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    SPACE INVADER 900hp #BMW-E91 / #BMW-335i-Touring / #BMW-335i-Touring-E91 / #BMW-335i-E91 / #BMW-335i-Touring-900bhp / #BMW-335i-Touring-E91-900bhp

    With 900hp from an #N54 with stock internals, this E91 Touring is really reaching for the final frontier. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: RonV Photography.

    The king of fast estates has traditionally always been Audi; its automotive back catalogue is filled with examples of big power load-luggers, from the legendary RS2 Avant, mental original RS4 and equally mental RS6s, though BMW has also had a go, with the E34 M5 Touring and E61 M5 Touring. These days, though, its given up on M estates, so the fastest way to transport dogs, children and sofas, possibly all at the same time, is in something with a turbocharged straight-six under the bonnet. For example, the F31 335d xDrive will hit 0-62 in 4.9 seconds, at which point you have to ask yourself: how fast do you really need to go?

    Well, if your name is Marco van Weerd, then the answer is much, much faster than that. Marco’s steed of choice is an E91 335i M Sport Touring, a fine car powered by a fine engine and plenty quick in just about any given situation but, as we all know, the twin-turbo N54 has so much more to give… Marco bought the car three years ago, completely stock, but, with a couple of modified Japanese cars in his motoring past, it was never going to stay that way for long. “From the moment I bought the car, I began modifying it right away, starting with some standard upgrades like a JB4, downpipes, intercooler etc” but that was never going to satisfy his thirst for modifying and his hunger for power. You see, Marco wasn’t interested in owning just a quick car, he wanted to push the limits of the #N54 as far as he could and that’s exactly what he’s done, taking the 3.0-litre straight-six to a staggering 900hp. It takes just a quick glance into this E91’s engine bay to see how he’s done that: with an absolutely gigantic turbo strapped to the side of the engine but, what’s a little scary, is the fact that Marco has left the engine’s internals completely stock…

    “I wanted to try and break the 1000 flywheel hp mark on a stock N54 because I want to be the one to set that record,” he grins, and he’s tantalisingly close. The key to that stratospheric power output is threefold, a combination of: massive turbo, fuelling mods and the right fuel. The pictures show a Comp 6465 but that wasn’t powerful enough for Marco, so since the shoot that has been swapped for a Precision 6466 turbo running at a heady 2.5bar, with twin Tial MVS wastegates leading to a pair of screamer pipes located under the car, with that torrent of turbocharged air being passed through a 190.5mm stepped intercooler from VR Speed Factory and into an Evolution of Speed intake manifold with six Bosch injectors. These are fed by an uprated fuel system running a Fuel-It Stage 3 kit consisting of twin Walbro 450 low-pressure fuel pumps plus upgraded fuel lines with a Bluetooth-enabled ethanol content analyser, necessary because the car has been set up by JB4 Tuning Benelux to run on E60, a heady mix of ethanol and 102 octane fuel. Further enhancements include cooler NGK 5992 spark plugs and a custom exhaust, consisting of a 3.5” downpipe leading to twin 2.5” pipes with twin electronically controlled cut-outs located before the rear silencer, and finished off with twin 102mm carbon exhaust tips.

    You might be concerned that running that much boost through such a massive turbo means the engine is only heading in one, inevitable direction, but you needn’t worry as a forged engine is on the cards, at which point Marco’s power goal will change from 1000hp at the crank to 1000whp… When that happens, there will be a lot of transmission work going on because, at the moment, everything here, much like everything within the engine, is completely standard and that simply won’t do when the next stage of the project gets underway. In fact, only the standard brakes have been deemed unfit for purpose and have received a seriously substantial upgrade in the shape of a D2 Racing front and rear BBK, comprising 380mm discs with eight-piston calipers and 356mm discs with four-piston calipers respectively.

    You might be expecting to find some sort of serious static suspension setup leaning far towards the performance end of the spectrum, but one glance at the photos will tell you that you’d be wrong. Marco has opted for a spot of air-ride, with an Air Lift Performance 3H kit handling the suspension duties and delivering some devastating lows when fully aired out, bringing this E91 to within a whisker of the Tarmac, the nifty controller mounted simply, just ahead of the gear lever inside the car. The interior itself has been left virtually standard, bar the addition of the M Performance gear selector and carbon roundel on the steering wheel, which has also been treated to an alcantara trim panel. What Marco has done is add some serious tech to help him keep an eye on what going on under the bonnet, with a Samsung tablet running the JB4 mobile app and displaying OBD controls and tuning plus a phone equipped with the Fuel-It app, displaying fuel temperature and ethanol content, with both pieces of tech connected to the car via Bluetooth.

    While the engine and interior may have been left standard, the exterior has not and here Marco has taken the opportunity to put his personal stamp on the car and really make it stand out. “In my company I have my own car lift where I can work on the car whenever I want,” he says. “I tried to build the car all to my own taste and wanted to use custom parts you cannot buy everywhere,” which is why this E91 looks so distinctive. Up front, and giving this prefacelift E91 a fresh and fierce look, he’s fitted a custom 1M front bumper specially made to go with the facelift bonnet (complete with carbon roundel) and headlights he’s also fitted, and the bumper has been further enhanced with the addition of a custom carbon front lip with custom carbon winglets at the corners. There are matt black mirrors and the side skirts have been embellished with custom carbon extension lips while at the rear you’ll find a custom carbon diffuser and custom carbon fi ns at the edges of the bumper, with all-red rear lights adding the finishing touch. Marco’s custom approach to styling and inherent perfectionism and attention to detail extends to the engine bay, which has also been adorned with a selection of custom carbon parts along with a custom carbon strut brace. The wheels too are, naturally, completely custom items produced to Marco’s exact specifications, 8.5x20” up front and 10x20” at the rear, a striking twin seven-spoke design finished in Sepang bronze. You might think that would be an odd choice to go with such an extensively black exterior, but they really work and just add something to the overall look of the car and the size is perfect too. The extensive use of carbon fibre, the aggressive styling and the sheer blackness of the thing all combine to make this one of the most ferocious-looking E91s we’ve ever crossed paths with. It’s just so mean and intimidating, an utterly ruthless-looking machine and one that has more than enough bite to back up its substantial bark.

