3 SE­RIES

Az Riz’s su­per-clean BMW may well be the only Ja­pan Red E92 in the coun­try. And now it’s bagged over a set of cus­tom WORK rims, there’s a dis­tinctly ori­en­tal flavour to this ex­er­cise in the art of OEM+…

Fast Car - - Contents -

Just like Dean Cain, this E92 is smooth, sleek and slightly Ja­panese.

When you do things right, peo­ple won’t be sure you’ve done any­thing at all.” So said the uni­verse it­self in a par­tic­u­larly in­sight­ful episode of Fu­tu­rama. Sub­tlety, you see, is so of­ten the key to sat­is­fac­tion – peo­ple like it when things just work, and work well. You don’t have to be rad­i­cal to spread joy. It’s ba­si­cally the op­po­site ap­proach to what Trump’s up to. In­stead of steam­rolling, shout­ing and bullishly forc­ing change, it’s far more el­e­gant to whis­per un­der the radar. And that’s the cor­ner­stone of Az Riz’s suc­cess.

Az is, as you might have guessed, the owner of this creamy-smooth E92 3 Se­ries, and he’s gone for a full-on OEM+ aes­thetic here. OEM+ is a term that gets banded around a lot these days, with peo­ple retrofitting nu­mer­ous unique in­ter­pre­ta­tions into it. But the most fit­ting here is sim­ply this: it’s the sort of car that BMW could have made. They didn’t. But they could have. “My aim was to achieve a sleek, classy ap­pear­ance,” he ex­plains, “so that it could al­most look like BMW pro­duced this ve­hi­cle as a spe­cial edi­tion of some sort. How­ever, to the trained eye, many touches make it very clear that this is not your nor­mal BMW!”

The rea­son for choos­ing an E92 at all was the fact Az had sim­ply fallen in love with the cur­va­ceous lines of the coupé from the mo­ment it was launched. Sure, he ideally wanted an M3, but don’t we all? Re­al­ity doesn’t al­ways work out that way.

“Land­ing my first job out of univer­sity put me in a sit­u­a­tion where I was hav­ing to travel 60 miles each way, five days a week,” he re­calls. “My car at the time, a mod­i­fied Mk4 Golf, was start­ing to have a few is­sues, but I was strug­gling to find the time to deal with it. I also felt the need to get my­self into a newer car. At first I was look­ing at 1 Se­ries diesels for max econ­omy, but was strug­gling to make my­self truly love the de­sign. I was hav­ing to buy it on fi­nance to start off with, so I de­cided that if I’m go­ing to be spend­ing money, I should spend a lit­tle more for a car I would re­ally love.” Sound rea­son­ing that. Far bet­ter to do things right first time around.

It was at this point Az hit upon the sweet spot: the won­drous con­cept of com­pro­mise. He needed diesel fru­gal­ity but he wanted an M3, so what’s half­way in-be­tween? Well, you’re look­ing at it. The E92 330d. A torque-stud­ded boule­vardier with slinky hips to die for. Af­ter an ex­haus­tive search of Pis­ton­heads and Auto Trader (where, ad­mit­tedly, Az was look­ing for a 320d un­til he re­alised big­ger is in­vari­ably bet­ter), the right car was in the crosshairs – a 330d M-Sport. The only red one avail­able. And con­sid­er­ably over bud­get.

Still, you’ve got to roll the dice some­times, eh? “The more I thought about this car in par­tic­u­lar, the more I re­alised that I re­ally wanted it,” he grins. “I got some checks done and found that I might be able to af­ford it af­ter all. I quickly bit the bul­let and got hold of the car. It was mine. It was no M3, but be­ing only three years old and no slow­coach, it re­ally was a great car – a BMW In­di­vid­ual model in Ja­pan Red, the only Ja­pan Red E92 in the coun­try as far as I’m aware.”

There we are, then. A young man wants a spicy but sen­si­ble com­muter car, he finds a good one, he buys it. The end?

Oh, no. Far from it. This isn’t that sort of mag­a­zine.

