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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    LOU’S #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW /

    ROADSTER

    It’s been almost four months since I last updated you with news of my Z4 and that’s because, to be honest, nothing much has happened apart from a change of rubber that was required. Truth be told, the mechanics at my garage, ETA, recommended I replaced my tyres back in January, but it wasn’t until I hit a corner in the wet one warm evening and things got a little wayward shall we say, that my hand was forced.

    I think the chore of replacing tyres is about as horrible as buying petrol; it’s expensive but it’s got to be done. However, you can at least select a budget when it comes to new tyres, but you do get what your pay for. Cheaper tyres often have to be replaced more frequently and are far less superior in terms performance.

    Premium tyres will offer better braking distances, steering precision and aquaplaning resistance.

    Now obviously Goodyear Dunlop has a long history in the tyre industry but that’s not to say I choose tyres based on their brand name; I choose tyres to best suit my driving style and requirements, as well as my vehicle, obviously. As such, I opted for the Sport Maxx RT (inspired by Racing Technology). It is Dunlop’s Max Performance Summer road tyre developed for drivers of sporty cars. Perfect. Prices range from £64.92 to £89.50 for 225/45R17s, so they’re not too expensive either.

    On the road, thanks to their impressive array of innovative technologies, the Dunlops are proving to be an excellent choice. The stiff ‘Short Braking’ blocks help to ensure shorter braking distances when travelling at speed (type ‘Dunlop Sport Maxx RT – Braking Block Demo’ into YouTube for an example of this) while the massive outer shoulder blocks help to enhance stability and handling through the twisties. This is further helped by the motorsport-derived polymer compound and flatter tread profile to ensure a stickier, bigger contact patch.

    Overall, they’re very quiet, comfortable and have good levels of grip and braking performance in both the dry and the wet, to the point that they give me the confidence to push my car hard through the corners.

    If all that wasn’t enough, they also offer excellent fuel economy. In a tyre comparison test undertaken by Auto Express it recommended the Dunlop to high-mileage drivers as it offers a 20 to 25 per cent advantage over its rivals thanks to its lightweight construction to reduce rolling resistance. so they really do tick all the boxes. This is also a tyre for those with expensive rims as it has a rim flange protection system, which employs a profile of rubber that runs around the circumference of the tyre above the wheel flange. I’ve never ventured beyond the factory wheels but even so it’s nice to have that buffer zone.

    All I need now is for the summer to come into its own so I can drop the roof and really begin to enjoy the benefits of fresh new rubber, and the noise of the (now rare for BMW) straight-six. You can’t beat wind-in-your-hair motoring.

    THANKS SE Tyres Tunbridge Wells www.setyres.com/branch/ car-tyres-tunbridge-wells 01892 459965 Dunlop www.dunlop.eu

    Old tyre on the left, new on the right
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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Supercharged Z4 M Coupé / This supercharged Z4 M Coupé will blow you away!

    Walk the line
    Strapping a supercharged to the already potent Z4 M makes for an exceptional performance machine.
    Words and photos Chris Nichols.

    Tuning a car is often a fraught process. There’s the stress that comes from buying new products, not knowing if they’ll work until they’re on the car, despite your hours of research. There’s the possibility that the workshop you’ve chosen will do bad work or rip you off. And, of course, there’s the likelihood that fitting upgrades will simply expose weaknesses in other parts of the car you weren’t aware of, forcing you to spend money you hadn’t planned to.

    Melbourne, Australia’s Kris Hooper knew about all those potential pitfalls when he chose his 2006 Z4 M Coupé. A tearaway in his younger days, he’d managed to destroy one car and blow two engines in another before getting a 1998 Subaru WRX sedan as his first proper performance car. However, his experience making mild mods to that, coupled with his otherwise methodical thought processes and focus on research, meant when he decided on something European to change things up, he wasn’t going to approach the project with anything other than highly considered plans to ensure he avoided many of those common tuning errors.
    “Magazines and forums have taught me how easy it can be to perform a modification only to find you are not happy with the result, to not get enough bang-for-your-buck, or to find further down the track that it is incompatible with something else you have planned.” All this is why, before he even began, Kris had a pretty clear idea as to what he wanted and how to achieve it. The Z4 M base was already a great start – powerful, with great street handling and braking, and looks that Kris fell in love with well before the test-drive. But his desire for a true all-rounder that combined ability on the street with track prowess meant things had to be planned well in advance, particularly as, being such a rare car outside of America, parts were not exactly in huge supply. “Most of the parts I’ve used have come from the US,” Kris says, “simply because the number of E85 Z4s in the States makes production of go-faster bits viable.”

    While in some respects, that lack of choice made things easy, Kris still needed to make the right decisions to achieve the goals he wanted, so on top of his research he talked to the guys at SouthernBM, a local and highly renowned specialist shop. The end result was a pretty tasty combination of American tuning parts, such as a 34-row Zionsville radiator, Vibra-Technics engine mounts, a StopTech Trophy BBK, Turner anti-roll bars, Hyperco Linear Race springs, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and adjustable rear control arms, and an APR Performance carbon GT wing. In fact, JRZ RS-1 dampers aside, the only brake and suspension parts Kris didn’t get from the US were the Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and Carbone Lorraine R6E pads. Even inside, Kris relied on US know-how to help improve the already pleasant Z4 M cabin in the form of beautiful and custommade anti-slip pedals from Ultimate Pedals. To these he added a Recaro Pole Position bucket for himself and a ZHP-style weighted BMW gear knob.


    Rather surprisingly, given the S54 engine is from the E46 M3, Kris had trouble finding options even here, specifically in the form of supercharger kits. At the time, only ESS kits were available, so to get the power he wanted Kris had no choice but to go with the company’s VT2-525 blower, intercooler and intake manifold kit. Currently it makes 403whp and 228lb ft of torque. Of course, ESS equipment is hardly second-best, and thanks to upgrading the included Setrab oil cooler for a bigger one, Kris reckons even now, with more options on the market, he wouldn’t change a thing.

    Thankfully, Kris’s other engine tuning options were easier to come by. He decided on a beautiful Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover to spruce up the bay, and a KSS Performance valve-controlled exhaust to allow him to stay street-legal and not annoy his neighbours on those early mornings when he heads to the track yet still enjoy the full metallic scream of the S54 when he gets there. And he’s there a lot.

    In fact, thanks to holding onto his WRX for more practical driving, Kris can afford to use the Z4 as almost purely a toy. This freedom, combined with his desire to learn from instructors on a regular basis and to study his own on-board data stats, means he’s able to really enjoy the car at the Marque Sports Car Association (MSCA) sprint days he attends regularly. He actually won his class in both 2014 and 2015.

