- Post is under moderationALL-TIME LOW Crazy-low static #BMW-Z4-Tuned
All the haters are always ragging on bags, so here’s something seriously static that couldn’t possibly offend anyone… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Scott Paterson.
ULTRA-LOW Z4 You won’t believe it’s static!
For a very long time now scene scientists have been asking the question: “How low can you go?” and for all their research and science the answer eluded them but now, it looks like “Big” Jamie Hitchcock may have solved that particular mystery with his Z4, because if it was any lower it’d be ploughing a furrow down the middle of the road. Oh, and it’s static. Did we mention that? We did? Well we’re mentioning it again. And it’s his daily…
So… Where to begin? It’s hard not to just dive into everything that’s going on here so let’s distract ourselves by talking to Jamie for a bit, about his personal motoring journey from “a very badly modified Citroen Saxo” to where we find him today, before we build ourselves up to actually talking about this car. “I have had a love for BMW for about five years now,” says Jamie as we begin to work out what makes this man tick, “ever since the first time I drove one, an E39 5 Series, I just fell in love not only with the way they look, but the way they drive is just like no other brand.” This Z4 isn’t Jamie’s first foray into BMW ownership, he kicked things off with an E46 325Ci Sport, which he treated to a set of coilovers and Rotiform Nue wheels and things were progressing nicely until one month into his time with the car someone crashed into the side of it and that was that… He followed that up with an E36 328i Coupe, which he managed to get further along with, chucking it on air, adding a set of Throwing Stars, some Vader seats and, tellingly, engine raisers in order to be able to go even lower, which was clearly a sign of things to come.
So, why a Z4? They’re not a staple of the modded #BMW community, part of the appeal we suppose, and they definitely divide opinion when it comes to looks, but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “I have always loved Z4s,” explains Jamie, “I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential.’ I had seen a lot of Z4s in Japan and America and I loved just seeing how they look like a toy car once modified. I was really worried about driving one, being a 6’4” grizzly bear I didn’t think I would fi t, but finally my close friends told me to just go test drive one and I’ve been in love ever since then.”
The Z4, Jamie says, was bought to replace the E36 as a slightly more sensible and reliable car and, while wheels and a little bit of lowering were on the cards from the off, he had no intention of taking things as far as he has, but then again no one ever does. The one area where things have really gone about as far as they could possibly go is the lowering and achieving such an incredible level of low has taken a lot of work. “Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around,” chuckles Jamie. The core of the whole setup is made up of a set of D2 Racing coilovers fitted with shorter springs all-round and these are accompanied by some Driftworks adjustable rear camber arms. Just how much camber is Jamie running? Well it looks like most of it, we think… “The anti-roll bar has been removed as it restricted the front from getting lower,” explains Jamie, “and I even had to get my friend at Hard Knocks Speed Shop to make a custom exhaust because my downpipe was touching the floor and that made a huge hole; it’s tucked right up under the car now and from the manifold-back it’s a two-into-one setup and straight-through with no mid-boxes or silencer.” There’s not really much you can say about how the car sits, the pictures do a far better job than mere words on a page ever could and it’s even more dramatic in real life. It’s just so low, that’s really all you can say.
Obviously the fitment is killer, as you might expect, and as it really would have to be when you have no room for manoeuvre around the arches. Wheel choice was pretty essential as far as creating enough of a visual impact to go with that drop was concerned. “I have and I always will get different wheels for the car,” Jamie tell us, words that every wheel addict will be able to relate to completely, “and so far the Z4 has had four different sets, but I always come back to running my current wheels. They are Work Meister S1 three-piece splits and I don’t know why, I just really love the style of them and the way the car sits with them on,” and he’s not wrong. “Before ordering them, Josh from LikeHell and I spent weeks talking about offsets and widths and lip sizes etc. just to get them the perfect size. The three month wait was a killer, not knowing if they would fit or not, but luckily when they turned up they were so worth the wait,” he grins. “They are just beautiful and there is no better feeling than opening a box of brand new custom wheels. They took a lot of camber adjustment and arch rolling just to get the car to drive but, eventually, they worked out perfectly.” We would have to concur there, the white Works look fantastic on the Z4, those polished lips, the gold bolts, and it’s all finished off with a set of striking purple extended wheel nuts. You might think a colour combo that’s completely concentrated on the wheel areas wouldn’t work so well with no other colours to tie it to, but the clean, grey bodywork is a perfect blank canvas and just crying out for a splash of colour, and these four hotspots at each corner are just the ticket.
Contrasting with that outrageous ride height and those wild wheels is the inherent simplicity of the exterior styling; even now the Z4 has quite an unconventional look with some striking lines and Jamie has just given the styling a little tidy up. The front bumper has been painted and smoothed, black grilles have been fitted, the wheel arches have obviously been rolled and pulled in order to accommodate the Works and, in perhaps the ultimate show of commitment to his Z4, Jamie has even removed the windscreen wipers as he felt they ruined the smoothness of the car. While he hasn’t gone overboard on the interior either, being a fan of what he calls its simple style, it’s certainly got some striking elements that give it a bit of a kick. “My friends at Oxford Car Audio have transformed my dash by custom making me a double-DIN head unit install by deleting the central vents,” says Jamie, “I’m so happy with the way it looks. They also did my boot install for me; I felt a bit left out seeing all the cars on air suspension with nice boot builds so I thought I really wanted a nice, clean audio build and with the help of JL Audio UK that’s what they did for me,” he adds with a grin. “The gear knob makes everyone giggle; I had always liked these We Are Likewise gear knobs but they only came in Japenese screw fitment, until one day they finally made a Euro adapter that fits most European cars. Getting it to fit involved a few tweaks but I got it on there in the end. Finally the steering wheel is by Renown USA and I love it, it’s just such a quality wheel,” he says.
Often people take modifying cars far too seriously and it’s good to see someone really having fun with their project and enjoying themselves, which was the core philosophy of Jamie’s Z4 build. “The Japanese fitment scene has always been a big influence for me but with a German twist, it to me just seems more fun and that’s what my car is all about,” he says and we can only agree. We’re certain that there will be parts of this car that don’t appeal to everyone, some people might even have a problem with the whole thing, but ultimately they can get stuffed because this is all about Jamie and what he wanted and what he’s created. It’s the automotive equivalent of a smack round the chops, a shock to the senses and you’ve got to admire it. But Jamie’s not done yet… “I’ve got a never-ending list of plans,” he laughs, “more wheels, more lows…” What? More lows?! He’s already got all the lows. There are literally no more lows left for anyone else. But if you’ve come this far, then why not go that little bit further? In a mad modified world, it’s the only sensible thing to do.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E85 / #Work-Meister
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , induction kit, custom Hard Knocks Speed Shop two-into-one straight-through exhaust system. Five-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x18” ET3 (front) and 10x18” ET5 (rear) #Work-Meister-S1 three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, stud kit, #326Power extended wheel nuts, #D2-Racing coilover struts, #Swift and Tein custom springs, #Driftworks E46 adjustable rear camber arms
EXTERIOR Front bumper painted and smoothed, black grilles, windscreen wiper delete, rolled and pulled arches
INTERIOR Renown steering wheel, We Are Likewise gear knob, custom-fit Alpine Apple CarPlay, JL Audio boot build trimmed in red and plastic moulded to match dash
THANKS There are far too many people to thank with this car; firstly to Josh of LikeHell Design for all the help, James of Crescent Tyres for putting up with all the hassle of my monthly tyre needs, Yusuf and the boys in Team Untamed, everyone at Oxford Car Audio, most of all Lamb and the RXTI boys
“I have always loved Z4s, I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential’”
18” three-piece Work Meister S1s look spectacular.
Engine fitted with induction kit and straight-through exhaust means it sounds awesome.
“Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPOWER UP Hardcore, supercharged E46 330Ci
What was once a stock 330Ci has now evolved into a supercharged, track-focussed monster. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Viktor Benyi.
’CHARGED BMW E46 330Ci Track-focussed full-on build…
Supercharging a “lesser” model of BMW is something that a lot of people don’t really understand. “Why didn’t you just buy an M3/ M5/M6 in the first place?” they will ask and, in absolute terms, you can see their point. Why spend arguably the same amount of money, or perhaps even more, buying and subsequently supercharging something that isn’t an M car and ending up with around the same sort of power level, when you could have just bought a fully-fledged, finely-honed M machine in the first place? It’s a valid, logical point, but logic has little place in the world of modifying. The thing is that very few people buy a car knowing exactly where they’re going with it, how it’s going to end up and with the specific plan of supercharging it. Sure, some people do, but take a look through this issue, the last issue, pretty much any issue of the mag and you’ll see feature car after feature car owner saying that they really had no intention of going as far as they did with their cars. The other thing is that, generally speaking, something like a supercharger is usually one of the last mods anyone does and that’s because it makes a lot more sense – and here logic can be applied to modding – to sort out the chassis, the brakes, make sure everything else is up to scratch before you start ramping up the power. It’s the right way to do it, really.
