Fresh out of the box
In the custom car building world, being original is often easier said than done. Having a completely empty palette is one thing of course, but when you’re bound by certain criteria, making an impact is an even tougher ask. That’s not to say that taking something that’s been done before and stamping a fresh mark on it can’t be done. If you want proof, you’ll absolutely find it in the Bag Riders’ 2009 BMW E92 335ix.
It’s been nearly a month since the automotive aftermarket tuning world descended on Las Vegas, and although Sean pointed his camera at this super-wide and super-low machine days before the city’s convention center became overrun with nearly 2500 exhibiting companies and more than 60,000 people, now seems like a good time to take a look at this crazy SEMA Show creation.
Unlike Liberty Walk’s fattened-up Ferrari 458 and Nissan GT-R which both made their official, opinion-dividing debuts in Sin City, LB’s E92 M3 over-fender kit that serves as the defining aspect of this car is neither new nor totally unique stateside. Yet, with some help from Air Lift and Rotiform and a select group of other collaborators, the Bag Riders BMW achieved what it set out to do: command attention.
For Bag Riders’ founder Will Fisher, the opportunity to work alongside a number of high profile companies and collectively turn an E92 BMW into something truly SEMA-worthy did not need a second thought, although it wasn’t entirely straightforward. In the planning stage of the project, the build centered on breathing new life into Will’s personal cream-coloured 335 coupe – a car that already runs a prototype Air Lift suspension system – but given the commitment required to pull off the LB transformation (read: hacking metal) it was another chassis that went under the knife. It only took three days to track down the E92 – a less-common four-wheel drive 335ix variant that was chosen for its unique starting point – but with less than two months until SEMA, Bag Riders’ build team had their work cut out.
Although Will is well-versed in the art of building cars, his personal approach has always been more understated than over-the-top. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing understated about an overfender kit, but sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone for the greater good. Because the kit was designed for the M3 coupe, prior to work beginning on the radical transformation, the 335ix’s factory bumpers and sideskirts were all replaced with OEM M3 gear. The only piece in the puzzle that wasn’t so straightforward was the front end, which according to Will took a little while to get it looking right because of some subtle differences between the rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive car.
Once the basis of the build was completed, cutting could begin, allowing LB’s signature bolt-on over-fenders to be fitted at both ends of the body.
The forward-facing side of the two-piece FRP front fenders cuts a clean line down to meet the carbon fibre front diffuser/splitter.
Even though the back wheels are seriously wide (something I’ll be touching on shortly), the rear over-fenders and associated modifications to the metal work behind them, allow the necessary room for a deep tuck.
Of course, a solid amount of negative camber always helps the cause in that respect, and the 335ix has it in spades when it’s at full drop. Like the front end, the rear has been aggressively enhanced too, with corner skirts and a M3 CSL-inspired diffuser from Challenge that’s been constructed by hand in delectable dry carbon.
The finishing touch to the outward appearance is a form-following rear wing in carbon to match.
It’s almost hard to pick out given the attention to the smallest detail, but the 335xi’s factory blue paint was banished through an exhausting, yet flawless, 77-hour wrap job, using 3M Matte Red Metallic over all the new and pre-existing panel work, and contrasting 3M Matte Black around the grille and trims. Initially, Will’s plan was to stick with the BMW’s factory Montego Blue paint with a full respray, but with such a short lead time and a budget to adhere to, the wrap made perfect sense.
Form meets function
Whether you’re a fan of Liberty Walk’s design ethos or not, I don’t think anyone could deny the visual impact that’s been created. But really, that’s only part of the story, because there’s been just as much effort put into ensuring the BMW functions and performs like a proper tuned road car.
Yes, it’s riding on air of course, but like the Double Down Mustang RTR that also made its debut at this year’s SEMA Show, it uses a cutting edge, performance-oriented set-up from Air Lift. In the BMW’s case, you’ll find prototype damper-adjustable air bag struts with fully-threaded bodies at all four corners, along with one-off rear lower control arms that Air Lift custom-made for the car to suits its double-bellow bags, and fabricated rear toe arms for additional clearance.
The install uses twin Vlair 480c compressors in the trunk and 1/4-inch lines throughout, and management via Air Lift’s AutoPilot V2 controller which among other things allows for eight preset height configurations plus manual control of each corner, along with a host of system status and diagnostic functions. According to Will, the car is both more rigid and more enjoyable to drive than it was in stock standard form, with the benefit of being to able to truly slam it to the ground with the press of a button.
