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    Edison Hwang’s E92 M3, the ‘Gold Dragon’, fuses shouty V8 thrills with a track-ready chassis; it’s a lightweight carbon fibre racing terror with a comfy interior for the journey home. And it’s won a ridiculous number of trophies… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: LopezArts.


    Carbon-kitted E92 M3

    To understand the ethos behind this rather outrageous E92 M3, you must first get to grips with the conceptual difference between wet and dry carbon fibre. The former is what most people would picture when they hear talk of carbon parts – the glossy stuff has an epoxy either painted onto or vacuum-infused into the woven strands; it’s strong, light, and cheaper to produce than dry carbon. But the dry stuff is the next-level formula – more costly to make, but around 70% lighter while being just as strong, each specific weave being epoxy-coated while it’s crafted. So it doesn’t have the glass-like sheen of a Halfords gear knob, but it’s far superior as a functional material. And if you scale up this sense of focus to a whole car-sized entity, you arrive presently at this golden E92.

    Now, this is a car with an identity crisis. A balls-to-the-wall track car, but still a proper M3 with quality interior appointments and a clear sense of the fusion of luxury and performance. Just look at the colour for evidence of this conflict – this car has been custom-painted in a rich and vibrant shade of Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint. But you don’t know it, because it’s hiding under a vinyl wrap in lurid Candy Lime. This, it’s fair to say, is a machine with tales to tell.

    Its owner, Edison Hwang, has one or two stories of his own as well. “I’ve been into BMWs since I was about thirteen years old,” he explains. “The whole journey’s been a kinda crazy story. As a car guy and a mechanic, I love the power of the M3 and the way it handles, and there’s just no logical reason for me not to modify it. When I started changing up this car, I made a lot of new friends – my Timeless Motor Group – and now we always go to events together and help each other out. And the real turning point was when we went to SEMA in 2013: arriving at the Las Vegas Convention Center, seeing all those top-flight builds from all over the world, I had a voice in my head saying that I had to build a car worthy of this show.”

    With a mesmerising swirl of images circling through his subconscious from that epochdefining show, Edison put careful thought into pinpointing just what his ideal spec would be, before rolling up his sleeves and diving headfirst into the project. At the top of the wish list was Vorsteiner’s dry carbon fibre GTRS3 wide body kit, comprising beefed up wings, bumpers, rear quarters, bonnet and ducktail boot all in the revered and magical weave. “It was fitted at Blanco Services in Maryland,” he says, “and it took six months to get the fitment perfect! Moulding the rear quarters, custommaking the arch liners, making uniform shut lines, and painting it all in Ferrari red.

    It’s really a lot of work to make it perfect show car quality, and after the wide body was complete I added more details to the car, including the APR racing spoiler, APR front splitter (which I take off for regular street driving, due to height issues), bumper canards, DTM-style side mirrors, and carbon fibre parts everywhere.”

    Those of you familiar with SEMA builds will know that you’re not even going to make it through the door if your car’s all show and no go; the very nature of the event dictates that cars represent a holistic approach to aftermarket modifying and, as brutally rapid as a stock M3 is, standard powertrains are a definite no-no. “The car used to run an Active Autowerk Stage 3 supercharger,” says Edison, “but I actually decided to remove it right after I showed my car at SEMA 2014, since I love the sound of the NA S65 engine.”

    So now that glorious V8 rumbles unforced as BMW intended, but augmented boisterously by a supremely intelligent exhaust system specifically tailored to bellow out an F1 howl. Back when the wide body conversion was underway, Edison had plenty of time for his mind to wander. Six months is a long stretch. So it’s unsurprising that the car found itself treated to a diverse platter of additional treats during this period; a roll cage and a set of custom-built headlights being chief among its fresh new trinkets. A GT wing topped off the exterior, while inside was adorned with a pair of Status Racing seats and a veritable festival of dry carbon goodies. The M3 was given a name – ‘Red Dragon’ – and it scooped up an armful of awards on its first outing.