    For most people, a 900hp E91 Touring would be their final goal, but Marco’s just getting warmed up and there’s a lot more to come. “I want to make a custom wide-body kit for the car,” says Marco, running through his future plans for the Touring, “another set of custom wheels, wider this time, at least 10s up front and 12s at the rear, and I’ll also build the forged engine I want so I can hit 1000whp and that will also need an upgraded gearbox, axles and diff.” Judging by what he’s accomplished so far and his dedication and determination to extract as much power as physically possible from the N54, we don’t doubt he’ll achieve his goals and the end result is going to be something truly out of this world…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Single-Turbo E91 335i / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #N54-PTE6466 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E91 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E91 / #BMW-E91 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 / #N54B30-tuned / #N54-swapp , #PTE-6466 1.0 A/r T4 turbo ( #Comp-6465 turbo shown in pictures), twin #Tial-MVS wastegates with twin screamer pipes, custom intake piping, #VR-Speed-Factory 190.5mm stepped intercooler, Evolution of Speed intake manifold with six #Bosch injectors, #Fuel-It-Stage-3 kit with twin Walbro 450 low pressure fuel pumps, upgraded fuel lines, in-line Bluetooth-enabled ethanol content reader, #NGK 5992 spark plugs, custom exhaust with 3.5’’ downpipe to twin 2.5’’ piping, twin electronic cut-outs, twin carbon 102mm exhaust tips, custom carbon engine parts. Standard #ZF6HP six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles

    POWER 900hp

    CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) custom wheels finished in #Sepang-bronze with 225/30 (front) and 265/25 (rear) Hankook Evo S1 tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-3H #Air-ride system, custom carbon fibre strut brace, #D2-Racing #BBK with eight-pot calipers and 380mm floating discs (front) and four-pot calipers and 356mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR LCI bonnet, LCI headlights, custom 1M front bumper, custom carbon front lip with custom carbon tips, carbon roundels, matt black mirrors, custom carbon side skirt extensions, custom carbon rear diffuser, custom carbon fi ns, all-red rear lights

    INTERIOR #M-Performance gear selector, carbon steering wheel roundel, alcantara steering wheel trim panel, Samsung tablet running JB4 mobile app, phone running Fuel-It app, 3H controller, single air tank in boot

    THANKS Andreas Bäckström at PPF Racing, JB4 Tuning Benelux, custom parts by Ventura Motorsports USA, Ritchino Lippelt at MALS, carbon parts by Wheelclinic Lightweight Performance, Mike Kluinhaar at Kluinhaar Bandenservice & Design, Tim Maatman for the welding, N-XTC.com/Chemical Guys for the Quartz Coat paint protection, High Quality Detailing, Tiago Vieira at VR Speed Factory
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    Fancy an Alpina B7 but don’t have the £115,000 required for a new one? Then how about a used E65? It’s a great car for a very reasonable amount of money… Words: Matt Robinson. Photography: Chris Wallbank.

    Old School Rules

    We look back at one of Alpina’s ultimate executive expresses, the stunning E65 B7.

    Chris Bangle – a genius ahead of his time or the man who wreaked the most stylistic havoc on the BMW canon in the marque’s storied history? It’s a debate that continues to rage to this day, seven years after the controversial, bearded American left Munich for design pastures new. It’s an argument in which we’re not going to try and convince you one way or the other if your mind is already made up but we will at least pin our colours to the mast and say we think he was definitely onto something good with his work. His era of flame-surfaced BMWs remain classy and elegant today, with the subsequent models that followed not exuding quite the same crisp lines or distinctive appearance. For instance, the original Z4, with the pre-facelift round rear light clusters, could be argued to be the prettiest #BMW roadster of the lot.

    The E60/61 5 Series, in M Sport guise and on big wheels, can even to this day still elicit a ‘phwoar’ from us when it drifts past on a motorway. And the E63/64 6 Series? That’s surely Bangle’s finest hour… Perhaps his most controversial design, though, was the fourth-generation 7 Series, known as the E65 in short-wheelbase form and E66 as the stretched variant. It really was a shock to the system when it launched in 2001 with its ‘eyebrow’ front lights and a very, very American rear. However, it was dramatically face-lifted in 2005 into a model that was perhaps more widely acceptable, if a little less idiosyncratic. And it’s that post-facelift E65 that we’re looking at here, in its ultimate guise as the storming Alpina B7.

    Developed in the era when Buchloe went from a confusing mishmash of letters and numbers for its cars (C2? A1? B12?) to simply designating the letter ‘B’ and then the series number of the BMW it was based on, the mighty B7 took the then-biggest Munich V8 in the form of the 4.4-litre M62 and slapped a mechanically-driven radial supercharger onto the side of it to liberate massive numbers of 500hp and 516lb ft of torque.

    That compares well to the recently launched current B7, based on the sixth-gen G11 7 Series, which also has a forced induction 4.4-litre V8 – albeit a twin-turbo unit – rated at 608hp and 590lb ft, all for £115,000. It’ll do 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 205mph, numbers that aren’t a huge step above the old 2006 model’s 4.9-second time and 187mph. And you can bag this particular example, in trademark Alpina ‘Dunkelsaphirblaumetallic’ paint, resplendent in side stripes and sitting on a 21-inch set of 20-spoke ‘cotton reels’, for less than half the price of the new car. It’s on sale at Kahn Design in Bradford, a specialist in rare exotica including Alpinas; it was here where we recently sampled the ultra-limited V8 Roadster based on the Z8. At the time of writing, Kahn actually has two B7s on the stock sheets: this 2006 car that began life in Japan that’s on sale for £49,995; and a left-hand drive pre-facelift model with a black interior up at £39,975. So, if you can stomach the challenging looks and sitting on the wrong side of the car, you could save even more cash on the older Alpina.

    However, it’s car No.111 out of a global build run of just 141 units that we think represents all that is good about the Bovensiepen family’s concern. There’s a lack of ostentatiousness (big lip spoiler on the bootlid notwithstanding) about this executive express that truly appeals. No quad exhausts, no overtly loud soundtrack on start-up – it’s just a cultured saloon car that happens to have a really, really potent engine.

