It didn’t take me long after moving to Japan to figure out that Japanese car guys must somehow possess the force. Cheesy references to famous movies aside, you have to admit that when it comes to modifying cars, making them look their best and emphasising their best features, well, the Japanese really have a real knack for it. And I’m not talking about Japanese cars here either – they’re a given. What I’m referring to are imports. You name it, they’ll take it, work their magic on it and churn out an impressive machine. I grew up in Europe, in between Italy and the UK, and before setting foot in Japan in my late teens I had never before seen tuning done properly. It’s something that became overly apparent when I began to notice all the modified European cars on the street. It’s why I came to the rather simplistic conclusion that the Japanese are, well, good. Damn good!
So when I was chatting to Alex Yang over at the Offset Kings show in Honolulu last month, I really knew what he was talking about. I perfectly understood not only why he chose his E92 M3, but also why he decided to take the JDM approach in modifying it.
Alex’s car is one that I just couldn’t pass up shooting. As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of the countless track-ready M3s I’ve come across in the paddocks of Fuji Speedway and Tsukuba, and the tough BMWs I see parked outside Sunbeam in Tokyo on a daily basis. The story that goes along with the car is just as interesting and it begins with Alex owning a string of JDM Hondas before taking the plunge and jumping over to the dark side. Damn, there I go again! That’s the last Star Wars reference, I promise.
Alex’s DC2 Integra Type R, S2000 and NSX were all personalised with a Japanese tuning mindset, and using upgrade parts from established Japanese manufacturers the already performance-focused driving machines were made that little more focused.
The move into BMW ownership seemed a nice progression from the NSX; the E92 M3 offering up a good mix of performance and comfort, along with plenty of potential when it came to upgrades.
And like his previous cars – which all also happened to be white – Alex looked to Japan for inspiration.
Alex had clear intentions with what he wanted to do with the car’s front end, and an Ericsson bumper is where he began. If you are wondering why a maker of mobile phones makes tuning parts for BMWs you might be a little confused. Ericsson is Powerhouse Amuse’s BMW-specific tuning brand, and if you cast your minds all the way back to September 2009 you may remember their M480 E92 demo car, which runs the exact same upgrade.
The M3 GTS kidney grille inserts, the blacked-out lower corners of the bumper and the double carbon fiber Varis canards add some great contrast to the front end too.
They all work together to give the car a fierce presence, and for those in the know, a first touch of JDM-ness. The second touch comes with the set of RAYS Volk Racing TE37s, which Alex chose in white to match the bodywork.
The wheels measure 19×9.5-inch up front and a slightly wider 19×10.5-inch at the rear, and wear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s in 255/35R19 and 305/30R19 fitments respectively.
Alex didn’t want to mess with the stock suspension’s compliance which out of the box offers a great balance of sport and comfort, however a ride height drop was always on the cards. That’s where the Swift Springs coils come in; lowering the car just enough to pull the look together.
Let That V8 Sing
As for the engine, with 414hp on tap from stock, Alex saw little need to touch the high-revving S65 4.0L V8
However, he did swap out the stock air filter for something with slightly better flow; intensifying the induction sounds throughout the rev range for a more satisfactory aural performance.
Adding to that is an Akrapovič titanium exhaust system; quad silencers sprouting out of the rear bumper and doing all sorts of wonderful things with the V8’s frequencies. On top of liberating a few horses in the process, it’s shed a little weight from the car too – 14.1kg to be precise.
I don’t know what was more appealing on the day – Alex’s M3 or the location chosen for the shoot.
When you move away from the built-up urban areas Hawaii really is nothing short of paradise.
The aero treatment continues along the rest of the car, starting with the iND M5 Theme side mirror covers and following on with a set of Exotics Tuning underskirts.
These help tie in the front and rear treatment as well as adding another touch of contrast along the profile of the car.
While the Varis carbon fiber GT Wing is probably the thing most people will notice first when looking at the M3’s rear, it’s the Vörsteiner CSL carbon fiber trunk lid that, in my opinion, sets it off the most.
And the way that Alex has had it painted, which allows the carbon construction to show through along the edge of the curved trunk profile, makes it stand out even more.
Which kind of makes me wonder, why didn’t BMW ever produce a CSL version of the E92 with a lightweight focus and a similar trunk lid?
Alex reps Hawaii-based Race Sauce with a katakana sticker on the underside of the Varis wing.
Look at the coupe’s profile as a whole and you begin to see why the E92 shape really calls for something more exciting to be happening at the back. With the bulge on the bonnet and the front bumper upgrade and canards, Alex’s car now has a real balanced look to it.A Touch Of Digital Tuning
Swing open the driver’s side door and you are instantly greeted with the usual Teutonic simplicity and functionalism that has always reigned above everything apse in these cars. Rather than going over the top, Alex preferred to stick with the M3 script and just add a few subtle, but well integrated, additions.
From the BMW Performance line up he opted to fit its more sports-oriented steering wheel and pedal set to improve interaction through the controls.
On top of the LED shift-up lights, the BMW Performance steering wheel also features a little digital display which allows you to flick through a variety of engine temperatures and pressures readouts. I love how the rim feels even chunkier than stock, not to mention the soft suede finish which would become very grippy when used with racing gloves.
That same suede is also found on the BMW Performance shift boot. And yes, in choosing this car Alex opted for a proper manual transmission rather than the dual-clutch M-DCT. Good man!
Is that a LEGO version of the Stig? To unleash more fun out of his car Alex did some digital tuning by loading in the Euro version of the M Dynamic Mode. Essentially, that means less intervention from the electronics, allowing the car to move around a little more before they cut the throttle and apply the brakes to reel you in. Obviously the Germans don’t think too highly of American drivers!
The E92 will certainly go down in history as one of the more special M3s to have been produced; naturally aspirated V8 power alone making it so unique. It is also a generation of M3 that Japanese tuners fully embraced and have had awesome results with.
With all talk being on the newly-released F80 and F82 now, I personally can’t wait to see how the JDM aftermarket will enhance BMW’s new generation of turbocharged cars. Time will tell, I guess, but if Alex’s E92 M3 is anything to go by, only good things can happen.
Dino Dalle Carbonare