    Not that it’s all been plain sailing on the way to the top. While Kris has generally been very careful to build the car in a holistic way, avoiding many of the pitfalls others fall into, there have been challenges and even a scary on-track moment coming from a rare lapse of judgement when it came to both on-track behaviour and the order in which he fitted his mods. In terms of the challenges, the biggest was getting rid of the stock suspension setup’s on-track understeer. “For a car that handled so well on the street, I wasn’t expecting so much understeer,” Kris says. “An additional strut brace didn’t help. Wider front tyres didn’t help. Additional front camber didn’t help much either. Nor did changing my driving style to add some extra trail braking. It wasn’t until I swapped the suspension to the current coilovers and anti-roll bars and was able to stiffen the rear relative to the front that I was able to get the car to rotate like it should.”

    And that scary moment? That was the result of what turned out to be an unwise decision to head to Calder Park, a track with one of Australia’s longest straights, on stock brakes (albeit with nearly new pads) despite having fitted the supercharger kit. Now, in his defence, Kris says the brakes had been ordered at the same time but not arrived before the last-minute spot opened up. We’ll let him tell you what happened next: “Halfway through the day, the pedal was starting to feel a little sketchy, and I began a cool down lap so I could come in and inspect the pad material. Part way into that lap, though, a supercharged Honda Civic tore out of the pits ahead of me, and the red mist descended. About a minute later he was still in front as we hit the main straight. At the end of it, as we were both hitting 220km/h (135mph), some semblance of rational thought returned and I started braking slightly before my marker because of my earlier concerns. Too little, too late. Under my left foot I could feel little more than air. Brake pressure was non-existent.”

    As he later learned after pumping a whole extinguisher into the front left caliper, the pad material had just crumbled away by that point, leading to piston seals melting and fluid spraying everywhere. Luckily he still managed to save it, steering the Z4 around the Civic and through the narrow gate at the end of the straight before spinning to slow down in the field beyond. Safe to say, the StopTechs went on straight afterwards!

    One additional benefit of fitting the big brakes was that they necessitated a wheel change. Never a fan of the OEM design, Kris had previously chanced upon a forum member running Volk Racing G2s in the same matt black as his own Z4 and decided they were perfect. And, as luck would have it, a member of a different forum who lived locally was selling a set just when Kris needed them. “They must have been the only used set of wheels in the correct fitment available locally at the time, and possibly ever since,” he says. “I was so happy with them that when it came time to get a separate set of track wheels I went straight to Volk, who made me up a set of TE37SLs that, again, are exactly what I wanted.” It’s hard to argue with Kris’s choice, too.


    Japanese wheels often look great on BMWs and this is no exception. The relatively rare G2 design’s sharp edges and rounded curves, especially, match perfectly with the E85 Z4 M Coupé’s similar mix of lines, keeping the car looking current and fresh, despite now being ten-years-old. And thanks to Kris’s focus on getting the handling, power and braking right, it’s now a car that doesn’t just look great but one he can enjoy driving for years to come (like his WRX, he has no plans to part with it though).


    “The Z4 M, to me, represents a challenge, one that never gets old. There is such a fine line between getting it right and everything going to hell in a split-second. Sprinting along the right side of that line is one of my favourite things in the world.”

    DATA FILE #Supercharged Z4 M Coupé / #ESS / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupé / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupe-E86 / #BMW-Z4-M-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #Rogue-Engineering / #Vortech / #Volk-Racing-G2 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32-Supercharged / #S54B32-TUNED

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six S54B32 , #ESS-VT2-525 supercharger kit ( #Vortech-V3Si supercharger, #ESS intercooler and intake manifold), #K&N air filter, #Zionsville aluminium radiator, #Vibra-Technics engine mounts, #Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover, #Bosch-453cc injectors, #KKS-Performance valve-controlled exhaust with push-button controller, KKS-Performance 4x80mm exhaust tips, software reflash to remove speed limiter and raise rev limiter to 8200rpm, six-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 8.5x19” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x19” ET+22 (rear) #Volk-Racing G2 wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the street, 8.5x18” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x18” ET+22 (rear) Volk Racing TE37SL wheels with 245/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres for the track, JRZ RS-1 coilovers with Hyperco Linear Race springs (450lb front, 600lb rear), Turner Motorsport 30/25 E46 M3 anti-roll bars, stock front strut brace, Rogue Engineering adjustable rear control arms, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and perches, StopTech Trophy Sport BBK with six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear), 355x32mm two-piece slotted rotors allround and stainless braided lines, Carbone Lorraine R6E sintered endurance pads, Motul 600RBF fluid

    EXTERIOR Carbon fibre centre grille (sourced by Turner Motorsport), APR Performance rear carbon GT wing, M Power windscreen decal

    INTERIOR Recaro Pole Position race bucket (driver’s side only), Macht Schnell Competition Liteweight seat mounts, BMW ZHP-style weighted gear knob, LeatherZ leather door handle covers, custom billet Ultimate Pedals anti-slip racing pedals
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  •   Guy Baker reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    ALL-TIME LOW Crazy-low static #BMW-Z4-Tuned

    All the haters are always ragging on bags, so here’s something seriously static that couldn’t possibly offend anyone… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    ULTRA-LOW Z4 You won’t believe it’s static!

    For a very long time now scene scientists have been asking the question: “How low can you go?” and for all their research and science the answer eluded them but now, it looks like “Big” Jamie Hitchcock may have solved that particular mystery with his Z4, because if it was any lower it’d be ploughing a furrow down the middle of the road. Oh, and it’s static. Did we mention that? We did? Well we’re mentioning it again. And it’s his daily…
    So… Where to begin? It’s hard not to just dive into everything that’s going on here so let’s distract ourselves by talking to Jamie for a bit, about his personal motoring journey from “a very badly modified Citroen Saxo” to where we find him today, before we build ourselves up to actually talking about this car. “I have had a love for BMW for about five years now,” says Jamie as we begin to work out what makes this man tick, “ever since the first time I drove one, an E39 5 Series, I just fell in love not only with the way they look, but the way they drive is just like no other brand.” This Z4 isn’t Jamie’s first foray into BMW ownership, he kicked things off with an E46 325Ci Sport, which he treated to a set of coilovers and Rotiform Nue wheels and things were progressing nicely until one month into his time with the car someone crashed into the side of it and that was that… He followed that up with an E36 328i Coupe, which he managed to get further along with, chucking it on air, adding a set of Throwing Stars, some Vader seats and, tellingly, engine raisers in order to be able to go even lower, which was clearly a sign of things to come.

    So, why a Z4? They’re not a staple of the modded #BMW community, part of the appeal we suppose, and they definitely divide opinion when it comes to looks, but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “I have always loved Z4s,” explains Jamie, “I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential.’ I had seen a lot of Z4s in Japan and America and I loved just seeing how they look like a toy car once modified. I was really worried about driving one, being a 6’4” grizzly bear I didn’t think I would fi t, but finally my close friends told me to just go test drive one and I’ve been in love ever since then.”


