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    / #BMW / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW-E39-Air-Lift

    E39 Touring’s arches swallow the #Alpina-Classics with ease. Lows when you want them, sensible ride height when you don’t.

    RYAN’S E39 ALPINA B10 3.3 TOURING

    I’ve been living a #LIFEONAIR for just about a month now and I’m loving every minute of it. Aside from a very, very angry bunch of Alpina enthusiasts sending me hate mail and calling me out on the Internet, life with the bagged B10 couldn’t be simpler.

    I’d forgive you for thinking that by adding extra airlines and another management system the suspension system might become susceptible to leaks and a bit, well ‘modified’. That’s absolutely not the case and it’s actually much more robust than the OE BMW SLS system. Granted, the BMW SLS only runs on the rear of the car and allows self-levelling to the fixed front axle but the pump size is puny and tank capacity equally small. The two #Viair 444c pumps included in the Air Lift Performance kit are never stretched to fill the two, two-gallon tanks and everything runs at about 40% duty. Thanks to the quality of the Air Lift Performance front bags and leader lines there’s been absolutely no leaks from the get-go. This was helped by the thorough instructions included in the kit that would allow even a relative amateur to install the kit with ease.

    Since the install I’ve covered some 2000 miles in the car and it’s very much been a fi t and forget affair. I’ve only lifted the factory E39 boot floor to show interested parties the trick setup lurking beneath. Driving the car at a sensible ride height, it’s really difficult to identify a difference in ride quality between the Alpina suspension and the Air Lift Performance setup. It sounds crazy, and I’m sure that statement will leave plenty of Alpina lovers chortling and shaking their heads, but it’s true though. Air Lift Performance 3H is such a sophisticated system that it can out-handle even the most coveted BMW suspension upgrade. Now that this car is on air there is no way I would go back to a static setup.

    It’s the flexibility that strikes me the most. It’s already a hugely versatile car; it can carry big loads, has the heart of a true performance car and now it can party with the show crowd while remaining grown up and demure. Likewise, through town it’s possible to drive at a dangerously low height, usually not possible with a pressure-based system. This is because #Air-Lift-Performance-3H continuously monitors pressure and height and adjusts bag pressure to maintain ride height. This means it’s possible to have your wheels mere mm from the arches and not have contact, pretty fun for posing. Parked up at a slammed height the E39 can mix it with the best of them, however park it at ride height and no one is any the wiser. It’s also perfect for visiting the in-laws and avoiding awkward car questions from non-car relatives. For those reasons alone Air Lift Performance 3H is a game-changing suspension system and something I’m certainly pleased I plumped for on this project.
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    Razzle Dazzle Wild, wide-body, air-ride E36 M3. Beneath the jarring geometric shapes and black-and-white lines, there’s a pretty astonishing M3 hiding in here. And the deeper you dig into its story, the more mystery and intrigue you unearth… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Brian McGee.

    The Zebra M3’. That’s a name a lot of people seem to throw at this car. But have you ever seen a zebra with stripes like this? That’d be one funky-looking equid. No, the style you’re seeing here is a retro mind-melter known as ‘dazzle camouflage’. We know what you’re thinking – camouflage is meant to blend you into the background, right? Like the traditional greens and browns of army gear, or the beige tones used for desert combat. But what can possibly be so jagged in black-and-white that you could morph with its style like this? Some sort of explosion in a print factory? No, the idea here is not simply to hide, but to hide in plain sight; to confuse and distort. Dazzle camo first appeared on ships in World War I, its deliberately interruptive patterns intended not to conceal the vessels, but to make it impossible to judge how big they were, how fast they were going, and how far away they were. And that’s why the offbeat camo works so well today on a wide-body Pandem E36 M3, and makes those three questions are easy to answer. How big is it? Very, thanks to those Rocket Bunny extensions. How fast is it going? Again, very – it’s an M3. How far away is it? Sweetheart, it’s totally in your face.

