It's hard to believe the BMW 335i has only been with us for three years. In '07, the E90/E92 3-Series came to North America equipped with a twin-turbo straight-six engine rated at 300hp and 300 lb-ft. While the new 3er was Bavaria's first factory turbocharged car produced in years, it also sported a handsome facelift and 50:50 weight distribution for superb handling.
Many enthusiasts and tuners rushed to get their hands on the 335i, creating and fitting an assortment of modifications such as bumpers, carbon hoods, software, downpipes, interior trim and more. We've even witnessed a handful of extreme examples such as Technik Engineering's widebody (et 7/07), Studie AG's orange M3-replica (et 5/08) and Nick Lakind's matte-black wrapped sedan (et1/10). But now, we have Phuong Le's blurple coupe to add to the list.
Phuong's 335i is the first E92 we've seen on the West Coast with a full color change. The paint is a fusion of candy blue and purple that tricks your eyes, depending on the light and angle you're looking at it.
The surface of the Work wheels is equally mesmerizing. Called neochrome, it mimics a titanium finish, emitting a rainbow of metallic colors, giving you a hallucinogenic trip when looking at them. These two major changes, along with a well-rounded package of performance parts, have placed Phuong's E92 as one of the best show-stopping BMWs.
At 27, Phuong wasn't always living the life of luxury, driving a Bimmer and working as a successful IT administrator in San Jose, CA. "When you're a freshman at high school, everybody else is getting cars and fixing them up," he started. "I didn't have a job, so I admired other people's cars while wishing for my own."
When Le finally saved enough pennies, he picked up an '86 Toyota Celica. He modified the car as much as he could on a ramen budget, fitting an intake and exhaust. It wasn't until he graduated college he could finally afford a new car worth showing off.
Sadly, he purchased a Mitsubishi Lancer. "I didn't know anything about the car but started going online for the first time," he explained. "I found huge car forums where people were fixing up everything out there."
Attending local meets and befriending enthusiasts, Phuong began to draw inspiration. So the Lancer received most of the common bolt-on parts. It even went through five body kits and two paint jobs.
"It's still my daily driver," he confessed.
However, two years ago, it was time for a change. "The Lancer was such a headache," he admitted. "I just wanted a nice car. I didn't want to mod any more. So I bought the BMW to get away from the tuning scene. But before I knew it, I'd ordered rims and suspension, and had a buyer for my stock wheels. I hopped back online, found the BMW forums and caught the modding bug again..."
Addressing the stance, Phuong fitted H&R Race springs matched to Koni shocks. Front and rear sway bars minimized body roll.
For wheels, he dipped into his JDM experience and obtained a staggered set of Work Meister S1 wheels in silver. The five-spoke rims were then mounted with low-profile Toyo T1R tires.
Behind the Works were drilled 'n slotted rotors from LTBMW - one of Phuong's main supporters for the project.
With the 335i coming together, misfortune brought M&S Collision into the picture when Phuong was rear-ended on Christmas Eve. Turning misfortune around, he picked up a new M-Tech rear bumper, which M&S painted and installed along with a new exhaust. In addition, he discovered M&S perform custom work, so he kept that in mind for the right opportunity. Which didn't take long...
"I parked for 15min getting groceries when my car was keyed. So I took it to the shop to get an estimate. I suggested we could paint it another color and started looking at color swatches," he recalled.
Originally Montego blue, Phuong wanted more edginess. With the help of M&S, he settled on House of Kolor Candy Cobalt blue pearl.
"The day I collected the car, it didn't look anything like the blue we picked out. I remember asking if that was my car - it looked purple. But it actually looked pretty good and I'm happy with it. From the swatches we had, you couldn't see the color from all angles," he explained.
After its color change, the car became an attention whore. Everywhere Phuong drove, people stared at the blurple coupe. "Long Tran from LTBMW told me that since I already had the wheels and paint, I might as well go all-out." So the build continued...
After consulting with Long, Phuong left the 335i with Vanguard Performance to develop a quad exhaust. Production took two months because the new pipes required a new rear diffuser, so LTBMW fabricated one from scratch.
The free-flowing exhaust was matched to Riss Racing downpipes to release top-end power and give the straight-six a nasty growl. The aggressive rear also featured a CSL-style trunk spoiler.
Phuong then added a cold-air intake along with a Vishnu Performance piggyback ECU system. With this combination of parts, the 3.0 biturbo is estimated to be over 400hp.
Following this spurt of activity, Phuong went back to the drawing board. "I wanted something crazy and thought about neochroming the wheels or lips. Then somebody told me about Wheel Techniques," he said. Phuong made a call and the rest was history.
Wheel Techniques spent three months perfecting the finish of the Work wheels and intake pipe using a physical vapor deposition (PVD) coating, which is applied in a vacuum. "The wheels definitely turn heads. People double-take all day long," he smiled.
For the interior, Famous Motor Grupe created a stunning enclosure in the trunk, with the Arc amps and two 12'' Alumapro subs finished in the same neochrome. Not stopping there, the nitrous bottle was then color-matched to the exterior.
As Phuong's first Euro, he's accomplished a lot and broken barriers. He plans to add more neochrome under the hood, and the audio setup is also getting a makeover to possibly integrate the rear seats. Finally, he's contemplating air suspension in the near future. "I'm the type of guy who modifies outside the box," he concluded.
"Go different or outrageous - and this isn't even a full show car, I still drive it regularly."
2007 BMW 335i
Owner: Phuong Le
Location: San Jose, CA
Occupation: IT administrator
Engine: 3.0 liter six-cylinder 24v twin-turbo with Vishnu Procede v3 ECU, Riss Racing catless downpipes, Vanguard titanium quad exhaust, Ultimate Racing cold-air intake in neochrome, charge pipe with HKS SSQV blow-off valve, nitrous intercooler spray, color-matched engine covers
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with BMW Performance short-shift kit
Brakes: LTBMW drilled/slotted rotors and pads
Suspension: H&R Race springs with Koni yellow shocks, H&R front and rear sway bars
Wheels & Tires: 19x9'' front, 19x10'' rear Work Meister S1 wheels finished in neochrome, 235/35 R19 front, 265/30 R19 rear Toyo T1R tires
Exterior: BMW M-Tech chin spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper, LTBMW carbon front splitter, trunk spoiler and molded rear diffuser, matte black grilles, black vinyl window trim, GP Thunder 3500K angel-eyes, 6000K and 3000K HID head- and foglight bulbs, House of Kolor Candy Cobalt blue paint
Interior: color-matched trim
Audio/Visual: Arc Audio KS-5006 front and rear speakers, KAR-300.4 and 1000.1 amps in neochrome, SRI filter in neochrome, two 12'' Alumapro Alchemy RX124423 subs in neochrome, inverted in sealed, color-matched box, Stinger 5-farad capacitor and wiring kit, color-matched nitrous tank
Thanks: LTBMW, SpeedElement, Detail Addict, M&S Collision, Wheel Techniques, Famous Motor Grupe, Arc Audio, Alumapro, 454 Life Entertainment, Good Plastics, Stinger Electronics