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Features

Sobieslaw Zasada 2002ti Tribute

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

The World Rally Championship is the modern benchmark for staged, all-terrain competition. It’s predecessor, however, the European Rally Championship, predates that by two decades. Since 1953, the ERC took place across the continent, pushing the limits of manufacturers and drivers from all over the world. One of those drivers, Sobieslaw Zasada, brought three championship titles home to Poland starting in 1966. Each of the three championships had their own significances, but the last was a multifaceted victory for driver and manufacturer.

In 1967, he was awarded with both the ERC title as well as being honored with the prestigious commemoration of “Poland’s Sportsman of the Year”. No stranger to podiums or championships, he won dozens of other tournaments and races all over Europe throughout the mid to late 60’s. A few years later in 1971, despite an alleged sabotage during one of the rally stages, Sobieslaw won his third and final ERC championship. Not only did this complete the hat trick of ERC titles for Sobieslaw, but the significance was important for BMW as well since it was their first and only ERC title.

While this is not the original 1971 championship title car, this 2002 was built by a Polish motorsports enthusiast named Piotr in 2012 as a tribute to the legend’s final title year. When the time came to restore his 2002, building a conventional street car was out of the question. Instead, he set out to alter the restoration into a performance-oriented, track-ready 2002. He spec’d out the commission for both the chassis and drivetrain to be based on the 1971 championship winning 2002ti. In paying homage to the Polish racing legend, he also earned a Polish National Historic Motorsports Pass upon its completion.

The engine was completely rebuilt from the bottom up using new BMW pistons (9:5 compression), Schrick 292 cam, Ireland Engineering hardened valve springs, and Weber 45 side draft carbs. The car was fitted with an E21 five speed transmission and 40% locking differential, which leads out to 13x8 Compomotive wheels stuffed under the flares. Gaz Shocks coil overs and full polyurethane bushings throughout the chassis tighten up car. The steering is much more responsive and the snappiness in rear can easily kick out if those Avon tires aren’t warmed up properly.

Of course, we can’t talk about stiffening the chassis and not mention the OMP homologated full roll cage. The interior also houses the matching OMP Legend sport seat pair. A Terratrip Classic 202 Halda tripmeter is fixed above the center console, but in true, vintage rally fashion, a cage mounted lamp and pen holder over the dash provides the navigator with the resources needed to guide the driver through the stages.

Piotr sourced the correct Alpina pig cheek flare kit for the project and he told me “the wide body is my favorite part of the car . Stickers or not, I love the appearance, but installing it proved to be one of the most difficult tasks of the project.” It took the body shop a few attempts to get it perfect, but the perseverance paid off.

During the build he had briefly seen Sobieslaw a handful of times, but it wasn’t until after he completed the car that he had a formal sit-down with the rally driver. It was there that Piotr revealed to Sobieslaw that he had built a spec tribute car to his former championship BMW some decades ago. Delighted, Zasada, said laughingly, “nice BMW, looks very much like mine.” Reminiscing on his championship car with a clean revision before him, he signed the hood and dashboard before they parted ways. Piotr went on to participate in rally events as soon as the car was completed until 2017.

Fast forward a couple of years later, where a customer of AutoCouture Motoring in New Jersey was on the hunt for a 2002. For months she had searched for all types of 2002’s across the spectrum. From ratty, original project cars to fully built race cars, nothing was ruled out. She test drove a few different examples and then this car popped up on ‘BaT.’ Winning the closing bid when the electronic hammer came down, she had Piotr’s tribute rally car purchased and shipped from Poland to the states. As soon as it arrived, she had Sports Car Restoration in Connecticut prep it to make sure it was ready to hit the streets of the greater tri state area. The car then briefly made a stop at AutoCouture where we buttoned up a few extra maintenance items while she dropped in to show us her latest acquisition. Even in a shop overflowing with modern M cars, Mclarens and GT Porsches of different varieties, the Polish rally car was a fan favorite by the majority of the customers who came in for those few days.

