As you may have gathered from this issue, we returned to Japan this year and paid another visit to our friends at Studie AG in Yokohama City. Run by Yasuaki "Bob" Suzuki, the company is one of the leading BMW specialists in the country and responsible for some of the finest BMW projects in the world.
During our last visit we showed you Studie's incredible HQ and featured its impressive 130i (et 5/07). Based on the five-door hatchback version of the 1-Series, it featured a genuine carbon fiber widebody from BMW Motorsport and a lurid blue paint scheme.
Since then, the Studie team has been hard at work. The company has built two of the wildest Z4 M Coupes you'll ever see, and we'll have a full feature soon. However, we decided to take a closer look at one of its latest projects for our special 335i issue - this intriguing E93 M3 Convertible.
We were first attracted by its orange paintwork, which made it stand out, even on a rainy day in mid-January. But grey skies couldn't mute this curiosity and we attempted to discover how Studie had come to have the world's first E93 M3 Convertible.
On closer inspection, the interior with its wood trim and auto transmission aroused our suspicions. And a peek under the bulged and vented M3 hood confirmed our deductions; this wasn't an M3 after all, but an ingenious conversion on a 335i Convertible.
With many people regarding the 335i as "the people's M3," this bolt-on body conversion would only serve to make the potent twin-turbo machine even more attractive to those who view the new M3 as two-cylinders too far.
So how was this Transformer created? The team at Studie utilized its contacts in Germany to obtain genuine M3 body panels. At a time when most customers haven't taken delivery of their cars yet, this was quite a feat. But since Studie had at least two E92 M3s in its possession (see our Tokyo Auto Salon report elsewhere in this issue), we assume they are very well connected.
The list of genuine M3 parts used in the project includes the front bumper, front fenders plus side grilles, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper and door mirrors.
We're told that the parts required slight modifications to fit, but creating an M3 replica is relatively straightforward. The alterations included a slight adjustment to the bottom of the doors, which we assume was to allow the skirts to fit properly. The Studie crew also reports that the hood and the position of all four fenders had to be finessed in order to align correctly. A close inspection revealed no unsightly gaps in the new body panels, creating a convincing replica.
In keeping with Studie's paint policy of finding the brightest possible OEM colors, they again raided BMW's paint swatches and discovered this Kyalami orange. It was offered on the Z3 as part of BMW's Individual program and looks striking on the 335i.
As one of the bigger AC Schnitzer dealers in Japan, Studie opted to fit the German tuner's distinctive TypeV forged monoblock wheels. They measured a healthy 20x10" on the rear and were only one inch narrower on the front.
The corresponding tires were 275/30-20and 245/30, respectively, with Studie opting to fit Yokohama's grippy Advan Sport compound as a matter of course.
Predictably, there's also a Brembo brake upgrade, using drilled rotors and four-piston calipers at each corner.
The 335i sits pretty low and Studie achieved this with a Sachs Race Engineering RS-1 coilover suspension kit. They also fitted Autorefine anti-roll bars, which are made locally in Japan.
Despite its extrovert exterior, the motor is relatively tame, modified with an Arqray muffler and GruppeM carbon intake. This combination is claimed to release an extra 50hp but is only scratching the surface of the potential wrapped up in the twin-turbo motor. However, Studie feels software is unecessary.
The interior was similarly restrained, with simply a set of Studie floor mats to distinguish it from the norm. However, this didn't seem to matter when it was the exterior attracting all the attention as we cruised a rainy Yokohama City looking for a photo location.
Look out for Studie's genuine E92 M3 elsewhere in this issue and its widebody Z4 M Coupes in a future issue of et.
'07 BMW 335i Convertible
Owner: Yasuaki SuzukiLocation: Yokohama, JapanOccupation: owner of Studie AG
Engine: three liter, 24v, i-6 with GruppeM carbon intake housing a K&N filter, Arqray exhaust muffler
Drivetrain: six-speed automatic transmission
Suspension: Sachs Race Engineering RS-1 coilovers, Autorefine anti-roll bars
Brakes: Brembo Gran Turismo four-piston front calipers with 355mm (14") two-piece fully floating rotors, four-piston rear calipers with 345mm (13.6") two-piece fully floating rotors
Wheels & Tires: 20x9" front, 20x10" rear AC Schnitzer TypeV forged monoblock wheels with 245/30-20 front, 275/30-20 rear Yokohama Advan Sport tires
Exterior: OEM E92 M3 front bumper, front fenders, fender grilles, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper and door mirrors, car painted in BMW Individual Kyalami orange
Interior: Studie floor mats
Thanks: Studie AG (www.studie.jp), US AC Schnitzer importer (www.cecwheels.com), www.yokohamatire.com www.brembo.com/us