Az Riz’s super-clean modified BMW may well be the only Japan Red E92 in the country. And now it’s bagged over a set of custom WORK rims, there’s a distinctly oriental flavour to this exercise in the art of OEM+…
When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” So said the universe itself in a particularly insightful episode of Futurama. Subtlety, you see, is so often the key to satisfaction – people like it when things just work, and work well. You don’t have to be radical to spread joy. It’s basically the opposite approach to what Trump’s up to. Instead of steamrolling, shouting and bullishly forcing change, it’s far more elegant to whisper under the radar. And that’s the cornerstone of Az Riz’s success.
Az is, as you might have guessed, the owner of this creamy-smooth E92 3 Series, and he’s gone for a full-on OEM+ aesthetic here. OEM+ is a term that gets banded around a lot these days, with people retrofitting numerous unique interpretations into it. But the most fitting here is simply this: it’s the sort of car that BMW could have made. They didn’t. But they could have. “My aim was to achieve a sleek, classy appearance,” he explains, “so that it could almost look like BMW produced this vehicle as a special edition of some sort. However, to the trained eye, many touches make it very clear that this is not your normal BMW!”
The reason for choosing an E92 at all was the fact Az had simply fallen in love with the curvaceous lines of the coupé from the moment it was launched. Sure, he ideally wanted an M3, but don’t we all? Reality doesn’t always work out that way.
“Landing my first job out of university put me in a situation where I was having to travel 60 miles each way, five days a week,” he recalls. “My car at the time, a modified Mk4 Golf, was starting to have a few issues, but I was struggling to find the time to deal with it. I also felt the need to get myself into a newer car. At first I was looking at 1 Series diesels for max economy, but was struggling to make myself truly love the design. I was having to buy it on finance to start off with, so I decided that if I’m going to be spending money, I should spend a little more for a car I would really love.” Sound reasoning that. Far better to do things right first time around.
It was at this point Az hit upon the sweet spot: the wondrous concept of compromise. He needed diesel frugality but he wanted an M3, so what’s halfway in-between? Well, you’re looking at it. The E92 330d. A torque-studded boulevardier with slinky hips to die for. After an exhaustive search of Pistonheads and Auto Trader (where, admittedly, Az was looking for a 320d until he realised bigger is invariably better), the right car was in the crosshairs – a 330d M-Sport. The only red one available. And considerably over budget.
Still, you’ve got to roll the dice sometimes, eh? “The more I thought about this car in particular, the more I realised that I really wanted it,” he grins. “I got some checks done and found that I might be able to afford it after all. I quickly bit the bullet and got hold of the car. It was mine. It was no M3, but being only three years old and no slowcoach, it really was a great car – a BMW Individual model in Japan Red, the only Japan Red E92 in the country as far as I’m aware.”
There we are, then. A young man wants a spicy but sensible commuter car, he finds a good one, he buys it. The end? Oh, no. Far from it. This isn’t that sort of magazine.
“The mods began a few months later,” he smirks. “With a Wörthersee trip as my target, I sorted some wheels, coilovers and a few other bits… and it’s continued evolving ever since! The finance was paid off after a while, and I grew closer and closer to getting the car looking how I envisaged it.”
With the financial shackles released, Az immediately started sniffing around for an air-ride setup and a set of truly neck-breaking rims, and found the perfect answer in an Air Lift/AccuAir combo and a glorious quartet of bespoke WORK VS-XX wheels in a sturdy 19-inch diameter. However, as lusty as the wheel choice was, the 11-inch girth of the rears did set his mental cogs ticking once more…
“After a while, I felt I had hit a hurdle with the body lines themselves,” Az recalls. “I felt the rear arches just weren’t working for me. They looked weak. I needed a stronger look to it, like the M3 and its beautiful wide arches. I spent months contemplating my goals and trying to tell myself it would just be going too far to have such major surgery done.
“However, one day I realised I would never be truly happy with the car until I got the arches done. I spoke to my bodyshop of choice and gauged the total cost of the project – it really was as high as I had expected, but I decided that I was just going to do it. The car needed it! I needed it!”
And so the surgeons scrubbed up and the procedure commenced. What you’re looking at now is a set of arches which have been painstakingly removed and widened with fresh metal to be M3-width. The rear bumper has also had M3 flares blended in to ensure the lines flow correctly. The result is a true OEM+ detail that only the nerdiest BMW spotter would clock without being prompted. “I think the look is a world-first,” he says. “And the rear diffuser has been painted Pyrite Bronze to match the air tanks.”
This gives us a neat segue into the boot install, as it really is a work of art. Az’s own design, it was crafted by the experts at The Install Company, featuring custom-painted air tanks, dual Viair 444c compressors, copper hardlines and LED lighting in a fabulous showcase of form-meets-function. “The BMW Pyrite Bronze Metallic was chosen to match the bronze wheels,” he explains.
“My overriding vision for the install was symmetry; the usual route would be the AccuAir VU4 manifold which controls four airbags, but I wanted to be different and put more effort into using two VU2 manifolds which control two each (ie one manifold controls the front axle and the other controls the rear). The main purpose was to have two manifolds and thus be symmetrical. The system’s wiring loom was modified by me and a friend, and The Install Company took it a step further by performing a ‘plug delete’ on both manifolds which removes the plug-and-play connector, in the interest of aesthetics and guaranteed symmetry!”
The attention to detail is remarkable and it’s one of the most considered and delectable installs we’ve seen. The finishing touch to achieve the E92’s finger-lickin’ stance was the fitment of some custom spacers to get those WORKs sitting in precisely the right place.
A hard-fought journey of perfectionism. But, by the end of it all, he’d achieved something rare: when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.
TECH SPEC: BMW 330D
Japan Red (BMW Individual colour), rear arches and bumper modified to M3 width; rear lip spoiler; CPS carbon-fibre front lip.
N57D30O0 3.0-litre straight-six turbo-diesel, remapped to 300bhp.
9x19in ET25 (front) and 11x19in ET33 (rear) WORK VS-XX wheels with anodised bronze dishes; gold plated bolts and matt bronze centres; 225/35 (f) and 265/30 (r) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres; Air
Lift Performance air-ride with AccuAir E-Level management; Brembo discs and pads.
Black Dakota leather; boot build by The Install Company (inc. air tanks, dual Viair 444c compressors, dual AccuAir VU2 manifolds, copper hardlines
and LED lighting); 2x JL Audio amps; 2x JL Audio 12in shallow subs.