bagged

Features

Jonny Reiswig's E24 635csi

Photography by Dan Usmanoff @dusmanoff

Jonny’s E24 is one of the most unique examples that I’ve seen in awhile. When it was first unveiled on the internet, it immediately caught my attention. It’s so clean, but full of character at the same time. All of the small details flow really well to create a look that I’ve not really seen done before. It’s got the perfect blend of stance and vintage motorsport with a style I would expect to see coming from Japan.

Jonny used to have an E36 convertible that was distinguishable as well. He eventually sold it with plans to later obtain his (affordable) dream car. The first generation of 6 Series, the E24 was BMW’s flagship coupe of the 80’s.

Jonny’s 1987 635csi has 255k miles on it, but visibly shows little aging. He bought the car a year ago and originally wanted to make it his daily driver. At the time he was dailying an M4, so the goal was to fix up the E24 and make it reliable. The M4 was sold so it was time to fully focus on the 635. The first thing that needed addressed was the transmission, which was on its last leg. He found a good deal on another automatic transmission and had that installed. Once that was done, all he wanted to do was maybe throw on some sport springs and M-Parallels and call it a day.

Since his E36 was on air it was an option that he took into consideration. After seeing a few great examples of bagged E24’s out there though, it proved to be the winning solution. Brendan Stouffer’s @b_stouffs and Alvin Louie’s @nicmosh cars convinced Jonny to pull the trigger. He went with CAtuned’s airbag kit with Bag Riders management. Group 2 Motorsports did the install, so it was time to dial in the wheels.

Jonny worked with Austin Seeling @austin_8p to build a set of BBS RS’s. They went with 18x9” fronts and 18x10” rears with slant lips. The turbofans on the front wheels were custom designed and printed by Austin, originally meant for his Audi last year. He wanted to create something different than you usually see. The vintage BMW Motorsport center caps were a nice touch as well. Typically my excessive preference for things to be symmetrical or matching would cause me to not fully enjoy seeing two different wheels on the car. But it actually works really well and make sense with the overall theme somehow. It’s one of the details about the car that helps make it so unique.

One of the other details that really made this car was the side graphic designed by Austin. The stripes were originally going to be the same style as the ones found on Austin’s E28. However he decided to design something new to flow better with the E24’s body lines and overall look. On the rear quarter panel is the BBS logo and Katakana characters which translate to “Motorsports”. The graphic is one of Jonny’s favorite parts of the car and I completely agree. Another mod that may at first go unnoticed is the custom rear window blinds handcrafted out of wood by Austin. He took some measurements and cut them with a scroll saw in his garage. Once the fitment was perfected he finished them off with a torch to give them the black look.

Jonny said now that the car is where he wants it, the next step will be to swap a manual transmission into it. Other than that and getting euro bumpers it’s done. I’m glad that he didn’t just stop at wheels and a sport drop, because this is one of my favorite cars ever. It surely sets the bar for how nice you can make an E24 look.


Features

Mackenzie Ebber's E30

Photography by Mackenzie Ebbers @mackenzie.e30

As I sat in Penny under the hot July sun, in line with 100+ cars waiting to enter the Bellevue College parking garage for Stancewars, it finally hit me. We did it. Stancewars picks their Top100 cars from hundreds of entries and my car had made it. There were cars in attendance that had twice the amount of money and time spent on them, but it didn’t matter because I had a vision for my build that had been recognized and rewarded. There are some cars that are just special, and now more people then just myself could fully appreciate this beautiful E30 I call Penny. It’s hard to believe that it has already been over 3 years since I bought Penny, but like they say time flies when you’re having fun.

After months of searching Craigslist for the right car I took a chance on a 1989 325i sedan from a small import dealer in Southampton, New Jersey (I was living on the East Coast at the time). She wasn’t my first choice, but when I saw the car in person I knew this was something very special. The car miraculously had a fresh coat of beautiful paint, the IS trunk spoiler (I would add IS side skirts and front lip later to complete the look) immaculate interior, and every single button and switch was working. There was no question I was buying this car. After the first wash/detail I think it really set in how beautiful this car was, and what a gem I had stumbled upon.

Fast forward a few months and my boyfriend Bryant and I were planning to move back to my hometown of Seattle, of course there was no question of selling Penny so we shipped her cross country on a car carrier. Moving back to Seattle brought with it quite a few more car shows, some new fun car friends, and more inspiration for my build.