    Rolling into the Carlisle Performance and Style Car Show in Pennsylvania, all eyes turned; rolling back out again afterwards, the Dragon was toting trophies for Best BMW, Best Paint and Finish, and Best in Show. Not bad. But that was just for starters…

    “It started winning ‘Best in Show’ at every event I took it to, the judges nicknamed it ‘Competition Killer’,” Edison smirks. “But I knew it still wasn’t a SEMA car, there was more work to be done. So I put more effort in, changed a few things, and finally earned a place on the Rohana Wheels stand. My dream had come true, all the effort was worth it.” But success, it’s often said, is like a drug. We can’t all be Nico Rosberg, achieving the perceived pinnacle of our aspirations and saying ‘OK, I’m done now’. Having tasted the sweet tang of success, Edison was all-in for more. “I wanted to go back to SEMA the next year,” he grins, “and that meant changing a lot of things again.”

    A helpful career turn arrived at this point, with Edison joining the Rolloface Performance Inc. family, and this pushed him to level-up to the next great thing. This was when the mighty big brake kit came, and a Rolloface driver’s seat, and various DTM touches, and… then he crashed the car in New York City. Or rather, someone crashed into the back of it in heavy traffic. Game over for the season, the car was done showing for the foreseeable future. Dark times for a trophy addict, but did this leave Edison downhearted? No! (Well, yes obviously… but not for long.) His resolve hardened, he worked more tenaciously to create a scenebreaking E92, the like of which the world had never seen.

    “It was ready for SEMA later that year,” he smiles, playfully slapping fate across the chops with his mighty gauntlet of skill. “Fixed up better than new and with fresh custom parts, I decided at the last minute to wrap it in an acid yellow-green.” An inspired decision, this, since everyone would be expecting that Ferrari red to make another appearance. This game is not won by playing to people’s expectations. “There it was, the ‘Gold Dragon’. A new roll cage went in at the last minute, there was more of an aggressive racing style – the car certainly got a lot of attention.” And, as you’d probably logically assumed, Edison didn’t close the book on the M3 there. This car has always been, and will always be, about being harder, better, faster, stronger. He’s owned it since it was brand new, and it’s pretty safe to say that the warranty evaporated long ago, but ardent petrolheads care not for such trivialities.

    “The M3 really is the ultimate driving machine, and the naturally aspirated V8 suits it so well,” he says. “It was always the intention to turn it into a car like no-one else had. At the moment it’s running Rolloface Performance ZR-1 forged three-piece wheels, which are really strong and lightweight, as well as Rolloface Performance three-way coilovers, and I’ve upgraded all of the chassis components to race-spec – I just love the handling that race parts provide! The big brake kit’s probably my favourite mod on the car, as it provides incredible performance on track as well as looking fantastic, but I also really love the functional nature of the carbon body parts.” And that’s pretty much where we came in – that form-meets-function quality of dry carbon fibre.

    Edison’s got plans for the M3, in the form of a new custom diffuser, Ferrari F12 rain light, carbon intake system and so on, and the keystone of all he does is this: quality speaks for itself. You may see a lot of wet carbon cars at your local meet, but if you want to get into SEMA, it’s a dry carbon state of mind. “I believe that if you do something sincerely, the whole world will help you,” he says. And we certainly wouldn’t want to argue with that.

    / #Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre / #BMW-M3-Carbon-Fibre-E92 / #Akrapovic-Delete-R / #Akrapovic / Akrapovic / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92


    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 / #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Rolloface racing intake system, custom oil cooler and transmission cooler, Macht Schnell Performance underdrive pulleys, #Kreissieg titanium floating curl tail exhaust with cat-back F1-sound valvetronic system, Macht Schnell bypass track pipes, Akrapovič Delete-R, tuning by Frank Smith Custom Tune. Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 10x19” ET0 (front) and 12x19” ET-40 (rear) #Rolloface-ZR-1 three-piece forged wheels in gloss black with titanium bolts and 275/30 (front) and 325/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, #Macht-Schnell wheel studs, Project-Kics-R40 open-end black chrome wheel nuts, #Rolloface-RT-3 Competition Racing three-way adjustable coilovers, custom-rate #Swift springs, #Macht-Schnell electronic dampening control emulation module, #Bimmerworld adjustable rear toe arm set, adjustable rear wishbone set (camber adjustable), spherical rear guiding link set, trailing link bearing set, rear camber arm bearing kit and spherical front race arm conversion, #Rolloface-SR-C big brake kit with eight-piston (front) and six-piston (rear) yellow powder coated forged aluminium calipers and 380mmx32mm slotted high-carbon discs (front and rear), Rolloface Performance stainless steel brake lines (f&r), Pagid-Racing RST race brake pads (f&r), Motul RBF 600 Factory Line brake fluid

