Johnny Feng offered his BMW M3, purchased a 328d F31 Touring and modified it with a twist of Japanese tradition. Why? As a result of he’s a singular thinker!
Function from Efficiency BMW journal. Photographs: Patrick Lauder.
A lot of the fashionable automotive scene is siloed and exclusionist. It’s not all the time fairly, however that’s the way in which it’s: a sure sector of the basic Mini scene hates all issues BMW MINI with a ardour. Harley Davidsons within the States are basically a faith. And sure, there are BMW die-hards who will shun any member of the group who could specific a passing fondness for some other model.
That’s part of the scene, but it surely’s not the entire scene. There are many individuals on the market going to nice lengths to accommodate a broad spectrum of concepts, drawing inspiration from different scenes, different marques, different methods of doing issues from throughout the globe. And it’s inside this pan-dimensional mindset that Johnny Feng (@oem_nub) operates. He’s a die-hard BMW man, for certain. However he’s acquired a powerful fondness for JDM rides too, and has extensively dabbled in each, the shared information from every path finally culminating within the superb Estoril blue, modified BMW F31 Touring you see earlier than you.
It was a toy BMW E34 that he had as a child which planted that first Bavarian seed in his affections, and with a rising ardour for BMWs all through his childhood, it appeared inevitable that Johnny’s first automotive could be a Beemer. It was written within the stars. Effectively, till a sure high-octane film got here out and skewed issues a bit. “My first automotive was truly a Mitsubishi Eclipse GS-T – you’ll be able to blame The Quick and the Livid for that,” he laughs. That automotive ended up with a Veilside equipment and numerous different mods, and acted as a kind of gateway drug to Japanese tuning tradition; his subsequent journey was a Lexus IS300, which was a full-on present automotive with all types of carbon and JDM Altezza bits. Then got here an Acura Integra GSR, and a Lexus IS250 that went by numerous evolutions and magazine options; this Lexus was operating Volk TE37s. Tuck that little element away in your high pocket, we’ll be needing it later. And eventually, these childhood goals elbowed their solution to the fore, and Johnny acquired himself his first BMW. The realisation of a long-held ambition. After all, in spite of everything this expertise within the import tuner scene, his outlook was reasonably totally different to the way it might need been if he’d acquired straight into BMWs from day one.
“I acquired my first BMW from a pal as a each day driver,” he says. “It was a 1990 BMW E30 325i, five-speed and Alpine white. I purchased it for a cool $2000, which I paid in 4 instalments of $500. This was the automotive that began my love for DIY mods, I went to junkyards to seek out elements for it and even spray-painted the entrance bumper myself.” This one was a fairly clear construct, lowered on Rota wheels and with just a little OEM+ styling, however Johnny was simply beginning to get into his stride right here. “After I acquired my first actual job, I purchased an E46 M3,” he continues. “This automotive was a CSL-style construct, I had the entire Vorsteiner V-CSL elements on there. It had TE37s, Brembos entrance and rear, leather-based Pole Positions, and a uncommon JDM titanium exhaust. I offered this automotive after I had my first daughter.”
There are a selection of fascinating factors to unpick there. To begin with, it’s plainly evident that nothing stays inventory in Johnny’s fingers, and that he’s the kind to go all-in with high quality mods reasonably than ever taking any half-measures. These BMWs are being shaken up with a transparent Japanese flavour. And the household angle? That’ll come to form the next builds fairly noticeably. “I upgraded to an E90 M3 as a result of it had extra space,” he says, not unreasonably. “That was Alpine white too, a extremely uncommon spec, and finally I put a carbon fibre roof on it in addition to a set of TE37s. I solely ended up promoting that so I may purchase the wagon…”
There are usually not many individuals who’d decide to make the change from an M3 to a diesel-powered Touring, however don’t go considering that this was a completely good choice. With all we’ve realized about Johnny to date, it shouldn’t come as an excessive amount of of a shock to be taught that he had a couple of methods up his sleeve.“ I actually cherished the way in which the F31 Touring regarded, particularly the M Sports activities,” he says. “The F3x M Sport is certainly going to be one of many basic BMW appears to be like that can go down in historical past. And I additionally wished to see what diesel was all about – the gasoline effectivity is nice, and the automotive is an automated, which suggests my spouse can drive it too.” The automotive was discovered on a discussion board – a lease return mannequin, which means that it was in excellent order all through, and he wouldn’t have an entire bunch of fixing to do. And sure, naturally, there was a plan from the beginning. This way of life doesn’t simply go away you in a single day.
“The Touring was completely inventory after I purchased it – now I’ve modified nearly each single a part of it,” Johnny laughs. “To start with, I used to be planning simply to do easy OEM mods, it initially had all of the M Efficiency exterior elements, however I wished to look just a little totally different, so I went the Japanese Home Market route for aero. Each BMW 3 Collection on the market had the M Efficiency physique equipment, normally replicas, so I wished to create one thing distinctive.”
That is the place Johnny’s expertise within the JDM aftermarket actually helped out along with his modified BMW F31 Touring construct; the majority of the challenge came about throughout lockdown when he didn’t have an entire lot to do and was capable of totally throw himself into the construct. Effectively, the challenge had truly been effervescent away for a couple of years, with the automotive in common service because the household each day. However when lockdown hit, he was capable of actually stage up – and what’s significantly telling is that Johnny was constructing one other automotive on the identical time: an Acura Integra GSR. This American-badged Honda was totally rebuilt from high to backside on this time, painted Championship White and swapped to a JDM nostril, with numerous Spoon elements and OEM Honda Kind R upgrades. With all that moving into, there was sure to be a little bit of wasabi stirred into the F31 recipe alongside the way in which.
