They say that a car can become an extension of its owner. That's certainly true for Navin Kumar and his twin-screw supercharged 2000 BMW 323i, but on a deeper, more personal level.
Navin was born with a congenital heart condition and has undergone five life-threatening open-heart surgeries throughout his 34 years. His last surgery was a scary time for Nav and his family. He was engaged at the time but doctors told him there was a chance he might not survive the surgery. With lots of prayer, Navin survived the procedure, married Kamini and has lived to see the birth of his daughter, Kareena.
During the heart surgery, mechanical components were implanted inside Navin's heart to keep it working. Those components were made of carbon-fiber.
During the months of recovery, Nav realized his car truly was an extension of himself. Back in 2000, he'd purchased a new BMW 323i with the intent of keeping the car for life for use as a daily driver. Always thinking ahead, the single man chose an auto transmission in case his future wife was unable to use a manual but needed to drive the car in the event of an emergency. However, Kamini knew how to drive stick so the precaution backfired on him.
Just as the car began life as a slow automatic that would be enhanced with technology (a twin-screw supercharger) to make it faster, so had Navin began life with a defective heart that made him physically slower. But the carbon-fiber heart components had made him both stronger and faster.
Inevitably, as Nav began to appreciate the important part carbon-fiber played in his life, the same material started appearing on his car. His first carbon mods included AC Schnitzer interior trim, pillars covers and license plate frames. Later, he added a carbon Schnitzer shift knob and airbag steering wheel.
He'd been introduced to the world of modding when he stumbled upon several websites. Chrome window trim, painting the exterior moldings silver and an Eisenmann quad exhaust followed those first mods.
In a constant state of upgrade over the past seven years, Nav's work paid off when he was invited to join the Eurowerkz show car team at the end of '06. Through the team, he got his first taste of the show car scene and he was able to establish good relationships with the team's sponsors.
He has since added to his carbon-fiber collection with such things as a Vorsteiner-edition Brembo big brake kit that includes six-piston silver front calipers and 14" rotors. He also has Vorsteiner's double-sided carbon hood with closed vents, plus carbon badges, Schnitzer front splitters on the OEM M-Tech front bumper, a Schnitzer trunk spoiler and some carbon kidney grilles.
Under the hood, the carbon infatuation continued with an ESS engine cover and fuel rail cover, oil cap cover, Quatro strut brace and, of course, a Gruppe M intake.
The interior wasn't forgotten either with carbon door sills, seat backs, e-brake handle, pedals and instrument cluster trim, while the boots for the shifter and e-brake were made from carbon-effect vinyl. "Even Kareena's child-seat has a simulated carbon pattern to match the overall theme!" he laughed.
For many years, the 323i lacked sufficient punch to get itself noticed until the ESS twin-screw supercharger came along recently. As you may know, ESS is a Norwegian company that's been supplying blower systems to the US since the mid '90s. In '05, it opened a center in San Diego, CA to fulfill US orders and continues to develop BMW systems.
Its TS1 system for the E46 323i uses a Lysholm twin-screw supercharger because it creates more boost at lower rpm to improve bottom and mid-range torque. The system also utilizes a throttle body-type butterfly air bypass valve to reduce parasitic drag. In fact, the blower consumes less than 2hp when cruising off-boost, so it helps with fuel economy.
The kit also includes ESS software to recalibrate fuel delivery to the larger Bosch injectors supplied, as well as the drive belt, anodized brackets, cast aluminum intake and silicone hoses. The TS1 system costs around $5500 and running at 7psi is claimed to increase power from a sedentary 170hp stock to a more exciting 280hp at the crank. Consequently, the 0-60mph time is said to be 6.3sec for the auto transmission.
To monitor the blower, Navin installed a set of VDO gauges with custom amber lighting to match the BMW interior lighting. He then retrofitted a full OEM leather interior including seats and door cards. Additionally, he was able to fit the OEM rearview mirror with directional compass as well as BMW's on-board computer.
While the stock radio head unit remains, the sound system has been enhanced with the addition of two JL Audio Stealthboxes in the trunk powered by JL's 250/1 amp to give the bass some thump.
With the Brembo brakes already playing their part in controlling the chassis, the car was lowered on KW V2 coilovers, while staggered 19" BBS RS-GT wheels wrapped in Toyo T1-R tires keep everything in contact with terra firma.
Since our photo shoot, several major changes have taken place, including a five-speed manual conversion after reverse gear failed on the auto. His fetish for carbon continues unabated with a toolbox in the trunk, gauge panel trim and a new air box, all constructed from the composite material.
On the entertainment side, he's upgraded to a Pioneer AVIC N4 touchscreen head unit with nav, bluetooth and iPod functionality. And, of course, it's mounted in a custom carbon fiber panel.
Looking back over the past year, Navin won trophies at three of the five shows he attended. But more than winning awards, his favorite part of car shows is the opportunity to chat with visitors who admire his car. It gives him the chance to explain how the car is telling his own story and the importance of maintaining a healthy heart.
2000 BMW 323i
Owner: Navin Kumar
Location: Gaithersburg, MD
Occupation: Software Configuration Manager
Engine: 2.5 liter i-6 with ESS twin-screw Lysholm supercharger kit with bigger injectors and software, Gruppe M carbon intake, Eisenmann quad exhaust, Optima Yellow Top battery, upgraded water pump, carbon oil cap
Drivetrain: stock Steptronic automatic transmission
Suspension: KW V2 coilovers, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Benfer carbon strut brace
Brakes: Brembo six-piston front brake kit with silver calipers and carbon trim, 14" front rotors, Brembo rear rotors and Tuner01 rear caliper covers, stainless lines
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front, 19x9.5" rear BBS RS-GT wheels with 235/35-19 front, 255/30-19 rear Toyo Proxes T1-R tires
Exterior: Vorsteiner carbon GTR hood with M3 hood shocks, carbon GTR skirts, AC Schnitzer rear valance, carbon mirrors, front splitter and trunk spoiler, BMW M-Tech front bumper, carbon kidney grilles, headlight trim, roundels, plate frames, pillar trim, foglight rings and tow hook, tint, color-matched moldings and windshield washer grille, Umnitza smoked LED tail lights and Predator Orion 6000K LED angel eyes, Depo smoked corner and side markers
Interior: OE leather retrofit with powered Sport seats, VDO boost, oil temp and pressure gauges in-dash panel, AC Schnitzer carbon steering wheel with airbag, interior trim, shift knob and instrument cluster trim, carbon door sills, e-brake handle, pedals and seatbacks, shift and e-brake boots in carbon-look vinyl, OE compass mirror and onboard computer
Audio/Visual: JL Audio Stealthboxes and 250/1 monoblock amplifier, Alpine six-disc CD changer
Thanks: Kamini, Kareena, family, Eurowerkz, Derrick and Jack at Euro Pros, Bubba at Suburban Auto Body, Alex at Auto Arte Works, Chris and Alvaro