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    CLEAN BANDIT Styled and tuned F82 M4. SLICK M4 F82 with power and poise. Passion brought forth the assassin… Keren Zeng’s ingrained love for the BMW brand has helped him deliver a killer blow with this M4. Flawless victory! Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Uy.

    Assassins come in many forms. Followers of classic Japanese folklore will be familiar with the concept of the ninja or shinobi, whose function was to act as a covert spy and saboteur. Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series will know the assassins to be as gentlemanly and respected as they are deadly, fusing the cloaked secrecy of the ninja with the necessity to always leave their victims with a receipt.

    And, of course, there’s the ragtag group of misfit assassins that this BMW M4 falls into; rubbing shoulders with James Bond and Liam Neeson, it’s the sort of character that’ll kick your door in, carry out the lethal task in broad daylight, utter a witty quip, shoot the cuffs on their impeccably tailored suit, and effect their graceful egress. Possibly leaping off a ledge and onto a plane or something.

    This car could never be a shinobi. Look at it, it’s bright orange. But it does neatly intertwine the twin cannons of flawlessly sharp aesthetics and brutal firepower; a sublimely crafted art piece packing a horsepower figure that begins with a five. It’s primarily a functional thing, as evidenced by its gait being hunkered aggressively down rather than stylistically stanced, with the tyres displaying a usefully chunky spread of sidewall. But at the same time, its looks and sense of purpose are razor-edged. This is not a thing to be messed with, unless you’re planning on that being the last thing you ever do.

    This creation is the vision-made-real of one Keren Zeng, proprietor of an automotive aftermarket shop in Victoria B.C, Canada, and lifelong BMW-fancier. “When I was in seventh grade I saw the E46 M3 on the cover of Need for Speed 9 for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with that car,” he says.

    “Since then my dream machines have always been #BMW-M cars. And when the M4 came out, I placed an order without hesitation!” This long-held obsession is more than a videogame-induced fantasy, however. The passion runs somewhat deeper than that. “Owning a #BMW in my home country back when I was growing up was very, very hard,” he explains. “Not just because of the price, but also the limited availability. I loved to memorise all the car brands when I was little, and my father bought me all kinds of toy cars and asked me what models they were. I remember my favourite was the BMW 8 Series, which was a birthday gift from my father. And I was lucky enough to experience BMWs when I was a little older; at the age of 17 I drove my friend’s E92 M3, and I was totally blown away by the handling, the sound and the performance of the car. And from that time, BMW M cars have planted a very deep root in my heart.”

    You see, this is no cynical tale of somebody throwing a bunch of money at an on-trend motor to win Instagram points, this is the culmination of a lifetime of aspirations and yearning. When Keren came to open up his Canadian business, the time was right to dive into the fragrantly alluring waters of M car ownership. Well, almost… he had a little practice with a 435i first.

    “In 2013 in Montreal, I first saw a 435i in real life,” he breathlessly recalls. “I spied it at the downtown parking lot and the colour was Mineral grey – it immediately caught my attention; the shape of the car, the M badge just up the side vent, and the aggressive face. I told myself that one day I would own a car like this. And later that year, my dream came true.”

    Neat use of ‘one day’ there, this is clearly a guy who likes to get things done with no time to shilly-shally. An Estoril blue example was bought, and duly subjected to KW coilovers, Vorsteiner wheels, Akrapovič exhaust, a feisty remap, and all the aero stuff in the M Performance catalogue. With this makeover successfully dealt with, Keren felt it was time to join the big leagues and really make that dream a reality. His name was inked on a shiny new M4’s pink slip, and the planets obligingly aligned.

    “I had a pretty clear plan for the M4 from day one, based on what I’d learned from the 435i,” he explains, which makes perfect sense really. Combining age-old dreaming with first-hand experience tends to forge strong mental images. “My first set of wheels were BBS CI-Rs, powdercoated satin black. However, after having them for half a year I decided to go with HRE for its Forged series, choosing the Classic 300 – I respect classic cars and wanted to combine the retro with the modern, although in order to do so you can’t just put a classic rim on a new car, the colour choice has to be very careful. So I went with Dark Brushed Clear for the outer lip and barrel, and Satin Bronze for the face, both of which match perfectly with the Sakhir orange paint.”

    In order to get the car sitting lower over these broad, chunky rims, Keren opted for Swift springs to work with the stock M4 dampers, keeping in mind that the car’s a daily driver and the factory chassis setup is already pretty mind-blowing. A set of Fall- Line Motorsports anti-roll bars found their way into the mix with the aim of making the car “track ready” (Keren’s words; he’s not playing games here), while the engine inhales and exhales a lot more freely thanks to an Eventuri cold air intake and full Akrapovič exhaust system, all remapped to make the most of those bonus horses. ETG’s clever ones-and-zeroes tuning is marketed as offering gains of 89hp and 96lb ft of torque over stock, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, and it also offers a bunch of boltons such as a speed limiter removal, transmission software and traction control reflashing, and even throttle-blipping and overrun exhaust popping. As you might imagine, Keren was pretty liberal with the box-ticking that day.

    “I love clean cars, so when I choose the style of my car, I always believe that less is more,” he explains. “In order to match the body colour and details, all of my exterior pieces are carbon fibre. And the same goes for the interior – the carbon fibre upgrades are there to enhance the spirit of the M Performance brand rather than try to turn it into something else.” In addition to this OEM+ approach, there’s also been a fairly substantial input from iND, whose comprehensive range of aftermarket add-ons has been raided to yield such trophies as black kidney grilles, black boot badges, painted front reflectors to eliminate the garishness of the factory items, and painted side markers in the same vein. The overarching principle here is to hone and refine the cohesiveness of BMW’s own design and the M division’s enhancements to it; think of this car as being the next little step down the M4’s evolutionary path. “My favourite modifications are the wheels and the exhaust,” Keren continues.

    “The way the HREs look and the way the Akrapovič sounds are just total eye and ear candies, it transforms the M4.” And all the while, as he gazes fondly over his creation, you can hear his brain ticking away, formulating new schemes and stratagems. It’s not finished, of course: “The orange turns so many heads, people are always taking photos of it,” he ponders. “I’m considering wrapping it in camo for the show season…”

    Well, that’d certainly help the M4 to fulfil its destiny as a stealthy assassin. A sneakily applied camo would help it slither under the radar and carry out its evil deeds. As long as Keren doesn’t have the engine running, naturally – all that popping and crackling is a bit of a giveaway.

    DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Akrapovic / #BMW-M4-M-DCT / #BMW-M4-M-DCT-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #HRE-Classic / #HRE / #2017 / #Akrapovic

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30 / , #Akrapovič exhaust system, #ETG remap, #Eventuri intake, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #HRE-Classic-300 , 255/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Michelin Pilot Sport, #Fall-Line-Motorsports front and rear anti-roll bars, Swift springs

    EXTERIOR Sakhir orange, #M-Performance rear spoiler, #RKP front lip, Kohlenstoff rear diffuser, #iND front painted reflectors, iND black grilles, iND painted trunk emblem, iND painted side markers

    INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, #DCT console trim and DCT gear knob cover

    THANKS Kevin King Uy for the photoshoot, Cat from iND for all the modifications, Kelvin from #ETG-Tuning-Group , #HRE , #Akrapovi , #BMW-Victoria , #KZ-Auto-Group
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    First things first, we begin this issue with an announcement: we have new bosses as PBMW now belongs to Kelsey Media Ltd, whereas before we were owned by Unity Media Plc. Obviously what you’re interested in is how this affects you, and it’s all good news. Most importantly, #PBMW isn’t going anywhere so you’re still going to get your regular modified BMW fix, no worries there, and while both cover and subscription prices have been adjusted you’re now getting 13 issues a year rather than 12, as the magazine will now be on sale every four weeks rather than once a month. This means even more modified #BMW goodness to wrap your reading gear around throughout the year. No complaints then!

