- Post is under moderationBREAK THE INTERNET #2015
If you want to stand out at #SEMA you need to go big, and this Liberty Walk, chrome-wrapped #BMW-M4-F82 definitely does that. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Tipping. Impressive Wrap wanted to make some waves at SEMA. With this Liberty Walk-kitted M4, resplendent in satin chrome, it’s safe to say it achieved that ambition.
There are certain acronyms that have passed into the everyday lexicon so seamlessly that they’re just words; we don’t consider what they stand for, as they stand alone. And we’re not talking about such johnny-come-lately fare as LOL, OMG and IDK – terms like DIY, #AWOL and #ASAP are the sort of things we say all the time without considering that they’re short for something longer-form. (Well, some people do, but they’re the kind of pedants that’d point out that it’s only an acronym if it becomes a pronounceable word, and that terms like DIY are actually initialisms. But these people are dull, and end up standing alone in the corner at parties.)
SEMA is one such acronym. If you have even a micron of unleaded swirling around your bloodstream – and you’re reading this now, so we know that you do – you’ll be familiar with the annual extravaganza of the SEMA show: a glimmering Las Vegas industry get-together that acts to show off the most extreme and outrageous new custom car builds along with highlighting the latest trends in the areas of wheels, body addenda, colours, materials, brands, you name it. If it’s so-hot-right-now, it’s at SEMA.
The acronym stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, an organisation that was formed back in 1963 by such hallowed luminaries as Dean Moon (of Mooneyes), Vic Edelbrock Jr (of Edelbrock, obviously), Roy Richter (of Bell Helmets and Cragar Equipment), and various other leading lights of the trade; it now encompasses well over 6000 companies in the performance and aftermarket arena, offering business development, market research, training and development, and all sorts of stuff like that. They also put on one hell of a show…
The first SEMA show took place in 1967, in the basement of the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and it’s been growing in stature ever since. Today, if you’re not at SEMA, you’re not playing the game. We’ve featured a number of cars over the years that were built specifically for the show, and this one is arguably one of the most eye-catching. Impressive Wrap’s Liberty Walk-kitted M4 is badass on a Kim Kardashian ‘break the internet’ scale: shiny, bootylicious, and just downright dirty.
“This was our build for SEMA 2014,” says Impressive Wrap’s Michael Lee, by way of introduction. “It all started when we decided at the last minute to get an M4 as our shop car for SEMA, and the show was only a week away. We trade work with LTMW here and there, and we were busy wrapping a Rocket Bunny BRZ from LTMW when the guys told us that one of their customers had backed out on a 4 Series Liberty Walk kit. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a spotlight at SEMA for advertising the shop, so I hopped on it and told them we wanted the kit for our M4!”
LT Motorwerks is also based in El Monte, California, which makes these exchanges of trade so amenable, and it’s an expert in pulling together cutting-edge BMW builds with up-to-the-minute styling trends. It also helps that it has strong links with the Japanese tuner scene, hence its ability to procure such exotic fare as the bold new Liberty Walk wide-body kit for the box-fresh M4. “Well, the kit it had wasn’t actually for an M4, it was for a regular 4 Series, so it needed a bit of modifying,” Michael explains, baulking slightly at the memory. “We dropped the M4 over to the guys that same day, and it took them around a week to get the kit fitted perfectly.” As we know from featuring a number of LTMW builds, this won’t be a case of the guys there dragging their heels – they’ll have been pulling ridiculous hours to ensure that everything was fitting right and looking sharp. And when you’ve got SEMA in your sights, that’s just the sort of tenacity and diligence that you’re looking for: the world is watching, and these show builds live or die by social shareability. The slightest flaw will be captured by countless lenses and harshly judged by an ever-more frenzied shark pool of smartphone-toting commentators. So, thankfully, this M4 doesn’t have that problem. As is LTMW’s MO, the thing is flawless.
“Long Tran from the shop agreed to sponsor the labour of the build, and the car came back to us on the Wednesday night, ready for us to start wrapping on Thursday morning,” Michael recalls. “Although at that point we also needed to get the suspension and the exhaust fitted, which left us with just a couple of days before the show…” Hey, there’s no pressure like deadline pressure, right?