    The act of being totally in your face is all in a day’s work for Carl Taylor, of course. He, as some of you will be aware, is the driving force behind the Players shows as well as a marketing superhero for Air Lift, and what he doesn’t know about badass show-stopping rides could be comfortably felt-tipped on the back of a postage stamp. The germ of the idea that led to this car in fact appeared back before Wörthersee 2014, when Carl and Rotiform’s Brian Henderson built a pair of E36 Art Cars with Rocket Bunny kits; a 323i and a 325i. “I loved driving that car, and I decided I needed to build another one once I moved to the States… but this time with more power,” he recalls. “So I bought an M3. I found it locally after I moved to California – it was in pretty good condition, the paint was sunburnt but that didn’t matter as I was planning to wrap it anyway,” he says.

    Now, you don’t get to be the figurehead of an industry powerhouse like Players without having a few ideas buzzing around the ol’ brainbox – here’s a man who, after all, can count around fifty cars in his personal history with every single one of them being modified in some way or another – so of course he had a plan for the car. Its fate was written in the stars before he’d even hauled it back to his sun-drenched new home. “I’d broken up the Wörthersee car and saved some parts from that,” he explains. And before the scene knew just what had hit it, Carl was delivering a sucker punch at SEMA 2014 with a fresh, super-wide new build. It wore a minty green Tic-Tac race livery, chosen to emulate the Team Valier E30 M3 that used to race in the DTM, but caricaturised to be broader, fatter, meaner, scarier. The E36’s stock arches were unceremoniously savaged to allow the fitment of a full Sarto Racing kit, with non-M bumpers swapped on to flow more cleanly with the new lines. A set of colossal Rotiform ROCs filled the arches, resplendent in satin gold, and – inevitably, given Carl’s line of work – a top-of-the-range Air Lift setup found its way in. It had a full-on race car look inside; Cobra bucket seats, a rollcage, not a lot else. The effect was pleasingly startling, Carl’s decades-old coupé with its relatively short (but nevertheless superbly well-chosen) spec list more than holding its own against the show’s multi-million dollar builds. What’s key with projects like this, you see, is being relatable as well as aspirational. When you make something as awesome as the Tic-Tac E36, you can shift a lot of wheels, and air-ride kits, and seats, and bodykits, and… well, you know how the game’s played.

    The game, naturally, never stops. Not for a second. So it was imperative for Carl to shake up the formula right away; the car would be returning to SEMA the following year, and it had to be rocking some significant changes. You can’t stand up on a Broadway stage and sing the same song twice. The next thing we knew, the broadhipped M3 was wearing a fresh Art Carinspired wrap, emulating that Wörthersee road trip that kicked the whole process off, along with a Rocket Bunny Pandem kit, a jarring set of Rotiform USF wheels (a sort of double-three-spoke affair, very retro JDM) and a raft of detail changes. The scene was set for the car to once again break necks and steal hearts at the world’s largest aftermarket tuning show.

    Except that, as is his wont, Carl changed his mind at the eleventh hour. “Six weeks before SEMA 2015, I decided to change it a bit,” he says, dabbling masterfully in understatement. Indeed, you’ve probably spotted the car’s not dolled up like an oldschool Art Car in these photographs; no, we’re back at the dazzle camouflage motif we opened with. And there’s also a V2 Pandem kit thrown into the mix. This isn’t so much hiding in plain sight as just running up to people in the street and smacking them across the chops with an embroidered leather glove. If you want a fight, sure, this angry M3 is definitely spoiling for a rumble. “Being a sales manager for Air Lift Performance, I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts,” Carl reasons, “and we had Because Bags create a custom rollcage install for it too.”

    This really is a sight to behold, the way the tanks and hardlines caress the cage like one of those terrifying metal spiders in The Matrix. It’s details like this that steal the SEMA headlines. “I only ever run Rotiform too,” he grins. “The design was left down to Brian Henderson, however I did choose the Corky Pink finish myself to add some colour to the car.” Yep, you certainly can’t argue with the logic of that. Those flashy fourspokes do stand out, don’t they?

    “We’d just decided that we really needed to make a change if we were going to return to SEMA with the same car,” Carl shrugs. “We had the race car interior theme reworked with some custom Cobra Suzuka Pro seats, and the wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing – I think they’re my favourite part of the car. The rebuild took Vaderwerks around two weeks to finish up, with the kit install and then wrapping it and setting the air up with the new wheels. Everything worked out perfect.”