    Hopefully January didn’t drag you down too far and you’re on the up, getting excited about the prospect of warmer weather and hitting the shows. Got exciting new plans? New wheels? New paint? Ready to go or still planning? Whatever your situation, we can’t wait to see what’s new on the BMW scene once show season kicks off.

    As for the right now, you’ve got the March issue in your hands to put a smile on your face and it’s packed full of awesomeness. Where to begin? How about with our cover car? Griot’s-Motors rocked SEMA with its insane E30 Touring and now it’s here to rock your world. This two-door, #V8-powered , M3-bodied machine is unlike anything we’ve ever seen and it’s an incredible build from top to bottom. We’ve also got 2M Autowerks’ awesome E46, which started out life as a 330Ci but now boasts a custom metal wide-body rear end, sits on HRE splits and then there’s the small matter of that S54 swap. Closer to home there’s an insane, #BMW-S62 #V8-swapped E34 drift beast, a wild 476hp 135i, and a super-clean E36 Touring for you to enjoy, plus our Car of the Year results!

    In fact, there’s so much to enjoy that we should stop wasting time with idle chat and let you get on with reading the issue. We’ll see you next month.

    Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /
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    Griot’s Motors unleashes its V8-powered, two-door, #BMW-M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring . Two-door, M3-bodied, #V8-powered E30 Touring.

    Astonishing in its vision, astounding in its execution, just plain awesome by its very existence, the Griot’s Motors two-door, #V8-swapped , #M3-bodied E30 #BMW-M3-Touring-E30 is quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Uy.

    What’s amazing about the modified BMW scene is that, just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes along and produces something the likes of which you’ve never seen before. It’s no mean feat, and you’re looking at one such creation right now. It is a two-door, #M3-bodied-E30-Touring powered by a 4.0-litre M60 V8. This creation is the brainchild of the Griot’s (pronounced Gree-oh’s) Motors team, itself the skunkworks division of Griot’s Garage – a car care manufacturing company based over in Tacoma, Washington, USA. If you’ve never heard of Tacoma, look up Galloping Gertie, an infamous bridge that collapsed in 1940 due to strong winds. And if you’ve never heard the term skunkworks before, it’s basically a name given to an experimental department of a company.

    Griot’s Motors was started by Richard and Phillip Griot. “The garage buys, sells, restores and modifies a wide variety of classic cars,” says Nick Griot. “Our main restoration shop is actually part of the Griot’s Garage headquarters.” Skunkworks it may be but Griot’s Motors is an impressive operation in itself, with around 70 cars currently held in the company’s collection, which is constantly changing as cars are completed, sold on and new ones purchased. BMWs naturally make up a portion of this collection, with a number of modern and classic examples along with a couple of motorbikes. “BMWs have always been of interest to us as they represent a perfect blend of design and function which carries through to the people who buy them,” explains Nick.

    “BMW owners are passionate about racing, preserving, modifying and maintaining their cars – which is pretty much us in a nutshell. Griot’s Garage is also the exclusive Car Care Provider for the BMW Car Club of America so we are actively invested in the BMW community and do a lot with the club every year.”

    That’s all well and good but it doesn’t explain how this insane E30 Touring came about. “At Griot’s Motors we basically focus on modernising cars without losing any of their vintage attributes,” explains Nick. “And we are constantly looking for unique, hard-to- find cars. This was a car we wanted to own just because we finally could. E30 Tourings were never imported to the States and, generally, a car must be over 25-yearsold to be able to be imported and registered. We found this car for sale in Florida and it had made its way there from Germany via Japan. It was in good original condition, and very complete, so we bought it thinking it would remain relatively stock and would be enjoyed as it was. However, once we got the car and saw the wear and tear and significant paint degradation we knew it was in need of restoration, which is where we went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before.”

    The blame for everything that you see here can really be placed on Richard’s shoulders, as Nick explains: “After sitting in the car he stated that visibility was not up to his standards and he wondered aloud about the potential of longer doors from an E30 Coupé to improve visibility. That started the discussion of the two-door conversion, which led us all the way to M3 body work, an engine swap, and custom fabrication.”

    The bodywork didn’t come first, though, that honour goes to the engine, but it’s too big a deal for us not to get excited about it. The sheer amount of extensive custom fab work that’s gone into making the dream a reality is mind-boggling. With the seed sown, the Griot’s Motors team started exploring the idea of the two-door conversion and, after taking some measurements from their pair of E30 M3s, they realised that the M3 bodywork would work very well. With what might seem like an insane idea now looking eminently achievable the car was delivered to J-Rod & Custom who began the Herculean task of turning four doors into two and making it all look like a factory job.

    The B-pillar had to be moved back nine inches in order to be able to accept the longer doors. A completely custom frame had to be built into the space vacated by the rear doors. And new inner wheel wells were created to accommodate the wider M3 rear arches (the quarter panels having been sourced from Germany). The rear light housings had to be modified to fit the standard light clusters, new window trim was also created and the glass from the rear saloon doors was used between the B- and C-pillar. The front arches fitted straight on and all the remaining body parts are OE #BMW items with bumpers and side skirts acquired from local BMW enthusiasts. The finishing touch involved six coats of PPG Deltron Griot’s Red. The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Nick says the goal was to create a car that looked like a factory product, and that’s been achieved and then some. The bodywork is perfect, the paint finish flawless, and the combination of Touring body, two-door configuration, and M3 arches is breathtaking. No doubt there are plenty of Touring enthusiasts out there choking with rage right now but you’d have to be a fool to look at this E30 and think it doesn’t look anything less than perfect.

    As we briefly touched upon earlier, the engine was actually the first step in the build process and, when it came to the V8 swap, the Griot’s team worked to the same exacting, obsessive standards to ensure that, bonnet up, the engine bay would leave onlookers as floored as the rest of the car. Before all this madness began there was a 2.5-litre M20 under the bonnet but that simply wouldn’t do for a car of this calibre, which is why an engine swap was a necessity. The engine in question is from a #1995 E34 540i, purchased in its entirety to provide the E30 Touring with not only that lusty 4.0-litre #V8 but also a six-speed manual gearbox and engine wiring harness, making for an easy engine exchange, with the V8 sitting on custom mounts along with a fabricated transmission saddle and tunnel reinforcement to support it. But the engine swap itself isn’t the only impressive part, it’s the work that’s gone on around it, the attention to detail, that impresses the most. Prior to the insertion of the V8, the engine bay was shaved and smoothed to remove any and all holes and brackets. “The plan,” says Nick, “was to have an extremely simple engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine without the clutter of wiring and engine accessories.”

    The brake booster, he says, was removed and has been replaced with a full pedal assembly inside the car and then reservoirs were fabricated in-house for coolant, brake/clutch, and power steering fluids.

    These were then machined with threads that corresponded with the factory reservoir caps, giving the custom parts a factory appearance. As a result of this painstaking attention to detail the engine bay is nothing short of a work of art. It’s clean enough to eat your dinner off and it ensures that all eyes are immediately drawn to that V8, itself embellished with red painted rocker covers and a classic BMW roundel on the engine cover. A custom cold air feed, utilising a large velocity stack located in the passenger side high beam hole and an in-line filter, supplies the big V8 with all the air it can ingest. Elsewhere the Griot’s team has fitted V8 X5 exhaust manifolds with a custom T304 stainless steel exhaust system, while a custom driveshaft and 2.93 LSD-equipped rear end have also been fitted.

