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How I painted a BMW in my tiny New York Apartment

Illustration for article titled How I painted a BMW in my tiny New York Apartment

Despite the stereotype, car guys can exist in New York City, where parking is expensive and annoying, and good workspaces are harder to find than a cab on a rainy day. This is the story of how one car enthusiast prepped, primed and wrapped his BMW in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

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Aleksey Korzun, 24, had a typical New York car guy's dilemma: How to do the bodywork on his E34 BMW 5 Series on a shoestring — and without a garage. He had all the necessary prep materials, the flat-black vinyl wrap and DIY skills honed with help from his BMW bros on the r3vlimited board. He just needed a place to get the work done, and the only place the software engineer had available was his one-bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

As most New Yorkers know, you can cram a lot of living into tiny spaces, especially when there's an important job to be done. And so Korzun slapped some Chinese-language newspapers down on the parquet floor, smack in the living room of his tiny, 579 square-foot apartment, and got down to work. Korzun's take on using his spartan living quarters for automotive projects sums to the simplest of gearhead truths: "No wife, no problem."

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Naturally, he couldn't fit the entire car into his apartment, so, little by little, Korzun disassembled the body panels and brought them inside — a few parts at a time — leaving the BMW parked in its usual spot on the street outside. He performed the much-needed body work — those rust holes weren't going to bondo themselves — and then sanded with only a 3M mask for ventilation. Then, after some trial and error, he primed the parts and finally pulled taut a vinyl wrap in flat black with help from a heat gun and the occasional hair dryer.

But what about the doors? As safe as NYC is these days, a BMW on the street with no doors would just be needless temptation for the city's remaining car thieves. And then there's the rain.

"I had an extra set of doors from a car with front-end damage," he tells me as we slog through Manhattan traffic on a recent afternoon. "I put those on so I could still park it on the street." Good call.

Naturally, the roof work had to be done outside, and so Korzun picked a cool, sunny weekend in the fall, and handled the top job as the car sat at the curb.

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The body work was only the latest work Korzun's done to the sweet-sounding 540I he's had for six years. He's got a rebuilt M60B40 V8, he's swapped out the original autobox for the donor car's six-speed manual, among other mods — including a Dinan ECU and, naturally, French yellow highbeams.

In all, the job took two-and-a-half months of late nights, cramped quarters and shuttling parts in and out. It looks great, and the landlord is none the wiser.

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(On-road photos by dknewyork. Show photos by Danny Tam.)

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DISCUSSION

Sorry, I'm sure the guy worked hard, but the paint job/vinyl wrap looks like shit, even in the touched up pictures. I bet it looks like total crap IRL. Props to the guy, but getting nice clean body work and clean finish is nearly impossible in an apartment, and it shows. Sometimes DIY isn't not worth it if you care about the final result, better off saving some dough and having a professional do it.

Also, he must have left the car open to all when he pulled the doors off?