Sunday, December 26, 2010

Modifications Plan

We've got several project cars at Mach V Motorsports, and each of them is modified with a specific purpose in mind.  Our Subaru Impreza track car was built specially for road racing -- there's no climate control or other creature comforts in that one.  Our 2008 STI showcases what we can do for a street Subaru, and is pretty worked over, from suspension to engine.  The 335i is going to be modified more to a mild street tune, at least in the near term.  We want to keep the daily usability and somewhat discreet nature of the car, while still increasing the performance -- particularly the horsepower.

Here's what we have planned for the car for now:

  • Tint - we'll tint the car to the Virginia legal limit of 50% on the front windows, 35% for the rear sides and rear.
  • Wheels/tires - We've got some very clean VMR 701 19" (8.5" and 9.5" wide) wheels with Hankook Ventus Evo tires (235/35R19, 275/30R19) waiting in our showroom.  We'll put those on the car once the snowy weather is behind us.
  • Suspension - The car already sits on Sport Package springs and shocks, and I honestly don't think it looks that bad in terms of ride height, nor am I unhappy with the handling or ride.  I'm inclined to leave the suspension alone for now.
  • Intercooler - An upgraded intercooler will go on.
  • Downpipes - I've already got a pair of downpipes for the car.
  • Cat-back exhaust - In the near term I'm going to leave the stock cat-back exhaust on to keep the car quiet.  We'll post some numbers and see how much power we can make through the stock mufflers.
  • ECU - We'll either do a reflash or a piggyback system.  I'm leaning towards the CP-E Standback system since it will give me the ability to tweak the tune myself.
  • Sound system - I really am not happy with the stock stereo system.  There's NO bass, and it's really muddy-sounding.  I don't want to spend a fortune on it, but I'm going to at least install an amp and some upgraded speakers.  Probably a small sub in the trunk, too.
  • Exterior - I really like the clean lines of the car, but we might install a small lip spoiler on the front.  Maybe one of those little rear windshield-top spoilers, too.  Actually, if I could get my hands on a salvage M3, I'd swap on the M3 front fenders and bumper.  Call me if you have one...

So that's the current modification plan.  Of course, like any plan, this one will change.  Watch this space as we go about the modifications.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why this car?

Welcome to my second car blog.  In this blog I'll try to narrate the story of acquiring and modifying a vehicle, with some discussion of my thinking and reasons behind the modifications, as well as results and opinions about how things work out.

A couple of people have asked me why we purchased this car instead of something closer to our traditional customer base.  We haven't traditionally worked with or offered parts for BMWs, and people expected we might get a Subaru WRX or STI sedan.  I decided on the 335i for a couple of reasons.  One is that we already have a 2008 WRX STI, and having a second one wouldn't really offer that much incremental learning.  Another reason is that we already have a pretty large network of parts suppliers that offer BMW parts, since we've been selling parts for the MINI Cooper for the last four years.  That means offering parts for the BMW won't be as difficult as if we were starting from scratch.  Finally, I have always had a soft spot for the BMW inline six motor.  A turbocharged version is just too good to pass up -- tuning turbo cars is what we do here!  So, here's a new car for Mach V Motorsports and a new direction for our parts sales and service.

E90 Background

The current BMW 3-series was introduced in 2005.  The chassis codes are E90 through E93, which are sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertibles, respectively.  The 2007 model year saw the first twin-turbo version in the U.S.  That motor made an even 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.

BMW gave the 3-series a face lift in the 2009 model year.  The newer-styled cars are referred to as "LCI" models.  LCI is an acronym for "Life Cycle Impulse," which seems to be goofy BMW marketing-speak for "face lift."  The Mach V 335i is a 2009 LCI model.

Acquiring our 335i

After narrowing down what model and year we wanted, we shopped around a bit and ended up buying through eImports4Less in Perkasie, PA.  The car had just come off lease and was very clean, with the options we wanted.  We exchanged a few emails and photos, and came to an agreement, and the car was trucked right down to our shop.

The car came with the Sport Package (sports suspension, five-spoke wheels and performance run-flat tires, sport steering wheel with shifter paddles), a six-speed automatic transmission -- which only weighs eleven pounds more than the manual, I'm told -- and some other options that I don't care too much about.  I must admit, though, that since we've had a very cold December, I do find myself using the heated steering wheel (!) more often than I would have imagined.

I'll talk about our plans for modifying the car in my next blog post.