    EXTERIOR #Vorsteiner-GTRS3 dry carbon fibre kit comprising front bumper, front lip, wide-arch front wings, side skirts, wide-arch rear quarters, rear bumper, bonnet and CSL-style boot lid, APA Gloss Candy Lime vinyl-wrap (with custom Ferrari Rosso Scuderia paint underneath), AeroCatch 120-2100 locking system, AutoTecknic carbon fibre wing grilles and bonnet vents, BMW M Performance black kidney grilles, Macht Schnell Motorsport tow straps, #APR-Racing-GT-250 dry carbon fibre GT wing, Rolloface custom dry carbon fibre chassis-mount front splitter, M4 #DTM-style front canards, mirrors, aero panel under chassis and rear diffuser, front lower grille painted gloss black with BMW M logo, AutoTecknic 24 SMD LED indicators, OSS Design Raptor M4 DTM-style square angel eyes with LCI inner eyebrow, white LED side-markers, Jet Black blackout and M inner logos

    INTERIOR BMW M Performance Version 2 steering wheel, #BMW-M-Performance aluminium pedals and footrest, #BMW rear sunshade, BMW LED door projectors, custom dry carbon fibre shift paddles and airbag emblem, AutoTecknic carbon fibre steering wheel trim, #Storm-Motorwerks V1 titanium PVD coated handbrake handle, Awron DGA 20-in-1 gauge with Kompressor 1 option, Rolloface dry carbon fibre interior trim kit, Rolloface custom track roll cage powder coated in matt gunmetal grey, #Rolloface dry carbon fibre driver’s race seat, Status Racing custom Spa passenger seat trimmed in leather with bespoke stitching, red Schroth Racing PROFI II ASM FE four-point cam-lock harnesses, Vorsteiner mats, racing fire extinguisher, LED interior lights

    THANKS #Rolloface-Performance , #Toyo-Tires , #Meguiars , #CSF-Radiators , #OSS-Designs , #Schroth-Racing , #Pagid , #Swift-Springs , #APR-Racing , #Motul-USA , #Blanco-Services , #RRT-Racing , #Tuning-Tech-by-Frank-Smith
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    This fully custom carbon wide-body Z4 is one of the most magnificent machines we’ve seen.

    The basic silhouette of this car is instantly recognisable – it is, of course, a Z4. And yet, there isn’t a single original body panel there. It’s wider, meaner, more aggressive. And we’re not looking at fibreglass here. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Andy Tipping.

    Here’s a fun experiment for you. Take a bunch of carbon atoms, and bond them together into crystals that are more or less arranged in a line. Repeat this a few thousand times, then bundle all the strands together into a sort of tiny untwisted rope. Okay, now lay a load of these little ropes into a thermoset resin – epoxy, say, or polyester – bake for 40 minutes at 200°C (or something, consult your mum’s dog-eared Delia Smith cookbook) and voilà: you’ve just made some carbon fibre. Well, carbon fibrereinforced polymer, to be precise, although if you’re getting matey with your new creation then simply ‘carbon’ will work as a nickname.

    Now you’ve got something with a very high tensile strength, low weight, high stiffness, high temperature tolerance, low thermal expansion, and high chemical resistance – all the properties you may desire for making housings for oily machinery without adding too much mass. The benefits of this miraculous weave are manifold and obvious, it hardly needs explaining why it’s so desirable to replace bits of your car with carbon fibre facsimiles.