    Now, it’s probably time to address the elephant in the room. SEMA 2015 was a little while ago… so why are we featuring the car now, in 2017? Well, this ‘zebra’ evolution was only one step of many along this everevolving car’s path. Things have happened between then and now. Important things. “The car was sold before we were even back from SEMA,” Carl admits. “Someone heard about the project and made an offer, so it was time for something else. I regret selling this car, to be honest, as after all the work it looked the best ever.”

    But he needn’t be sad, as the car’s latest curator isn’t one to rest on his laurels or let the grass grow. Dylan Coleman is the name to watch – you may know him as @hawaiianeze on Instagram – and he’s a man with more than a few plans. Dylan’s set up a pretty astonishing business in Hollywood, you see: he and his father, Lee, are the brains behind StreetFighter LA, and they’ve been working with the fabled Long Tran at LTMW to kick out some pretty mould-breaking builds. “I was looking for another project to start after we parted with our #ProjectHulk Liberty Walk Challenger,” he explains. “I’d come from a BMW background, and the E36 M3 has always been one of my favourite models. While looking around for potential cars, our friends at Rotiform Wheels contacted us and just so happened to know someone who was looking to sell…”

    Yes, Sherlock, that person was Carl. So Dylan was cruising around LA in one of the world’s best-known BMW builds. That must have felt pretty good? “Well, yes and no,” he says. “We brought the car back to Los Angeles after SEMA, where I started to use it as a daily driver while we were finishing up some other projects. But although the car was a great build that caught the attention of everyone on the road, I never truly felt the connection like I did with my past projects; with high mileage and a stock engine it was time to look to start rebuilding or swapping the engine…”

    But that, friends, is another story for another day. You’ll just have to keep an eye on your favourite BMW modifying magazine for the next chapter. For now, however, let’s leave Dylan basking in the glory of Carl’s achievements, sprinkling on some of his own unique blend of magic, and formulating his plan of attack to take this iconic build to the next level. Hiding in plain sight? Boy, it sure is dazzling.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Wide-body #Air-ride #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-E36 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E36 / #Rotiform / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body / #BMW-M3-Wide-Body-E36 / #BMW-E36-Wide-Body / #BMW-E36-Art-Car / #BMW-Art-Car / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Stock #S52B32 / #S52 / #BMW-S52 3.2-litre straight six, full #Magnaflow stainless steel exhaust system, #K&N induction. Five-speed manual gearbox, welded diff

    CHASSIS 17” #Rotiform-RBQ wheels in Corky Pink with 235/45 (front) and 255/40 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, full #Air-Lift-Performance-3H airride System

    EXTERIOR #Rocke-Bunny-Pandem-V2 wide-body kit with #Downstar fixings, custom-designed 3M wrap by JD Wraps installed by #Vaderwerks , #AC-Schnitzer mirrors

    INTERIOR #Renown steering wheel, custom Cobr a Suzuka Pro seats, #Wiechers roll cage, custom Because Bags roll cage-mounted #Air-Lift install

    THANKS Gino the Master Sepe at Vaderwerks, Brian, Jason and the Rotiform team, Mark and Adam at Cobra Seats, James and Ken at Because Bags, Corey and all my Air Lift Colleagues, Russ and Erik at JD Wraps, Paul Kitch at 3M, Stan at Toyo Tires, 714 Tires, LTMW, Magnaflow, and Renown

    “I had to equip the car with the latest 3H system with Performance struts”

    “The wheels came out perfectly, the finish is amazing - I think they’re my favourite part of the car”
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    PUTTING THE BOOT IN #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk4-1.9TDI / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.9TDI / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.9TDI-Mk4 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora / #VAG / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora-TDI / #VW / #Volkswagen-Bora-IV / #Volkswagen-Bora-1.9TDI / #OZ

    We don’t tend to get too excited over modified Boras these days because we very rarely get the chance, but Anthony Warrior’s example literally stopped us in our tracks. Just look at it! Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: Si Gray.

    It’s funny, but looking back over the years, we’ve only ever featured a small number of Boras on these hallowed pages – the majority of which have been created across the pond. I’d go so far as to say you could probably count the amount of full-fat, UK-built Boras on one hand. The booted version of the Golf just never really took off here in the UK, largely because people didn’t deem it as sporty as the hatchback or as practical as the estate. Understandably we’re more than a little bit excited to bring you coverage of what Anthony Warrior’s vision of a sporty Bora should look like. It’s more than simply a breath of fresh air… it’s awe-inspiring!