In the fall of 2015 I approached the wheel builder Spinfab about building some BBS RS’s, and as luck would have it he had the exact specs and color on hand. My only request was that I wanted the hex caps and wheel hardware to be plated in 18k rose gold, and after a few color tests the perfect shade was found. I chose bubble lips, white faces, and dark blue and silver hex caps to compliment the rose gold. I was already planning on bags so the size and fitment I went for was 16x8.5" in the front and 16x9" in the back with et8 all around. Only about a month after the wheels arrived I contacted Royal Stance to see about their Black Friday Airlift Performance deals, and the opportunity was too good to pass up. Bags were new for us and we didn’t have any friends with bagged cars, but Bryant and I have always done all our own work on our cars and an Airlift install was just another thing to tackle.

Dialing in the fitment for the E30 was a little challenging. For the rear fitment we rolled and pulled the fenders slightly so it would sit fender to lip with no problems. The front was more difficult because of how low the undercarriage of the car hangs, this was solved by raising the engine 1/4th of an inch so the oil pan would clear. Next the camber has to be maxed out and 15mm spacers added to bring the fender and lip closer together, when aired out the sub frame and control arms sit on the ground but lip to fender is 90% there. Once fitment had been sorted we set about building a trunk setup. I wanted a light colored wood floor with a box like attachment to cover the battery. Since the air system was already functioning I wasn’t able to have the air tank powder coated so I opted to wrap it in white vinyl. DIY projects are always something that makes a build even more special.

After our first great show season in Seattle, I knew what I wanted the next project to be, engine bay. Penny was unfortunate enough to have one of the most ugly engine bays I’ve ever seen on an E30. The main problem was the paint on the inside of the hood, and all around the strut towers/bay, pretty much leaving us no choice but to paint it. We started by removing just about everything from the top of the engine, including the valve cover and intake manifold that I sent off for powder coating, and in the mean time we took the time to perform a lot of needed maintenance. For paint we opted to DIY once again and used Paint Scratch base coat and clear coat to paint the bay and inside of the hood. I’ve used Paint Scratch before and with any paint the key is sanding, and at the end of the day it’s a great affordable option. Since rose gold was already an accent on Penny I had the idea to have a few engine bay pieces plated, and once again with the help of Spinfab we made it happen. I am beyond happy with how the engine bay turned out, and I hope more rose gold is to come.

There is something very satisfying about having a vision and being able to bring that to life. I never thought I would be able to build this car exactly how I envisioned, but it just shows when you truly put your mind to something it can happen. I love what I’ve created, because building a car is like creating a piece of art, and I believe Penny is truly a representation of my creativity and taste.


Features

Mike Hack's E30 Touring

Photography by Jackson Keam & Ollie Strong @hardparkedproductions

Mike Hack's fondness for the E30 platform all started when he bought a 318is coupe. He had intentions of keeping it clean and stock since his daily/track Honda Civic was deemed "un-roadworthy" by the local police due to illegal modifications. Like most of us, the mod bug bit him shortly after the purchase was made and the coupe quickly became another less than ideal daily driver. After owning the 318is for a few years, Mike was truly engulfed in the local E30 scene. He had come into the E30 scene completely ignorant of the chassis's many variations. He had no idea which modification options were out there, which companies to trust or which local shops to go to. But over the 2 years of owning the coupe, he learned a lot. He was also unaware of the wagon variant, until after buying the coupe and this intrigued him tremendously. Since Australia never received the wagon, it made the thought of owning one there even more enticing. He knew of a handful of private imports that were getting around Australia, so he knew it was possible. And so the search began.

Initially the search didn't get far, he couldn't find any for sale through the usual sources and money was a bit tight anyway. At the time he realistically had no chance of actually getting his hands on one, but he continued the search anyway. After a few months he stopped looking and life went on, then one day he was just casually wasting time searching for random cars on a car selling website/app. It was out of curiosity more than having any intent to purchase and boom a 325i E30 Touring popped up for sale in Sydney (10 hour drive interstate from him). It was not cheap, but it was in fantastic condition with low miles and had a manual transmission. It also had all the electric options, sunroof, windows, etc. and complete with a genuine M-Tech 2 bodykit. The icing on the cake was that it was in Alpine white, Mike's favorite color. A call was made and not long after he was on a plane to Sydney, driving the newly purchased touring as its first Australian owner, back to Melbourne.

