and the myriad chattering keyboards of the internet start to throw a few opinions around, there really is only one way forward: go big. The ‘go home’ alternative just isn’t an option at this point; the world is watching, you’ve committed to something, you have to see it through. Your audience insists. You’ve got new fans now, they need to be appeased. And the haters? Oh, there’ll always be haters. They need to be figuratively smacked down with the iron fist of decisive action.
“I chose a 135i as the base for my project as I really like the size of it,” Marco explains, “and I love how tunable the N54 engines are. It’s so easy to get reliable horsepower out of those motors with simple modifications.”
You’ll have spotted, however, that the N54 straight-six is no longer in residence. That’s sort of the point of this car now. So what gives, why did Marco change his mind? “Well, as I was taking the car on track more and more, I started to run into heat issues,” he says, “so I decided to swap a V8 motor and M3 chassis into the car.”
Okay. We’ll just let that sink in for a moment, shall we? It really is a masterstroke of lateral thinking, taking such a decision and following it through, and he’s earned the right to be charmingly self-effacing about it. Most people in this situation would have thought along the lines of ‘alright, we have some cooling issues, let’s look into revising the coolant system, maybe upgrade the radiator and intercooler and open up some more vents,’ but not Marco. Oh no. One suspects that he wanted to shoehorn an M3 inside his #BMW-135i-Coupe all along.
“I wanted the instant throttle response of a naturally aspirated engine, as well as robust cooling and an 8600rpm redline,” he says matter-of-factly. Well, yeah, swapping in an E9x M3 under the skin is the obvious solution, isn’t it? It was foolish of us to even question it. Carry on, Marco…
“The swap is so much more than just the motor,” he elaborates, as if trying to justify it to an irate spouse or suspicious bank manager. “It’s the M3 steering, the complete front and rear subframes including the suspension and axles, the diff, the brakes, and cool features like M Dynamic Mode.”
And there, as the Bard might say, is the rub. If you were skimming through a forum post and looking at photos of Marco’s car, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story here centred around a non-M 1 Series that had been converted to 1M aesthetics. And to a degree, you’d be right, as that is what has happened – what started as a stock 2008 135i bought from Craigslist soon ballooned into a broad and angry 1M clone, its strong look accentuated by the exemplary body addenda on sale from Revozport, its Raze series offering a lightweight bonnet, bootlid, carbon fibre roof (which neatly deletes the 135i’s sunroof), splitter, diffuser and GTS wing. But the body, as we know, is only half the story.
The fun of building something like this, particularly something that’s so keenly observed online, is that there will always be ill-informed haters to bait. ‘It’s not a proper #BMW-1M ,’ they’ll say. ‘Why spend all that money on making a fake 1M when you could just buy a real one? Why pretend, why lie?’
Marco takes all of this in his stride, with a wry smile and an eye perennially on the next phase of development. “No, it’s not a 1M, and it will never be one,” he says. “The only way to get a real one is to buy one. My car will not bear an M badge on the trunk!
Besides, by crunching numbers for a partout and sale of my car and using those funds toward purchasing a 1M, I would have to add a lot of money on top for a very similar car.” But forget mathematics, that’s not why we build project cars. A car is just a big hole to throw money into, we don’t modify them because it’s sensible. No, the unspoken truth here is that Marco’s car isn’t a 1M because, well, it’s an M3. It just looks like a 1M…
“When we started looking into donor M3s, they were still expensive here in the States so I actually ended up buying a car in the UK, which was dismantled and sent to me in pieces,” Marco recalls. “Once everything was sent over, Performance Technic began the build. The most difficult part was the wiring; Performance Technic has two BMW Master Techs – Matt Medeiros and Wing Phung – who tackled the project, and once the car was built we brought it to Mike Benvo of BPM Sport. Benvo cleaned up, coded and tuned the car – he is another very valuable partner in the entire project. His knowledge in coding is unmatched! These guys were extremely focused on making everything look and operate like a factory car, and I applaud them that they pulled it off.”
