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    TWO-HIT COMBO

    Retro #BMW-R75/6 hits ’em high, bagged F31 hits ’em low. The bike’s cool. The wagon’s cool. Hell, even the trailer’s cool. Step right up, folks, and enter Stan Chen’s wacky world of eight-wheeled wonder… Words: Daniel Bevis /// Photos: Peter Wu.

    THREE’S COMPANY F31 Touring and classic bike combo

    There’s a fairly natural crossover between cars and motorbikes. Okay, two-wheeled mischief may not be everyone’s cup of tea (and undoubtedly for some of you it won’t be – you’ve actively shelled out your hard-earned on a car mag, after all, so you probably quite like cars), but the visceral thrills of opening the throttle and heading for the horizon are shared by both groups of enthusiasts with equal aplomb. Swapping an accelerator pedal for a twist grip, and four wheels for two, is largely immaterial in the greater pursuit of letting it all hang out, forgetting the world, and just heading out to burn some rubber. Whether your journey’s end falls at a Cars and Coffee meet or a greasy, down-low biker bar, the strength of passion is just the same.

    Sitting right in the middle of this cars/bikes Venn diagram is Stan Chen, events and sponsorship manager for Toyo Tires and all-round unassailable petrolhead. If it’s got a motor and makes shouty noises, he’s in. So it makes perfect sense that he’d have a matching set of machines; that way he’s covering all bases. And when this eight-wheeled carnival sideshow rolls into town – yes, we’re counting the wheels on the trailer, as that’s very cool, too – all heads turn and Stan finds himself torn between which machine to cause mayhem with first. It’s not a bad way to live.

    There are, in fact, three protagonists in this tale aside, of course, from Stan himself: Von Doom, Lil’ Doom, and The Raft. While these may sound like characters from a pastel-hued CBeebies animation, there’s a simmering aggression beneath it all. And just for the hell of it, we’re going to start with the bike.

    Stan’s motorcycle is a #1973 #BMW R75/5 . Nicknamed Lil’ Doom, it was originally acquired from a mate of his who let it go on the understanding that he thought Stan could be trusted with it. He was right. What followed was a lengthy and thorough frame-off restoration at the hands of Jay from Lossa Engineering. The frame has been detabbed, which is basically the motorbike equivalent of a shaved engine bay; every superfluous tab and bracket has been ground off and smoothed, allowing all the oily bits to sit more artistically within the scaffolding of the bike’s architecture. The mudguards have been bobbed – that is, chopped shorter to look more pert and racy – and the finish of the bike is just gorgeous: it’s all been painted in BMW Mineral white, with dual pinstripes in Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green. And the motor? It’s the biggest of BMW’s /5 Series, being a 749cc boxer twin that offers an entertaining mix of rasps and rumbles through its retro black chrome exhausts. It’s a beautiful mid-Seventies sculpture, fastidiously restomodded to be 21st century useable.

    Oh, and it’s been lowered, obviously. The shocks are shorter, as it has to match the car. But before we get to that, let’s look at the second character on our amusingly peculiar script: The Raft.

    Now, this might be the first time we’ve featured a trailer in Performance BMW. It might be the last. But this one, The Raft, is no ordinary trailer. You see, Stan’s aim was to marry all of these ideas cohesively, and if you’ve put this level of effort into crafting a custom motorbike to match your custom car, it’d be a bit dumb to just nip down to Brian James Trailers and pick up any old generic tangle of aluminium. What Stan’s done here, then, is to create a one-off carriage for his prized and jewel-like bike. Built by Laodies Kustomz in Iowa it comprises a minimalist tubular frame, wheel arches painted to match both vehicles, a pair of HRE wheels, and a custom Kelderman air-ride system that’s controlled from the car. That’s right. Your eyes do not deceive you. When Stan airs out the wagon, the trailer airs out too. And that’s just about the coolest thing we’ve seen this year.

    Ah yes, and there’s a car here as well! Can’t forget that. The reason the bike’s named Lil’ Doom is that it’s a pint-sized companion to its larger stablemate, Von Doom. This imposing creation is a 2014 F31 Touring, a 328i xDrive, and you’ll no doubt have spotted that it’s rocking the same BMW/Audi/Porsche colour scheme as both the bike and The Raft. Interestingly, it was actually bought to be a sensible car…

    “This is my fourth BMW,” Stan explains. “My first was a ’95 E36 M3, which was the first car I began modifying; I went as far as putting the Rieger wide-body kit on it with custom-drilled MAE three-piece wheels. It was a must-have, as the European tuning market was getting bigger in the US during that time. But this F31? Well, my wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit for us.” At this point, it’s probably best if you just take a moment and think back to the car you were ferried about in as a tiny child. For some of you it’ll have been something cool, for many others something mundane, but we’re happy to wager that few would have been as awe-inspiring as this unique triumvirate. What a way to build childhood memories!

    All of the sensible family-car touchpoints are present: it’s an xDrive model, meaning four-wheel drive and thus a reduced likelihood of getting trapped in snow or quicksand on the school run (hey, y’know, it happens). And the sizeable Thule roof box supplements the colossal boot to ensure ample stowage for nappies, spare babygrows, and unchewed copies of The Jolly Postman. And yet… something here is not quite as sensible as BMW intended.

    “I definitely wanted an aero package on the car, there was no doubt about that,” Stan grins. That’s why, along with the M Sport bumpers, you’ll spot the rakish M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser and, of course, roof spoiler ramping up the aggression here. “I went with the M Performance aero package since it was a cleaner look than the other brands available,” he reasons. “It also had the very subtle but noticeable roof spoiler, and that was a must.” It’s in-keeping with the car’s sportwagon intent, too, as Stan’s opted for the 328 variant which features the N20 motor – a four-cylinder petrol, but bolstered by a perky twin-scroll turbo and considered by many to be a truly appropriate successor to the old N52 straight-sixes. Stan’s tickled it a bit, naturally, with an optimising remap and a throaty quad exhaust to help the thing breathe a little more vocally.

    “The build of the car was a two-stage process,” he says. “The first stage was the aero along with the KW coilovers, something I’ve used on all my previous builds. But then I decided that air-ride would better match the overall theme of the project, so the second stage included fitting the air suspension, and custom-building the motorcycle trailer that was also on air, and that could be controlled from inside the car.

    I went with HP Drivetech struts with AccuAir E-Level air management. It’s my favourite part of the build; it allows me to go as low as possible but air up as needed when going over speed bumps and into steep driveways, which I always found to be a challenge with coilovers.” Impressively, what Stan’s achieved here is to convince us that fitting air-ride to his car and making a bagged trailer to match has all been done in the name of sensibleness and practicality, and that’s exactly the sort of world we want to live in.

    The wheels are 20” HRE 501s, plucked from the Vintage Series line and sporting staggered widths; Stan chose them because he likes the classic style, and we can really see where he’s coming from. Mesh wheels always suit BMWs (well, within reason), and HRE’s timeless cross-spokes flatter the F31 down to a tee. The same can also be said for the Recaro Sportster CS seats, which were selected in order to retain an OE feel but provide more of a sporty aesthetic. And that’s pretty much the ethos of the project in a nutshell. What at first seems to be a well-kept modern BMW with a classic bike on a trailer may not immediately trigger sirens in the brains of passers-by but the more you look, the more details you unearth. What Stan’s done is to fuse the practical chores of day-to-day family life with the slap-in-the-chops ability to stop the show when he rolls into town. Furthermore, he’s got a badass ’bagged BMW for cruising, as well as a zingy custom retro motorcycle for canyon-running and B-road blasts. The package deal really does tick a lot of boxes. People often talk about their ideal three-car garage but Stan’s vision of the ultimate answer only actually involves one car: with Von Doom, Lil’ Doom and The Raft working together in slick, colour-coded harmony, there’s no situation that this family can’t deal with. If only we could all have life so neatly figured out.

    Both the Touring and trailer air-ride systems are linked and controlled from the car.
    / 1973 / BMW-R75/5 has been colour-coded with the Touring and trailer perfectly.
    Left: frame has been detabbed for a cleaner look.

    “My wife and I were expecting our first child and figured the wagon would be the perfect fit”

    DATA FILE #BMW-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring ʻVon Doomʼ / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-F31 / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-Von-Doom-F31 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #HRE-501 / #HRE / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-F31 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder #N20B20 / #N20 / #BMW-N20 , #MXP quad exhaust system with dual-wall black chrome tips, dual tune by ECU Tuning Group, full European coding by Alpine Coding, eight-speed auto ’box

    CHASSIS 8.5x20” (front) and 9.5x20” (rear) #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels with 225/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, #HP-Drivetech struts and #AccuAir-E-Level air management system, #M-Performance big brake kit, R1 Concepts dimpled and grooved discs

    EXTERIOR BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, M Sport front and rear bumpers, M Performance front splitter, rear diffuser, side panel blades and roof spoiler, Thule Sonic roof box, Thule AeroBlade Edge rack system, Huper Optik ceramic window film by STM Advanced Window Film Solutions

    INTERIOR #Recaro-Sportster-CS seats, custom #AccuAir-E-Level control pad mount

    DATA FILER 75/5 ʻLilʼ Doomʼ / #BMW-R75 / #BMW-R75/5-Lil-Doom

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 749cc air cooled four-stroke boxer twin, #K&N filters, Motul 7100 4T, cast aluminium BMW2Valve.com café racer starter cover, black chrome exhaust with Heatshield Cobra exhaust wrap, Shorai lithium-ion battery

    CHASSIS Audi Charcoal grey wheel spokes with Porsche Irish green lips, Firestone Deluxe tyres, Lossa Engineering subframe, Charcoal de-tabbed frame, shortened front suspension with Progressive Suspension springs, #Progressive-Suspension-412-Series rear shocks

    EXTERIOR #BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, R100 fuel tank with custom dimple die fuel cap recess, Crafty B brushed aluminium Mini Racer fuel cap, BMW2valve.com cast aluminium starter cover, Lossa Engineering custom mudguards, vintage brushed aluminium tail-light

    INTERIOR Black leather with grey selvedge denim seat, Renthal Ultra Low handlebars, Tommaselli grips

    DATA FILE #Trailer-The-Raft / #Trailer

    CHASSIS 8.5x18” #HRE-501-Vintage-Series wheels, 225/45 Toyo Proxes 4 Plus tyres, custom #Kelderman airride system (controlled from car), custom Irish green control arms

    EXTERIOR Custom tube frame, arches painted BMW Mineral white with Audi Charcoal grey and Porsche Irish green pinstriping, #Ford-Model-A-tail-lights
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    This may have been Sean Clark’s first car in high school, but it’s all grown up now, with a level of refinement fit for a whiskey lounge. Words: Marcus Gibson / Photos: Adam Croy

    BODY-SLAMMED BMW E30 TEST LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BUILDING A DRIFT CAR / #1987 / #BMW-318i-E30 / #BMW-318i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW / #Toyota-1UZ-FE / #BMW-E30-Toyota-1UZ-FE / #Toyota / #Accuair-i-Level / #BMW-E30-V8 / #V8

    DEFLATED REFINEMENT
    Purchased as his first car in high school, Sean Clark’s E30 is all grown up now with a class that belongs in a whiskey lounge. V8 powered, with Accuair i-Level, one-off Rotiforms, candy paint and a killer interior, this E30 ticks all the boxes.