    It’s also as close to a new one as you’ll get if you want an E65 B7. It has covered just 36,000km, or around 22,500 miles, and the bodywork looks pristine, free from rust and dings and generally in what you could accurately call showroom condition. The same goes for the interior, which is finished in cream and is free from rips, tears, squeaks and rattles. Everything works as it should, and there’s a lot of technology on the E65 that could go wrong, while the Alpina logo is present and correct on the dashboard trim, with Buchloe’s rhoms and roundels on the seats and the armrests on the doors. It’s a classic look for an Alpina.

    There’s nothing classic about the driving experience, though, because this is a modern enough performance car that still feels epically quick on the road. When the E65 B7 first appeared in 2004, the story went that while it was testing on the Nürburgring, it was going at such pace along the main straight that the E46 M3 CSLs, also undergoing factory shakedown, were receiving aerodynamic tows from the big barge to cut their lap times. Astonishing.

    And this example feels every bit as strong as that claim. The B7 burbles out of Bradford in an exquisite display of luxury limo comfort, the ride supple, the throttle beautifully judged and the V8 motor quiet and hushed. Bizarrely, the sat nav hasn’t been updated for European spec as yet, so the car thinks we’re in a prefecture of Japan, just outside Tokyo; such a cutting-edge place is a world away from the faded woollen mills and Victorian industrial buildings of this particular area of West Yorkshire.

    But then, as we emerge onto winding moorland roads, the chance to open the Alpina up presents itself and suddenly the absent-minded sheep ambling along the Tarmac are in very grave danger of becoming mutton, courtesy of a two-ton Bavarian missile. Wow, the 4.4 has absolutely monster pick-up. It’s connected to the six-speed Alpina Switchtronic transmission, which – during the city driving phase – is predicated to setting off in second gear, making the gearbox seem like a lazy, smooth five-speeder. But out here, with the throttle pushed to the bulkhead, the Switchtronic awakens, offering crisp downshifts out of bends and firing in the next ratio going up the transmission when accelerating rapidly along the straights.

    The B7’s rich, baritone voice is more pronounced, too, once the tacho gets past the 2500rpm point, but as this is an old school, torque-rich V8, there aren’t loads of revs to play with. No matter; make the best use of that 516lb ft midrange and the Alpina simply hurtles along. It’s incredible to think, when experiencing its military-grade firepower, that the B7 couldn’t usurp the iconic E34 B10 Biturbo (188mph) as the fastest Alpina of all time; it had to allow the E60-based B5 of 2005 that signal honour, the 195mph Five, of course, using precisely the same drivetrain as the B7.

    Also fitted to the Kahn Alpina is the optional Dynamic Drive active anti-roll system, which genuinely does allow the B7 to change direction with an alacrity that speaks more of the 3 Series, rather than a gigantic Seven. Shame, then, that the steering is rather too US-spec – light and lacking feel. It’s direct enough and the Alpina turns in keenly but if you’ve driven a lot of performance BMWs over the years this will feel like a woolly setup. You probably also won’t be using the Switchtronic plus and minus buttons, mounted on the back of the steering wheel, to change gear, because they’re not as intuitive as a good paddle-shift is nowadays and the six-speed autobox is fine left to its own devices in D.

    The rest of the Alpina B7’s dynamic make-up is excellent. Large 374mm front, 370mm rear discs lifted from the contemporary 7 Series do a fine job of hauling the saloon down from high speeds with little drama, while Buchloe also felt the standard suspension of the E65 was more than capable of dealing with the grunt of the supercharged engine. And for all those occasions when you can’t utilise the 4.4-litre’s massive reserves, then the doubleglazed windows and impressive aerodynamics make the B7 a near-silent cruiser. The only fly in the ointment is the early version of iDrive still fitted to the car, which does have the menu shortcut button, but which features the eight-way options click override. It’s nothing like as nice and simple to operate as BMW’s current software, but that’s the price you pay for a 500hp rarity like this.

    At almost £50,000, this is not a cheap example of the E65 7 Series; you could probably get yourself in a V12 760Li for less than half as much again. But, given Alpina sold just 11 of these E65 B7s in the UK during a three-year period, it is almost certainly an appreciating classic and the chance of getting behind the wheel of such a collector’s piece, that looks so stunning in this particular colour combination and which has clearly been very well looked after in its previous life, seems like too good an opportunity to miss. An utterly brilliant, super-scarce, 187mph super saloon for less than the price of a fully specified modern day hyper hatch? Seems like a no-brainer to us.

    CONTACT: Kahn Design / Tel: 01274 749999 / Web: www.kahndesign.com

    Suddenly the sheep ambling along the Tarmac are in very grave danger of becoming mutton, courtesy of a two-ton Bavarian missile.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2006 / #BMW-Alpina-B7-E65 / #Alpina-B7-E65 / #Alpina-B7 / #Alpina-E65 / #BMW-E65 / #BMW / #Alpina / #BMW-E65-Alpina / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-E65 / #BMW-7-Series-SWB / #BMW-7-Series-Alpina /

    ENGINE: #V8 , 32-valve, #supercharged
    CAPACITY: 4398cc
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed #Alpina-Switch-Tronic / #ZF6HP
    MAX POWER: 500hp @ 5500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 516lb ft @ 4250rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
    STANDING KM: 22.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 187mph
    ECONOMY: 22.1mpg
    CO2 EMISSIONS: 306g/km
    WEIGHT: 1960kg
    PRICE (new): £78,950 (2005)
    PRICE (today): For car 111 of 141: £49,995

    The B7 features a wonderfully opulent cabin with swathes of leather and alcantara along with Alpina’s trademark wood trim.
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    WAGONE

    With its camo wrap, DTM-inspired styling and 360hp, this E61 535d Touring is one hell of a way to get the dogs to the park. With silly styling and equally silly power, this bonkers DTM-inspired Finnish 535d Touring is about as far removed from a sensible family estate as you can imagine. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Jape Tiitinen.

    Tourings are cool, of that there can be no doubt, but they’re ultimately pretty sensible beasts, especially in diesel form. Wouldn’t it be great if someone built an absolutely mental wagon with off-the- wall styling and something naughty under the bonnet? Well, someone has and his name is Tommi Väyrynen.