    The Z4, Jamie says, was bought to replace the E36 as a slightly more sensible and reliable car and, while wheels and a little bit of lowering were on the cards from the off, he had no intention of taking things as far as he has, but then again no one ever does. The one area where things have really gone about as far as they could possibly go is the lowering and achieving such an incredible level of low has taken a lot of work. “Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around,” chuckles Jamie. The core of the whole setup is made up of a set of D2 Racing coilovers fitted with shorter springs all-round and these are accompanied by some Driftworks adjustable rear camber arms. Just how much camber is Jamie running? Well it looks like most of it, we think… “The anti-roll bar has been removed as it restricted the front from getting lower,” explains Jamie, “and I even had to get my friend at Hard Knocks Speed Shop to make a custom exhaust because my downpipe was touching the floor and that made a huge hole; it’s tucked right up under the car now and from the manifold-back it’s a two-into-one setup and straight-through with no mid-boxes or silencer.” There’s not really much you can say about how the car sits, the pictures do a far better job than mere words on a page ever could and it’s even more dramatic in real life. It’s just so low, that’s really all you can say.

    Obviously the fitment is killer, as you might expect, and as it really would have to be when you have no room for manoeuvre around the arches. Wheel choice was pretty essential as far as creating enough of a visual impact to go with that drop was concerned. “I have and I always will get different wheels for the car,” Jamie tell us, words that every wheel addict will be able to relate to completely, “and so far the Z4 has had four different sets, but I always come back to running my current wheels. They are Work Meister S1 three-piece splits and I don’t know why, I just really love the style of them and the way the car sits with them on,” and he’s not wrong. “Before ordering them, Josh from LikeHell and I spent weeks talking about offsets and widths and lip sizes etc. just to get them the perfect size. The three month wait was a killer, not knowing if they would fit or not, but luckily when they turned up they were so worth the wait,” he grins. “They are just beautiful and there is no better feeling than opening a box of brand new custom wheels. They took a lot of camber adjustment and arch rolling just to get the car to drive but, eventually, they worked out perfectly.” We would have to concur there, the white Works look fantastic on the Z4, those polished lips, the gold bolts, and it’s all finished off with a set of striking purple extended wheel nuts. You might think a colour combo that’s completely concentrated on the wheel areas wouldn’t work so well with no other colours to tie it to, but the clean, grey bodywork is a perfect blank canvas and just crying out for a splash of colour, and these four hotspots at each corner are just the ticket.

    Contrasting with that outrageous ride height and those wild wheels is the inherent simplicity of the exterior styling; even now the Z4 has quite an unconventional look with some striking lines and Jamie has just given the styling a little tidy up. The front bumper has been painted and smoothed, black grilles have been fitted, the wheel arches have obviously been rolled and pulled in order to accommodate the Works and, in perhaps the ultimate show of commitment to his Z4, Jamie has even removed the windscreen wipers as he felt they ruined the smoothness of the car. While he hasn’t gone overboard on the interior either, being a fan of what he calls its simple style, it’s certainly got some striking elements that give it a bit of a kick. “My friends at Oxford Car Audio have transformed my dash by custom making me a double-DIN head unit install by deleting the central vents,” says Jamie, “I’m so happy with the way it looks. They also did my boot install for me; I felt a bit left out seeing all the cars on air suspension with nice boot builds so I thought I really wanted a nice, clean audio build and with the help of JL Audio UK that’s what they did for me,” he adds with a grin. “The gear knob makes everyone giggle; I had always liked these We Are Likewise gear knobs but they only came in Japenese screw fitment, until one day they finally made a Euro adapter that fits most European cars. Getting it to fit involved a few tweaks but I got it on there in the end. Finally the steering wheel is by Renown USA and I love it, it’s just such a quality wheel,” he says.

    Often people take modifying cars far too seriously and it’s good to see someone really having fun with their project and enjoying themselves, which was the core philosophy of Jamie’s Z4 build. “The Japanese fitment scene has always been a big influence for me but with a German twist, it to me just seems more fun and that’s what my car is all about,” he says and we can only agree. We’re certain that there will be parts of this car that don’t appeal to everyone, some people might even have a problem with the whole thing, but ultimately they can get stuffed because this is all about Jamie and what he wanted and what he’s created. It’s the automotive equivalent of a smack round the chops, a shock to the senses and you’ve got to admire it. But Jamie’s not done yet… “I’ve got a never-ending list of plans,” he laughs, “more wheels, more lows…” What? More lows?! He’s already got all the lows. There are literally no more lows left for anyone else. But if you’ve come this far, then why not go that little bit further? In a mad modified world, it’s the only sensible thing to do.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E85 / #Work-Meister

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , induction kit, custom Hard Knocks Speed Shop two-into-one straight-through exhaust system. Five-speed manual gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x18” ET3 (front) and 10x18” ET5 (rear) #Work-Meister-S1 three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, stud kit, #326Power extended wheel nuts, #D2-Racing coilover struts, #Swift and Tein custom springs, #Driftworks E46 adjustable rear camber arms

    EXTERIOR Front bumper painted and smoothed, black grilles, windscreen wiper delete, rolled and pulled arches

    INTERIOR Renown steering wheel, We Are Likewise gear knob, custom-fit Alpine Apple CarPlay, JL Audio boot build trimmed in red and plastic moulded to match dash

    THANKS There are far too many people to thank with this car; firstly to Josh of LikeHell Design for all the help, James of Crescent Tyres for putting up with all the hassle of my monthly tyre needs, Yusuf and the boys in Team Untamed, everyone at Oxford Car Audio, most of all Lamb and the RXTI boys

    “I have always loved Z4s, I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential’”

    18” three-piece Work Meister S1s look spectacular.

    Engine fitted with induction kit and straight-through exhaust means it sounds awesome.

    “Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around”
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  •   Bob BMW reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Forecourt find #2007 / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupe-E86 (2006-2008) / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupé / #BMW-Z4-M / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW /

    Now is the time to snap up the exclusive E86 Z4 M Coupé – before the few remaining cherished examples disappear. And you’ll do well to find a better example than this top-spec Ruby black 52k-mile 2007 car we spotted for sale at North East specialists Snippersgate.

    With a recent set of Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres it boasts satellite navigation with the latest maps, heated seats, a factory upgraded Hi-Fi system, Individual champagne full leather upholstery and all the standard M kit. The requisite full service history includes the running-in service, whilst the asking price is a very reasonable £20,990.
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  •   Elizabeth reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    LOUISE’S E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4 /

    The somewhat well-known quote ‘stick to what you know’ couldn’t have rung more true when I decided to take my car to another #BMW specialist for the first time in over ten years (simply because it was nearer). A big lesson was learnt as a consequence.