    Killer one-off styling and a sweet engine swap are all well and good but it’s only a job half done where a major project like this is concerned. Now came the turn of the chassis to be comprehensively overhauled. Step one involved removing the front and rear subframes and completely refreshing them, with both being reinforced in key areas before being powdercoated satin black. The E30 received polybushes throughout and camber adjustment was added to the rear trailing arms. “The front strut assemblies were sent to Ground Control and the guys there worked their magic, shortening and reinforcing the strut housings so we could get the car as low as we wanted,” explains Nick. “They also provided us with the Koni shocks, front camber plates, spring perches, and new springs that would accommodate the increase in weight from the V8.”

    With the Ground Control coilover setup endowing the E30 with pretty much the perfect ride height, all that was needed now was the perfect set of wheels to adequately fill those swollen arches. You’ve no doubt been staring at the pictures for a while now so you’ve probably identified what the Griot’s Motors team decided to fit: HREs. Is it wrong to get excited about HREs? Like, really, really excited? They just look so good here. Choosing a flat-faced wheel rather than the default dished design is a bit of a ‘woah’ moment but, despite being a thoroughly modern wheel, the classic crossspoke design brings to mind the BBSs that the E30 M3 originally wore so well. And that’s exactly why these 501Ms were selected for this build. They allowed the Griot’s team to keep that factory look while giving them the modern size and width options they wanted for an aggressive stance. And while deciding on the final colour took some time, the brushed gold that was chosen is not only gorgeous but a perfect match for that bright red body.

    Right now, you’re probably reeling because, let’s be honest, there’s a hell of a lot to take in here, but Griot’s isn’t finished with you just yet because now we come to the interior. And, well, it’s a bit special. Up front, the M3 theme has been carried over from the outside with reproduction tricolour M Tech cloth applied to the doorcards and front seats, a retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel with tricolour stitching, and an M gear knob.

    In the back, however, well that’s where everything goes crazy. The rear passenger and luggage area has been transformed into a mobile product display and valeting station: this is a car that can wash itself.

    Well, not literally, but you know what we mean. The rear seats have been replaced with a custom aluminium water tank and hose while the entire boot has been fitted with a custom enclosure that allows the entire range of Griot’s Garage detailing products and polishers to be displayed. The whole affair has been beautifully finished and looks magnificent. It’s a very different boot build to the ones we’re used to seeing but no less impressive.

    The Griot’s Motors E30 Touring is the vehicular embodiment of what Griot’s Garage and its skunkworks outfit stand for. It’s an incredible creation, one that’s come about from the vision and imagination of a small group of guys and one that could only have been created by people with nothing less than absolute passion for cars and for modifying them – because what kind of person decides to build a two-door Touring?

    So much care and attention has been poured into not just making sure that the end result looks absolutely perfect, which it does, but also making sure that everything has been built to the highest possible standard and finished to absolute perfection. The goal was to make a car that looked like it could have rolled out of BMW’s own factory, and this car is that and so much more. And beyond showcasing what Griot’s Motors is capable of creating, the on-board valeting station showcases what Griot’s Garage is all about. This really might be the cleanest car we’ve ever shot. Best of all, this Touring isn’t about to be tucked away or sold, it’s going to be hitting the 2017 shows across the USA. And after that it’s going into rotation for regular driving whenever anyone wants to because, after all, that’s what it was built for. And that makes us very happy indeed.

    “We went a little mad and cooked up a crazy vision for the car – one that had never been done before”

    DATA FILE #Griotʼs-Motors two-door #BMW-E30 / #BMW-V8 / #BMW-Touring / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E30 / #BMW / #Griot's-Garage / #BMW-E30-Griotʼs-Motors / #BMW-Touring-2-door / #BMW-E30-M60 / #BMW-E30-V8 / #Getrag / #HRE /

    FILE ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #BMW-E30-M60B40 / #M60B40 / #BMW-M60 / #M60 , custom engine mounts, rocker covers painted red, engine bay shaved and smoothed, custom coolant and power steering reservoirs, tucked wiring harness, custom cold air feed from full beam headlight hole, X5 exhaust manifolds, custom #T304 stainless steel dual 2.5” exhaust, #Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, fabricated transmission saddle, tunnel reinforcement, custom propshaft, 2.93 LSD rear end

    CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #HRE-501M wheels in brushed gold with 215/40 (front) and 235/40 (rear) Falken Azenis RT615K tyres, reinforced subframes, fully polybushed, rear trailing arm camber adjustment, shortened and reinforced front strut housings, fully-adjustable #Ground-Control coilovers with adjustable #Koni struts, camber plates

    EXTERIOR Full OEM steel E30 M3 body panels including front and rear quarter panels, E30 coupé doors, side skirts, M3 bumpers (front and rear), full respray in #PPG-Deltron Griot’s Red

    INTERIOR Seats and door panels retrimmed in reproduction M Tech cloth, retrimmed M Tech I steering wheel, six-speed M gear lever, new OE carpet, rear seats removed, custom aluminium water tank and hose, water jet-cut product display area in boot

    THANKS Thank you to our sponsors, HRE Wheels, Brembo Brakes and Ground Control Systems. Thank you to J-Rod & Custom, McFarland Upholstery, Kassel Performance, Falken Tire and the hard work of Forrest Davis and Tim Willard of Griot’s Motors – without them, this project would have never been completed

    “The plan was to have an engine bay that showed off the most beautiful aspects of the engine”

    Shaved and smoothed bay ensures that all eyes are on that V8 when the bonnet’s up.
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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 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, 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-lights
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    4 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 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 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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    POWER RANGER #2016 / #BMW-E70

    We head off to Finland in search of a mighty #BMW X5M packing some serious horsepower. What do you do if your M3 is starting to feel a little vanilla and you want to explore further avenues of performance? Er, buy an X5, of course… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photography: Jape Tiitinen.

    “Never apologise. Never explain. Just get the thing done, and let them howl.” So said Agnes Macphail, the first woman to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons, thereby leaving mankind a handy and quotable getout for doing things that may raise eyebrows. It’s all too easy to do things that you think people will like or approve of rather than things you actually want to do, for the sake of an easy life; this is particularly true in the sphere of car modification, especially in an age of the immediacy of social media. Perceived deviations from the accepted ways of doing things can be met with an instant backlash – ‘you’ve done that wrong’, ‘you’ve ruined that’, ‘that looks terrible,’ blah blah etc. Who cares? You only live once, your brief glimmer of time on this Earth is far too fleeting to worry about what a bunch of wallies on the internet may be judging you for.

    All of which brings us to the elephant in the room here – that we’re looking at a modified X5, rocking enough horsepower to shame any 1990s supercar you care to name, and sufficient torque to knock the world slightly off its axis. Now, there will be people out there shaking their heads, tutting, passing harsh judgement over something that they view to be unnecessary and absurd. And while it’s tempting to tell these people to stick the entire X5 in their anodised aluminium pipes and try to vape it, it’s perhaps more constructive to simply attempt to encourage an openness of mind. For you see, a bighorsepower X5 actually makes a lot of sense, if that kind of thing is your bag. And even if it isn’t, you surely can’t help but admire the achievement of wringing 775hp out of such an imposing machine. Yes, you read that right – seven hundred and seventy-five horsepower. That’s rather a lot, isn’t it?