As well as being OEM-quality in terms of all the buttons and gizmos, and thus eminently streetable, Marco was certainly having a lot of fun with his transformed 135i, with its 4.0-litre S65 under the bonnet and M3 underpinnings. Let’s not forget that this V8 isn’t a lazy rumbler like those of his domestic heritage; while Detroit thuds, Bavaria howls, and this engine is a proper screamer. “It really was just like a smaller, lighter E9x M3 – the naturally aspirated 1M I wanted to make all along,” Marco grins.
Wait… “was”? “Yeah, I decided to go a bit over-the-top,” he laughs. “The S65 only weighs 15lb more than the N54 so the factory balance was still spot-on, but after a little while I swapped the motor out for a Dinan 4.6-litre stroker motor.” Well, you know what they say about how power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Marco seems to be pretty happy about that.
“It really is my perfect BMW and I couldn’t be happier,” he beams. “I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to the major BMW West Coast events, rallies, and simply staring at it in my garage! It’s a car that when people see it at events, they stop and look at it – often for a long period of time. Even with the old-skool purists; I’ve received a lot of compliments from the older, more traditional BMW crowd.” This makes sense really, as it is a pure BMW at heart: a focused driver’s machine, and with nearenough undiluted factory DNA under the skin. It just happens to be suffering a smidge of body dysmorphia, that’s all.
Again, this can be the price of notoriety. Marco’s car has always enjoyed the internet spotlight, from its early PR tie-in with Revozport to those fledgling days on the show scene before the hungry swarm of smartphone lenses, to Performance Technic’s high-profile endeavours to make the first V8-powered E82 in the USA. Then there was its triumphant Bimmerfest showcase on the Toyo stand, the countless online profiles, the numerous show awards, the online video reviews espousing its virtues as ‘the best BMW you could possibly build at any price’, the Time Attack entries, the world-first stroked S65 conversion… this car lives in a fishbowl, its every move observed and analysed. And every barbed comment that curveballs toward it gets knocked out of the park.
We’ll leave the final thought to Performance Technic founder Joey Gaffey: “This car is a project that we all kinda fell in love with. It’s a project we thought was probably something the engineers at BMW Motorsport thought of themselves…” And that, in essence, is the thinking behind Marco’s original idea for the madcap swap, and also why the purists love this impure creation. It’s a car that #BMW should have built. Thanks to the ingenuity of these fellas, it now actually exists, albeit as a one-off. The internet demanded results, and it got ’em. What a time to be alive.
I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to events and simply staring at it in my garage!
DATA FILE 4.6 #V8 #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8 / #BMW-135i-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-E82-Dinan / #BMW / #CAE-Ultra / #VAC-Motorsports /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Dinan 4.6-litre stroker #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65B46 #V8 / #S65-Dinan / , #BPM-Sport custom tune with 8600rpm redline, #iND custom plenum, Dinan intake, Dinan pulley, VAC-Motorsports baffled sump, #Black-Forest engine mounts, #Akrapovic axle-back exhaust, custom X pipe, #Braille 21lb battery, CAE Ultra shifter, OEM M3 differential
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) ET25 HRE 43 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, M3 front and rear subframes including suspension and axles, #PSi-Öhlins Raceline coilovers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Dinan-Monoball kit for front control arms, #Bimmerworld rear wishbones, Dinan adjustable toe arms, Turner MS transmission bushings, #Turner-MS aluminium subframe and diff bushings, Dinan carbon fibre strut braces, #Stoptech-Trophy-BBK with 380mm (front) and 355mm (rear) discs, OEM GT4 brake ducts
EXTERIOR Full 1M body conversion, Revozport 1M Raze bonnet, boot and lip, carbon fibre roof, splitter with APR splitter supports, diffuser and GTS wing, Macht Schnell tow straps
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance V1 steering wheel, gaiters and carbon fibre trim, #BMW-1M-E82 armrest delete, #Recaro-Profi-SPA seats, #Revozport #BMW-1M Raze doorcards with Alcantara inserts, P3 vent gauge, OEM 1M Anthracite headlining and pillars (for sunroof delete), #TC-Design harness bar, #Schroth six-point harnesses, #VAC hardware and floor mounts, Alumalite rear close-off panel
THANKS Joey Gaffey, Matt Medeiros, Wing Phung and the rest of the team at #Performance-Technic , Charles Wan at Revozport, Mike Benvo at BPM Sport, Stan Chen at ToyoTires, Jason Overell at Targa Trophy, DTM Autobody and Sam at AutoTalentStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLAST CHANCE SALOON
This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.
