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Retro #BMW-R75/6 hits ’em high, bagged F31 hits ’em low. The bike’s cool. The wagon’s cool. Hell, even the trailer’s cool. Step right up, folks, and enter Stan Chen’s wacky world of eight-wheeled wonder… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Peter Wu.
THREE’S COMPANY F31 Touring and classic bike combo
There’s a fairly natural crossover between cars and motorbikes. Okay, two-wheeled mischief may not be everyone’s cup of tea (and undoubtedly for some of you it won’t be – you’ve actively shelled out your hard-earned on a car mag, after all, so you probably quite like cars), but the visceral thrills of opening the throttle and heading for the horizon are shared by both groups of enthusiasts with equal aplomb. Swapping an accelerator pedal for a twist grip, and four wheels for two, is largely immaterial in the greater pursuit of letting it all hang out, forgetting the world, and just heading out to burn some rubber. Whether your journey’s end falls at a Cars and Coffee meet or a greasy, down-low biker bar, the strength of passion is just the same.
Sitting right in the middle of this cars/bikes Venn diagram is Stan Chen, events and sponsorship manager for Toyo Tires and all-round unassailable petrolhead. If it’s got a motor and makes shouty noises, he’s in. So it makes perfect sense that he’d have a matching set of machines; that way he’s covering all bases. And when this eight-wheeled carnival sideshow rolls into town – yes, we’re counting the wheels on the trailer, as that’s very cool, too – all heads turn and Stan finds himself torn between which machine to cause mayhem with first. It’s not a bad way to live.
There are, in fact, three protagonists in this tale aside, of course, from Stan himself: Von Doom, Lil’ Doom, and The Raft. While these may sound like characters from a pastel-hued CBeebies animation, there’s a simmering aggression beneath it all. And just for the hell of it, we’re going to start with the bike.
Stan’s motorcycle is a #1973 #BMW R75/5 . Nicknamed Lil’ Doom, it was originally acquired from a mate of his who let it go on the understanding that he thought Stan could be trusted with it. He was right. What followed was a lengthy and thorough frame-off restoration at the hands of Jay from Lossa Engineering. The frame has been detabbed, which is basically the motorbike equivalent of a shaved engine bay; every superfluous tab and bracket has been ground off and smoothed, allowing all the oily bits to sit more artistically within the scaffolding of the bike’s architecture. The mudguards have been bobbed – that is, chopped shorter to look more pert and racy – and the finish of the bike is just gorgeous: it’s all been painted in BMW Mineral white, with dual pinstripes in Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green. And the motor? It’s the biggest of BMW’s /5 Series, being a 749cc boxer twin that offers an entertaining mix of rasps and rumbles through its retro black chrome exhausts. It’s a beautiful mid-Seventies sculpture, fastidiously restomodded to be 21st century useable.
Oh, and it’s been lowered, obviously. The shocks are shorter, as it has to match the car. But before we get to that, let’s look at the second character on our amusingly peculiar script: The Raft.
Now, this might be the first time we’ve featured a trailer in Performance BMW. It might be the last. But this one, The Raft, is no ordinary trailer. You see, Stan’s aim was to marry all of these ideas cohesively, and if you’ve put this level of effort into crafting a custom motorbike to match your custom car, it’d be a bit dumb to just nip down to Brian James Trailers and pick up any old generic tangle of aluminium. What Stan’s done here, then, is to create a one-off carriage for his prized and jewel-like bike. Built by Laodies Kustomz in Iowa it comprises a minimalist tubular frame, wheel arches painted to match both vehicles, a pair of HRE wheels, and a custom Kelderman air-ride system that’s controlled from the car. That’s right. Your eyes do not deceive you. When Stan airs out the wagon, the trailer airs out too. And that’s just about the coolest thing we’ve seen this year.
Ah yes, and there’s a car here as well! Can’t forget that. The reason the bike’s named Lil’ Doom is that it’s a pint-sized companion to its larger stablemate, Von Doom. This imposing creation is a 2014 F31 Touring, a 328i xDrive, and you’ll no doubt have spotted that it’s rocking the same BMW/Audi/Porsche colour scheme as both the bike and The Raft. Interestingly, it was actually bought to be a sensible car…
“This is my fourth BMW,” Stan explains. “My first was a ’95 E36 M3, which was the first car I began modifying; I went as far as putting the Rieger wide-body kit on it with custom-drilled MAE three-piece wheels. It was a must-have, as the European tuning market was getting bigger in the US during that time. But this F31? Well, my wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit for us.” At this point, it’s probably best if you just take a moment and think back to the car you were ferried about in as a tiny child. For some of you it’ll have been something cool, for many others something mundane, but we’re happy to wager that few would have been as awe-inspiring as this unique triumvirate. What a way to build childhood memories!