Not all was as rosy as it would seem though, when it came time to get the required engineer's certificate in order to register the car for Australian roads, some poor handiwork was found. In order to legalize the car for Australian roads, side intrusion bars needed to be welded into the doors. When Mike bought the car he was told by the seller that all of the work had been done and was ready to go. Turns out the (unnamed) Sydney based shop had sikaflexed the bars in (rather than welding) and the job had to be done again from scratch. This took a big chunk of time and money from his life. Once registered and driving, modifications began almost immediately. The first set of wheels had already been ordered before the car was on the road and basic bolt-on engine mods were underway. Coilovers were swapped out from his old coupe and installed into the touring. The car stayed reasonably mild for a year (lowered, wheels, bolt on engine mods) or so while he planned on upcoming changes.

The Touring has had 4 different sets of wheels since he's owned it, starting with a set of 16" Schmidt TH lines, a brief stint on 16" Alpina wheels, a few years on a set of Compomotive TH1780, 6 months on a set of 3 piece Work Emitz and then back to the Compomotives which it is currently on. He actually repurchased the Compo’s from the guy he had originally sold them to.

Being a Honda fan/owner for the prior 10 years, Mike was very much into the whole wire-tucked engine bay look and wanted to attempt something similar on the E30. He looked around online and apparently wire-tucking E30's wasn't too common, which would help set the car apart just that little bit more. What he assumed would take 3 weeks or so, turned into a 3 month, 400+ solder nightmare job. Although in saying that, once completed, the car fired up first try with zero issues and has been without issues for the last few years.

A little more power was then desired as well as something special under the hood. Rather than taking the much more common and arguably much better money/power ratio option of an engine swap or going with a turbo upgrade, Mike decided to take the road less traveled by going with an ITB setup. Call it a hangover from his old ITB B20VTEC powered Civic race car. He hungered once again for that undeniable ITB scream. He knew that the cost/power ratio was not ideal, but since the car would be 95% street/show car, real power numbers were not a big concern. Luckily for him, there was an upcoming Australian company that was developing an ITB kit for the BMW M20 engine and he managed to get a hold of a kit before they officially hit the market. The only problem with getting it in so early is that the kit wasn’t 100% and some custom fabrication was needed to make them work. The car was dropped off to a shop for the ITB install/head rebuild/ECU install, etc. and this is when things started to take a very slow turn. Without having a real deadline or agreed finishing date, the car ended up sitting in the shop for well over a year (16 months to be exact). Multiple calls and surprise visits were necessary to put some pressure on to get the job finished. But good things come to those that wait and the result was a whole lot of fun and plenty of noise.

Unfortunately the car didn’t last long after the original install/tune and drivability went down fast, to the point of the car being completely undrivable. It stopped idling, it was running extremely rich and pumping out excessive smoke on every drive. In the end he believes it was a combination of poor ECU choice, lack of complimentary sensors/modifications and a poor tune. Regardless of what was at fault the car needed some serious attention in order to get it back on the road and running the right way. So he made the call to MSC Performance, a trusted and known tuner that he had used a lot during his Honda racing days. He didn’t have a lot of experience in BMW’s specifically, but he was a master on the dyno and was happy to take on the job. Again it wasn’t cheap as they decided to remove the original Microtech ECU and ‘upgrade’ to a ‘top of the line’ Haltech Elite 2500 unit. They also added a Wideband controller and cam sensor in order to get the whole setup working right. A month or so passed and he received the car back in perfect working form. Drivability was as good as a standard car, no idling issues anymore, no excessive smoke. The car was a dream to drive and sounded amazing. Still no powerhouse, but fast enough for plenty of fun. After driving the car in this form for about 6 months, he was keen for more. Like most car modifiers, the car is never finished and no matter what you do, there's always something else that needs to be done. He likes putting in the wrench time in the garage just as much as he likes driving the finished product.

Mike was always intrigued about bags, it was one of those mods he would see as a kid and get excited about, and as an adult that excitement never changed. He never thought he would ever actually go down that path though. But then a few things changed and his financial position changed (after no longer needing a car trailer). This combined with the constant risk of driving an "illegally" lowered car around the streets of Melbourne triggered him to give in and go down the bag route. Air bags allowed him to drive the car at a reasonable height to avoid police attention on the roads and then slam it to the ground for the next car event. (Police in Australia are extremely intolerant of modified cars driving on the road, the penalties are harsh and expensive.) So he ordered all the parts needed and began to research how to go about installing the whole thing. He's DIY’d the majority of things with cars in the last ten years, but over that time he had had zero experience working with anything to do with air ride. After a week or so in the garage the install was complete and the car was back on the road driving well once again. 