Which brings us neatly to Richard Kiraly and his supercharged E46 330Ci. As you can probably tell from the pictures, this is one exceptionally well-sorted 3 Series and, as you won’t be at all surprised to learn, when Richard bought the car there was no plan for anything beyond the most basic of mods, let alone creating a car as full-on as this has ended up becoming. Richard has been a BMW owner for 12 years, though that time period has been divided up between just three cars: his first BMW, an E34 525tds, which was followed by an E39 525d, and now the E46. Thing is, while he may say there was no plan of attack here, both of his previous Bavarian steeds, and a couple of cars before that, have all received some level of mild modding, so we reckon he wouldn’t have been able to leave the E46 alone anyway.
Hailing from Hungary, Richard’s hunt for the right example of what was the most affordable way of fulfilling his childhood dream of owning a frameless window coupé took him all the way to Leipzig in Germany, after six months of searching, and what was then a plain old 330Ci Sport. With car in hand, the mods began and stage one was styling. The E46 Coupé is a fi ne-looking thing, we’re big fans, but go big or go home, right? Go big it was, with Richard giving his 330Ci the M3 look courtesy of the M car’s wings and bumpers before cranking things up to 11 and taking the styling to another level. The front bumper has been seriously beefed-up with the addition of that carbon lip and those full-on corner splitters and even the intakes that funnel cooling air to the brakes are made from carbon. The bonnet? That’s carbon too, a vented GTR item that’s been painted body colour with just the slats of the vents left bare, teasing its carbon construction. M3 mirrors have been added while at the rear there’s a unique diffuser, a set of LED lights and a fibreglass CSL-style boot lid to finish things off nicely. It’s a greatlooking car, all the styling enhancements blending together perfectly and with the M3 body parts on board, the more aggressive aero elements don’t overwhelm the look of the whole car.
The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s, which suit the look and direction of the car perfectly, and while their familiar sixspoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does. It’s a bold, bright blue that doesn’t tie-in with anything, anywhere on the car but wow, does it look good. Somehow it just works so well against that sexy, solid grey paintwork and your eyes are immediately drawn to the wheels. They’re the first thing you notice on the car and you realise that, actually, opting for that punch of colour was definitely the right thing to do as it really makes them stand out. You can probably tell that this car hasn’t been built for show, it’s all about go, and peering between the spokes of the JR3s confirms that beyond any reasonable doubt as that’s when you notice the massive brakes. The calipers come from a 135i, says Richard, with six-pots up front clamping M3 CSL discs, and two-pots at the rear while the suspension has also been suitably uprated and these mods came about when he decided to start making track outings a regular occurrence. BC Racing coilovers have been fitted here, and they deliver a solid drop, along with uprated anti-roll bars, Powerflex bushes, Eibach adjustable rear control arms and front and rear strut braces, completing a comprehensive programme of upgrades. The interior changes, too, have come about from the car’s regular appearance at track days and amateur tournaments; up front, a pair of bucket seats have been fitted, along with a set of Schroth three-point harnesses, while the rear seats have been removed altogether, as has the air-con. White-faced dials have been added to give the gauges a sportier look and Richard has also fitted a digital display in place of one of the central air vents to keep an eye on various under-bonnet temperatures.
So, to the engine. The M54B30 is a great motor, plenty of torque, a lovely top end, plus it sounds lush but by modern standards it’s not going to set anyone’s world alight and with him being so committed to track driving, you can see why Richard wanted a little more performance. NA mods are fi ne and could liberate a bit more horsepower but if you want serious gains then you have to bring out the big guns and go straight for forced induction. What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an ESS TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twinscrew, positive displacement blower, and that means it delivers a huge hit of low-end torque the moment you hit the accelerator, perfect for punching out of turns on track. It’s an impressive piece of kit and puts out some meaty numbers, 320hp and a very healthy 302lb ft of torque. Here it’s been further bolstered by the addition an #AFE high-flow intake, a set of Schmiedmann high-flow cats and a ProEx exhaust system with racing silencer while an S54 oil cooler helps keep temperatures down on track. The transmission hasn’t been forgotten about, either, and Richard’s fitted a lightweight flywheel and Sachs race clutch plus an LSD to help him put all that power down.
We really like Richard’s E46. It’s been built with purpose after being bought with no specific direction in mind. It’s a focussed and finely-honed machine, but one that’s not so extreme that it can’t be used on the road. It looks good and it’s got the power to match the extreme aero additions; it really is an exceptional performance package. Richard has spent eight years getting the car to where it is today, but he’s not done yet and the next round of mods is imminent. “I want to cover the interior in Alcantara,” he says, “and I’ve currently got a CSL front bumper with twin brake air inlets under construction and I’ve also got an ESS TS2+ supercharger kit ready to go,” he adds, which is really going to take this E46 to the next level.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW #Supercharged / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #Japan-Racing / #ESS-TS1 / #ESS-Tuning / #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #ESS-TS1-supercharger-kit , #AFE air filter, #Schmiedmann sport cats, #ProEx exhaust system with racing silencers and black heat-resistant quad tips, S54 oil cooling system. Five-speed manual gearbox, lightweight flywheel, #Sachs racing clutch, short-shift kit, #LSD
CHASSIS 8.5x18” ET15 (front) and 9.5x18” ET15 (rear) #Japan-Racing-JR3 wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers, uprated anti-roll bars, #Powerflex bushes, #Eibach adjustable rear control arms, front and rear strut braces, #Brembo six-piston calipers with M3 CSL discs (front), #Brembo two-piston calipers (rear), braided brake lines, competition brake fluid
EXTERIOR E46 M3 wings, front and rear bumpers, carbon front splitter, front bumper race air intake, GTR carbon bonnet, E46 M3 door mirrors, custom rear diffuser, E46 M3 CSL-style boot lid, LED rear lights
INTERIOR White gauges, digital data display in central air vent, bucket seats, three-point Schroth harness, rear seats removed, air-con removed, spare wheel well removed, fire extinguisher
“What Richard’s got strapped to the side of his engine is an #ESS-TS1 supercharger kit, which uses a twin-screw, positive displacement blower”
BC Racing coilovers with adjustable top mounts.
135i brakes have been fitted all-round.
“The wheels are Japan Racing JR3s… and while their familiar six-spoke design doesn’t get your attention, the colour certainly does”
Bucket seats, harnesses and rear seat delete let you know this E46 means business.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSometimes it only takes a few simple mods to unlock the true potential of a project car. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Henry Phull @ Slam Sanctuary
SUITED AND BOOTED Air-ride E60 5 Series
Big saloons often have an air of ‘dad car’ about them; people often assume that when they see someone younger driving a big, luxury, executive saloon it’s not theirs because surely they can’t afford something like that? Shouldn’t they be driving around in an antisocial hatchback instead? But big saloons definitely have plenty of appeal, especially when it comes to modifying, because they’re not the default, popular choice. This means that you can build something individual that stands out from the crowd. It’s why I own an E39 and why Lawrence Warner-Green drives an E60.
The E60 is arguably one of the least modified BMWs, M5 notwithstanding. Over the past couple of years it feels like we’ve only had a handful at most, so when one does pop up it always piques our interest, not least because it enables us to answer that age old question: what sort of person buys an E60 520i SE? Well, in this case, that person is a 23-year-old insurance company team leader, probably not BMW’s target demographic when it designed the E60 but there we go.
Young Lawrence cut his motoring teeth on a Polo, on which he also cut his modifying teeth. “I was very young at the time and was hooked on Need For Speed. Needless to say the modifications were a little, er, full on!” he laughs. Well, we all have start somewhere. The Polo was just a means to an end, however, because he knew that his destiny lay with BMWs. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I was about 17,” he says.
“I found the world of StanceWorks and Mike Burroughs and, after seeing some of his BMW builds, I became obsessed! BMWs are so special to me because of the instant connection I feel I have with them after watching hundreds of videos, reading tons of build threads and the culture they create within the car world.”
Filled with inspiration and the vigour of youth he promptly purchased a £900 E36 318iS and proceeded to get modding, albeit a little more tastefully than before, with some coilovers, black grilles, wheels – the usual array of upgrades. The E36 was a fine way to start his #BMW journey but after a while Lawrence started to get itchy feet and hunger for a new project, which brings us to his E60…
“I decided on an E60 5 Series as I wanted to do something a little different. I’d never really seen anything done to an E60 so I wanted to give it a go,” he says. “Stock, the E60 looks like a 60-year-old’s mode of transport but I could see they have loads of potential when you look past the not-soappealing stock exterior. That, along with the thought of cruising in the biggest pimp wagon I could think of, motivated me!”