    The specialist was recommended to me by the removal firm that I hired back in January last year to move me and my husband into our first home. I had heard of the name from days gone by when I was editor of this very magazine, so was confident it would be a good choice. As one of my old bosses once said, never assume anything.

    The experience all started very positively. To save me going out of my way to his workshop, the owner of the company said that I could drop the car off at his home, which was just a stone’s throw from where we live. Upon arrival he wasn’t there, but his wife was in, so I left my keys with her and my car outside. My husband thought I was mad. I too had concerns but I had committed now and to save face I had to show complete confidence in my decision. A few hours later I received a phone call. It was from the man to say that the car was ready to be picked up. Sure enough the Z4 was waiting outside his house and I handed over £100 for the oil service. So far, so good.

    Unfortunately I forgot to bring my service book. “No problem”, he said “I’ll pick it up in a few days from your house when I visit my daughter who lives just down the road from you.” Great, I thought. Sadly I never saw that service book again. After numerous excuses he finally confessed (some months later) to losing the book. To add insult to injury he then lined-up a potential buyer for the car. I was never given a contact number for this ‘buyer’ and apparently when he viewed the car he never drove it. Even though we’d not heard from the buyer for a few weeks, I was assured by the owner that he definitely wanted it. He told me the buyer always takes a while to agree to a sale. Hmmm, really?! Needless to say, over the next few months the owner offered no solution to the lost service book and was still trying to convince me that this mystery man wanted the car. In the end I took it upon myself to order a new service book and then trace its service history to get all of the stamps.

    Fortunately, the Z4 only had two previous owners and BMW has a record of every vehicle that is serviced by its main dealership, and the car came with more history than your average American town. As it turned out, only Broad Oak Canterbury and Highams Park were responsible for it before I took over the V5, and they both duly stamped it and posted it back FOC.

    In the specialist’s defence, he paid me back for the service book and for my postage costs but he offered no apology. By this point it was December (over ten months since that fateful service) – a fruitless time to sell a convertible, so I’ve decided to hold on to it until spring. On the upside, at least I had the best car for what was the warmest year on record.

    So, what else has happened in my ownership of the Z4 since my last report in PBMW? Well, I never got any money from the council for having to replace my tyre after hitting a pothole that had been marked up to fill in for some months. What a surprise. And a few weeks ago the service light reared its ugly bright yellow head.

    Needless to say, this time the keys were handed over to my trusty friends at ETA Motorsport, whom I should have never turned my back on in the first place. My plans over the next few months now are to tidy it up ready for a new owner. 2016 is supposed to be even hotter so if you fancy a spot of drop-top motoring for the summer, please email me ([email protected]).

    THANKS AND CONTACT
    ETA motorsport
    01474 850505
    BMW Broad Oak Canterbury
    01227 828888
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  •   Ben Field reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    JONATHAN McMULLAN E85 #BMW-Z4-2.2i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-E85 /

    We don’t get many Z4s appearing in these pages but we really like what Jonathan has done with his Roadster. He’s owned it for seven years, during which time he and his father-in-law (both avid #BMW fans) have enjoyed tweaking it.

    It’s been fully polybushed and fitted with FK coilovers along with an #Ultra-Racing cross brace to help stiffen up the body. The Z4 rides on 9.5x19” E46 M3 wheels all-round with 13mm spacers, mounted on a stud conversion kit, while the brakes have been upgraded with an E46 330Ci setup consisting of Black Diamond discs with Predator pads and rebuilt 330Ci calipers with Hel brake lines all-round.

    Under the bonnet sits a CDA induction kit and the straightsix has been fitted with a de-cat manifold and custom quad exhaust system. The rear bumper has been modified to accommodate the Stuke rear diffuser, the arches have been pulled to squeeze the wheels under them and allow for a satisfying drop and a pair of carbon mirrors add the finishing touch. Except it’s not finished just yet, with plans for the next few months involving air-ride, LCI rear lights and a Z4 M front bumper, which will make for one seriously slick Z4.
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  •   Keith Adams reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    10 MINUTE GUIDE E86 Z4 3.0si

    The Z4 Coupé still looks fresh and purposeful and while M versions look set to rise in price the ‘lesser’ 3.0si still looks like excellent value for money. Words: Bob Harper / Photography: #BMW / #2006

    Why should you buy one?

    Whisper it quietly but we actually preferred the 3.0si to the manic M Coupé when these cars were new – certainly if you were planning to use the car everyday the 3.0si was the better prospect. And there’s loads to like: sexy styling, excellent performance (sub six-seconds to 62mph) from its sonorous straight-six and that’s blended with surprisingly good economy and affordable running costs. The cockpit is a little snug and there’s not a huge amount of storage space, but if that’s not a worrying issue you should get searching for one now.

    History

    Launched in 2006 the #BMW-Z4-3.0si-Coupé came in one flavour, so choosing a used example is straightforward. It came with the six-speed manual with a Sport auto as an option. Standard equipment was generous, with 17-inch alloys, electronically assisted Servotronic steering, a Sport button, front and side driver and passenger airbags, DSC+, run-flat tyres, electric mirrors, front fogs, headlight washers, metallic paint, auto air-con, brushed aluminium interior trim, one-touch electric windows, Oregon leather seats and a single CD player covered within its £31,400 price. A Sport model was also available at launch, adding 18-inch double-spoke alloys, anthracite headlining, M Sport seats, M Sport suspension and a three-spoke M leather steering wheel, costing £32,925. Options included the aforementioned automatic transmission, multi-function steering wheel controls, folding exterior mirrors, many different alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, carbon leather trim, rear PDC, xenons, cruise, Business or Professional nav, Bluetooth, Logic7 speaker system, Comfort package and Nappa leather.

    How much to pay?

    The cheapest car we found was just under £5000. Admittedly it had done over 200k miles but it had been with the same owner since 2008. At the other end of the scale, 3.0sis still occasionally crop up at main dealers and these cars can be priced up to around £15k which we’d reckon is too much to pay given you can still bag a Z4 M Coupé for that sort of money. Choose the middle ground and you should be able to find a low(ish) mileage example that’s been well looked after for less than £10k.

    What goes wrong?

    We are happy to report that the short answer to this question is not a lot. Generally speaking the N52 straight-six that’s used in the Z4 Coupé is a pretty reliable unit and even as mileages rise it seems to have very few issues.

    They don’t tend to use much oil and just about the only thing the engine is known for is a bit of a ticking from the top end which comes from the hydraulic valve actuators. BMW tried several fixes over the years with mixed success, but the noise doesn’t seem to affect the reliability of the unit. Running problems are most likely to be down to dodgy coils, but as this unit is pre-direct injection you’re far less likely to have any injector faults compared to some later units.