    As the NZPC team members stood around with our tongues out, drooling over Sean Clark’s #BMW E30 during the photo shoot, in walked the guys from our sister magazine NZ Classic Car, who proceeded to make tongue-in-cheek remarks about how the suspension must be broken and ask where the hell the tyres were. Now, these guys know their way around an E30, but, given that the IS front lip was literally sitting on the ground while its rim lip was touching the guard, we could see how those old boys would be somewhat perplexed by what they saw in front of them. This car is a statement made with no apologies — it was engineered this way, what with its millimetre-perfect fitment and extremely deep candy paint, which grabs and holds your attention long enough to take in all the custom touches that can be found.

    It all began during Sean’s high-school days (actually, four years ago, to be exact), when he came across an E30 already fitted with a Toyota 1UZ-FE 4.0-litre V8. A fan of the German ’80s icon, Sean hadn’t been looking for V8 power, but, when this popped up already cert’d, he saw it as a good base on which to build his dream E30. It was in need of some TLC, but, being a high-school student, he would have to wait until he got his first full-time job before he could sink some coin into the project. In the meantime, though, he was probably only the only kid at his high school rocking a V8 on a daily basis.


    The air-management system runs a set of polished custom hard lines to feed the tank, AccuAir A4, and Air Lift air bags. The system has a wireless remote and can even be controlled by an iPhone app.


    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Sean is mainly influenced by mostly European-based E30s, which led to the first of the big modifications, as he told us: “All of my favourite E30s are on air. That was the first major modification I did. Simon from Get Low imported and installed the kit.” Getting the E30 down was a simple bolt-in affair using Air Lift struts with adjustable dampers. Like most of the latest air-ride kits we feature these days, Sean opted for a complete height-management system, in this case, AccuAir. With three preset heights — low, lower, and slammed — it’s a no-brainer over the finicky switch box and separate valve blocks of the past.

    Those kits were loud, high maintenance, and it was a battle to get the height perfect. Having the control that Sean now does is a good thing when the lip of the rim actually sits square on the guard when fully deflated.

    It was around that time that the E30 received its first set of rims, though those BBS Rs were soon replaced with custom fifteen52 Tarmacs, then, more recently, with a set of custom Rotiforms. To say Sean has a thing for wheels would be a gross understatement — but his size preference certainly made it hard. “I get bored of wheels pretty easy, and wanted to go three-piece and have something that would pop against the paint more,” he explained. “I talked to just about every wheel company out there, but the problem is that no one really makes three-piece 16s any more. I ended up getting James from 360 Link to convince Brian from Rotiform to produce these.” We are unsure what James from 360 Link said — perhaps he has a stash of questionable photos of Brian, or maybe Brian thinks all Kiwis are like Jake the Muss; either way, Rotiform obliged and put together this one-off set using BBS lips and gold hardware.

    To further customize them once they landed in New Zealand, the boys at GT Refinishers laid down some candy and gold leaf on the centre caps.

    The boys were also charged with a complete facelift conversion last year. Now, it might be a bolt-on conversion up front, but the rear took a little more commitment, as the team had to graft in the in the rear sheet metal from a later E30 around the boot and tail lights.

    This required a facelift E30 to donate its life to the cause. The tail lights Sean chose are rare BMW Motorsport items imported from Germany, along with the Bosch smiley headlights and an MTech wing. The last job at GT was the reshaping of the rear guards to suit the super-low ride height. It was then on to deciding a colour — a job we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. A four-month internal battle ensued as Sean went back and forth with his decision, eventually landing on custom candy red, sprayed over a silver base coat. “There are 10 coats all up I think, as I kept wanting it darker and darker. I was actually out of the country when he was spraying it so it was a little nerve-racking,” he said.

    But, needless to say, Sean is hyped with how the exterior has turned out, and he has since shifted his focus inwards. First up, he went for a full interior retrim from Midnight Upholstery. Taking cues from the king of refinement, Singer, the front and rear seats were trimmed in a similar fashion to those beautiful Porsches. The front seats are actually Recaro fishnets from an Isuzu Bighorn that Sean scored for $100, and the rear is a not-so-common E30 variant with a centre armrest. As for the rest of the interior, it was kept all class in black — simple yet effective. The finishing touch, a vintage Momo Prototipo wheel.

    Next on his hit list is attacking the engine bay. While the build has never been about all-out power or speed, and with the four litres there’s more than enough juice to decimate the factory equivalent, Sean still feels there is room for refinement, and he’s currently considering his plan of attack — individual throttle bodies (ITBs)? A supercharger? Who knows what he’ll end up with? We guess we will all have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, there is a long hot summer ahead of us, and Sean is ready to make the most of it with one push of the e-Level.

    INTERIOR
    SEATS: (F) Retrimmed #Recaro LX, (R) retrimmed factory
    STEERING WHEEL: #Momo Prototipo 350mm
    INSTRUMENTATION: AccuAir e-Level
    EXTRA: Custom headliner and carpet, custom boot set-up.

    EXTERIOR
    PAINT: Custom candy red by GT Refinishers
    ENHANCEMENTS: Facelift conversion, IS front lip, IS sideskirts, custom front splitter, MTech 1 wing, German smiley headlights, German MHW tail lights, custom round Condor door handles.

    DRIVELINE
    GEARBOX: Toyota four-speed auto
    DIFF: BMW E30
    The body has recieved a facelift alongside some subtle upgrades such as the IS front lip and #MTech rear wing. Although it was bagged long before the facelift, yet the lip sits perfectly flush on the ground.

    DRIVER PROFILE
    DRIVER/OWNER: Sean Clark
    AGE: 20
    LOCATION: Auckland
    OCCUPATION: Estimator
    BUILD TIME: Four years
    LENGTH OF OWNERSHIP: Four years
    THANKS: A huge thanks to GT Refinishers; Get Low Customs; Midnight Upholstery; Rotiform New Zealand; my mate Daniel, for listening to me stress over the smallest of things and helping out

    Discovered in an Isuzu Bighorn bought for $100, the Recaro fishnets have been retrimmed by Midnight upholstery in a Singer style, with bronze rivet vents.
    HEART
    ENGINE: #Toyota-1UZ-FE , 4000cc, eight-cylinder
    BLOCK: Factory
    HEAD: Factory
    INTAKE: Factory
    EXHAUST: Custom headers, dual 2.5-inch pipes into single muffler
    FUEL: Factory
    IGNITION: Factory
    ECU: Factory
    COOLING: Fenix radiator

    SUPPORT
    STRUTS: Air Lift Performance air ride, KYB rear shocks, #AccuAir-E-Level , #AccuAir #iLevel
    BRAKES: (F) #Wilwood four-pot calipers, #StopTech rotors, Wilwood pads, braided lines; (R) factory

    SHOES
    WHEELS: (F) 16x8.5-inch #Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware; (R) 16x9.5-inch Rotiform three-piece forged CCV, gold hardware
    TYRES: (F) 195/40R16 Falken, (R) 205/40R16 Falken

    Fitting the Lexus into the engine bay required a set of custom headers and has left little room for anything else, which could become a problem if Sean does decide to supercharge down the track.
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    #DRIVE LOW PARK LOWER

    You think you’ve got problems with getting your car low? We suggest you go and find Vick Singh Nagi, he’s a full-blown addict. Words: David Kennedy / Photos: Si Gray

    Getting low is an addiction, and it’s one that afflicts many of us. There’s no ‘Just Say No’ campaign or ‘Talk to Frank’ adverts on evening TV, nothing to steer people away. It sneaks up on you. Just a taste, a set of lowering springs bought off a mate at first, just to make your car look a bit cooler.

    Everyone else is doing it, how bad can it be? Sure enough that first taste gets you. Soon, you’re hanging out in dark garages and workshops away from prying eyes, winding coilovers down on their threads. Just a few more millimetres you say, that’s it…

    Soon enough, you start making excuses, lying to yourself. Sure, you can’t get over speedbumps anymore, but that’s fine. Sure, you’ve spent all your hard-earned on modified drop links and chassis notches. Your arches might be mullered but that’s okay, everyone’s doing it right? But then you need to get lower and chase the rush. You ditch the helpers or cut the coils. Now you’re on the hard stuff. There’s no Promises or Priory that can help you now. If only you hadn’t let your mate give you those lowering springs all those years ago…

    “Yeah I’ve got a problem, there’s no way I can pretend otherwise, it is what it is I guess,” Vick Nagi smiled. “#drivelowparklower, right?”

    Vick is a man who shouldn’t need much of an introduction to readers of this magazine. While he hasn’t had a car featured before in these hallowed pages, the Leeds-based Dub nut has owned more awesome cars than we can count and had his hand in even more. Many UK people will recognise Vick’s name for his many years of service as the peace-and-harmony-preaching Edition38.com moderator, or the man on the mic on stage at E38’s show for four years. With so much time already under his belt, not to mention a happy family, successful property development business and his side gig Lowpro UK who supply air-ride, audio gear and wheels, we were shocked to learn he’s only 29 years old – it seems like he’s been around forever! “It all started when my brother Bobby and I used to be out on our BMXs around Leeds. We would always see and hear Bini Yousaf’s Mk2 VR6 back in the day,” Vick smiled. “Then I ended up getting my own Mk2 GTI that I did a few bits to but being young and not having enough money meant it ended up getting scrapped as my mum couldn’t cope with a primered shell on her drive!”

    A few cars came and went later including a Mk1, a few Mk2s, a nicely built Polo G40, that Corrado (more on that later) and a B7 RS4. And that’s not including his partner Avril’s car collection. “Avril is all about power, she’d much rather go to a hillclimb than a static car show,” Vick laughed. “You guys featured her Mk4 back in Drive-My, she’s had a 420bhp Anniversary, a tuned Edition30, she’s still got her R32 and we’ve been building her TFSI Mk2 for a while now too. If she had her way the Audi would have big power and be on R888s. She’s a real petrolhead… which makes things easier for me!”

    With a new house purchase on the cards Vick had to let the RS4 go but with a dog and son Vaughn in tow, they needed to replace it with something equally as practical and it was the Edition38 forums that came up trumps. “It was the wrong colour in red but it was the exact spec I wanted and I figured that seeing as it was going to be a sensible daily workhorse it didn’t matter much,” Vick explained. “The first thing I did was send it to Leeds Bentley where my good friend Kevin Swallow replaced every service part that could be – the EGR, water pump, cambelt, everything. I wanted it done right and done reliably and he was the best man for the job.”