When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…
What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.
The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”
Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…
“My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.
So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.
“I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.
A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.
The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.
Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.
The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.
Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.
Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.
TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights
INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors
THANKS Infinite Auto Design (www.infiniteautodesign.com), Duraflex (www.duraflexpbushes.com), Carbon Creations (www.carbon-creations.com), Magnaflow (www.magnaflow.com), Stoptech (www.stoptech.com), Cadence Audio (www.cadencesound.com), D2 Racing (www.d2racing.com), Falken Tire (www.falkentire.com), VIS Racing (www.visracing.com), LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (www.accuair.com), and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience
“I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT ROAD WARRIOR – fearsome 426hp wide-body #BMW 335i doubles as a daily driver. Sensible is a relative term, as this wide-body 335i proves. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jape Tiitinen. Sometimes in life, you just have to be sensible. Although as Toni Kärkkäinen’s startling 335i proves, ‘sensible’ is a malleable term on a sliding scale…
‘Life,’ sang indie stalwarts Mansun in the 1990s, ‘is a series of compromises.’ You only get to live once, so do the things you love and make time to make yourself happy, but at the same time life is not a solo endeavour – if you’re playing it right, you’ll have other people involved; it could be the clichéd 2.4 kids, spouse and mortgage scenario, or it might be your online car buddies, or the dudes you hang out with in the lockup when you’re spannering your projects together. Whatever the situation, your decisions and choices are seldom informed solely by what will make you happy. It has to be what makes you and your network happy, reaching compromises, being accommodating to all. Living unselfishly is the key to fulfilment.
Still, this doesn’t have to mean you can’t do the things you want to do. Take the 335i we’re looking at here – it screams many evocative verbs at you, but ‘compromise’ isn’t really one of them, is it? “This all began back in #2012 when our baby girl arrived on the scene,” explains owner Toni Kärkkäinen. “We had to change my girlfriend’s 1 Series for an E90 3 Series because the 1 Series was just too small. After that, I started thinking that I needed to upgrade my own car – to a newer model of course… Our E90 felt good to drive, so I started thinking about an E92 or E93 because I like two-door cars. I was looking at the M3 version, naturally, but I couldn’t afford it, and after some hard thinking I realised that the convertible E93 didn’t meet my needs as it didn’t have enough boot space, so the most sensible option was the E92 335i.”
Yep, he did just use the word ‘sensible’ there, and he’s to be applauded for that. It takes some fortitude to convince yourself that such a decision can be explained rationally – although the inherent element of perceived compromise does, arguably, make the endeavour an easier sell. Let’s just skim over the fact that the real turning point in the decision-making process was when Toni saw Prior Design’s wide-body kit for the E92… We should point out at this point that Toni isn’t your average family man with a couple of BMWs on the drive, but is in fact CEO and owner of Schmiedmann Finland. This is a brand you may be familiar with; founded in Denmark in 1996, what began as an importer of BMW parts rapidly expanded across Scandinavia and beyond, the sale of new and used official parts being augmented by its own bespoke, Schmiedmann-branded products – exhausts systems, short-shift kits, manifolds, you name it. So there is a certain business case to be made for Toni to be doing such wild things to his own car…
The man’s got form, too. His personal car history is, as you might imagine, studded with Bavarian greatness, from his E46 330Ci that he modded to M3 CSL specs with original parts (along with G-Power supercharger and three-colour leather retrim) to his old-skool E36 325i, he’s in his comfort zone when he’s doing this kind of stuff. A safe pair of hands.
