We spend a lot of time scouring the world for compelling feature car material. So in some cases we might become too distracted with goings-on across the ocean and miss some of the relevant happenings occurring right here under our noses. In this case, it's at an outfit called EAS, which happens to be located nearly literally in our own backyard.

European Auto Source, EAS, has been doing business out of Southern California for five years, three of those in neighboring Santa Ana (about 10 miles or so from the ec offices). Its specialty is BMW tuning, most recently the 135i and E90-series M3. EAS is a development partner with various other aftermarket outlets, some of which we'll examine shortly, as well as sole distributor of Macht Schnell BMW performance products. The main focus is what the company calls "OEM plus" upgrades, a term we've used in the magazine before. That is, upgrades that are either available directly from the European market, generally special options or equipment that don't normally make the transition to the American market, or aftermarket performance upgrades, like the Macht Schnell brand, that emphasize function over form-or shall we say, function over "bling."

These two vehicles in particular showcase a good portion of what EAS has been up to lately.

EAS E92 M3
supercharged And Ready To Rock
Like the E46 before it, the E90-series M3 has slowly begun to inundate the European scene, and let's face it, a lot of them look uninspiringly similar and are beginning to blend together. The EAS E92 remains distinctive for a couple of reasons. First is the color, the one-year-only Sparkling Graphite Metallic. This was replaced after 2008 by Space Gray, and unlike that color, which is really a true neutral gray, it has a bit of purple and blue mixed in to lend the overall appearance a sort of hue-shifting quality. Obviously this isn't the only car BMW sold wearing this paint, but it's rare enough to trick some people into thinking it's a custom treatment. And it still turns heads.

Strangely enough, the other notable feature is the car's relative absence of cosmetic modifications. Outside of maybe wheels, the trunklid is the only truly overt aesthetic mod made to the outside of this car. It's a piece drawn from the Ericsson line of aerodynamics from the Japanese high-end body treatment company Amuse. EAS staff admit the piece offers no weights savings, and they're not normally given to replacing parts strictly for appearance's sake. But we feel the lid complements the edgy lines of the E92 more effectively than the popular and vastly more ubiquitous "CSL-style" lids derived from the heyday of the E46.

Other more subtle exterior mods include "BlackOut" treated kidney grilles and fender gills, along with AngeliBright headlamp upgrades, which are themselves functional as they reportedly double the O.E. lamp haloes' brightness.

Aesthetic mods inside the cabin are just as sparse and subtly placed, chiefly the matte-finish 1x1 "checkerboard" carbon weave applied to the door panel and dash inserts, the steering wheel, and the center console.

Speaking of the steering wheel, it's a direct replacement unit from BMW Performance. Ergonomically shaped, it features a few electronic doo-dads like shift lights, oil and water temperature readings, and a lap timer. EAS has also placed its own signature gauge housing in the factory ashtray location, complete with Stri instrumentation reading boost, water and oil temperatures.

Boost? you'll be wondering. Boost indeed-the most recent addition to the EAS E92 is a VF Engineering Stage 1 supercharger system. This is fed by Macht Schnell scoops positioned stealthily behind the kidney grilles to direct air into the VFE induction system. The exhaust tract has been uncorked with a Macht Schnell X-pipe and high-flow catalyst setup, terminating in Remus mufflers and polished, logo-branded tips. The whole is made to work in harmony with custom GIAC software.

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