    Near enough what you’d expect to find lurking between the slinky hips of the new LaFerrari, which is a fairly devastating comparison. Or, to continue the Ferrari tit-for-tat, it’s as powerful as two whole Testarossas. Two! This, then, is an X5 that’s worthy of your attention. But this was always bound to be the way – its owner, Aleksi Sorvari of Hyvinkää, Finland, has something of a taste for big-horsepower machinery. Driving trucks for a living as he does, he has a keen affinity with supersized displacement, aggressively loud turbo whistle and stump-pulling torque, so it’s only natural that this enthusiasm for telephone-number power would carry over into his private life. Before the X5 he owned an E92 M3, which replaced a Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG. Given that Aleksi is just 22 years of age, this is a fairly robust introduction into the world of motoring excess. Goodness only knows what the next step might be… “I bought the M3 about three years ago to replace the CLS,” he explains. “I loved it, and it received a few modifications – three-piece Rotiform wheels, various carbon fibre parts and so on – but after three years of ownership I felt that it was time to move forward and try something new. The X5M seemed to be the obvious answer; it’s big, it’s powerful, it’s different. It only took a few days of searching to find a decent X5M in Finland, so I bought it and that was that.” Aleksi must be in a tiny minority of people who’ve decided to chop in an M3 for an X5 on the grounds of wanting something fun and different rather than, say, being forced into the decision by a growing family or some other reason of practicality. But who says decisions like this have to be rational?

    It can certainly be argued that the X5M is a solid starting point for a project. After all, this is no ordinary X5 – and as much as it may irritate the old-school badge purists, it’s a bona fide #M-car too. Debuting at the New York Auto Show in April #2009 , it was one half of the first pair of #xDrive cars to be developed by #M-GmbH , alongside the equally controversial X6M. The twin-turbo #S63 motor offered a juicy 4.4-litre displacement from eight thudding cylinders, its 555hp surprising many a soccer mom at the traffic lights on the school run. Contemporary magazine tests verified its ability to accelerate from 0-62mph in four-and-a-half seconds, which is frankly loopy for a vehicle with this sort of mass (not to mention an aerodynamic profile that laughs in the face of drag coefficients in favour of belligerently shoulder-barging the air like a breeze block flung from a trebuchet), and the tech gurus at M HQ ensured that it wasn’t just a brainless drag racer, tweaking and honing the suspension and steering to make the hulking brute handle like a nimble sports car. It’s an irritator of supercars that you can use as a van; conversely, it’s a sensible, practical family car that also happens to have launch control and paddle-shift. So no, there certainly isn’t any need to apologise for the X5M. It is mighty.

    And that outstanding factory might was just the beginning for Aleksi’s #BMW-X5 . “A friend of mine found a German chap in Abu Dhabi who has superior skills in tuning BMWs,” Aleksi grins. “His name is Jimmy Pelka, and he operates out of PP-Performance in Weissbach, Germany when he’s not in the UAE. As soon as I’d engaged him to tune my X5M everything started to move forward, and progress was quite fast – as is the way with top professionals. I ended up making quite a lot of trips to and from PP-Performance while it got everything running perfectly, and the results are pretty phenomenal.”

    This was very much an international build too, with Aleksi keen to get experts involved in all necessary elements of the horsepower race. The turbos, for example, were hand-built in Finland. “These are very special units built by Turbotekniikka in Helsinki,” he divulges, evidently pretty pleased with having chosen the right guys for the job. “They were hyped to be involved with the build, particularly when we started talking about targets for horsepower figures. This kind of project was something different from its average daily routine, which is usually just service and sales; in the end, they developed and constructed a pair of bespoke turbos for me comprising Garrett turbo housings with Mitsubishi Evo IX internals and billet compressors.” Impressive stuff indeed, and a very focused approach. And with these otherworldly turbines spinning freely and boosting hard, it was over to Buchloe, Germany to have a word with the eggheads at Alpina. Well, why not eh?

    “We needed to get a quality custom product to work with these monster turbos, and it seemed obvious that Alpina would be the people to deliver the goods,” reasons Aleksi, clearly a man with a mind to do things properly. These custom manifolds, enjoying a ceramic coating from Martelius, now find themselves mated to a full lightweight exhaust system from Akrapovic – a company based in Slovenia, and best known for motorcycle exhausts before more recently moving into racing and performance road exhausts for cars. The geography of this build really is darting all over Europe. But that’s evidently what you need to do if you want to turn an X5M from a supercar-annoyer into a proper supercar in its own right. Some degree of legwork is required.

    Much like with M GmbH’s own approach to the X5M, Aleksi has been keen throughout the project to ensure that this is a cohesive and all-pervading programme of upgrades, rather than simply shoving a load of dumb horsepower into the SUV to see what happens. A neat manifestation of this is his decision to upgrade the brakes to a setup with rather more beef. When you’ve got LaFerrari levels of thrust to rein in, it makes sense to tickle the standard fare a little, and what’s ensued here is a #Brembo-BBK upgrade featuring six-pot callipers, with the front discs a dinnerplate-like 405mm across. Fans of imperial measurements will have run a swift mental conversion and arrived at a figure of close to 16- inches and, as such, Aleksi needed some pretty big wheels to clear them. It’s safe to say, however, that his choice represents a level of overkill comparable to the bonkers figure on the dyno sheet. “The wheels are 22-inches in diameter,” he chuckles. “They’re #HRE three-piece rims, ten-inches wide at the front and thirteen at the rear.” The Dunlop rubber that tenaciously clings to them is suitably girthsome, offering up a whopping 335-section at the back. That represents a contact patch comparable to the average London back garden, although it’s wholly necessary given what the poor hoops have to contend with – 826lb ft isn’t exactly forgiving. Aleksi needs this much rubber in order to stop the very Tarmac beneath him from rucking up like an old hallway carpet.

    In addition, the suspension has been hunkered down somewhat in accordance with the newfound avenues of thrust. Starting as a teetering all-terrain cruiser, it’s never going to be scraping its sills on the kerb, of course – you’d need some body sectioning, a raised chassis and tubbed arches at the least to achieve that, but that’s a whole different ballgame – but you’ll spot that it’s unmistakeably lower than your common or garden X5, in spite of wearing such vast wheels. This is courtesy of some H&R lowering springs at the front, while the stock airsprings at the rear have been gravitationally persuaded by some bossy new software.

    And while the boffins at PP-Performance were busy rewriting code in the X5’s brain like some freaky DVD extra from The Matrix, they took the opportunity to reprogram the gearbox software too; the #X5M ’box is optimised for performance, but BMW probably didn’t figure this sort of performance running through it…

    The nature of cohesiveness with a project like this dictates that the comfort and aesthetics are on a level pegging with the grunt, as is the nature of the entire X5 range; while stripping out the interior and fitting a single Kirkey race seat would undoubtedly bolster the performance creds, that’s not really the point of an X5M, so Aleksi has enhanced rather than pared back – after all, this is his daily driver. The comfy seats have been artfully reupholstered with black leather and white stitching by KhreliX Design in Vantaa, and the exterior has received a few treats to warn other road users that the low-slung ride height augurs something frightening. Carbon fibre abounds, from the huge diffusers to the subtler detail of the kidney grilles and badges, working alongside the darkened lights and windows. Employing carbon-fibre in a project like this for reasons of weight-saving would be an exercise in futility, but that isn’t the point; this is about presence, aggression, forthrightness.

    It’s fiercely unapologetic too. Okay, there will be a lot of people out there who can’t see the purpose of a performance X5, particularly one that could show a seven-figure hypercar a clean pair of heels, but we get the strong feeling that Aleksi isn’t altogether bothered about that. He wanted an X5, so he built the best one he could, using the finest materials and resources at his disposal. The opinions of the naysayers are immaterial; there’s no escaping that number – 775hp. Seven-seven-five. If he can achieve this kind of godlike grandeur at the age of 22, we can’t wait to see what Aleksi does next.