He makes a good point because when starting out with a new project you have to be able to look beyond the bad towards your end goal and the car you’re going to build, not necessarily the car you’ve bought. This wasn’t going to be a balls-out, no-holdsbarred build, though, because it also had to serve as Lawrence’s daily. “I’m not one of these people that spends thousands on modifications,” he explains. “I always drive my cars daily. They aren’t tucked away nicely until show season comes around. A car to me is for driving and I don’t want to be constantly worrying about paint damage, kerbed wheels etc.
“In my mind I had a rough idea of what I wanted the car to look like. Air was a must and I knew I wanted to create something that looked great but was also practical, as I’d be driving it every day. I knew I wanted some nice big wheels that tucked up nicely into the arches but, again, I wasn’t looking to spend thousands on a set of wheels that would most likely become weathered after a while.”
With air being a must-have for his build, Lawrence started looking around for someone who could make it happen for him. After a lengthy search he decided to pay a visit to Studio Incar. “The owner, Carl ‘Shakey’ Shakespeare, talked me through what would be best for my car and what I wanted. After a few discussions I went with an Air Lift setup with an AutoPilot V2 fourway controller. This was matched with a nice subtle boot install still providing me with plenty of boot space. It’s exactly what I wanted and the guys at Studio InCar smashed it out of the park!”
With the emphasis on practicality, the boot build here is one of the neatest and most modest we’ve seen. All the hardware has been tucked away neatly out of sight, while the single tank has been custommounted in the roof of the boot area, leaving the entire floor space free and useable.
With the suspension sorted it was time to work on those dowdy SE looks, which were never going to cut the mustard. “I wasn’t too sure what I wanted for the car as far as styling goes,” says Lawrence. “All I knew was that I wanted something that looked unique and something I could just see myself cruising in. I also loved the idea of something that was low and that looked gangster as hell!”
The E60 now wears E60 M5-style front and rear bumpers – pretty gangster in our book. In addition, all of the nasty chrome has been removed or subdued, with black kidney grilles and black Plasti Dip’d window trims, giving the car a far more serious demeanour.
“Colin Ware and the guys at Kustom Kolors did an amazing job at repairing scratches and stone chips to the bodywork,” beams Lawrence. “And they also sprayed my bumpers. I wouldn’t use anybody else.” Of course, you can’t fit an E60 M5 rear bumper when you’ve only got the standard 520i exhaust in place, and that’s where Lawrence’s favourite mod makes an appearance. “Standard E60s only have an exhaust on one side but I wanted dual exhausts, so I went to the guys at Mike Stokes in Bournemouth and they gave me exactly what I wanted: a custom straightthrough exhaust. The thing sounds like a V8. Shame it doesn’t go like one!”
So that just leaves the wheels. “I knew I wanted something big,” grins Lawrence. “So I decided to go with a set of 20’’ 3SDM 0.08s. If anyone knows E60s, they will be aware that you need some big old wheels to fill those massive arches. I really liked the styling of the wheels and the fact I hadn’t really seen them on many other cars. This was the hardest part for me. I spent months and months deciding on wheels! I would have loved a set of custom Avant Garde splits but they were just way out of my price range. I looked at so many different ones but the 3SDMs really caught my eye.”
The E60’s big bodywork, especially above the rear arches, definitely gives you carte blanche to go as big as you dare with wheels and 20s are the perfect size, really filling those arches when the car is aired-out. The clean, concave design of the 0.08s works well against the modern styling of the E60, too.
Lawrence hasn’t gone mad on the mods but what he has done has transformed a dowdy saloon into a clean, sharp-suited machine that definitely looks like it means business. The wheels, styling and air-ride are a heady combination and three simple elements are all that are needed to absolutely transform this 5 Series and unlock the potential that Lawrence could see in it. While there are many more plans spilling out of his ever-active brain, for now the main plan is to enjoy the car as it is. As far as the future is concerned, though, this E60 has plenty more to give…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E60 / #BMW-520i / #BMW-520i-E60 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E60 / #BMW-5-Series-Sedan /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.2-litre straight-six #M54B22 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , custom straight through cat-back quad with no rear boxes, six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #3SDM 0.08 wheels with 235/35 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance air suspension with quarter-inch lines and double bellow bags
EXTERIOR #M5-style front bumper, M5-style rear bumper, black kidney grilles, black Plasti Dip’d window trims, RollHard sun-strip
INTERIOR #AutoPilot-V2 controller, custom mounted air tank in the boot
“I loved the idea of something that was low and looked gangster as hell”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPIERS’ #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i-E46 / Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring / #BMW-330i-Touring-E46 / #BMW
After a quick weekend break across the most expensive stretch of water in the world to the IOW, summer hols have given me a bit of time to get on with another major job, the dreaded Vanos seals. Like most of the things that I have already done on the wagon, the Vanos seals are another thing that needs sorting because of perished rubber/plastic. The double Vanos system on the #M54 engine varies the cams on both the intake and exhaust in order to increase power and torque for any given engine speed and throttle position. After time, the four rubber O-rings on the pistons inside the system harden and perish because of the material they’re made from. A Vanos rebuild centres around changing the old seals and the O-rings are upgraded from Buna rubber to Viton; Viton copes much better with the oil and heat inside the engine.
So all of that sounds simple and it kind of is, except you have to pull apart all of the usual things when working on the M54 engine: the air intake, radiator fan and cabin filter housing and rocker cover. The ’50s Kid on YouTube has a great tutorial on how to do these things. He also has a Vanos rebuild tutorial, which includes the antirattle rings (which I don’t need to do… yet!). I have watched the videos of ’50s Kid several times now so was pretty happy with how to do things. I had stockpiled all of the parts to do the job with the replacement seals themselves where from I6 Automotive.
Whilst taking on this job it is a good idea to change the gasket between the block and the Vanos unit and then, whilst the rocker cover is off, all of the gaskets on that. I also decided to change the spark plugs whilst everything was off as it was easier. Six NKGs sorted out the pretty tired-looking Bosch plugs!
Once the system is off it’s fairly straightforward to swap out the seals for new ones. Like everything you just take your time and work in a clean environment! Make sure you have plenty of rags around when you are getting the unit off as there is quite a bit of oil which will come out and happily cover all of your radiator hoses and drive belts – not something you want to happen!
With the seals done it is just a case of getting everything back together again. On start up the engine will sound a bit rough but that is just the system having to refill with oil. I am currently pootling around for 100 miles below 3000 revs to bed things in, so will let you all know next month how things have changed, if at all!
What has happened every time I have done a major job to the engine? You guessed it, a coil pack went down, the engine light went on and the car started running on five cylinders! So I sorted the problem for good and replaced all of the remaining old ones. Apparently if one goes they all start to go, as the next weakest one becomes the weakest link!
I am hoping that now the Vanos seals, spark plugs and coil packs are all new the engine will have a new lease of life and fuel economy will improve that little bit more as well. Next time I should have changed the fuel filter, as I’m not sure when that was last done. Also the rear suspension will hopefully be back from the powdercoaters!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSMOOTH OPERATOR
12 years of ownership have resulted in one gorgeous E46. It’s traditional after 12 years of marriage to celebrate your silk anniversary, so it’s fitting that 12 years of ownership have resulted in one super-smooth E46. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Petrie
Ah, the E46. What a great car, both to own and drive. It’s arguably one of BMW’s best efforts on all fronts. It’s also a great way to get your first taste of modified car life, a nice way to ease yourself into the scene gently and take things slowly while you find your feet, right? Well not for 27-year-old New Jersey resident Jorge Hernandez. Not only is this awesome build is his first BMW, or even his first modified car; it’s both of those things, as it’s his first ever car. It’s not that he’s just learnt to drive, though, he’s actually owned this E46 330i for 12 years!
“I was first made aware of how special BMWs were when my cousin came home with his brand-new car: a Techno violet E36 M3,” explains Jorge. It clearly made a big impression on the young man. “Since then I knew I had to have a BMW,” he says. However, as a four-door fan, with no E46 M3 Saloon available, Jorge ended up buying a blue E46 330i Saloon in 2004.
While he was well aware of the modified car scene at that time, he had no clear vision for his E46. Flick through a 2004 issue of PBMW and you’ll see that the modified BMW scene was a very different, and rather scary, place back then. It was full of outrageous body kits and dubious styling mods that have, thankfully, long since been forgotten about. It was a world that needed some careful navigation to avoid creating a car that would end up looking like a mobile eyesore. Luckily, help was at hand in the shape of the E46Fanatics forum and after some quality time spent online, Jorge soon began to form a clearer picture of the direction he wanted to take his E46 in.
One thing he’s not done much with over the past 12 years is the engine. “I always wanted to keep the motor semi-stock as I’m not a big speed freak,” he explains. “I just wanted to do all of the little bolt-ons to make a little quicker it and sound better.”
That sounds pretty modest but Jorge’s chosen some really choice mods under the bonnet and he’s definitely not scrimped on quality with his selection of engine upgrades. To start, there’s an extremely sexy GruppeM carbon fibre intake and a set of Technik Gen 3 equal-length exhaust manifolds, which most definitely give the E46 a bit more power and ramp up the volume level of that glorious straight-six.