So, the 335i – how, and where? “I’ve always imported my cars into Finland, either personally or with someone else doing it for me, due to the fact that it all works out cheaper and you get better equipment, like leather and iDrive and so on,” Toni explains.
“There were no reasonably-priced E92 335is in Finland at the time anyway, so I sourced this car from Germany – although it was originally from Italy. It was checked over by a trusted person from the Blauweiss import company and found to be in good overall condition. It was a basic car with basic wheels, nothing special, but that didn’t matter, as I knew that I’d be changing everything!”
So, true to his word as well as his principles, Toni set about tearing the car down pretty much as soon as it arrived on Finnish soil. Time waits for no man, eh? A stack of parts started to build up as more and more of that uninspiring stock fare got unbolted and ditched, ready to swap out for inspirational upgrades. But then events took an unexpected turn…“When we did the test installation of the Prior Design wide-body kit, we realised that we’d have to do quite a lot more work than we’d originally anticipated to make it look as it should,” Toni recalls with a raised eyebrow. “The front bumper and wing alignment was off on both sides, and there were many other similar small issues to deal with.” None of this is insurmountable stuff however, and the fact that everything now sits so straight and true is testament to the tenacity and patience of the Schmiedmann crew. It was certainly worth putting in the extra hours.
“Then – finally – came the day that the car was taken away to be painted. The decision about the colour was made a couple of days before – Matt Sparkling Graphite Metallic,” he remembers. “It was not an easy decision and I took a big risk, but it was totally worth it.” Again, though, this wasn’t all plain sailing. As amenable and eager-to-please as the 335i generally is, it has to be said that this particular one was fighting back.
“After I got the car back to the workshop, I noticed some issues with the paint,” Toni sighs. “There were too many small imperfections all around the car, so it needed to be repainted. The matt colour is not easy to paint, because all the smallest little particles are visible under the surface and you just can’t polish them away. The front bumper was repainted three or four times, the rear bumper and bonnet twice, and so on. But after I was finally happy with the painting, I started to put the car back together. Quite soon I realised that I had to get some 1M and M3 parts to get the body looking the way I wanted, like inner wheelhouse covers, brake ducts and so on – yes, of course I should have known to get these parts earlier, but I was so excited to get car done and ready for the Bimmerparty show! Overall, the build was not as straightforward as I thought it would be, but I did manage to get the car ready two days before my deadline and won the first Show ’n’ Shine prize at Bimmerparty…”
You’ll also be pleased to learn that the boisterous aesthetics are not the whole story. While the stock 335i is no slouch, Toni’s spruced things up in the underbonnet area with a pair of uprated Schmiedmann Stage 1 turbos, working in conjunction with the firm’s proprietary downpipes, a huge Wagner Tuning intercooler, Burger Motorsport filters and the guiding hand of custom management; it’s now putting out 426hp, which is pretty rowdy. The drivetrain’s been beefed up to suit, with a Quaife LSD and diff cooling plate, although Toni admits that this has crept back on to the to-do list. “I’m looking at clutch options,” he says, “as 455lb ft of torque is having some effects!”
He’s also talking about revamping the interior, although we’re big fans of how it is so far – the Coral red Dakota leather is outstanding. What a poke in the eye to the perceived wisdom that seats should be black or grey! This factory-option hide is so bright it makes other things in the world a few shades less red simply by existing. And what’s even more fun inside the car is that Toni’s seen fit to install an Awron Performance display system; this is an awesome all-in-one digital gauge that fits inside one of the air vents, relaying information about boost, torque, speed, acceleration, temperatures, all sorts. It’s like playing Gran Turismo for real.
The most important element of the story is that Toni’s stayed true to the original compromise, if we can still even dare to use that loaded term, as while countless hours have been expended on getting the aesthetics just-so and the performance enough to make the surface of the asphalt tremble with apprehension, it’s still a car that he can ferry the family about in without any trouble. “Oh yes, it gets used daily, even throughout the winter,” he nods. “We use it for our big summer family holiday trips too, which often causes amusing reactions.