And then there are the rims. With Rotiform being an integral part of the project, the BMW was never going to be lacking in the wheel department, and as such its ‘forged split’ TMB three-piece design was used to full effect. Custom built to suit the E92’s pumped proportions and featuring Audi Nimbus Grey accents, they’re aggressively sized too measuring up at 19×12.5-inch and 19×13.5-inch at the front and rear respectively. And that dish? A solid 6.5 inches worth out the back.
The 335ix’s original 300hp N54 3.0-litre bi-turbo inline-six has been given a power-up too, thanks mostly to a Vargas Turbo Technologies Stage 2 Hybrid upgrade, which retains the factory turbocharger housings, but through modification – including upgraded compressor and turbine wheels – reinvents the way they perform and deliver boost.
That’s something further enhanced by the full stainless turbo-back exhaust system, which was custom made by House Motorsport.
On the intake side of the N54, breathing’s easy through an aFe Magnum Force Stage-2 intake system with Pro 5R air filters – a kit that’s reputedly worth more than 30hp in its own right. Factor in those aforementioned upgrades plus a Burger Motorsports JB PNP tune, and there has to be at least 400hp-450hp on offer all told – maybe even more. While Bag Riders certainly wasn’t chasing numbers for number’s sake, the engine upgrade was an important aspect of the build; reiterating the fact that you can run air suspension without ruining everything a performance car stands for. The 335 is no race car of course, but according to Will it’s definitely not slow.
Even with the xDrive four-wheel drive system soaking some of it up, the extra power on tap and a manual gearbox (complete with Jaffster Tall Delrim shift knob), spells fun times I’m sure.
Judging by the size of the Forge Motorsport six-pot calipers and matching 380x32mm grooved discs fitted on the front end, it would be a fair assumption to say that the BMW would stop well too, even when it’s being really leaned upon. The kit upgrade is rounded out with braided stainless steel lines and Forge performance pads.
The best of both worlds?
The idea that something that looks like this might handle in a performance-oriented way is a little lost on me, but given some of my fellow Speedhunters’ experiences with the latest technologies from Air Lift – plus the real-world worth of all the other quality mechanical gear that’s been used throughout this build – it seems a little hard to argue the fact.
I’m absolutely certain that parking yourself in the E92’s cabin, gripping the Turner Motorsport suede-wrapped wheel and stomping on the loud pedal would be a more-than-rewarding experience in its own right though.
Frame-hugging seats are integral to that fact as well, and Stätus Racing Ring GTX FIA-approved racing buckets strapped with five-point harness belts by the same maker help the cause no end.
A rear upper seat delete was completed as well, which allowed room for a custom House Motorsport half-cage finished in the same hue as the wheel faces.
Like the majority of SEMA Show debuts, this is a build that went right down to the wire, yet you’d be hard pushed to tell, given the way the finished project has turned out. It certainly served its purposes on the Air Lift booth.
But that said, unlike so many creations dreamed up for the bright lights of Vegas, this one has the ability to be properly used too – and I think that’s kinda cool. I do often wonder how many cars built for an event like SEMA really turn out as they were intended to, and whether or not the builder would have done anything aesthetically different given the opportunity. For Will, they’re only minor things – a rework of the front end to bring it down three quarters of an inch closer to the pavement along and a slightly shallower splitter and some brake ducts, plus wrapping the carbon rear spoiler to match the body. For the most part though, it’s just as he envisaged.
Sure, this sort of thing’s definitely not for everyone, but for those who can appreciate the time, effort and imagination that goes into creating a machine like this one, the Bag Riders BMW is much more than another SEMA showpiece: it’s one that’s setting new standards.
to be honest, all i could see in LB cars is their kit and never anything else. i really do loves their kit, tho obviously overly done, or perhaps overly exposed to us readers. i found that their kits are so aggressive its hard to like. maybe the presentation is a bit, off? (stance)
for all its worth, i could see the kit on one beemers with properly tuned suspension. yes, maybe it isnt aero correct, but theres little among us that would probably use any kit's aero 100%, unless u track it. hence, LB kits definitely arent for tracking, but as all the readers already know, track cars usually doesnt involve heavy kits, but very purposeful kit, to gain that extra milisec.
that being said, i do hate stance car, with a passion, and do not see myself in one, even as passenger. but i could appreciate its beauty tho. it can be repurposed. id like to see one of these LB kits proper race car tho (with working aero obviously). form and beauty.
bagged or not, if it functions, performs, i could see why not?
For something that has the looks and parts of a show car they sure did neglect the fine details when it came to fitting the panels and lining up. It's making me cringe badly... I don't think LB usually does this bad but honestly i'm scared to revisit past cars I liked a lot to find out.
I saw this bad boy during my very fist visit to SEMA show a month ago. Even after witnessing some absolute madness (in a good way) during my frequent visits to Tokyo Auto Salon, I was absolutely stunned when I saw this. I find it great to be able to finally read and find out more about this beast, so as always big thanks Speedhunters for letting us see it in such great detail!