    Vick knew he was never going to keep the A4 as Audi intended and with memories of Belgian B8s in his mind, not to mention his friend Shiv’s white example that had been kicking around the show scene at the time, it wasn’t long before things started happening. JH Pro Paint sorted the paint out and as soon as the clear coat dried Vick was shooting down the M1 to have Shiv fit the Air Lift Performance suspension kit paired with AccuAir E-Level management.

    “The car has always been a daily, travelling to building sites, carrying tools around and taking Vaughn out and about so from the off it evolved with how we used it,” said Vick. “With that in mind, air-ride was a given, but I wanted it to be different,” he added. “To be honest it all started because people were saying what’s the point of air if you can’t drive it as low as you can on coilovers? And with Simon Sweetland from (super low coilover specialist) StillStatic giving me friendly grief about it, and my good friend Phil from The Install Company doing the same, I knew what needed to be done.”

    Once it was back from Shiv’s it was time to give the Audi new rolling stock. Luckily, Vick isn’t exactly lacking in that department. “I’ve got a room full of wheels in my house!” he laughed. “Avril collects art, my art is wheels.”

    He’s not joking either, just about every time we saw the A4 over its run of shows it was on a different set of wheels! “It’s had about eight sets on it, every cast Rotiform made, Rotiform splits, 20” BBS E28s and a few sets of 20” Audi OEM wheels too. Manny at BSmart Auto actually keeps a few sets of 20” tyres in stock for me now as I’m always needing them stretched on last minute,” he laughed. “I wanted something special for Ultimate Dubs 2015, though, and Brian at Rotiform put together these 10x20” INDT centrelocks for me which I just loved,” he added.

    As for the bodywork, well there’s more to that than there initially seems too: “I replaced the stock rear lights with the latest B8 RS4 Neon Bar lights which cost me an absolute fortune from TPS along with the OEM LED number plate lights too.” The car went back to JH Pro Paint again later on to have the arches pulled, rolled and widened. It also paid a trip to JC Weldfab where the rear trim was replaced with a US-spec S Line item along with a custom exhaust system being built with two large tailpipes to fill the valance better. “The system was tweaked so it would sit higher under the car,” Vick remembered. “Getting it lower and lower was always on my mind, so anything that could be done was.” Vick then had Jon at Vinyl Image wrap the roof bars and chrome trim in gloss black: “It’s funny, I’ve had three different Jons working on the car, Jon at JH Pro Paint, Jon at JC Weldfab and then Jon at Vinyl Image!”

    Just air and wheels. That’s all you need to build a show car these days, isn’t it? That seems to be the all too common misconception anyway.

    In fact, there is a world of difference between just bolting on an off-the-shelf air kit and the kind of work that’s gone in to a car like Vick’s A4 here. Sure, the struts themselves are as they were when they left Air Lift’s Michigan factory, but everything else? An Audi Master Tech would have a field day! The arch plastics have been trimmed and the top turrets have been notched to make space for the control arms to name just two bits that aren’t as they’re meant to be anymore. “Phil at The Install Company modified nearly every point under the car that involves the suspension – the rear arms and top mounts have been tweaked, and the inner arches are pretty heavily modified too,” Vick smiled. “We wanted it to be the lowest driving A4 in the world, and I think we achieved that.” So how low can it go and still drive normally? “Taking out the steering column when it was at its lowest on a catseye on the M1 was impressive and annoying at the same time… especially as it went through the subframe and punctured the rack…”

    Other highlights? The RS4 wavy brakes, fitted by another mate in the shape of Aaron Smith with Syco Graphics cutting up some custom stickers for them.

    Vick’s aware that to some people, a car like this will always be seen as just an ‘air and wheels’ build. But you know what? It doesn’t bother him one bit. “Most people love it as they understand there is a lot more to it than meets the eye but some see it as over-hyped as it’s just air and wheels, you know,” he smiled. “I don’t mind either opinion as I love it and I know the fun and stress of building a real low-driving car has not been simple or easy.

    “I really like the look of an OEM car, to me the A4 almost looked like a concept – you know how concepts are always a lot lower than the real thing and have wheels that completely fill the arches? I think it looks like that,” he added.

    Vick is one of those people we could talk to for hours, he’s just that kind of guy. Not least because, boy, once he gets going it’s hard to stop him but also because we like the way he thinks. “I know it’s a cliché but it’s the people that make the car scene such a nice place to be,” Vick smiled. “Take me doing the MC’ing on stage at E38 for example, I met so many good people and contacts from doing that over the years, people like Jon at JH Pro Paint. I badgered him to come up on stage with his Mk1 and now our families are friends, how cool is that? And I’ve got so many stories like that too, I love it.” Vick was well known on the Edition38 forums for preaching positive vibes and stopping arguments, and he’s just like that in person too. In fact, if you’re ever in a bad mood at a show, go find Vick. We guarantee you’ll leave him feeling a whole lot better!

    “Being such good friends with so many people means I can get away with badgering them as much as I do,” he laughed. “Take all the custom chassis work that Phil did. Not only did he do some incredible work on the car but he became one of my closest friends in the process, the man is an absolute genius and we share the same opinion about having fun with cars and not taking things too seriously. But I probably became the biggest pain in the backside for him!” he added laughing. So what’s next for Vick? “I’ve got my T5 that Phil’s raised the inner arches and fuse board on.

    He’s also raised loads of other engine bay gubbins and developed a totally custom loadrated Air Lift-based four-link setup for it so it’ll be the lowest driveable T5 anywhere soon. We’ve also still got the ’bagged R32, Avril’s TFSI Mk2 is in the works and there’s the Corrado to get back on the road too,” he said. “Now that we’ve got Vaughn and our business is growing so fast, other things are taking over, I’m so busy family time is more important than it ever was. I’ve now sold the Audi and have a Mk7 Golf R and I’ve already got an Air Lift kit sitting here for it…”

    Seeing as Vick is a man of many words, it only seems right we leave the last words to him: “My time is so valuable these days and I’m in the fortunate position that I can afford it, so I don’t mind paying for the best people to work on my car,” he said. “But don’t call it a chequebook car, that drives me crazy! Why? Because who has a chequebook these days? If anything, it’s a debit card car or a bank transfer car!”

    We could all take a leaf out of Vick’s book. So many positive vibes come from this man, it’s no wonder he has so many friends in the right places, even if he does still badger them to death…


    Dub Details / #Audi-A4-Avant-B8 / #Audi-A4-Avant / #Audi-A4-B8 / #Audi-A4 / #Audi / #Audi-A4-Avant-2.0TDI / #Audi-A4-Avant-2.0TDI-B8 / Rotiform / #Rotiform - INDT

    ENGINE: 2.0 #TDI 140bhp, six-speed, #JC-Weldfab exhaust, #DTUK tuning box

    CHASSIS: 10x20” centre-lock #Rotiform-INDT wheels, #Air-Lift-Performance struts, #AccuAir-E-Level management, custom work by The Install Company, rear arms modified, front top mounts modified, underside modified at nearly every suspension point, inner arches all modified, B8 RS4 wavy discs front and rear

    EXTERIOR: 25mm wider front arches, 20mm wider rear arches, gloss black optics, US-spec rear valance from 3.0-litre model in S Line grey, RS4 Neon rear bar lights, badges all custom made by G23 in black, arch liners all modified, US-spec grey S Line plate blank, all trims replaced with new items, tinted plates, windows tinted all-round

    INTERIOR: All stock, Audi MFSW, hidden air install, Recaro baby seat, #Recaro pram in boot

    SHOUT: Avril and Vaughn, my sweethearts and the people that support my/our obsession! My parents (just for giving up telling me off for wasting money on cars) and my brothers and sister. Adam and Dan at G23 Engineering, Jon and Michael at JC Weldfab, Jon and his team at JH Pro Paint, Subhraj Sidhu, Simon at StillStatic, Mark Ikeda, Mike The Polisher, Corey, Carl and Cody at Air Lift, Parm, Raj and Marcus at Car Audio Security, Russ Whitefield, Pepe Cappunci, Kevin Swallow, Zach at ZZ detailing, Manny Sirha and the team at BSmart Auto centre for tyres and everything (01132 426 338), Si Gray for amazing shots, Syco Graphics, Chris Scragg, Richard Proctor at Leeds TPS, Ricky Sohanpal, Brian at Rotiform wheels, Jon at Vinyl Image, my friends at Edition 38, Meguiar’s and Phil James at The Install Company for more than I can list. And Lowpro!

    “We wanted it to be the lowest driving A4 in the world, and I think we achieved that”

    It’s the subtle touches, like the oversized tailpipes and raised exhaust system – to allow for more ‘lows’ – that make this far more than just an ‘air and wheels’ build.
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    CRAZY V8 ESPRIT / LOTUS ESPRIT / PUNK AND DISORDERLY

    If you want to annoy the purists, what better way than a #V8 #Lotus-Esprit-S3 running on air ride and Jap wheels. A lot of people don’t like this Lotus. It’s got the wrong engine, the wrong suspension, the wrong attitude. But this Lotus doesn’t really care what you think, it’s got its own stuff going on… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Chris Frosin.


    It’s a matter of pride here at Retro Cars that we seek out cars which don’t follow the welltrodden path; the mavericks, the outlaws, the oddballs – the cars with a bona fi de punk ethos that thumb a nose to authority and cock a snook at the naysayers. There are plenty of people within the traditional classic car scene who’ll tell you that there is a correct way of doing things, and to deviate from the norm is to invoke their ire. But screw them.

    Where’s the creativity in building a car that dozens of people have built before? Where’s the sense of achievement? The lifestyle we celebrate is one of brash weirdness, and they certainly don’t get a lot more brash or weird than Rob Howard’s Series 3 #Lotus-Esprit . We’re talking gruff supercar power, scene-friendly altitude, down-with-the-kids rims fresh from Japan… this is the polar opposite to a pipe-and- slippers concours resto. This is a punk collage, a scrapbook of ideas pasted together from all corners of the modifying world, and we couldn’t be more in love with it.

    Now, we know what some of you will be thinking – ‘Oh, it’s another old Lotus on air-ride’. Sure, there are a few of these on the scene these days, and we’ve featured a couple of ’em ourselves; Dean Meeson’s Esprit and Luke Gilbert’s Elite. But if a surfeit of bagged Lotuses is the biggest problem you encounter today, then you should probably take a few minutes out to consider how damned lucky you are. Besides, this is very far from ‘just another old Lotus on air-ride’ – this is nothing short of a work of art.

    “I’ve always been into cars, even when I was a kid,” says Rob. “I started working on cars when I was about fourteen years old, always wanting to change them, to fi t bigger engines and bigger wheels. I guess it’s in my blood? Anyway, the Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked! Someone in my town had one when I was growing up, and I knew I just had to have one… one day.”

    While Bond’s Lotus may have been modified to cope with the salty rigours of sub-aqua mischief, Rob’s would eventually end up taking an altogether different turn – but, of course, he had to find one first. And that sort of thing doesn’t always go as well as you might think.