    Despite being very fond of cars from an early age, the engineer from Darlington didn’t pass his driving test until he was 21! “I was certainly a late starter, that’s for sure. I remember as a kid that my dad was always a Ford man, but for me it was hearing my friend’s Mk3 Golf VR6 for the first time. That triggered my passion and love for all things VW almost instantly,” he confessed. Despite initially being into the idea of getting a Golf, due to owning quite a large dog Anthony’s other half, Claire, insisted that it had to be a five-door: “I’m not keen on five-door Golfs to be honest,” said the 35-year-old, “so I started looking at Boras and ended up buying this one.”

    The car might have only had one previous owner and been low mileage with just 50k miles on the clock, but it was totally bone stock and that just wouldn’t do. “Okay, I can honestly say that all I ever really planned originally was a set of wheels and perhaps a remap. Now, some 12-years, five sets of wheels, three sets of coilovers, air ride and £1000s spent on bodywork and interior, I can safely say I didn’t intend to go this far.”

    Anthony’s modified journey didn’t begin all that positively though, with a set of 18” Audi A8 replica wheels shod in equally awful balloon tyres being his first step on the ladder. It was actually PVW’s very own Dave Kennedy, or rather his Bora project, that helped Anthony see the light: “I have to say that I’ll always remember watching the progress of Dave’s black car… And those huge wheels he attempted to fit to it.” Needless to say after the rep’s came a set of BBS RCs, followed by a couple of sets of BMW wheels before Anthony finally wound up with his current set-up: “The wheels were something that took ages to get right, especially as they’re 20s, which nobody had really done at the time or certainly hadn’t pulled off,” he said. Anthony claims it was a bit of a gamble buying the genuine Ferrari wheels as it was a big financial outlay, but when they came up for grabs he accepted the challenge. Talk about trial and error, too: “I knew I’d need to run adaptors and the fronts were pretty straight forward being a pair of 25mm items. Out back the adaptors were quite large at 38mm, but that wasn’t a problem until I offered the wheels up before ordering tyres. For some reason one of the wheels poked out a bit more than the other, so I had to take the adaptors to work and have 2mm machined off one of them.” It’s quite a common problem on the Mk4 platform where the axle never sits perfectly in the arch. You don’t actually notice when running standard ride height as there’s lots of clearance in the wheel arches. It’s only when you’re go low and are dealing with millimeter clearance that it becomes apparent.


    Talking of air-ride, after running numerous sets of coilovers over the years Anthony finally decided to bite the bullet and opt for air: “I decided I was sick of bouncing the 130-mile round trip to and from work, so invested in and Air Lift Slam set-up.” Obviously the install has progressed over time, from the original set-up he fitted in his in-law’s freezing garage, to the carbon-clad, hard-lined work of art you see today. “The air tank is still the original item, but now wears a carbon-fibre skin with copper strands running through it, which Paul from C6 Carbon said was a must-have to tie-in with my copper hard lines.” Since the initial air install, Anthony has also fitted poly bushes throughout and also added IDf drop plates to allow the amount of camber needed to run 11s out back.

    It’s obvious that Anthony, who is an engineer by trade, is pretty proud of what he’s achieved with the car, especially as he’s carried out virtually all of the work – other than the paint and carbon – himself! Believe it or not the all-metal, wide-body makeover was carried out around six years ago (before the air ride and Ferrari wheels, in fact) when Anthony was still on coils and looking to fit some wide 6-series BMW wheels. “The bodywork had to be one of the most time-consuming parts of the whole project but then it was done twice. I wanted the arch lines to be as close to factory as possible, to keep it subtle.” As if widening the car by around 4” front and rear wasn’t going to be pretty damn obvious. The thing is, despite the added girth and crazy-wide wheels filling each corner, Anthony almost pulled off the whole subtle thing. For some reason though, he wasn’t really happy: “I seemed to fall out of love with the car for a while at this stage and it just got used and abused really.” It was only after talking to his friend, Dentman that Anthony got the bug again: “He suggested I should take the car to Autospray in Darlington, which I did. We discussed my plans and I quickly decided they were the right guys!”