People often ask how we use it so often with it being so low or how we manage to fit the whole family in there, but we do!” All of this, combined with the fact that the car seems to always be winning prizes at shows across Europe, proves that Toni has done something right. Compromise isn’t a dirty word. As this build conclusively demonstrates, it’s just another milestone along the road to project car success. Your car, your rules – if it’s right for you, then that’s just about as right as it needs to be.
Oh yes, it certainly gets used daily. We use it for our family holiday trips too.
Custom front lip and M4-style angel eye halos up front, Schmiedmann exhaust at the back.
Vibrant Coral red interior enhanced by #BMW-Performance steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake, Schmiedmann pedals and Awron vent-mounted digital display.
DATA FILE #Schmiedmann / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-335i-Schmiedmann-E92 / #BMW-335i-Schmiedmann /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 , #Schmiedmann-Stage-1-turbos , Schmiedmann downpipes, #Wagner-Tuning-EVO-2-Competition intercooler, #Burger-Motorsport DCI air filters, #AJ-Tech custom DME software, Schmiedmann rear sport silencers with high-gloss black pipes, six-speed manual, Quaife LSD and differential cooling plate.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” ET0 (front) and 11x19” ET-5 (rear) #BC-Racing-HB29 / #BC-Racing wheels in matt bronze with 225/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) tyres, #Lowtec H9.4R coilovers, M3 front wishbones and radius rods, M3 rear subframe bushings, #Zimmerman drilled brake discs with EBC RedStuff pads.
EXTERIOR Matt Sparkling Graphite Metallic, Prior Design PD-M1 wide-body aerodynamic kit, custom front spoiler lip, Schmiedmann EVO bonnet, Schmiedmann EVO II bootlid, LCI face-lift tinted rear lights, tinted headlights inside and out, M4-style angel eye rings, tinted M3 side repeaters.
INTERIOR Full leather Coral red Dakota interior, Schmiedmann Exclusive red floor mats, Schmiedmann Exclusive black/red alloy pedal set, BMW LED interior light upgrade, BMW Performance steering wheel with display, BMW Performance gear knob and Kinetic short-shift system, #BMW Performance handbrake handle, Awron Performance display.
THANKS Special thanks to my girlfriend of course and everybody who has helped me with this car.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationUnleashing the Beast Supercharged E39 M5
The E39 M5 is still a fantastic performer, even more so when its packing a supercharger. The E39 M5 has always been a wonderful performer but thanks to a full rebuild and a supercharger conversion this one feels factoryfresh and wondrously rapid. Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.
Stunning supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-S62 / #S62-Supercharged / #S62B50
The E39 M5 does brooding. Those M5s that have succeeded it may have offered more power, faster acceleration, and much more electronic gadgetry but that latent kerbside menace, dished up in spiteful quantities by a ubiquitous Carbon black E39 still can’t be toppled. Then there’s the purity of the mechanical recipe: it seems the debate grows ever stronger around cars that do most of it for you and those that put the driver in the centre of the action. Who’s to say who is right or wrong on this subject, but three pedals, a gear lever, and a glorious naturally aspirated V8 will always define the E39 M5.
Take a look at this particular M5. It has the brooding thing down to perfection, and while at first glance it might not be obvious why, there are a few details that enhance that quality. Study the front wheels, for example, and note how they fill the arches so convincingly; observe the little lip spoiler that ties the front down to the ground. And listen too, if only you could of course, to the industrial throb that’s being emitted from those quad tailpipes: loud, but not too shouty. Not crass. Just menacing. I don’t know about you but the sense of anticipation for me has already just broken the gauge.
This car is the work of a company called WaffZuff, a contraction of Waffen-aus-Zuffenhausen, and specifically of a man by the name of Raikku. He’s well known in M car circles (and in the world of Porsche, hence the company name) and E39 M5s are something of a speciality.
