For as long as we’ve had the pleasure of watching Mike Day build some of the more spectacular creations that the modern Euro car scene has ever seen, we’ve never once been surprised when Mike’s builds perform even better than they look. Sure, Mike’s creations look extremely capable, but there’s something about the fit and finish of his work that gives his cars this “mint condition, new in box” look that can be somewhat contradictory to how brutally Mike drives his builds in the events he built them to dominate. Naturally, that’s exactly how best to describe his latest build, the Ultra X5.
Most recently, if you’ve seen the latest quick updates on our YouTube and Instagram channels, Mike debuted the finished product out at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. While there, his epic BMW commanded quite a bit of attention and has appeared on nearly every corner of the internet thanks to the social media coverage of the world’s largest automotive aftermarket convention. Mike’s attention to detail, extensive custom fabrication work, tidy engineering solutions to practical setups that serve a specific purpose, and the massive Texas Speed & Performance LS block sitting between gigantic rock bouncin’ tires all contributed to the incredible reception the community had to the X5’s official debut.
But the car wasn’t built to be a show queen, despite the fact that it assumes that role extremely well. No, Mike built the X5, just like his previous endeavors, to perform in the environment he intends to abuse it in with rugged and brutal perfection. This X5 is certainly more than just a pretty face; it’s an incredibly capable offroader and overland build that Mike has dialed in to utter perfection.
From the purpose-built suspension and bracing under the unibody to the entirely custom-fitted LS block and all the little details in between, Mike’s E53 X5 is entirely designed to handle the toughest terrain nature can throw its way. That’s the real reason why Mike made the trip out to SEMA. Sure, we want to show off his incredible craftsmanship and demonstrate all the trick parts supplied for this build by our wonderful vendor partners, like LIQUI MOLY, CSF, Bilstein, and Texas Speed & Performance. But the real goal was to put the Ultra X5 to the test in one of America’s toughest and most famous offroad destinations: Moab, Utah.
The alien landscape of bare-rock mesas, gulleys, towers, and ridges makes for a stunning and grueling torture test that is as unique to our natural geography as Mike’s build is to the European car community. That makes Moab the perfect place for Mike to really put his work to the test. Naturally, the X5 performed almost flawlessly, as some of our photographer’s images capture with artistic beauty.
From a bare chassis with nearly all of its BMW-ness removed, to the SEMA show floor, and then to the desert canyons of Moab, this X5 has experienced a complete transformation. Of course, that’s something we can all expect now from Mike as he continues to push the boundaries of what can be done with time and a willingness to learn new skills. If anything, this X5 is just one more line item on Mike’s impressive resume that demonstrates his creativity and lack of inhibition when it comes to approaching a monumental and never-before-attempted build.
So, here we are on the other side of the country and a week after all the craziness has ended. What we’re left with is Mike’s insane garage of creations grown by one: the massive E53 Ultra X5. Now that it’s complete, has been through some torture testing that resulted in a few minor improvements, and it’s back home at the ECS facility, we’re all eager to see where Mike takes it next. With the overland craze still permeating every aspect of car culture these days, we can be sure to see the X5 show off all its insane features on some new adventures with Mike behind the wheel (or sleeping in the back). But what’s next?
For the answer to that question, you’ll just have to stay tuned to our social media, follow @miketheday on Instagram, and keep your eyes peeled for the next Built By Mike. In the meantime, go check out all his past builds and watch his madness come to life in the form of one-of-a-kind builds ready to compete with the best in their classes. We’ll see you on the trails, folks.