We have to warn you: By the end of this story you might hate the man you're reading about!
Like many et readers, Carlos Molina loves building project cars. He's no stranger to et; his last project (an E46 323i) was featured in the 7/07 issue. Equipped with a widebody, custom paint, suede interior and more, it was a regular winner on the import show circuit and even graced the SEMA halls on several occasions. Carlos still tours his E46 sedan, but now has its younger, faster sibling that tags along - this '07 BMW 335i, which we introduced as a digital rendering in our Garage Projects (et 6/07).
So why would you hate Carlos, besides the fact he owns two modified BMWs? Because he's a sponsorship addict.
You can easily guess the perks of having sponsors, but acquiring them and keeping them happy isn't straightforward. Building relationships with tuners takes a great deal of time, effort and money. Carlos spends almost every weekend during the show season transporting and displaying his vehicles across the country.
This might sound like fun until you account for all the hours traveling and the prep time, plus the money spent on hotels, food and fuel. Multiply that by more than 20 shows a year and you can appreciate his dedication.
With his sponsor and show experience, Carlos started his own company - Projekt Cars - building tuner cars for research and marketing. His company has completed more than 30 SEMA show cars from truck and domestics to Japanese and Euros.
So when Carlos discovered BMW was introducing its first turbo car since the 1970s, he saw an affordable sports coupe with enormous potential in the tuner market. "I knew the 335i would be a good platform for my sponsors to launch products at SEMA, so I went to a dealership in my hometown," he told us. "They couldn't get me the car quick enough so I went to a dealership in Pennsylvania. They were able to get me the car in time so my audio guy picked it up to start designing the stereo."
It takes guts to tear apart one of the first E92 Coupes in the country, especially when no tuner had touched the car. But Carlos was confident he could design a fully-built E92 for the upcoming SEMA.
After the digital rendering, the audio setup was the easiest task to complete. Starting with three 10" MTX subwoofers in the trunk, four sets of component speakers were fitted throughout the interior. All the speakers draw power from seven amplifiers, three of which are visible on the trunk floor. A combination of blue alcantara and silver carbon fiber adds flavor to the display.
Once this phase was done, the 335i was delivered to Atlanta, GA for its debut at the NOPI show. Stock besides the stereo system, the E92 stirred a commotion as one of the first new 3-Series to be seen publicly on the East Coast. So Carlos hopped on a plane to drive it home to Texas.
After trekking over 1000 miles, Carlos comprehended the 335i's potential. The twin-turbo inline six delivers a smooth 300hp and 300 lb-ft. Being the speed freak he is, the engine wasn't going to be left unmolested. He wanted to be one of the first to have power upgrades for the new N54 engine and debut it at SEMA.
After doing a baseline dyno of 290whp, Carlos commenced with an assault of Active Autowerke parts, including its piggyback software, exhaust and blow-off valve. The coupe was then delivered to evosport in California where a Race Precision front-mount intercooler was prototyped and installed along with ram air scoops for the factory intake system. Carlos then strapped the car on the dyno and threw down 426whp. He expects even more power with the Nitrous Express intercooler sprayer kit, which wasn't used on the dyno.
With a gain of 136whp, Carlos sated his thirst for power. So the chassis was next and he sought guidance from Tein and Rotora. The EDFC coilovers from Tein allow the dampers to adjust the stiffness from inside the car using an electronic controller. The stock brakes were well-balanced but Rotora drew up a more powerful solution where all four rotors were replaced with 14" slotted replacements. The front calipers use massive six-piston stoppers, while the rears are four-piston to achieve shorter stopping distances.
To eliminate the remaining body roll, Hotchkis 32mm front and 16mm rear sway bars stiffen the chassis.
With SEMA knocking on Carlos' door, the E92 needed exterior parts. For this, Vorsteiner used the 335i as its test mule, creating new body parts infused with carbon fiber for the hood, front splitter, rear diffuser and trunk lid. Carlos painted accents of white to blend the body pieces with the car.
NRG Innovations then added its carbon eyelids, mirrors and door handle strips. The final touch was the Motorsport stripes applied to both sides of the car. Reminiscent of the original 2002 Turbo and inspired by a conversation with et's editor, the striping gives the 3-Series a retro sensation.
Wheels would follow the carbon 'n white theme, with Konig supplying its luxury-styled Privat Controllee wheels in 19x9" front and 19x10.5" rear. Toyo Proxes tires were mounted snugly around the three-piece rims.
Carlos finished the car with a collection of interior parts such as carbon Cobra seats, suede headliner, pillars and trim.
The project was completed in time for the '07 SEMA show. And you can refer to et 1/08 to see our show report. Since its debut, Centerforce has designed a stronger clutch and lightened flywheel for it.
Carlos still awaits more power upgrades but in the meantime, he does what he does best, showing cars from coast to coast and supporting his sponsors.
2007 BMW 335i
Owner: Carlos Molina
Location: El Paso, TX
Occupation: owner of Projekt Cars
Engine: 3.0 liter twin-turbocharged straight-six with Active Autowerke software, Xede processor, exhaust and blow-off valve, Race Precision front-mount intercooler and ram air scoops, Nitrous Express GenX-2 kit, two remote bottle openers, bottle pressure gauge, two 5 lb bottles, purge valve kit and IntraCooler valve kit, NRG Innovations carbon bulkhead, PS loop, manifold and panel covers
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission with Centerforce lightened flywheel and clutch
Brakes: Rotora 14" brakes front and rear with slotted and drilled rotors, six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers
Suspension: Tein coilovers with EDFC unit, Hotchkis front and rear sway bars, Powerflex control arm bushings
Wheels & Tires: 19x9" front and 19x10.5" rear Privat Controllee wheels, 235/35-19 front and 265/30-19 rear Toyo Proxes tires
Exterior: Vorsteiner carbon hood, front splitter, rear diffuser and trunk lid, NRG Innovations carbon eyelids, mirrors and door handle strips, Prizm Graphics vinyl
Interior: Cobra Misano carbon seats, Sparco four-point harnesses, Evolution Racing blue alcantara headliner, A-, B- and C-pillars, and shift and e-brake boots, NRG Innovations carbon steering wheel, door seals and 14-piece trim set, UUC pedals
Audio/Visual: three MTX Audio 10" Thunder subs, four three-channel amps, three single-channel amps and four component speaker sets, Accele 10" monitor, FM modulator, video amplifier and switcher, rear view camera, Street Wires two-farad capacitors and audio/video wiring
Thanks: Active Autowerke, Centerforce, Cobra, Evolution Racing, evosport, Fusion, H Sport, JR Lifestyles, Konig Wheels, Mitek, MTX Audio, Nitrous Express, NRG Innovations, Payne Solutions Group, Race Precision, Rotora, Street Wires, Subesport, Tein, Toyo Tire, Vorsteiner