Danny Webster’s E82 coupé is a show-stopping stance sweetheart boasting all sorts of unique custom touches. And if you think it’s just another bagged Beemer, you’d better think again…
Feature taken from Fast Car. Words Daniel Bevis Photography Simmy
Heroic lows have become a defining feature of the modern modifying scene, that goes without saying. Indeed, that’s not just true today, but has been for generations – race cars have always run lower than road cars because a lower centre of gravity brings huge handling benefits, and it doesn’t take a genius to spot that lower cars just look better, hence the motorsport tech finding its way onto the road. Refract this logic through an absurd filter and find yourself in the Chicano lowrider culture of the 1960s. And while Citroëns have been rising up and down at the flick of a switch since the sixties thanks to their clever hydropneumatics, it’s air-ride that’s the darling of today’s show scene: technology whose origins date back to the 1940s which has become the go-to choice for people who want to hard-park when they arrive at the showground.
Danny Webster, however, is an offbeat thinker. When he set his mind to getting his 1-Series coupé closer to the tarmac, he didn’t want to follow the established path. Sure, you can buy an air-ride kit off the shelf, but he opted to go for something bespoke from Rayvern Hydraulics. Because a juiced car is a cool car, that’s just a fact, as every lowrider enthusiast for half a century will gleefully tell you.
He’s a man who knows whereof he speaks when it comes to hydros; this is Danny’s second Fast Car feature, and regular readers may remember his juiced Fiesta that graced these pages a couple of years ago, resplendent in glossy beige. And that counterculture train of thought is always chugging away down unexpected tracks – peep inside his garage and you’ll find that he’s not all about the stance builds… there’s a PD130-powered SEAT Ibiza in the works, shooting for 400bhp and raising hell in a cloud of diesel smoke. Oh, and there’s another Ibiza TDI pushing over 300bhp. Disparate tastes, but that enthusiasm for diesel power has clearly leached into the latest BMW build too, as the car we’re shining the spotlight on today is in fact a 123d.
“The plan was always to get a 1 Series after I’d finished the Fiesta,” Danny explains. “I bought this one on eBay as an unfinished project, and I knew from the very start what direction I wanted to take the build in.”
For anyone who may deride the choice of the devil’s elixir when it comes to motive power, it’s important to note that in the realm of 1-Series dizzlers, the 123d is the best one available. Yes, the 116d and 118d are pretty dull, with their sluggish and sensible derv motors, and while the 120d is moving in the right direction, it’s the N47D20 four-pot in this car that makes it the compelling choice: the motor wears twin sequential turbos instead of the single unit of lesser N47s. When it was launched, this was the first ever production diesel engine to break the 100bhp-per-litre barrier, serving up a peak of 204bhp along with a meaty 295lb.ft of torque. So there’s no hint of compromise here, this is a surprisingly rapid motor. 0-62mph flashes by in a little over six seconds, it’s not exactly hanging about.
Of course, given the eye-catching and scene-stealing nature of the Fiesta that came before it, the focus of this build was always going to be on how the thing sits. BMW had already deftly taken care of the function, so Danny was free to take the reins and sort out the form. “The first step was to install the hydraulic suspension setup, which I did myself,” he explains. Having pieced together the old Fiesta’s juice setup on his driveway, Danny was able to make short work of this task despite the increased levels of complexity that present themselves when tearing apart a new-wave Beemer, and with the coupé sitting gangsta-low he was able to put his mind to filling those arches with just the right rolling stock. “The wheels and the way they fit, that’s my favourite part of the whole car,” he smiles. “I built up the wheels myself, and fitted some fully adjustable camber arms so I could get them sitting just where I wanted them.” It’s a truly magnificent setup that he’s gone for, choosing the iconic Carline CM6 design and building them up with some properly aggressive widths and offsets: the fronts are 10-inches wide and ET7, running 205-section tyres to get those stretched sidewalls tucked right up in the arches, while the rears amp it all up to cartoonish dimensions, being ET0 and 11.5-inches wide with 235/40s. When he flicks those switches and gets this bad boy’s arse on the floor, those super-shiny rims settle in j-u-s-t right. Check out how the arch lips position themselves between the wheel lips and tyre sidewalls, it’s as much art as science.
The relatively sober exterior paint colour (beautifully laid down by A&D Auto Bodies) is thrown into sharp relief when you peek through the windows and spy what Danny’s done to the interior, because it’s frankly a bit bonkers – in the best possible way. A pair of slim and lightweight Recaros have been drafted in, retrimmed in a fruity shade of bright yellow by Spartan Automotive, the silky-soft nappa leather neatly echoing the OEM BMW pattern. The rear bench is trimmed to match, and the final flourish is a plethora of tasteful carbon fibre embellishments along with the custom iPad dash install, to ensure the 123d is always looking showground-chic. The choices are a mix of the unique and the mainstream, and it’s the flawless execution that really elevates this project to the upper echelons of show builds. It’s just really obvious from every inch of the car that Danny knows what he’s doing – and would never settle for second-best. This is equally evident when it comes to the exterior treatment, which is a masterclass in subtle upgrades which you’d have to be a true BMW nerd to identify. There’s the 1M-style bumpers of course, that’s a classic move for the E82 platform, but dig deeper and you’ll find a smoothed bonnet, smoothed wings, smoothed diffuser, the whole effect is smoother than Jazz FM with a fat Cuban and a white Russian. We love the carbon CSL-style boot with its shorty recess, and Danny’s gone the extra mile with USDM-spec headlights and darkline LCI tails along with a sprinkling of carbon fibre details to complement those of the interior.
It can always be a bit of a mixed bag buying up someone else’s unfinished project, as you have to question what it was that made them give up in the first place. But Danny’s not one to be put off by such concerns – he had a vision in mind of how he wanted this car to turn out, and he’s rebuilt it from the ground up to be exactly what he wanted it to be. The flawless exterior, the unique interior, and of course the radically reworked chassis leading to that killer stance…
The purpose of this project was to achieve those outstanding lows. But with Danny’s attention to detail and boundless creativity, it’s turned into so much more.
TECH SPEC: BMW E82
1M-style bumpers front and rear, smoothed bonnet, smoothed wings, smoothed diffuser, USDM-spec headlights, LCI darkline taillights, carbon CSL boot with short plate recess, carbon roof spoiler, full respray, carbon kidney grilles
N47D20 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder, 6-speed manual
10x17in ET7 (front) and 11.5x17in ET0 (rear) Carline CM6 wheels, 205/40 (f) and 235/40 (r) tyres, custom Rayvern Hydraulics suspension, adjustable camber arms
Recaro seats retrimmed in yellow nappa leather to match OEM BMW pattern, iPad dash, carbon fibre shifter, handbrake lever and trim, MOMO 280mm steering wheel
“Thanks to A&D Auto Bodies for the paint, Spartan Automotive for the seat retrim, and Dan at Wheel Unique for sourcing the lips for the wheels.”