    Apparently the car was only booked in to have the wide-body conversion reworked, which should have taken a week, but that soon changed to include smoothing the doors and rear bumper, repainting the front bumper and bonnet, then doing the B-pillars and rear door quarterlight bars gloss black, plus adding new window rubbers, clips and screws: “Four weeks later it was ready for show season. That was four years ago, and since then it’s been back ever year to have little bits added or improving,” he said. The car has got continuously smoother as time has gone on. However, we love how the gloss black external parts break up the Satin silver colourcoding so it’s not too over powering.

    On the engine front Anthony hasn’t gone too overboard, but he did admit to getting a little fed up being left behind by his mates whenever they went out in their cars together: “I needed to do something, so I took the car to Revo for a remap, but that turned out to more than a simple flash. We actually had to remove the ECU and install a new chip. What a difference it made out on the open road, though.” After a quick rolling road session it showed 152bhp and 270lb/ft of torque: “I was pleased but figured we could do a little better, so went for a full Milltek system from the turbo back, with de-cat pipe, too." With the addition of an ITG panel filter and Allard EGR delete, the final outcome was 165bhp and 297lb/ft and Anthony was finally happy! Having driven the car for best part of a year with the tiny stock brakes hidden behind those monster 20” hoops, Anthony was ready to up his game again, especially now he had a bit of extra power, too: “Even though I’d fitted a 312mm TT set-up up front they still looked small and the standard rears we just embarrassing, so a set of fourpiston Ferrari Brembos were sourced to replace the fronts. Then all I had to find a set of suitably large discs and make them fit,” he smiled.

    After quite some time spent searching, Anthony eventually found a set of 400mm Alcon discs originally intended for a Jaguar XKR: “First these needed redrilling to fit my 5x100 hubs, then the bell housing needed machining down so the wheels would clear them.” And this was before he’d fathomed out how to make the calipers fit: “I started with cardboard templates and using wooden blocks to get the measurements for the adapters right. Then I bought two pretty large bits of steel, which were drilled and milled for around ten hours apiece. I went a bit over the top getting them as smooth and shiny as possible,” he said. Anthony claimed by the time it came to the back he’d run out of ideas, not to mentioned money: “I figured I’d got a perfectly good 312mm set-up going spare now, so why not just convert that to fit the back?” How hard could it be? “Well, after a bit of drilling, cutting, grinding and lots of swearing they went on.”

    Although hard pushed to choose his favourite single modification, Anthony admits that he is particularly fond of the way the interior came together as a whole: “I just love the Recaros up from and am so pleased Paul made me do the Mk3 Rocco rear bench conversion, too. I love all the carbon work Paul’s done inside as well, then there’s the TT dash which tops it all off for me.” That said, the dash swap was probably the hardest part Anthony had to tackle himself: “I thought, how hard can it be?” Turns out, pretty damn hard! “I needed modified clocks because my car’s a diesel and they never made a Mk1 TT diesel, then the steering column had to be lowered and brought backwards,” he continued, “and because I did the full centre-console, the gear linkage had to be modified so I could select all gears. This, along with all the wiring and installation of the electric heater box – as my car didn’t have climate control – made it more than a challenge.” It was worth it in the end, especially with the diamond-stitched leather top, tying it all in nicely with the rest of the trim.

    We asked Anthony what he’d change about the car if anything and he had this answer: “I wouldn’t really change a thing other than just doing it the right way the first time around, rather than rushing in and regretting it after.” As for the future, he’s going to look at cleaning the bay up, tucking some wiring and adding some more carbon: “Of course more carbon, lots and lots of it!”


    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 1.9-litre PD 115 TDI with custom chip (producing165hp and 297lb/ft), 3” down pipe and de-cat, #Milltek non-resonated system with twin-exit back box. Allard EGR delete pipe, #ITG panel filter, Touran engine cover painted crackle black, #Forge short shift kit

    CHASSIS: 8.5x20” and 11x20” Ferrari 599 HGTE three-piece forged wheels by OZ with polished lips and faces mounted on G23 adapters (25mm front, 38mm and 36mm rear) with 215/30 and 245/30 Nankang tyres respectively. #Air-Lift-Slam-Series front struts, #Air-Lift tapered rear bags, #Air-Lift-V2 management, #Viair-444cc compressor and five-gallon tank, #Powerflex poly bushed all round, IDF rear correction plates. Ferrari four-pot front callipers with custom machined brackets and 400mm Jaguar XKR Alcon discs re-drilled to 5x100 with machined-down bell housings, Audi TT 312mm front brake set up adapted to fit the rear with callipers painted yellow to match fronts

