As a humble writer who’s spent the last decade working on the world’s best modified car mag, I’m legally obliged to hate hybrids, electronics and motors that run on anything but good old fashioned gasoline. The trouble is though, I don’t anymore.
You see, technology has moved on. And in the same way that nowadays there’s no real stigma in rolling coal, and by that I mean tuning the absolute bollocks off a diesel, in the future we’ll all be going ballistically fast in rides like this. It’s just evolution.
Personally, to be brutally honest, it’s not so much to do with responsible motoring or saving the planet. It’s more to do with saving the few quid I’ve got left in my pocket. If it’s fast enough for ya, looks the part and costs less to live with than the Focus ST you’ve got your eye on, who really gives a shit what it runs on? Mind you prices will have to come down a bit before we all start to invest. Thirty grand for a specced-up Nissan Leaf? Do me a favour!
My point is, the eco stuff has come a long way. Electric cars used to be limited to short-range city golf carts like the G-Wiz, which I think you’ll agree is nothing more than an offensive snot box, but now we have Tesla Model X which has bonkers gullwing doors on the back and will do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. Or there’s the R8 e-tron. Who needs a Ferrari V12 eh?
The same can be said for hybrids. The Prius isn’t all that economical and is largely viewed as a marketing exercise for American celebrities to carefully craft their public image while masking the fact they’ve got a custom 9-litre Mustang Boss in the garage. But the world has moved on somewhat and now we have this: the epic BMW i8.
James McDonnell’s Beemer here isn’t nearly the most modified car we’ve ever had in these pages, but it is one of the most important. And that’s because it’s like looking 30 years into the future. If the totally out-of-reach, million-quid LaFerarri, Porker 918 and McLaren P1 are the next generation of hybrid hyper cars, then this here is the first realistic hybrid supercar.
Compared to hybrids of old, the i8 is a totally different animal. For starters, it’s desirable. Would I have had a poster of this on my wall when I was a kid? Yes. Yes I would. Its futuristic shape is reassuringly ridiculous, like some sort of spaceship. It’s engineered to have so much torque off the line that it’ll do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. You feel like you’re 10 years old just by looking at it. And Tom Cruise drives one in Mission: Impossible. Let’s face it, that’s everything a supercar should be.
It’s all about the wow factor. Put it this way, my favourite movie is Back To The Future (Oh no, those bloody gullwing doors again – Jules). I was five when the trilogy kicked off and I’d still sell my soul if I could have a DeLorean, even though they’re supposed to be a bit shit. If they were making Back To The Future now, 31 years on in 2016, this is the car that would be flying around Hill Valley. The i8 is the non-shite, modern day DMC-12. Simple as.
Even so, it’s a brave choice for a modified car. Not least because James lives in Florida and being a US ‘gear-head’ is required by law to only hanker after huge V8 motors with superchargers – not a 1,500cc, three-cylinder lump from a Mini with a couple of electric motors.
It has to be said, this one’s hardly been picked for its ease of modifying either. Even the suspension system is something of a hybrid and getting all the right components from AccuAir, Bilstein and HP Drivetech must have caused the guys at Slammered-Inc more than a couple of sleepless nights. At least that awesome satin-black wrap must have been more normal to install.
I can only summarise that James is making a bold statement. With stupidly cheap petrol at the pumps I’m guessing economy isn’t an issue. Judging by those awesome custom 21-inch Rotiforms, or the fact that he’s got an i8 in the first place, he’s obviously all right for a few quid.
I can’t help feeling though, that all this is gonna mean he’s in for more than his fair share of hate from the more opinionated and uneducated bods online. And I don’t think that’s entirely fair because why should it matter that it’s a hybrid? Or where he got a ludicrous amount of cash to spend on it? All we should see is an awesome motor that’s pushing the scene in the best – no, the only – direction possible. Modified eco cars are here to stay. All we have left to do
is get used to it.
OWNER: JAMES MCDONNELL
TECH SPEC: BMW I8
Custom Rotiform CBU in brushed and plated
copper, 9x21inch (Et30) front, 10.5x21in rear (Et49); Pirelli P Zero 245/35×21 and 275/30×21 tyres;
HP Drivetech Bags; Bilstein struts; AccuAir e-level management.
3M Satin Black wrap; Dapper screen visor; gloss black detailing; bike roof rack.
Factory leather, hardline air install comprising of twin air tanks and Viair polished compressors.
Slammered-Inc; AccuAir; Rotiform; 3M Wraps.
Words Midge Photos David Taflevich