    A few suspension components are a little less durable than you might like – rear springs in particular fail like clockwork but aren’t expensive and rear shock mounts can collapse. The front control arms are similar in design to the E46 so these can fail over time too. It should feel tight and clonk-free on the road, so get it checked if you’re at all unsure. Inside, check the steering doesn’t feel like it’s sticking at all – most likely to rear its ugly head in hot weather – as the only surefire fix is a new steering column assembly. If the car has sat nav then check the fold-out screen works smoothly as failed units need to be replaced. Also listen out for rattles on a road test – the Z4’s cockpit wasn’t especially well put together and you may find it can be a little creaky, and while it’s irritating, most problems can be sorted if you don’t mind putting the effort in.

    Running costs

    Road tax costs £159.50 for six months and £290 for 12 – pretty decent for a 3.0-litre sports coupé and servicing shouldn’t cost the earth either. BMW’s value service menu quotes £189 for an oil service and microfilter, £269 for an Inspection 1, £429 for an Inspection 2 and £62 for a brake fluid change. New brake pads can be had from a main dealer for £129 or £119 front and rear respectively. Specialists may be able to beat these prices, but the bottom line is that the 3.0si doesn’t have the ‘M Tax’ that you get when it comes to sourcing parts for the more powerful Z4 M.
    As standard the 3.0si came with run-flat tyres, but we’d recommend binning them as it transforms the way the car rides and handles. For an SE on 17s you should be able to get a set of good boots fitted for about £300 and for the Sport on 18s that will rise to around £450.

    Verdict

    With a relatively low purchase price, sexy styling and reasonable running costs we love the Z4 3.0si Coupé. It’s refined and composed when you’re out for a cruise yet can lift up its skirts and fly when the mood takes you. As a used buy it’s an absolute cracker.

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E86 Z4 3.0si / #BMW-Z4-3.0si-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-Z4 /
    ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
    CAPACITY: 2996cc
    MAX POWER: 265hp @ 6600rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (electronically limited)
    0-62MPH: 5.7 seconds (6.0)
    ECONOMY: 31.7mph (31.4)
    EMISSIONS: (CO2): 213g/km (216)
    PRICE: SE £31,400; Sport £32,925
    Figures in brackets for automatic transmission
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  •   Sam Huggins reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    The Last Emperor

    A look back on the legendary #BMW-Z4M-Coupé , the last of the naturally aspirated six-cylinder M cars. Emperor The last. If you follow the mantra that M cars should come with a naturally aspirated screaming straight-six then the Z4 M Coupé represents the last of the breed… fortunately it’s rather good, too Words: Bob Harper Photography: Steve Hall

    It feels slightly odd to find myself for the second time this month writing about a car that I haven’t universally heaped praise upon in the past. Yup, the Z4 M Coupé has not always been on my list of ultra-desirable BMWs and I even remember it being the subject of a very heated argument in the office when we were selecting the cars for our Car of the Year test at the tail-end of 2006. I favoured the ‘M-lite’ 3.0si model whereas everyone else in the office thought the M Coupé should be on the short list. In all honesty I think the 3.0si is the better all-round car, certainly from the prospect of using it as a daily driver as it offers virtually the same performance as the M car, significantly better economy, a more compliant ride and much lower running costs all wrapped up in a similarly visually arresting package.


    However, while that was my view then – and still is if you want to use a Z4 Coupé everyday – these days the M Coupé is starting to be appreciated for what it is: a mad, bad and brawny hot shoe – the last in the line of naturally-aspirated M cars that can trace its parentage all the way back to the original M1. Increasingly they’re becoming squirreled away as weekend cars, something to cherish and polish and then, when the mood takes you, to excite and exhilarate on an early morning cross-country dash that will have you grinning from ear to ear. The Z4 M is blistering quick – and still feels it – but it takes a strong and fully committed hand to fully tame it. To drive one quickly requires your full attention. Give it that and it’ll be hugely rewarding.

    Under the M Coupé’s shapely bonnet was the last resting place for the venerable S54 straight-six, itself a development of the S50 ‘six that first saw the light of day in the E36 M3. It was a car that #BMW claimed would never be built when the E85 generation of Z4 was created, claiming that the new Roadster was so torsionally stiff that a coupé wasn’t needed and that the regular 3.0i Z4 was so quick that there was no need for an M version. Fast forward a few years and the Z4 Concept Coupé was shown at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show and when we questioned one of BMW’s press bods at the time he more or less said, ‘if a BMW Concept has towing eye-covers, it’s production-ready.’ Then it was just a matter of time before the production version appeared, and at the Geneva Motor Show in 2006 the fully-fledged cars were shown for the first time with serial production starting just a month later. It wasn’t a particularly longlived M car, though, as just over two-years later it had disappeared just as quickly as it had arrived and the E85/6 generation of Zed was replaced by the less driver-focused E89 with its fancy folding metal roof, effectively killing the need for a coupé version. Of course, BMW M had form for making slightly crazy Zed cars by the time the Z4 appeared on the scene and despite the fact that the Z3 Ms were fairly deeply flawed pieces of kit they had a big following and their shortcomings could easily be overlooked thanks to their brawny characters. Quite why BMW changed its mind and decided to eventually offer the M versions isn’t fully known but perhaps the top brass wanted to have one last try to knock the Boxster off its perch, or perhaps the Zed Ms were seen as a useful way of filling the gap between the departure of the E46 M3 and the arrival of the E92 version. The Z4 Ms ensured BMW still had a presence in this section of the market, albeit with a less practical twoseater but we can’t really see it as being a fully commercial decision as with less than 5000 cars built in just over two years it’s likely the car didn’t recoup its development costs.


    Knowing that the Z4 M was effectively going to be a limited production machine BMW could perhaps have been forgiven if it had scrimped slightly on its specification but by now we should know that M doesn’t generally do things by halves so the Z4 M Coupé was a fully-fettled M car. The engine was lifted directly from the E46 M3 and while it’s a familiar unit it should be remembered that it’s still an absolute peach. Double Vanos, an 11.5:1 compression ratio, individual throttle butterflies and an advanced engine management system ensured a high specific output and even today a normally aspirated engine that develops nearly 106hp per litre is something to write home about. Even within BMW M’s hallowed halls this is an outstanding achievement and betters the specific output of the later S65 V8 from the E9x M3 (including the GTS’s 4.4-litre) and even the E60 M5’s mighty S85 V10.