And the whole lot is topped off with a Remus Powersound quad exhaust that really looks the part and sounds fantastic, too. The engine bay itself has been treated to a whole host of carbon fibre goodies, including a Radenergie strut brace and engine cover plus an EAS carbon ECU cover and oil filler cap.
On the styling front this E46 delivers big time. Jorge has done an awesome job here and he’s definitely achieved his goal of creating a car that looks both clean and aggressive. “I feel like everything has to flow in a particular way, and that meant mixing and matching the pieces from a bunch of different companies,” he says. PBMW regular, Autocouture Motoring, was entrusted to work its magic and fit Jorge’s array of parts.
We really have to talk about the bonnet, not just because it’s a Vorsteiner GT-R carbon fibre item, which makes it pretty special, but also because of the paint finish on it. Where some people might choose to leave their vents unpainted, exposing the carbon core of the bonnet, Jorge has had the whole lot painted but the slats of the vents themselves have been finished in a crazy rainbow flake blue that looks spectacular when it catches the light and which really makes the vents pop. The front bumper is an M Tech 1 item from the pre-face-lift Sport E46, and while it’s not as aggressive as the latter version it’s got a much smoother, fatter, fuller look that a lot of people prefer.
It ties in perfectly with the face-lift styling, too. The bumper has been enhanced with the addition of a Rieger front lip that’s been blended into the bumper for a cleaner look. The mirrors are genuine AC Schnitzer items and are complemented by a Schnitzer roof spoiler while the sculpted side skirts are Hamann GT-R items. At the back, there’s a Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, which looks great on the Saloon, and an SRS-Tec rear bumper with a dual-ribbed diffuser plus space for the quad tips of that Remus exhaust. Jorge’s also had the body mouldings colour-coded and fitted Euro turn signals all-round.
The interior has been left alone. “I think BMW did it right,” says Jorge, but one area that has been improved is the audio as the stock system is pretty disappointing unless you or someone else ticked the Harman Kardon upgrade box on the options list. Up front, there’s a Kenwood double-DIN DDX371 headunit, while in the boot you’ll find a JL Audio 500/1 amp and 12w6v2 sub plus a Stinger capacitor, all mounted in a custom enclosure which has been painted body colour and features a suede-wrapped floor and side panels.
So the styling is well and truly sorted, but it’s no good having a killer car if you don’t have the wheels to match. Fear not, Jorge’s choice for the E46 is awesome. “I’ve always been a fan of having wheels that you don’t see often,” he says. “I was offered a sponsorship by Rotiform and it had exactly what I wanted: a set of SJCs.” This bold, intricate wheel is the perfect choice to sit alongside that strong blue paint and Jorge opted for the forged multi-piece design in a brushed finish and mirror polished stepped lips. The wheels – 9x19” and 10x19” front and rear respectively – really suit the E46 well and the decision to keep them unpainted was definitely the right one as they really stand out. Plus the brushed finish looks so good. The Rotiforms have been teamed up with a stud conversion kit which has been topped-off with a set of neochrome wheel nuts. Beyond the spokes sit some bright yellow Porsche 996 911 calipers and a set of CSL discs.
Jorge has also sorted the suspension and there’s actually a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The drop in ride height comes courtesy of a set of Broadway Static coilovers but then there are the H&R anti-roll bars, the Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, the Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and, finally, the Bimmerworld camber arms. Jorge’s clearly put a lot more thought into his suspension setup than most do and this combination has not only given this E46 that all-important visual drama but also sharpened-up the handling no end, making it far more than just all about the looks.
It’s rare to meet someone on the modified #BMW scene who has owned their car for this long but it’s refreshing to see. And aside from planning to swap the Steptronic gearbox for a six-speed manual, it looks like Jorge’s reached a point where he’s happy and the modifying will stop. For the time being, at least. And who wouldn’t be happy with this E46? It’s a fantastic-looking car with a lot of great details and it’s an incredibly satisfying point for Jorge to be at after over a decade of modifying.
Above: 19” Rotiform SJCs with brushed centres and Porsche 911 brake kit. Right: JL amp and sub add a bit more bass to musical proceedings.
DATA FILE #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330i / #BMW-330i-E46 / #Rotiform / Steptronic / #Technik / #BMW-3-Series-Sedan / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #Technik-Gen-3 headers, #GruppeM carbon fibre ram-air intake, #Radenergie carbon fibre strut brace and carbon fibre engine cover, #EAS carbon fibre ECU cover, air filter cover and oil cap, #Remus-Powersound quad exhaust. Five-speed #Steptronic gearbox
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Rotiform-SJC wheels with brushed centres, 215/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Broadway Static coilovers, H&R anti-roll bars, Turner Motorsport adjustable endlinks, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Bimmerworld camber arms, Porsche 996 Carrera Brembo BBK, OEM E46 M3 CSL floating discs
EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GT-R carbon fibre bonnet, M Tech 1 front bumper with moulded Rieger lip, #AC-Schnitzer mirrors, #Hamann GT-R side skirts, painted body mouldings, Euro turn signals, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler, Euro-spec carbon fibre CSL bootlid, SRS-Tec rear bumper with dual ribbed diffuser
INTERIOR Brushed aluminium trim, Kenwood DDX371 head unit, JL Audio 12w6v2 sub, JL Audio 500/1 amp, Stinger capacitor, custom enclosure painted body colour with floor and side panels wrapped in suedeStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSUPERCHARGED #BMW-330i E46 BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
The 330Ci is a fantastic machine, but with a supercharger strapped to its straight-six, it’s even better. For those not lucky enough to be able to afford a weekly runaround, compromise is something many BM owners have had to accept. Well compromising need no longer mean settling for less, as Harv Singh’s supercharged E46 330Ci demonstrates. Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Matt Barnes.
When your good friend and cousin is Kav Bhamra, the owner of one of the finest E46 330Cis on the UK scene, what little money you do have is certainly hard to cling on to!
Harv Singh, a 27-year-old IT systems analyst, has found out that chasing perfection needn’t be costly though, and can be a hugely rewarding business. Like a rolling snowball, his car has gathered a huge selection of custom Hamann parts over the past two years. But, like most modified cars this re-style was never really planned. “It has just kind of happened, I guess. I see things I like, whether online or through my friends, then I try to find them for reasonable money. I love a good deal so often I’ll buy things even if at the time I can’t afford to fit them,” explains Harv.
Unlike many of the other modified BMs on the UK scene, this is no chequebook car. “I have had to work very hard to pay for every addition I have made, but, I think people who just pay to have their cars modified are missing the point. They don’t get half the satisfaction I do,” Harv says.
He’s quite right too; in our experience all the best feature cars have taken years to create, and often arise through owner dedication over and above a bottomless bank account.
This supercharged E46 330Ci is Harv’s second BMW. His first, an E36 328i Sport, was bought when he was an impoverished student. With the limited money he did have, he managed to upgrade the alloys to 19” Hartge Classics and improve the suspension with Eibach springs. Although modifications were not extensive, the car cemented Harv’s relationship with BMW, and provided him with enough passion and inspiration to take the next step into the tuning scene. Straight from university Harv found employment, and within six months had purchased, what is to date, one of the most perfectly proportioned Threes I’ve ever laid eyes on: an Estoril blue, 330Ci Clubsport.
Harv purchased the car for a variety of reasons and is often asked why he didn’t choose an E46 M3. Surely by now, after all these mods he must have paid well over the asking price of the Motorsport coupé? Harv laughs: “You’re probably right, I have paid far more than the asking price of an M3, but what people forget time and time again is the running costs. As a daily driver the E46 M3 just isn’t practical. With the miles I do, the servicing and running costs are far higher than my 330Ci. It’s just more economical, even with the supercharger. I also don’t feel I could have made the M3 as beautiful as I have made my car, well not without selling the house!” Harv, you could just be right.
As with most of our feature cars, Harv never intended to go this far, it just sort of spiralled out of control. Ironically, the whole process was kicked off because of a fault with the car when Harv found the original 18” factory split rims had corroded on the inside. The wheels, the previous owner assured, were covered under BMW’s anticorrosion policy. It turns out he was right, so the car was sent to BMW and a few days later a gleaming set of new rims adorned every arch. With the good fortune of having been gifted four shiny alloys Harv decided to sell them and put the money towards a set of 19s. So, with the help of Hamann, he settled for 19” HM2s, sourced by friend Scotty from Chapel Tyres. These wheels are by no means common, and what separates them is their width. At 10” a piece, Harv reckons these are the widest rears on any E46 330Ci in the UK. Standing behind the car I have to say I’m inclined to agree.