“The mods be­gan a few months later,” he smirks. “With a Wörthersee trip as my tar­get, I sorted some wheels, coilovers and a few other bits… and it’s con­tin­ued evolv­ing ever since! The fi­nance was paid off af­ter a while, and I grew closer and closer to get­ting the car look­ing how I en­vis­aged it.”

With the fi­nan­cial shack­les re­leased, Az im­me­di­ately started sniff­ing around for an air-ride setup and a set of truly neck-break­ing rims, and found the per­fect an­swer in an Air Lift/Ac­cuAir combo and a glo­ri­ous quar­tet of

be­spoke WORK VS-XX wheels in a sturdy 19-inch di­am­e­ter. How­ever, as lusty as the wheel choice was, the 11-inch girth of the rears did set his men­tal cogs tick­ing once more…

“Af­ter a while, I felt I had hit a hur­dle with the body lines them­selves,” Az re­calls. “I felt the rear arches just weren’t work­ing for me. They looked weak. I needed a stronger look to it, like the M3 and its beau­ti­ful wide arches. I spent months con­tem­plat­ing my goals and try­ing to tell my­self it would just be go­ing too far to have such ma­jor surgery done.

“How­ever, one day I re­alised I would never be truly happy with the car un­til I got the arches done. I spoke to my bodyshop of choice and gauged the to­tal cost of the project – it re­ally was as high as I had ex­pected, but I de­cided that I was just go­ing to do it. The car needed it! I needed it!”

And so the sur­geons scrubbed up and the pro­ce­dure com­menced. What you’re look­ing at now is a set of arches which have been painstak­ingly re­moved and widened with fresh metal to be M3-width. The rear bumper has also had M3 flares blended in to en­sure the lines flow cor­rectly. The re­sult is a true OEM+ de­tail that only the nerdi­est BMW spot­ter would clock with­out be­ing prompted. “I think the look is a world-first,” he says. “And the rear dif­fuser has been painted Pyrite Bronze to match the air tanks.”

This gives us a neat segue into the boot in­stall, as it re­ally is a work of art. Az’s own de­sign, it was crafted by the ex­perts at The In­stall Com­pany, fea­tur­ing cus­tom-painted air

“I re­alised I’d never be truly happy un­til I got the arches done”

tanks, dual Vi­air 444c com­pres­sors, cop­per hard­lines and LED light­ing in a fab­u­lous show­case of form-meets-func­tion. “The BMW Pyrite Bronze Metal­lic was cho­sen to match the bronze wheels,” he ex­plains. “My over­rid­ing vi­sion for the in­stall was sym­me­try; the usual route would be the Ac­cuAir VU4 man­i­fold which con­trols four airbags, but I wanted to be dif­fer­ent and put more ef­fort into us­ing two VU2 man­i­folds which con­trol two each (ie one man­i­fold con­trols the front axle and the other con­trols the rear). The main pur­pose was to have two man­i­folds and thus be sym­met­ri­cal. The sys­tem’s wiring loom was mod­i­fied by me and a friend, and The In­stall Com­pany took it a step fur­ther by per­form­ing a ‘plug delete’ on both man­i­folds which re­moves the plug-and-play con­nec­tor, in the in­ter­est of aes­thet­ics and guar­an­teed sym­me­try!”

The at­ten­tion to de­tail is re­mark­able and it’s one of the most con­sid­ered and de­lec­ta­ble in­stalls we’ve seen. The fin­ish­ing touch to achieve the E92’s fin­ger-lickin’ stance was the fit­ment of some cus­tom spac­ers to get those WORKs sit­ting in pre­cisely the right place.

A hard-fought jour­ney of per­fec­tion­ism. But, by the end of it all, he’d achieved some­thing rare: when you do things right, peo­ple won’t be sure you’ve done any­thing at all.

Lip spoiler is cheeky

Az wanted sym­met­ri­cal, Az got sym­met­ri­cal Are these be­spoke, 19-inch hoops WORK VS-XX or Brom­bach­ers?

Looks like a world first to us

Ev­ery­thing about it oozes class

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