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    DARWIN AWARDS


    Bernd Stich’s Jetta could roll its way to the top of the podium at any show-and-shine you care to mention. But this is no cynically thrown-together show pony – this is the culmination of over twenty years of evolution… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Igor Vucinic.

    Evolution has a lot to answer for. Lots of your body parts serve no useful function – body hair is pointless for modern human living, for example. And wisdom teeth do little other than to misalign jaws, while the auricular muscles around your ears are unnecessary as we don’t swivel our ears to hear sound like some creatures do, and your coccyx has no purpose because you don’t have a tail. Your appendix is rubbish too – when people largely ate plants it might have had some role in digestion, but nowadays the only thing it can do is get inflamed and explode, which doesn’t help at all.

    Nevertheless, evolution is super-clever. Just look at the quirky national characteristics of speech patterns – the Spanish are loud and boisterous, the Italians lyrical, the French romantic, and acoustic adaptation theory suggests that such traits develop so that the sounds we make work best with our natural surroundings: harsh consonants get lost or distorted in rainforests, but have room to breathe among European hills and valleys. Open syllables like ‘aloha’ work better in tropical climes. And so it goes. It’s not just humans, this is true of birds and cats and all sorts.

    In modern Germany, evolution is evidently working overtime. This beige Jetta proves it. In the time that Bernd Stich has owned his trusty coupe it’s passed through more radical evolutionary changes than a millennium of walking sea creatures, each phase markedly different to that that preceded it. It’s as if Bernd and his VW are syncing DNA code to determine the ultimate fate of this well-beloved car. Well, either that or he just really likes it and happens to change his mind a lot. “I can tell you the exact date I bought the car – 22nd November 1996,” he tells us. “And how it looks now - this is what I call my Level 5 modifying…”

    The love affair, which has clearly endured, began early; Bernd was desperate to get his hands on the Polar silver car in time for his 18th birthday, and it’s been through a multitude of looks and setups since then, with each year bringing fresh enthusiasms. The whole merry-go-round was spun into action when he swapped out the original 1.3-litre motor for a rather more robust 16v, and it was the act of gradually but irreversibly becoming a regular show-goer that cemented his keenness for modifying in general and the #VW scene in particular. At the time people weren’t really modding Jettas, it was all about the Golf, so that immediately gave Bernd the edge, and with the ‘valver’ in place he opted to augment it with a set of G60 front brakes and GTI 16v rears – and it was at this point that the aesthetic evolution went into overdrive. Before it knew what had hit it, the ’89 Jetta was wearing big bumpers and slathered all over in pearlescent orange Volvo paint, the smoothed bonnet and boot lid complemented by an absence of arch trims between those fat bumpers. And then the interior was trimmed in cream leather, some Porsche 944 wheels appeared, there was talk of air-ride… the car made it into these very pages, in fact, such was the radical nature of it all.

    Bernd wasn’t done yet, though because not long after the 2.8-litre VR6 motor appeared. It’s just a natural function of the survival-of-the-fittest ethos, is it not? Bigger is often better.

    Forget ‘less is more’, increasing your piston count by 50% is where it’s at. So in 2003, Bernd got hold of an Mk3 Golf VR6 and basically tore it to pieces, harvesting everything he might need to pump up his Jetta’s creds. The engine is naturally the first thing you’d spot from this major round of surgery, artfully tarted-up as it is by oodles of chrome work and a smoothed bay for it to snuggle down in, but the eagle-eyed will also have spotted the Mk3’s dash, which has been fettled and honed to fit perfectly inside the cabin. Some oh-so-early-’00s König seats found their way in, too, along with a polished Wiechers roll cage and a beefy audio install. Oh yes, the exterior wasn’t a lurid orange any more either – it was something far more OEM-subtle from somewhere within the silver/blue/grey Venn diagram. Air-ride was taken care of by a simple #BSS single-pump system with a five-gallon tank and much of the wiring hidden away.

    “Lots of the ancillaries were chrome-plated before refitting,” Bernd explains. “The slam panel, driveshafts, wishbones, gearbox end casing, front sub frame, brake servo…” It starts to turn into a very long list. Even the Typhoon induction kit is shiny enough to hold a mirror up to the fact that you don’t own a Jetta this cool. It was once all of this work was done that Bernd decided to strip the thing down to a bare shell again and paint it all in VW Passat Grey Pearl. That was back in 2006. And if we fast-forward to 2013, we find it all being stripped down once more. That’s the crux of natural selection, it favours adaptability.