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in the original Volkswagen Satin silver, arches extended 40mm each side in metal, smoothed factory bumpers blended in the extended arches (front and rear), smoothed rub strips, side repeaters and roof aerial deleted, genuine Golf Anniversary front valance modified to fit and painted gloss black, genuine Golf Anniversary side skirts, Bora 4Motion rear valance (painted gloss black), genuine OEM xenon headlights with twin, centre running lights and turn signal relocation, all-red rear lights with gloss black housings, Lupo stubby mirrors (electric and heated) with clear glass and gloss black basis, new window rubbers all round, gloss black B-pillar and rear door window bar, gloss black grille, bumper grilles and scuttle tray, genuine Jetta GLI grille (carbon skinned), aero wiper arms and blades, gloss black rear towing eye cover

    INTERIOR: Full Mk1 Audi TT dashboard and centre console conversion with diamond stitched leather top and custom instrument cluster, modified steering column and shortened gear linkage relocated OB2 port, Climate Control retro-fitted with heater box change, Recaro Sportster CSs in black leather with gloss black inserts, Mk3 Scirocco rear seats retro-fitted and trimmed to match fronts, six-speed Beetle Turbo gear knob, Momo 280mm wheel, carbon-skinned door card tops (with deleted door pins), steering column cowl and TT knee bars (all carbon skinned in Audi small weave by C6carbon). Black perforated leather roof lining and A, B and C pillars, Golf Anniversary black grab handles, interior light, seatbelt tops, sun visors, alarm sensors and rear view mirror, Passat mirror adjuster, leather door cards all round with custom audio builds in front doors. Brushed-aluminium door grabs, custom bootbuild with floating floor (lit by LEDs), five-gallon tank skinned in small-weave carbon with copper strands running in the weave, copper hard line installation, twin AVS polished water traps, polished compressor fittings and polished bulkhead fittings

    AUDIO: JL Audio MBT-RX Bluetooth receiver, #Precision-Power-Par245 five-band EQ mounted where head-unit would have been, JL Audio XD 1000/5v2 amp with copper/carbon-skinned cover to match air tank, JL Audio TW3 12” sub in non-ported custom enclosure, 8 x 6” Jehnert woofer speakers 2 x 4” Jehnert mids, 2 x 2” Jehnert tweeters, Jehnert crossovers and lots of Dynamat throughout

    SHOUT: My wife, Claire for putting up with ‘that car’, Paul at Deluxe Detailing for looking after and preparing the car, Mike and Vicks at Kleen Freaks for all their support, Paul at C6 Carbon for all the carbon goodies, Pete, Adie and the crew at Autospray Darlington, Justin at Car Spa Darlington, D&W Wheel restorers for the powder coating, Rob at JL Audio UK, plus Lee, Woody, Roger, Ricky and lastly my buddies Dentman, Shaun, Begley, Wardizzle, Cuzy and Nathen

    It’s obvious that Anthony is pretty proud of what he’s achieved with the car, especially as he’s carried out virtually all of the work himself.

    I just love the Recaros up from and am so pleased Paul made me do the Mk3 Rocco rear bench conversion, too.

    Recaro CSs are pretty special up from but Scirocco rear bench is a genius addition.
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    RYAN’S ALPINA B10 3.3 TOURING / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / #BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW-E39-Air-Lift

    It’s no secret that the E39 self-levelling suspension (SLS) is the weak link in the otherwise robust E39 Touring package. A quick Google search unveils tales of woe from across the globe, with many owners cutting their losses and reverting back to conventional coil sprung rear suspension. I thought that even if I bought a car with working SLS it would soon fail, so I found one where the owner had already replaced the rear air bag units. This repair was, of course in vain, and the rear suspension still proved to be problematic for him, an excellent haggling point. My plan was to retain these factory rear air bag units and convert the management system to an aftermarket setup with new high flow compressors, increased capacity air tanks and matching air suspension struts on the front.

