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"BMW M cars embody the perfect blend of fun and passion.""BMW M cars embody the perfect blend of fun and passion."

"BMW M cars embody the perfect blend of fun and passion."

5 min reading time

BMW M and Me: Khyzyl Saleem.

Khyzyl Saleem has spent his life dedicated to reimagining some of the most iconic car body shapes in history. Employing a mixture of digital rendering skills and design expertise, Khyzyl has brought his body kit creations to life on-screen as well as the road. We caught up with Khyzyl after his recent trip to Japan, to discuss his love for BMW M, how he’s inspired by old and new car design, and his love of different car cultures.

1 May 2024

Quick elevator pitch – who are you, what do you do, and why are you the person we’re talking to for our ///M and Me campaign?

Hey! I'm Khyzyl Saleem, a vehicle designer located in the UK. I guess you're reaching out to me because of my for love for - and slight obsession with - BMWs and the M brand in general!

BMW M and Me: Khyzyl SaleemBMW M and Me: Khyzyl Saleem

What is your first memory of BMW M?

My first memory of BMW M is closely tied to my dad and his silver E36 328i Sport that he owned back in 2000. While I know it’s not an M3, even at only 7 years old I really remember his arrival home with this incredible car. Despite dad owning several nice cars over the years, this particular one left a lasting impression and remains my favourite to this day. The OEM BBS RC041 wheels, the Titan Silver paint, and its sleek low-slung rear spoiler created the perfect combination - I was instantly hooked. 

What makes the BMW M brand iconic to you?

The rich racing legacy of BMW M in motorsport cannot be overstated. From the inception of the BMW M1 to the evolution of the M3, and its participation in various racing series such as DTM, BTCC, the Supertourer Era, F1, and Le Mans, BMW's presence in motorsport has given rise to some of my all-time favourite cars. This connection with motorsport not only led to the creation of some extraordinary machinery but has also served as a massive inspiration for my own BMW cars and body kits.

For me, BMW M cars embody the perfect blend of fun and passion. While engineered for high performance and functionality, they also boast a visually stunning and occasionally quite wild aesthetic. The M1 Procar, 320 Group 5 Turbo, E30 Evo, and 635 CSI hold a special place in my heart. These are cars that surpirse you in ways you might never have expected. 

You recently travelled to Japan – what are your thoughts on the car scene there?

Japan and its automotive culture have been a significant source of inspiration for my work since the very beginning. The car scene there is nothing short of extraordinary. Characterised by sheer outlandishness, the deep affection the Japanese hold for their cars, coupled with their penchant for modifications, is incredible. Whether it's the flamboyant Bosozoku and Shakotan designed cars; or the sight of Euro DTM race cars navigating the streets of Tokyo, there seems to be no bounds to their creativity.

The Japanese have mastered the art of building and customising cars according to their preferences, often retaining and evolving them over an extended period rather than opting for quick sales. Witnessing this approach is not just inspiring but also highlights the respect and kindness built into their culture. Japan's racing and drifting culture, particularly its rich heritage, serve as the primary driving force behind my design choices and professional pursuits. In this realm, nothing is considered off-limits.

How do you balance your design side with the most literal aspect of driving performance? Does the feel of the drive factor into how you go about your creative process?

The direction of a car’s design significantly hinges on its intended purpose. If a car is crafted as an art piece, it should be reflected as such; if it’s tailored with a specific function in mind - for example, tack performance - the design will naturally prioritise the functional over the aesthetic. Given the choice, I would consistently opt for the version geared towards delivering a fun and enjoyable driving experience!

BMW M and Me: Khyzyl SaleemBMW M and Me: Khyzyl Saleem

What’s LTO? What has drawn you to using older BMW M cars as canvases for that creativity? Where did the vision begin?

LTO, or 'Live To Offend,' is my personal bodykit company, a name that harks back to the playful and provocative nature of my earlier digital work, which, admittedly, managed to stir up its fair share of reactions. It was a light-hearted nod to that past. Establishing my own company was driven by the desire to provide enthusiasts with the opportunity to create their own extraordinary machines using parts I had designed. The design influence of BMW M cars, particularly in terms of aesthetics, has always been a significant source of inspiration for me. Consequently, it felt only fitting that the inaugural kit I envisioned had to be for a BMW E30.

The conception of LTO dates to 2018 when I met my business partner, Eric. Our ambitious idea (more of a dream, really) was to build an E30 with a kit I designed, making its debut at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. We chose the E30 as our starting point due to its distinctive boxy shape and rich heritage, deeming it the ideal car for our maiden project. That venture marked my first visit to the USA, showcasing my own bodykit company's prototype vehicle featuring a full carbon kit. It was an unforgettable moment, etched into my memory for a lifetime.

Subsequently, we expanded our offerings to include the LTO E36 bodykit, a widebody kit compatible with various E36 models, including the M3, drawing inspiration from the E36 GTR. The design emphasises the car's original body lines, slightly amplifying its features. Recently, during my visit to the Tokyo Auto Salon, two of our Japanese E36 builds made their debut. This experience brought me back to the diverse landscape of Japanese car culture.

Among the showcased builds, one was a fully static creation by the World Director of RWB (Rauh-welt begriff), radiating character with a distinct rawness. On the other end of the spectrum, we presented the Moontech-built E36 M3, a top-tier show car meticulously crafted for both performance and visual appeal. It was crazy!

As a render artist, you often work with existing designs and put your own spin on them. When you look at a BMW M car, what parts of its design are you drawn to / intrigued by first?

The front kidney grills stand out as the most prominent feature of any BMW M car, and the part which catches your immediate attention. It's intriguing to observe the variations with each new model, and I'm always curious to see how they change and evolve across different cars. When diving into my creative process, I often draw inspiration from older BMW models, embracing an experimental and sentimental perspective. Although, I have to say there's a special fondness in my heart for a well-designed, boxy race car!

BMW M and Me: Khyzyl SaleemBMW M and Me: Khyzyl Saleem

What do you think BMW M’s role is in the modern day automotive industry?

BMW M seems to be redefining our expectations of the modern M car, and personally, I embrace that evolution. While opinions may differ, I appreciate the brand's commitment to staying true to its identity. I recall the older BMW concepts featuring larger grills on the front, such as the Vision Next 100 and Garmisch, and witnessing that design language integrate into the newer M cars is pretty cool! 

If you could distill the BMW M brand into one car from our current line-up, which one would it be and why?

The BMW M3 Competition Touring embodies everything I admire and appreciate in a car. The fact that BMW M has the commitment make a touring-bodied car with over 500hp is admirable. I think what I find most thrilling is the fusion of function and purpose - I guess I just really want one! 

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