All of the sensible family-car touchpoints are present: it’s an xDrive model, meaning four-wheel drive and thus a reduced likelihood of getting trapped in snow or quicksand on the school run (hey, y’know, it happens). And the sizeable Thule roof box supplements the colossal boot to ensure ample stowage for nappies, spare babygrows, and unchewed copies of The Jolly Postman. And yet… something here is not quite as sensible as BMW intended.
“I definitely wanted an aero package on the car, there was no doubt about that,” Stan grins. That’s why, along with the M Sport bumpers, you’ll spot the rakish M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser and, of course, roof spoiler ramping up the aggression here. “I went with the M Performance aero package since it was a cleaner look than the other brands available,” he reasons. “It also had the very subtle but noticeable roof spoiler, and that was a must.” It’s in-keeping with the car’s sportwagon intent, too, as Stan’s opted for the 328 variant which features the N20 motor – a four-cylinder petrol, but bolstered by a perky twin-scroll turbo and considered by many to be a truly appropriate successor to the old N52 straight-sixes. Stan’s tickled it a bit, naturally, with an optimising remap and a throaty quad exhaust to help the thing breathe a little more vocally.
“The build of the car was a two-stage process,” he says. “The first stage was the aero along with the KW coilovers, something I’ve used on all my previous builds. But then I decided that air-ride would better match the overall theme of the project, so the second stage included fitting the air suspension, and custom-building the motorcycle trailer that was also on air, and that could be controlled from inside the car.
I went with HP Drivetech struts with AccuAir E-Level air management. It’s my favourite part of the build; it allows me to go as low as possible but air up as needed when going over speed bumps and into steep driveways, which I always found to be a challenge with coilovers.” Impressively, what Stan’s achieved here is to convince us that fitting air-ride to his car and making a bagged trailer to match has all been done in the name of sensibleness and practicality, and that’s exactly the sort of world we want to live in.
The wheels are 20” HRE 501s, plucked from the Vintage Series line and sporting staggered widths; Stan chose them because he likes the classic style, and we can really see where he’s coming from. Mesh wheels always suit BMWs (well, within reason), and HRE’s timeless cross-spokes flatter the F31 down to a tee. The same can also be said for the Recaro Sportster CS seats, which were selected in order to retain an OE feel but provide more of a sporty aesthetic. And that’s pretty much the ethos of the project in a nutshell. What at first seems to be a well-kept modern BMW with a classic bike on a trailer may not immediately trigger sirens in the brains of passers-by but the more you look, the more details you unearth. What Stan’s done is to fuse the practical chores of day-to-day family life with the slap-in-the-chops ability to stop the show when he rolls into town. Furthermore, he’s got a badass ’bagged BMW for cruising, as well as a zingy custom retro motorcycle for canyon-running and B-road blasts. The package deal really does tick a lot of boxes. People often talk about their ideal three-car garage but Stan’s vision of the ultimate answer only actually involves one car: with Von Doom, Lil’ Doom and The Raft working together in slick, colour-coded harmony, there’s no situation that this family can’t deal with. If only we could all have life so neatly figured out.
Both the Touring and trailer air-ride systems are linked and controlled from the car.
/ 1973 / BMW-R75/5 has been colour-coded with the Touring and trailer perfectly.
Left: frame has been detabbed for a cleaner look.
