Whoever said you can only use European parts to build a Euro was wrong. Take this '07 BMW 335i: it's classy enough to entertain royalty yet casual enough to daily drive. It's also got enough balls to run at full throttle on a challenging road course and has plenty of ponies to pass that annoying Nissan 350Z hogging the fast lane. This car isn't over-the-top and has a good combination of both panache and performance, yet it only has a few aftermarket parts from across the Atlantic. How is this possible?
We first discovered this 335i at SEMA '07 (et 1/08). It was one of ten E92s we found, but had a lot going for it. Displayed in the Rotora brakes booth, it sported massive front and rear brakes, fashionable bodystyling, and a super-slammed stance. This Coupe turned heads!
After more investigation, we found it belonged to the general manager of Rotora, Lee Takagi. Having lived in Japan most of his life, he's only worked in the US for a few years and is new to the BMW scene, so this project is his first BMW.
Like many 335i owners, he was enticed by BMW's twin-turbo engine. Shortly after purchasing the white chariot, the car became a project for Rotora and was prepped for SEMA.
One of the standout features of the car is its exterior styling. It doesn't use conventional Euro components like Rieger, Hamann or a Schnitzer, but has a prototype kit from US designer Extreme Dimensions. Unlike most of the company's offerings, this kit looks European in essence and has a looming yet refined look to it.
We sat down with Geoffrey Brown of Extreme Dimensions to find out more about the kit. "The 335i was going to be a hot car for SEMA," he explained. "We knew early in the year that we wanted a kit for the car and knew how we wanted it. We were grateful Lee allowed us to prototype the kit on his brand new car and think it turned out great!" The kit includes front and rear bumpers along with side skirts. Once installed, the kit brings the car lower, making its stance more aggressive. The body pieces have been branded under Extreme Dimensions' sub-division Couture Styling. "In '08 we'll really be pushing our Couture line," Geoff told us. "It's aimed toward higher-end cars such as BMW and Mercedes. So we're revamping a lot of our past fitment issues so the Couture line will fit like OE."
Derived from Extreme Dimensions' other division, Carbon Creations, a carbon hood and trunk are also new. Two carbon spoilers attached to the trunk and roof create a more striking package.
The whole car would be lost in a sea of white paint if Lee simply color-matched everything, so contrast was added by painting the rear diffuser black and leaving carbon exposed on the hood, trunk and spoilers.
Once the body styling was done, Lee concentrated on transforming the driving. Like the body kit, most of the performance parts aren't from the typical Euro parts bin, especially since Lee worked for one of the biggest aftermarket brake companies headquartered in Japan.
With his position at Rotora, it didn't take long before a pair of front and rear brake upgrades landed on the hubs of his 335i. All four corners use 14" ceramic discs. "Using ceramic materials shaved 60% off the weight over OE discs," Lee told us. Ceramic rotors are also known to withstand heat better, so Lee wouldn't have problems on the track. The calipers also got beefy. The fronts are six-piston and the rears are four-piston. All four calipers are forged aluminum for less weight. As of now, the brake kits are prototypes but should be available in the summer.
Following the brake install, Auto Talent was contacted for its E92 suspension expertise. They lowered the car appropriately using KW Variant 3 coilovers.
Rotora has good relations with Mackin Industries, so it wasn't hard to source a set Volk Racing wheels imported for the car. They provided a set of RE30 wheels, 19x8.5" front and 19x9.5" rear. Pirelli PZero tires give a subtle stretch around the lightweight rims.
The engine was molested enough to enliven the motor. Releasing more power from the twin-turbos is Active Autowerke's piggyback ECU upgrade. Lee also installed the Active blow-off valve kit, which reverberates the sound of boost around the engine bay. Finally, a dual exhaust with titanium-tips from Agency Power continued the flavor of the car and added a nice rumble from the 3.0 six.
Like many 335i owners, Lee is awaiting more proven upgrades, so don't expect him to stop here. He's also contemplating more suspension upgrades for the track. But whatever comes next, you can bet he's not thinking it has to come from Europe!
2007 BMW 335i
Owner: Lee Takagi
Location: Chino, CA
Occupation: general manager of Rotora
Engine: 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged straight-six with Agency Power Ti-Tip cat-back exhaust, Active Autowerke piggyback ECU and blow-off valve
Drivetrain: six-speed manual
Suspension: KW Variant 3 coilovers
Brakes: front and rear Rotora big brake kits with 14" two-piece ceramic rotors, six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers, stainless steel lines and H9 Endurance pads
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front and 19x9.5" rear Volk Racing RE30 wheels with 225/35-19 front and 255/30-19 rear Pirelli PZero tires
Exterior: Couture Executive front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper, Carbon Creations Executive hood, roof wing, trunk and trunk wing