It’s quite a sobering thought that the E39 M5 is now getting on for 18 years old (at least for those of us of a certain age). There are still quite a few haunting the mainstream classifieds but many are in need of substantial work as they reach the end of their ‘first’ lives. A tired E39 M5 has all the potential of a major financial headache for the unwary. That means when WaffZuff carry out a project such as this one, there’s as much restorative work going on as there is tuning. Take this actual car, which required the refresh of almost every component, and included a new engine block into the deal.
In fact, this car has the last available new right-hand-drive engine block from the factory, according to Raikku. The engine was built up from there, with components bead blasted first, then plated or powdercoated to look factory-fresh. Every sensor from the oil level at the bottom to the throttle position sensor at the top has been replaced, along with other items such as the water pump. Where rebuilding was more practical, that too has taken place, such as with the alternator.
The heart of this conversion is an RK Autowerks Stage 2 supercharger kit, comprising a Vortech V3si ’charger, intercooler, carbon fibre plenum and pipework, and high-flow injectors, amongst other items. This has been teamed with exhaust manifolds, race-spec cats and a custom map, all from Evolve.
The result is a standout figure of 620hp and, perhaps even more importantly, over 500lb ft of torque. Naturally, the work on the car doesn’t end there. The engine is connected to the drivetrain via a carbon/Kevlar clutch with a single mass flywheel that Raikku has made back in Germany, while the differential is now a custom 40 per cent locking unit. The gear mechanism has benefitted from a short-shift kit more usually found in an E60 545i, while those exhaust pipes just visible at the rear betray the Hamann back boxes fitted.
Bilstein B8 dampers and Intrax springs now suspend this M5; Raikku tells us, “every bit of the suspension was rebuilt and plated”. Powerflex bushes are used throughout, and the rear differential carrier has been reinforced to cope with the mayhem unleashed at the rear wheels. The front brakes now feature #BMW-Performance calipers and discs designed for the E90 Series cars, but with WaffZuff custom caliper brackets. A set of rear M5 rims are now also used on the front axle, hence that broadshouldered look clearly visible in the photos. This means the standard eight-inch front rims and their 245/40 ZR 18s are replaced with the 9.5-inch rear wheels and a 275/35 ZR18 tyre. Raikku’s not a big fan of understeer, it transpires.
The only other obvious exterior modifications are the subtle rear diffuser and front lip spoiler from Slimmbones, plus the deletion of the front foglamps. That’s more than enough spec detail, though; it’s time for a drive.
“It’s a bit of a handful”, says Raikku pensively. We’ve been talking about the 40 per cent locking diff specifically, but I can extrapolate that this might apply to the whole car. Particularly so given that we’re driving it in January, in temperatures just above freezing, and that the roads are smothered at this time of the morning with a layer of greasy near-frozen emulsion that has yet to be burned off by the enthusiastic but weedy sunshine. “Just keep it on the throttle until it’s straight again so it doesn’t have a nasty load change, because it is more aggressive,” Raikku advises. Understood.
Among the numerous details tidied up by Raikku is a new seat cushion for the driver’s seat, which now locates my posterior into a cabin that may have aged in design but still looks so right to these eyes. I find it fascinating, and not to say a little bit depressing, that on the day I drive the WaffZuff car I happen to be driving around in a nearly new BMW M4, and the sheer quality of the old timer is blatantly obvious. I’m talking about the way the door closes and the noise it makes as it does so; the action of the switchgear, the feel of the materials, the way there isn’t one single rattle in this old car while the M4 creaks all over the place. I know the M5 is a class of car above but it really reinforces the impression that the latest products are very much built for the Personal Contract Purchase generation. I don’t know about you but I get a real kick out of simply being in something that feels as well-engineered as this old M5.
The temptation is to mash the throttle into the carpet and feel all hell break loose, but I’m not going to. That would be more than a bit childish, and in these conditions, probably foolish, but I also want to get the sense of this M5 as a cohesive, or otherwise, car. It’s one thing to create a big sports saloon with 600hp in your workshop but what about the finer points of the conversion? I’m talking about low-speed drivetrain refinement, throttle sensitivity and progressiveness on part throttle and at different load points, ride quality, brake feel, even the acoustics. In some ways these are the even greater challenges, especially for a small company, to get right.