With such wide rims Harv couldn’t simply pop them on so the arches were rolled by Style Dynamics to accommodate all that new rubber. With the wheels no longer rubbing, Harv and Kav set about fitting Boge lowering springs and four-pot racing calipers so the stance and stopping potential of the car would match the epic wheel proportions. Kav is in fact such a dab hand with all things BMW that he managed to do this on Harv’s front driveway! He then installed Generation 2 angel eyes, which he purchased through Teddy Hsu at SSDD Motorsport.
To improve performance on went a Supersprint twin exhaust system, stainless steel back-box and GruppeM-style carbon fibre induction kit. At the rear of the car facelift LEDs were fitted, which was not as easy as it may sound. In truth, Harv had to take the car to Jason from B&W Chip Tune so the ECU could be recalibrated to accept the new lights, a time-consuming exercise but one that really freshens up the coupé.
Subtle detailing such as the Projector indicators and upgraded silver bulbs also add a new dimension to this Three.
As previously mentioned Harv was not in a position to fully customise his ride in one fell swoop. Therefore, like many modifiers, he acquired different body parts as and when they appeared online. Our man had no real strategy, just an insistence on buying genuine items for bargain prices, which is not an easy task at the best of times!
Nonetheless, like a squirrel preparing for winter, Harv gathered, mostly from eBay, an original E46 CSL boot lid, E46 M3 front bumper and bonnet, and full black leather E46 M3 interior. Kav once again got right on the case, installing the new Nappa leather.
To save money on paintwork and before Harv had the car resprayed he realised that now was the time to purchase any additional body parts. After much discussion and many an hour on www.e36coupe.com Harv decided to go with Hamann once again, this time ordering GTR sideskirts, carbon fibre front splitter, brake duct mouldings and genuine M3 electric fold-up mirrors.
Des, a friend of Harv’s took on the job of fitting and fabricating the new parts. Most went on without issue, but as those of you familiar with original M3 body parts will know, they don’t simply bolt on to the 330Ci.
In fact, Des had to remove at least 2” either side of the front bumper just to get it to fit comfortably, and to fit the M3 bonnet needed to adjust and realign the front arches. The finish is flawless and the car genuinely looks like it’s fresh from the factory. There are no ill-fitting lines or minor disharmonies so common when modifiers stray from OEM parts. It could be Harv’s stringent policy of sticking with genuine Hamann items for the exterior body styling that makes this project such a success. It is wonderful to see BMWs that look like BMWs, especially when they are sharper, in our opinion, than the original design.
Our day’s photoshoot with the car took place on an airfield, a setting that attracts clientele who, how can I say it, are filthy rich! Even in these upper echelons of society amateur pilots continually wandered over to get a closer look. And they didn’t even know about the supercharger!
Let’s get back to the car. Harv considered his project complete once Des handed over the keys but things like superchargers don’t just happen, do they? The facts are as follows. An Evotechnik member decided to de-mod his car in order to sell it. He mentioned on the forum that his ’charger was for sale on a first come, first serve basis. Music to Harv’s (and let’s be honest Kav’s) ears. A few phone calls later and Harv had secured it, but there was a catch, as he explains: “He told me I had to un-install the part myself so I gave Kav a call. He went down there and got on with removing it.
Surprisingly it came out without hassle.” Due to work commitments Harv was required to go to the US just days after acquiring his new toy but he was so excited that he decided to have the supercharger installed while he was away, hoping he could collect it on his return. However, with the project running so smoothly it was only a matter of time before Harv would reach a stumbling block, and this was it. The garage informed him that his new supercharger had seized and that his car was not only taking up room but was undrivable. The following few days were a nightmare, with Harv on and off the phone to Infinitus, the manufacturer of the original supercharger.
Fortunately the previous owner had driven over to Germany to see it installed in his car personally and as such the company were well aware of this particular ’charger’s existence. Pure luck was on the side of Harv because during the period of complaint, the firm was busy testing Alpina superchargers. Harv’s insistence paid off because a few days, and many phone calls later with the huge workload the Infinitus boys had on, manager Dirk Ochmann decided to send Harv a brand new supercharger, replacing the failed unit.
That’s right, brand new! The part was shipped directly to the garage holding the car and within days it was fitted.
Harv arrived home to a car whose looks were now backed up by its performance. In fact at 300bhp Harv has got himself a really potent 330Ci that doubles up as an everyday cruiser. The sound alone is worthy of a Grammy, a deep burble harmonising with a high-pitched wail when he floors the throttle, music to any petrolhead’s ears.
Harv explains: “The new performance is perfect; it’s fast, immediate to respond and unique. The supercharger has been my best modification to date, it’s transformed the car.”
To complete the project Kav convinced Harv to update the cabin and fit a full CSL weave carbon interior pack, the perfect accompaniment to the M3 leather. With the aid of Ben Sweetman of Chromeline Design the car’s styling was complete.
Harv’s car has really impressed us. Instead of the E46 M3 wannabe we had pictured what he’s actually done is far more appealing. A subtle, classically styled Three that does not need to boast via exaggerated arches or quad exhaust tailpipes. In my opinion, if the M3 were a person it would be brash, slightly crude and annoyingly wealthy; think Michael Carrol Lotto lout.
Harv’s Hamann styled 330Ci is a far cry from the ASBO generation. A svelte, potent, yet reserved character more akin to James Bond. This is the kind of car that 007 might drive when the Aston’s in the garage, and that, I’m sure you will agree, is never a bad thing.
DRIVE-MY’s new waistcoats went down a treat with Harv and Joel. Only a slightly better option than being run over by a plane.
DATA FILE SUPERCHARGED #BMW-330Ci-E46 / #BMW-330Ci / #BMW-E46 / #BMW / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged-E46 / #BMW-330Ci-Supercharged / #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 / #M54-Supercharged / #Infinitas / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46
ENGINE: 3.0-litre six-cylinder, #Infinitas-SK+ Supercharger, Infinitus air filter, carbon fibre engine cover, Supersprint twin stainless steel exhaust system with 80mm tips
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear), #Hamann-HM2 s shod in 235/35 (front) and 265/30 (rears) with Dunlop Sport 9000 tyres, 12mm Spacers up front, #FK-Highsport coilovers suspension kit, #ATE 4-pot calipers (front) with Hamann decals, AC Schnitzer-style front strut brace
EXTERIOR: OEM E46 M3 front bumper, #Active-Autowerkes M3-style bumper mesh, OEM E46 M3 bonnet, Hamann carbon fibre front splitter, Chromeline Design carbon fibre kidney grille, #Hamann-GTR side skirts, OEM E46 M3 electric fold-up mirrors, Hamann brake duct covers, sport rear bumper with colour-coded diffuser, OEM CSL boot lid, SSDD black projector indicators with silver bulbs, OEM xenon headlight conversion, Generation 2 CCFL angel eyes, OEM LED rear light clusters
INTERIOR: Full M3 black Nappa leather, Chromeline Design carbon fibre dash kit and upper steering wheel section (CSL weave), Hamann handbrake handle, Hamann gear knob, Hamann carbon fibre door trims
ICE: Pioneer head unit with 12-disc changer, Harmon Kardon factory upgrade speaker system
THANKS: Kav Bhamra for ongoing advice and help with fitting, Des for all the painting of the external modifications, Jason of B&W Chiptune, Ben of Chromeline Design, Teddy of SSDD Motorsport, E36coupe.com and Evotechnik forum members for ongoing guidance and support, Infinitas in Germany, my family for putting up with my addiction!
19” Hamann HM2s look outstanding alongside the ATE 4-pot calipers and genuine Hamann decals Left: Full M3 interior adds a touch of class and provides additional support with the incresed power.
Infinitas SK + supercharger dominates the engine bay while carbon fibre engine covers and AC Schnitzer-stlye front strut brace turn something already beautiful into a work of art.
AT 300BHP HARV HAS GOT HIMSELF A REALLY POTENT 330CI THAT DOUBLES UP AS AN EVERYDAY CRUISER. THE SOUND ALONE IS WORTHY OF A GRAMMY .Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSLAMMED WAGON
Awesome ultra-low E39 LOW LIFE / A slammed static E39 Touring that gets everything right.
The E39 Touring has always been an extremely handsome machine and a few choice mods can get it looking even better. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Marcus Lundell.
I remember reading the E39 Touring brochure back in #1997 (my aunt was thinking of getting one) and I recall thinking the E39 looked rather elegant and upmarket, shot as it was in that expensive brochure style. It remains a very smart-looking estate today, having aged well and retained a sense of grace and luxury. It is the sort of car you can imagine a well-to-do family driving down to their holiday home on the coast in. That is until someone like Henrik Karlsson gets his hands on it…
Henrik is not married to someone called Arabella, does not have children with names like Tabitha and Quentin, and doesn’t holiday on the Devon coast – mainly because he lives in Sweden. And he’s clearly blessed with a discerning eye for design (a national trait perhaps?) as with just a few carefully considered selection of choice modifications, Henrik’s twisted the E39 Touring’s restrained elegance into something far sleeker.