    In his early 30s, Tommi is of the age where many people would likely be considering a Touring because they’ve got at least one child either on the way or already present. In fact, his motives for purchasing a capacious estate were dog-based but the principle is the same. What he’s ended up with, however, is one hell of a dog-to-park-delivery system, and the end result is all the more astonishing because he never actually intended to modify it. However, with a long list of extensively modified cars behind him, that thought was about as futile as attempting to keep a Labrador out of a muddy puddle. Not. Going. To. Happen.

    Hailing from Scandinavia, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that Tommi cut his motoring teeth on a Volvo 340 DL with a mighty Renault 1.4 under the bonnet and while it was fine summer transportation it was not so great in the winter, though likely not for the reasons you’re probably thinking of: “That is a problem of living here in north, the carburettor always froze and jammed!” he exclaims. The modifying began with this sturdy brown Volvo and continued with a Merc 190E and an extremely rare Merc E50 Lorinser before he saw the light and decided to see what Bavarian metal had to offer.

    The need for dog transportation guided his hand towards an E61 and a desire to sample the twin-turbo M57 cemented his engine choice with the 535d. This particular example came very well-spec’d, with the aptly-named Comfort seats and HUD to scratch the surface. Those first summer months were great, Tommi and his E61 enjoying the Finnish countryside together with the dogs, but come the harsh winter the E61 decided it had had enough of being reliable. “The starter stopped working, the auxiliary heating did not work, the glow plugs did not work, the battery was bad, the trunk wiring was also dead. I had to do a lot of repairing…” he says, in what might be the understatement of the year. But where a lesser man might have faltered, Tommi persevered, fixed everything and that’s when the modifying that he had no intention of doing began.


    As modifying was never on the cards, there was no plan and things just sort of happened, like the engine mods: “When I bought the car it had an engine tuning chip and because of that the exhaust manifold broke and that is where all it started,” grins Tommi. “We needed to change the manifold so at same time, when turbos were on the table, I made the wastegates as big as they could be. At the same time we also lost the cats and after that we go rid of the DPF as well.” Well, if you’re halfway to gutting your exhaust system you might as well go all the way!

    “The car then went for tuning, with my friend making the software for it, and after that we installed the biggest intercooler we could behind the front bumper.” That has now been painted red because, really, no part of this car wants to be discreet. “It now makes 380hp and 627lb ft of torque and it sounds like a truck. I love it!” he grins. The benefits of all that power and torque are obvious: it means you can get to the park extra quickly for more doggy playtime, and you can also do massive smokey burnouts, which is always fun.

    However, all of this plays second fiddle to the way the thing looks. There are no two ways about it, it’s absolutely mental and, love it or hate it, it’ll make you look. Tommi took inspiration for the car’s styling from Jon Olsson’s wide-body, 1000hp Audi RS6 which, at its wildest, was even more flat-out bonkers than Tommi’s concoction. This E61 is a faithful recreation on a marginally more sensible scale: “When I saw a picture of Jon’s car I knew straight away what I wanted to do. Me and my friend drew the shapes for the graphics and another friend cut the strips at his workshop. We wrapped the car and installed M5 grilles in the front arches. We made those DTM spoilers from plastic in my own garage and then wrapped then in carbon film; we had no problems with any of the bodywork but the best thing to have when you’re modifying a car is good friends as they can help you.”

    The graphics are definitely the first thing on this 535d that gets your attention, and they’re certainly not shy, but neither are the outlandish aerodynamic addenda. They are headed up by that big front lip that extends out past the bumper and is held up by two bright red supports. This is then joined by a pair of dangerous-looking canards on either side of the bumper. The side blades that extend out from the sills have winglets at their front and rear edges while at the rear there’s a diffuser with some seriously aggressive vertical slats. The whole lot is then topped off with a roof box. In stark contrast to the exterior mayhem, the interior has been kept stock, but then again there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to black leather wrapped around Comfort seats and the aluminium cube interior trim.


    While in the past Tommi has been more than happy to slam his cars into the ground, with the Touring he wanted to keep things marginally more sensible. “I’m getting old!” he laughs. “My Lorinser Merc had just 6cm (just over 2”) of ground clearance but this has 12cm (just under 5”) and not only is it so much more comfortable but you can also drive faster,” and that’s probably the best reason for not absolutely dropping your car that we could possibly think of. “The suspension is actually only the M Sport suspension but with new shocks,” he continues. This isn’t much but it’s enough as this car is hardly riding like it’s on stilts, with what little arch gap there is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, especially with those 20s bolted to the car. The dubs in question are TSW Mirabeaus, measuring 9” wide up front and 10.5” at the rear, and they really look fantastic on the car. “I have had wheels with big lips before but now I wanted something different so the concave design was my choice,” says Tommi. He chose wisely as they are the perfect size and the ideal style, with the twin five-spoke design really working a treat on the Touring.

    It’s a mad concoction, this, though the car that inspired it was completely unhinged so it’s all relative, really, and what’s actually the most likely thing to raise your eyebrows to the edge of your hairline is just how positive a reaction Tommi’s Touring has received upon its unveiling. “I took it to a few shows and with the #DTM look I won the ‘Best Euro Car’ award from the first show. People really like this car, I think. On the Finnish Bimmer enthusiast forum, BTCF.fi, my build thread has been read 16,000 times and no one had anything bad to say. I was quite surprised,” he chuckles, “but happy.”

    He’s really happy with the car too, though there is one thing he’d like to add… “More power!” he grins, and that makes perfect sense because if you’re building a mad car you might as well make sure it’s completely off its rocker…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E61 / #BMW-535d-DTM / #BMW-535d-E61 / #BMW-535d / #BMW-535d-DTM-E61 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW-535d-Touring / / #BMW-535d-Touring-E61 / #M57D30TU / #M57D30 / #M57 / #BMW-M57 / #TSW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel #M57D30TU , bigger wastegates, de-cat, #DPF delete, bigger intercooler, remap, six-speed automatic gearbox / #ZF6HP / 380hp, 627lb ft

    CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #TSW-Mirabeau concave wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Aeolus tyres, M Sport suspension

    EXTERIOR Camo wrap, carbon front grilles, custom DTM spoilers, M5 arch grilles with M535d badges, rolled arches, roof box

    INTERIOR Standard Comfort seats, standard aluminium M Sport trim, auxiliary audio jack

    THANKS Backwoods Customs (bwcustoms.com)

    “It now makes 380hp and 627lb ft of torque and it sounds like a truck!”

