Retro #BMW-R75/6 hits ’em high, bagged F31 hits ’em low. The bike’s cool. The wagon’s cool. Hell, even the trailer’s cool. Step right up, folks, and enter Stan Chen’s wacky world of eight-wheeled wonder… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Peter Wu.
THREE’S COMPANY F31 Touring and classic bike combo
There’s a fairly natural crossover between cars and motorbikes. Okay, two-wheeled mischief may not be everyone’s cup of tea (and undoubtedly for some of you it won’t be – you’ve actively shelled out your hard-earned on a car mag, after all, so you probably quite like cars), but the visceral thrills of opening the throttle and heading for the horizon are shared by both groups of enthusiasts with equal aplomb. Swapping an accelerator pedal for a twist grip, and four wheels for two, is largely immaterial in the greater pursuit of letting it all hang out, forgetting the world, and just heading out to burn some rubber. Whether your journey’s end falls at a Cars and Coffee meet or a greasy, down-low biker bar, the strength of passion is just the same.
Sitting right in the middle of this cars/bikes Venn diagram is Stan Chen, events and sponsorship manager for Toyo Tires and all-round unassailable petrolhead. If it’s got a motor and makes shouty noises, he’s in. So it makes perfect sense that he’d have a matching set of machines; that way he’s covering all bases. And when this eight-wheeled carnival sideshow rolls into town – yes, we’re counting the wheels on the trailer, as that’s very cool, too – all heads turn and Stan finds himself torn between which machine to cause mayhem with first. It’s not a bad way to live.
There are, in fact, three protagonists in this tale aside, of course, from Stan himself: Von Doom, Lil’ Doom, and The Raft. While these may sound like characters from a pastel-hued CBeebies animation, there’s a simmering aggression beneath it all. And just for the hell of it, we’re going to start with the bike.
Stan’s motorcycle is a #1973 #BMW R75/5 . Nicknamed Lil’ Doom, it was originally acquired from a mate of his who let it go on the understanding that he thought Stan could be trusted with it. He was right. What followed was a lengthy and thorough frame-off restoration at the hands of Jay from Lossa Engineering. The frame has been detabbed, which is basically the motorbike equivalent of a shaved engine bay; every superfluous tab and bracket has been ground off and smoothed, allowing all the oily bits to sit more artistically within the scaffolding of the bike’s architecture. The mudguards have been bobbed – that is, chopped shorter to look more pert and racy – and the finish of the bike is just gorgeous: it’s all been painted in BMW Mineral white, with dual pinstripes in Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green. And the motor? It’s the biggest of BMW’s /5 Series, being a 749cc boxer twin that offers an entertaining mix of rasps and rumbles through its retro black chrome exhausts. It’s a beautiful mid-Seventies sculpture, fastidiously restomodded to be 21st century useable.
Oh, and it’s been lowered, obviously. The shocks are shorter, as it has to match the car. But before we get to that, let’s look at the second character on our amusingly peculiar script: The Raft.
Now, this might be the first time we’ve featured a trailer in Performance BMW. It might be the last. But this one, The Raft, is no ordinary trailer. You see, Stan’s aim was to marry all of these ideas cohesively, and if you’ve put this level of effort into crafting a custom motorbike to match your custom car, it’d be a bit dumb to just nip down to Brian James Trailers and pick up any old generic tangle of aluminium. What Stan’s done here, then, is to create a one-off carriage for his prized and jewel-like bike. Built by Laodies Kustomz in Iowa it comprises a minimalist tubular frame, wheel arches painted to match both vehicles, a pair of HRE wheels, and a custom Kelderman air-ride system that’s controlled from the car. That’s right. Your eyes do not deceive you. When Stan airs out the wagon, the trailer airs out too. And that’s just about the coolest thing we’ve seen this year.
Ah yes, and there’s a car here as well! Can’t forget that. The reason the bike’s named Lil’ Doom is that it’s a pint-sized companion to its larger stablemate, Von Doom. This imposing creation is a 2014 F31 Touring, a 328i xDrive, and you’ll no doubt have spotted that it’s rocking the same BMW/Audi/Porsche colour scheme as both the bike and The Raft. Interestingly, it was actually bought to be a sensible car…
“This is my fourth BMW,” Stan explains. “My first was a ’95 E36 M3, which was the first car I began modifying; I went as far as putting the Rieger wide-body kit on it with custom-drilled MAE three-piece wheels. It was a must-have, as the European tuning market was getting bigger in the US during that time. But this F31? Well, my wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit for us.” At this point, it’s probably best if you just take a moment and think back to the car you were ferried about in as a tiny child. For some of you it’ll have been something cool, for many others something mundane, but we’re happy to wager that few would have been as awe-inspiring as this unique triumvirate. What a way to build childhood memories!
All of the sensible family-car touchpoints are present: it’s an xDrive model, meaning four-wheel drive and thus a reduced likelihood of getting trapped in snow or quicksand on the school run (hey, y’know, it happens). And the sizeable Thule roof box supplements the colossal boot to ensure ample stowage for nappies, spare babygrows, and unchewed copies of The Jolly Postman. And yet… something here is not quite as sensible as BMW intended.