    An extreme fix you might think, but with the current advancements in air suspension technology it’s actually a worthwhile upgrade over the coveted Alpina suspension that had covered almost 120,000 miles so far. Knowing that Air Lift Performance is right at the cutting edge of air ride management systems with its new 3H, height sensing, self-levelling system I began to dig deeper. I was adamant that I would keep the self-levelling aspect of the suspension but I have to admit, I also wanted to be able to slam the car at the touch of a button.

    The area of East London that I live in is peppered with speed bumps and every flavour of traffic calming device possible, so for an every day car that I wanted to be comfortable, look cool and handle well, the Air Lift kit was hard beat. With both a controller and a mobile app with Bluetooth capability, the Air Lift Performance 3H manifold allows for a huge range of mounting options. This was great news for me; I could take full advantage of 3H technology without modifying the interior of the car to mount the handheld controller. I plan to stow the controller in the centre console of the B10 while utilising the 3H app to make on-the-fly adjustments as I like, perfect for switching from drive height to an extended speed-bump-climbing height. I really wanted a quiet and powerful setup that could easily be stowed away below the E39’s boot floor; I didn’t want it to be obvious that the car was on aftermarket air and wanted a fast-filling setup that retained the whole boot load capacity.

    After speaking with Air Lift Performance’s technical team I opted for dual #444c compressors, both with isolator kits and two two-gallon tanks. The small tank sizes allowed the best chance to squeeze all of the Air Lift components into the spare wheel well. The twin #Viair-444C compressors allow for a fast tank fill and quiet operation, especially when using an Air Lift Performance compressor isolator kit. Keeping with an understated Bavarian feel, I opted for an all-black finish and everything was delivered in super quick time! With everything removed from the car, I started planning the install. Having a good idea of where everything would go I made a base for the components to mount. Luckily, because of the factory self-levelling rear suspension, the car had ample space to create a tidy spare wheel build. I adapted the original #BMW rear air bags to work with Air Lift Performance’s 3H management system and used the factory sensor locations to mount the Air-Lift-Performance-3H sensors. Admittedly it was a little bit of a suck it and see experiment, with a metric to imperial conversion for the air lines being a very interesting challenge. All of the Air Lift Performance products come with step-by-step instructions to guide you through the install so there is absolutely no guesswork required. By following these guidelines, I was able to prepare the components for a hassle-free install. I say I, what I mean is my good friend Steven Doe did.

    He’s already got an Air Lift Performance bagged E21 and his knowledge with air ride installs was invaluable during this process, cheers Doey! During reassembly with the new Air Lift Performance components, we could follow the torque specification chart to ensure a safe and long-lasting install first time around. The same instruction booklet shows the best practice for removal of the OE shock absorbers too, meaning you don’t need a fully equipped workshop in order to install the new system, just basic tools and a general understanding of safe working practices. I can’t wait to show you how this looks aired out, it’s insane!
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    JUST BUGGIN’ Late-spec air-cooled Beetle gets left-field makeover we canʼt get enough of

    MAX HARDCORE

    Max Edward’s late-model Beetle, running uncharacteristic wheels, may be frowned upon by the air-cooled fraternity but we just love it. What do you think? Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: Ade Brannan.

    We don’t tend to feature many air-cooled Dubs in the pages of Performance VW. Now that’s not because we don’t like them you understand. Far from it. It’s more the fact that there are already plenty of other publications around specialising in non-water pumpers. That’s not to say we won’t run them in the mag though. Every now and again something ‘air cooled’ turns up that’s just so off the wall that we can’t resist the urge.

    In fact, there have been a few instances of late where that’s happened. It’s actually been like the early days of PVW when we specifically highlighted one air-cooled Dub per issue. Only last month we featured Richard Jones’ stunning Type 34 Karmann Ghia (albeit it with a 13B rotary motor out back) from Las Vegas. Then, back in the January issue, it was the turn of Jo Riley and his custom ’1972 Karmann Ghia (this one running an MR2 turbo engine). It doesn’t stop there either, because the month prior to that we brought you news of a car we’d been chasing for quite some time: the electric-powered ‘Black Current’ drag racing Beetle. Like we said, it’s only the ‘out there’ cars that really appeal and while Max Edwards, owner of the creation on this very page, has retained an air-cooled motor, his Bug is anything but conventional.