These mods were essential, of course, as you can’t throw a wild and lairy body kit onto a standard car and then just leave everything as is. It just wouldn’t work. The arch gaps would be crazy, for a start. So a set of KW coilovers has been deployed in order to bring the broadened form closer to the Tarmac, getting the thing tightly hunkered down to accentuate that angry face. The exhaust – a full GTHAUS Meisterschaft system – was a no-brainer too, as SEMA isn’t just a static affair; sure, the car will be sitting on a stand for the bulk of the time, but people will see the thing arriving, and they’ll definitely see it leave. While the M4’s standard mechanical setup is certainly nothing be sniffed at – that S55 motor growls to the force-induced tune of 431hp – it needs to sound outrageous if people are going to notice it among the maelstrom of hot metal under the Vegas sun. GTHAUS’s system for the M4 offers EV Control, meaning that it can be switched from mousey-quiet to shouty-loud at the flick of a switch, using clever internal valves. Suffice it to say, the latter was the order of the day for the hordes of phonesnapping crowds.
It’s a truism to say that a modern project car is made or broken by the choice of rolling stock, and this is where another sponsor sidles in from stage left, eager to infuse a little more mischief into the recipe. Savini Wheels stepped up to the plate, providing a set of forged SV61-C rims in a 20” diameter, with the rears being a striking 12” across. The design of these wheels is frankly mind-warping, as it take your eyes a little while to figure out just what’s going on with the spokes – you end up gawping at them like a colourblind kid with a Magic Eye book. (Top tip: look at the spokes in groups of four, it makes it easier…) The brushed detailing on the edges of the satin black spokes really pulls you in, and you need to be careful you don’t get stuck, as there’s a hell of a lot of dish going on, too. It really is an outstanding setup.
Now, with such an in-your-face treatment of both bodywork and wheel choice, Impressive Wrap knew they had to do something really special, really unusual and alluring, to accentuate the sterling work that the M4 had already received. It would have been easy enough to do what a lot of tuners would do, and slather it in a loud shade that’d catch the eye from the other side of a conference hall; lime green, fluorescent yellow, something of that nature. But no, it opted for something rather more understated and, in doing so, has played a bit of a blinder; mixing a soupçon of subtlety into the build has actually made the car all the more noteworthy, resplendent as it now is in a satin chrome finish.
Shiny chrome is, naturally, a rather polarising effect – something you’d expect to see on a footballer’s Veyron – but satin chrome? That’s something a bit tasty. It echoes the brushed aluminium accents of the Savini rims, while offering a retro DeLorean-esque finish that both the young and young-at-heart will be able to relate to. And, of course, the advantage of a satin chrome vinyl wrap over a bare-metal #DeLorean finish is that it won’t showcase a gallery of unfortunate fingerprints…
“There were long, hard hours put into the M4,” says Michael, “and a lot of last-minute preparations with stickers and tyre stencils, but we somehow managed to get everything done on time. This was all thanks to our partners and employees!” And what we find most impressive about this build is the ratio of time-to-effect: Impressive Wrap, let’s not forget, embarked upon this project just a week or so before the world’s biggest and most visible aftermarket tuner show. The expertise and dedication of #LTMW , the vision of Savini’s design team, the engineering nous of GTHAUS, the bloody-minded lunacy of Liberty Walk and, above all, that inspired colour choice have all coalesced into something staggering. Stop the show. Silence the crowds. Break the internet. This is what SEMA builds are all about.
DATA FILE / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4-Coupe-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #S55B30 / #S55 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six, #GTHAUS #Meisterschaft EV Control exhaust system, seven-speed M-DCT.
CHASSIS: 10.5x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) #Savini SV61-C wheels (black with brushed accents) with 265/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, #KW coilovers.
EXTERIOR: Satin chrome wrap, Liberty Walk widebody kit (front splitter, rear diffuser, arch flares, boot spoiler), #AeroFlow Dynamics carbon-fibre side skirts.
INTERIOR: Stock M4 including ergonomic M seats, leather steering wheel and carbon-fibre trim.
THANKS: Jackson Wong from Xsthetic Motorsports, Mike from Prestige Marketing, our sponsors LTMW, Savini and GTHAUS Meisterschaft, Stan from Toyo, Roger from AeroFlow.
LB kit is wide, and then some. 12x20” Savini wheels fill out the massive rear arches.
Engine is stock, but 431hp is more than enough to be getting on with; Meisterschaft exhaust sounds great and fills the rear valance.
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- Post is under moderationWELTERWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD #BMW-335i-E90
With WTCC-inspired styling and 530whp, this #E90 #BMW-335i is a force to be reckoned with. Justin Gomba’s E90 pays homage to the bullish aggression of the #WTCC series, then cranks the horsepower up to 11. And it’s all fully road-legal… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Watson Lu.