    “The best thing to have when you’re modifying a car is good friends”
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    LAST 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

    “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”
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    2005 Bentley Continental GT £27,495 Modern Classics For Sale Sampled

    Having covered little more than 6000 miles per year, this Bentley is in fine fettle and ready to conquer motorways. Nathan Chadwick.

    SPECIFICATIONS #2005 #Bentley-Continental-GT / #Bentley-Continental / #Bentley / #Bentley-Continental-GT-MkI /
    Engine 5998cc/ #W12 /DOHC
    Power 552bhp@6100rpm
    Torque 479lb ft@1600rpm
    Maximum speed 199mph
    0-60mph 4.7sec
    Mileage 61,000
    Transmission AWD, six-speed auto #ZF6HP / #ZF / #ZF-6HP26A /
    On sale at ASM Performance asmperformance.co.uk

    The Bentley Continental GT sits in the either/or camp, in a similar fashion to more obscure oddities such as the Alfa Romeo SZ – you either love or hate 'em. Unlike the Italian stallion, for everyone who hates the Bentley there are probably two who love them, which means that Bentley have sold a shedload. As a consequence, not every car is as well loved as Bentleys of old have been.

    No fear here, however – this model's 61,000 miles may seem high for a prestige vehicle but the deep green/grey paintwork is in great overall condition. There are a few stone chips across the Bentley's broad face, with only very minor imperfections elsewhere.

    The of side wheels have a small amount of kerbing damage, but the 275/40 R19 Pirelli P Zeros have a good level of tread left on them.

    The service history, up to October 2013 and 56,420 miles, points to main dealer and specialist care and attention. The Continental will be serviced prior to sale.

    Under the bonnet, the tightly packed engine bay looks clean, with all the fluids at the right level and the oil is a desirable rich brown colour.

    The black leather interior is in fantastic condition, with the only signs of wear to the driver's-side bolster. The wooden inlays are free from scratches, though – and we're really nit-picking here – the start button is missing some of its typography and the circular badge on top of the gearlever came of. Otherwise it's hard to fault this interior, considering the mileage.

    Time to start driving, and with a low, refined waaargh noise the 6.0-litre W12 fires up on the button. The steering feels suitably hefty yet easy to manoeuvre, and on rougher surfaces the suspension performs quietly and efficiently.

    The gearbox was equally well behaved, with no undue hesitation or peculiar sounds when working through the gears. The brakes bring the car to a halt quickly and predictably and the CGT raises and lowers its air suspension without any untoward drama.

    Even if you're one of those who hates the Continental GT it's worth trying one anyway. There's truly epic amounts of traction and eyebrow-squishing acceleration. It's no Lotus Elise but this is much more comfortable, and faster too. For the amount of performance and luxury on offer, the Continental has to represent a bit of a bargain at less than £30k. This one is in great overall condition, and aside from a few minor exterior niggles, could easily be a brand-new car.

    Only minor marks spoil an otherwise excellent place to spend a weekend in Sport mode – and simply hold on.

    PRICE WHEN NEW (2005 UK) £124,805

    CHOOSE YOUR CGT PHASE I

    Unveiled at Geneva Motor Show in 2003, the CGT is offered with six body colours and eight hide colours. Bentley updates the GT in 2004 with more trim options. Mulliner Driving Specification option from same year includes 20-inch alloy wheels and upgrades to interior. Continental GT goes on a diet in 2007, shedding 35kg. GT Speed model launches the same year increases power to 602bhp and uprated suspension.

    Zagato-bodied special called the GTZ launches in 2008. Series 51 models of 2009 adds a plethora of trim options. Supersports released in 2009. Thanks to 621bhp and 590lb ft of torque, it can hit 204mph and reach 60mph in 3.7 seconds. Gearshifts are 50% quicker than standard GT's.
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    FULL-ON E70 X5 X-RATED / #BMW

    We don’t see many modified X5s doing the rounds but this full-on, bad boy of an E70 makes up for that in a big way. Slammed, styled and ICE’d up. We don’t feature many X models in DRIVE-MY, but this X5 makes up for that in one fell swoop… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Andy Tipping.



    Good as the X5 may be, it’s not a car that’s captured the imagination of #Drive-My readers, so we haven’t featured that many over the years. This is possibly because it’s a big 4x4 rather than something with retro appeal or an affordable performance machine. Fortunately, what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality with this awesome example. It’s an E70 X5 3.0sd, which means it’s got the twin-turbo diesel straight-six under the bonnet, and it belongs to Am Singh, owner of car audio distribution company #BladeICE .

    Am’s no stranger to modified cars (or feature cars) and you won’t be surprised to learn that some of those have been very audio-focused. “My first car, a Citroen AX GT, was featured in Max Power back in 1999 and a couple of years later I built a JDMspec Lexus IS200 (Altezza RS200) which I fitted a supercharger kit to. It was featured in Fast Car magazine,” he says. “I’ve built some audio heavy vehicles, too, including a Lupo GTi which was featured in sister title Performance VW magazine in 2013. I also own a Chevrolet Astro van which I’m planning to rebuild this year.”



    This X5 was purchased out of necessity when Am and his missus were expecting their second child in 2014 and the family wagon at the time – an E91 330d M Sport – was deemed too small. “I didn’t want to leave the BMW brand as the E91 was a pleasure to own,” says Am. “I found the X5 at Sytner BMW in Leicester. It was a oneowner car in fantastic condition and the back looked like it had never been sat in. The colour and interior combo instantly drew me to it and the spec was impressive too. It’s got the panoramic roof, keyless entry, Comfort seats, Saddle brown leather and, as a bonus, seven seats! Not that we plan to have any more kids, though; two is enough!” he laughs.


    So, how do you go from mild-mannered X5 to full-on feature car? “Secretly I always had plans for the car,” Am reveals, “however, things went further than I initially imagined.” This is something we’ve heard many times before. Six months of standard X5 ownership passed before Am decided that a bit of modifying was in order and started on what was to be an incredibly slippery slope.