It's like somebody said to them, "Build a car that contains every single played out modification and completely embodies what is wrong with imports today."
Ugly Rotiforms: Check. Air ride: Check. Stretched tires: Check. Riveted flares: Check. Useless aero: Check. Useless rollcage: Check. Matte vinyl wrap: Check. It doesn't have white letter tires though, which is surprising.
It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so sad. Seriously, there is no innovation or forward thinking any more in this industry. Every car looks the same. Modification today consists of nothing more than people seeing what X car would look like slammed with stretched tires. There is zero consideration given to overall aesthetics. People don't care that the mods don't flow with the design of the car, all they care about is that "It's got the steez, bra!"
Do people even care about making a car that's the total package anymore? Whatever happened to building a car that performs well in a variety of situations, and is complete with tasteful aesthetic modifications?
Yes, I know it's a show car, but visually, it's just a mess that somehow manages to look bland. It doesn't differentiate itself at all from the sea of similar vehicles we've seen in the past couple of years.
OK, anyone at all know enough about a BMW suspension to let me know if when aired up the amount of negative camber is drastically reduced?
i remember eg civics used to have bad camber issues when excessively dumped, is this similar?
If it wasn't bagged and dropped and whatever i'd really like it ;) .. nice color and (interior-) detailing.
But again as it was with the bagged Wörthersee A7 you showed us some months ago ... please people don't "upgrade" your usual BMWs/Audis/etc. with bodykits that try to make it look like the top notch model. It's just wrong ... wannabe. You name it ... M3 is M3. 335 Coupe is a 335 Coupe and should stay one.
The first 25 seconds.
BMW, Yes. Widebody/fenders, yes. Rotiforms, yes.
Air Ride, camber, and stretched tires....hell no!
What's wrong with a good set of coil overs/struts and tires that fit?
What are the performance benefits of these bags? and that rear camber!?
"the Bag Riders BMW achieved what it set out to do: command attention" Haahahaha... Sorry, not hating or anything but i just watched South Parks F-Word episode and this sentence was just too much LMAO
Clearly LB either pays Speedhunters or they have some mutual beneficial deal going on otherwise they wouldn't keep featuring their cars non stop, regardless of how hideous and un-original they are.
Now excuse me while I spit out that bit of puke that materialized in my mouth.
@2xthefun bad fitment? where?
@bradjh Thank you!
@d_rav Pretty sure that's coming soon...
@Jake Laird I think the Speedhunters Steez Bra will be in the next collection, one size fits all. :p
@Jake Laird well said. The euro/import scene is becoming very sheepish today, Also you forgot to mention roof racks and tow hooks.
@Jake Laird You seem to be only viewing 1% of this entire website. If you don't like it, move along.
@AyoSH Ouch. You've driven on both, right? Obviously.
@Mike Yes it has a camber curve that adjusts with ride height. When driving it has significantly less negative camber.
@reno808 But if he had a real M3 there wouldn't be 80 comments ;)
@reno808 In terms of daily use, its function is raising and lowering the car to drive over things ;)
@kphillips9936 the Air Ride = aDjUsTaBiLiTy + performance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uppK8z0lDg&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLDB9674D6EC8C8593
@250SWB agreed...sorry i really love all the great work but whats with all the stance stuff? Look like a piano fell on the roof? Cant handle at all? Not cool
@TaylorMenezes When did I say anything about this website? SH tends to feature a pretty good variety of cars. They've got a little too much stance coverage for a website with a name like "SpeedHunters" but it's decent overall. Also, I'm going to share my opinion on a car, my friend. It's still a free country.
@Speedhunters_Bryn I remember my first time on Speedhunters.
@Digitaluke33 @kphillips9936 far from it, the manual air suspension setups they are showing cost $3400+(airlifts website) where as the coilovers are never revealed they could be cheap ebay coilovers but i doubt they are k&W setups worth just as much. They try to keep the weight the same, so when they swap to coilovers do they keep the air tanks and equipments in the car to further slow it down, sounds like it. The driver complains about body roll on coilovers, what are they not adjustable to go stiffer because a set that costs as much as that air suspension is! Did he not care to make them stiffer? Then seeing how it's an airlift company making the video it's not hard to see why they don't want to stack the odds in there favor and not reveal those variables.
Best you check out the new Fat57 gasser story. It's nose bleed stance is the opposite of this dropped BMW.
@AyoSH You came off like a prick the second you put your fingers to your keyboard.
