After accidentally getting carried away with his sensible new daily driver, JDM show car veteran Hoho Chan here is now making similarly huge waves in the world of modified German motors with his first-class BMW 3-Series build…
Although we’re the first to admit that fettling with cars is probably up there as one of life’s greatest pleasures, sadly there often comes a time in a person’s life where things need to change.
Whether it’s budget restraints or family commitments, it’s occasions like trying to wedge your gran into the tight bucket seat of your race car to take her to the doctor’s that make you wonder whether people might take you a little more seriously if you invested in a more grown-up, comfortable machine instead.
Middlesbrough-based Hoho Chan here succumbed to similar pressures that sadly almost spelled the end of his show car career for good. With a job threat forcing him to sell up his beloved Honda Accord – the latest in a long line of beautifully modified Japanese motors that helped put his name on the map – he was all but ready to buy something slightly tamer and throw in the towel altogether.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m just going to buy a nice daily driver and enjoy it’ – not like my Accord which spent its life in a lock-up and saw the light of day about a dozen times a year,’” our part-time stunt man and Kleen Freaks trader remembers. Cue this tidy 3 Series BMW finding its way into the story, then.
A low-mileage bargain found on Facebook, Hoho thought the lowly spec’d SE diesel coupé with its sensible, comfortable credentials would act as the perfect distraction from the world of modified cars and allow him to focus on the more boring, grown-up aspects of life. This didn’t go down too well with his mates, however…
“I was blissfully enjoying the car with no intentions to do anything with it, until my friend Jim Novak had a bit of a go at me,” Hoho continues with a grin. “He told me to stop putting up rubbish posts about vapping on my Instagram and get busy building another car!”
One of many of Hoho’s pals who was missing having his unique, talented touch on the scene, Jim soon challenged Hoho to a bet that he couldn’t build another show-stopper by the next Fueled Society event that summer (a show which Jim helps organise), with a free ticket riding on his success. With Hoho himself secretly getting itchy feet by this stage, too, it looked like he was rather abruptly back in business much sooner than expected!
“My builds don’t tend to happen over one winter. It’s more of a progressive thing with me that takes many months or years and involves adding and removing stuff along the way,” Hoho explains his typical thought process when fettling his latest project cars. A good example of his strictly high standards-in-action occurred during the very first modification he tried out on his new German ride – a red leather M Sport interior upgrade that became apparent wouldn’t make the cut after he installed it. “There was a big kink in the rear bench so the donor car had obviously been in a big crash.”
Undeterred, the modifications continued thick and fast as he began to tackle that rather plain-looking exterior. “The fact it was an SE not only meant it was gagging for some body changes, but also meant the whole process was pretty guilt-free,” he admits, soon snapping up an M Sport rear bumper, M3 sideskirts and an M3-style front bumper which were plonked in the garage to bit fitted later down the line.
As attentions shifted towards the chassis of his E92 Beemer, Hoho reached quite a significant fork in the road that would require a tough decision to be made. “I had to decide between the stance route and the track route,” he explains, eventually going for the former based on his previous success with heavily cambered motors, as well as figuring the oil-burning credentials of his car would never really favour being blasted around the track.
A quick chat with Vick at Low Pro soon saw a box of tasty Air Lift Performance air suspension making its way to his house to await fitment.
With the idea of a stripped-out racer being fully ruled out and with an impressive stanced motor already well underway, Hoho kept momentum going by grabbing the chance to bag a fairly unique Saddle Brown leather interior to replace that aforementioned dodgy red offering while ensuring the car offered up supremely luxury, OEM+ vibes when chilling in its cabin. Before one of the most difficult choices that could make or break the whole build was attended to: deciding which rims would sit under those arches.
“Having owned numerous sets of Volks, RAYS, SSRs and BBSs in the past, this really was one of the hardest choices,” he confesses, keen to prop up his premium German ride with nothing but the fi nest of hoops the country had to offer. Luckily he soon found what could be the perfect solution, not that they were actually for sale at the time. “Dan Taylor from Wheel Unique had this stunning set of BBS RSIIs, and I can honestly say I harassed the poor man until he agreed to sell them to me!”