    “Initially I purchased some KW V3 coilovers,” says Am. “Then I looked at brakes from the X5 M, which comprised massive 395mm discs and four-pot Brembo calipers. These were fitted and I ran it on stock 20s for about three months, after which I got talking to a new up-and-coming wheel manufacturer in the USA: Brada wheels.” In case you don’t know, Brada produce lovely forged wheel designs and while 20s would be plenty on most cars the X5 can pull off much bigger wheels, so it would have been rude not to indulge, really. “I wanted to go with a BBSstyle wheel with a cross-spoke design and the Brada BR-1 fits the bill perfectly,” Am continues. “So I ordered a set of 22s and these were built to order as they are a fullyforged/ CNC’d three-piece wheels in a staggered fitment. It was worth the wait and I ran them for the few months that were left of summer #2014 then took them off for winter. That’s when my mind went into overdrive.


    “I started work on the audio, as I needed a demo car for 2015. As a lot of the products I distribute were pointing towards OEM integration and exotic high-end sound quality, the X5 was the perfect base to allow me to go for an OEM+ approach and maximise my marketing possibilities. At this time I also picked up a CIC with Combox to replace the aging CCC iDrive system and I made sure it had DAB, too, while Mak’s Retrofits helped with the installation and coding.”

    With plans under way for some impressive ICE, Am decided that the X5 needed more than just an audio overhaul and resolved to completely change the look of the car. While he had originally wanted an X5 M, the price was too much of a stretch so he decided to go for the next best thing, and set about building a perfect replica. “I got to work looking at all the parts that differ on the M Sport and the X5 M,” Am says. “Initially it didn’t appear to be more than front wings, front bumper and rear bumper but it ended up being a lot more. There were many other items to consider, like headlights, quad exhaust, bumper grilles, trims, clips, bolts etc the list grew and so did the spendometer! After about seven months of searching eBay USA and eBay Germany I managed to get the majority of the parts to start the transformation. Some items had to be bought new, though, as they were insanely hard to find on the secondhand market.

    “After a couple months with the X5 M conversion I came across a set of Adaptive LED headlights that were only found on very late model X5s and X6s. BMW actually had it up as a retrofit conversion for around £3000 plus fitting. Again I searched through eBay USA and some US forums and found a complete set of headlamps. They needed a new harness and FRM3 module, which I purchased new, after which I called on Mak’s Retrofits to help me with coding-in all the features of the headlights. They totally transform the look of the car, making the front-end look like the new F models. They also offer functional benefits, such as adaptive control and a light output like I’ve never experienced before. I’ll never feel complete with regular xenon lights after having had these LED headlights!

    “The body conversion took place in spring of 2015 and in the meantime I was left to finish trimming the audio build I had fabricated during the winter. The full setup consists of four Mosconi D2 (full range Class-D) amps, Gladen Aerospace two-way speakers mounted in the A-pillars and the Gladen 201 Extreme 8” slim-mount woofers which utilise the OEM underseat location. Two Gladen SQX 10s are mounted in a trick side-ported enclosure and headed by the Mosconi 6to8 DSP – the brains of the operation. It is linked to the OEM head unit via a high level input but also has full high definition EDR 2.0 Bluetooth audio streaming capability. This means wireless audio playback via tablet or phone, and Tidal or Spotify apps work great for this. “To power the amps I opted to use three XS Power AGM batteries. I mounted them in the OEM location, secured on billet CNC hold-downs. These offer enough reserve power to cope with long audio demonstrations and enough juice to power the vast array of stock electrics throughout the car.”

    Depending on how up you are on your car audio that might well be all Greek to you but for the uninitiated a quick glance at the interior shots reveals that there is a lot of top-end audio gear stuffed into this X5, and the quality of the installation is impeccable. What’s nice is that everything is very discreet. Yes, the two-way speakers in the A-pillars are big but they don’t look out of place and the boot build is beautiful – the enclosure for the Gladen subs looks like it’s a factory item while the installation of the amps in the boot floor is elegant and understated. You probably wouldn’t even notice the Mosconi DSP controller, custommounted behind the #iDrive controls and the fact that Am has retained the factory head unit means that everything is seamlessly integrated and he’s lost none of the numerous standard functions. Beyond the audio, the wood trim has been wrapped in black for a more elegant look while the steering wheel was retrimmed by Jack at Royal Steering Wheels in black Nappa leather with contrasting stitch to match the saddle brown leather on the seats.


    If the inside looks good, the outside is nothing short of gobsmacking. Am may have invested a vast amount of time and effort on obtaining the X5 M bodywork components but it’s certainly been worth it as the end result is awesome. There’s just so much sheer aggression emanating from the X5 M styling that it’s almost enough to knock you off your feet. No corners have been cut, with a proper quad exhaust system having been fitted which sits in a gorgeous carbon fibre diffuser. And, where you’d normally expect to see an X5 in full-on off-road mode, the massive drop that Am has achieved with the KW coilovers gives the car a completely different look. The way the Brada 22s fill the gargantuan arches is just insane. Oh, and the wheels are perfection. The mirror finish on the lips with the brushed centres suits the X5 so well.

    You might have thought that was that, but Am is most not one to rest on his laurels and since our photoshoot the X5 has received a few more changes. “Initially I chose the KW V3 coilovers as I’ve always been an old-skool static type of guy,” he explains. “Despite the craze of air suspension in the last few years I went with coilovers purely because I didn’t want to use up any boot space with air tanks or compressors, as this would take away from the room I wanted to dedicate for my aural pleasure. With more and more cars using the trunk space for tanks/hardline installs and ditching audio in place of it, I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods, so I stayed static.

    “However, since this photoshoot I had to admit defeat. The KWs were being wound down more and more and as a result I had no suspension travel, often riding on the bumpstops. For a 2.5-tonne 4x4 that makes for a pretty bumpy ride! So I explored all avenues of keeping my trunk space intact and still having air suspension with the trunk looking OEM+.

    “The air compressors are discreetly mounted in the side compartment and the management is hidden out of sight next to the battery bank under the amps. The fivegallon air tank is mounted on the rear tailgate behind a fabricated panel that’s been trimmed in Alcantara, and the tank has been covered in original BMW Saddle brown leather to complete the theme. I mounted the Air Lift controller into one of the front air vents for ease of access and it looks like it was there from factory.”