    Unlike in the E46 M3, the straight-six was mated to a #ZF transmission (the E46 used a Getrag unit) and the six-speed manual was the only option for the Z4; none of your fancy #SMG gubbins here thank you very much. Naturally enough for an M car there was a limited-slip differential, BMW’s M Differential Lock, which despite being a fully mechanical item uses pressurised viscous silicon fluid to operate a multi- disc clutch to direct power to the wheel with the greatest traction. It also featured the latest version of BMW’s #DSC traction control system along with the most up-to-date version of Dynamic Brake Control which added items such as brake fade compensation, brake standby, brake drying and hill-start assistant.

    While the Z4 Ms used the same basic suspension setup as the regular production Z4 it was fine-honed by M to try to bring the best out of the car. Without a doubt the biggest change was the adoption of hydraulic power steering, as the electric setup of the normal Z4 was deemed not feelsome enough for an M car. The majority of the Z4 M’s setup was lifted more or less directly from the E46 M3 CS and it had an overall ratio of 14:5:1 which, interestingly, made it more direct than the rack that was fitted to the Roadster version of the Z4 M.

    The rest of the M’s underpinnings were also beefed-up and while it still retained the basic MacPherson strut/multi-link setup of the Z4 it had a wider front and rear track, revised lower front arms and steering knuckles bolted directly to the front struts. Spring and shock absorber rates were unique to the car (and slightly stiffer than those fitted to the M Roadster) while anti-roll bars had larger diameters at 27mm and 22.5mm, front and rear respectively. At the rear there was a more heavy-duty rear subframe required to accommodate the larger M diff and there were also enhanced wheel bearings and reworked longitudinal links in the rear suspension.

    That the Z4 M was going to go well was a given – it was, after all, nigh on 100kg lighter than the E46 M3 – so to ensure it stopped equally well M equipped it with the braking setup from the E46 M3 CSL with 345x28mm vented and drilled front discs and 328x28mm rears that were gripped by single piston swing callipers all-round.


    Naturally enough there were exterior changes to the Z4 M and as we sit waiting for the sun to set for our cover image there’s plenty of time to take these in and while it’s perhaps not quite as outrageously distinctive as the Z3 M Coupé the Z4 version is still a stunning-looking piece of design. The beefed-up front and rear bumpers with their various cut outs and grilles for air intakes and exhausts add some much needed visual drama to the shape. The wide rear haunches seem to work particularly well with the sweeping rear hatch and with the exhaust pushed further out to the edges than in most other M cars it gives the rear end a feeling of real width and presence. The ‘Zorro’ slash in the front wings with the BMW roundels hiding the indicator side repeaters in the centre catch the dropping sun and create areas of light and dark – there always seems to be a little something extra to the shape that you’ve not seen before. Altogether it combines to create a machine that if I owned it I’d definitely have a sneaky glance over my shoulder at as I walked away after a spirited drive as the sound of hot metal ticking away to itself reminded me of the fun we’d just had.

    Slipping into the cockpit reminds me of just how low these cars are and while the cabin is slightly on the snug side everything you could want falls nicely to hand. The leather-clad and M-logo’d gear knob is just a hand span away from the steering wheel, and while the latter item is nice to hold it’s perhaps not the most visually appealing item ever fitted to an M car. Instrumentation is minimal as per the standard Z4 but there’s the rev counter with illuminated segments that remind you not to thrash it from cold and an oil temperature gauge tucked away by the fuel gauge and the car’s performance potential is made clear by an 180mph speedo.

    Where the Z4 M really scores over the 3.0si, though, is in the sense of occasion – a palpable sense of drama when you slip behind the wheel. There’s that dramatic view down the heavily sculpted bonnet (that the 3.0si didn’t get), and once you twist the key the straight-six sends tingles up your spine and gets the hair standing up on the back of your neck. To experience a fully wound-up S54 ‘six is a aural treat and you feel that you’re genuinely a witness to something special, and let’s not forget that it’s not something we’re expecting will be available for a long time to come with all the manufacturers following the turbocharged eco-friendly route.

    The engine dominates the driving experience and you can make very decent progress without wringing the car’s neck and those sampling the car for the first time can often be caught out by short-shifting up the gearbox and even if you use 5000rpm the Z4 will be travelling very rapidly but you’ll be missing out on the best part of another 3000rpm. Hit the Sport button that sharpens up throttle response still further and use the full extent of the rev range and you’ll feel like you’re sitting on top of a low-flying ballistic missile.

    You sit so much lower than in an E46 M3 that the sensation of speed is much greater and that’s before you factor in that the Z4 M is actually a quicker machine, too. 0-62mph at 5.0 seconds is 0.2 seconds faster than the M3 and 50-75mph in fourth gear is despatched 0.3 seconds quicker in the Z4, too, while over the standing kilometre the Z4 is again halfa-second quicker. Small increments, perhaps, but coupled with the low-slung Z4 and it feels like more.

    This is compounded by perhaps one of the less likable aspects of the Z4 M: its ride. It’s pretty uncompromising and an M3 is more compliant and this can ultimately temper your pace on roughly surfaced roads. On first acquaintance it’s easy to feel that the Z4 M is attempting to throw you off the road and a tendency to understeer on the standard fit ContiSportContact tyres didn’t help to endow you with confidence in the chassis, but with greater familiarity it becomes clear that you can lean on the Z4 M pretty hard and it will reward the confidence you show in it. It’s a car that requires real commitment to get the best out of. Sure it’s a little rough around the edges when it comes to ultimate handling finesse but get it right and it’s hugely rewarding.

    A few choice changes can also make it a better steer, too. Ditching the original equipment tyres for something with more grip – later generations of Pilot Sport work well – help to counteract that initial understeer, and the addition of a front strut brace also helps here. As standard the Z4 is fitted with a clutch delay valve and this can combine with a slightly notchy ’box to make gear changes less than perfect, but deleting it or fitting a modified one can really smooth out a jerky gear change. Many owners have also fitted 19-inch CSL rims in place of the 18-inch M Double Spoke Style 224 rims and this really does work wonders for the look of the car. If money’s no object you could fit aftermarket suspension, but ultimately when these machines start to become really collectible it will be the standard examples that will be worth the most.

    When it was new the Z4 M Coupé cost a not insignificant £41,285, just a smidgen less than an E46 M3, which made it seem quite expensive when the M3 was a far more practical and almost as quick proposition. However, by the time the Z4 was discontinued its price had only risen by £1000 yet the E92 M3 that was then available cost over £50k which conspired to make the #BMW-Z4M look like a bit of a bargain! These days prices start at around £13k for higher mile examples and rise to high £20s for really low mile examples being sold by franchised dealers.

    The majority of cars fall in the mid-to-high teens bracket and represent excellent value for money. If you look after one and use it regularly but sparingly we don’t reckon you’re going to suffer much in the way of depreciation and if you hold onto it long enough you may well see values rise. Remember, only 1052 right-hand drive examples were built so rarity value certainly counts in their favour.