That is just the effect this car has on people. The color combination and aggressive stance is enough to attract people old and young. Piotr said that his favorite part of this car are the wide arches and for the right reason. The appearance and sound match the car’s performance in perfect harmony. Even while I was shooting this set, as remote as this location was, people still approached me to get a closer look and discuss the details around it. That is exactly what the current owner is looking forward to the most. She is embracing this car as a driver, but more importantly she loves passing on the history and what this car represents.

Features

Jeff Couch's 635csi

Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare

“Every possible reason you could think of, is why I absolutely love driving this car.  The way it looks, the way it sounds, the way it performs; it strikes all the right chords” said Jeff with a smile on his face and a Stella in his hand.  “But one thing I really enjoy is when people stop to tell me a story about an E24 that was in their life.”   While this is not an uncommon occurrence for classic car owners, unlike the average car such as VW Beetles, Ford Mustangs or 2002s, the E24 was a financial accomplishment.  During the height of Reaganomics stateside, the E24 was in the ‘I made it’ car category. 

People stop Jeff to relive stories of how their fathers or uncles acquired one when their business or practice finally did well.  “That’s the part that always gets me.”  No different from today, except for more options available, there are power coupes from all over the globe.  As car competitors go, Italy, Germany and England were renown for their performance, beauty and comfort,  but there was something so alluring about the 635csi.  The appeal was that the styling cues, power, and reliability were just as good as its more expensive competitors.  Even more so, those aforementioned combined with the reality of a spacious and practical four-person interior transformed the purchase from more than just a weekend trophy.  Not only did they have something to show for what they had accomplished, but it was equally as useful on a daily basis.

Jeff’s E24 carries a great story with it too.  It was 2012, and at the time Jeff had just acquired his third consecutive E46.  A reliable, mildly modded 325 manual seat, stripper was about to be replaced for daily duties by an Oxford Green M3.  With no use for two daily type vehicles, he and his best friend, Tyler, decided to make a trade.  At the time, the E24 was being daily driven by Tyler, but he wanted something a little newer with more creature comforts.  Needless to say, the E24 was not in the current shape you see here.  On the opposite hand, Jeff’s interest was heavily leaning towards a restoration project.  He wanted to pull it off the road and make it a project car he could enjoy for years to come.  With the equal benefit of both parties met, they agreed on the trade and off she went into Jeff’s garage.  Week in and week out Tyler and Jeff would wrench on the car replacing each part on their own.  Conveniently for Jeff at the time, he worked for a BMW dealership so he had the tools and access only employees had to find the obscure parts necessary to get her back to what you see here.  “Why did I buy a trim piece for $270.00 that has been sitting on a parts shelf in the middle of nowhere for seventeen years and that is one of three left in the world and to put on my car even when it wont increase the value? I did it because the car [expletive] deserves it." Every week, a little piece of paycheck was put aside to go towards the NOS parts off the shelf.

This car started out its life in Texas and eventually made it up the east coast making stops in VA and CT throughout it’s ownership.  Having past experience working at a bodyshop, he saw first hand how uncontrollable rust can spread.  Having said that, as Jeff got deeper into the restoration he noticed the lack of rust anywhere on the vehicle.  He realized he did in fact choose the perfect candidate for a long term restoration project.  Cleaned and prepped, Jeff took care of the full underside of the car with underbody coating.  The shell was repainted in the factory Zinnorot, but unlike the original finish, the car is now two-stage with a proper clear coat.  While it is not factory equipped or correct any longer; that deep, dripping, wet red looks like you can jump right in.  All new OEM trim was installed around the car along the outside of the car as well as on top of the trunk with the spoiler.  The front bumper shocks were altered to tuck the nose in slightly and give the shark front a more aggressive demeanor.  

The body is not the only area of the car that was updated.  Mechanically this car received a full overhaul from Jeff and Tyler.  An M30 B35 head was sourced, then decked and port matched for the IE headers and was hot tanked to clean completely. A fresh 292 degree Schrick cam was installed to give Jeff the ‘stop light rumble’ he was looking for.  The Supersprint exhaust took seven weeks and thirty emails to get, but the notes it produces anywhere in the power band paired up to the Ireland headers makes the wait and troubles worth it.  To keep her cool in the hot, summer, traffic months, a Wizard Performance radiator was installed with a Spal fan set thermostatically to kick on and pull air through the radiator at 180 degrees.  While he still retained the earlier motronic fuel injection and barn door, they routed a cold air intake to help cool everything down.  Most parts were powder coated in wrinkle black to keep the engine bay looking clean factory, without drawing any unwarranted attention.  Along with the cooling system components, new OEM gaskets and hoses were also replaced.  Upon installing the Ellipsoid headlights for better nighttime visibility, other wiring was rerouted and corrected for improved power and ground. 