    Static or on air, it really makes no difference as this X5 provides a visual punch either way. Every show it’s been to it’s a crowd pleaser. A lot of work has gone into building this X5 over two years but it’s all been worth it. Am’s built himself an awesome machine and one that you’re unlikely to see replicated anytime soon, which makes it all the more cooler.

    DATA FILE #BMW-X5-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd-E70 / #BMW-X5-3.0sd / #BMW-X5 / #KW / #BMW-Performance

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #M57TU2D30 / #M57 / #BMW-M57 / , #Evolve remap, #Eisenmann Race exhaust with quad 90mm tips, #ZF / #ZF6HP standard six-speed automatic gearbox. 350hp, 500lb ft of torque

    CHASSIS 10.5x22” (front) and 12x22” (rear) Brada BR-1 wheels with 285/30 (front) and 335/25 (rear) Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres, #KW-V3 coilover suspension (now replaced with air-ride), X5 M #Brembo four-pot callipers with 395mm discs (front)

    EXTERIOR X5 M front and rear bumpers, front wings, LED Adaptive headlights, 35% tints rear window/doors, 50% front doors, #BMW-Performance carbon fibre front lip, Vorsteiner rear carbon fibre diffuser, modified front and rear arches, paintwork sealed and protected with #Gtechniq C1 and Exo V2 coatings

    INTERIOR Royal Steering Wheels Nappa retrim, black gloss trim panel wrap, A-pillar mounted two-way speakers, CIC with Combox retrofit, custom fabricated Mosconi DSP controller in centre console, #Gladen-Audio Aerospace 28/80 components in A-pillars, #Gladen 201 Extreme underseat mid bass drivers, 2x SQX 10 Gladen subs, 2x Mosconi D2-100.4 amps, 2x Mosconi D2- 500.1 amps, #Mosconi 6to8 DSP, 3x XS Power XE12- 40 batteries, Sky High Car Audio cabling throughout, boot install trimmed in Alcantara

    THANKS Zane at Brada Wheels, Henning at Gladen Audio, Mak’s Retrofits


    I wasn’t going to bow down to the air-ride gods so I stayed static.

    I always had plans for the car, however, things went further than I initially imagined.
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    / #2016 / #BMW / More automatic gearbox woes / #ZF-automatic / #ZF / #ZF6HP / #ZF-6HP

    We touched on problems with the sixspeed ZF automatic recently, and found a place that repairs and reconditions the expensive mechatronics unit. Well now we’ve found a specialist in Manchester who can sort out what could have been a frighteningly expensive gearbox issue for just a few hundred pounds.

    The Mechatronics unit has a bridge seal where it fits up to the main gearbox, and if this fails it results in lots of faults (not engaging gear, rough shifting and the dreaded limp home mode). We heard of a buyer of an E65 with such a problem recently. It had been bought cheaply with this issue and the owner was no doubt quoted the usual £2500 to remove and rebuild the ’box.

    Then Tameside Transmissions in Manchester (0161 371 8885) were approached to repair the car after having two substantial four figure quotes. The bridge seal (BMW part number 24 34 7 588 759) is an increasingly common problem and with the sump removed, the mechatronics unit was unbolted and dropped down whereupon the faulty seal was discovered. With a new one fitted, the sump bolted back up and the oil level topped up and the gearbox worked perfectly. The bill was about two or three hundred quid.

    The moral of the story is: when it comes to stuff like this, don’t just assume the worst but get advice from two or three specialists. To be honest, a good home mechanic could fix this in three hours at a cost of just a few quid four the part, but you need to wear an earth strap from yourself to the car body as static can damage the ECU.

    There is often a cheap fix to the most daunting faults. I once bought cheap but very clean E36 328iA for peanuts with a ‘knackered gearbox’ that went into limp home mode after two miles. One new camshaft sensor later and the fault code cleared and it was just fine…
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    A STATE OF RAPTURE #BMW-525d

    There’s a lot to be said for individuality and this bagged, wrapped #BMW-E61 Touring embodies that perfectly. Brown, bagged and not shy with it, this E61 Touring definitely makes a statement.

    Supermodels come in all shapes and sizes; this is established. The last 40 or so years has seen stickthin figures sashaying down the world’s catwalks as best they can, wearing the latest clothes from the most popular designers. With all the world of fashion’s finery hanging off their frames and bottles of fragrances glittering in their eyes, they sell us all the things, including the cars, we lust after.

    Meanwhile, as if in some sort of parallel alternate reality, the cars we drive have increased in size as the supermodels have shrunk. There are many reasons for this, such as safety regulations, but initially it was because car size was a symbol of status. Cars expanded as manufacturers established themselves while beginning to profit rather than simply survive, and the public increasingly paid out for big cars to use as status symbols.

    Once upon a time, before physiology was fully understood in terms of general wellbeing, it was the same with the human form. A large man or woman was telling the world that they were successful, that they could afford the fine foods that most people could not. This is actually still the case in a lot of the developing world. However, as for the car and its safety regulations, increased size is a necessary evil that designers are having to work hard to disguise in exactly the same way as a designer will use the lines of a dress to accentuate the human form. Obviously, people have different preferences to their neighbour in all areas of life and cars are one of the primary ways that people choose to express this aspect of themselves. One person might prefer minimalism and a svelte profile, whereas another (such as yours truly) might prefer a bolder approach featuring curves and larger forms in all the right places.

    In fact, my personal preference is for cars with the larger rear ends, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Most people would struggle to deny that, when a Touring comes into view with a wrap job such as this, one gets sprung.

    One such car is Emil Ryding’s #BMW-525d-Touring #E61 Touring as shown here in all its Euro scene glory. Emil is in his early 30s and runs his own truck company located in the outskirts of Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, and this big, bold supermodel is a daily ride for his girlfriend, young child and dog. It is certainly an eye-catching tool for promoting a small local business.