    There are two key elements that immediately grab the eye as a result of this latest, fastidiously executed evolution. The first is the colour: now swathed in Nevada beige, the Jetta flies deliciously under the radar to all but those in the know, having the air of an OAP-spec budget runabout that’s secretly pumped full of steroids. The second is what Bernd’s been up to underneath the car. This is the kind of detail that’d only become apparent to you if you were on your hands and knees, greeting the car in the manner in which a dog might romance another (unless, obviously, you’re looking at photos of it in a magazine – which, mercifully, you are), but the level of work that’s gone into it is really quite phenomenal. The entire underside has been stripped, perfected, and polished to an improbable shine, a festival of beige that culminates in a mouth-watering fuel tank (there’s a phrase you don’t hear very often) that’s wrapped in sumptuous leather and held in place with polished straps – a gift from buddy Ralf K, who used to own the very tank fitted to his Golf.

    This is very much the pinnacle of the modifiers’ art. None of this stuff needs to be done. The fact that it has been done, and done so well, demonstrates Bernd’s commitment to doing things properly. Those shows he used to go to in the nineties clearly left quite an impression.

    Beyond the paint, much has been done to ‘retro up’ the look: those big bumpers are long gone, replaced by the period skinny items that work so well to amp up the element of stealth, and the nerds among you may have spotted the 1986-spec doors, chosen for their old-school quarter-light windows. And the interior is now a fabulous showcase of what might have happened back in the late-1980s if a tuner like Radford or Tickford had offered a coach-built version of the Jetta – it all oozes with custom vintage flair, and yet the materials are distinctly premium and high-end. Porsche 924 seats wear bespoke faux-leather and corduroy, the rear seats trimmed to match and with a colour-keyed carpet to suit, and the pillars are trimmed in a tasteful brown to dovetail with the dash. There’s no stereo any more as today Bernd simply prefers the aggressive bark of that VR6 through its shiny Supersport system.

    “It was my first car,” he grins. “All the others are just dailies… it started off all original and cost me DM7500 back in ’96. And now – plans for the future? No, I have none for this car. The baby is coming in May, the next Jetta driver, that’s my future.” Sure, he says that, but it’s not really his decision to make is it? This Jetta has held Bernd in its thrall for over two decades, its very physical construct controlled by the whims of nature and evolution, and we can’t see this pattern breaking any time soon. For now, this car exists as a perfect showcase of age-old passion and flawless craftsmanship. What happens next is in the hands of anagenesis and biodiversity.

    Dub Details #Air-ride / #1989 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #VW-Jetta / #Volkswagen-Jetta-II / #Volkswagen-Jetta-VR6-II / #Volkswagen-Jetta-VR6 / #Volkswagen-Jetta-Air-Ride / #Volkswagen-Jetta-Air-Ride-II / #VW /

    ENGINE: Chromed and detailed 2.8-litre VR6 ( #AAA ), with #SuperSport stainless steel exhaust system, Typhoon induction, Mk3 Golf VR6 manual gearbox – lacquered gloss black

    CHASSIS: 7.5x17” BMW #BBS split-rims with 195/35 Nankang tyres. #GAS ( #German-Air-ride-Systems ) air-ride setup, Mk2 VW-Golf G60 front brakes with 280mm discs, Mk2 Golf GTI rear axle with disc brakes, braided lines

    EXTERIOR: 1989 shell painted Nevada beige, 1986-spec doors, small bumpers, shaved bay, detailed underside, leather-trimmed fuel tank with polished straps

    INTERIOR: Mk3 Golf dash, Porsche 924 front seats – custom-trimmed in faux-leather and corduroy with rears to match, Raid wooden steering wheel, Beetle shifter, beige and brown #Vorwerk carpet, chrome air tank in boot

    SHOUT: My best friends Björn, Timo, Maik, plus Ernst-Equipment (tuning parts), Febi (aftermarket parts) and Carlack-Schwung (painter)

    The whole merry-go-round was spun into action when he swapped out the original 1.3-litre motor for a rather more robust 16v.

    Polished #VR6 lump lives in engine bay so clean you could, well, lick it!

    Single air tank fixed to back of rear bench means boot is left clear.

    Since we last saw the car Bernd has gone balls-out with the underside. Note the leather-clad fuel tank.
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    TOTAL WHITEOUT
    A stunning matt white, wide-body BMW E92 335i. The E92 bar has been raised to sublime proportions with Carlos Molina’s dazzling matt white wide-body 335i. Words: Iain Curry. Photos: Eric Eikenberry.


    Perhaps the best news for us modifiers with the launch of the new F30 3-Series is the inevitable plummet in prices for the outgoing E9x models on the used market. So get yourself ready, soon these desirable fifth-gen Threes will be flooding the classified websites at prices more and more will be able to afford. That means it’s the time to get some modifying plans in place, and if you’re after a bit of inspiration, it’d be a good idea to look west to America and witness some of the latest E90/2 creations currently leading the scene.

