With its wide-body styling, stripped-out interior, tubular frame and turbocharged 2.8 M50 under the bonnet, this modified BMW E28 makes a big impression, and it doesn’t mess around.

We will never stop being impressed by the sheer diversity of the car scene. Take this modified BMW E28, for example. You’ll have some people doing ground-up restorations, and others doing stanced show builds; you’ll have resto-mods, engine-swapped sleepers, and then you’ll get something like this. Where do you even begin with a project car like this? It’s undoubtedly one of the wildest cars we’ve ever featured, and we love everything that owner Mikael Wrzos (@mad_mans_performance) has done.

It will not be at all surprising to learn that Mikael hails from Sweden because the Nordic countries are infamous for building wild, boosted BMs. What else are you going to do during those long, dark winter months? Mikael is keeping that tradition alive and well and has built the whole car himself, which is incredibly impressive, but then again, he’s someone who’s always been very hands-on with his projects.

“I was always into mechanical stuff since I was a kid,” explains Mikael. “When I was going to school here in Sweden, I had practice in a motorcycle workshop, and there I got my E28 when I was about 17 years old. And that’s how it started; I learned everything on this car by doing everything by myself. I started building turbo setups and trying to get some power out of the old M20 engine, and I think I’ve blown four of them!” he laughs. But you know what they say, practice makes perfect, and all of that experience has allowed him to turn his E28 into an absolute beast.

side profile shot of modified bmw e28

Modified BMW E28 bodywork changes

While the turbocharged engine that powers this 5 Series might be impressive, it’s impossible to move past the bodywork without talking about it. The whole car looks absolutely epic from end to end, top to bottom, and while it’s definitely not going to suit all tastes, you can’t deny that it’s seriously awesome. “I’ve fitted some universal fender flares, an M Tech front bumper and made a simple splitter. I also made my own side skirts in aluminum and built a rear wing, basing my design on LTO’s wing,” says Mikael.

“The bonnet and boot lid are fiberglass, the side and rear windows are polycarbonate, and I have louvres in the rear window,” he adds. Those fat arches give the usually slender E28 so much more presence, and we love the way Mikael has filled out the sills with those angular side skirts, with the driver’s one housing the side-exit exhaust, which is always cool. And then you’ve got that absolutely gargantuan rear wing that soars above the boot lid. It certainly goes against the grain, but it’s a spectacular machine that has presence like nothing else.

rear wheels on modified bmw e28

Chassis and wheels

The E28’s imposing appearance is further enhanced by its stance and ultra-aggressive fitment, with the wheels poking past even the edges of the wide arches, and it sits unreasonably low. “I lowered the whole chassis by lifting the mounting points for the suspension, and then, of course, I added coilovers,” says Mikael. Lifting the mounting points explains how he’s got his modified BMW E28 so low over the XYZ coilovers he’s fitted. But there’s a lot more going on here than just the lowering. For starters, what you can’t see is that he’s actually designed and built a tubular chassis that sits beneath the bodywork, and the suspension has also undergone a lot of work.

“The front suspension comes from an E36 basically but is modified with control arms and a steering angle kit from T-Parts. The rear suspension is still from the car, but I’ve modified it with uni balls instead of bushes and added camber/toe plates,” explains Mikael, and these extensive revisions ensure this E28 has seriously impressive handling. Meanwhile, the deep-dish 17” 7Twenty Style 55 seven-spoke wheels it wears have been custom-painted in white, and they offer the perfect contrast to the olive-green bodywork, and suit the build perfectly.

Behind the spokes sit uprated brakes front and rear, and Mikael is using an interesting combo here. At the front, you’ll find E38 750i calipers with 325mm Brembo discs from an E46 330i, while at the rear are Volvo S60 R four-piston calipers with StopTech 327mm discs.

Sparco bucket seats

Modified BMW E28 interior

As you would expect from a build like this, the interior has been totally stripped out, with just the bare essentials remaining. “I have two Sparco Pro 2000 GRP Tech seats; I bought them second-hand, but they were in brand-new condition. I use QSP four-point harnesses and a normal three-point belt just so the car can be street legal,” explains Mikael, and it’s wild to think that you could just see this beast cruising down a street in Sweden.

