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.
In my case there had been a structure fire in the building that housed my rented shop space, in an instant my fairly heavily modified ’02 Imola Red/Cinnamon E46 M3 had been destroyed, along with the contents of my shop space.
Emotions at that time ranged from devastation, to annoyance, to slightly amusing relief that everything was properly written off for insurance purposes, all the way to inspiration that came full circle when my buddy Jay and I trudged into the rubble, popped the melted doors open, and saw the glass lower with the door, indicating that there was still power in the vehicle, for us this was enough, it would have to live again….
Fast forward four months later, after a grueling insurance/properly loss litigation, the vehicle was finally purchased back from the insurance company and at new space generously loaned to me by my afore mentioned friend Jay, whom somehow always finds himself conned into involvement in my absurd projects, we were ready to give it new life.
Upon return of the car it was inspected throughly and just as we hoped, miraculously under the badly burned and smoke saturated exterior, lay relatively undamaged drivetrain, suspension, wiring, and running gear..
The next step in this project remains highly controversial: The process began to decide what we would actually do with the charred remains. For months behind the scenes Jay and I discussed options, ultimately deciding that with limited options for such a badly damaged vehicle, that we would do something, that although is popular these days, we have wanted to do for years to a car, which was to remove and modify the majority of the unibody chassis, replacing it with an exo-roll cage and rip it on the street….Hate it or love it the #mkart was underway.
Before the fire the car was what i would consider modified to a super choice “clubsport” spec. All suspension bushings were upgraded with polyurethane from AKG Motorsports along with the common rear subframe reinforcement, body mounted motorsports “quickshifter” also from AKG, upgraded engine and transmission mounts from Vibratechnics, OEM Z4m steering rack with AKG polyurethane steering coupler, KW Clubsport 2way dampers, fixed back buckets and a one off half cage from FHF Fabrication, as well as a slew of other little detail and cosmetic upgrades.
During the transformation we added a few choice goods that had been planed for the car in the upcoming season, such as Porsche 996 Brembos, Koyo aluminum rad/ Mishimoto e-fan setup, Mocal oil cooler upgrade, and a custom velocity stack/ heat shield setup final tuned by Jordan at RKTunes.
Over the next two months, Jay and I (mostly Jay) worked tirelessly, stripping, cutting, bending, welding and shaping metal to create the cage over the remaining chassis, removing over 3ft off the back off the car and affixing the rear subframe directly to the cage. Cheap mild tubing and some rough, quick fab work did the trick, this was wasn’t about fit and finish, it was all about sketchy fun and near instant gratification. I would be lying if i said we had a definitive plan before going at this, the majority of this project was improvised as we went along, however the one thing we were able to agree upon from the beginning, was that the car absolutely had to be road worthy, it simply wasn’t not funny enough unless we could use it on the street.
As a result we kept the factory front clip and headlights, as well as the a-pillars and a new piece of glass, we used universal trailer LED taillights and blinkers for the legal stuff, we even added a completely useless rear view mirror for that extra level of: “please don’t impound us bro!!!!”
It was to be a 100% street car….from my prospective this project was all about was making people smile, making the best of a bad situation and encouraging others to never give in to negativity and fear of being themselves.
After it was finished we had an absolute riot ripping around town, laying tire, shooting big flames from the short exhaust, answering hilariously confused questions, letting people sit in it, letting our friends take it out… Jay and I even drove it 4.5hrs from Buffalo, NY to Pocono Raceway for the Mpact BMW event in August 2017, as well as Canibeat’s First Class Fitment and even over the GW bridge in NYC to a Cars & Coffee event in Greenwich, CT. It was endless hilarity and hooliganism.
Most importantly this seemingly goofy project served as a good bit of personal therapy during one of the hardest years of my life. Not two weeks before the fire, my mother was diagnosed with completely unexpected terminal cancer at age 61…she lived just long enough to see the completed project on its maiden voyage, later that night sending me the last text message I would ever receive from her, reminding me how proud she was of me for not giving up, having a positive attitude and always seeing the bright side to a bad situation, values I not surprisingly learned from her, and I learned from the best.
The moral of this story/project was to inspire others and remind ourselves never to give up, and never miss an opportunity to see the brighter side of any situation.
By the time you’ll read this, the #mkart will have already been stripped of its drivetrain and suspension components, they will have gone off to live in a new project of mine, a perfect spec Alpine White/Impulse cloth SMG E46 M3, a prime candidate for a full run through and rehab, but the kart chassis still exists, and who know, you might see it reincarnated in some form soon, keep an eye out!
Photography by Matt Petrie @crosshair_nightmare
When it comes to grass roots drifting, the ‘Club Loose’ name carries a tremendous weight. Well known across the country, their home track resides in Old Bridge Township, NJ; better known to most as Raceway Park. Setting up dozens of events during the season, Club Loose draws a large amount of novice and experienced drivers alike. It's also frequented by Formula D pros during their off weekends or when they take extended stays around the Formula D circuit stop at nearby Wall Speedway. Level of expertise aside, there's one thing they're all doing - burning through rear tires. Frank, being in the tire industry and a savvy businessman, saw an opportunity to contribute to this community directly. His company, BC Tire, became the provider of tires for the Club Loose events, literally trucking container loads in to feed the addiction at an affordable price.
Spending more time at the track as a vendor stirred up the desire to have a dedicated car to go out and enjoy for himself. At the time he had just finished building a show oriented full OEM 1M converted 135 on air ride, but he was looking for something a little more suitable to bash around. He wanted a chassis that was more simplified and rough around the edges compared to the E82. He found himself a very modest, garage kept, 325e owned by an old lady in upstate NY. Underpowered, but a solid chassis for its age, Frank decided to reach out to AUTOcouture Motoring to improve it 'slightly'.