“My wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit”
DATA FILE #BMW-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring ʻVon Doomʼ / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom-F31 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #HRE-501 / #HRE / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-F31 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder #N20B20 / #N20 / #BMW-N20 , #MXP quad exhaust system with dual-wall black chrome tips, dual tune by ECU Tuning Group, full European coding by Alpine Coding, eight-speed auto ’box
CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 9.5x20” (rear) #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels with 225/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, #HP-Drivetech struts and #AccuAir-E-Level air management system, #M-Performance big brake kit, R1 Concepts dimpled and grooved discs
EXTERIOR BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, M Sport front and rear bumpers, M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser, side panel blades and roof spoiler, Thule Sonic roof box, Thule AeroBlade Edge rack system, Huper Optik ceramic window film by STM Advanced Window Film Solutions
INTERIOR #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, custom #AccuAir-E-Level control pad mount
DATA FILER 75/5 ʻLilʼ Doomʼ / #BMW-R75 / #BMW-R75/5-Lil-Doom
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc air cooled four-stroke boxer twin, #K&N filters, Motul 7100 4T, cast aluminium BMW2Valve.com café racer starter cover, black chrome exhaust with Heatshield Cobra exhaust wrap, Shorai lithium-ion battery
CHASSIS Audi Charcoal grey wheel spokes with Porsche Irish green lips, Firestone Deluxe tyres, Lossa Engineering subframe, Charcoal de-tabbed frame, shortened front suspension with Progressive Suspension springs, #Progressive-Suspension-412-Series rear shocks
EXTERIOR #BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, R100 fuel tank with custom dimple die fuel cap recess, Crafty B brushed aluminium Mini Racer fuel cap, BMW2valve.com cast aluminium starter cover, Lossa Engineering custom mudguards, vintage brushed aluminium tail-light
INTERIOR Black leather with grey selvedge denim seat, Renthal Ultra Low handlebars, Tommaselli grips
DATA FILE #Trailer-The-Raft / #Trailer
CHASSIS 8.5x18” #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels, 225/45 Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, custom #Kelderman airride system (controlled from car), custom Irish green control arms
EXTERIOR Custom tube frame, arches painted BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, #Ford-Model-A-tail-lightsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW i8 Haters
What do you do with BMW’s revolutionary hybrid sports car? Slam it on air-ride, wrap it matt black and fit Rotiforms, of course!
SEMA SPECIAL: BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE i8 Words Midge / Photography David Taflevich
DON’T HATE THE PLAYER. OR THE GAME
As a humble writer who’s spent the last decade working on the world’s best modified car mag, I’m legally obliged to hate hybrids, electronics and motors that run on anything but good old fashioned gasoline. The trouble is though, this is very nearly 2016 and I don’t.
You see, technology has moved on. And in the same way that nowadays there’s no real stigma in rolling coal, and by that I mean tuning the absolute bollocks off a diesel, in the future we’ll all be going ballistically fast in rides like this. It’s just evolution.
Personally, to be brutally honest, it’s not so much to do with responsible motoring or saving the planet. It’s more to do with saving the few quid I’ve got left in my pocket. If it’s fast enough for ya, looks the part and costs less to live with than the Focus ST you’ve got your eye on, who really gives a shit what it runs on? Mind you prices will have to come down a bit before we all start to invest. Thirty grand for a specced-up Nissan Leaf? Do me a favour!
My point is, the eco stuff has come a long way. Electric cars used to be limited to short-range city golf carts like the G-Wiz, which I think you’ll agree is nothing more than an offensive snot box, but now we have Tesla Model X which has bonkers gullwing doors on the back and will do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. Or there’s the R8 e-tron. Who needs a Ferrari V12 eh?
The same can be said for hybrids. The Prius isn’t all that economical and is largely viewed as a marketing exercise for American celebrities to carefully craft their public image while masking the fact they’ve got a custom 9-litre Mustang Boss in the garage. But the world has moved on somewhat and now we have this: the epic #BMW i8.
James McDonnell’s Beemer here isn’t nearly the most modified car we’ve ever had in these pages, but it is one of the most important. And that’s because it’s like looking 30 years into the future. If the totally out-of-reach, million-quid LaFerarri, Porker 918 and McLaren P1 are the next generation of hybrid hyper cars, then this here is the first realistic hybrid supercar.
Compared to hybrids of old, the i8 is a totally different animal. For starters, it’s desirable. Would I have had a poster of this on my wall when I was a kid? Yes. Yes I would. Its futuristic shape is reassuringly ridiculous, like some sort of spaceship. It’s engineered to have so much torque off the line that it’ll do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. You feel like you’re 10 years old just by looking at it. And Tom Cruise drives one in the new Mission: Impossible. Let’s face it, that’s everything a supercar should be.
It’s all about the wow factor. Put it this way, my favourite movie is Back To The Future (Oh no, those bloody gullwing doors again – Jules). I was five when the trilogy kicked off and I’d still sell my soul to David Cameron himself if I could have a DeLorean, even though they’re supposed to be a bit shit. If they were making Back To The Future now, 30 years on in 2015, this is the car that would be flying around Hill Valley. The i8 is the non-shite, modern day DMC-12. Simple as. Even so, it’s a brave choice for a modified car. Not least because James lives in Florida and being a US ‘gear-head’ is required by law to only hanker after huge V8 motors with superchargers – not a 1,500cc, three-cylinder lump from a Mini with a couple of electric motors.
It has to be said, this one’s hardly been picked for its ease of modifying either. Even the suspension system is something of a hybrid and getting all the right components from AccuAir, Bilstein and HP Drivetech must have caused the guys at Slammered-Inc more than a couple of sleepless nights. At least that awesome satin-black wrap must have been more normal to install.
