“What are your strengths? What can you bring to the table?” The interview is simultaneously stressful and a great relief. You spend considerable time and energy constructing a well-crafted résumé (printed on quality paper with attention-grabbing fonts!) to get through those doors and into that chair in pursuit of personal opportunity. Proving what you can do is often best accomplished by presenting what you’ve already done. It’s a situation that is frustrating for applicants in the job market as well as many performance and tuning shops in the automotive aftermarket. Customers are flooded with options, both good and bad; shops and their owners must prove themselves and demonstrate how they are a cut above the rest.
If a demo car is the résumé for a shop – Ultra Box Hiroshima certainly has a good chance of getting called back. Ultra Box of Hiroshima, Japan has been in operation since May of 2002. Ultra Box specializes in European makes, hence the shops two demo cars: this pristine BMW 2002tii and a VW Golf 2. The BMW serves as a rolling representation of the shop’s expertise. Hirotaka Fujiwara set out to build his dream car out of the vintage Bavarian for his own satisfaction along with its commercial purpose.
The modern BMW 3-Series has received tremendous acclaim from automotive enthusiasts and publications consistently for its capability, reserved style, and driving experience. Many regard the 3-Series as the proverbial “perfect car,” as it combines elements from across the spectrum – it would be Goldilocks’ preferred choice. Of course, the legacy of the popular sport sedan began with the BMW 2002. The compact sport-sedan raced into the hearts of enthusiasts everywhere following its introduction in the ‘60s, effectively changing the perception and direction of BMW.
Fujiwara took ownership of the then-dilapidated 1976 BMW in January of 2013, ending his search for a vintage European chassis. Work began immediately, beginning with restoration of the body. The BMW 2002 is a popular collector’s item, beautiful full-factory restorations appear occasionally – however Ultra Box sought to produce a modified example, while being careful not to create a perversion of the car’s original personality. The deep Porsche Oak Green hue, alongside the restored chrome trim, flows over the custom flares and understated rear wing – characteristically Japanese additions that somehow harmonize with the German sedan. The aerodynamic enhancements and added girth of the flares inject an aggressive aura to the otherwise minimalist German aesthetic.
Dual Weber 45mm carbs feed the BMW M10, emitting a rough bark at full tilt, a welcome attribute of vintage German engines that manage to reflect a hybrid refined-ruffian personality. Ultra Box also crafted the 80mm exhaust prominently displayed across the aft end of the 2002tii. Although the power-plant regularly stretches its legs at various track events, it needn’t fire a plug to impress – simply gazing upon the pristine engine bay is sufficient. The quality of the build is apparent from the polished velocity stacks down to miniscule details such as the hardware.
The obsession with small details continues into the cabin. Leather flows over the dash and console producing a tailored feel to the interior, completed with muted stitching and gauges with appropriately-matching faces. Rich red leather on the Cobra Classic seats contrasts the green exterior. Too often, vintage cars forgo lateral support for aesthetic or sacrifice a period-appropriate aesthetic for safety and support. The Cobra Classics Fujiwara selected are the perfect compromise; they provide sufficient support for sport driving and look absolutely phenomenal between the tubes of the Weicher’s roll-bar.
Ultra Box custom coilovers, featuring the super-stiff spring rates common in Japan, properly suspend the 2002tii. Work Wheels Seeker EX are found, in two different finishes: silver and matte black, beneath the Ultra Box flares. Measuring 16×9” +17, accompanied by 195/40/16 Pirelli tires, and affixed with custom wheel spacers the Work Seeker EX embody the resto-mod attitude of the Ultra Box BMW. I personally enjoy the matte-black finish on the Porsche Green the most.
Hirotaka says little of any awards the car has received – though our photographer JC noted several trophies lining the walls of his Ultra Box office. Fujiwara’s Japanese modesty allows the vehicle to speak for him. His Ultra Box 2002tii manages to capture the soul of the vintage BMW sport sedan at high level of modification, while displaying extraordinarily high quality execution. I can see the interview now…“What kinds of skills does Ultra Box bring to the table?” “See above.”