Why Evolve’s Showroom Takeover At BMW Park Lane Is Worth Talking About

When you think of contemporary automakers that still produce cars with tuneable engines, a few spring to mind.

The 1990s were undoubtedly run by cars from Japan. If I was to try and list just half of the iconic, tuneable Japanese engines, this article would be 10,000 words large and I wouldn’t even be halfway done. These engines are known for endless aftermarket support and their inherent ability to hold unreal amounts of boost without going pop. Well… most of them anyway.


The ’00s had gems scattered all over the place. The darling of all Vauxhall owners out there, the famed Redtop, came into a class of its own for its output as well as its good looks. No wonder it became the swap of the decade, being retrofitted into anything and everything.


Then seemingly out of nowhere, a few maniacs somewhere in the sticks of Europe started to tinker with diesel engines, obtaining not just crazy performance figures but also matching fuel efficiency numbers. This opened the floodgates for engines like the PD130 from VW and Peugeot’s DTurbo to take centre stage. With the turn of the decade, the 2010s in my opinion again went to VAG, this time with their 2.0L EA888 turbocharged four-pots and that 2.5L five-cylinder from the RS3.


This brings us neatly up to date with where we’re at in 2023. When I think of contemporary tuner cars, I think of BMW and their sublime S55 and, more recently, their S58. Sweet, sweet engines that went straight from BMW dealers to the chopping blocks of independent tuning companies all over the globe the moment the cars they came fitted in were available for purchase by everyday folk.


Out of all the UK tuning companies that got involved with these turbo BMW engines, Evolve Automotive in Bedfordshire have led the way. Evolve was established 17 years ago, and over this time have garnered a stellar reputation for their extensive understanding of BMW M cars. Specialising in anything M going all the way back to the start of the badge has allowed them to grow a wide network of loyal customers who come to Evolve for a variety of work. Servicing and tuning is their forte though, with the latter of the two putting Evolve under the big magnifying glass of social media and, more recently, BMW themselves.


BMW has a wide network of dealerships scattered around the UK, of which only one isn’t a franchise and belongs to BMW. This dealership is called Park Lane. Hailed amongst BMW nerds like myself for its heritage and direct link with the Bavarian titan, Park Lane is situated slap bang in the middle of London overlooking Hyde Park on a main stretch of road called, you guessed it, Park Lane.

It’s a significant place for the brand for sure. So, when BMW Park Lane invited Evolve to display their collection of demo cars in place of BMW’s regular dealer line up in a ‘showroom takeover’, I had to pop down and check it out for myself. It’s a direct notion and approval from the BMW overlords themselves, looking down at Evolve (and the overarching modified car culture we’re all part of) and deeming it all worthy of being directly associated with the automaker.


Evolve brought out their big guns. Centre stage was their E30 M3 on BBS RSs, neatly lit in an otherwise dark room.


To get through to it though, you had to walk past a one of 67 ever made E90 M3 CTR, which itself was neatly parked behind the main line up of Evolve’s demo cars, itself a line up of BMWs greatest hits, all tinkered with by the tuning wizard.


Evolve’s mint green M4 is a perfect example of the tuning potential of the S58. I see this car as Evolve’s go at seeing how much – within reason – they can get out of the engine. An Evolve custom ECU alongside a whole host of supporting mods (Evolve cat-less down pipes, Supersprint single mid pipe, Eventuri carbon fibre intake and turbo inlets, XHP ZF8 transmission tuning, CSF uprated heat exchanger and transmission radiators) take the M4 to 750hp and 900Nm, and make it capable of a very Fast and Furious-style 9.9-second quarter mile when running Shell V-Power fuel.


So what does this tell us? Well, for starters, that Evolve know their way around modern engine tuning. But more to the point, the fact BMW has collaborated with a group like Evolve to exhibit their latest and finest aftermarket performance tech is a sign the automaker expects their M customers to be somewhat interested in quality car tuning.


What Evolve has done is transcend what would in the past be referred to as a niche or an interest, and established it as an industry. It’s accepted and approved by the big wigs, and that in itself deserves talking about because collaborative efforts between OEMs and independents more than often result in amazing things.


Approaches to car culture around London echo this. Modern BMWs are the most modified cars in the city; if they’re not on lowering springs they might have a set of aftermarket wheels or some light engine tweaks (intakes, maps, exhausts etc.)

The way fast Ford owners got a reputation in the UK back in the ’90s for spirited driving and endless weekend engine tweaking is the way BMW owners are operating today. We’ll be looking back at these cars fondly in 30 years time, and it will have been companies like Evolve Automotive, collaborating with BMW, that helped make it happen.

Michał Fidowicz
Instagram: candyshowroom



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Sneaky Smith and Sniff reference in there?

Michal Fidowicz

Haha I love their podcast but no reference as far as I’m aware. Which part are you referring to?


Damn! Evolve is no joke! The red M5 has a supercharger on it. What brand? Nice showroom and building!!


It's an Evolve Supercharger Kit!

Michal Fidowicz

Not 100% sure, I didn’t get a chance to make many notes on the E39 when I was there.


It's interesting to see a main dealer making an effort to draw existing and potential customers into their showroom. Normally they are such uninviting places where you are made to feel like you are intruding if you turn up without an appointment or heaven forbid not willing to sign up to a length finance that deal that day. My local dealer has its servicing centre in a different location to the showroom so they don't get their existing customers through the door once a year like most other dealerships.

Michal Fidowicz

You’re right. It’s an impossible place to enjoy if you’re not loaded enough for a car, but an exhibition like this made it feel very communal and inviting. Hopefully there’s more lined up.


I would say the 90s was more the Redtops heyday and especially in the UK Japanese stuff started to take off more in the 00s.

Michal Fidowicz

Fair observation!


Say what you will this is the best of BMW right here

Michal Fidowicz

Oh yeah, these guys are doing it well for sure