I can only summarise that James is making a bold statement. With stupidly cheap petrol at the pumps I’m guessing economy isn’t an issue. Judging by those awesome custom 21-inch Rotiforms, or the fact that he’s got an i8 in the first place, he’s obviously all right for a few quid.
I can’t help feeling though, that all this is gonna mean he’s in for more than his fair share of hate from the more opinionated and uneducated bods online. And I don’t think that’s entirely fair because why should it matter that it’s a hybrid? Or where he got a ludicrous amount of cash to spend on it? All we should see is an awesome motor that’s pushing the scene in the best – no, the only – direction possible. Modified eco cars are here to stay. All we have left to do is get used to it.
A brave choice for a modified car. The average US ‘gear-head’ hankers after huge V8 motors with superchargers.
TECH SPEC: #BMW-i8 / #2015 / #BMW-i8-Rotiform
CHASSIS: Custom #Rotiform CBU in brushed and plated copper, 9x21inch (Et30) front, 10.5x21in rear (Et49); Pirelli P Zero 245/35x21 and 275/30x21 tyres; #HP-Drivetech Bags; #Bilstein struts; #AccuAir / #AccuAir-E-Level management.
STYLING: 3M Satin Black wrap; Dapper screen visor; gloss black detailing; bike roof rack.
INTERIOR Factory leather, hardline air install comprising of twin air tanks and Viair polished compressors.
THANKS Slammered-Inc; AccuAir; Rotiform; #3M Wraps.
Why did you choose an i8?
“I saw the one in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and I just thought I can’t not have one of these in my life. It looks awesome and it’s drivable too. I take it to work every day.”
So what is it that you do?
“I have a gallery and tobacco shop called Mr Smokes, where artists display and sell their glassware.”
Glassware? That’s what you Americans call bongs and stuff, right?
“Yeah, but for tobacco use only, you understand.” And you drive a hybrid? There’s definitely some irony in that mate.
“Its futuristic shape is reassuringly ridiculous, like some sort of spaceship”
Engineered to have so much torque off the line that it’ll do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. Futuristic hardline install suits the car.
What makes it
IT’S A HYBRID!
Just seeing the look on the faces of the huge V8-worshiping good ol’ boys at SEMA when they realised it has the engine out of a Mini, makes one of these worth every penny. At 105,000 quid that’s a lot of pennies though, even without the mods. And that’s if you can even get a place on the waiting list. You’d better get those orders in people.
THERE’S HYBRID SUSPENSION TOO
Obviously the key to making the whole look work is the suspension setup, but you don’t go wandering into any old shop and get an off the shelf kit for an i8. No, unfortunately for James, it’s a little more complicated than that. This custom setup was put together by the guys at Slammered-Inc and consists of HP Drivetech bags, Bilstein struts and AccuAir management. Perfection.
WE LURVE THE COPPER
The eco-Beemer can swallow up some seriously enormous wheels and still look just the ticket. That’s why James had to have these mental 21-inch Rotiforms CBUs custom-machined for the job. We’re loving that unbelievable double copper finish too. And in case you were wondering for your own i8 build, they’re #ET30 on the front and #ET49 on the rear.
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- Post is under moderationInsane R8 Rotiform’s star of Worthersee / ROTIFORM R8 Worthersee stunner. NO COMPROMISE / Words Davy Lewis Photography Jape Tiitinen / Location Grossglockner Alpine Pass, Austria
Over the top, in your face and just a little bit mad, the #Rotiform-R8 / #Audi is loved and hated in equal measures…
Every year in May, the small town of Reifnitz, on the banks of the picturesque Lake Worthersee, is transformed into VW Audi nirvana. It’s the place to be seen in your tuned car, and it attracts every conceivable model, from the sublime to the ridiculous. If you get the opportunity, go – you will be blown away. Although it’s a chilled out event, competition is fierce, with companies and individuals from all over the world, aiming to make their car the most stand out, talked about of the year. This leads to some pretty insane builds. The fact that Audi and VW join in, creating some truly ‘out there’ cars especially for the show, just goes to demonstrate how much impact this event has. Which brings us to this rather lively looking R8…
On the face of it, sticking a wide arch kit, motorsport-inspired graphics and air-ride to the pinnacle of Audi’s line up is anathema to many. Yet, even those who don’t get it, accept that it makes a big impact. Which is what it was designed to do.
Created by Brian Henderson, the man behind the ubiquitous and forward thinking wheel outfit, Rotiform, this R8 is all about standing out. And like a Coco-Pop inside a bowl of Rice Krispies – it certainly fulfils the brief.