    Hidden under all that carbon and plastic is a twin-turbo V8 monster with 775hp and over 800lb ft of torque!

    The interior of the X5M has been given a subtle but stylish makeover with fresh new leather with white stitching.

    You surely can’t help but admire the achievement of wringing 775hp out of such an imposing machine

    TECHNICAL DATA TUNED #BMW-X5M / #BMW-E70 / #BMW-X5M-E70 / #BMW-X5M-E70-Turbotekniikka-OY / #BMW-X5M-E70-Tuned / #V8

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #S63B44O0 / #S63 / #BMW-S63 4.4-litre twinturbo #V8 , custom-built turbos by #Turbotekniikka-OY ( #Kim-Sulin ) and #Fin-Turbo ( #Niko-Turunen ), custom #Alpina exhaust manifolds with #Martelius ceramic coating, #Akrapovic exhaust system, mapping by #PP-Performance , stock transmission with upgraded software, 775hp, 826lb ft.

    CHASSIS: 10x22-inch (front) and 13x22-inch (rear) #HRE three-piece wheels with 295/30 (front) and 335/25 (rear) #Dunlop Sportmaxx RT, #Brembo six-pot #BBK with 405mm front discs, #H&R front lowering springs, rear airsprings lowered with new software.

    EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon fibre front and rear diffusers, carbon fibre kidneys and emblems, window tints, headlight tints, rear wiper delete.

    INTERIOR: Full retrim in black leather with white stitching by #KhreliX-Design-OY , #Vorsteiner floor mats, premium BMW audio.

    THANKS TO: #Bimmer-Tuning-Club-of-Finland (
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    The F80 M3 is starting to show its face on the modified BMW scene and ACM’s offering is a bit nice. This searing yellow M3 is proper movie star stuff. AUTOcouture Motoring’s Sal Benanti has pulled together a stunning build that’ll have you questioning the merits of that M4 coupé… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Matt Petrie.

    Fans of big-budget Hollywood remakes will be familiar with 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven, the star-studded reworking of the 1960’s Rat Pack original. George Clooney and Brad Pitt offer the wisecracking eye candy, Matt Damon is pre-Bourne but stellar, and Julia Roberts finds herself on a sort of rubyencrusted pedestal. But the real sleeper of the cast is Carl Reiner’s character, Saul Bloom. He’s a tough cookie, he’s brimming with experience, he won’t put his name to any half-measures, and his demure exterior belies a certain level of excitement at the prospect of doing something a bit naughty.

    It’s probably no coincidence that Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman shares the moniker, they’re ideologically similar. And a further namesake, save for an errant vowel that we’ll happily overlook, is Los Angeles’ favourite BMW fettler, Sal Benanti. He owns a chain of BMW-specialist tuning shops under the name of #AUTOcouture-Motoring , and what he doesn’t know about cranking the awesomeness of a Bavarian motor up to 11 probably isn’t worth knowing. And he’s a man who knows quality too – he’d never allow a build to get out of the door with his name attached if it had gone off half-cocked. There’s a reputation to uphold, and it stands to reason that a man such as this would drive something that creates a statement to represent his business interests – hence the fresh new #2015 #M3 you’re looking at here. It’s his, of course, and it’s rather splendid.

    What’s interesting here as a starting point is the conscious decision that’s been made to roll with an M3 rather than an M4. Now, most of you will be well versed in the history of the various 3 Series that have an M on the bootlid and a sprinkling of stardust in the chassis, but for the uninitiated, here’s the dime tour: the iconic badge has previously appeared on five generations of 3 Series – the first was developed on the 1986 model-year platform, the E30 M3 featuring a racy 2.3-litre four-cylinder motor. It was near enough unbeatable in motorsport, and road cars’ values are spiralling nowadays.

    The E36 followed in 1992, packing a straight-six; the E46 followed suit in 2000, and then the E9x switched to V8 power for 2007. What’s notable about that generation is that each body style is separately designated – the E90 being the saloon, E92 coupé, and E93 convertible – whereas previous generations hadn’t. An E36 was an E36, whatever shape it was. Why bring this up? Because the latestgeneration M3 isn’t always even an M3. The 2015 evolution of the bloodline, the F80 chassis based on the F30 3 Series, is the sensible cousin to the F82 coupé variant (and, to a lesser extent, the F83 drop-top). But before we drown in a swamp of model codes, let’s get to the crux of the matter: the latter two, the coupé and cabrio, are badged as ‘M4’. In line with the company’s naming strategy, an Audi-baiting niche had to be built – so the M3 still exists, but only in fourdoor form. It’s a conscious and deliberate decision, then, to purchase one. There are two reasons for buying a new M3: either you crave or need the practicality of a more-door, or you’re keen to tap into the heritage of the fabled M3 name.

    Both of these options suit Sal down to the ground. “I’ve loved BMWs since I was young,” he explains. “My uncle had one of the first E34s in the States, a 1989 535i, and I’ve been hooked since! My first ever BMW was a 1995 530i, because it reminded me of my uncle’s car and also had some rare options, and in later years I’ve always had current-model M cars – so when BMW released the 2015-model M3, I just had to have it.” This taps into that keenness for heritage we were talking about – with his name on the logbook of various M-cars in the past, it’s only right that the he should have the latest version. As formidable as the M4 is, it just doesn’t have that badge, does it?

    Now, the idea of modifying a brand-new car may be troubling to some of you. It’ll kick your warranty in the teeth, for a start. But remember that we’re talking about a kingpin in the BMW modifying realm – there are plenty of people who want to enhance their new purchases, and Sal needs to be leading the charge, walking the walk, demonstrating his prowess. He needs to be visible. And he takes that notion very literally indeed… I mean, look at the colour!

    While BMW has always offered a sober palette for the model, there’s also always been a niche selection of hues for the extrovert (look at the E46’s vibrant Laguna Seca blue, for example, or the brave embodiment of gastric distress that is Phoenix yellow), and this is the box that Sal’s ticked with his eye-catching Austin yellow paint. While it may look odd on a context-free swatch, it actually picks out the lines of the F80 in fine style. It looks pretty damned good, we reckon.

    Of course, the best can always be better, and that’s why this project is proudly wearing HRE rims. “The history of the brand speaks for itself,” Sal grins. “Around the same time that I bought this car – brand-new from Paul Miller BMW in New Jersey – HRE was releasing its new classic line, and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to show off a new BMW with a new HRE design.” So the M3 is now wearing the frankly gorgeous HRE 303M in an arch-squeezing 20” diameter – staggered, natch, with a sturdy nine inches of girth up front, the tail packing ten-and-a-half. We know, though, what happens when you whack bigger wheels on to a stock suspension setup – arch gaps galore – so, as you’ve no doubt guessed, something’s been going on in the suspension area. Specifically, we’re looking at a KW Clubsport coilover setup. “I went for two-way coilovers, because the car sees both street and track use,” Sal explains. Remember what we were saying about him walking the walk? Yeah, he tears down and reworks brand-new cars – and he tracks them too.

    Why the hell not, eh? You only live once. The M3 is a phenomenally accomplished piece of kit in stock form, that goes without saying. You’d have endless fun with an unmodified car and possibly may never wish for more – when you’re looking down the barrel of 430-odd horsepower, the 0-62mph dash despatched in four seconds plus change, carbon-ceramic brakes and all manner of other trickery, it delivers on a lot of promises. But once Sal had made designs on the chassis, it was only natural that a few power-related shenanigans would follow shortly after: “The ECU was remapped by Gintani,” he reveals, “and the guys also helped out with the primary cat delete to complement the Eisenmann stainless steel exhaust with its resonated mid-pipe.”