    You could still use one every day if the fancy takes you, and bar the high cost of Inspection services there isn’t too much to worry about. The head gasket failures that afflict high mileage M3s are less of a problem with Z4 Ms as they were originally often purchased as a second car. However, I reckon you could become bored with its harsh ride, slightly cramped cockpit and brawny nature. Used sparingly, though, and every journey becomes an event, something to be looked forward to and savoured. It was the last of the line of great naturally-aspirated straight-six M cars and while it wasn’t perfect it’s still a marvellous machine to punt down a challenging bit of road. Nab one now before it’s too late.

    Once you twist the key the straight-six sends tingles up your spine and gets the hair standing up on the back of your neck.

    There’s a palpable sense of drama when you slip behind the wheel.

    TECH DATA #2015 #BMW-Z4M-Coupé-E86 / #BMW-Z4M-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-Z4
    ENGINE: #S54 / #S54B32 Straight-six, 24-valve, DOHC
    CAPACITY: 3246cc
    MAX POWER: 343hp @ 7900rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 269lb ft @ 4900rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.0 seconds
    STANDING KM: 23.7 seconds
    50-75MPH (4th): 5.0 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 23.3mpg
    EMISSIONS: 292g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1495kg
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, #LSD
    STEERING: Rack and pinion
    SUSPENSION: MacPherson struts (front), multi-link ‘Z’ axle (rear)
    WHEELS: 8x18-inch (front), 9x18-inch (rear)
    TYRES: 225/45 ZR18 & 255/40 ZR18
    BRAKES: Single piston swing callipers front and rear gripping vented discs, 345x28mm (front) and 328x28mm (rear)
    PRICE: £41,285 (2006)

    Even today a normally aspirated engine that develops nearly 106hp per litre is something to write home about.
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  •   Sam Huggins reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    BMW CONCEPTS: The cars they could have made. This month a car that actually went into production! #BMW-Z4-Concept Coupe / #BMW-Z4-E86-Concept from #2005 is one BMW concept that did see the showroom floor / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW-E86-Concept /

    One of the best-kept secrets and one of the biggest stars of the #2005-Frankfurt-Motor-Show was the Z4 Coupé. BMW usually wheels out a concept vehicle at its home show, but unlike many of its predecessors the ‘Concept’ Z4 Coupé was virtually production ready and even the Chairman of the Board, Dr Helmut Panke, admitted that a production version would be built.

    When the Z4 was launched back in 2003 BMW claimed there would not be a Coupé version of the car to take over from the quirkily-styled Z3 tin-top. Despite claims to the contrary from the company the Z4 hadn’t been a universal success and the sexy hardtop Z4 was necessary to breathe much-needed life back into the range.

    The ‘Concept’ was based on the Z4’s chassis and used the lightweight 2996cc ‘six that offered up 265hp at 6650rpm and 232lb ft of torque from 2500-4000rpm. BMW claimed performance figures of 5.7 seconds for the 0-62mph dash and a top speed limited to 155mph.

    The Z4 Coupé’s styling was obviously heavily based on the Roadster, although its new ‘fastback’ look gave the car a much a more dynamic form. To our eyes the new model of Z4 looked more cohesive than the Roadster thanks to the higher rear deck afforded by the coupé design and it gave it a much more powerful look about its rear haunches.

    There was a trademark Hofmeister kick to the C-pillar, while the centre recess on the roof itself harked back to coupé designs of the 1950s and 1960s. The Concept Z4’s lines were shown off to best effect by the Glacier silver matt paint effect which looked particularly dynamic under the show lights. To contrast with the bodywork it sat on bespoke chrome shadow 8x19-inch aluminium rims equipped with 235/35 ZR19 (front) and 255/35 ZR19 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, while the show car also sported the big drilled discs fitted to the then current M cars, although in the studio pictures the car made do with standard BMW stoppers.


    Inside it was a mixture of Z4 Roadster and some new materials – such as the woven look for the leather door panels – and while we didn’t expect these to make the production version we hoped in vain that the roof lining would remain the soft Nubuk leather that was featured on the show car.

    The luggage space was of a decent size thanks to the kicked-up rear deck and, as seemed to be the way back then, the press pack informed you of its dimensions in terms of golf clubs. In case you were wondering, you’d be able to fit two large golf bags in the boot, although whether that was with the natty integrated travel bags in place was not reported. #BMW had always said it would never build a coupé version of the Z4 and also that there would never be an M version either – but when the car it wasn’t going to build looked this good, and went as well as it did we’re jolly glad it changed its mind!
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  •   Sam Huggins reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    BAGS TO THE FUTURE

    The BMW E85 Z4 doesn’t get a whole lot of love but, when done correctly, it can look absolutely killer, as this bagged Brit build proves. Ashley Morrell’s Z4 is constantly pushing him further and further down the modifying road. And you know what they say – it’s more about the journey than the destination… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Mathew Bedworth.


    The Z4, it has to be said, is quite a weird little car. They generally pass reasonably unnoticed today, thanks to the inherent cushioning system of Father Time’s mighty pendulum – the fact that they’ve been around a few years means that we’re used to them, we’ve accepted them. Radically designed cars don’t stay radical for long – the Ford Ka, the Peugeot 206, the Fiat Multipla, they seemed outlandish and alien and daft-as-a-brush at launch, but now they’re just other cars to blend into the mish-mash of day-to-day traffic.


    The E85 Z4 very much belongs in that list too. As a replacement for the Z3, it was a pretty bold step; the Z3 had the classic roadster profile – long bonnet, rearward cabin, stubby tail – and the Z4 built on these design touch-points, but added in a whole heap of strangeness. Look at it side-on, for example, and try to work out what the thinking was behind the front wings; there’s quite a wide variety of lines and angles vying for attention there. The rear bumper appears to be wearing a droopy moustache like a pantomime Mexican villain, while the front end looks a bit like Marvin the Paranoid Android from the 2005 movie adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


    This, of course, is all very good. Life’s too short to drive boring cars, and BMW’s decision to infuse a whole bunch of weirdness into a model it knew would be a volume-seller ought to be robustly applauded. Furthermore, it means that modifiers with an eye for the offbeat have an interesting alternative to chance their customising arms on, thanks to the model now becoming increasingly affordable as a second-hand proposition. It certainly flicked Ashley Morrell’s switch. He’s the creative force behind this particular low-down Zed, and it’s by no means the first oddball he’s spannered together.


    “I guess I’ve been in the modding scene for around nine years now,” he considers at length, scratching his chin and peering into the middle-distance. “I’ve had four cars in that time, which isn’t a huge number by some people’s standards, but I’ve always been known for doing something a little bit unusual with them. I’m not really keen on doing things that everyone else has already done, I like to put my own mark on my cars.” His first full-on build was a case in point, a Citroën C2 which surfed the swelling tide of the nouveau-rat look, all forced patina and belligerent scruff.