And so I try to pull away from the WaffZuff workshop as serenely as possible and, via the petrol station, amble around this corner of Hertfordshire in as subtle a way as is possible while the oil comes up to working temperature. Raikku has already warned me that the lighter clutch and flywheel combination makes its presence felt, and that’s true, but it’s not to a great extent and apart from that it doesn’t feel much different to the experience of driving the standard car. The ride is really good, the engine docile but with the heavy thud of a potent V8 always in the background; the conclusion has to be that you could use this car every single day without issue. It’s always really rewarding to drive a car that responds exactly to how you drive it – good or bad. This car does, and that’s why it’ll always hold more appeal to me than an F10.
Predictably, there is a massive Jekyll and Hyde moment approaching here and it is the single most hilarious thing about this car. One moment you can be driving around peacefully; the car is, in a way, quite relaxing because the drivetrain is smooth and the low murmur of the #V8 soporific. Then you squeeze in that torque and there’s a sense of the whole car snapping taut, of huge amounts of energy thrust upon the rear wheels. If there was dry asphalt beneath us I’ve no doubt it would accelerate with immense conviction, but instead today the DSC light flashes valiantly, nay, hysterically, and it’s obvious that a really sensitive right foot is required. When you can hook it up the car simply bounds down the road, with enough force to leave our photographer Gus giggling away and clinging onto his camera.
That it is manically quick is patently obvious; you can either select a higher gear and use the torque, or really make things exciting and try and contain all that power in a lower gear. It certainly gives the driver many options on country roads and I have to keep reminding myself that fourth, even fifth, gear will suffice for the situation because there’s so much torque available, particularly when squirting between closely stacked corners.
There’s no doubt the E39 M5 is a big chunky car. Its dimensions must be closer to a current 3 Series than an F10 5 Series, but at around 1800kg it’s much heavier and it does feel it, albeit not in a clumsy way. As you might expect, this car feels fresh and alert, and the extra grip generated across the front axle really gives you more confidence to push on that bit harder.
It’s been too long since I’ve driven a standard E39 M5 to say for certain, but despite the low-grip surface it’s possible to lean on the front-end grip in a way I don’t think you could safely consider before. Whether it’s those wider tyres or the suspension changes that are responsible for the subtle improvement to the steering it’s hard to say for sure. It always has been the weak point of the E39 M5, due to not being able to fit the rack and pinion system of other Fives in the engine bay alongside the V8. However, there is a definitely a more connected feel to the way this car responds, perhaps borne from the slightly higher steering forces required.
Does it go sideways on demand? Yes, of course. Almost anywhere, and on a day like today, in any gear. Get feisty with the accelerator pedal and the rears spin up instantly, but it’s a car you can get a hold of and really enjoy driving. The impression is that it won’t suffer fools. I think it’s safe to say that about any car that channels over 600hp through the rear wheels, but with the DSC off I find no nasty surprises and it’s hard to resist getting the tail moving through slow corners or out of junctions. With a car such as this one, you just have to.
Raikku reckons it will cost around £45,000 to restore and then modify an E39 M5 to this level, including the purchase of the car. However, if you’re happy with Carbon black, you can buy this one for £31,000, via Waff Zuff.
I’ve always held the E39 M5 in a near-saintly regard, and the thought of adding a large chunk of extra power by forced induction had my purist-led preconceptions nagging at me all the way to Raikku’s workshop this morning. The sheer duality of purpose of this car, and the potency of performance on offer, soon had them banished before you can say ‘and there’s wheelspin as I change up into fourth gear’.
THANKS TO: Raikku at WaffZuff Tel: +44 7534 659055 Web: www.waffzuff.co.uk
The DSC light flashes hysterically and it’s obvious that a sensitive right foot is requiredStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.