Touring Cars rock, there’s no two ways about it. Pick any era from Touring Car history and you’ll find charismatic drivers doing impressive things in cars that look like stickered-up versions of your neighbourhood’s daily drivers, probably while amusingly clattering into everybody in the vicinity in a bloodthirsty rush for the apex. Look at the inaugural #1958 season of the British Touring Car Championship, in which Jack Sears and Tommy Sopwith ended the year on equal points, so the winner was decided by a head-to-head sprint around Brands Hatch in a pair of Riley One-Point-Fives. Or last year, when Rob Austin threw his Audi up the strip at Santa Pod against a 500hp VW splittie, just for a laugh. Or the 1992 season finale, when Cleland, Hoy, Harvey and Soper all got very physical indeed, ending in acres of crumpled steel and all manner of bruised egos…
The Supertouring era of the 1990s has a certain relevance here, in fact. The 2.0-litre displacement cap meant that teams weren’t campaigning M3s like they were in the #E30 days; no, an #E36 BTCC racer would be a 318is or, later, a #320i – and not always in twodoor guise. Non-M3 more-doors gained inexorable race car kudos from this, and that ethos carries over to the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) series too. The formula is simple: take a commuter-spec car, pour a staggering amount of R&D into making it a formidable circuit racer, then shift a load of road cars off the back of it. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, an idea as old as motor racing itself. How this manifests itself in the WTCC is cars that look from afar like the ones you’d see pootling along in the middle lane of the motorway, but up close turn out to be fearsomely wide, aggressively low, and shouty.
You can understand why a person might wish to transmute this race car chic into a daily-driven road car, can’t you? And that’s just what Justin Gomba was thinking when the green shoots of inspiration planted themselves in his brain, before ultimately sprouting, growing, and developing into the mile-wide knee-trembler you see before you. “I wanted something different, something nobody else would have,” he explains, and that’s a sentiment we hear time and time again. There’s a lot of sense in that.
Now, this may not be an M3, but the #E90 - #335i is certainly no slouch in stock form. That twin-turbo #N54 will happily kick out the thick end of 306hp all day long, which is more than enough to keep the average commuter or travelling salesman entertained. Hell, that’s as much as a #Ferrari-348 , which is a good fact to have in your arsenal for ‘mine’s-bigger-than-yours’ pub debates. But Justin had bolder aspirations, as you may well have spotted from the underbonnet shots. This is no stock #N54 . Indeed, the depth of the rabbit hole is measured by those angry hybrid snails from RB Turbo, which work in conjunction with an LTMW front-mount intercooler, Injen cold air feed, bespoke GIAC management, and a custom big-bore exhaust setup to unleash a frankly disturbing 530hp at the wheels. The stock automatic transmission is beefy enough to cope, although a fairly industrial Quaife LSD has been drafted in simply to keep the Tarmac from imploding in reverence at the sheer awesomeness of the thing.
You’ll no doubt have noticed reference to LTMW there. To regular readers, the name LT Motorwerks will be more than familiar; the El Monte, California-based outfit is well established in the game of taking hot BMWs (and other brands now) and making them hotter. What Long Tran and his team don’t know about fusing cutting-edge technology with up-to-the-minute styling trends could be Sharpied on to the back of a postage stamp. The company’s very genesis is grounded in Long’s #2006 #E90 – it’s the car that inspired him to start the business, and he’s a long-standing source of knowledge on E90post. com – so there are few places more appropriate for Justin to haul his 335i to.
In line with Justin’s aspiration to have ‘something nobody else would have’, his investigations led him to Vollkommen Design – a company which, rather helpfully, can be found in the same part of El Monte as LTMW – and the range of fibre-reinforced plastic body addenda that it has developed. Specifically, its World Touring Car Championship-style E90 kit, comprising hugely broadened bumpers, racy skirts and, most impressively, steroidally expanded wings all round. Just take a moment to appreciate the sheer girth of the thing, it really is quite incredible; sure, we’re somewhat spoiled in today’s tuner scene by the likes of Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny and all those advocates of horizon-broadening bodystyling (both literally and cerebrally), but harnessing the functional width of a race car is an entirely separate approach. It feeds into the same fashionable arena, but its roots are planted in something that has existed in motorsport from time immemorial, stretching the body around the grippier footprint.
Oh, and since we’re talking footprint, let’s take a peek under those super-wide arches, shall we? Justin’s riding the old-skool train here with a set of timeless BBS LMs, artfully crafted by Floss Design, which neatly dovetail with the racer aesthetic. In this instance, we’re looking at 10x18s at the front, and a whopping 13” width apiece at the back axle, which is more than enough to ensure that the swollen power figures translate into effective ground-covering. But it can’t hurt to take a belt-and-braces approach, so he’s chosen to wrap a set of Toyo R888s around them – a tyre so sticky that it pretty much melts just from the force of you looking at the sparse tread pattern.
