As I sit here, looking at this backlit computer screen, a glass of whiskey to my left, and Ian’s cat to my right; It is time that I take you on a ride deep into the suppressed memories of my mind, back to the time that I had taken photos of Cam’s car.
I cannot help but think about what the perfect conglomerate of my interests are: boost, BMWs, and true friends. One of the first things that came to my mind was Cam’s 1989 S52 Turbo E34. When I had first met Cam, a man of stature and charisma, he had the typical earth dragging E30. “I really wanted to build something different than what everyone else was doing. I always had a soft spot for e34s and even though there were some great cars out there, I felt that for that platform there was a lacking a super detail oriented but period correct e34.”
I had been trying to organize a photoshoot of Cam’s car for quite some time before the BMW gods agreed it was okay, Cam wasn’t “super busy”, there was daylight, and I was free. Without thinking twice we set out to finally shoot the car on some back roads near The Cam Compound, the exact location that I am bound by contract to not disclose. Finally after trekking for days through the dense and unforgiving foliage of Southern Indiana, low on supplies, water, and film for our cameras, we had reached a destination that was fitting for our shoot.
Cam tore the car apart in January of 2015 and spent the next several months painstakingly going over every little detail, down to replacing all the nuts and bolts from the firewall forward with OEM BMW hardware. He decided he wanted to stay true to BMW engineering and went with an s52 to start with. The car started with an m30, so it was quite the task switching everything over the hard way to make it work. Originally, Cam just had the idea to shave the bay and perform a serious wire tuck to the E34, but boy are we glad that fell through. Early in the build he decided that he missed having a turbo car, and thought why not go a step further? The engine was already torn down to the crank, so it seemed like the perfect time for handsome Cam to be a grizzly and go for it.
With a terrible case of malaria, and a sunburn that was comparable to that of a crisp granny smith apple in the early months of September, ripe and ready for the picking. I finally picked up my picture box and saw the beautiful E34 in my viewfinder for the first time, I felt my knees tremble, my boyhood started to tingle as I heard the subtle whine of the turbo. This beautiful creation of metal all curated by the ever so talented and audacious Cam, just sat there, like a deer in the headlights, it was at this moment everything came full circle for me, all the times I had tripped on my shoelaces as a boy, all the times I scraped my knees falling on my bike, all the times I failed talking to beautiful women, the times I disappointed my parents, all of it was meaningless at that point in time. There were four things going on in my head at that moment: The car, getting home to feed Ian’s cat, watering the flowers for Mrs. Lorri, and the Camera.
“Before I knew it I had completely torn apart and rebuilt a car from undercoating to replacing every nut and bolt. I never worried about how long it would take or what it would cost, I just wanted to build a car the exact way I wanted it and be truly happy when it was done.” Cam decided to take this already extensive build even a step further by converting the steering to a rack and pinion setup.
Midway through shooting this beast in its natural habitat, Cam had asked me if I happened to have a sudden, but serious, hankering for a tall glass of cold orange juice, utterly floored that he could sense my urges for the great and succulent, wholesome juices that of the Orange I mustered the courage to say “Yes, Cam.” At that moment, there was a rustling in the trees, the stars aligned, something happened between the two of us out there in the thick temperate rainforest of Indiana that is unexplainable, quickly I rushed to finish my photos of the car so that the thirst could be quenched.
Although Cam has always loved the m5 look, with the side skirts and the bumpers coming next, he wanted to leave the 535i badge to show where the car came from and all the hard work involved to make it what it is. The car is beautiful both inside and out, with the period correct Recaros, complementing the sweet BMW car phone that Cam told me to this day he still uses when he is in a pinch. There is just something about the level of detail compiled with reasons as to why Cam had built the car the way he did that you cannot help but to admire.
Strangely, I woke up the next morning face down in the backyard of Ian’s house, cold, hungry, and afraid I found the energy inside to get up, walk inside, and quench my thirst with a glass of OJ. I went to my camera, looked at the recent photos, and saw all the photos from the photoshoot, confused I scrambled for my phone to text Cam and try to decipher what had happened, to my surprise on my phone was a text from Cam himself that said “Hey Gucci! Stoked for you to finally shoot the car this weekend!” I have never told anyone these stories before, but I can assure you that they are 100% true.
“I want to thank anyone who loaned their help along the way. Building that car taught me a lot about friendship. Also want to thank Brian at MWorks for letting me rent a spot to build the car and all his help.” – Cam
Owner: Cam Peugh (@cambilzerian)
Words and Photos: Robert ‘Gucci’ Santen (@rsanten)