The entire drivetrain has been refreshed.  The shifter linkage and bushings, rear axles, guibo and center support bearing were all brand new along with a resealed differential.  To give the car a better stance, Jeff and Tyler installed a set of Bilsteins all around paired with custom rate springs and IE height adjustable kit.  Increasing the stopping power with new pads and rotors,  stainless steel brake lines were also added.  The interior remains original as a whole with the front seats, rear seats and dashboard untouched.  The gauge cluster has been fixed and updated due to previous failure while some other little bits like the rear deck speaker trays have been replaced with NOS pieces.  Although the woodgrain steering is the only non factory item in the interior, the classiness of it far outweighs the originality lost.

Jeff’s 635csi falls on the fine line of restoration and modified.  A four inch thick binder with complete service history from time of purchase in Texas, 1985, throughout Jeff’s detailed build, the car’s life has not only been restored, but thoroughly documented.  The updated parts only improve the car as a whole and take zero away from its essence as a shark nose power coupe.  His execution was perfect by not only in bringing a car back to life, but making it relevant to today’s power and performance standards.


Features

Franco Regalo's E30 M3

Photography by Ryan Lee @itsryanlee


1988 BMW E30 M3

Engine/Drivetrain

  • Mileage 320k (original engine never rebuilt) 2.3L
  • Upgraded Air Filter
  • Upgraded Oil Cooler
  • Upgraded Radiator
  • Electric Fan conversion
  • Custom under Tray/skid plate
  • Z3 Shifter kit
  • Stromung muffler / UUC center section

Exterior

  • EVO 1 Front Splitter
  • EVO 1 Rear Wing
  • Hella Headlights/HID
  • Original “Hennarot red” paint only in 1988 limited number

    Interior

    • EVO 1 Interior
    • Recaro seats
    • Redone leather (real)
    • Momo wheel Monte Carlo 350mm
    • Upgraded radio and speakers sub box
    • Custom Cluster with LED and Light up Emblem
    • EVO 2 alcantra shift boot and ebrake
    • ZHP shift knob

    Suspension/Wheels

    • Megan Racing Coilovers
    • Front Spindle spacers for Toe/caster  adjustment
    • Adjustable Sway bar links
    • AP Racing Calipers
    • 18x8 Compomotive Wheels M02
    • Urethane Bushings front to back all of them
    • Custom Steering shaft E46 / no damper
    • ZHP e46 Steering Rack / e36 outer tie rods

    Features

    Matt Petrie's E90 M3

    Photography by Wes Van Heest @vanheestvisual

    Airline miles. A couch to crash on. A canyon taxi in the form of a Sparkling Graphite E90 M3. This is the recipe for a weekend that I'll not soon forget.

    Matt Petrie's name may or may not be familiar to you. Maybe you've noticed it in the corner of an Ultimate Klasse photo or maybe you've seen it in the pages of Performance BMW magazine in the photographer credits. Maybe you've actually spoken to him and didn't even realize it. Matt works for AUTOcouture Motoring and will frequently answer the phone to discuss future mods with customers or hit the forums fielding questions about new modifications for BMW enthusiasts. Working for AUTOcouture in New Jersey led Matt to their westward expansion where he worked for ACM West, which leads us to this story. My brother Sam and I took to the skies to visit Matt out in Van Nuys, California. 

    Matt, being around the modification of BMWs constantly, could easily fall into the trap of continuous modding and never reaching a goal of completion for the car. But that's simply not the case. Much the same as his photographs, Matt sets out with intent and his execution is impeccable. He manages to remain in the OEM world while winking at the modified world with a devilish grin. Matt's E90 M3 is enough to make any purist weak in the knees and an enthusiast of mods drool with envy. 