With a deal struck that involved Dan keeping them on his car until after that summer’s Gravity show, Hoho was confident this was the very best set of rims he’d ever be able to find for this particular application, and it’s not hard to see why!
Conscious of the fact the first show of the year he was planning to attend, FittedUK, was now only a month away, Hoho next dusted off the pile of parts he’d accumulated and began getting them onto the BMW. The body panels were sent off to his painter for colour-matching, while the car itself was taken to his unit where he promptly got the air ride on over the course of a weekend with the help of some mates. “The install was actually pretty straightforward in the end,” he recalls somewhat modestly.
Keen to set off the new lows by adding the new BBS wheels that were now in his ownership, the hoops were offered up to the car, where their extra girth soon sprouted some clearance issues. “Even though they were built for E92s, they were so wide they needed some extra work to be carried out,” he touches on how a little arch pulling soon offered up that absolutely stunning stance when the car was aired out – isn’t it amazing what a simple drop and some premium rims can create?
Hitting up the rest of 2016’s show season in this state of tune (including that fateful Fueled Society show that unsurprisingly involved Jim keeping to his side of the bargain by offering up Hoho a free ticket), 2017 brought about a few subtler tweaks that really illustrate our proud owner’s appetite to do things a little differently.
“When looking for a spoiler, I unexpectedly came across the full Amuse Ericsson-style FRP boot lid,” he explains as he points at the ducktail-style offering that now proudly sits out back. With more than a little JDM inspiration clearly going into this rare touch, it’s nice to see Hoho’s nod to his previous passions making their way over in such a tasteful way. This theme of being a little different would continue in an equally as epic way at the front of the car, too. “Barry from BNG Performance needed someone to test an M2-style bumper which he was producing for the E92, which gives my car every bit of aggression I desired and was a completely unique look.” Ah yes, that crazy front bumper. The first car in the country to rock this incredibly cool part, it perfectly infuses the ultra-modern lines of the M2 with the car’s factory bodywork to offer up unrivalled levels of menace on the front end. All while retaining OEM-levels of class for extra points.
“I like to think I’ve done something a little different to the normal 3 Series show cars you see out there with full M Sport kits and rather predictable wheel choices,” Hoho sums up his satisfaction for managing to pull off something slightly more memorable than most with his latest creation. From the bang-on fitment to the unique body enhancements, he’s used a selection of choice parts to transform his once-dreary daily driver into something that’s more than capable of winning awards at shows. Not that it’s going to last forever.
“With my current job meaning I need to carry a lot of stuff around, I’m in the process of transferring all of the bits over to a 335D Touring as we speak.” At least we can guarantee that his next car won’t be boring either, then!
TECH SPEC: BMW 330D SE E92 3 SERIES
Full re-spray in BMW Space Grey Metallic paint; BNG Performance M2-style front bumper; M4 kidney grille; E92 M3 side skirts; M Sport rear bumper; MStyle Amuse Ericsson-style boot lid; de-chromed window trim.
3.0-litre M57D30 six-cylinder diesel engine; re-mapped to 270bhp/420lb ft; six-speed manual gearbox.
10×19-inch (front) and 10.5×19-inch (rear) concave-face BBS RSII three-piece split rims with grey faces and polished lips (converted up from 18-inch diameters with custom lips and barrels); Vagroots billet wheel nuts; various tyres; Air Lift Performance air suspension system with 3P management; VIAIR 440c compressor; M Performance brake upgrade.
Saddle Brown M Sport leather interior; BMW Performance gear knob, gaiter and E-brake gaiter; Bassmechanix air controller mount; rear-view mirror with built-in dash cam; SMD light conversion to white LEDs; factory BMW Professional audio system.
Mike at Kleen Freaks and Wheel Whores NI; the fam at Nameless (@Nameless_NMLS); Gary at Carter Paint ltd; John at Penguin Speed Shop; Wilz at Vagroots; Vick at Lowpro; Chris at Sole Flavours; Si at Syco Graphix; Jim and Rog at Fueled Society; Barry at BNG Performance; Dan at Wheel Unique; Simon at Simmy Photography; Jack at Prestige Car Spa; Monty at Bassmechanix and everyone that’s helped me out past, present and future. Catch Hoho on Instagram here: @hoho15_nmls.
Words Sam Preston Photography Simmy Photography