Not content to relegate his creativity to yet another BMW, Chris Marino of Century West BMW decided to exert his creative energy on the oft-forgotten-of-late BMW brand: MINI Cooper. As the General Sales Manager for Universal City MINI and Century West BMW, Marino had his veritable pick-of-the-litter.
“I had to do it on a Works Hardtop,” Marino says as though it was a foregone conclusion while he’s quick to point out that this particular build was a collaboration with the world-famous West Coast Customs and its CEO, Ryan Friedlinghaus.
“Ryan is a good friend of mine and unbeknownst to many, a great BMW enthusiast—someone who has a lot of respect for the BMW brand and someone who has been very guarded with any projects related to BMW & MINI as a whole.” Marino shares.
“When Chris approached me on the JCW design, I was really excited about it,” says Friedlinghaus. “I shared Chris’ desire to take an amazing hatch and make it less-understated while at the same time not take away from the unique style that is the MINI Cooper.”
The result of Marino & Friedlinghaus’ union may be “understated if understated is synonymous with “sick” and “viciously-cool”. With the design in mind, the West Coast Customs team went to work: custom matte-black wrap, shadowline exterior trim, gas cap, front grill and a subtle 35 percent window tint. Both Marino & Friedlinghaus, early-on, agreed to utilize MINI parts whenever possible so shadowline headlight & taillight trim pieces were sourced along with a gorgeous set of 19” JCW Style 526 wheels.
“The wheels were the only challenge,” Friedlinghaus says. The 526 style wheels belong to the Clubman’s suspension and geometry and, as a result, were only hub centric—a good start, but the decision was made to resolve the offset-issue by having CNC machined aluminum hub-centric spacers fabricated just for the Works-cars’ application.
To stay on the right side of the engineering and warranty, Marino is quick to point out that the buyer will receive two sets of wheels with the original factory set of 18” wheels being delivered on the car.
“Not long ago BMW Motorsports would deliver cars with track-parts packed into the trunk—I rather liked that idea and in the same vein, I wanted to offer this JCW with two sets of wheels—its original equipment street wheels and something aggressive should you want to dress-up the car.”
While many of Friedlinghaus’ televised projects occur within the span of an hour, many custom builds can number in the years before the project is completed. Accordingly, it was with some relief and enthusiasm that Ryan and his West Coast Customs team embarked upon the JCW project. “After Chris handed us the car, we had it in and out of our Burbank facility within a week.”
Will Friedlinghaus and Marino come-together again for more BMW and/or MINI builds in the future?
“As I was picking this Works-car up from Ryan, I was simultaneously bringing him another one to work on,” Marino says.
Any BMW projects? Marino & Friedlinghaus are coy about saying much beyond the fact that an i8 and an i3 are two project cars that are already in their design-phase. They are both insistent upon future projects being tasteful and not invasive.
“BMW and MINI build such fantastic products that to mechanically tune and modify them beyond appearance risks taking away from an extremely well-engineered factory-product,” Friedlinghaus says—taking special care to emphasize that he is protective of BMW & MINI engineering.
“Some manufacturers need a lot of performance help right off the showroom floor—BMW and MINI do not have this problem and their final products are better than most brands to begin with.”
“The West Coast Customs team is every bit of capable—innovative as you can possibly imagine and their work redefines craftsmanship,” Marino tell us. It would seem as if Marino has found a partner-in-crime in Friedlinghaus and the World-Famous West Coast Customs.