“I cherished Volk TE37s ever since I owned my first Japanese automobiles,” he reminds us, “and at that time having concave TEs was just about unparalleled on the BMW F31 3 collection chassis. I noticed one automotive do it prior to now, however there was a lot camber that it made the automotive look unfunctional. Finally, I discovered an amazing measurement that fitted whereas utilizing meaty tires and never an excessive amount of camber – thank goodness for Honda making the FK8 Civic Kind R in a 5×120 bolt sample, this opened up the door for lots of Japanese wheels within the bolt sample that matches BMWs. Identical bore measurement too! I did additionally run BBS wheels on it since I needed to do it on a BMW; I put BBS LM and E88s on it earlier than, however the TE37 has my coronary heart.”
With nice rims comes nice accountability, and Johnny had a lot work to do all through the chassis. KW V1 coilovers have been his go-to, with Vorshlag camber plates and Megan Racing camber arms to get the wheels the place he wished them. Japanese BMW tuning outfit Studie AG pointed him in direction of the CPM entrance member brace and carbon strut brace, and these little touches all added as much as an amazing little mover in addition to one thing that regarded completely in contrast to some other BMW on the native scene.
“I went with easy bolt-ons for the outside styling,” he continues. “I used the total physique equipment from 3DDesign, comprising the entrance lip, rear diffuser and roof spoiler. I used to be the primary in the USA to run these, and I additionally went with the GTS hood since I felt like I wanted one thing extra aggressive to match the remainder of the automotive – it’s additionally an OEM-style mod, so I went with it. The hood vent is definitely OEM BMW, and the hood itself might be the one reproduction half I’ve on the automotive.”
When it got here to energy, it might be protected to imagine that Johnny wished to maintain issues pretty inventory right here. In any case, he’d purchased the F31 BMW 328d Touring as a smart household run-around, and a eager curiosity within the fuel mileage of diesel energy was front-and-centre within the decision-making course of. However you realize what they are saying about assumptions…
“Positive, I didn’t wish to do an excessive amount of to the engine, to start with,” he recollects, “however I ended up getting a tune whereby I didn’t should take away any of the diesel smog parts. Finally, I acquired a carbon GruppeM consumption, deleted the DPF/EGR/SCR/DEF system and placed on the Supersprint exhaust system – the automotive was a completely totally different beast, and impressively additionally acquired me extra miles-per-gallon!”
With the additional energy got here the need for further stopping capacity, and this led to Johnny’s favorite a part of the construct general. The Countless massive brake equipment is a uncommon sight even on JDM builds as they’re so costly, and it’s mainly unparalleled on modified BMWs – not to mention a diesel Touring. Johnny contacted Countless to speak in regards to the potentialities, and it turned out that fairly by probability, one other buyer in Hawaii had requested simply such a setup. So – considerably extremely – he was capable of order the equipment, making this certainly one of solely two F31s on a full front-and-rear Countless BBK.
Naturally, regardless of these racer vibes, he needed to maintain the cabin civilised in order to not upset the household. And that’s the place BMW’s personal choices lists got here up trumps. “Nothing is healthier than OEM BMW Alcantara,” he grins. “I acquired just about the entire M Efficiency elements from the F8X M3/4 and three Collection, to verify I’ve the entire carbon matching. I truly purchased the three Collection elements and blended them up with the M Alcantara objects in order that I may have tri-stitched elements with the matt carbon. The leather-based Recaro Sportster CS was all the time a seat I wished, and the good people at Brey-Krause made a equipment that allowed me to make use of my OEM electrical sliders, utilizing a BMW E30 window change because the management to go back and front – an ideal homage to my outdated E30 3 Collection! The inside itself appears to be like fairly OEM, which is the way in which I supposed.”
It’s the open-mindedness that basically makes this automotive particular. Johnny is aware of what he likes, he is aware of what’s cool, and he’s not afraid to stroll his personal path. So what’s subsequent? The modified BMW F31 Touring has truly already been put again to inventory and offered, leaving area for one thing new. “My subsequent automotive might be one thing electrical,” smiles Johnny. See, some individuals simply can’t sit nonetheless. And if you happen to’re not in a silo, you’ve acquired a lot extra room to breathe.
Tech Spec: Modified BMW F31 Touring
Engine & Transmission:
2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel N47D20, GruppeM carbon-fibre ram-air consumption, Ambient Thermal Administration front-mount intercooler, Supersprint downpipe, mid-pipe with cat and exhaust system with quad ideas, DUDMD Stage 2 tune. Eight-speed automated gearbox
9.5×18” ET38 (entrance and rear) Volk Racing TE37 OG wheels in Method Silver with 265/35 (entrance and rear) Nexen N Fera SUR4G tyres, MSI stud conversion, Venture Kics R40 nuts, KW Variant 1 coilovers, CPM entrance member brace, KC Design rear strut brace, Vorshlag camber plates, Megan Racing entrance higher arms, Countless Racing BBK with six-piston (entrance) and four-piston (rear) calipers, Countless Racing discs, pads and braided strains
ABS Autobody M4 GTS-style bonnet, 3DDesign entrance lip, roof spoiler and carbon fibre diffuser, Ikon Motorsports entrance splitter, BMW M Efficiency gloss black grilles and facet skirt extensions, LCI headlight retrofit, Euro-spec LCI back lights with amber indicators
Recaro Sportster CS seats in leather-based, 3DDesign paddle-shift, NBT Evo ID6 retrofit, Brey-Krause seat brackets for OEM electrical sliders, BMW M Efficiency carbon/Alcantara armrest, shifter and