    Emil’s love of BMW was initially inspired by Volvo, in a roundabout way. Let’s be honest, the Swedish car manufacturer was always going to crop up in this feature. “My first car was a #1979 #Volvo-244 , only because it was cheap!” he said. The first car Emil ever tuned was an #1986 744 turbo with an estimated 240hp: “I bought that one to be faster than my brother’s #BMW-325i !” So he hasn’t ever been one for mucking about. Sibling rivalries aren’t fly-by-night deals either, and the competition rumbled on to the point where Emil eventually realized he would have to buy in to Bavaria. “My first BMW was the #M535 from 1986, in Diamond black with yellow leather interior. It was, and is, one of my all-time favourite cars, and has one of the most beautiful bodies.” He’s certainly not shy of an Eighties classic and has no particular brand loyalty as he also runs an Audi ur-quattro, the legs of which he stretches on track and shows off at meets as often as possible. Our admiration for Emil is established as he demonstrates a depth of variation in his preferences, not discriminating by age and also knowing when to modify and when to keep it straight and original.

    The start of his journey into modified modernity began with a relatively specific remit. “I wanted a stanced car with air-ride as a daily driver that both fitted my kid and dog and could tow a car trailer behind,” he explains. “In 2012, my friends Jan Axelsson and Richard Klarby convinced me to go with them to an amazing week at the pre-meet in Wörthersee, a big VW meet in Austria, and after that I knew that I wanted a stanced car.”

    The quest for a car with a quality air-ride system that suited his practical and aesthetic demands began. “It took me a year before I found this one,” Emil said. “I found it about 300km from home. It was really beautiful and though the carbon fibre splitter in the custom front was cracked and one of the rims was scratched it was easy to fix!” He had settled on a #2004 #525d #E61 Touring with the body kit seen here under the wrap. Credit for the fantastic detail on the air install and the addition of the rare Gnosis-1 rims from US-based Work Wheels goes to Henrik Schmidt. Legend has it that these wheels are the only such examples in all of Sweden.

    Like so many fashion designers and auto modification aficionados before him, Emil took the opportunity to take in some shows and have a look at the prevalent mode du jour in the wider scene. “That summer we were invited down to the XS CarNight meet and also as VIP guests at Felgenoutlet BBQ in Dresden, Germany, with my quattro. So we put the Audi onto a trailer behind the BMW, drove 1300km down there, and displayed both cars at the shows. People could not believe their ears when I told them that I drove the whole way from Stockholm, Sweden in the BMW dragging a car and trailer behind it!”

    Having attended those two big shows with the car in its original silver, the call of individuality proved irresistible and the designer cut his cloth. “I wanted to make the car more personal so, in the winter of 2013, I made this version of it because it was to be displayed at the Elmia Custom Motorshow in the spring of 2014. It’s the biggest motorshow in Sweden. So we tore the car into pieces and started wrapping it. With a little help, I picked a matt metallic brown wrap from Avery Supreme and did the trim and some details in gold. We did the job in my everyday parking garage!”

    If you look closely, you’ll notice evidence of Emil letting his creative side fly a little further than the usual wrap job. “We also put stickers under the vinyl, so you can only see the outlines of them if you look really closely. The car has a unique one-off look. You can’t find a similar one anywhere. That was the goal with the car; it looks extreme but you can use it every day. I really do use it as a daily driver; it works perfectly. With the diesel engine, an automatic gearbox, and electric leather seats it’s comfortable, too.” This project was always about form over function, which is why Emil hasn’t altered the interior or the drivetrain, since BMW’s big diesel Touring pedigree is long established as a competent and comfortable breed. The foundations that allow for the functions of form required of it remain, and the form has followed Emil’s inspiration from Europe’s finest scenes. “I wanted it to stand out in a crowd but still be tasteful and, of course, as low and wide as possible.” When pressed on his favourite aspect of this build Emil told us: “It’s the car’s stance. When you park it next to another car and just drop the air out of the system until the arches are touching the aluminium rims… I love that.”

    As with every expression of oneself, the highlights of the experience are usually the initial completion of a project, with the sporadic bursts of attention when you choose to show your work to the crowds that it is designed for. For Emil it was no different. “The best moment was when I drove the finished modified car out of the garage after a long winter, ready for the Custom Motorshow.”

    Nature will mete out the good with the bad, however, and there have been one or two ‘alternative’ moments. “The most frustrating moment so far was on the trip back to Sweden from Dresden,” said Emil. “We got a flat tyre on the BMW about 500km from home in the middle of the night, dragging another car on a trailer behind us! We got towed to a tyre shop in Helsingborg and woke the owner up. He changed the tyre for us, even though it’s not easy to find tyres to fit those rims and at about 2am we continued our journey.”


    After all the hard work he put into this project, it seems Emil’s time with the car is coming to an end. “I think this one is done now,” he said. “I am going to sell this car and probably buy a Marrakesh brown #BMW-X1 so that both my girlfriend and I can drive the car, although I will probably stance that one too!”

    Like any fashion designer, Emil has researched carefully, taken inspiration from the greats, brought his own mind to bear and created something unique and thought provoking. He has then sent it confidently down the catwalk in front of his peers and they have approved. His model hasn’t been the most conventional of choices, being big and, er, practical but the forms in between the lines have taken very well to the colours and highlights his vision had for it. We can’t wait to see what the 2015 season has in store for Emil.

    DATA FILE 2004 #BMW-525d-E61

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M57TUD25 , standard #ZF6HP six-speed auto.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x19” ET10 (front) and 10.5x19” ET15 (rear) Work Gnosis GS-1 wheels with 15mm (front) and 20mm (rear) spacers, with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) Nankang NS-2 tyres, BC V1 coilovers custom-built with airbags

    EXTERIOR: M Sport front bumper with #E92 #M3 lower section with carbon fibre lip, matt copper brown metallic wrap from Avery Supreme, tinted windows, gold wrapped exterior trim.

    INTERIOR: Accuair e-Level TouchPad, hand-painted five-gallon tank in boot, twin Viair 444c compressors.

    AUDIO: #Hertz speakers and amplifier, ES 200.5 8” subwoofer.

    THANKS: Klarby and Veegeek for the inspiration trip, Stalle for all help and company, Tvedahl Design for tinted windows, Linda ‘Klisterbitchen’ Sandell for wrapping and saving my ass, Anni for wrapping, Kometfoto, TQR. se.
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