    Aside from Gintani’s involvement, all of the work on the car was carried out at either AUTOcouture’s New Jersey shop or its California counterpart, and the overall ethos has been to enhance rather than alter. The notion is to acknowledge the brilliance of the engineering and find ways to remove the compromises of mass-production, and as such it’s a case of ticking the correct option boxes and then shaking things up a bit. Look at the interior, for example: “BMW did a nice job with styling on these add-on OEM parts, so I went with them,” says Sal. “I typically have an overall plan when purchasing a car, and this one was no different. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and I feel that AUTOcouture Motoring and myself hit the nail on the head with it! Other than our exclusive P3cars vidi gauge, the interior is all stock; the car came with carbon-fibre trim from the factory, and the seats are great too.”

    Taking stock, then, we can surely agree that Sal’s efforts have done much to work with the already solid base of the nearpeerless M3. That outrageous shade of yellow really flows with the muscular form, and that boisterousness carries over perfectly to the vast HRE wheels, close as they are to arches that find themselves significantly closer to the ground. It’s got the cojones to back up the looks, and it’s so boxfresh that it could be a poster boy for aftermarket ‘New Car Smell’ air fresheners.

    “I have to say, my favourite modification is the KW suspension,” says Sal. “It’s really tightened up the car to how I believe it should have been from the factory. And the looks have been well received too – the first show I took it to was XS Car Night in Long Beach, and people loved it! I received many compliments that day. And if money were no object? I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, I love how it’s turned out. Although there’s always the possibility of upgrading the turbos…” Well, we wouldn’t expect anything less from a man who’s sat himself on the bleeding edge of the North American BMW tuning scene. The question is, would you pull the trigger on buying yourself an M4 now that you’ve seen what’s achievable with the all-new M3? Sal’s naughty yellow saloon certainly makes a compelling case. That badge counts for a lot.

    “If money were no object I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, I love how it’s turned out”

    DATA FILE #BMW-M3 #BMW-M3-F80 #BMW-F80

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 #S55 , Gintani remap, Eisenmann stainless steel exhaust with resonated mid-pipe and Gintani primary cat delete, six-speed manual.

    CHASSIS: 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #HRE 303M wheels with 255/30 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Hankook tyres, KW Clubsport two-way coilovers, factory-option carbon-ceramic brakes.

    EXTERIOR: Austin yellow paint, M Performance carbon fibre splitters with colour-matched M Performance lower tray and M4 side skirts (modified to fit M3 saloon), Mode Carbon M4-style carbon fibre rear spoiler, RKP carbon fibre rear diffuser.

    INTERIOR: ACM Exclusive P3cars vent gauge, AT carbon fibre steering wheel trim.

    THANKS: My wife Kelsi for always supporting me, my awesome staff at ACM and ACM West, Tito at HRE Wheels for answering my million questions, Eric at YTS, Armando at #BMW NYC for the aero, Sam and FG at United Collision for the awesome paintwork, the guys at IND-Distribution for supplying some parts, and all of my sponsors.
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    Twin Turbo. A thousand prancing horses by #John-Matras and photography by author. Forget the hoary cliché about the writers spine being pressed into the seat back. My backside was scooting upward, sliding on the leather, vectored toward the roof by the seemingly bottomless acceleration of the twin-turbo Ferrari Testarossa as it ventured well into triple-digit speeds.

    This may not be the fastest street-legal piece of automotive hardware in the world, but it’s in a very' exclusive club.

    Not that the standard #Ferrari-Testarossa was a slouch. Its five liters produce some 380 bhp, good enough for a sub-14-sec quarter mile and a top speed of about 180. But the standard #Testarossa is naturally aspirated, and this one has not one but two turbochargers. The boost isn’t some namby-pamby 10 or even 15 psi, but rather 23 psi, and horsepower, by the claim of the cars maker, is around a thousand. That’s 1,000. A one with three zeros. And there's more available, says maker Joe Pirrone, if you want to go with more boost.

    Pirrone, owner of #Berlinetta-Motorcars , a restoration shop and #Ferrari modification specialist in Huntington Station. New York, constructed the car for fellow Long Island resident and car enthusiast (absolutely) Ralph Fasano of Lattingtown. And though the 1000 bhp engine is surely the showcase of what was originally a 1986 Swiss-market car, it has been transformed into an awe-inspiring street vehicle and a track car that knows few peers.

    To anyone with even a casual acquaintance with Ferraris, this is no ordinary Modena model. The bodywork has been replaced with an almost complete Koenig body kit, including the front bumper/spoiler, headlamps (replacing the standard pop-up units), front and rear fenders and side valance, as well as the scoop added to the C-pillar and the rear deck extension. About the only thing left off was the big rear wing, which was simply too much, and a lower rear valance panel, which simply wasn’t needed. And the controversial standard side strakes were omitted. While the wide-body panels are anything but pure Ferrari, Joe contends that even Ferrari purists give the car’s appearance a thumbs-up.

    The wider fenders are for more than looks. While the Testarossa originally came with Michelin TRX 240/45VR-415 rubber front and 280/45VR-415 rear, the conversion weighs in with Dunlop SP Sport radials, size 245/40ZR17 front and 335/35ZR17 rear, enough to fill the fiberglass and still have enough surface area left over to apply for statehood. The wheels, by #HRE , are three-piece modular, 9.0 in. wide up front and 13.0 in. at the rear. Because the early Testarossas came with splined knockoff-style wheels, Berlinetta machined the backs of the wheels to fit the original splined hubs.

    To keep all that rubber in line, the rubber suspension bushings have been replaced with spherical Heim joints, which also makes the suspension fully adjustable. Pirrone installed stiffer springs, and double adjustable (jounce and rebound) remote-reservoir Fox racing shocks are used all around, with double shocks per side at the rear. Front and rear anti-roll bars arc adjustable, the bias changeable from the cockpit.

    In anticipation of its use, #Doug-Pirrone installed the huge discs from the Ferrari 512 BBLM, ducting air from openings in the front spoiler to the center of the discs. The cooling air is directed into the ventilated disc itself, exiting through the vanes at the perimeter of the disc. For additional effectiveness, water can be sprayed into the duct inlet, the point being not for water spray to touch the disc-which could cause damage-but for the vaporization to cool the incoming air. (Remember heat of vaporization from chemistry class?) The system is controlled by a master switch on the dash and when on uses the brake light switch to activate the system. Brake bias is adjustable from under the hood.

    Inside the cockpit, a roll hoop behind the seats is braced to the rear, and five- point Simpson racing belts are installed, but other signs that this is a special Testarossa are limited. The stock instrument panel and dash are retained, and you still have to be a limbo artist to get in, but only the turbocharger boost and fuel pressure gauges, an LED readout for rich/lean fuel mixture, and the nozzle and safety- capped button for the on board fire extinguisher system hint at other than standard equipment.

    There's a small crackle-painted black box behind the passenger seat, however, that orchestrates the violence of the V12 just the other side of the firewall: twelve pistons, four cams, 48 valves and two turbos’ worth of activity that, when provoked, leaves little doubt that this Testarossa is special in the absolute sense of the word.

    Berlinetta rebuilt the 4942cc V12 utilizing lightweight Carillo connecting rods and oversized wrist pins. The pistons, like those used on the Toyota GTP cars, are from JE and have larger than standard rings to guard against breakage from possible detonation. Instead of the standard aluminium cylinder liners, custom fabricated steel liners are used with stainless steel O-rings for head gasket sealing. To really make sure the heads stay on. cylinder head studs of AerMet 100, a special steel alloy used for, among other things. Naval aircraft tailhooks, were used. Spray oiling, via nozzles tapped into oil galleries, cool piston bottoms. A carbon-kevlar clutch was installed, and the transaxle was fortified with a stronger fifth gear set and strengthened input and intermediate shafts.