    Making things simultaneously stronger and lighter is a no-brainer. Your car will go faster and be safer. Of course, it’s also pricey – making CFRP is a fiddly process – which is part of the reason why you often see people running unpainted carbon fibre bonnets and what-have-you. It’s a badge of honour. It’s a direct link from your car to a McLaren F1, the first road car to sport a CFRP tub. And while certain manufacturers are making great advances in the field of enabling carbon fibre to be cheaper and easier to mass-produce (look at the Alfa Romeo 4C, for example, which is the first non-supercar to feature a carbon fibre tub; Lamborghini is making some exciting advances too), it’s still a evocative and aspirational material to be working with. Just look at the work of Alberto Torres of Slek Designs in Long Beach, California – he’s a man who appreciates the mystery of the black sheet and has been spellbound by its wiles for some time now. Slek Designs is an outfit that prides itself on mastering the dark art of carbon fibre custom work, promising ‘features and detailing you will not find anywhere else’, thanks to its equipment that healthily exceeds aerospace autoclave specs and a dedicated team who guarantee perfect fitment of all parts. And what better way to showcase their talents than by crafting an entire car out of carbon fibre?

    Now, this kind of project requires an interesting base car for the ethos of the project to pivot around. Sure, it’d be impressive to take, say, a Toyota Prius or a Tesla Model S and replicate all of its body panels precisely in carbon fibre in order to draw commercially entertaining parallels about economy and range, but where’s the fun in that? Any chump with an autoclave can take a mould of a panel and mock up a lighter one – Slek needed to think laterally; it needed to make something truly unique. Something beyond custom. Something visually arresting. And that, in a nutshell, is what you’re looking at here.

    Yes, that’s right, it’s a Z4. But not just any Z4… it’s the top-of-the-tree, full-fat Z4 M, the delicious little reprobate that came bursting at the seams with the brutal S54B32 engine – the same rampaging six-pot you’d find in an E46 M3. That’s a hell of a lot of engine to stuff into a diminutive two-seater roadster. But wait… the more observant among you may have spotted that this car doesn’t have a roof; those that have heard of #Slek-Designs will have forged a mental association between the company and a certain Z4 Coupé that wowed the crowds at SEMA back in 2013. So what gives? Have the team taken a tin-opener to the hard-top and reworked the thing entirely? Ah, no, this is actually an entirely different car. But its inspiration came from that self-same Coupé. You see, back in 2013, Slek rolled into Las Vegas with a terrifying interpretation of the tin-top Z4 M. It had supercharged the S54, furnishing it with a loopy 570hp, and it was raising a lot of eyebrows. The modified #BMW scene took careful note, as a truly mould-breaking (in all senses of the word) Z4 blew the established benchmarks into the weeds. This was a new world order of Z-car mischief.

    Its flawlessly aligned weaves and race car cues caught the eye of one individual in British Columbia, who shall remain anonymous here for reasons of modesty. He wanted one. He wanted one badly. So he commissioned local tuning hero Flow Automotive to make the dream come true.

    “To be honest, I never really liked the Z4 before this one, largely as I can’t fit in them,” shrugs Flow’s business mastermind Patrick. “But this wide-body makes it so aggressive!” Well, you can’t argue with that, can you? So why did this mystery wide-body-fancier choose this company, what’s the deal there? “Our shop does any kind of work,” says Patrick, matter-of-factly. “Restoration, performance, or even just basic maintenance. We’d love to be able to do resto or project car stuff all day every day, but the scene and market in our area isn’t really conducive to that, so we make ends meet with maintenance and service.

    Although our lead tech, Hartley, is a master fabricator too…” And therein lies the rub. The truth of the matter is that if you’re after quality custom work in British Columbia, these are the lads you want to talk to. Let’s start, then, with the most obvious part of this build: that insane CFRP bodywork. “The cost of the carbon fibre body was around $20k,” Patrick explains. It’s a sizeable wedge of cash, but doesn’t that sound like good value when you consider that it’s basically a whole car shell made from scratch? Ah, but this has been done before of course, so the dimensions were already sketched out: “We delivered the car to Slek for prototyping and testing,” he continues. “There were some minor changes to redesign over its original Z4 Coupé concept, but it wasn’t as if it was starting from nothing.”

