Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone builds a wide-body BMW 2002 complete with a single-turbo S55 engine that obliterates your senses and makes you question everything you thought you knew.
When it comes to next-level builds on a scale that you can’t really wrap your head around, SEMA takes the cake. Every single car on show there is absolutely incredible, it’s a non-stop assault on the senses and when SEMA rolls around we always brace ourselves because we know we are going to see some of the best BMs anywhere in the world and we know they are going to blow us away. To stand out from a crowd of that calibre, then, really takes some doing and, even on the scale of SEMA projects, George Dalmakis’ (@m3ane30) truly astonishing 2002 left us absolutely breathless with its levels of sheer insanity, ambition and attention to detail. This is truly a car that is the very definition of a custom build and it’s really unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Strap yourselves in, this is going to be one hell of a ride…
George and his S55 BMW 2002 arrived at SEMA from Toronto, Canada, where he works as a Master Technician for Parkview BMW so it’s safe to say that not only is he a big BMW fan, he also knows his way around one and then some. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I started working on cars. I realised very early on that the engineering and design that went into them was the best, bar none, so that’s what I decided to specialise in,” he smiles as we chat and begin to learn about what makes the man behind this machine tick. “My first BMW was a 2006 E90 325xi with a blown engine – the price was right,” he laughs and this was followed by several Bavarian machines over the years, with his current fleet comprising an S54-swapped E30, an E53 X5, an E60 535xi and the S55 BMW 2002 you’re looking at here.
The 2002 is iconic, a beloved BMW classic and a machine most of us would love to own so it’s no surprise that George found the draw of one irresistible. “I was always a fan of the 2002 model and felt that the whole idea with the powertrain would suit the car and keeping every component BMW would make it stand out,” he says and he’s not wrong. The powertrain in question? Just an S55, no big deal… “I found the car through a friend who had seen it outside an old body repair shop, it had been outside and hadn’t been driven for years. The condition was extremely rough,” says George, which would have put a lot of people off but a man of his talents was undeterred and, in fact, it was perfect for a build that would leave almost nothing of the original car behind. George made the 2002 his and, with a definitive plan of what he wanted to achieve with this build clear in his mind, set about creating a show-stopping machine that would blow everyone who saw it away.
Take one glance at the photos and you can instantly see just what an insane amount of work has gone into this build but, before George could get started on bringing his vision to life, he first had to bring the car up to standard. With the 2002’s body being in terrible condition from sitting outside for all those years, there was no way he could do any work on it as it was, and so the first step was the complete disassembly of the car and disposal of any parts that were unusable or that were simply not needed. With the shell prepped, it was then mounted to a rotisserie and media blasted. Now the real work could begin. First of all the complete underside of the car was cut, including the floor, firewall and the boot, and then the chassis work started. “The new tube chassis of the car was built by Chassis Stop around the powerplant and, as well as fitting E9x subframes, the track was widened by 4-inches front and rear,” explains George. “The suspension components all come from the E9x M3 from the bushings, control arms and thrust rods to the sway bars as well as the LSD. The shocks and springs are from Air Lift as this car is fitted with air-ride; the management system is AccuAir ENDO-CVT as it is the quietest, has the cleanest look, and the ride height sensors make for a better ride and adjustability,” he says. Also worthy of note is the fact that a Z8 hydraulic steering rack has been fitted and it’s powered by a rear-mounted electric power steering pump and reservoir.
Full Metal Jacket
With the E9x M3 subframes and custom tubular chassis in place, theS55 BMW 2002 was looking a little naked as its stock bodywork had no hope of being able to cover up those massively wide underpinnings, so a custom metal wide-body was constructed along with the front lip, side skirts and diffuser. The whole lot was then mounted to the shell. The custom cooling, exhaust and turbo setup were then assembled and installed before the body panels were restored, painted and the finished car was fully assembled.