He’s also fitted a Sparco steering wheel and a Coolerworx short-shifter. “The dashboard is just an aluminum sheet, but I made it myself. It is actually an engine cover because the engine is under the windscreen and partly inside the car. I painted it black with wrinkle plus paint, so it has a nice texture,” he smiles. “All the gauges for the engine are in the Samsung tablet connected via Bluetooth to the ECU, and the speedometer and boost gauge are from Depo Racing,” Mikael adds. “There is nothing more inside of the car, no sound or heat insulation or sound system,” he grins, and it really is just the bare necessities in here.

turbocharged M50 engine

M50 engine build and turbocharging

We’ve kept you waiting long enough, and now we’re finally coming to the best bit of the whole build, the engine. “It’s an M50B28 stroker,” Mikael tells us, “so I used an M50B25 engine block and B28 crankshaft, together with 135mm I-profile ZRP rods and 84.5mm Wiseco pistons. I used an M52 single-Vanos head for the engine and slightly ported the exhaust ports. I’ve got the standard valves and springs, and I use two intake cams,” he explains. The engine is fitted with an Athena Cooper-ring head gasket, ARP bolts and studs throughout, ACL bearings, and a J-spec intake plenum.


“I’ve got a split-pulse exhaust manifold of my own construction,” Mikael continues, “and a TurboSystems HTX4064 dual ball-bearing turbo, with a 45mm Turbosmart wastegate.” The engine’s insatiable thirst for fuel is sated by a Speeding setup incorporating a fuel rail, pressure regulator, fuel cell and twin pumps, which feed 1200cc Bosch Motorsport injectors. Finally, an Ecumaster EMU Black standalone engine management system looks after everything. The transmission, meanwhile, is a standard ZF manual gearbox from an E39 528 paired with a three-disc Quarter Master clutch, and power is transferred to the rear wheels via a custom-built propshaft and an E28 535i LSD. So what does all that add up to? “It’s running 2 bar of boost and it made 630whp and 561lb ft wtq,” grins Mikael, which means he’s got over 700hp at the flywheel to play with, and that means this E28 is an absolute animal.

aerial rear shot of modified bmw e28

It’s all about the details with this E28 build

You may have noticed that some unusual things are going on under the bonnet, and Mikael has done some serious work to get everything to fit where and how he wanted it. “In the front of the car, I only have the intercooler and oil cooler,” he explains. “The whole front of the car is removable in one piece, and I only have to release the clamps for the intercooler pipes and quick connectors for the oil cooler to gain total access to the engine. The radiator is moved to the back, so I use the standard water pump in the engine and an extra electric pump in the rear,” he says, and that’s an impressive packaging arrangement.

side exit exhaust

Problems along the way

Even without delving into the details, it’s clear that this E28 project has been an absolutely massive undertaking. The work that Mikael has put into it is astonishing, and it’s not been an easy ride, that’s for sure. “I made everything from the beginning so basically everything was a kind of a problem,” laughs Mikael, “but the biggest issue was that I blew my pistons twice on the same cylinder. So after that, I rebuilt the engine totally, machined the block and put in forged pistons, rods and everything that is needed to take the boost. And I had the most issues with the main driveshaft, I had to rebuild it three times, and now the latest version seems to be working fine,” he smiles triumphantly.

Rear spoiler on modified bmw e28

“Otherwise, I’m surprised how well it was working so far!” Mikael exclaims. “I did already over 10,000km with it, and I’ve been on the track. I think it’s the fifth version of this car,” he adds with a laugh. “This latest version with a tubular frame and to make it street-legal took me about five years. I don’t think this build is super-complicated or maxed out, but it was fun to build, and I love to drive it!” he enthuses, and it’s easy to see why.

front on shot of modified bmw e28

What’s next for the modified BMW E28?

As for what the future holds, Mikael has a few more things on his mind. “I think I’m pretty much done with it, maybe just a few more upgrades such as air jacks, anti-roll bars and some adjustments to the brakes, and of course, more power,” he chuckles.

And he’s also got his hands full with another project: “Currently I’m building another E28! This time, I’m building my own E28 Touring, it has always been a dream car,” he smiles, and that will be the perfect garage partner for this wild build. Mikael’s turbocharged E28 is an absolute monster – it’s wild to the extreme, but it’s been executed with an incredible level of engineering detail. It takes the classic 5 Series to the next level and beyond, and we love it.

With thanks to Total BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Howygraphx. 

rear 3/4 shot of modified bmw e28