    With the brutally wide panels having been lovingly hand-crafted and slathered in clearcoat to showcase the racy material, Slek itself insisted on fitting all of the panels to the car. “Slek wanted it to be absolutely perfect for SEMA,” Patrick laughs. This was very wise – with an idea as outlandish and eye-catching as this, the world would undoubtedly be keenly watching; when people see such a thing and comment that the shutlines are factory-perfect and all the weave angles match, an excitable crowd would undoubtedly beat a path to Slek’s door. It is, after all, a pioneer in the field.

    With the devastatingly naughty new body in place, the Z4 M was back up to Canada for the work to continue. “We threw on an amazing big brake kit from Sparta Evolution,” Patrick enthuses. “Six-pots at the front and four-pots out back, with its innovative S-groove discs. This was followed up by retrofitting an E46 M3 coilover setup from Status Gruppe – it’s a brand that we really want to champion, because its product isn’t hugely known but should be for a company that produces such premiumquality parts.” And the next job, naturally, was to fix upon the rolling stock; after all, what kind of self-respecting show car wouldn’t be rocking the latest fashionforward rims in this day and age?

    “Slek’s carbon Coupé was running gold RSV Forged wheels, and the ones the owner picked for this car are a natural evolution from that,” Patrick explains. “These wheels are more of a brushed copper, which contrasts brilliantly with the carbon fibre, and they’re wrapped in some spiffy Nitto Invos that the sponsor supplied.” The rims measure a staggering 14x19” at the rear (and a still mighty 10.5x19” up front) and come from RSV’s C|R Series, with the rear tyres offering a bonkers 345-section – plenty of rubber to harness the snorting horsepower from that revered S54 motor.

    “This Z4 M’s engine is currently stock,” says Patrick, “other than the upgraded headers and a brand new air box to fit the reprofiled hood. However, a friend of the owner has an E30 that we restored and turned it into a track car for him. He’s interested in buying the S54 to swap into the E30… and has convinced the owner to look into a V10 swap for the Z4 M! It’d be a huge job, but we’d tackle it all the same.”

    Regardless of powerplant – and let’s not sideline the S54, it’s still an absolute peach – this shadowy owner gets to enjoy one of the most eye-catching and talked-about Z4 roadsters the world has ever laid eyes upon. As its clearcoat sparkled under SEMA’s searing lights, nestling proudly on the Nitto stand at last year’s show while the guys from Flow buzzed around polishing people’s fingerprints away, it was surrounded by dropped jaws and camera-flashes. And that continues to be the case. An all-carbon fibre wide-body Z4 is an incredible thing. A droptop evolution to carry on the magic of the show-stopping Coupé, taking the reins and stopping the show all over again? That truly is a dream, woven from humble carbon into the roadster of the gods.

    “These wheels are a brushed copper, which contrast brilliantly with the carbon fibre, and they’re wrapped in some spiffy Nitto Invos” Exterior is incredible but interior hasn’t been forgotten about, with sumptuous seats and lashings of carbon, obviously.

    DATA FILE #BMW #Carbon #Z4 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-Carbon / #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4-Carbon-E85 / #BMW-E85-Slek-Designs / #BMW-Z4-M-Roadster / #BMW-Z4-M-Roadster-E85

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S54B32 / #S54 / #BMW-S54 , custom air box, #RPi-GT stainless steel exhaust system with Helmholtz resonators, stock six speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10.5x19” (front) and 14x19” (rear) #RSV-Forged C|R Series RSF1 wheels in brushed copper with 275/35 (front) and 345/30 (rear) #Nitto-Invo tyres, #Status-Gruppe SGT-SRS coilovers, #Sparta-Evolution forged #BBK (six-pot #Triton front calipers, four-pot rear, #Sgroove-Pegasus discs – 355mm front, 345mm rear).

    EXTERIOR #Slek-Designs full carbon fibre body (comprising front and rear bumpers, front wings, rear quarter panels, bonnet, doors, side skirts and bootlid), #OSS-Designs custom headlights.

    INTERIOR #Recaro carbon fibre seats with diamond-stitched Alcantara, carbon fibre dash inserts and trim.
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