I just wanted to blog this "beginning to end (sorta)" post because I rarely see posts like these around anymore. So to start it off, I want to give a brief intro on myself and my car. Many of you may know me as a car photographer since my photo shoots get posted all over the place, however, you might not know that my photography "career" is closely intertwined with my car build. You might not know that it was because of my car that I got into automotive photography in the first place.
The car in question is a 2009 BMW 135i. It was my first car that I solely financed straight out of college.
I really wasn't lying when I said I would be solely financing it. My major in college was business administration so I took what I learned and spent some time calculating my would be monthly payments and interest rates. In case you're wondering, my calculations did come out to be pretty spot on.
I had originally planned to test drive a used Lexus IS300. Other cars I was considering was a Lexus IS250, Nissan 370z or a Mitsubishi Evo X. I never planned on even buying a BMW. Eventually I decided against my JDM choices because I wanted something that was classy yet sporty at the same time. I must admit that it was hard to resist my ricer roots though. I mean how can you resist cars like these:
My mind was changed when I often "took" my mom's BMW 325i out. The BMW handling and simplicity was what ultimately convinced me. At the same time, the 1-series was just released in North America and BMW was taking orders. I originally had planned to go with the 128i, not knowing what I would be missing out on, it was not until I saw the 135i on a BMW dealership lot that I decided that I wanted the 135i simply because of the Mtech kit that it had on it straight from factory. After seeing the 135i and somehow convincing my parents that spending 40k+ was smart straight out of college, I put my deposit down for a new 2009 BMW 135i. For those of you who have ordered a car before will know how aggravating and torturous the wait time is. I ended up waiting nearly a year to receive the keys to my brand new car.
The night I picked up the car from the dealership would be the first time I got into the car and drove it let alone drive a turbo car. I didn't test drive it beforehand, I just knew deep down that it was what I wanted. I am more of a visual person and therefore that can explain why I am a photographer. However, to this day I am not quite sure what drew me to the 135i in particular when there was the 3-series that I could have gotten and could have had it modified to look extremely more aggressive than the "cute girly" car I had bought. Maybe it was the uniqueness and the rarity, who knows. Whatever it was, I promised to take care of it since day 1.
And take care of it I did, I washed it every other week and detailed it every 3 months so I could use it as a test subject for all my photographic endeavors at the time. I took it to plenty of random parking garages and car meets.
With all the photos I started to capture, I decided to start sharing them on forums. Soon enough, I started to receive messages from other car owners and companies who wanted photo shoots. Thus, my journey into automotive photography had started. It can also explain why a vast majority of my portfolio contained strictly BMW only content at the time.
I never once thought about modifying my car because I would often think to myself, why change something that that is touted "the ultimate driving machine"? However, since I started to meet new automotive enthusiasts and companies I slowly began to realize that they all had one thing in common and it was to build or help build a car that is unique to them. And so, I began to modify my car after a year of owning it.
Stage one of my car was completed by early 2010 with the help of VMR Wheels, United BMW, Autotecknic and LTBMW. At this point I had: VMR 701 Wheels Falken Z452 Tires H&R Sport springs BMW Performance brake kit with rotors Autotecknic trunk lip iCarbon rear carbon fiber diffuser RPI custom painted air scoops Although my list of modifications was minimal at this point, many wanted to display my car at various car shows and meets. It was due to these events and people that I met along the way that my horizon, in terms of car modifications was broaden. I not only attended European car related events, but I was also invited to events like Hellaflush, Nisei, Wekfest, Autocon, and etc, which are mainly geared towards the JDM crowd here in socal. I came to accept more and more different styling cues that these events had to offer. As I started to cover these JDM events I eventually befriended the guys from Canibeat.com who put me on staff as an official photographer. I become more entrenched with JDM styling and began to transition away from a "Euro" look to a more "JDM-friendly" look. To some, it might not have made a difference, but swapping out my OEM lug bolts for a stud conversion along with Project Kics Neo Chrono lug nuts and mounting fully polished CCW LM's on my car really attracted more attention. It was early 2011 and the modifications had grown: 3D Design front lip Bavarian Exclusive LED headlights CCW LM wheels Falken Z452 tires ST Coilovers BMW Performance brake kit with rotors Autotecknic trunk lip iCarbon rear carbon fiber diffuser Rotiform studs Project Kics Neo Chrono R40 extended lug nuts BMW Performance side skirts BMW Performance Exhaust BMW 135i LCI tail lights Vishnu Proceede V5 tune BMW Sport seats Custom BMW M3 steering wheel RPI custom painted air scoops H&R 5mm spacers At the same time, I also added some subtle changes to the interior with a new steering wheel and seats. Although at this stage, I was already pretty satisfied with how the car looked and performed, I realized that the CCW's were too readily available for the public. I wanted something rarer. Along the way, I met FLOSS aka Hasback James. For those of you from the Honda community, Hasback and James do not need an introduction. Some say that he single-handedly brought CCW wheels to the general public. He moved on from his Honda and eventually into a BMW M3. After a few chats with him I realized that he refinished wheels on the side and he chanced upon a set of rare BBS Impul wheels from a Nissan race car. That day, I rushed over to his house to test fit them. If they fit, I would be running one of the most aggressive offsets on a 135i. Sure enough, they barely fit and I bought them right away. I had them refinished with OEM BBS rivets, a white center, and re-polished lips / barrels. During the time he was refinishing the BBS. I drove around briefly with fully polished VMR 701's as seen here: Those were also my first and only studio shots. Soon after the studio shoot, James told me my wheels were ready. Once I got them on, I put some finishing touches on them with genuine BBS stickers on the lips and BBS valve stem caps. It was now mid-2012. The BBS Impuls were my favorite wheels to date that have been on my car. By early 2012, I wanted a change and so I went with SSR wheels. The SSR MS3 is a JDM wheel with a Euro twist to it and so I thought it would be a great combination with my 135i.
3D Design front lip Bavarian Exclusive LED headlights SSR MS3 wheels Falken Z452 tires ST Coilovers BMW Performance brake kit with rotors Autotecknic trunk lip iCarbon rear carbon fiber diffuser Rotiform studs Project Kics Neo Chrono R40 extended lug nuts BMW Performance side skirts BMW Performance Exhaust BMW 135i LCI tail lights Vishnu Proceede V5 tune Cusco strut bar BMW 1M mirrors LTBMW custom front lip diffuser LTBMW custom side diffusers BMW Sport seats Custom BMW M3 steering wheel RPI custom painted air scoops H&R 5mm spacers For the most part, I am done modifying the car. With the exception of a few minor things, the car will stay as is for a while. Maybe if I get bored, I'll do something crazy to it like a wide body or a track setup. I don't even know.
Just looking back at this journey I had with my car really surprises me at how I've grown and how many new relationships I've formed simply because of a car. As of now, I try to drive it everyday and I still enjoy getting into the car, starting it and driving it. Fun facts: 1. ~18,000+ miles on it in 3.7 years. 2. I have only touched the surface of the car with my hands a total of 7 times (minus door handle/gas of course) in 3.7 years. 3. The longest road trip in this car was 4 hours from LA to LV 4. The car has only been in rain only 19 times in 3.7 years. 5. The car has been the main topic of several 1addicts forum's highest ranked threads. 6. No door dings. Thanks for reading. This has got to be my longest post ever.
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