    Carlos Molina Jr. will be a name familiar to many reading PBMW, as his cars and modifying exploits have been widely publicised on the internet and in magazines. His killer E46 show car has been long on the scene since its SEMA 2008 introduction, but inevitably Carlos was tempted by a new project by 2011, this time based on the then current E92 Coupé.

    In its sweetest of sweet-six engine guise, an E92 335i with a twin-turbocharged 3.0- litre is a talented platform to start work on. Carlos took the plunge and put his order in, ready to get busy with a Prior Design body kit he’d spied. “I saw glimpses of a full widebody kit on the internet, and was told that no one in the US had the full kit,” he said.

    This chance at exclusivity convinced Carlos to commit to the German Prior Design offering, and just one peek at the spectacular body is enough to convince most that he made the right choice. Here is an E92 that successfully maintains its attractive factory styling, but adds muscles in exactly the right places. And sat on those achingly good-looking concave polished-lip DPEs with barely-there rubber bands wrapped round them, it’s a show-stopper both on the street and in the modified car halls.

    Once Carlos had decided on the widebody, he was introduced to Michael Borja from Rollin’ Art who’d have a big say in the dramatic final results you see today. “Mr Borja was known for his meticulous painting ability, especially with matt paints,” Carlos said. “We discussed the build, and decided on a Bianco Fugi white matt pearl.”

    And what a choice it was. Fresh, contemporary and very, very sexy, this matt white hue emphasises the aggressive curvature of the wide-body and, especially under show lights and street lights, you’re left in little doubt that this is a very special BMW. The body work has been meticulously carried out, with the metal work of the rear wheel wells given relief cuts and then shaped to the glass fibre Prior Design wide-arch for added reinforcement.

    The full kit comprises the fattened arches, side skirts, front and rear bumpers and the vented and bulged bonnet. With subtle Prior Design wings for the bootlid and roof, the look is certainly not too over-the-top, more a case of elegant aggression. Such a style is seen on the likes of BMW’s new M6, with its factory 20-inch wheels sharing much in the way of desirable style with Carlos’ 20-inch DPE rolling stock.


    The wheels sit on Tein adjustable Super Sport coilover suspension for the required slammed stance, and this thing will be a mean handler with the Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars acting as back up. The DPEs also allow plenty of vision for the anchors behind, consisting of Rotora 14-inch discs clenched by Rotora six-pots up front and four-pots at the rear. Powdercoating these white adds even more flair behind the rims, while H2 ceramic brake pads ensure the full complement is there for pulling up promptly when this E92’s fettled powerplant is properly exercised.

    While Carlos was discussing plans with Rollin’ Art in Las Vegas, it became clear that the rest of the car needed to match the level of the body. “The discussion did not end with the exterior,” he said. “I wanted the interior, engine and audio extensively worked, too.” This has been achieved and then some. Little wonder then that this E92 had more than a few crowds around it at the Accele booth at the giant SEMA show.

    Starting with the cabin, this is a plush masterpiece dripping in Alcantara and carbon fibre, with the stand-out ACE Custom Steering blue steering wheel breaking up the classy blacks and greys. In true old-school racer fashion the front seats are Cobra carbon fibre items re-wrapped in Rollin’ Art diamond stitch while the surrounding gaiters, headliner and interior pillars are Alcantara. Throw in an Active Autowerke polished aluminium gear knob, NRG carbon handbrake and UUC carbon race pedals and Carlos has a sublime area to go to work in. You’ll also find parts of the mighty ICE install in here too.

    There’s an Accele rear view mirror with integrated screen, and who doesn’t like a bit of personal voyeurism when out enjoying an enthusiastic drive? Check out the Accele mini video camera pointed at the driver, just to log all the fun goings-on this E92 offers.

    Moving under the bootlid and there’s a veritable party to discover. Once again there are acres of Alcantara for some classy lining, and it looks superb surrounding not one but two 19-inch Accele monitors. One of these is for the bootlid’s inside while the second, on the back of the rear seats, is split into four sections to display the view from the different cameras this car features. Amps, subs and a Sony PS3 all add to the beautifully lit and presented boot install, one that even the harshest of show judges would struggle to not award top marks to.

    Now that could have been that for Carlos’ E92, and we couldn’t have blamed him if the fantastic combination of six-speed manual gearbox mated to the multi-award winning 3.0-litre twin-turbo proved ample in the performance department. Not so.


    “While all the aesthetics were being upgraded at Rollin’ Art, I turned to my good friend Chad Stett, owner of Stett Performance, for some engine goodies,” Carlos said. “He provided a new dual intake, charge pipe, oil cooler and upgraded vacuum reservoirs I’d suggested. No performance upgrade there, but they sure do look great next to all the other Stett Performance items powdercoated red in the engine bay.”