As he’s from Sweden, it is no surprise to learn that Henrik tried out some Volvos but when he got behind the wheel of what was to become his first BMW, a 523i (that he still owns), he fell in love and that was that. He made the 523i his and although it was fine, he had a hankering for a Sport Touring. With no previous record of modifying beyond audio upgrades, his plans for a potential estate were to simply leave it alone and use it as a daily. “That didn’t work out…” smiles Henrik sheepishly.
A Touring was duly sourced from Blocket.se, Sweden’s largest used car site, and Henrik swiftly launched all plans for stock motoring out of the window and left them to rot in a ditch somewhere. As you can see, this E39 is far removed from stock.
However, the list of mods isn’t an overflowing cascade of barely-restrained expenditure. Instead it’s a concise collection of clever alterations. This project is all about making a big impact with just a few modifications – something that’s far harder to achieve than it perhaps sounds, as it requires an innate understanding of the aesthetics of (car) design.
So, first things first, this Touring is static. Considering how far up into the arches those awesome Hamann splits are tucked and the fact that there’s maybe 20mm between the bottom of that front lip and the Tarmac, that’s seriously impressive. We can’t help but think that even errant acorns might be enough to halt the Touring’s progress, wedging themselves between bumper and road. This level of low takes dedication to the cause, and Henrik’s clearly got that in spades. The job of dropping this E39 Touring on its arse falls to a set of BC Racing coilovers, or rather a pair, as they only do the work up front. At the back, Henrik’s wagon is rocking SLS, BMW’s self-levelling suspension setup, which is great at keeping the rear end flat when it’s full of shopping or kitchen appliances but somewhat restrictive when it comes to getting your Touring as low as possible. Getting the SLS to play ball can be achieved through the use of some special lowering links however Henrik took a slightly different route, as he explains: “There’s a sensor on each side of the wheel.
This sensor has a little arm which controls the height of the SLS, so if you’re loading the car with stuff it will raise automatically to keep the right height level. I noticed that, so I took the arm off the sensor so I could control the height and made the cables to the sensor longer and brought it inside the car.”
Handily, Henrik has shot a little video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBTI1oWSUw0) showing how it works and it really is as simple as it sounds, with the factory suspension now obeying his every command and essentially behaving like an air-ride system. It’s very clever stuff and cost him nothing, making it the best sort of mod. With the rear suspension successfully fiddled with, the Touring’s back end could now be brought in line with the front, which Henrik has wound down to within an inch of its life, and the end result is awesome.
Whatever your viewing angle, this Touring looks spectacular. Outrageous lows achieved, it was only right that the car was paired with a suitably eye-catching set of wheels, and Henrik’s picked a classic rim that couldn’t look more at home on the Touring if it tried. “I was thinking about OZ Futuras,” he tells us, “but the Hamann PG1 was a little rarer, and when I saw these wheels I couldn’t resist buying them. I built the wheels to the measurements that I wanted as well, so they got pretty wide. I pulled the rear arches about 17mm on each side to make the wheels fit and about 10mm at the front.” The Hamanns measure 18” across with the fronts being 10.25” wide with an outrageous offset of -10, while the rears are 11.25” with an offset of +3. It’s no wonder, then, that the arches needed to be rolled and pulled so aggressively to get them to fit, but the effort was well worth it. It goes without saying that the wheels themselves look absolutely awesome; the dish is absolutely insane and the mirror lips and dark centres are a dream combo.
A Sport trim Touring slammed on its arse with a set of killer wheels would be enough on its own for many of us. But Henrik isn’t like many of us; he’s the cool, calculating Swede with an eye for combining clean lines with big impact, remember? And, true to form, Henrik figured that there was a room for a bit more improvement on the styling front, just a little something to give his E39 a bit more impact. “I wanted some OEM styling,” he explains, “so I bought the Hamann front lip and black grille. I don’t like chrome so I had to change that and I also changed the door strips to black with the M badges.” Getting rid of the chrome was definitely the way forward and the Hamann lip adds an extra element of sheer meanness to the front end, dropping it even closer to the ground and giving it that square-jawed, hard-man look.
The original interior, complete with its rather rare armrest-mounted car phone option, is exactly what Henrik wanted, finished as it is in black leather with the standard Sport seats. The only changes Henrik made here involved replacing the wood trim with aluminium, dyeing the steering wheel back to black as the leather had started to wear and adding a set of M Sport pedals.
While the engine has been left alone, Henrik does say that a money-no-object mod would have been swapping in an S62 from the E39 M5 but a more realistic item on his to-do list (and next on the cards) is going for air-ride, in the form of Air Lift’s latest 3P system, along with a set of new wheels, which Henrik says are top secret.
Considering how jaw-droppingly good this Touring looks with the small selection of choice mods that it’s been treated to, with a set of even more amazing wheels and air, the only way is up. Or rather, down.
18” Hamann PG1s look awesome on the E39 and measure a monster 10.25” wide up front with an offset of ET-10; no wonder those arches have been seriously massaged!
DATA FILE #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i-Touring / #BMW-530i-Touring-E39 / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 / , five-speed automatic gearbox
CHASSIS 10.25x18” ET-10 (front) and 11.25x18” ET+3 (rear) #Hamann-PG1 wheels with 235/35 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres, #BC-Racing coilovers (front), modified SLS (rear), rolled and pulled arches 10mm (front) and 17mm (rear)
EXTERIOR Hamann front lip, black kidney grille, black door trims with M badges, #M-Tech roof spoiler
INTERIOR Aluminium interior trim strips, M Tech pedalsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLAST CHANCE SALOON
This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.
When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…
What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.
The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”
Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…
“My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.
So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.
“I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.
A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.
The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.
Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.
The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.
Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.
Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.
TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF
CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)
EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights
INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors
THANKS Infinite Auto Design (www.infiniteautodesign.com), Duraflex (www.duraflexpbushes.com), Carbon Creations (www.carbon-creations.com), Magnaflow (www.magnaflow.com), Stoptech (www.stoptech.com), Cadence Audio (www.cadencesound.com), D2 Racing (www.d2racing.com), Falken Tire (www.falkentire.com), VIS Racing (www.visracing.com), LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (www.accuair.com), and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience
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With custom styling, custom wheels and attention to detail to die for, this is one of the best E39s around. Prowling the dark streets of London is a devilish #BMW-5-Series that makes grown men go weak at the knees… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Rash Bajwa.
While the 3 Series may still rule the roost when it comes to the modified #BMW scene, it’s nice to see that the E39 is most definitely coming on strong. Back when I bought mine two years ago, there didn’t seem to be many Fives about and hardly any BMs on air-ride at all in general, but now it’s become a killer combination, and there are some stunning E39s about, such as this one, arguably one of the best E39s anywhere. Its owner is Sumil Pancholi and what makes his beautiful 5 Series all the more impressive is not just the painstaking level of detail but the fact that he’s gone from stock to show car in just six months.
Now, Sumil is no stranger to modified cars, as he tells me when we meet one chilly night for his shoot: “I’ve definitely always been into cars and modding,” he says, “and I used to read Max Power and Fast Car when I was younger. When it was my turn to start modifying cars people had stopped playing with Corsas and Saxos and moved onto German cars so it got more expensive.”
After a stint with VWs and then Audis, Sumil decided to move on to BMWs to “see what all the fuss was about” and judging by the fact that I’m here writing about his E39 it’s fair to say that he realised the fuss was fully justified and stuck with BMWs.
The 530i is his third BMW, having been preceded by an E46 330d and an E92 330d: “After the E92 I wanted something a bit different and practical,” he says. “I thought the E39 was a beautiful car originally but I’d never seen one that had been extensively modified. I bought the car as a daily and while I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far,” he laughs. “It’s a Champagne I limited edition model. I specifically wanted a Champagne car – only 150 examples were produced and I’d never had a black car before plus I liked the lightcoloured interior.” Having been produced in such small numbers, however, means that Champagnes are not easy to come by and it took Sumil around five months of searching before this car appeared in Leicester. “I took the coach up, test drove the car, fell in love with it and bought it on the spot,” he grins and while during the first four months of ownership the car remained stock, the last six have been a whirlwind…
We really should talk about the wheels first because not only are they a main attraction on this E39, Sumil’s actually owned them for four years. We’ll let him explain… “The wheels were originally Hartge Design Es and I had them on the E92 – originally they were Sparkling graphite to match the car and then I went for Midnight purple but for the E39 I wanted something different. On the E92 they were 8.5s and 9.5s but I wanted wider dishes, so I had them resurfaced to make them into Design C, the reason being that on the C the lips are facemounted so you get to see all of them so you get a bigger dish. For the extra width I ordered Radinox lips from Germany, which have taken the wheels to 10.25” wide up front and 10.75” at the rear, and I had the centres finished in a custom red with gold bolts. I knew when I was buying the car that I wanted air-ride so it’d be practical and I could drive it low but still get over speed bumps so I had an Air Lift kit fitted but that was all I had been planning on doing…”
Before Sumil had bought the E39 it hadn’t been used much and the front arches had started rusting and the rears were also bubbling so he decided to have the car resprayed before deciding to do a bit of work on the styling front. “I hadn’t seen anything I liked and I wasn’t keen on the off the- shelf stuff so I knew that I was going to go down the custom route.” Dips at Custom Cars was tasked with handling all of the styling work on the car, beginning with the front bumper, blending in an E46 M3 front splitter onto the Sport bumper and also blending in a pair of Hamann foglight covers that Sumil got his hands on. The fogs themselves were then tinted and the front plate was made removable to give the car a cleaner look. With the front taken care of, Sumil turned his attention to the rear end, with the intention of giving the car a CSL bootlid and bought an add-on spoiler. This was to be blended onto the existing bootlid, but not before also deciding to go for a shorter rear number plate recess. In order for that to happen, a donor bootlid was purchased for £25 and Dips used the outer sections of the recess to create the requested smaller recess, blending it and the CSL lip seamlessly onto the existing bootlid.