    “It was right at the start of the whole nurat thing, and it was a pretty radical thing to do to a brand-new car,” he says, a sparkle in his eye as if the mischief of it all is only just dawning on him. “Yeah, that was pretty out there. My Mk3 Golf got fairly extreme too, I went a bit crazy on it; five interiors, three resprays, three engines and eleven sets of wheels over three years! By the end of that project, I found myself with a set of stupidly wide American rims, and effectively making the car fit the wheels, which involved all sorts of cutting and welding!”

    So if he was that deep into the VAG scene, why the switch to BMW? “Well, after going through my thirteenth sump in six months I decided it was time for a bit of a change,” he laughs. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted – part of me was keen on the idea of some sort of estate – and I’m not sure what drew me to the Z4 at first, but once I started looking at them, they got stuck in my head. I knew that was the car I wanted next.”


    And so the infamous P22 OKE plate found itself being extracted from the Golf and affixed to a shiny silver 2004 Z4 2.2i. “I searched and searched for the right Z4, which wasn’t easy as there don’t seem to be many here in South Wales – must be something to do with the constant rain,” he reasons. “But one day a friend of mine in Cardiff mentioned that he’d seen one come into a garage local to him. I went to see it straight away, and took it home the next day!”


    The car was showing 69k on the clock, stock as a rock, and as tidy as Ashley could hope for. All-in-all, a pretty decent base for a project. So, what manner of madness lay ahead for the wacky little roadster? “Well, there wasn’t a plan as such, not from the start,” he recalls. “Having bought it, I just intended to stick some nice wheels on it and enjoy it. But once the wheels were on, it obviously needed lowering, and it all sort of snowballed from there.”


    Yep. Of course it did. We hear that a lot. It’s impressive to note, in fact, that Ashley managed to hold out for an entire year with just rims and coilovers before he began to delve deeper. A new set of wheels beckoned; a brilliantly offbeat foursome of Rial Imola splits, which were reworked in custom candy apple red paint and a spangle of retro Seventies gold metalflake thrown in, but it quickly became apparent that wheels this fancy need a killer stance to set them off. So, with a creeping sense of inevitability, the irresistible lure of air-ride arose.


    “At that time there really weren’t many bagged Z4s around, so it felt like something pretty fresh,” Ashley explains. “I bought the kit from Plush Automotive and fitted it all myself, along with a few friends who offered to help.” He ought to be particularly proud of those custom copper hardlines which really set off the boot install, and he’s keen to make the point that anything he was physically able to do on the car, he did himself. Not to show off, but simply as a matter of pride – it’s his car, built his way. “If you ever feel like taking apart the inside panels on a Z4, I recommend you don’t,” Ashley sighs. “Three hours to take off the centre console? Well done BMW! But the only thing I couldn’t do myself was the retrim of the seats; that was handled beautifully by Gary at NeatSeats.”



    They do look pretty cool too, resplendent in black leather with diamond Bentley stitching, and they’re complemented by a whole bunch of carbon fibre accents throughout the interior to really imbue it with a premium road-racer vibe. Indeed, since our shoot Ashley’s been busy having various interior surfaces retrimmed in Alcantara, which speaks volumes about his twin focus on function and aesthetics.


    The exterior of the car is something that he felt had to be as uncluttered and simple as possible, to accentuate the proportions of the car rather than draw unnecessary attention to its details. For this reason, he’s swapped on a pre-face-lift front bumper which has been extensively smoothed and had its numberplate recess deleted. The vast majority of the factory chrome accents have either been junked or replaced with black items; the kidney grilles and BMW roundels, for example, have lost their mirror shine, and even the lights have been dimmed down to suit. It’s a masterclass in subtlety, with plenty of details for the Zed-nerds to seek out on the showground.


    “One thing I get asked a lot is how old the car is, and people are often surprised that it’s a 2004 model given how tidy it is” he says. “I use the car every day, and I run it low. I haven’t really built the car to go on track, and people have said I’ve ruined the Z4’s handling because of the air-ride, but to be honest with the AirREX Sport bags I’d say it actually handles better than when it was on coilovers! On the whole, the car gets mixed reactions – the Z4 purists hate it, of course, but I didn’t build it for them, and it does give me a bit of a kick when people stop to take photos of it. One girl I was on a date with thought I was famous because of all the people taking pictures!”


    Amusingly at this point, Ashley seems to be suggesting that the project is finished. He’s got the car the way he likes it, and he’s ready to just enjoy it. But you and I know that’s nonsense, don’t we? Take that old Golf as a lesson; this is a guy who just can’t leave things alone: “Oh, alright, you got me,” he concedes. “I will probably do something with the audio over the winter. I fancy a bit more carbon fibre too. Oh, and there’s always new wheels…”

    It’s pretty much a done deal that this car will be looking subtly different next time you see it. Ashley’s move into the BMW scene seems to be fitting him rather well.

    Air install is neat and smart and still leaves boot useable while copper hardlines add some flair.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Bagged #BMW E85 Z4 2.2i / #BMW-Z4-2.2i / #BMW-Z4-2.2i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-E85 / BMW-E85

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.2-litre straight-six #M54B22 / #M54 , #K&N filter, custom stainless steel exhaust with back box-delete and twin tailpipes, five-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #Rial-Imola two-piece split-rims with polished lips and custom candy apple red with gold metalflake centres and 205/45 (front) and 215/45 (rear) tyres, adjustable front camber mounts at 3.0 degrees and rear camber arms at 5.5 degrees, #AirREX Sport air-ride system with V2 four-way digital management, custom copper hardlines.

    EXTERIOR Smoothed pre-face-lift Z4 SE front bumper, black lower valance, black-insert headlights with US running lights, custom clear side repeaters, tinted rear lights, carbon fibre wing mirrors, black roundels, black kidney grilles, flared and rolled arches.

    INTERIOR Carbon fibre door handles, handbrake handle and steering wheel controls, 1M gear knob, retrimmed MSport steering wheel by Royal Steering Wheels, seats retrimmed in black leather with Bentley diamond stitching, custom mount for V2 controller.


    THANKS I’d like to thank a few people who have helped me with fitting things and some companies that have chosen to sponsor me over this year: my friends Kieran Phillips and Nick Wealleands who helped with the air-ride and hardlines, Tom Beleschenco (@twosugars88 on Instagram) for painting the wheels and other bits, Aaron Brooks (@techho_scenecleanvaleting) for detailing the car, Gary at NeatSeats for the great work on the seats, and my sponsors E11evens, Cleanitkit and GlobalGrind.
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