Not long after installing the bags, Mike and his partner purchased their first home due to having their first baby on the way and as you can imagine modifying cars has slowed to almost a complete halt. So at this stage and for the foreseeable future, the Touring will remain in its current form with the short term goal of just maintaining it and keeping it on the road. He has future plans to pull the motor and get the engine bay smoothed and re-painted. But that is something that will happen in the very far future, in the meantime, he is happy to just drive it as it is and attend as many events and cruises as he can.

Features

Landon Gastelum's E30

Photography by Denis Podmarkov @_dpod_
& Igor Polishchuk @catuned_igor

Traditions often tell a story about a family. They teach the children where they've come from and give them an understanding to their culture. There's a special bond created in the teaching of ideas and beliefs from one generation to the next. The Gastelums now have three generations of BMW enthusiasts in the family. The lastest link in the chain is Landon and his E30 325is, but first we're going to dive into where it all started.

When Landon's grandfather was stationed in Germany, it was the first time he had the chance to really experience German engineering. The cars were stylish, fun and ahead of their time. Needless to say he was hooked. He owned an E21 320i Alpina turbo and an E12 535i when Landon's father, Dan was a young kid. Dan was also hooked on BMW's from then on. He owned an E46 M3 and an E39 540i M-Sport when he got older.

Dan would always encourage Landon and his brothers to get outside when they were kids. Besides the usual type of playing they would occasionally help him wash the cars, so they were introduced to bimmers at a young age as well. Landon and his dad first got into E30's when they were out driving. As they passed by one Dan said, "Hey check out this old BMW that I saw near work. I think it would be cool to hook one of those up." As Landon began to check out the car he immediately was hooked. He began asking "How much? What year is it?" and wanted to find out as much as he could about it. 

From there he took his search to the Internet. It took him a couple of weeks, but he finally stumbled upon a black 325is with BBS RS wheels with M3 seats. Landon called the owner up because it just so happened that he was in San Diego with some family – which is where the car was located. After some persistent bothering, his father and grandfather went to check it out for the usual (rust, paint, interior etc.) Landon's dad called back and asked if he was sure because it was pretty rough. Of course he said yes because he was a 17 year old kid who was overly excited and based his decision off of the pictures. They ended up getting the car and when Landon finally saw it for himself he realized how much work it really needed. It had 250k miles leaking from head to toe, ripped up interior, and paint in terrible condition. From the beginning his dad made it clear to him that it would be a project for the both of them. Whatever the cost they'd split it, and they had a deal. 

Ironically Landon's brother was checking out another E30 (he didn't end up buying) but the guy said to him "If you ever need any body work done I would recommend the guys over at CAtuned". They took his advice and are now good friends with owner, Igor Polishchuk. From then on they started the restoration with porting and polishing the heads of the M20 motor. To bring the handling and ride back to life they installed a complete CAtuned suspension.

After about a year of driving the car and saving up their pennies they decided to restore the exterior and interior. They painted the car Space Grey Metallic off of the newer BMW models and having their good friends at Acme Tops and Tunes redo the interior. They wrapped the seats in black crinkled leather with a full thick double white stitching. They also did the custom trunk work where they included a full JL Audio sound system, carpet, headliner and various other things.

They decided to have Ehrlich Wheel Works build them a set of the forever timeless BBS RS. The 8.5" wide fronts with 3" lips and 9.5" wide rears with 3.5" lips set the stance off perfectly. The faces of the wheels were refinished in half white and half polished.

After a long time of loving CAtuned's "Miss Blue" E30 and seeing how bags looked on E30's, they bagged the car. They're now running a full Air Lift performance bag kit with struts and the Autopilot V2 air management. So that brings us up to date to where he and his father are finally proud to take the car to shows. They were recently accepted into SEMA 2016 this year and are ecstatic about that accomplishment.

They've already changed the wheel color since this photo shoot, but other future plans may include forced induction. Regardless of where the car ends up, it was the "building" process that was important. It was something that brought them closer than most other activities could. A father and son were able to share something special and partake in the family tradition together, and that's pretty awesome because not everyone gets that opportunity.