    But I digress, on to the weekend. I, determined to have fun and not work, decided only to bring one lens with me - 35mm. My brother Sam and I landed in Burbank on Friday evening and one phone call later we could hear the illustrious Gintani burble tune screaming down the road - we knew who that was. Up pulled our ride from the airport, but more than a ride, up pulled our friend. It was a cool moment to take in, 3 friends brought together by a shared passion for BMWs from the north east were reunited in Southern California.

    Matt popped his trunk, in went our bags and skateboards, with ample space I might add, and off we burbled into the new-to-us land of LA. Sam and I were giddy with excitement as Matt gave us a taste of the car's capability and a tour of the neighborhood. 

    The next day we met up with another east coast transplant, Alex Gaudio, who had his Estoril M Coupe and yet another east coaster riding shotgun - Larry Pipitone of Livery Wheel. So now the total was up to 5 east coast boys, two M cars, and one amazing weekend. We took to the canyons, we went to a car show, we drove down US1 and stopped to enjoy a sunset, we ate the most delicious chicken sandwiches the west coast could offer, we ate In-N-Out Burger, we ate eggslut, we stopped in parking lots and skateboarded like we were 14 again, and we never stopped having fun. Even when Matt's roommate's M4 broke down - we just made the best of it and played games of SKATE while we waited for a tow. 

    The functional use of Matt's car was very apparent. At first glance you might think, well that's pretty low and you're not going to be able to fill it full of stuff and people and still have any fun. False. The canyon carving couldn't have been more fun *well maybe if I was driving.* The exhaust note, brought to you in part by BMW's S65 V8 engine and in other part by Matt's ACM muffler with burble tune, was so compelling that my brother Sam is currently selling his car to buy an E90 M3.

    I'm an older car type of guy, evident by my two E34's that I own and tinker with. I'm fine with some character, some flaws, and some "gotta get to that soon" in my cars. I like the stories that older cars can tell, sometimes by how they were or weren't fixed unfortunately. With that said, I have to admit I had pretty low expectations for the E90 M3. Seeing who usually drives E92 M3's had probably given me a general distaste for the cars. But that's changed now. The NA V8 made me feel like I was in a modern version of my 540i. The torque reminded me where my insides were and what the back of Matt's seats felt like. The downshifts made me giddy. Needless to say Matt is quite good at having his passengers pucker their buttholes in anticipation of police sirens - but thanks to his Valentine V1 radar detector and knowledge of the area, we successfully avoided any run-ins with the long arm of the law. 

    I won't lie to you and say I'm an expert on E90s. I won't google spec sheets and regurgitate them for you here either. I will tell you about how I asked Matt to cruise around DTLA and park on a double yellow between two red lights for 15 seconds while I lay on my stomach framing the perfect shot of the city skyline only to find I had misframed just a hair and made him do it again. I will tell you about how we kicked it with the Hoonigan team at their facility skateboarding and playing with little drift carts while we checked out Ken Block's newest Gymkhana car. More importantly though, was their invite for us to come to the premiere that night of the Gymkhana Dubai video where Matt was asked to park his car up front if Alex couldn't make it with the green M4 (which we already know broke down and a skate sesh ensued). This was Sunday night and exactly when Sam and I were slated to board our flight and head back east. A not so quick phone call and 100 dollars later we had two tickets changed to a midnight departure from LAX which meant we could attend. 

    We arrived early, securing a great parking spot for the E90 right up front in line with Matt Farrah's mustang, a datsun drift truck, and so much more. We kicked it with everyone. I'm in the middle of chatting with a childhood idol, Josh Kalis, when I look over and see my brother casually walking and talking with Magnus Walker - this was a night to remember. Even amongst these super insane cars, Matt's laid back style of modding stood out to people and was appreciated. I snapped some more photos here and then headed in for the premiere - which was epic to say the least. 

    The weekend ended with our last canyon taxi ride up to the airport. Eventually Matt moved back to NJ and the prospect of doing it again went away. But these photos and this story will always be poignant reminders that you need to get up and go sometimes. Whether I mean dropping two gears in your M3 or hopping a flight to visit a friend on the other side of the country, well, that's for you to decide.

    Events

    Bimmerfest East 2015

    Photography by Ryan Lee & Mark Scire II