Not many people can claim this... "I was one of the founding members of Dell Asia," Calvin Eng told us. After working his way up the corporate ladder, Calvin landed an opportunity to live in Hong Kong and Singapore, traveling to Japan, China and Australia, building the Dell empire. "It was an amazing experience but family health issues meant I had to transfer back to the US and take some time off," he continued.
Working 24-7 and jet-lagging every week wasn't healthy for Calvin's lifestyle either, so he took a new direction in life. "I decided to start a company, doing something I had a passion for, which was cars. That's how Auto-Tech Interiors (ATI) began. It started when I wanted to find a place to install gauges in my '93 Mazda RX-7. After coming up with a design, I partnered with family to start injection molding my own product line."
Manufacturing gauge pods became Calvin's dream job since he could play with cars all day. It also became a lucrative business but he needed to supply more than just pods. So he partnered with STRI in Japan to become their US distributor and offer gauge packages.
Of course, we rolled our eyes at Calvin's Mazda affliction. But after building two RX-7 show cars and a product line for Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota, he finally entered the Euro scene. And his first Euro was a twin-charged Mini Cooper until he added this gorgeous '08 BMW M3 last year.
The Coupe grabbed our attention at SEMA '09 (et 2/10) with its quality parts from companies like Brembo, Ericsson, Recaro and Focal. "My goal was to build something quicker than stock, have a unique look, maintain the flowing lines and still drive it daily," he revealed.
Like most SEMA cars, it was a last-minute rush to acquire and install the parts. Calvin credited European Auto Source in Santa Ana, CA for finishing the E92 hours before roll-in.
The project kicked off with the basics, outfitting the 4.0 V8 with bolt-on parts from Active Autowerke. An exhaust deleted the secondary cats, reduced weight and improved the M3's grunt, while a X-pipe bumped top-end power.
Active's performance software adjusted ignition, fuel delivery and throttle to provide more power across the rev range.
Moving over to the chassis, the stock suspension was ditched for KW Clubsport coilovers, which were shipped from Germany days before SEMA. Powerflex bushings from Bimmerworld also ensured tight steering and better suspension control.
Brakes were an integral part of the package, and what's better than Brembo? Massive 15'' slotted rotors were installed front and back, along with six- and four-piston calipers respectively for impeccable stopping power.
ATI steering column gauge pod and Macht Schnell gauge panel
Every speaker is from Focal
With the foundations complete, Calvin needed to work on the creative elements - wheels and bodywork. Finding the right set of wheels was one of the hardest tasks. "Wheels are an intimate part of a build and provide the most character for the car," he said. "Therefore, I spent a great deal of time selecting the perfect look. I must have looked at over 100 different wheels to find the perfect set."
While it would've been easy to go with predictable BBS or HREs, Calvin elected to use Advan RS-Ds, a wheel released in the US in the summer of '09. Imported from Japan by Mackin Industries, the staggered 20x8'' fronts and 20x9'' rears were matched to wider Pirelli P Zero tires.
And in preparation for future track days, Calvin has a set of 19'' RS-Ds sitting in his garage, which will be mounted with, stickier Pirelli Trofeo tires.
The focus of the M3 was the body kit, though. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you're looking at an authentic Powerhouse Amuse Ericsson kit. First introduced on the M480 concept at the '08 Tokyo Auto Salon (et 2/09)the stunning aerodynamics stole the hearts of enthusiasts around the world - even non-BMW owners loved it.