This Chopped Up BMW E39 540i is the Street-Legal Go Kart You Need
It's a car that would probably make you question everything else you've ever driven.
I'll be the first to admit that I like absolutely ridiculous cars. If you swap something ridiculous into it, slam it on the ground, or give it so much power that you can't drive it - I am a fan. But if you chop up a perfectly good BMW and build an exocar, I'll drool over it all day. Such is the case when I happened to come across a poor man's M5 turned into a go kart - this 1997 BMW 540i.
Meet Will Knytych - a technician at a Honda Dealership in Alabama. Knytych happens to own a very special car, and that's not just because it was one of the best 5-series BMWs ever built. This particular 540i has been completely peeled of its shell and reinforced with a low-profile tubed exoskeleton. Eventually, he started to grow tired of his boosted 1997 Acura Integra, so when JD Durham of Krowrx Fabrication in Springville, Alabama offered up this e39 exocar in exchange for his car, Knytych knew that he couldn't pass it up.
The exocar is still fitted with the stock 4.4 liter BMW V8, known to enthusiasts by its engine code, the M62. The particular variant put out 282 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque and is coupled to a 6-speed Getrag transmission. In a 3800lb car, this combination was fairly quick, Shave off nearly half the weight, and it becomes even quicker. The differential has been plated and welded, making this go dark more of a go-sideways-kart.
Casual driving is exactly like a normal e39 but without the sluggish, almost 4,000 lb feel.
The reduced weight of the car makes the machine even more agile. Knytych has said that the car handles absolutely amazingly, but cautions that because of the reduced weight you have to be ready for the car to walk out on you at any moment, which is something we talked about earlier today.
Since owning it, Knytych has made some additional modifications, such as an upgraded unsprung clutch, added a windshield, and cleaned up some wiring to get all of the lighting road legal. Speaking of which, the car is titled, registered, and insured - allowing the owner to drive it on the street, which he does daily. That's right, this car is somebody's daily driver. The heat blows hot air and the radio works (though the V8 sounds from the M62 make it unnecessary to listen to anything else), making it practical for Knytych, except for the times he's gotten caught in the rain.
Want an exo of your own? Krowrx has quoted customers $2500 for "pretty much any car or truck", so if you've got a beat up 540i sitting around and want to convert it - here's your chance. Oh, and Knytych's old Integra? It has since been turned into an exocar too, dubbed the xTegra for its debut at Import Alliance in Lebenon, Tennessee.
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