After our cover feature in et 8/10, Michael Essa has continued to perfect his BMW 335i drift car. To recap, this E92 houses a 5.0-liter V10 engine from the E60 M5. It's upgraded with AEM intakes, Pectel engine management plus a custom exhaust and fuel pump setup thanks to GSR Autosport - the Anaheim-based shop responsible for the car.
To prep the E92 for sliding sideways, suspension, drivetrain and brakes were built to spec with a six-speed Quaife sequential tranny, quick-change rear diff, custom driveshaft, KW coilovers, Wilwood brakes and a four-piston hydraulic e-brake. On the outside, the fenders and bumpers were pulled; however over the summer, the team repainted the car from black to a more eye-catching grey.
Because this is the first European car modified for the Formula D series, it caught our attention. However, its debut in the 2010 season had several hiccups. The first round in Long Beach experienced technical problems, which caused it to crash and not qualify. Round two showed signs of hope as the car finished 4th overall. But in the following rounds, Essa was either knocked out in the Top 32 or failed to qualify. He finished 30th overall in the final standings for the season.
GSR plans to conduct more R&D over the winter to perfect the setup. They decided their biggest issue is the V10's narrow torque band and the level of mechanical grip. The car tends to want to hook up and drive down the track instead of drift, especially at higher speeds.
We'll continue to follow the Essa's BMW 335i as the '11 Formula D season starts up again in the spring.
Last month, we introduced Justin Martin's ambitious big-turbo upgrade for his '01 VW Jetta 1.8T. The car's been under the gun for six years and is finally nearing completion. Looking for 400 daily-driven horsepower, the motor comes from a newer '04 model fitted with Integrated Engineering rods and a Garrett GT2871R turbo mated to an ATP manifold. It'll also have a custom 2.5" downpipe, air-to-water intercooler and Spec clutch.
He's aiming to have the car driving by next month. As you can see from the pics, the turbo is finally mounted and the plumbing finished. Martin will be revising the crankcase breather system in the coming weeks. Chassis upgrades will soon follow once the motor is started up so stay tuned.
At the time of writing, the annual SEMA convention in Las Vegas is one week away. One of the most exciting things we've heard about is a new partnership between DIY enthusiast Bill Caswell and Miller Electric. A team of fabricators will be prepping a '91 BMW 318i for the next Baja rally inside the Miller booth at SEMA. Workers will be constructing the cage, suspension and accessories in four days. Once the car is done, it will compete in the Score Baja 1000, which starts in Ensenada, Mexico and finishes in La Paz, Bolivia.