    “This is actually my second Esprit,” he explains. “The first one I had was a yellow Series 1, which had a Rover V8 already fitted. But it was crap – horrible to drive, and the 130bhp P6 engine was really underpowered. They do say ‘Never meet you heroes’, and I was just so disappointed with it.”



    As you’ve probably deduced, however, Rob is not the sort of man who gives up easily. Having harvested the V8 conversion parts and squirrelled them away, he waved goodbye to the disheartening yellow cheese-wedge and went on the hunt for the car he’d really wanted all along: a white Series 3. “These have a much better chassis,” he explains, “and an improved rear suspension setup. Much better for sticking a V8 in there!” And, naturally , there’s that spectre of 007 lurking in the broad rear aspect, ready to indulge in racy espionage at the drop of a Martini glass…


    “I found the car for sale on a Lotus forum, totally stock and needing a little work,” Rob recalls. “The exhaust manifold was cracked, and the interior was horrible; very faded and turning green! It ran crap but was perfect for my needs – and it was white! I had no use for the four-pot engine anyway, I already had an engine lined up to transplant into it. V8 power was, of course, at the top of the list for the project. I just love the sound. There’s no stereo in here, it doesn’t need one! And another high priority was the wheels; I hate stock wheels, very boring. This car needed to have something unusual. The Esprit is a tricky one to change wheels on though, and it can look horrible if you choose the wrong type or size. I got lucky, I think my wheels look killer – maybe I’m biased? But lots of people that see it also agree the wheels look great! Anyway, after the V8 and the wheels it was all about making it better and faster, and a tad lower…”

    Heh. ‘A tad’. Rob really does run a masterful line in understatement. Being an avid fan of American hot rod shows of the Fast ‘N’ Loud ilk, air-ride was increasingly permeating its way into Rob’s subconscious as a viable option. Having experimented on various previous projects with lowering springs, coilovers and what-have-you, he knew what he wanted and, more importantly, what he didn’t want. There would be no crashy ride or smashed sumps here, this was going to be a suspension setup done right and done well. “I thought air-ride would be the best of both worlds,” he shrugs. “Any height I like, and any spring rate? What’s not to like? OK, it’s not quite as simple as that, and the ride is still fairly harsh, but it’s way lower than I could have got it by other means.” The most cunning part is that Rob’s combination of coilovers and Universal Air bags is managed by AccuAir’s E-Level system, which keeps the car at whatever height you determine regardless of external influence – so, say, if you tell it to run at a particular height, then stuff the boot and passenger seat with bags of cement, it’ll still run at that height you’d told it to. Isn’t it great living in the future?


    The ride-height’s taken care of then, so let’s talk about that engine. It’s a Rover V8, like in his maligned old yellow Lotus, but in this instance it’s a pukka TVR unit. What’s more, it’s been stretched yet further into the realms of motorsport excess; the already-formidable 4.3-litre TVR Griffith engine has been reworked by V8 developments into a rumbling 4.5-litre monster. “I found a hillclimb car for sale that had this engine fitted, and I knew it’d be perfect for my Esprit,” Rob grins mischievously. If you cast an eye over the spec box, you’ll see why he’s grinning. The motor really is a monster, with a torque-rich spec designed for propelling light things up tall things at alarming speed. Just the job!


    “Fitting the V8 was actually quite straightforward, using the gearbox adaptor I had kept from the Series 1,” he says. “I had to make new mounts and carry out a lot of cutting to the rear body to make room for the big-bore 3in twin exhaust, and things kept changing throughout the build as parts got altered and made better; more often things wouldn’t work out how I planned, so had to be reworked or changed completely. The exhaust was re-done three times before I got it how I wanted! The air-ride was a nightmare to fit too - getting it to go a lot lower than Lotus ever intended meant that, with a car that’s well over thirty years old, a lot of the suspension parts were a pain to remove due to neglect and rust. Jobs take a long time to do as it’s all done on my driveway; the car has spent most of its time on axle stands and in bits since I’ve owned it due to always changing things and waiting for parts. And I still have plans to improve the car, it’ll always be evolving and getting better. Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”


    Thank goodness Rob’s enthusiasm lies in modifying old cars rather than delivering babies, we’re a bit concerned about where he’s planning to stick his torque wrench. But thankfully his skills are entirely well suited to Esprit rebirth, as the results you see here demonstrate; sure, he says it’s unfinished, but that’s true of pretty much every feature car owner we speak to. We particularly love his choice of wheels, too – that James Bond influence of international mystique has led him to source a set of three-piece Super Star split-rims straight from Japan, the rears arriving 9in wide apiece and being rebuilt to a meaty 11.5in girth using Image 5in lips. That’s the sort of forthrightness that gives the car proper supercar presence, something that the old-school wedge always deserved.

    “I like to get out in it as much as I can – when it’s working, that is,” Rob laughs. “It’s a Lotus, so something generally needs fixing, but it’s fun to take it to work and there’s always a buzz around it wherever it goes. My colleagues are always saying ‘I saw someone taking pictures of your car again’! And yeah, I know it’s annoyed a few Lotus purists, but who cares about them? It’s my car.”

    …and that’s exactly the right attitude. This badass Esprit doesn’t care what you think, it just does what it wants. It doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t matter either. The Low-tus exists on its own terms, and that’s enough.

    Monster 11.5in wide rear wheels transmit the 4.5 litre V8’s torque to the tarmac.

    “Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”
    “The Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked!”

    James Bond eat your heart out, you can keep your submersible Esprit, we’d rather have this!


    Thumping great V8 soundtrack means that Rob has no need for a stereo install.


    SPECIFICATION #Lotus-Esprit-V8 / #Lotus-Esprit-V8-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit / #Rover-V8 / #Lotus / #AccuAir /

    ENGINE: 4.5-litre #TVR (Rover) #V8 , fully balanced, forged 93.5mm bore #Cosworth pistons and #HRC1037 rods, cross-drilled and balanced #HRC1400 Iceberg crank (80mm stroke), high-volume oil pump, Stage 3 big valve heads, stainless steel 42.8mm inlet and 36.8mm exhaust-valves, fully ported and gas flowed, uprated valve springs ( #VSSV8 ), Piper steel vernier timing chain set, #Piper-BP270 camshaft, Rhoades anti pump lifters, John Eales billet rocker posts and head stud kit, #Edelbrock-Performance inlet manifold - fully ported and gas-flowed to match heads, Edelbrock Performance 1404 (500cfm) 4-barrel #Weber carburettor, #K&N turbo plenum with large K&N cone filter, #Mallory Performance billet distributor with electronic ignition, #Mallory Pro 8mm plug leads and high output coil, TVR big bore exhaust manifolds reversed, twin 3in bore custom stainless steel exhaust system, Rover SD1 sump, Esprit Developments engine conversion kit, custom mounts and turbo rubbers, Sierra Cosworth 60mm core alloy radiator, twin electric 12in rear-mounted fans, Davies Craig EWP 80 pump and controller, extra cooling booster pump fitted at rear, Mocal remote oil filter and oil cooler rad, alloy header tank and swirl pot. 289bhp @ 5500rpm; 300lb/ft @ 4500rpm

    TRANSMISSION: Esprit/Citroën SM 5-speed transaxle, alloy bellhousing adaptor and custom input shaft, lightened race steel flywheel, uprated clutch

    SUSPENSION: #Gaz-Gold-Racing / #GAZ adjustable front alloy coilovers, #Protech rear alloy coilovers, Universal-Air Aero Sport airbags, #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Air-Zenith-OB2 compressor, #Dakota-Digital quad air pressure and tank gauge kit, twin seamless alloy 3-gallon air tanks, front top and bottom suspension arms modified, uprated polybushes, hubs modified to 5x112 PCD and 66.6 centre bore, Canley Classics forged front uprights (trunnion free)

    BRAKES: Front: Audi 100/200 314x30mm cross-drilled vented discs, custom fitted to rear of hubs, Porsche 996 Brembo 4-pot alloy calipers on custom billet mounts.

    Rear: Mondeo 280x12mm cross-drilled and slotted discs custom fitted to rear shafts, Esprit rear calipers, carriers modified for larger discs, stainless braided hoses

    WHEELS & TYRES: 8x17in +25 (front) and 11.5x17in +20 (rear) Super Star 3-piece split-rims with 205/45 Yokohama Parada Spec 2 (front) and 315/35 BFGoodrich Comp T/A (rear)

    EXTERIOR: Side scoop ‘ears’ widened and modified into quad intakes, rear hatch locked ajar with flush-locking bonnet pins, modified front air intake and revised radiator location, rear bumper drilled to improve airflow output, rear engine bay floor removed, extra spaceframe chassis brace fitted with alloy heatshielding

    INTERIOR: Stock ‘teddy bear’ cloth refreshed with black dye, #Nardi Personal 350mm steering wheel, MX-5 suede gearstick gaitor, leather #Lotus gearknob, Stack wideband lambda gauge, #Dakota-Digital air pressure gauge, SJ Sportscars black carpet set, Accuair Switchspeed controller

    THANKS: “ #Gerald-Moors for all the machining work - A4 Engineering, Unit 7 Manor Park, 35 Willis Way, Poole, BH15 3SZ, Tel:¬01202 676047”
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    LAST CHANCE SALOON

    This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.

    When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…

    What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.

    The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”

    Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…

    “My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.


    So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.

    “I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.

    A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.

    The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.


    Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.

    The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.


    Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.

    Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.

    TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights

    INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors

    THANKS Infinite Auto Design (www.infiniteautodesign.com), Duraflex (www.duraflexpbushes.com), Carbon Creations (www.carbon-creations.com), Magnaflow (www.magnaflow.com), Stoptech (www.stoptech.com), Cadence Audio (www.cadencesound.com), D2 Racing (www.d2racing.com), Falken Tire (www.falkentire.com), VIS Racing (www.visracing.com), LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (www.accuair.com), and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience

    “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”
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    SHOWOMAN SHIP BAGGED #BMW Z4

    Jaw-dropping wide-body roadster. With her bagged wide-body Z4, this young lady can teach the boys a thing or two about modding. You want show-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping? This Z4 delivers all that, and even more… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin King Uy.

    Take a good look at this Z4. Drink in the details, the extravagance and the sheer amount of modifications. Regardless of whether or not it’s to your style or taste, it’s one hell of a build, and it was built by a 22-year-old college student. Not only that, but this isn’t just Monique Song’s first project car, it’s her first ever car. Where the hell do you go from there?