    Ail this was just preparation for the two Garrett turbochargers, sized for peak power between 5000 and 8500 rpm, mounted under the heat shields over the tail of the transaxle. The turbos are fed intake air from the NACA scoops on the TWIN TURBO rear fenders; the intercoolers, pressed against the grille work between the tail- lights, get their cool air from the side scoops, air that in a standard Testarossa cools the rear brakes. Brake cooling air now comes from the C-pillar scoops. The side scoops are shared between the engine radiators and the intercoolers.

    From the intercoolers, fabricated tubing-a crisscross section delightfully glistening in silver crackle-leads to a fabricated airbox. The original Bosch K- Jetronic CIS fuel injection was replaced by a Haltech electronic injection system, the intake manifold machined for the new injectors and set up to take the throttle position sensor. The injection is controlled by that black box in the cockpit, which contains a programmable computer that also controls the twin-coil ignition.

    Two heated oxygen sensors are installed in the exhaust system, one feeding the computer terminal, the other used for the LED monitor on the dash. The computer-connected sensor will eventually be used to emission-tune the engine on the fly, although it is now used in “open loop” mode only so that it doesn't affect the programmed mixture. A laptop computer plugs into the onboard unit to monitor operation or alter the program. We’ve come a long way from tuning by car and the colour inside the tailpipe.

    Twin storm-sewer-size tailpipes service the off end of the turbos. Initially twin resonators were positioned after the turbochargers but had the unfortunate effect of making the Ferrari whisper-quiet. Off they came. It now sounds like a Ferrari V12. The turbine blades puree the exhaust note into a street manageable level but hardly emasculates the tenor wail of twelve cylinders in concert. The Twin Turbo Testarossa remains as manageable around town and on the freeway as the family minivan-at least any minivan with a gated five-speed floor shifter-and the most difficult chore is negotiating the Ferrari’s proboscis in and out of driveways. We all should have such problems.

    A Testarossa attracts attention. Road gangs pause from leaning on their shovels to watch it pass, and the exhaust note causes heads to rise from less important duties. And anything is less important. Inside is no different. The twelve cylinder burbles, warbles, moans and howls. Goosebumps! Then layer in the pop-off valves and their mighty expirations at every shift at speed. It lives.

    Dust off the clichés, round up the superlatives, put a spit shine on your astonishment. Mashing the throttle puts the rest of the world in freeze frame: Other cars can move laterally, but you control the advance and rewind button with the gas and brake pedals. The brakes are instant slo-mo. There’s more power here than holding the remote for the VCR.

    But does it really make one thousand horsepower? It hasn’t been dyno’ed, but Pirrone figures it this way; If it makes 380 bhp naturally aspirated-effectively at a pound or two vacuum-then at one bar, or 15 psi, it should make twice that, the engine as a pump processing twice the air and fuel. Add another half bar, for a total of 23 psi or so, and add another 190 bhp, for a total of 960 bhp. Figuring that the engine is built to handle 30 psi boost, 1000 hp is not out of reason. At least if you accept the premise.

    But does doubling the pressure then double the flow which then doubles horsepower? I don’t know and I can’t tell you. My seat of the pants dynamometer, remember, was lifted off the seat.

    Nothing is ever done alone. Doug Pirrone credits the following Berlinetta Motorcars personnel: Lee Stayton, design and fabrication engineering, mechanical assembly.

    Nino Volpe, all in-house machining. Ruben Rodriguez, sheetmetal design and fabrication, welding, fiberglass.

    Guy Dalton (Zul Broaching), specialty machining, engine and materials consultant.
    Berlinetta Motorcars Ltd.
    138 Railroad St.
    Huntington Station, NY 11746 (516) 423-1010

    TECH DATA 1995 #Ferrari-Testarossa-Berlinetta-Motorcars
    Vehicle type: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, two-passenger, 2-door coupe.
    Price as tested: $275,000 (estimated 1995 new).
    Engine type: twin-turbocharged end intercooled DOHC 48-valve flat 12 #Colombo aluminium block and heads, #Haltech engine-control system with port fuel injection.
    Displacement 302 cu in. 4943cc
    Power (C/D estimate) 960-1000 bhp @ 6500 rpm
    Torque (C/D estimate) 800 Ib ft @ 4200 rpm
    Transmission 5-speed manual
    Wheelbase 100.4 in
    Length 176.6 in
    Curb weight 3781 lb
    Zero to 60 mph 3.0 sec
    Zero to 100 mph 7.3 sec
    Zero to 130 mph 11.1 sec
    Street start. 6 to 60 mph 4.1 sec
    Standing ¼ -mile 10.3 sec @ 135mph
    Top speed (C/D estimate) 250mph
    Braking, 70-0 mph 184 ft
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad 0.88 g
    C/D observed fuel economy 11MPG
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    You can’t go wrong with an #E90 #M3 and when there’s an ESS supercharger under the bonnet making 508whp, all the better. You can’t go wrong with a supercharged E9x M3 and this one goes very right indeed… Words: Seb de Latour. Photos: MoreThanMore (Sam Dobbins).

    Saloon or coupé? It is a big decision and one faced by most people interested in buying a 3 Series (ignoring convertible and estate options). BMW has always gone the extra mile to make its 3 Series Coupé variants a little, shall we say, sexier than their Saloon counterparts. They’ve never shared more than a handful of exterior parts and have pretty much always followed the mantra of being longer, lower and wider than the Saloons. Personally I prefer coupés but I can totally see the appeal of a stout, sorted saloon, like this Stateside M3, for example.

    Based in the other Aberdeen in North America, this E90 belongs to one Eric Kuehn, who is also the custodian of no less than seven other BMWs. That clearly means his profession as a sports uniform designer is a far better choice of career than you might ever have believed.

    Eric has been into cars ever since he got his licence back in 1997 and, going by his current collection, we can forgive him the 1989 Ford Probe that served as his first car. “After only three months, I sold that car and purchased a 1994 Acura Integra,” says Eric, “and that is where it all started. I stopped by a friend’s house and he gave me a DC Sport front window banner and I never looked back. That was the beginning of my car craze. I almost had that build complete but it was stolen and stripped down to the frame. It was a sickening sight to see it sitting there stripped bare in the junkyard.

    “Needing a car, I ended up finding my first BMW, which was a 2000 #323Ci that I purchased in 2003. I had that car for about a year or so and then bought a #2005 #Nissan-350Z . After two years of owning the Z, I came across a smoking deal on a 2002 BMW M3 in Alpine white. After owning the 323Ci, I knew I would end up back in a BMW at some point, I just didn’t know it would be that soon…

    “I picked up the M3 and sold the 350Z. Going through many different looks/builds on the E46 M3, I got in contact with Federico at Racing Dynamics and we built it up as a full RDSport #BMW-E46-M3 . With this car completed, a friend of mine who had to get out of a lease on a #2008 #BMW-E90 #M3 contacted me and wanted to know if I was interested in buying it. After running the numbers, I found it was great deal! So I sold the E46 and moved into the E90. This build is the most detailed build I’ve done to date…”

    Eric got his hands on the E90 in September of 2011 and it was in good condition but a spot of TLC certainly wouldn’t go amiss. “It needed some work on the exterior. It was normal wear and tear and not kept up to the standards that I like my cars to be at,” says Eric. “This is not a criticism of the previous owner but more a relection on the way I like my cars to be. So the first night I took possession, my friend Jason and I stayed up until 3am doing a full paint correction. It completely changed the car’s appearance.”