“I definitely wanted an aero package on the car, there was no doubt about that,” Stan grins. That’s why, along with the M Sport bumpers, you’ll spot the rakish M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser and, of course, roof spoiler ramping up the aggression here. “I went with the M Performance aero package since it was a cleaner look than the other brands available,” he reasons. “It also had the very subtle but noticeable roof spoiler, and that was a must.” It’s in-keeping with the car’s sportwagon intent, too, as Stan’s opted for the 328 variant which features the N20 motor – a four-cylinder petrol, but bolstered by a perky twin-scroll turbo and considered by many to be a truly appropriate successor to the old N52 straight-sixes. Stan’s tickled it a bit, naturally, with an optimising remap and a throaty quad exhaust to help the thing breathe a little more vocally.
“The build of the car was a two-stage process,” he says. “The first stage was the aero along with the KW coilovers, something I’ve used on all my previous builds. But then I decided that air-ride would better match the overall theme of the project, so the second stage included fitting the air suspension, and custom-building the motorcycle trailer that was also on air, and that could be controlled from inside the car.
I went with HP Drivetech struts with AccuAir E-Level air management. It’s my favourite part of the build; it allows me to go as low as possible but air up as needed when going over speed bumps and into steep driveways, which I always found to be a challenge with coilovers.” Impressively, what Stan’s achieved here is to convince us that fitting air-ride to his car and making a bagged trailer to match has all been done in the name of sensibleness and practicality, and that’s exactly the sort of world we want to live in.
The wheels are 20” HRE 501s, plucked from the Vintage Series line and sporting staggered widths; Stan chose them because he likes the classic style, and we can really see where he’s coming from. Mesh wheels always suit BMWs (well, within reason), and HRE’s timeless cross-spokes flatter the F31 down to a tee. The same can also be said for the Recaro Sportster CS seats, which were selected in order to retain an OE feel but provide more of a sporty aesthetic. And that’s pretty much the ethos of the project in a nutshell. What at first seems to be a well-kept modern BMW with a classic bike on a trailer may not immediately trigger sirens in the brains of passers-by but the more you look, the more details you unearth. What Stan’s done is to fuse the practical chores of day-to-day family life with the slap-in-the-chops ability to stop the show when he rolls into town. Furthermore, he’s got a badass ’bagged BMW for cruising, as well as a zingy custom retro motorcycle for canyon-running and B-road blasts. The package deal really does tick a lot of boxes. People often talk about their ideal three-car garage but Stan’s vision of the ultimate answer only actually involves one car: with Von Doom, Lil’ Doom and The Raft working together in slick, colour-coded harmony, there’s no situation that this family can’t deal with. If only we could all have life so neatly figured out.
Both the Touring and trailer air-ride systems are linked and controlled from the car.
/ 1973 / BMW-R75/5 has been colour-coded with the Touring and trailer perfectly.
Left: frame has been detabbed for a cleaner look.
“My wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit”
DATA FILE #BMW-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring ʻVon Doomʼ / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom-F31 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #HRE-501 / #HRE / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-F31 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder #N20B20 / #N20 / #BMW-N20 , #MXP quad exhaust system with dual-wall black chrome tips, dual tune by ECU Tuning Group, full European coding by Alpine Coding, eight-speed auto ’box
CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 9.5x20” (rear) #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels with 225/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, #HP-Drivetech struts and #AccuAir-E-Level air management system, #M-Performance big brake kit, R1 Concepts dimpled and grooved discs
EXTERIOR BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, M Sport front and rear bumpers, M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser, side panel blades and roof spoiler, Thule Sonic roof box, Thule AeroBlade Edge rack system, Huper Optik ceramic window film by STM Advanced Window Film Solutions
INTERIOR #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, custom #AccuAir-E-Level control pad mount
DATA FILER 75/5 ʻLilʼ Doomʼ / #BMW-R75 / #BMW-R75/5-Lil-Doom
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc air cooled four-stroke boxer twin, #K&N filters, Motul 7100 4T, cast aluminium BMW2Valve.com café racer starter cover, black chrome exhaust with Heatshield Cobra exhaust wrap, Shorai lithium-ion battery
CHASSIS Audi Charcoal grey wheel spokes with Porsche Irish green lips, Firestone Deluxe tyres, Lossa Engineering subframe, Charcoal de-tabbed frame, shortened front suspension with Progressive Suspension springs, #Progressive-Suspension-412-Series rear shocks
EXTERIOR #BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, R100 fuel tank with custom dimple die fuel cap recess, Crafty B brushed aluminium Mini Racer fuel cap, BMW2valve.com cast aluminium starter cover, Lossa Engineering custom mudguards, vintage brushed aluminium tail-light
INTERIOR Black leather with grey selvedge denim seat, Renthal Ultra Low handlebars, Tommaselli grips
DATA FILE #Trailer-The-Raft / #Trailer
CHASSIS 8.5x18” #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels, 225/45 Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, custom #Kelderman airride system (controlled from car), custom Irish green control arms
EXTERIOR Custom tube frame, arches painted BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, #Ford-Model-A-tail-lights