    Yes, it’s pretty showy under that bonnet too with various Stett red flashes, plus there’s a BMW badged Axis Power Racing carbon fibre engine cover and braided hoses. Well, you didn’t expect it just to be dull factory plastic engine shrouds did you? As tasty as the under-bonnet aesthetics are, there’s plenty of substance to match the style.


    The boosted six-cylinder features a Nitrous Express nitrous system with the various associated accoutrements, while a full custom exhaust by SuperSport has been fabricated to work with the Prior Design bodykit. AFE has provided the downpipe and throttle body, while a Race Precision front-mounted intercooler helps keep temperatures down more effectively than the stock item not designed for the healthy leap in power here. There was also good cause to beef the transmission up too, with Centreforce providing a performance clutch and lightened flywheel to handle the increased load.

    The end result of all this? Well, it’s fantasy stuff really. The finished article is one of the finest examples of E92 tuning we’ve ever seen and is a credit to Carlos and his many sponsors and supporters involved in the build. His wide-body 2011 335i demands your attention even at a show as outrageous as SEMA and, crucially, here’s a modified #BMW that has pride of place in a show booth, tearing through the city streets under neon lights, or even out on your favourite country road thanks to its comprehensive performance and chassis enhancements.

    So there’s your inspiration. The E9x model prices are on the tumble and with examples like Carlos’ 335i to aspire to we hope to see plenty more flooding our scene in the near future. This perfectly-painted wide-body may have had more coin spent on it than most modifiers can stretch to, but we hope to see more of its ilk from those brave enough to attempt it. However, for now we’re just happy to sit back and enjoy this masterwork in all its pearly matt white glory.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-335i / #BMW-335i-E92 / #2011 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E92 / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #N55B30 / #N55 / #BMW-N55 / #ESS-Tuning / #BMW-E92-Widebody / #BMW-E92-Prior-Design / #DPE /

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre twin-turbo in-line-six cylinder with #SuperSport full custom exhaust made for #Prior-Design body kit, AFE downpipe and throttle body, #Nitrous-Express remote bottle opener, purge valve kit, bottle pressure gauge, #GENX-2 accessory kit and #IntraCooler kit, Axis #Power-Racing carbon fibre engine cover, #NRG carbon fibre valve cover, bulkhead cover, PS loop cover and panel covers, Race Precision front-mounted intercooler and Ram Air scoop system, Stett Performance / #ESS-Tuning-ECU mapping, Stett Performance twin intake version 2 powdercoated Stett red, charge pipe version 2 powdercoated #Stett red with #Tial blow-off valve, #Stett-Performance carbon fibre catch can, oil cooler system, stainless steel vacuum reservoirs powdercoated Stett red and intake duct block-off plate

    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual with Centreforce performance clutch and lightened flywheel

    CHASSIS: 10x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) #DPE-CS5 super concave three-piece wheels shod in 255/30 (front) and 285/25 (rear) Toyo T1R tyres. Tein adjustable Super Sport coilover suspension, #Whiteline front and rear anti-roll bars, Powerflex control arm bushes, Rotora 14-inch brake discs, #Rotora six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear) powdercoated white by Rollin’ Art, Rotora SS brake lines and H2 ceramic pads

    EXTERIOR: #Prior-Design wide-body conversion, front bumper, boot lip spoiler, window wing, rear bumper, bonnet, front fenders, rear fender flares and side skirts, Rollin’ Art Bianco Fugi white full body respray

    INTERIOR: Cobra carbon fibre race seats re-wrapped in Rollin’ Art diamond stitch, ACE Custom Steering steering wheel, Active Autowerke polished aluminium gearshift knob, Accele rear view mirror with integrated screen, Accele mini video camera pointed at driver, NRG carbon fibre handbrake and 16- piece interior kit, Rollin’ Art Alcantara suede gearshift gaiter, handbrake gaiter, headliner, boot liner and A- and C-pillars, UUC carbon fibre race pedals

    ICE: Accele 19-inch boot monitor (split into four sections for the different cameras in car), 19-inch bootlid monitor, rear view mirror with monitor on rear view, hidden switches, actuators, FM modulator, video amplifier, video switcher and rear view camera, Sony PS3, Diamond Audio twin 12-inch subs, components, mono amp and four-channel amp, Street Wires 2* chrome cap and Street Wires audio/visual wiring throughout

    THANKS: Eric Eikenberry for helping to get my vehicles in print, Mike Borja @ Rollin’ Art for the paint and transport, Chad Stett @ Stett Performance for support and developing the vacuum reservoirs, Stan Chen @ Toyo Tires for over 12 years of tyre support, Will Baty @ CenterForce for using the 335 as a test vehicle for future upgrades, Eloy Way @ Race Precision for believing in the build since SEMA ’07, Andreas Belzek @ Prior Design, Brian Paille @ Accele for supporting another BMW build, Bob Chanthavongsa @ Diamond Audio for last minute audio support
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