There's nothing more smooth or classy than a black BMW 3-Series sedan. It's not too flashy, thanks to its subdued color and four-door practicality. It's also not too big, retaining its sportiness and youthful appeal. So add some subtle aesthetic parts plus a lightly-modded twin-turbo engine and you have yourself an incredible European car to drive to work or impress a business client.
This '07 BMW 335i is the property of Rickie Cruz from Sunrise, FL and the first thing you'll notice is the widebody conversion. However, it has enough Euro upgrades to woo the purest BMW aficionados.
Although this is Rickie's first BMW, he's been around cars all his life. "My dad instilled this passion in me since I was born. I could name every car on the street by the age of eight," he told us.
It wasn't just the cars that inspired him, but also the desire to have something that no one else had. "My passion is hooking up things. Whether it's my cellphone, pocket bike, go-ped or cars, I always hook them up. It doesn't need to be expensive, just something the guy next door won't have," he said.
He eventually got tired of working as a manager at Circuit City and decided to pursue his passion by starting a business: VQMotoring. The company began three years ago out of Rickie's garage and was named VQ because it was the engine code for his Nissan 350Z. Rickie owned one at the time, tuned to 850hp and painted Lambo orange.
Today, VQMotoring's core business is wheels, but it's branching out to include Euro product lines. Another service is building complete project cars, and Rickie now has several under his belt.
His next project car after the BMW is the new Nissan Skyline GTR. "But my true love is European cars because they're built well and don't slack in certain areas like Japanese cars do. You can't beat the looks either," he said.
The 335i was purchased with the plan to make it one-of-a-kind. He saw the potential in the twin-turbo BMW motor and chose the Sedan for its versatility and because various media had reported it was slightly faster than the Coupe.
The first thing he updated was the exterior. There weren't many widebody conversions around, so he fabricated one to his own preference with the help of National Auto Project. They worked together to develop a mold so it could be replicated and sold. "It's an eight-piece kit made from fiberglass. I basically took the original M-Tech body kit and extended the fenders 2.5" on each side. The side skirts and bumpers were then extended to match," he explained.
With the widebody complete, Rickie took the E90 to Duke Dynamics where the team fabricated a carbon diffuser for the rear bumper. Carbon parts were also sourced to adorn the kidney grilles and mirrors. For more than just cosmetic reasons, a carbon trunk and hood from Seibon shaved weight off the car and blended nicely with the theme.
Continuing the body enhancements are more subtle modifications like the Euro headlights and Black Line tail lights.
The wider fenders allowed Rickie to select a set of wheels to fill the new wells. "I went through four sets in eight months," he told us, "until I finally settled on the Maya wheels. I can run 9" wide front and 11" wide rear wheels with no problems, and the rear lips are 5.5" wide in the back!"
The multi-spoke Maya RM1 wheels are 20" large and wrapped in Pirelli PZero Nero tires.
After the photo shoot, Rickie installed big brakes front and rear from Rotora, using 15" and 14" rotors respectively. The fronts featured eight-piston calipers, while the rear used four-pots. For greater contrast, the calipers were painted Lambo orange.
For engine tuning, Rickie went straight to Vishnu Tuning. The company had developed a plug 'n play harness that was pre-programmed for the 335i. It also gave the ability to create a custom tune for the car.
The addition of a custom 3" exhaust also helped the overall performance package. "I went into the ECU with my laptop and Vishnu's PROcede harness. I then put the car on the dyno and tuned it for maximum power. It gave 440whp with just the ECU and exhaust!" Ricky claimed.
Satisfied with the power, the interior was last on the list. The stock headliner was reupholstered in black suede, while an OE E92 M3 steering wheel and shift knob were sourced from Germany. The last details include carbon trim pieces to complement the theme of the car.
During the build, Rickie had several opportunities to add more parts but decided to stop. "I don't like ricing a BMW. This is enough for me and I like how it turned out; nice and smooth."
2007 BMW 335i
Owner: Rickie Cruz
Location: Sunrise, FL
Occupation: President of VQMotoring
Engine: 3.0 twin-turbocharged straight-six with Vishnu Tuning v2.02 software upgrade, custom VQMotoring 3" exhaust
Drivetrain: six-speed manual
Suspension: KW Variant 3 coilovers
Brakes: stock brakes, calipers painted yellow
Wheels & Tires: 20x9" front, 20x11" rear Maya RM1 wheels in Diamond black with 235/30-20 front and 285/25-20 rear Pirelli PZero Nero tires
Exterior: custom VQMotoring eight-piece widebody kit, OE European headlights with 10,000K HID bulbs, Lux angel-eye kit, carbon fiber kidney grilles, mirrors and rear diffuser, Seibon carbon fiber trunk and hood, OE Black Line tail lights
Interior: OE E92 M3 steering wheel and shift knob, reupholstered suede headliner, carbon trim
Thanks: Dad, Igor at National Auto Project, George at Wheelomni, goodroads.net, Ryan Meloy, my team at vqmotoring.com