2001 BMW 325ci
Metal widebody, 20" BBS LM wheels and Rieger body parts. That's the recipe for a show-stopping BMW 3-Series. But take a closer look at Wai Hung's 325ci and notice the location of the steering wheel - it's right-hand drive! This E46 isn't your typical show car from California or Florida, instead it's from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Building a modified European car in Southeast Asia is a little more difficult because there's a deficit of knowledgeable mechanics and parts suppliers. Not to mention that some of the roads aren't paved to our standards either, which deters car owners from upgrading parts such as their wheels and suspension. But Mr Hung was persistent, using influences from US tuners and enthusiasts to build his dream car.
His story started in '07 when he purchased this '01 325ci. Wai opted for the 184hp 2.5 liter, which was an uncommon BMW in Malaysia. Although the motor is slightly underpowered by our standards, most Bimmers in Malaysia are four-cylinders, with most BMW enthusiasts jumping into a 318i or 320i. So Wai was lucky to find his Sapphire black coupe with a straight-six, sunroof and in-dash nav screen; all the specs he'd wanted.
The original mission was to build the best looking non-widebody E46 coupe in Southeast Asia. "To be honest, widebody was never my intention," he told us. "But in 8/08, an opportunity came when I needed to leave my car at a workshop for repair. The wideobdy was influenced by my goal to join Europrojektz."
Wai revealed that building the widebody was more of a headache than he wanted. He asked himself, "How wide should I go? What type of kit will go with it? What color should I paint the car?"
The four-month process required constant attention from SPS Auto for bodywork, Action Auto for paint and ExoticMods for the rare parts. The project began with the decision to use metal rather than fiberglass. "I wanted the car to sit as low as possible, about 3" from the ground. Having 3" clearance with the roads and speed bumps in Malaysia meant fiberglass wouldn't last long. Hence, I chose metal," Wai explained.
Although metal would take longer to fabricate and cost more, it would be worth it in the long run for its strength and durability. The overall design and size of the fenders is a blend of influences from Wai's research on the internet and car magazines.
Besides the massive front and rear fenders, the M3 side gills also stand out. They were molded into the stock quarter-panels but tinted from the original chrome finish. Because the chrome wouldn't absorb paint, the middle pieces were wrapped in vinyl, and then sprayed matte gunmetal. With no intention of keeping the M3 badges, "because it's not an M3," Wai reiterated, he ordered a plain M logo from a local shop to replace the tiny emblem.
Missed by most enthusiasts, the side marker location was also changed. On non-M3s, the markers sit above the side moldings, so Wai shaved them. He then obtained a pair of M3 fender moldings and markers, which are integrated together. The moldings were arched using fiberglass so the conversion looked OEM.
Integrated with the elaborate fenders, Wai added an M-Tech II front bumper from BMW Accessories. It had to be widened with a metal plate to line up with the chubby fenders but it also needed something more aggressive. So ExoticMods imported a Rieger front splitter for the coupe, similarly extended to fit.
Side skirts followed and since anything he used would need to be widened to fit the widebody, Wai fabricated his own skirts from metal following a Rieger blueprint.
More additions included a carbon M3-style hood. But even with the M3 bulge, it wasn't pronounced enough for Wai, so he inserted custom metal vents, which were painted gunmetal for contrast.