@AyoSH You came at us hard, so let's not get out of perspective here. Condescending? Pretentious? Like I say, ouch. I enjoy free discussion, when presented in an open way. You are free to choose whatever form of suspension you like, so I'm glad you have confidence in your facts, it will make your choices much easier. Enjoy the ride :)
reno808 When it comes to daily use (great ride quality and abiltiy to raise over obstacles) and even real hard track use, properly done air suspension is hard to beat. If you haven't driven or ridden in a car with our latest stuff, you don't really get it yet. I hope some day you get the chance. I'm betting you would be very surprised!
@2xthefunFeel free to stop by our office anytime. I would be happy to show you all the data, vehicle set-ups and raw video footage of the testing.
What cracks me up with many people is that they only want to talk about who's parts we used to compare and how we stacked the deck...Apparently, everyone out there expects a car equipped with that "crappy, underdamped, sloppy air suspension stuff" to pull over 1G on a skidpad and turn lap times comparable to real racecars!!
And to your point, it also means you can go out and buy the crappiest coilovers on Ebay with unknown spring rates and lousy F-V characteristics and corner over 1G and run fast laps! Makes me wonder why anybody who races would put Ohlins or Moton on their car...
Lastly, yes, the control system for the air suspension was left in the cars. We were swapping suspensions and aligning cars in a 2 hour time window so the track conditions were the same. That 15# of extra weight in the trunk made all the difference in cars that weigh over 3000# with driver. You got me on that one.
Sorry for the copious amount of sarcasm. I'm just using it to make my point.
@Speedhunters_Bryn couldn't have said it better myself.
@Luka024 Damn, that is a good one. I will ask that question next time I come across someone like your office dude.
@Speedhunters_Bryn Right on man. I have a guy at work that comes into my office and pisses and moans about every car I show him. "I don't like exotics, I don't like stance, I don't like this, I don't like that."
Finally I said to him, do you really even like cars? I thought car guys liked cars?
@Speedhunters_Bryn True i see what u mean..thanks for all your great coverages worldwide
@turbo BEAMS ae86 @250SWB Trust me, I get where you're coming from but considering the incredibly wide spread of feature cars we run, you can see that this style of build serves only part of our readers. It's not meant to have universal appeal, that's the point, that we can cover all aspects of automotive passion under one virtual roof. Just because this isn't yours doesn't lessen the validity.
Put it this way, you're stood looking at a magazine rack, do you pick up the magazine with this BMW on the cover and then deride the contents? Imagine that magazine rack is our home page... Which right now consists of the following.
57 Chevy Gasser, Nemo Time Attack build, Bag Riders BMW, Behind the scenes at Brabus, Drift orientated modern Fiesta with Volvo running gear, Audi Quattro, Renault 5 Turbo 2, RS200
That's right, we're a whole magazine rack.
You can follow anyone of those in to a rabbit hole of relevant automotive interest. I'm also going to add that the articles although varying in length, are generally the same as print media. Except we nearly always use more photos.
Once again I find myself wondering what's wrong with just clicking, taking a look and moving on when you don't like something.
And as if Liberty Walk are everywhere, please... Five maybe six cars in one year? Out of a possible 1200 different features? Oh and remember what I said back near the start about universal appeal, well what about universal appreciation? Unrealistic? I like seeing new things, pushing the boundary of my own experience. If in someway I can take some small element from this build and inspire myself to try something new, then game on... Let's keep doing it.
@250SWB "We aren't hard to please, we just know whats up." I beg to differ. It's very hard to please everybody.
The reason why we feature Liberty Walk is because it is cool. There may be a trend that YOU personally don't like, but there are many people who like it. That is what makes it wonderful. You don't have to like everything. I am not a fan of the donk culture, but I understand the appeal and why there is such a following. etc....
@RodChong You can't compare apples to oranges. I love lowered cars and to an extent, fender flares, and I'm sure so does turbo BEAMS. But LB forces the matter on the cars they touch. The car's seem forced to take on their "style", and end up not flowing at all. Anyway, it's just two guys opinion, but I think from what I'm reading, more people agree. Now, if SH (not just you Rod but Bryn) has to continuously defend LB due to some contract, I think you guys need to re-evaluate yourselves. 450 HP 4x4 does not automatically equal performance, you guys know better. We aren't hard to please, we just know whats up.
@turbo BEAMS ae86 on the contrary, I do understand the scene and it's appeal. It's almost similar to the VIP style, but in a more "sporty" type of way. Sporty is not the right word but point is that it's not trying to be VIP/luxury looking. Some bagged cars do look nice and clean but the LB style, apart from their F40, is just...god awful and repetitive imo and I don't see what SH rushes to put articles together on LB cars "just because". Quality content over quantity, and we've seen lots of LB stuff lately.