This is when I had first met Frank. It was a well over a year ago when he contacted me about this little project he had in mind. He informed me that his intentions were somewhat nefarious, so naturally he had my undivided attention. More displacement by means of a factory V8, full suspension conversion, brake overhaul, widened fenders, the list went on and on and the more he explained to me, the more I knew I was going to have the opportunity to be a part of something very exciting. The most enjoyable aspect about this project was that he was building this car for the sole purpose to go out and play with it. Not being an experienced driver, both Frank and the car would improve together. After dozens of emails, the day finally came and the E30 was dropped off. We began stripping the car and preparing it for the transformation. He had a plan in mind for the heart of the project and shortly thereafter he told me he sourced an M60 from California.
A couple of weeks later, there was an M60 on the back of the tractor trailer outside of the shop. After a 3,000-mile journey, the tailgate swung open and we come to find it strapped to a pallet on its oil pan solely with the transmission affixed to the valve covers above. A sandwiched M60, sitting naked on it's oil pan was exactly what we didn't want to see. Unsure of the damage done to the internals, I attempted to get a hold a Frank to let him know of our discovery. Unresponsive and in a time crunch from the delivery driver, I was in a pinch. If we signed for it, the mystery package was our problem. If we sent it back with the delivery service, Frank had no engine. Finally after multiple attempts, Frank responds….his wife was in labor....how about that for timing? He gave me the OK to refuse the engine as he was leaning our way of conservatively not rolling the dice.
Conveniently however, we had recently finished performing a manual trans swap for a California customer who bought an E39 touring on the east coast. We swapped the transmission weeks before and that customer flew out here to drive the car back to his home in northern California. That donor car, sitting outside of the shop, provided the prospect of an M62 that was ready for its new life in a smaller chassis, pending on Frank agreeing to it. As long as the M62 passed leak down and compression test Frank was in. He knew that the weight of the E30 and with the help of a welded differential out back, he wouldn't need to go crazy with an S62 or building out an M60/M62. Instead, while it was out of the car the plan was to focus on the reliability of the engine. We replaced the head gasket, timing chain, timing chain guides, all seals and hardware, full cooling system including water pump and thermostat to name a few. During the disassembly and maintenance overhaul of the M62, many of the engine components were powder coated orange. While the entire shop had a part in the build, the primary mechanic and fabricator behind it was Charlie Cisek. He was able to make all of Frank’s requests a reality and even some things Frank didn't know he wanted.
This E30 is littered with details, more hiding around this car than can be mentioned. It would be too easy to point out the orange full cage that was designed and made by Charlie, but rather the fact that a nearly 100 percent stock interior still remains with it. Full rear seats, headliner, door cards and functioning sunroof are in tact, even the door card armrests were slimmed down to fit flush above the side bars. Small riveted panels follow the contours of the dash to clean up the cuts made to accommodate the additional A-pillar area. We could mention the floor boards and how they were cut, bent and gusseted individually by hand as well as a dead pedal made from scratch to mimmic the rest of his aftermarket pedal assembly. The reinforced trans tunnel is the backbone for his right hand as the Samsonas shifter and the ASD hydro handle both mount securely there. The force of shifting gears and pulling on the hydro creates too much pressure for the thin sheet metal of the trans tunnel alone, leaving Charlie no choice, but to beef it up with thicker metal. The removal of the center console left no place for the window switches so he relocated them up top on the dash board. With the heat in tact, but air conditioning removed, the 'snowflake a/c' button has been reassigned to power up the auxiliary fan.
Amongst the cooling fan, behind the kidney grills lies a power steering cooler and external oil cooler. The source of the oil cooler is a European S62 oil filter housing chosen because of its inlet and return line ports. Charlie showed his affinity for older Japanese cars by exposing the oil cooler lines in the front bumper running from the custom mounted oil filter stand to the cooler itself. With the removal of the M20 and most of its corresponding components, the engine bay received a minor shave. The lack of room due to engine size, required many of the fluids to be relocated to Chase Bays reservoirs or Wilwood tanks. The wiring was severely slimmed down from the conventional E39 540i. Thanks to the combined expertise of Shaun Bruno, the shop foreman, the harness and connectors were carefully re pinned to utilized only what Frank needed.
Along with sorting out the wiring in general, they were able clean the engine bay up further by changing the engine wiring harness location. Typically, the engine harness leads out of bank two, across the engine bay, and into the driver footwell, but instead a block off plate was made in place of the original exit. An access panel was cut facing the firewall and the shortened wiring harness now dumps directly out of the back into the glove box area. To fit the M62 engine, the Garagistic front subframe was used. To fit it properly, the motor mount bracket on the M62 had to be modified slightly to fit. Mounting modification was also done to the transmission well. Charlie fabricated a new transmission mount to hold the 6 speed gear box underneath.
The trunk houses the ATL fuel cell on top of the deleted spare tire tray. Below the trunk floor is the perpendicular reinforcement bracing for structural rigidity and is the receiver for the custom made fuel cell brackets. This provides maximum strength to the frame and protects the E30 structurally in case he gives the wall or another car, a love tap. The other item sharing space with the fuel cell is native to the trunk, however has been relocated and reinforced as well. Charlie fabricated a battery tray and shock tower brace to combine added stiffness and for weight distribution, keeping it all neutralized and centered over the differential. With all of that extra room below, Charlie cut an access area in the quarter panel in preparation for the side exhaust. Made to be serviceable in sections, the exhaust comes off the headers with only a couple of resonators in place. The car fires up with a ferocious bark, and although it idles surprisingly quietly, the blip of the throttle is enough to make you jump even while you're prepared for it.