    By her own admission, Canadian Monique was not particularly interested in BMs or even European cars. “When I was deciding on my first car, I looked into a lot of different models and asked around for suggestions. At first I thought about getting a GTR, then looked into buying a Dodge Charger because it would be pretty badass to drive the same muscle car as the police, then I looked at Mustangs… This Z4 wasn’t planned, I’d never even thought of a European car until I walked into a BMW dealership. A family friend knew the sales guy there so we went to visit. While we were chatting and looking up inventories, a blue Z4 3.5i came in and it fitted my needs. I liked that fact that it was a convertible so I could enjoy the sun, and that it was small and girly, which suits me. I see the car as a little sister who accompanies me wherever I go, so I named her ‘Hitomi’ – it’s Japanese, meaning ‘eyes, the eye that sees pretty things, the beauty and wisdom’. I think a Z4 should be a girl and I want her to be a beautiful, smart girl.

    “I didn’t have a plan when I first got the car. I barely knew how to mod it at first and this project has been a learning process for me. There’s still lots to improve but for my first modified car, but I think I’m doing well.

    Speaking of modification plans, if I had had a plan while choosing this car, I wouldn’t have bought an E89 as there are barely any aftermarket parts for this model,” she says, but looking at her Z4 you’d hard pressed to tell. As these things often do, Monique began with a set of wheels, Vossen CVTs, before things started getting more serious. “After fitting the wheels, I realised the wheel gap was too big. It looked like the car was tiptoeing, so I lowered it on bags and worked a lot stuff on top of this, including camber arms, to make the fitment more satisfying.”


    The ensuing year-and-a-half resulted in the car you see before you now. As Monique has already touched on her choice of suspension, that seems as good a place as any to start dissecting this build. Her reasoning for going with air was simple: “What suspension lowers the car but can also easily get over speed bumps? Air suspension!” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I started seriously researching air suspension that I realised how good bagged cars can look. However, there were no E89s on bags at the time, which meant I had to be ‘the first to eat a crab’. It’s a Chinese saying…”



    Monique went for the E36 Air Lift air-ride suspension components along with a Megan Racing E85 Z4 camber arm kit and had them custom-fitted to her E89. For management, she went with AccuAir with the controller nicely nestling in her clip-on cup holder.

    The air-ride steered the direction of the rest of the build, and from that point on Monique knew her Z4 was going to be a stance car, and that dictated the styling too. “I’ve seen lots of photos online of the Duke Dynamics project Z4 in Japan and I decided that that was what I wanted for my car. It has some GT3-inspired elements to it but the kit is clean looking and not too crazy for street driving. The only thing missing on the kit is a lip. Luckily, Duke Dynamics is based in Vancouver and I managed to get in touch with the owner who made a carbon fibre lip just for my order,” she says.

    The Duke kit replaces all the OE body panels, meaning nothing needed to be cut and everything can be reversed if Monique ever changes her mind. “Lots of people ask me if my car is an M model or some sort because it looks more like from factory than a bolt-on wide-body,” she adds. “Unfortunately, the actual fitment of the kit isn’t very good. Europa fitted the kit for me and it took the team there a month and a half to put it together, but they really did their best to make it what it is right now. The kit contains almost all of the pieces except doors, mirrors and the hard-top.

    “Painting the kit isn’t much different than painting the whole car so I thought I’d change the colour to create a more dramatic makeover. I loved the original blue too much to remove it all, so I decided on white with a small amount of blue pearl, which really comes through in the light.”


    There was still something missing, though… “After staying on the ground with this kit for a while, I noticed the rear bumper was too high up in the air while the front lip was right against the ground. So I got side skirts and a GT3-style diffuser custom-made by Aero Flow Dynamics when I was in LA, and that really helped the car to look even lower when it was on the ground.” The finishing touch involved wrapping the roof to give the illusion of having a soft-top on the car. “I got the idea from the velvet-wrapped cars I’d seen,” explains Monique. “I got the roof wrapped in black velvet when I had the car in LA. The wrapping guys were all confused as to why I wanted that material but after it was done they knew the reason. It really looks like soft-top! I get a lot of questions about it because a lot of people have never seen anything like it!” she laughs.


    The styling, however, is no laughing matter as this Z4 is obscenely aggressive. Up front there’s that big splitter and at the rear sits that vicious diffuser – literally, as it has claimed countless ankles whilst parked – with its curved fins below that swathe of carbon fibre. It has to be said that the widebody itself is relatively subtle, no doubt thanks to the fact that the panels are all new rather than piggy-backing on the standard body. The work put in by Europa to get the fit and finish perfect has certainly paid off. Even the most comprehensively styled car is only half done if it’s on the wrong wheels, and with that kit (not to mention the fat arches that needed filling) the Vossens simply weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I like blue and wanted to keep more blue elements throughout the car, so the wheel colour had to be blue. I also needed something in a negative offset to fit the wider body so my choice was narrowed down to custom ordering a set of threepiece wheels. Thanks to Europa Auto Design and SR Auto, I got a pretty good deal with PUR Wheels; the LG02 design I went for just came out not long ago and it’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s very unique and it doesn’t have too many spokes which makes cleaning a nightmare.”


    The 19” LG02s look awesome in blue, the angular spoke design definitely stands out from the crowd. The centres are complemented by the Mevius neon blue lug bolts, with mirror polished stepped lips and polished bolts, and the small matter of the massive six-pot Brembo front brake kit visible through the spokes.


    The big brakes are not overkill because this Z4 is not just for show – under that long bonnet sits the vastly tunable twin-turbo N54 straight-six, just ripe for a few go-faster parts strapped to it, so it would have been rude of Monique not to indulge. “It started with a ride in a friend’s Subaru STI. I saw this cool COBB Accessport gauge and decided to get one for my car. After reading the manual I found that if I wanted to go to a higher stage, I needed lots of other stuff. I ordered AR Design downpipes soon after, then got an aFe intake from my friend’s 335i.

    I got the silencer removed so the car is basically straight-piped now, which sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention. At the end of 2014 I got a sponsor deal from STETT Performance for its FMIC, chargepipe and a blue Tial BOV. I then did some engine dress-up, adding coloured bolts and a custom painted engine cover.” That comprehensive list of engine mods means that Monique has at least 400hp to play with, meaning the Z4 has the performance to back up its neck-snapping looks.

    If you thought the exterior was loud, you’d best get your earplugs in because things certainly don’t get any quieter inside. The blue-and-white theme has been carried over to the interior with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication, and it really helps to tie the whole build together.

    Originally, Monique’s Z4 had been spec’d with some questionable wood trim, which she unsurprisingly felt didn’t belong in a sporty roadster, so she had it wrapped in brushed blue, which looks fantastic, as do the Bride single-piece buckets.

    “Initially, I got a pair of bucket seats from Status Racing, but it wasn’t a great experience. Not only was the product not what I asked for, but the company also sent me the wrong base mounts. It doesn’t have them for the E89 but claimed that E85s and E89s use the same ones, which is not possible at all, as not a single hole lined up.

    The seats were also too wide for the small Z4 and rubbed against the door and centre console. Bride was the only company that had the correct base mount for my car so I got the mount from there instead. Also, at the time, a friend was selling his Bride Zeta 3 and Zeta 2 seats so I got both from him. Thankfully, when I later attended SoCal, I met up with another friend who swapped their Zeta 3 for my Zeta 2 and I now I have a matching pair.”


    Monique had similar woes when it came to finding the right steering wheel, as she explains: “I got a Vertex Seven Star steering wheel because I loved its stitching design and the red, blue and white colour combo. It was sitting in the living room for the whole winter until spring, when it was finally warm enough for the heated steering wheel to go away. I couldn’t find a steering wheel hub for my car so I tried to fit the E90 Momo hub and it worked. After fitting the blue quick release boss from Worksbell, I realised that the Vertex’s deep dish style made the steering wheel too close to me and too far for me to reach the turn signals comfortably. I had it in the car for 15 minutes before deciding to get a flat-faced one. Luckily, I was in LA at the time and Evasive Motorsports has lots of steering wheels in stock so I walked in, picked up a Personal Pole Position one and that’s what I’ve got in the car now.”

    We mustn’t forget about the air install in the boot; Monique’s favourite modification on the car. “It’s nothing as crazy as those cars with mass amounts of hardlines and lights,” she says, “but I played with the word ‘bagged’. The air tank was painted as a NOS tank and sits inside a bag. It looks hidden in a natural way. Since I still drive the car quite often, I need a functional trunk. With the bag as protection, I can slide things in without worrying about breaking any pipes.”

    Monique has put a huge amount of work into this car and not only was the experience most definitely a learning curve, having unknowingly chosen to modify a car with so little aftermarket support made the whole experience that much tougher, but she persevered and can now enjoy the fruits of her labours. It’s certainly not a shy, subtle build, but it is an incredibly comprehensive one. This is a build with no stone left unturned. It is an astonishing achievement for someone so young with no prior experience of the modifying world and in one fell swoop she’s put the efforts of a lot of older, more experienced people out there to shame. We can’t wait to see what she does for her next trick…


    This Z4 has quite literally been bagged, with the fun boot install both a talking point and good way of keeping the hardware protected.

    Blue-and-white theme carried over to the interior, with trims wrapped in brushed blue, and Bride seats.

    DATA FILE Air-ride / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Air-ride-E89 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #N54 , Stett Performance front mount intercooler, Stett Performance charge pipe with white paint, #Tial BOV, #COBB-Tuning #AccessPort-V3-Stage-2 , AR-Design cat-less downpipe, #aFe Magnum Force Stage 2 Pro 5R intake system, Downstar accessories including blue engine dress-up bolts, custom painted engine cover and power braces, custom muffler delete exhaust, burnt titanium quad tips, six-speed automatic gearbox.

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) PUR LG02 three-piece wheels with candy blue faces and polished lips with 225/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, custom fit #AirLift-Performance E36 air suspension, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management system with custom ‘bagged’ trunk setup, custom-fit Megan Racing E85 Rear control arm, #Mevius neon blue lug bolts, #Brembo GT six-piston front big brake kit.

    EXTERIOR #AutoTechnic matte black kidney grilles, Duke Dynamics full widebody kit (front bumper, front wings, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper), Duke Dynamics power-vented hood, carbon fibre rear diffuser, #CSL bootlid, custom carbon fibre front lip, Aero Flow Dynamics custom side diffusers, Aero Flow Dynamics custom rear diffuser, custom paint using white base with blue pearl, hard top velvet vinyl wrapped, 88% window tint, tail-light tint, #LuxAngeleyes H8 V4, #WeissLicht LED white turn signal bulbs, interior xenon bulbs, custom boot switchable ambient lights.

    INTERIOR Brushed blue vinyl interior trim wrap, #Bride seat rails, #Bride-Zeta-3 bucket seats, Bride head cushions, Bride blue fashion protectors, 350mm Personal-Pole-Position steering wheel, blue #Worksbell Rapfix 2 quick release, Momo steering wheel hub for E90/E92 custom-fit to E89.

    THANKS Europa Auto Design, SR Auto Group, PUR Wheels, NightRunner International and all of my sponsors. Also to all of the shops that I’ve been to and friends who have offered valuable help in any form. Most importantly, thank you to my parents for accepting their daughter’s hobby even though they don’t really like it.