It has been trimmed down a touch, though, as it was just a bit too high and now, according to Sumil, it looks much better. After the boot came the bonnet with its E92 M3 power bulge. It’s probably the most impressive and dramatic of the styling modifications but making it happen was no easy task: “I wanted the bonnet to be a focal piece,” says Sumil, “and after a lot of searching I found an aftermarket M3 mould in Germany – it was a nightmare to get hold of, it was hard to source and it was hard to communicate with the seller, but in the end I managed to get my hands on it.”
The job of adding the power bulge to the bonnet began as well as removing the BMW roundel and smoothing the recess. “I hate join lines,” says Sumil, “I like having everything blended in so the car looks like it could have come from the factory like that and so it looks subtle so people won’t necessarily notice the changes. I took a risk by doing something different with the E39 but it was worth it as I love the way the car looks now.” We’re inclined to agree, as the three hit combo of front lip, bonnet and boot is a seriously powerful one, not only endowing this E39 with a sense of aggression and drama that even the Sport models lack, but makes for a truly individual statement, and it’s one that has really made this Five stand out from the crowd.
That is, however, only the beginning, as that aforementioned attention to detail is what really makes the difference and there are countless additional styling touches throughout the car that bring all the elements together. Now, red wheels on a black car is a great combination, but Sumil’s theme for the whole car is champagne and strawberries, and so there are actually countless red details throughout the car.
On the outside the front lip, grilles, spoiler lip and rear diffuser have all been finished in a custom black red shade, so they look black until the light hits them and that’s when you get a subtle flash of dark red, though less subtle are custom blacked-out headlights with red angel eyes… The red theme extends to the engine bay, too, with numerous red highlights plus the fan cowling has been painted black red, but what you’re really going to be looking at under the bonnet, aside from the sexy Gruppe M carbon intake, is the rather flamboyant washer bottle setup: “So, I love vodka,” says Sumil, “and in the E92 I actually had a Grey Goose washer bottle – I wanted to do that again but with the E39 I needed something that would tie in with my colour scheme, so I opted for a Ciroc Red Berry bottle and Dips added a red LED so I can light it up when I’m parked up at a show with the bonnet open.”
The interior has also been treated to some love and attention; the steering wheel has been retrimmed by Royal Steering Wheels, the rim now being thicker and there’s Champagne stitching to match the seats, which has also been added to the gear selector and handbrake gaiters, while the trims have also been sprayed in the same shade of black red as the exterior elements, with that deep red metallic flake catching the light beautifully. There’s also a custom mounting pod for the Audison Bit Ten DRC controller, as Sumil’s quite into his sounds, as demonstrated by the absolutely astonishing boot build. The E39’s sound system is pretty dire and with in-car audio being so important to Sumil, it was inevitable that he would turn his attention to this area of the Five. Inside, Morel components have been fitted up front while JL coaxials reside on the parcel shelf, all powered by a JL 600/4 HD amp with an Audison Bit Ten processor, while the boot is home to two JL 10W7AE subs powered by a JL 1200/HD amp, and the whole system allows for full wireless music streaming.
The boot is also where you’ll find the airride install, with the twin tanks painted in the same custom red as the wheels, with gold hardlines just like the bolts on his Hartges, with everything trimmed in Alcantara. It’s seriously spectacular, just like the rest of the car.
“I’ve done a lot in ten months,” muses Sumil as we stand admiring his E39, and he’s not wrong. It’s been pretty much a non-stop whirlwind of activity from the moment the project got off the ground until now, but it’s been more than worth it as he’s created an amazing machine. “For now I’m very happy,” he says, and while there is talk of a supercharger that’s got to wait a while until his funds recover. There’s no rush, though – as far as Sumil’s concerned, this car is most definitely a keeper and that comes as no surprise as it has become an extension of Sumil himself and is going to be a big part of his life for a very long time to come…
I took a risk by doing something different but it was worth it Sumil Pancholi.
19” three-piece Hartges are absolutely stunning while the subtle black red highlights include the spoiler lip.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-ride #BMW-E39 / #BMW-530i / #BMW-530i-E39 / #BMW-530i-AirRide-E39 / #BMW
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , Grüppe M carbon intake, custom Ciroc Red Berry vodka screen wash bottle, red engine bay highlights, five-speed #Steptronic #ZF5HP gearbox.
CHASSIS 10.25x19” (front) and 10.75x19” (rear) #Hartge Design C wheels with 3.25” Radinox lips, custom red centres and gold bolts with 235/35 (front and rear) Falken FK453 tyres, #AirLift-Performance air-ride with V2 management, K-Sport #BBK with eight-piston calipers and 356mm grooved discs (front).
EXTERIOR Custom bonnet with powerdome, #BMW roundel delete, washer jets moved to windscreen wipers, custom front bumper with Hamann foglight covers and custom CSL splitter moulded in, custom air intake holes in centre grill, smoked foglights, custom blacked-out headlights, red angel eyes, rear diffuser, custom CSL-style bootlid with custom red lip, shortened numberplate recess, M5 door mirrors, custom LED lit door handles, AC Schnitzer roof spoiler.
INTERIOR Fully refurbed Champagne interior, thicker steering wheel with Champagne stitching by Royal Steering Wheels, gear selector and handbrake gaiters with Champagne stitching, air tanks painted custom red, gold hardlines.
AUDIO 5.25” Morel components (front), JL coaxials (rear), JL 600/4 HD amp, 2x JL 10W7AE subwoofers, JL 1200/HD amp, Audison Bit Ten processor, #Audison-Bit-Ten DRC controller, KnuKonceptz wiring.
THANKS Dips for all his work on the car, my mum, my sister and my partner Vanika for being so patient with me for talking about cars all the time and spending most of my time with Dips or on the phone to him.
Red colour-coding abundant in engine bay, including funky Cirroc Red Berry vodka washer bottle.
While I knew I wanted to modify it, it was never the plan to take it this far Sumil Pancholi.
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- What’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punchWhat’s this? An E39 in the PBMW CotY top three? Believe it, as Sumil Pancholi’s bagged beauty got enough votes to break the E30 stranglehold and punched its way to the silver medal position. A Champagne edition E39 530i is a great place to start and this one has been treated to some extensive custom body work, including a custom bonnet with power dome, custom front bumper and custom CSL-style bootlid. A set of custom-finished Hartge Design C wheels with Radinox dishes and red centres have also been added and air-ride fitted for good measure, with a spectacular boot build. The engine bay has red detailing throughout and there’s even a Ciroc Red Berry vodka screenwash bottle with red illumination. With some sensational mods and stunning attention to detail throughout, it’s one of the best E39s about. More ...
- Post is under moderationTHE BIG PICTURE
With a wide-body kit, #4WD and the small matter of 840 turbocharged horsepower, this #BMW E46 is a ferocious machine. It might look outlandish, but this E46 Saloon has more than enough go to back up its show… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
Here’s an idea that you may have considered before: what’s the future of your car after you get rid of it? Assuming that you’re not planning to keep your jamjar until it crumbles away into dust, there’s a fair chance that you’ll sell it at some point – and then what? It’s actually a very big question, as cars are such personal and emotive things, there are memories, sensory touchpoints and stories tied up in them that your brain cleverly locks away, ready to spring back on you at surprising moments.
When I see the dash vents on a Mk1 Cavalier, the faux-wood trim on the doors of a late-Eighties Rover Vitesse or the barrel speedo of a #Citroen-CX , I’m suddenly a child again. There’s a certain smell in the Magic Tree range that instantly transports me back into my first 205 GTI. And the tactile fragility of an early-Seventies BMW 2002 door handle puts me right there in my old road-rally Touring, all Redex and steamy windows.
