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.
For the rear, Wai kept the M-Tech styling theme and retrofitted an M3 diffuser into it. Initially, he bought an OE M3 plastic diffuser but during the process he realized the clips needed to be glued. This mixture of a plastic diffuser, fiberglass bumper and glue wouldn't offer enough adhesion, so Wai bought a fiberglass diffuser, cut it and added his own clips to snap onto the bumper. A carbon add-on from AC Schnitzer brought further emphasis to the bumper, which included a chrome surround for the exhaust tips.
The lengthy process of modifying the bumpers, skirts and fenders had come to an end. It was time for Wai to select the color of his 325ci. Keeping it classy, he stuck with black. But unlike the original Sapphire black, he switched to Carbon black. "It has a violet/blue-ish tone from different angles. But it's completely black at night. It's also exlusive to the M3," he said.
With the finished product, Wai had constructed one of the most impressive widebody BMWs in Asia, but now he had to worry about what wheels to finish off the exterior. And with the gargantuan widebody, he experimented with BBS RWII and Keskin KT4 wheels, but eventually set his mind on the classic BBS LM.
He was originally running 19" before the widebody, but upgraded to 20x9" front and 20x10" rear Champion Edition LMs with darkened centers. In fact, Wai told us the front fenders were widened again after the new wheels were fitted because there was too much poke.
The rest of the car is relatively mild. Engine modifications comprise a new exhaust with a custom stainless pipe that splits into four 3" tips from the original M-Tech muffler remained. While a BMC intake sits under the hood as well as painted engine covers.
Fortunately, the coupe was lowered handsomely with a combination of H&R Race springs and Bilstein shocks. The brakes were then upgraded to M3 spec, while the transmission remained the Steptronic auto.
The interior also had modest upgrades, with carbon accents around the gauge cluster, steering wheel, shift knob and e-brake handle. The audio was upgraded with Alpine Type R components and a 12" sub for more bass.
Wai claims he didn't go big on the engine or interior in his daily-driven 325ci because there's not much opportunity to drive fast in Malaysia due to heavy traffic and poor roads. Instead, the car was built for looks, and it allowed him to gain membership to the Europrojektz club, becoming one of the best modified BMWs in Southeast Asia.
2001 BMW 325ci
Owner: Wong Wai Hung
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Occupation: senior system developer
Engine: 2.5-liter inline-six with BMC cold-air intake, quad exhaust, painted engine cover
Driveline: Steptronic auto
Suspension: H&R Race springs with Bilstein B8 shocks, carbon strut brace
Brakes: OE M3 front discs and calipers
Wheels & Tires: 20x9" front, 20x10" rear BBS LM Champion Edition wheels with 255/30-20 front, 295/25-20 Continental ContiSportContact3 tires
Exterior: metal widebody fenders and side skirts, OE M-Tech II bumpers with Rieger front lip, M3 carbon hood with custom vents, CSL carbon trunk, smoked tail-, corner and foglights, M3 diffuser with AC Scnitzer add-on, carbon M3 mirrors, smoked side gills with M badges, M3 side markers, xenon headlights, AC Schtnizer carbon roof spoiler, carbon B-pillars and sharkfin antenna, 8000K angel-eye lights, custom door handle lights, carbon emblems, car painted OE Carbon black
Interior: carbon leather steering wheel, shift knob, e-brake and boots, gunmetal aluminum trim and gauge rings, carbon gauge cluster with M logo and red needles, M3 dead pedal
Audio/Visual: OE BMW monitor with TV tuner, front and rear Alpine Type R component speakers, 12" Alpine Type R sub, Soundstream amp, DVD player, iPod
Thanks: UDMowners, nktob@udm, fanntks, zorrozarul, ExoticMods, Action Motor, Mike at SPS Auto, Europrojektz, ///OSS, Casanova, Shedeen, Raymond Autoworks, Mspeed, GY Auto, friends and family