    The car sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention.
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    Breaking the Mould / #Vauxhall / #Opel / #2015
    ASTRA VXR-R
    Nope, we haven’t made a typo, this really is a VXR-R… find out why in the feature.

    HOT RIDE: ASTRA VXR
    WORDS JARKLE PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS WALLBANK

    AN ASTRA VXR WITH AIR RIDE, 20IN VOSSENS AND A HEALTHY 321BHP...

    It took Vauxhall a long time to make their mind up regarding their range-topping brand. While the boys in Essex decided that ‘RS’ should be their undisputed halo range in the ‘60s, Luton took rather longer and straight up dithered. Between the ‘70s and the early part of the 21st century we were treated to HSs, HSRs, SRis, GSis, Turbos and finally, the VXR. This indecision undoubtedly enabled Ford to steal a march on Vauxhall, and it’s only relatively recently that the latter’s VXR range has begun to approach the levels of appreciation enjoyed by other comparable brands. Still, the VXR brand has delivered some seriously cool cars over the last decade and a bit, everything from bonkers re-badged Holdens to stupidly powerful family vans (take a bow Zafira VXR), and it just keeps on delivering.

    Top of the tree has to be the latest Astra J VXR, a car that bristles with tech, looks fantastic, re-defines what a performance front-wheel drive Vauxhall can do, and can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Focus RS. Then we have the example here, a car bought brand new by Bryn Williams in 2014.

    “I’m known for driving my cars pretty hard and for going through a fair few gearboxes,” Bryn explains with a grin. “My last car was a Corsa SRi that I slowly converted to full VXR spec and I destroyed a fair few M32 gearboxes on that, so I wanted a car with a warranty.”

    Various Corsas were weighed up and rejected before Bryn finally settled on the all new VXR, put his deposit down, jumped in the car and drove direct to Thorney Sport to well and truly void said warranty. What started out with a discussion about the pros and cons of Stage 1 tuning ended with Bryn driving off in an Astra boasting one of the firm’s Stage 3 VXR-R packages. While this doesn’t involve any alteration of the internals or turbo, it does see the Astra given a stage 3 remap, induction work and free-flowing exhaust system, all of which left Bryn with a handy 307bhp, a figure that jumped to 321bhp once the box-fresh A20NFT had loosened up a bit (just over 60 miles had clicked over on the odometer at the time of the VXR-R conversion). “I’d be lying if I said I noticed a massive improvement in performance after all that work, mainly as I’d driven the car fairly conservatively up until then, but in the months since it’s really come alive,” Bryn explains. “350bhp is on the cards for next year, possibly more if I opt to fi t a larger turbo...”


    The VXR-R package came with a whole host of badges, stickers and wheel options, though this latter aspect of the kit posed something of a conundrum; the wheels offered were performance based (Team Dynamics Pro Race being the most popular), and while there’s no doubt that these are fi ne, lightweight alloys in their own right, they aren’t exactly a rare sight on bright blue Astra VXRs. In the end Bryn bit the bullet and fitted some Team Dynamics (though they weren’t Pro Race 1.2s) and ran them for several months, only deciding that they needed to go when he took the fairly drastic step of fitting an air suspension kit to the car.

    “That wasn’t a decision I took lightly but I can honestly say it’s been one of the best modifications on the car, and one that’s made it a whole lot more usable.”


    First, a bit of background. A set of posh Bilsteins found their way under the arches within weeks of Bryn’s name appearing on the V5, all wound down about as far they could go with the ‘helper’ springs removed. The resulting ride was, perhaps unsurprisingly, crashy and deeply uncomfortable. Throw in the fact that he kept gouging his splitter on all but the most pathetic of speed bumps and it becomes all too clear why Bryn eventually went all out and had Plush Automotive fit an air kit with twin 400cc compressors, Air Lift Performance struts and HPDT rear bags. Bryn admits that yes, he did have some concerns about compromising the poise and handling of his VXR, but the air kit has so far proved much better than the previously mentioned Bilsteins. “The only real issue associated with the kit was that it meant I had to change wheels,” he recalls. “Yeah the Team Dynamics were nice and very lightweight but they weren’t exactly a ‘show wheel’ and I thought they looked out of place on such a low car.”

    So what did he opt for? In the end Bryn took advice from his friend, a man with something of a thing for high-end wheels and someone who took him to Auto Werks, a local firm specialising in posh alloys in all manner of fitments. The Astra’s PCD isn’t exactly god’s gift to fitting fancy wheels but there were options and Bryn finally plumped for the rims that grace the car here, stunning 20in Vossen CVTs with their faces ceramic polished. Not only do these wheels stand out from the more commonly seen Team Dynamics, 3SDMs and Rotiforms, they also fitted perfectly right out of the box and with no need for arch work.

    This is one of those cars that really shouldn’t look as good as it undoubtedly does, and if you’d asked us beforehand whether fitting air suspension to an Astra J VXR was a good thing we’d probably have replied in the negative. Yet it does, and then some. Part of that’s down to the fact that seeing such a new car on its belly is a novel thing, though the extensive programme of smoothing, shaving and deleting that Bryn’s put the car through also plays a part. Flushing the boot was one of the more challenging aspects here, mainly because on the latest VXR the Vauxhall badge actually serves as the release mechanism so deleting it involved fitting a boot popper at the same time. Both front and rear bumpers were given the same treatment, while any chrome trims were relegated to the bin and replaced with perfect paint. It’s all very subtle and won’t be spotted unless you’re a fully paid up VXR perv, but then perhaps that’s the best indication of smoothing done well.

    This has been a fast paced build, with the car taking shape over the course of a year or so, but he’s already working on a custom centreexit exhaust, some other exterior details and, when the package is available, more power. Fair play!

    Smoothing the badge (and boot release) was hassle but the results speak for themselves.

    TECH SPEC: #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR / #Vauxhall-Astra / #Vauxhall / #Opel-Astra / #Vauxhall-Astra-Mk6 / #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR-Mk6 / #Opel-Astra-J / #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR-R

    TUNING 2.0 #A20NFT with Throney Motorsport Stage 3 #VXR-R package and Stage 3 remap, #Thorney-Motorsport panel filter, Pace front mount intercooler, Piper sports cat, #Flow-Dynamics cat back exhaust system, #Forge front lower brace.

    STYLING Astra J VXR in #Arden-Blue , smoothed front and rear bumpers, smoothed boot with boot pop relocated, dechromed, colour coded roof rails, smoked rear lights, tinter windows, black sun strip.

    CHASSIS Air Lift suspension setup comprising #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, twin 400cc compressors, performance #AirLift front struts, #HDPT rear bags, 4 gallon seamless tank, I-level, #Bilstein rear shocks, 20in #Vossen CVT with ceramic polished faces, 235/30x20 Nankang NS-2, #Brembo four pots, Hel braided hoses.

    INTERIOR Full leather #VXR interior with blue stitching and custom blue seat belts, one off boot build with x2 compressors, x1 tank and colour changing LED lighting.

    THANKS Richard, John at Thorney Motorsport, Dave at Auto Werx, Luke at Plush Automotive, Si at Still Static, Dan at Flow Dynamics, Mo Miah at Specialist Tint ltd, Stuart at Ultra Finish, Slammed UK and Sump Scrapers.

    “Stunning Vossen CVTs with their faces ceramic polished”

    Blue belts are an awesome detail Plush Automotive install is a quality affair as always Vossens will get more popular in 2016.

    BRYN WILLIAMS

    First Vauxhall: A Grasshopper Green 1400 Sri.
    Worst part of the build: Probably the bit that’s ongoing – trying to sort the centre exit exhaust!
    Best part of the build: Dropping it down right after fitting the air suspension.
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    BMW i8 Haters

    What do you do with BMW’s revolutionary hybrid sports car? Slam it on air-ride, wrap it matt black and fit Rotiforms, of course!


    SEMA SPECIAL: BAYERISCHE MOTOREN WERKE i8 Words Midge / Photography David Taflevich

    DON’T HATE THE PLAYER. OR THE GAME

    As a humble writer who’s spent the last decade working on the world’s best modified car mag, I’m legally obliged to hate hybrids, electronics and motors that run on anything but good old fashioned gasoline. The trouble is though, this is very nearly 2016 and I don’t.

    You see, technology has moved on. And in the same way that nowadays there’s no real stigma in rolling coal, and by that I mean tuning the absolute bollocks off a diesel, in the future we’ll all be going ballistically fast in rides like this. It’s just evolution.


    Personally, to be brutally honest, it’s not so much to do with responsible motoring or saving the planet. It’s more to do with saving the few quid I’ve got left in my pocket. If it’s fast enough for ya, looks the part and costs less to live with than the Focus ST you’ve got your eye on, who really gives a shit what it runs on? Mind you prices will have to come down a bit before we all start to invest. Thirty grand for a specced-up Nissan Leaf? Do me a favour!

    My point is, the eco stuff has come a long way. Electric cars used to be limited to short-range city golf carts like the G-Wiz, which I think you’ll agree is nothing more than an offensive snot box, but now we have Tesla Model X which has bonkers gullwing doors on the back and will do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. Or there’s the R8 e-tron. Who needs a Ferrari V12 eh?

    The same can be said for hybrids. The Prius isn’t all that economical and is largely viewed as a marketing exercise for American celebrities to carefully craft their public image while masking the fact they’ve got a custom 9-litre Mustang Boss in the garage. But the world has moved on somewhat and now we have this: the epic #BMW i8.

    James McDonnell’s Beemer here isn’t nearly the most modified car we’ve ever had in these pages, but it is one of the most important. And that’s because it’s like looking 30 years into the future. If the totally out-of-reach, million-quid LaFerarri, Porker 918 and McLaren P1 are the next generation of hybrid hyper cars, then this here is the first realistic hybrid supercar.



    Compared to hybrids of old, the i8 is a totally different animal. For starters, it’s desirable. Would I have had a poster of this on my wall when I was a kid? Yes. Yes I would. Its futuristic shape is reassuringly ridiculous, like some sort of spaceship. It’s engineered to have so much torque off the line that it’ll do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. You feel like you’re 10 years old just by looking at it. And Tom Cruise drives one in the new Mission: Impossible. Let’s face it, that’s everything a supercar should be.


    It’s all about the wow factor. Put it this way, my favourite movie is Back To The Future (Oh no, those bloody gullwing doors again – Jules). I was five when the trilogy kicked off and I’d still sell my soul to David Cameron himself if I could have a DeLorean, even though they’re supposed to be a bit shit. If they were making Back To The Future now, 30 years on in 2015, this is the car that would be flying around Hill Valley. The i8 is the non-shite, modern day DMC-12. Simple as. Even so, it’s a brave choice for a modified car. Not least because James lives in Florida and being a US ‘gear-head’ is required by law to only hanker after huge V8 motors with superchargers – not a 1,500cc, three-cylinder lump from a Mini with a couple of electric motors.