Think of it this way: if you were headed to the ultimate gathering of VWs and Audis in Europe and wanted to make a big impression, the kind of thing that’ll light up social media faster than a dancing cat, then you need to think outside the box. No good rocking up in something finished in a classy, but subtle colour.
For 33-year old Brian, a veteran of many big builds, the inspiration came from a rival German manufacturer. “I loved the old Hugo Boss BMW M1 race car,” he explains. For those who don’t know, this was one of the all time great racers. A true icon for BMW fans in the same way that the S1 E2 is for Audi guys.
The R8 was chosen as, in certain parts of Europe, at least, it’s an attainable proposition. In the UK, £40k will get you behind the wheel of an early V8; with a personal plate, most would think you were in a car that cost twice that. It also floated Brian’s boat because it’s an R8. Messing with an S4 or RS6 wouldn’t have had quite the same impact (though Jon Olsson may disagree!).
With a tight deadline to get the car ready for its Austrian adventure, Brian pulled out all the stops and worked fast. First up, the whole thing was disassembled. That’s right folks, with a Prior Design 850 wide arch kit ready to fit up, the OE panels had to come off. Can you imagine paying 40-grand for a top of the line Audi and then ripping it apart almost immediately? Not sure many people (myself included) could stomach that. But then Brian isn’t most people.
With the aggressive kit mated to the R8’s body, things began to take shape. The Prior kit is a high-end, very well made package, so there were no issues with fitment. Although the stock wheels now looked ridiculous set inboard with huge arches swallowing them up. But no matter; a set of Rotiform’s finest would soon be attached to each hub; a very special set indeed.
The wheels had to be something amazing and the CCV threepiece rims with forged step lip are simply stunning. They’re massive too – a girthy 9x20in up front with a whopping 13x20 at the rear. Custom made for the R8’s wide arch body, they are magnificent – the perfect showcase for Rotiform’s considerable talents.
With such a showy car, you may think that Brian took it easy, parking it up nice and carefully at the show. Not a bit of it. This thing was designed to be used and used it was. In fact, Brian didn’t bat an eyelid when we asked if we could take it up into the mountains to find a breathtaking backdrop to shoot it in front of. The now legendary Grossglockner Alpine road cost us 35€ in tolls to get to on this beautiful road. It was 26-degrees at the bottom and 3500 meters higher winds were blowing and weather was changing all the time from warm to cold, with lots of snow. Anyone that’s driven this route will know that it can be hairy, so a widened R8 with fat 13in rear wheels and stretched summer tyres probably wouldn’t be your first choice for such a trip. So massive respect to Brian, Jape and the rest of the guys for making the trip to get these stunning shots.
When it came to suspension, a static drop was never going to cut it. As a demo car for Rotiform, it had to be dropped as low as possible at shows to attract maximum attention. Brian is very much a fan of the high quality set-up that was fitted.
“It has the best suspension I’ve ever driven, and I’ve driven A LOT OF THEM. I chose to use HP Drivetech air suspension which is built off Bilstein Clubsport dampers. Then I went with the Accuair E-Level air management system,” he enthuses.
The exterior wrap is what you might term striking. It’s a homage to the legendary BMW M1 racers of the 80s and Rotiform’s twist on it certainly looks out of this world. Too much for most of us perhaps, but it’s only a wrap, and it shows what can be achieved with a little inspiration.
So, what’s next for this game changing R8? Well, not much as Brian sold it before he returned to the US. “I wish I could have kept it now,” he admits, “but it served its purpose.” Having done over 3000 miles in it while he was in Europe, he did his brand the world of good with this no compromise build.
SPECIFICATION #2012 #Audi-R8-4.2FSI-V8 / #Audi-R8 / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Rotiform / #Audi-R8-4.2-V8-FSI
Engine 4.2 FSI V8, performance exhaust and induction system
Transmission 6-speed R-tronic
Brakes Stock R8
Suspension #HP-Drivetech air suspension which uses #Bilstein-Clubsport dampers and #AccuAir / #AccuAir-E-Level air management system
Wheels and Tyres 9x20 and 13x20in #Rotiform-CCV forged step lip 3-piece wheels
Interior Cobra Imola bucket seats
Exterior #Prior-Design PD GT850 widebody kit / #Prior-Design-PD-GT850
Tuning contacts #Rotiform www.rotiform.com / Prior Design www.prior-design.de / #Bilstein www.bilstein.com
Top: Stunning scenery Above: Ready to rumble V8 style.
“First up, the whole thing was disassembled”
Right: R8 looks great in the Alps Below: Special order Cobra seats Bottom: This R8 is no trailer queen.
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