Again, it’s all about the race car vibe. And the rims look ace bursting forth from those muscular curves, don’t they? “It only took LTMW about a week to fit the whole lot,” Justin reveals, which is testament to how proficient it is at churning out kickass motors conveyer-belt-like from its Californian theatre of dreams. But it also speaks volumes for the quality of the kit. “The front fenders are one-piece, bolt-on parts that attach to the stock #BMW mountings,” he explains, “and the bumpers and skirts use the factory locations too.” Where Long’s team had their skills truly tested was in getting the rear wings right, as their fitment involves cutting back the stock wings, then attaching the Vollkommen units over the top. The finish is flawless, though, and thanks to a set of KW Clubsport coilovers (helpfully aided by Phantom air cups – a bagless air-ride system – to help get over speedhumps and suchlike), the stance is bang-on as well. Not just show low, but motorsport low.
Nothing exceeds like excess, as the old saying goes, and simply overhauling the silhouette would never be enough for a man with Justin’s magpie eye, so he’s paid a lot of attention to the details too. Both ends of the E90 have come in for a refresh; the nose wears a set of LCI headlights that have been resculpted by OSS Designs to resemble the lights found on #M4-DTM racers (arguably the most brutal and certainly the most costly Touring Car series), while the tail enjoys a CSL-alike ducktail bootlid from Duke Dynamics, flanked by more LCI jewels. Form and function meet in the interior too, as he’s sourced a set of pukka #BMW-M-Performance seats to keep his kidneys tightly hugged through the twisties, with the rear seats trimmed to match. Yes, the car still has rear seats; while it was undoubtedly tempting to junk the interior entirely and stuff it with FIA-approved monkey bars, Justin’s opted to continue the practical ethos of having four doors by ensuring that he can offer passengers a comfortable place to sit before he scares the hell out of them. And you can’t accuse him of not taking the thing to its ultimate evolution. “I have to admit I never intended to take it this far,” he says, a look of starry-eyed whimsy on his face. It’s so often the case, isn’t it? The act of modifying a BMW seldom results in half-measures or compromise. This 335i is the best that it can be. Those StopTech brakes and M3 chassis gizmos make sure of that, optimising the otherworldly power from the RB-boosted motor, and yet there’s still room for the weekly shop – what more could you want?
Arguably the coolest thing about this project is that it fulfils that little dream that always pops into your head when you’re at a race track: ‘I wonder what would happen if I peeled the stickers off that and used it on the road?’ The answer is the searing red streak that you see here, prowling menacingly through SoCal, a pit-straight refugee with a bad temper and a stableful of horses. The fact that it’s significantly more powerful than a WTCC racer is merely the cherry on a very naughty cake; couple that with the luxurious finish that LTMW have painted in broad strokes across the whole canvas, and Justin’s dream of having ‘something different’ comes alive with unrivalled flair and panache. A grand tourer and a Touring Car in one.
DATA FILE #BMW-E90 335i
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #N54B30 , #RB hybrid turbos, #LTMW intercooler, Injen cold air intake, TiAL dump valve, GIAC management, AR Design custom downpipes and 3.5” VR Speed Factory exhaust, six-speed automatic transmission, Quaife LSD.
CHASSIS: 10x18” (front) and 13x18” (rear) BBS LM wheels with brushed bronze centres with 295/30 (front) and 335/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, StopTech Trophy BBK with six-pot calipers with 355mm discs (front) and four-pot calipers with 335mm discs (rear), KW Clubsport coilover kit, Phantom rear air cups, M3 lower control arms, anti-roll bars and camber adjustment arms.
EXTERIOR: Vollkommen Design WTCC wide-body bumpers, wings, skirts and rear door extensions, CSLstyle Duke Dynamics bootlid, gloss black roof, LCI tail-lights, LCI headlights modified by OSS Designs, M3 mirrors.
INTERIOR: BMW M Performance seats, gear knob and steering wheel with LED display, Alcantara gaiters, rear seats trimmed to match.
THANKS: Long and crew at LT Motorwerks, George at KW Suspension, Darren at Vollkommen Design, James at Floss Design, Luis at OSS Designs, StopTech, Kennedy at Platinum VIP, Tiago at VRSF, #RB-turbo , Bernardo Pena, Jasper Li, James Lam, Felix and Watson Lu, and my beautiful wife Erica.
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