    It has to be said, this one’s hardly been picked for its ease of modifying either. Even the suspension system is something of a hybrid and getting all the right components from AccuAir, Bilstein and HP Drivetech must have caused the guys at Slammered-Inc more than a couple of sleepless nights. At least that awesome satin-black wrap must have been more normal to install.

    I can only summarise that James is making a bold statement. With stupidly cheap petrol at the pumps I’m guessing economy isn’t an issue. Judging by those awesome custom 21-inch Rotiforms, or the fact that he’s got an i8 in the first place, he’s obviously all right for a few quid.

    I can’t help feeling though, that all this is gonna mean he’s in for more than his fair share of hate from the more opinionated and uneducated bods online. And I don’t think that’s entirely fair because why should it matter that it’s a hybrid? Or where he got a ludicrous amount of cash to spend on it? All we should see is an awesome motor that’s pushing the scene in the best – no, the only – direction possible. Modified eco cars are here to stay. All we have left to do is get used to it.

    A brave choice for a modified car. The average US ‘gear-head’ hankers after huge V8 motors with superchargers.

    TECH SPEC: #BMW-i8 / #2015 / #BMW-i8-Rotiform

    CHASSIS: Custom #Rotiform CBU in brushed and plated copper, 9x21inch (Et30) front, 10.5x21in rear (Et49); Pirelli P Zero 245/35x21 and 275/30x21 tyres; #HP-Drivetech Bags; #Bilstein struts; #AccuAir / #AccuAir-E-Level management.



    STYLING: 3M Satin Black wrap; Dapper screen visor; gloss black detailing; bike roof rack.

    INTERIOR Factory leather, hardline air install comprising of twin air tanks and Viair polished compressors.

    THANKS Slammered-Inc; AccuAir; Rotiform; #3M Wraps.


    JAMES MCDONNELL

    Why did you choose an i8?

    “I saw the one in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and I just thought I can’t not have one of these in my life. It looks awesome and it’s drivable too. I take it to work every day.”

    So what is it that you do?

    “I have a gallery and tobacco shop called Mr Smokes, where artists display and sell their glassware.”

    Glassware? That’s what you Americans call bongs and stuff, right?

    “Yeah, but for tobacco use only, you understand.” And you drive a hybrid? There’s definitely some irony in that mate.

    “Its futuristic shape is reassuringly ridiculous, like some sort of spaceship”

    Engineered to have so much torque off the line that it’ll do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. Futuristic hardline install suits the car.

    What makes it

    SEMA worthy?

    IT’S A HYBRID!

    Just seeing the look on the faces of the huge V8-worshiping good ol’ boys at SEMA when they realised it has the engine out of a Mini, makes one of these worth every penny. At 105,000 quid that’s a lot of pennies though, even without the mods. And that’s if you can even get a place on the waiting list. You’d better get those orders in people.
    www.bmw.co.uk

    THERE’S HYBRID SUSPENSION TOO

    Obviously the key to making the whole look work is the suspension setup, but you don’t go wandering into any old shop and get an off the shelf kit for an i8. No, unfortunately for James, it’s a little more complicated than that. This custom setup was put together by the guys at Slammered-Inc and consists of HP Drivetech bags, Bilstein struts and AccuAir management. Perfection.
    www.slammered-inc.com

    WE LURVE THE COPPER

    The eco-Beemer can swallow up some seriously enormous wheels and still look just the ticket. That’s why James had to have these mental 21-inch Rotiforms CBUs custom-machined for the job. We’re loving that unbelievable double copper finish too. And in case you were wondering for your own i8 build, they’re #ET30 on the front and #ET49 on the rear.
    www.rotiform.com
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    SMOKE MACHINE #Audi A5 3.0 TDI QUATTRO 370bhp, 700Nm diesel! / #Audi-A5-3.0TDI packing 370bhp & 700Nm. Words Davy Lewis. Photography Jape Tiitinen.

    Smoking Skills. A #TDI oil burner that can outpace an S5? That’s exactly what this tuned, 370hp A5 is capable of…

    Let’s get one thing straight – modern Audi TDIs are damned good engines. Common Rail technology, combined with the latest turbos (two of them in many cases) and a decent engine capacity, ensures that, even factory TDIs are rapid. Don’t believe me? Then get yourself over to your local Audi dealer and test drive the latest A6 BiTDI with 316bhp. Or maybe a 4.2 TDI in the A8. These are seriously capable cars with a surprising mid range punch.

    Unfortunately, they tend to cost upwards of 40K. Heck, a fully spec’d A8 4.2 TDI is over £70K!
    But there is another option…


    The 3.0 V6 TDI is a cracking power plant. Found in various A4s, A5s, A6s, A7s, A8s and Q5/Q7s, it can be tuned for impressive power. In fact, when I was looking for an AudiTuner project car – I went for an A6 with the 3.0 diesel.

    It seems I’m not alone in spotting the tuning potential of the derv V6. I’ve spoken with numerous readers with the same engine and they all enthuse about how lively it is and how much potential it offers those of us that like to tweak our cars.

    It was this knowledge of the 3.0 V6’s potential that led Finnish tuner, Tuukka Nivala, to begin searching for his perfect car. It wasn’t easy, as he recalls, “It had to be Imola yellow and it had to be a 3.0 TDI,” he explains. Unfortunately, Imola A5s are rather rare in Finland and as for finding one with a three-litre manual, he may as well been looking for an RS2 with delivery miles.

    After a monumental two year hunt for the perfect car, Tuuka finally struck lucky. The only problem was that it was in Germany. Not one to let geography get in his way, Tuuka got his arse over to Germany and did the deal on the Imola A5. A wise move really; I mean how many of these were actually made?

    With the well loved 3.0 TDI sat on his driveway, the upgrades began in earnest.

    The thing is, Tuuka had been so confident he’d find the perfect project car, that he’d already begun assembling the upgrades. An RSstyle front grille, an S5 front bumper and a full S5 interior in a rather lively shade of Magma red.

    So the first job was to get all of these S upgrades attached to his new purchase. Fortunately, being OE kit it all went on without any fuss or drama and immediately gave the A5 a much more aggressive and purposeful look.

    A devotee of air-ride, there was never any doubt that this A5 would be ‘bagged’. Tuuka’s local roads are challenging to say the least and to get the drop he wanted on coilovers would have been too harsh for a daily driven car. The air-bag kit was also sitting in his garage, having been removed from his last Audi project, an A6 4F. Accuair E-level management was added to have full control over the system, while the Viar compressor is located in the spare wheel well to keep the boot usable.

    “With custom software it now has at least 370hp and over 700Nm”

    With the air-ride offering a huge drop, Tuukka began the hunt for a set of wheels that would blow people away. Not an easy task for someone with a serious wheel fetish! “I started with stock 9x20in Speedlines, then 10x18in Ferrari 360 BBSs, followed by some 9.5x20in Bentley Continental GT limited edition wheels and then a set of 10 and 11x19in BBS Le Mans,” he recalls. “They were all good, but not really the best they could be. Then I found a company called Brada wheels in the USA. I fell in love with their TR5 design. They are custom hand-built 3-piece wheels. At the front I run 10.5x20in and at the rear 11.5x20in – now the wheels sit like they should!” he smiles.

    Next came some further tweaks to the exterior. All of the window trims were done in a gloss black 3M vinyl, before a set of OEM LED rear lights were fitted up – they look much fresher. A stickler for detail, Tuuka then decided to have the entire car resprayed in OE Imola yellow. Which begs the question, why didn’t he settle for any colour when looking for the car in the first place; the reply is that he wasn’t planning a respray then.

    Inside, things have been livened up with the Magma red S5 interior. It’s very bright and not to everyone’s taste perhaps, but we love it. A flat-bottom TT steering wheel joins the party, together with some more black wrapped trim.

    Living in Finland and being into cars, you can’t drive a stock motor. And a big part of the decision to get a 3.0 V6 TDI was its inherent tunability.

    “For the first year I was running with basic software producing around 290hp, but soon that was not enough,” laughs the flying Fin. “I bought another turbo which was custom uprated by Arctic Performance. I ordered a bigger intercooler from Darkside Developments in the UK, plus a full Supersprint exhaust with a DPF delete.” With custom software it now has at least 370hp and over 700Nm of torque. Impressive figures for a petrol S or RS car, let alone a humble diesel.

    “Amazingly the stock clutch still holds up (fingers crossed!). I have a few tricks still up my sleeve – I believe we are going to over 400hp soon,” he continues. “It now does even more miles per gallon than stock, and beats a stock S5 anytime. It doesn’t sound like a diesel anymore either, with only rear mufflers in place the sound is very much like a petrol.” In fact, if you head to YouTube and type in ‘Broo Performance A5 3.0 TDI’ you can see and hear a short clip of another tuned A5 diesel – make sure you turn up your speakers; it sounds like no diesel on earth!

    Using typical Finnish logic, Tukka declares, “If it goes, it must also stop” Wise words! “I bought a set of Lamborghini Gallardo 8-pot Brembos and had custom adapters made to fit them to the A5.” The 365mm discs are from a C5 RS6, while the rears are stock with drilled Zimmerman discs. It’s a serious brake setup and looks ace behind the 20in Bradas.

    This A5 is one of those cars that people may look at and dismiss as a show queen. It certainly has the fancy rims and the air-ride. However, anyone naive enough to challenge it on the road will soon discover it packs one hell of a punch; leaving others behind in a cloud of black smoke. A true flying banana!

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #2015 #Audi-A5-3.0-V6-TDI-Quattro-Coupe / #Audi-A5-3.0-TDI / #Audi-A5

    ENGINE: 3.0 V6 TDI, #Garrett hybrid turbo by #Arctic-Performance , #Darkside-Developments intercooler, full Supersprint exhaust system including downpipe with DPF and cat delete, custom ECU software.

    POWER: 370hp and 700Nm

    TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual, stock clutch (for now!) quattro 4WD.

    BRAKES: Front: Lamborghini Gallardo 8-piston calipers, C5 RS6 365mm drilled discs. Rear: stock calipers, drilled discs, HEL braided hoses.

    SUSPENSION: Custom air-ride with #AccuAir-E-Level management.

    WHEELS & TYRES: 3-piece #Brada-TR5 , 10.5x20 and 11.5x20in with Falken 245/30 and 285/25 tyres.

    INTERIOR: Full S5 Magma red leather interior, flat-bottom S-line steering wheel from TT, S5 pedals, black wrapped trims.

    EXTERIOR: S5 front bumper, S-line side sills, RS5 grille, rear valance and front bumper grilles painted gloss black, OEM LED taillights.

    TUNING CONTACTS/THANKS: facebook.com/dukeworks.photography instagram: @dukeworks www.duke.1g.fi Finstrippers.

    Above: It sounds ace in the tunnel - take our word!