My point is this: picture a car that your parents had as a kid – that old load-lugger that drove you to school, took you to see grandma and down to the supermarket for the weekly shop, ferried you about on those joy-strewn family holidays. Imagine if, after all of those miles of family life, someone bought that car, your car, your memories, and turned it into a bonkers race machine. It’s quite a thought, isn’t it? Jarring and strange, but exciting too. Something you know intimately, transformed into something alien.
With this in mind, there must be a family somewhere in Sweden who have no idea that their old BMW has turned into a supercar-slaying turbo nutter. Their intrepid old four-door E46, that saw them through over a quarter of a million faithful kilometres, has changed from a dependable old workhorse into a rejuvenated, frightening whippet with aggression in spades and a healthy disdain for the rules. Sure, it looks similar in profile, but there’s all sorts going on beneath the surface – that insane rear wing, a triumph of functionality, is merely the cherry on a flavoursome cake.
For Erik Wedlund, these sorts of transformations are nothing out of the ordinary; the overtly extraordinary is merely his oxygen, his everyday. You show him an unremarkable family runabout, he’ll have it whipped up into a Porsche-troubling frenzy before you can say ‘beige corduroys’.
“I started modifying cars about 12 years ago, with an Opel Ascona B,” he explains. To the uninitiated, this was a sensible-trousers commuter hack from an era when it was deemed noteworthy to offer a laminated screen as a no-cost option. “That went through a full rebuild to become an Ascona 400 replica, and after that I had an Ascona A from 1975 – first with a 2.4-litre CIH motor, which I then swapped out for a 420hp BMW M50B20 with a turbo, running E85.” Ah, so the story’s starting to loop into our world of Bavarian tuning now. It was bound to eventually – the long Scandinavian winters always lead to outlandish builds of awesome power and improbable stats; if it’s not Volvopowered, it’ll have a BMW engine. Thudding cylinders and big turbos are what help stave off the frostbite, and it’s clear that the lure of the BMW camp is what did it for Erik.
“I later built a 2.8-litre M50 for that car, which made 572hp on pump fuel,” he says casually, just tossing the numbers into the conversation as if it’s no big deal. Scandinavians have a different perspective on horsepower, don’t they? It’s bizarre.
We begin to spot a theme in Erik’s narrative here too – a tendency to find the best engine for the job, then replace it with something better, then take that engine and put it in a different car… it’s not so much a conveyer belt of performance, although there is an element of that, but more that he treats his projects like grown-up Meccano. The car is entity A, the engine is entity B, the chassis C, the way it deploys its power D, and so on.
Every now and then he likes to shake up the letters and bolt the parts together in different ways, creating something new and more impressive with his big boy’s toys. And so the evolution continues…
“I ended up selling the Ascona on as a rolling shell, keeping the 2.8-litre engine to fit into a 1986 635CSi that I’d bought,” he recalls. “I built up new exhausts and manifolds for it. It was making 750hp at the time – it was road-legal too.” Just sit and savour that figure for a moment – an old sharknose Sixer with more power than a Pagani Huyara. It’s staggering.
But Erik wasn’t done yet. Far from it. Having put a good 11,000km under the CSi’s wheels, he was beginning to yearn for the madness and, ultimately, lightness of the old Ascona. The itch became too much not to scratch, and the 635 was sold complete with its manic motor so that Erik could roll his sleeves up and get stuck into an E36 Compact. And while this may seem anathema to some, just keep in mind what the fella’s capable of.
“I began to build it up with the driveline of an E46 330xi, combined with that of an E39 M5,” he explains, again just throwing these mad ideas out there as if they’re totally vanilla. “It was finished within six months, but it got wrecked on the way home from a dyno session; I braked to avoid a deer and flipped the car into a ditch – it was all scrap aside from three wheels and the engine.” We’ve seen photos of this and it really isn’t pretty; it’s a good job that Erik’s a dab hand at fabricating roll-cages…
But let’s not forget his indomitable spirit, his Stig-like obsession with speed above all else, and his Terminator-esque sense of focus. The engine was still good, so that was hoiked out of the mangled wreckage and dropped back into the oversized Meccano box, and within three days Erik had found himself another toy to play with.
“I bought this E46 330xi a few days after the accident,” he says, with an even tone worthy of Räikkönen himself. “It was in a sorry state when I bought it, with rust and 250,000km on the clock, but that didn’t really matter much given what I had planned for it.”
That fiery engine was duly deployed, and it’s worth taking a moment to consider the spec: we’re looking at fundamentally an original 330xi M54B30, although it’s been played with quite a bit. A healthy bore job along with bigger pistons and a raised compression ratio work with a Precision turbo and plenty of internal upgrades to deliver an astounding 840hp at the wheels, all overseen by MaxxECU management. A huge set of numbers. And what’s particularly impressive is that so much of the driveline remains stock, demonstrating just how overengineered these 4WD 3 Series are; the gearbox and driveshafts are all factorystandard, as are the front, rear and centre diffs (albeit with a bit of welding to the centre item to firm things up).
The result of all of this insane, gibbering torque and horsepower? A four-door E46 that’ll accelerate from 0-285km/h (which is the point at which it redlines in fifth gear, equating to around 177mph) in 14.5 seconds. “With the running gear sorted, I fabricated a roll-cage for the car and took it on a few airfield events,” deadpans Erik. “After crushing a RUF 996 GT2 in a straight-line race, the oil pump shaft broke at 280km/h and took a few bearings with it, so I took the car apart and sent the engine off to my friend Åland at AllMek for a rebuild. While this was happening, I painted the body in British Racing green and decided to enter the Time Attack series, which was a pretty new thing in Sweden at the time. With the car back together and working well, I competed in the TANU series through 2015, replaced the three gearboxes that failed under the increased strain of competition, and just pushed the car to the very limits its heavy drivetrain and toonarrow tyres would allow.”
It may not surprise you to learn that the E46 has now, like so many chapters of Erik’s motoring history, found its way to a new owner. “If I’d have kept it, I’d have probably experimented with different diffs and wider tyres, but there’s always a new project on the horizon,” he says, devoid of sentimentality and already dedicated to the next step. A little birdie tells us that he’s actually working on two projects at the moment, the first being an E36 M3 3.2 that’s becoming a streetlegal track car, while the second is an M1 Procar replica with a V10 motor.
So spare a thought for that Swedish family, their cherished family runaround transmuted into an aggressively bewinged leviathan with a proven ability to show Porsche’s widowmaker GT2 a clean pair of heels. But then disregard them out of hand, as Erik does at the end of each personal chapter, because this isn’t about the past – it’s about living in the now, and keeping an eye on the future. Sentimentality will only get you so far, and then you’ll be blown into the weeds by a turbo as big as your face. An 840whp four-door E46 is an incredible thing to us laymen, but to a tuning superhero like Erik? It’s just part of the bigger picture…
9x17” E34 M5 alloys fitted all-round with 255/40 rubber front and rear.
DATA FILE #BMW Turbo E46 330xi / #BMW-330xi-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330xi-Turbo / #BMW-330xi-Turbo-E46 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #M54B30 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , bored to 84.5mm using stressplate, CP pistons, #PPF forged rods, 10:1 compression ratio, #Supertech 1mm oversize valves and valve springs, #Precision-6466-turbo / #Precision , GTR intercooler, balanced crank, #ATI Super Damper, #ARP bolts throughout, copper ring head gasket, stock cams, functional #VANOS , #Bosch 1300cc injectors, #MaxxECU management, #KS-Racing (Thailand) intake manifold, S54 oil thermostat housing, #VAC motorsport oil pump upgrade, #Canton Accusump, 3.5” stainless steel exhaust system, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 2x Bosch 044 fuel pumps, catch tank fed by Deatchwerks 301 in-tank pump. 840whp/782lb.ft @ 2.1bar, 0-285km/h (177mph – fifth gear redline): 14.5s.
TRANSMISSION Stock 330xi gearbox, stock centre, front and rear diffs (centre diff welded), stock driveshafts, M30B35 flywheel, Sachs 765 pressure plate, 6- puck sintered KEP clutch, Samsonas gear shifter.
CHASSIS 9x17” (front and rear) E34 M5 alloys with 255/40 (front and rear) Kumho V70 Medium tyres, K-Sport Supersport two-way adjustable coilovers, bushings replaced with uniballs, -3 degrees camber all around, 7 degrees caster, custom chromoly antiroll bars, M3 CSL 345x28mm front discs, M3 calipers, PFC 01 pads, stock rear discs and calipers with PFC 08 pads, E46 M3 master cylinder.
EXTERIOR Hard Motorsport M3 Saloon arches, E36 M3 British Racing Green paint, custom front splitter and rear wing.
INTERIOR Custom roll-cage with integrated reinforced subframe mounts, Rado Power bucket seats, TRS four-point harnesses, Sparco leather steering wheel, stock dash and doorcards, Lenovo tablet for MaxxECU read-outs.
Hardcore interior features Rado Power buckets and a Lenovo tablet acting as the MaxxECU display.
It was in a sorry state but that didn’t matter given what I had planned for it…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.