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Where the wild things are 1400hp RB26 4WD Z4 E85. With 4WD and 1400hp from a massively modified RB26, this utterly insane, custom wide-body Z4 drag car is quite unlike anything we’ve ever featured… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderationALL-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”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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It might not have the fire-breathing powertrain of the Z4 M Coupé but the 3.0Si version still has good looks, excellent performance and reasonable running costs – it’s a great used buy! Words: Bob Harper and Andrew Everett Photography: Dom Fraser.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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I was chatting to the owner of a 2006 Z4 2.5i recently who, having fallen foul of the dreaded electric PAS motor malfunction, has converted to hydraulic as used by the Z4 M. It was apparently pretty easy and his biggest challenges were getting those ...Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSupercharged 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 pedalsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOU’S #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW /
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
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