    Left: Magma red seats came from an S5 Below: Air-ride system is hidden in the boot Bottom: Red detailing livens up the plastics.

    Left: Brada alloys and Lambo brakes make a potent combination. Top: Front end looks FRESH! Above: Tuned 3.0 TDI is a beast.
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    CLASSIC CUTS Classic #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk4 1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T-Mk4 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora / #VAG

    American Jetta 1.8T gets a timeless makeover to die for. Jealous? Us…?

    Keep it simple, stupid. We’ve all heard it a million times but when it comes down to it, it’s a hard rule to follow. Not for Alex Bednarik, though, he’s pretty much got it nailed. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Sam Dobbins.

    Sometimes we wonder if the guys at Matchbox and Hot Wheels have any idea of what their little toys are responsible for. You don’t need us to tell you that since their launch in 1953 and 1968 respectively they’ve given millions of children countless hours of entertainment and drained the bank accounts of many adult collectors. How many of us spent our childhood flinging them off kitchen table ramps or round the lounge set circuit? We would bet that virtually all of us at one point or another have had these toys, and that a lot of us still have some in a box in the loft somewhere. So how many of us can trace our current interest in cars back to playing with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when we were kids, then? Maryland resident, Alex Bednarik – owner of this rather fine Mk4 Jetta you see here – certainly can. Well, that and a little family influence, too. “I have been into cars for as long as I can remember,” he started. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad around classic American cars and at the drag strip. And I had buckets of Hot Wheels cars and tons of other model cars, too. However, I had always been more into Japanese cars, and imports in general. This interest really kicked off when my brother got a Mk4 Jetta Wagon as his first car and I’d tag along with him to some of the big East Coast shows.”


    Here in the UK the good ol’ Bora has always been something of an underdog. You hardly ever see them on the road these days. Heck, you rarely saw them when they were fresh off dealer forecourts, thinking about it. And at shows, other than a few memorable creations built over the years, you could probably reel off on two hands the number of modified examples that have been built. Strange, then, that in the US the Bora, or Mk4 Jetta as we should really call it, has always outsold the Golf in massive numbers. Alex explained it this way: “I loved seeing what people were doing to them when I started going to VW shows. The Jetta has a very simple design but it’s a good looking car from the factory. And it can be made to look even better when the modifications start piling on, too.”

    Alex tells us that he was fortunate enough to have his parents buy him his first car – this very car, in fact. With just 50k on the clock and a clean bill of health, it seemed like a smart choice for the youngster to cut his driving teeth on. We’re sure that neither his parents or even Alex himself knew where it would end up, however! “The week I got the car, I booked it in with the garage to remove the pinstriping and badges. Shortly afterwards I put coilovers on the car,” he remembered. “At that point I still didn’t have my licence, so I couldn’t even drive it without one of my parents in the car with me.”


    Alex’s parents helping out with getting the car in the first place was a pretty sweet deal but it did have one drawback: they had something of a vested interest in the car and, in particular, what Alex wanted to do to it. “My brother’s wagon was pretty low, and he broke his oil pan one night,” Alex remembered. “My parents were pretty annoyed by that so they made it a rule that I wasn’t allowed to do anything to my Jetta that they didn’t approve of until I turned 18. Since they bought me the car I couldn’t really argue the rule, unfortunately. However, on my 18th birthday I jacked the car up, spun the coils down and cut the sway bar out. Well, I had to, didn’t I?”

    Unfortunately, this was a case of parents knowing best because just a few months later Alex followed in his brother’s footsteps and, well, broke it. “The Tiptronic gearbox is the lowest point underneath the car and hangs down,” he explained. “I was on my way to a meet a few hours away and I hit a large hump in the road and the car got air. I’d cracked the transmission casing, which made for an interesting journey back after my dad had to come out to tow me home.”

    Killing one transmission prompted our man Alex to look in to air-ride. “I knew I wasn’t going to raise the car and have it sitting really high so it seemed to me that air-ride was the only viable option really,” he figured. Air Lift XL front struts and Firestone rear sleeves were drafted in along with the ever-popular AccuAir E-level management system to keep everything in check. A couple of different valances were bolted up and a set of cloth Sport seats were acquired from his brother. And for a while, Alex was pretty happy with how his Jetta was working out for him.

    “As it is a Triptronic I’ve never been too concerned with trying to get any performance out of it. Everything I’ve done has been with the aim of building a car that looks good and is fun to cruise around in,” Alex explained. “The engine bay was never a huge focus point for me until I started running out of things to do to the rest of the car really,” he smiled. It’s funny to think that this might be the first US car for a long time with a 1.8T engine that doesn’t have a Dub Details box packed full of big turbo specs, larger injectors and the like. Big turbo kits and performance modifications are so affordable in the US, not to mention the vastly cheaper fuel and insurance costs compared to Europe, that sometimes you think #VW should have just thrown a GT28RS on the 20v in the dealers to save everyone time! “I only really got the 20v engine by default really,” Alex explained. “I knew I didn’t want the 8v as they’re just so slow, and I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t like the VR noise. The only other option is a TDI but the US didn’t buy many diesel Mk4s in the first place, so finding one is really tricky.” The engine bay hasn’t been untouched, though. Far from it, in fact. A session clicking around on eBay.de brought a SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover to Alex’s attention which, while not that big of a deal over here in Europe where SEATs are commonplace, in the US, where they aren’t, well you don’t need us to explain why it was cool, do you? “I realised I would need a new intake manifold to put the throttle body on the other side of the car in order to run the engine cover,” he explained. “I started sourcing a TT 225bhp intake manifold but was not pleased with the prices people were asking so in the end I imported a SEAT intake manifold along with the engine cover that I wanted.”



    Next up came the issue of what to do with the intercooler. “I didn’t want to run a big front mount as I don’t like when you see them through the bumper, and I didn’t want to have to cut the bumper up either,” Alex said. “Then I remembered a VRT Jetta from Texas that had dual side-mount intercoolers so I started looking and then found a TT 225 dual setup which worked perfectly.”


    The Audi S3 engine plastics are another part of the car that but actually took a lot of thought to get right. This was because the S3 covers have rounded corners and the Mk4 core support doesn’t. “A friend pointed out a small trim piece from the European market that goes in that corner to round off the core support so I had a buddy of mine in England source me one and send it over,” Alex explained. “I like to pay attention to the details, you see. I like looking over a car, noticing all of the little things, and thinking ‘wow, that is awesome!’ and so I put that mentality into the build of my car. I want people to stop, look and see all of the little things that differ from the stock car while keeping it looking factory.


    It’s an ethos that’s been carried on inside, too. The retrimmed R32 seats and complimentary trimmed headliner, parcel shelf and door inserts are the first things you notice, and they look great, but look a little closer and you will spot all the little things that really set it apart, like the 2013 Beetle steering wheel, the SEAT headlight switch, the stubby rear headrests and, possibly the most subtle bit of all, the right-hand drive door insert with the smoothed door pull.

    “There are always times when I wish I had gone a little bit more ‘out there’ with the build and done a motor/transmission swap and a full shaved bay or gone with a different colour for the interior,” Alex explained. “In the end, though, I am satisfied with the path I choose. It serves the purpose I built it for: to look nice and cruise around in.”

    We’re pretty massive fans of the Alex’s choice of rolling stock, too. Part of that has to be down to the fact they’re so understated. Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing a trick, intricate wheel design or a finish combo that leaves us staring but sometimes it’s just nice to see a simple elegant wheel design. “I contacted CCW about making me a set of totally custom wheels similar to OZ Breytons,” Alex explained. “In the end the guys there said they would make a set of Classic 5s – which hadn’t been made in a good while and they would be the first set in 18” which sounded good to me. One of the main things that attracted me so much is that I like having rarer items.”


    Since our shoot Alex has been pretty busy with his car although, unusually, not actually through choice! “About a month after the shoot I was visiting a friend when a storm hit. The wind ended up picking up a canoe and dropping it on my car. Yes, a canoe, you can’t make it up!”

    Well, that’s definitely a first for Drive-MY! It sounds funny now but at the time not so much, as Alex confirms: “It messed up the passenger rear door pretty bad, ripped the door handle off, and cracked some filler on the quarter panel. Fortunately, my insurance covered canoe damage (that must have been an interesting call to the insurance company ~ All). It ended up needing a full respray and while it was in the bodyshop I decided to have the antenna and fender markers shaved.”


    Since then Alex has actually parted with his beloved CCWs for a new set of rollers and is planning to change a few things up inside and maybe tuck a few wires in the engine bay, as he explained: “The wheels have since been sold and changed up. As far as future plans are concerned, the only things I want to do at the moment are some small changes to the interior and possibly a wire tuck in the engine bay. “For the most part, I’ve received a positive reaction to it at shows and meets. I’ve even had people tell me that it is their favourite Mk4 – which is pretty crazy. Add to that, the fact that I now have a feature in #Drive-My is just surreal. I never expected the recognition the car gets. I am just a kid throwing money at a car, having fun.” And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Keep on having fun Alex…

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 1.8T with TT 225 intake manifold, 5.5L wiper fluid reservoir, SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover, SAI delete, N249 delete, EVAP delete, 42DD cat-back exhaust, 2.0T coil pack upgrade, dual side-mount intercoolers, S3 engine plastics, R8 oil and coolant cap, smoothed and painted core support, misc Euro trim pieces, billet dipstick tube.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x18” and 10x18” #CCW-Classic 5 wheels, #Air-Lift-XL front struts, Firestone rear sleeves, #AccuAir-E-Level management, R32 control arms and spindles, 330mm front discs with Tarox ten-pot calipers, 308mm ECS Tuning rear disc upgrade.

    EXTERIOR: Custom Japanese-spec front moulding, smoothed and painted 4motion front valence, Emphase Clean side skirts, GLI rear valence, custom OEM HID reps, #PZWO grille, #Hella Magic white tail lights, Passat Lingyu door handles, stubby mirrors, OEM Lexan headlight covers, custom billet antenna.

    INTERIOR: Retrimmed R32 seats, retrimmed headliner, parcel shelf, trunk liner and door inserts, black headliner trim, 2013 Beetle steering wheel, right hand-drive door insert with custom smoothed door pull, SEAT headlight switch and climate control knobs, stubby rear headrests, polished Euro Image billet door lock slides, armrest removed, GLI pedals, JCaps billet seat adjustment knobs, shortened and trimmed two-gallon air tank, custom hardlined tank setup.

    SHOUT: My family, especially my father and brother, KDI Customs, Bagriders, Joe, Travy, Swoops, Doey, Sam, Dehate, Ramon, Adam, Sammy, Jonny, Piney, Garrett, Muffin, RollHard and anyone who has helped me with the car in any way over the past years.

    Engine bay is a masterclass of OEM+ modifying with plastics and parts brought in from across the VAG range and modified to fit.

    Smoothed right-hand drive door plastic is a neat touch that you don’t spot at first, as is the relocated switch gear in the door pocket.
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