- Post is under moderationEdison 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.
ENTER THE DRAGON
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-SmithStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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LIBERTY WALK M3 Wild Australian E92
Walk This Way
A Japanese body kit on a European car with American suspension screwed together by an Australian equals something pretty bloody special. Words: Ben Dillon. Photos: Trent Wilson.
Forging a different path in Australia’s modified car culture can be a tricky thing to do as fresh ideas often collide with an iron resistance to change from the established scene, but breaking down barriers is what Ty Isaak and his one-stop modification brand Mode Auto Concepts does best.
Growing up in a hot rod-loving family meant Ty received a healthy amount of exposure to grinding, welding and rumbling V8s from a young age and was himself swinging tools and modifying cars before he had even finished high school. His first foray into the scene was with an Isuzu ute which he chopped, sectioned and bagged and added #V8 greatness to. From there Ty waded deep into Australia’s street tuning scene of the late 1990s and early 2000s just as the Japanese import craze was calming down and the Euro scene was on the rise. Ty built on his fabrication roots and his ethos of unique concepts heavily influenced by his numerous trips to the US by creating a number of cars showcasing his talents.
These included a SoCal lowrider W116 Mercedes and a bagged, pure white A4 Avant, also dropped on its guts.
For his latest car, the stunning E92 M3 you see on these pages, Ty’s inspiration came from a visit to rev-head Mecca: the SEMA modified car show in Las Vegas. This instantly set him on the #Liberty-Walk-E92 body kit course as not only did Kato-san’s (Wataru Kato, Liberty Walk founder) fat creation for the E92 look fantastic but no one had yet attempted it in Australia. Added to this, the build could showcase brands represented by Ty’s business, which gave the project the added pressure of being an advertisement for what his company could do, but the choice of M3/ #BMW-E92-Liberty-Walk was an easy one to make.
“I’ve always been a fan of Euro cars and I appreciate all different marques, but I’m really selective on the models that I like within a brand,” Ty says. “I remember seeing the first M3 and have enjoyed the evolution of the generations; they always appealed to me. They are a really good package with a real motorsport feel.”
As purveyors of some of the fattest body kits in the known universe Liberty Walk is at the top of the heap – but a fat rear end alone was never going to set the world on fire. So, in the planning process before Ty even bought his M3, the concept of the build was given great consideration with the main goals for the car to be outlandish on the outside but still feel as good as it did driving off the showroom floor. “The objective with the M3 was that it should look crazy but feel like something that was made right from scratch, like it came from the factory,” Ty explains. “It has the loudest possible exhaust on it. It’s fully decatted to the x-pipe. And it’s all Armytrix Valvetronic, so when it opens up it’s an absolute beast. I had a guy come up to me with a race M3 and he said my car was louder!” And while the body kit is the focus of much attention, it seems the wheels are the starting point for all conversations on Ty’s E92. “Everyone argues about which side they like more and they all have really strong opinions about it,” Ty says. Those amazing wheels measure 10.5x19 inches on the front and 12.5x19 inches on the rear. You definitely can’t get them on eBay or anywhere else in the retail sphere (at the moment) as they are of Ty’s own creation – from concept drawings to tyred-up, forged alloy finality.
“I own the company Forge Wheels,” Ty reveals. “I went to the States years ago and started my own wheel company because I couldn’t find what I wanted in Australia. The wheels and tyres on this cost $10,000 (circa
£4800 at the time of writing) and so much work went into them in every single aspect. They are not off-the-shelf wheel; every single element has been engineered, designed and checked by me and my team.”
As impressive as all that is, wheels and a body kit don’t just attach themselves to a car, so Ty swung the grinder and sparked up the welder for every step along the way of the transformation of the E92 from muscular factory M3 to barking, steroidal, day-glo-wheeled freak. And there was plenty to do – not least to have US documentary filmmaker and good mate Zach Wingfield (whose showreel alone proves he’s car mad like the rest of us) hovering with a camera for three months solid, filming every single part of the build. “I had to put the front wings on about eight times because Zach wanted to shoot it from every angle, change a lens, or change the lighting,” Ty laughs.
The body work didn’t stop there. Modifications to the firewall ensure that the front wheels actually turn full lock.