Features

Robin Gunnarsson's E31 840Ci

In September of 1989, one of the most unique BMW's to this day was unveiled to the world. The E31 8 Series was created to be a flagship model that would surpass the E24 6 Series and to directly compete with the Mercedes Benz S-class coupes. It was a car that looked like nothing else in BMW's lineup, yet it fit in perfectly. There were so many distinct features like pop-up headlights, narrow grills, M-style mirrors and those boxy fenders that slightly resembled those on the E30 M3. We can't forget the V8 and V12 engine options either. It's like a drivable time capsule containing some of the greatest things found on BMW's produced in the late 80's through early 90's.

Even as a kid, Robin took notice to the uniqueness of this vehicle. A friend of his father's stopped by their house with his 850i, Robin ran out to the car and yelled "Look daddy! It has four exhaust pipes!" His dad got him a yellow 850 CSi in 1:18 scale for a birthday present that year. That was one of his favorite, most memorable gifts ever. 

Robin saw a photo of two 840's in a magazine when he was about 16-17 years old. They looked exactly like his yellow 850 (with the CSi-package) but they were red. Both were equipped with a V8 and a manual transmission. Even though at that time he was really into the muscle car scene, he found himself locking onto a new dream car.

He bought an E36 325 coupe with M-package when he got his driver's license. After he got a job and had put away some cash for something more fun, he started to search for a mint M3. He looked at several but none were up to his standard. So he started to think of the red 840's again, he found the old magazine with the picture and eventually got in contact with one of the owners. He let Robin come over to check the car out, even though he didn't want to sell it. There were only 479 E31's made equipped with a V8 and manual transmission, (1510 made of the CSi in comparison). The two from the magazine were the only ones in Sweden. He went home, feeling the same way he did as a kid. They were simply dream cars.

Eventually that 840 was sold back to the original owner in Germany. So only one was left in Sweden. Robin called the owner, who just laughed at him when Robin told him that he wanted to buy the car. The man was a BMW collector, a true enthusiast with many nice models. He wanted to let Robin come take a look at it knowing how badly he wanted the mint 840. After the collector sold his E28 M5 he no longer owned any more M-cars, so the only model he would consider swapping his 840 for was of course the CSi. He knew of a CSi that might be for sale and luckily it was. So he bought it and Robin was finally able to buy his dream car. 

2016 is the 5th summer of Robin owning the E31. He just drove it as is the first two summers. It previously sat on H&R lowering springs with hand polished one-piece AC Schnitzers (18x8.5/10). Then the stance scene had affected his opinion of the setup and left him with a desire for larger wheels. Robin found a guy that restored 3-piece wheels and wanted to order a set of Hartge Design C's. He didn't have any, but he did have a set of AC Schnitzer Type 1's in 18" that needed some love. Over the winter, the car had to go lower so Robin swapped the H&R's for KAW springs. It still wasn't low enough, but it was never an option to drive it as low as he really wanted because of the risk of damaging the car. With the CSi bumper it's like a sitting duck, so air suspension came to mind. However he figured that would be very expensive, especially the systems with height sensors that he would want. After a few months of searching he found a guy that had the parts he needed. Air Lift Performance universal struts, bellows for the rear and an Accuair system, all of which weren't even unpacked yet and he only asked for half of retail price. With the welding expertise of his brother in law, a lot of measuring and custom made parts, he suddenly had a bagged E31. The response he received at shows and meetings was crazy. 

The wheels were still not wide enough, so he ordered wider lips for the rear wheels and took the old rears and moved them up front. They're now 18x9.75/11.75". He didn't like the big license plate holder on the front bumper so he removed it and made a mold in the cnc at work and cast a strip out of fiberglass. It took a lot of sanding and a couple layers of paint then mounted it on the car. The overall look of the front was much cleaner. A custom stainless exhaust with x-pipe was made so the V8 under the hood could be heard better.

Besides upgrading the sound system, the only other thought he's considered was an S62 taking the place of the old M60. Other than that, Robin's very satisfied with the car.

But whatever happened to that yellow CSi he received as a kid? Well it's long gone but now he has a replica of his own 840 in 1:18 scale. He even painted the interior black and mounted the wheels. You can check out more of Robin's E31 on his instagram: @keckonen