The presence that this 2002 exudes thanks to those absolutely vast arches is absolutely incredible and it almost doesn’t look real, more like a computer render than a real car and there’s actually a good reason for that. “A lot of inspiration came from the well-known artist @the_kyza, his 2002 render was a big inspiration for the initial designs and planning,” says George and a quick browse of @the_kyza’s Insta account and the insane renders therein instantly makes it easy to understand why George was so inspired. The work that’s gone into the wide-body is insane and the finish is incredible, the quality is just mind-blowing and the stunning San Marino paint pops like you wouldn’t believe and sets the whole thing off perfectly. Then there are all those details – the way that front lip flows from the arches and blends seamlessly into the front end, the shape of those side skirts, the simple aggression of the rear diffuser – it’s all art.
The Wheel Deal
With those massive arches and air on board, George needed wheels that would wow wherever he went and he knew what he wanted for this build. “BBS has been a long-time manufacturer of race wheels for BMW and the classic E55 centre-lock wheel was the perfect blend of a modern look but with a timeless style,” he smiles. “Through the major sponsor JRP Online, I was able to convince the BBS Motorsport division to pull out their old moulds and sketches and make a brand new set of E55 wheels to my exact specifications. Initially, four BMW steel rims were used as test wheels with the tires, they were widened in place of the BBS wheels so that the wide-body could be matched to the nearest mm,” and the end result is sheer perfection. Persuading BBS to make a one-off set of wheels for this build? That’s the sort of thing that elevates this car beyond all others. The resulting 17-inch E55s look incredible – you’ve got those mirror-polished stepped-lips, the gold centres, and they measure 10-inches up front and 12 at the rear. Also, not that you can see them through that incredibly tight mesh, but this 2002 is packing some serious stopping power in the shape of a Forge Motorsport BBK that boasts 356mm discs with six-pot calipers up front and 330mm discs with four-pot calipers at the back..
We’ve already mentioned that this BMW 2002 is running an S55, but you can very quickly see that this is no ordinary S55. “Aside from building the custom engine mounts, firewall, transmission tunnel and floor to house the engine and transmission, the engine had a keyed hub installed and was fitted with a twin-scroll BorgWarner 8374 turbo,” George happily explains. “The entire cooling system and exhaust system were custom-made with Vibrant Performance parts and the entire exhaust system is full titanium with a side-exit,” says George. “The carbon fibre intake is a custom one-off piece built by Custom Plenum Creations in Australia; it was quite a process to ensure fitment, 3D files were exchanged, it was 3D-printed in Canada for test-fitting, and revised until the final product was built in Australia. A custom alternator relocation bracket was also designed locally and machined out of aluminium to shift the alternator down and allow room for the custom intake. Port fuel injection was also added to spray additional fuel under high boost,” which lets you know that George is gunning for some serious power with this engine. The mods he has mentioned are just scratching the surface, however, and there’s even more to this S55 than meets the eye. The head has been ported, there are twin Tial 44mm wastegates, a 50mm Tial BOV, in the boot sits a Radium custom fuel cell with two pumps and one lift pump feeding the dual OEM high-pressure fuel pumps. In addition to that there’s a MoTeC PDM 15, which replaces all the traditional relays and fuses in the car’s wiring, and everything is looked after by a MoTeC M142 ECU. So, just how much power does this full-on S55 make? “It’s unknown at this time,” says George; “we need to do some fine-tuning and adjustments to get some dyno pulls and see if it exceeds expectations. Jim Colley from Fast Attack Motorsports will be fine-tuning the engine. We’re expecting around 800hp, but from the people I have talked to at SEMA, who have modified the S55 extensively, I might even be able to expect horsepower numbers close to four digits,”
After all that there’s just the interior to talk about and, as you will have gathered going by the rest of this build, it’s as special as the rest of the car. “Through the main sponsor JRP and Recaro’s involvement, I secured the Recaro Sportster GT seats which were the number one choice due to size and design,” George tells us. “They were re-upholstered along with the dash and all-new interior panels. A Dakota Digital custom cluster was fitted and paired with a modern M4 Alcantara steering wheel. The interior is a minimalist race-inspired design yet comfortable enough, and shows off the incredible metalwork that went into creating the new floor of the car,” he says and while it may be sparse, what’s there has been beautifully executed. The seats and door cards are absolutely stunning, and that vibrant caramel colour is the perfect contrast to the exposed deep blue metal. There is a lifetime’s worth of work in this S55 BMW 2002 and yet the whole thing went from its original abandoned state to the car you see before you today in just 10 months, which makes the whole thing even more incredible. The most satisfying thing about this astonishing machine is that George built it exactly as he wanted; “I don’t have one specific modification that I would say is my favourite, I think the sum of all the parts and modifications speaks so much more than one specific thing,” and that sums this build up perfectly: the whole thing, all of it, is just amazing.