    Next Eric threw on some spacers and fitted his RDSport RC-8s from his #BMW-E46-M3 and then set to work on the rest of the mods. “You really don’t see many four-door M3s, especially ones that have been modified. To me, they are a rare car,” Eric explains. Despite admitting to not being a huge horsepower guy, instead preferring the cosmetic side of builds, Eric decided that for this project power was most definitely going to figure. He had a number of around 500whp in mind. “We ended up at 508whp so I was very happy with that,” he says with a smile.

    Pop that bonnet and you will be greeted by the sight of an ESS supercharger kit complete with sexy intake plenum. ESS is clearly doing everything right because this is most definitely the ’charger of choice for E9x M3 owners the world over. The kit here is the entry-level VT550 variant, being the least powerful of the four kits available for the E9x M3. The appeal of the ESS kit is easy to see because it’s arguably one of the best-looking supercharger kits on the market and makes a hell of an impression with that intake plenum stacked on top of the V8. Eric’s had it painted Estoril blue and it looks devilishly sexy. “The ESS supercharger was installed by Autocouture Motoring in New Jersey and all the other modifications I did in my garage,” Eric says. “I installed everything that I could on my own and if it was too complicated for me or I didn’t have the right tools, I would take the two to three hours drive to ACM. The guys there are top notch. The blower install took a couple hours to fit and the full exhaust around an hour or so. It took more time wiring up the electronic valves then actually installing the exhaust.” The exhaust in question is an Innotech Valvetronic catless system which makes plenty of noise, and then when the valves open up it makes even more. Lovely stuff.

    The underbonnet business is certainly impressive but aesthetically Eric’s #BMW-E90-M3 is on-point in a big way. The paint is flawless – mirror reflective, glass-smooth levels of flawless – thanks to the fully wet sand project. The what now? “I had a high-end detail company completely wet sand the factory paint to remove as much orange peel as possible. The finished result was breathtaking. It looks like a sheet of glass. This is the main compliment I get no matter where I am. It’s so clean.” A mere printed picture in a magazine can’t do the paint justice, we’d need PBMW in available in HD to fully convey the sheer depth and lustre of the paint.

    And then there are the wheels. God damn these are some sexy rims, but then you’d expect nothing less from HRE really. “I’ve reinvented this car over and over,” says Eric. “I’ve had around four or five different looks of this build, and around eight to ten different wheels. I decided I wanted the best of the best products on the car so when it came to wheels, so I reached out to HRE and we both decided the car needed their new S101s. At the time it was one of their most desired new styles and the end result was near perfection!”

    The tinted brushed finish on these 20” forged three-piece wheels is stunning and they fill the M3’s arches to perfection. They also means that we can all bask in the glory of Eric’s BBK, a Brembo Gran Turismo kit, front and rear, that features custom gold calipers with blue lettering, six-pots up front and four-pots at the rear, with 380mm discs all-round. It looks spectacular and performs even better. A KW sleeve-over kit, which retains the factory EDC, has been fitted along with a set of RDSport front and rear anti-roll bars.

    To make his M3 stand out further still, Eric has splashed out on a selection of seriously tasty styling mods that combine to deliver a visual haymaker of awesomeness. Up front there’s a Mode Carbon carbon fibre splitter, Platte Forme AG carbon side splitters and an Arkym full rear carbon diffuser, which Eric is particularly proud of as this was only ever designed for the E92 so had to be modified to fit his Saloon. It was certainly worth the effort because it looks fantastic. Other additions include a Challenge USA carbon bootlid that’s been painted, BMW Performance kidneys and painted side grilles, custom dual projector headlights and an LCI rear light cluster retrofit. Eric’s not scrimped on the interior either, throwing in a set of BMW Performance Recaros, a BMW Performance LED steering wheel, a P3cars/ACM digital vent gauge and a trio of Stack gauges located where you’d normally find the ashtray. He’s also splashed out on some serious audio, with Rainbow component speakers, Helix amps and a boot install that makes the luggage compartment as nice to look at as the engine bay. Almost.

    “I built this car over about two-and-a-half years. The final look took about three months to complete. It’s my favourite look to date,” says Eric. We agree that it’s certainly one damn fine M3.

    To conclude, we ask Eric if money were no object what would he change about the car? “Hmmm, that’s a tough one,” he replies. “I don’t think I would change a thing. To me, this car is perfect, exactly how I wanted it to turn out.” This is refreshing to hear as not many people build their perfect car.

    Sadly, though, since the shoot Eric and his M3 have parted company, but not before giving the car a dramatic, if unexpected and unintentional send-off. “While doing a burnout for one last time to try and get a great shot of the car in a smoke cloud the car shut off and would not start up.

    Unfortunately, after towing the car to ACM the next morning, we came to terms that the motor had blown! So from that point on we stripped the car back to stock and, after replacing the motor, the car was sold. It was a sad ending to such a beautiful build!” But every cloud has a silver lining. “I’ve since ordered a new 2015 M3 and it’s already arrived,” says Eric. “And, yes, the modifications have already started! So far these include: full Safety Car theme graphics including full lighting, HRE wheels, KW suspension, Eisemann exhaust, ONEighty custom blacked-out headlights, OEM performance front splitters and lip and a full audio upgrade.” So it sounds like his new M3 is already shaping up to be a bit of a beasts and, if his E90 effort is anything to go by, it’s going to be one hell of a build.


    ENGINE & GEARBOX: 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 , #ESS Tuning #VT550 supercharger kit, inlet manifold painted Estoril blue, Innotech valvetronic catless exhaust system, six-speed manual transmission.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) three-piece forged #HRE S101 wheels, tinted brushed with polished lips with 255/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) #Falken FK452 tyres. KW sleeve over kit retaining factory EDC, RDSport front and rear anti-roll bars, Brembo Gran Turismo big brake kit with custom gold calipers with blue lettering, six-piston with 380mm discs (front) and four-piston with 380mm discs (rear).

    EXTERIOR: Mode Carbon front carbon splitter, Platte Forme AG side carbon splitters, Arkym full rear carbon diffuser, Varis rear undertray diffuser, Challenge USA carbon trunk (painted), BMW Performance kidneys, #BMW side grilles (painted), 80% ceramic blue tint, ONEighty custom dual projector headlights retrofitted with LED angel eyes, BMW LCI taillights retrofit, full wet sand of factory paint to remove as much orange peel as possible.

    INTERIOR: Recaro BMW Performance seats, BMW individual dash and centre console in Bamboo leather, BMW Performance LED steering wheel wrapped in factory black leather with M tricolour stitching, illuminated gear knob, M tricolour stitched shift/handbrake gaiters, Bamboo leather handbrake handle, P3cars/ACM digital vent gauge, Stack gauges located in factory ash tray area.

    AUDIO: 2013 OEM CIC upgrade including Combox, Rainbow Audio 4” Profi components, Rainbow Audio 6.5” mid woofers x 8 (three per door, and one under each seat), Rainbow Audio Amboss 10” subwoofer, Helix Competition four channel amplifiers x2, Helix Competition two-channel amplifier, Helix PP50DSP processor, Jehnert Custom door speaker enclosure, Musicar NW subwoofer enclosure.

    THANKS: I’d like to thank my wonderful wife Stefanie, Sal and the whole crew at AutoCouture Motoring, Tito at HRE wheels, Artem at ONEighty Custom, Dustin at, Ian at Falken Tyres, Sam at Mode Carbon, Brian at Reflected Images Detailing, Shorty and Alex at Enterprise Upholstery, Don at Unexpected Creations, Jason at Immaculate Detailing.
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