Subsequent work involved plating and body deadened, while the rear of the car was mini-tubbed to accommodate those super-wide rear wheels. Again Ty fabricated and fitted the rolled inner tubs himself, sticking to his ethos of ‘if it’s been done right, it can stay like that forever’. But none of this was without drama, especially with the fitment of the Liberty Walk kit. “People have this perception that these kits come in some IKEA-like kit and you just get the screw gun out and screw it into the side of your car but it’s a lot of work to fit it properly. The instructions from Liberty Walk were pretty much just ‘cut it’,” Ty grins. “Getting the fitment right and making sure the car still drives like it did from the factory was the aim from the start. Whether it was legal or not I was still going to do it but I wanted to do it to specification, so I talked to my engineer and told him what I wanted to do. He reassured me I was on the right track.”
While cutting into an M3 to put a body kit on sounds like a #BMW purist’s worst nightmare, snatching out the factory M3 suspension and replacing it with airbag units seems a sure way to draw fire from those who would question how anything could replace M-division’s Nürburgring-honed best. But Ty is adamant that it fits the ethos of the build and his car still handles like a real M car. “A lot of people assume that because it’s on air it rides or drives like sheet but everything people perceive about air suspension, sloppy ride, or lack of handling, is eliminated in the AirREX kit,” Ty explains. This is down to the AirREX design combining the best of coilover and airbag designs with what is basically a damper-adjustable-strut on a fully-threaded body but with an air spring on it where a coil spring would normally be. The end result is something that looks like a coilover but with an airbag on it. “With the combination of the valving and the damping you wouldn’t know it was bagged and it just rides like a factory M3,” Ty adds.
It’s this approach to quality control which marks Ty’s car out from the herd. He’s paid particular attention to how the car now responds dynamically to the mechanical and aesthetic changes he’s made to ensure that it can be used as a daily driver – albeit one that never escapes attention when out in the wild.
“It’s totally ridiculous and a lot of people are in disbelief that I’ve even done it. You can’t drive it on the highway without someone driving up to you to take a photo or a video. It’s fun. It’s like being in a celebrity car,” Ty says with a smile. “I don’t think people even know what kind of car it is.
Nobody knows what #Liberty-Walk is and to have people hanging out the window of a car yelling out and giving me a thumbs up is just amazing.”
It’s not just fellow road users Down Under who appreciate Ty’s M3 either as fans worldwide can now drive this car through the streets of Surfers Paradise in Forza Horizon 3. It’s fitting for a car made on the Gold Coast to appear in a game with an Australian setting. Digital fame aside, Ty has even bigger plans for a ‘Stage 2’ build for the E92, which will see a toned- down colour scheme with the body kit as the sole survivor of the car’s current state in what will be a more track-focused evolution of the current ethos while still retaining street usability.
“Making huge power figure is not of any interest to us. It doesn’t achieve anything; it’s just a number on a piece of paper,” Ty says. “The next stage with this car is a full roll-cage and supercharger which, with the exhaust, tune, intake and underdrive pulley, will still make it a great streetcar but one that we can take on the track or to social track days and have a bit of fun with.” All we can say is bring it on Ty, we can’t wait to see it.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Liberty-Walk / #BMW / #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk / #BMW-M3-Liberty-Walk-E92 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-M-DCT / #BMW-M3-M-DCT-E92 / #Forge-Wheels / #LB-Performance / #AirREX
ENGINE 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , intake, custom ECU tune, #Armytrix-Valvetronic exhaust system with de-catted front pipes, x-pipe and ceramic-coated matt black tips
TRANSMISSION Seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 10.5x19” (front) and 12.5x19” (rear) #Forge-Wheels-USA-SV5-FS-spec-SL wheels with 275/30 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Nitto Invo tyres, #AirREX-Performance air suspension struts with #AirREX digital wireless management system in concealed enclosure, #Rolloface-Performance 380mm six-piston forged performance brake kit
EXTERIOR #Liberty-Walk-LB-Performance widebody kit (version two), Piano black front splitter and ducktail, BMW Performance black chrome kidney grilles and side vents, LED angel eye upgrade, LCI rear light upgrade
INTERIOR Factory interior
THANKS Everyone behind the scenes at MODE Auto Concepts that made this project possible, FORGE Wheels USA, Brian and the team from Armytrix Exhaust, Dizzy and the team from AirREX Air Suspension, Ken and the team from Rolloface Performance, Zach from ZWINGFILMS, Trent from TNW Photography for the behind the scenes photos, and Brad my painter for always telling me “no dramas”
“It should look crazy but feel like it came from the factory”
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