Feature taken from Fast Car magazine. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Viktor Benyi.
Tech spec: S55 BMW 2002
Engine and transmission:
3.0-litre straight-six S55B30, ported head, keyed hub, custom aluminium alternator relocation bracket, port fuel injection, Custom Plenum Creations carbon fibre intake, BorgWarner 8374 turbo, 2x Tial 44mm wastegates, 50mm Tial BOV, custom Vibrant Performance titanium 3in exhaust with side-exit, MoTeC M142 ECU and 15 output Power Distribution Module 15, Radium custom fuel cell, twin fuel pumps, single lift pump, dual OEM high-pressure fuel pumps, flex-fuel capable with sensor. Six-speed manual gearbox from F82 M4, custom brackets, custom Cardanic propshaft, E92 M3 LSD
10×17-in (front) and 12x17in (rear) custom BBS E55 centrelock wheels with 235/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) Toyo Proxes R888R tyres, Chassis Stop custom tubular chassis, E9x M3 subframes, 4in wider track front and rear, E9x M3 bushes, control arms, thrust rods and anti-roll bars, Air Lift Performance air-ride, AccuAir ENDO-CVT management, hydraulic Z8 steering rack, rear-mounted electric power steering pump and reservoir, custom Forge Motorsport BBK with six-piston calipers and 356mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 330mm discs (rear), braided hoses
Custom metal wide-body with integrated front lip, side skirts and rear diffuser built by Kyle and Warren Scaife (@MustangKyle), full respray in San Marino blue
Full custom retrim in orange Nappa leather and black Alcantara including new interior panels, Recaro Sportster GT seats, custom-fitted Dakota Digital cluster, F82 M4 steering wheel, golf ball gear knob
@The_Kyza for initially inspiring the look with his aggressive car designs, @Blastforceinc for going out of his way to get the car media blasted, @Chassisstop for putting in a lot of hours and making a few design modifications to the full tube chassis they built and keeping everything functional and accessible, @MustangKyle for designing and building a custom wide-body for the car, @Schmuckbuiltllc_ for putting together the cooling and entire exhaust system, @JRP_Online for being on board with the project very early on and securing multiple sponsorships, @Vibrant_Performance for their support and amazing high quality performance parts, @ParkviewBMW for providing a space to assemble the car, @bbs.wheels for manufacturing a very custom E55 race wheel, @forgemotorsportusa for building an incredible custom big brake kit for the car, @recaro for their amazing Sportster GT seats, @accuair for their customer support and top quality air management system, @AG.Designs.cnc for the extremely detailed centerlock adapters, @wyfromtoronto for help with getting the car to SEMA, Jim Colley owner of @Fast_Attack_Motorsports for developing custom firmware to run the S55 on the Motec ECU, @daemonblitz for helping me with the project from day one, @stay_woke_im_rossi_6ix_god and @wing_k_lam for putting in sleepless nights to get the car assembled for the SEMA deadline, @alilamaa15 for running around and picking up parts so I could stay working on the car, @adcsta and @theodore404 for helping with transporting the vehicle around, @S65M3nas for designing and building the rotisserie and helping with all the custom machining, welding needed, @Mstamkos for stickers, Cardanic Driveline for the one-of-a-kind driveshaft, @SEMAshow for being a gracious host