    Okay, so we admit, it was the wheels that initially drew us to Max’s ’1978 Beetle, but we soon discovered the car as a whole has been built with a slightly different approach. “Cars have always been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember,” he says. “My dad had air-cooled Dubs in the ’80s. That’s when we started to go to shows and I fell in love with VWs and, more specifically, Bugs.” Amazingly, at the tender age of just 22, Max doesn’t only own this Beetle but also his own restoration business, called EVA VW Retro. “We specialise in air-cooled and early water-cooled VWs mainly.”

    Although he’s owned more air-cooled Dubs than anything else, Max admits he prefers the approach to building a water-cooled show car.

    “I find the air-cooled scene incredibly samey,” he reveals. Perhaps that’s why we are so fond of his Beetle, he’s put a water-cooled spin on it! “There are just so many people running the same tried and tested looks and not doing anything different. The water-cooled scene always struck me as being a bit more experimental, so I wanted to take some of this and apply it to my air-cooled car.”

    He may be in his early twenties but Max has already had 11 cars so far. From Type 3s, a couple of E30 Beemers, and even a Porsche 924, he’s had the lot, but the Beetle was his first car at the tender age of 16. Did he ever expect it to get this out of hand, though? “The car was shiny and solid but neglected when I bought it. It had been repainted in its original silver but nothing else has been done.” According to Max it began life as a ‘Last Edition’ 1200L and it still has a numbered plaque inside that ranks it at number 213 of 300 of the last ever Beetles sold in the UK.

    “I couldn’t afford an early car back then, but this was pretty solid, just needing small bits doing that, at 16-years-old, I could fix myself. If I had an early car then I probably wouldn’t have ended up going this far with it.” Apparently the car’s been through a number of different looks along the way and despite his plan to lower it and just do the odd bit here and there, Max never envisaged a full restoration with a colour change and a set of wheels that cost the same as buying the car in the first place!

    So what style, if any, influenced him? “I’ve always liked the ‘German-look’, which usually features Porsche parts and engineering on fast road and track Beetles.” Max was obviously heavily influenced by the whole stance movement, too: “The car has always had a bit of Porsche flavour to it I guess. In fact, the BBS RSs are actually spec’d for a 930 Turbo with wider rears and relatively skinny fronts, giving it the perfect stance.” We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves though, so let’s rewind a bit.

    The first thing Max did when he got the car was sort out the interior. “When I bought the car it looked like a bear had been living in it, so I fitted replacement OE seat covers, prior to the 964 Tombstones going in.” Having done his thing with the car for a couple of years, it was actually the summer of 2013 that the it came off the road for the mother of all strip downs. “It was pretty tough taking my lovely, dependable Beetle off the road and stripping it down to nothing more than a bare shell, chassis, and a box of bits. It wasn’t the build that was hard part but more being unable to drive the thing,” he says.

    Apparently most people thought he was mad taking the car off the road but he knew that behind the tidy façade there were some nasty areas that would soon be exposed, so he decided to get in there first. “The car had a fair bit of rust repair welding done, requiring some small panels and localised repairs,” he explains. In the end the chassis had brand-new pan halves, too, with everything being blasted and either painted or powdercoated during the rebuild. It was truly like a brand-new car when it hit the road again. When it came to paint, Max fancied white – not just some factory shade, though, but RAL 400 white. “None of the VW whites were white enough,” he says, “but I now know why manufacturers don’t paint their cars pure white as I practically need to wear sunglasses now every time I wash it.”


    When it comes to chassis mods, Max claims the car is mainly stock, with a few ‘enhancing’ modifications: “The front end is narrowed 2” to allow for the aggressive fitment and runs long travel ball joints, dropped spindles and strengthened shock towers.” Sounds quite serious to us! Out back Max choose to go down the IRS route: “There are a lot of Beetles dropped dirty-nasty low on standard swing-arm suspension but it just doesn’t perform too well. Mine uses semi-trailing arms and CV-jointed driveshafts. It drives as good low as it does at standard ride height, without the crazy camber, too.” Max claims the rear end had to be notched a fair bit but he’s so happy with the way it looks and drives. “I went for air-ride as well, as I wanted it a lot lower but without compromising the way it drove. It was just way too soft static and used to bottom-out all the time.”

    Max claims the wheels are one of his favourite parts of the car: “I know RSs are a bit played-out on the water-cooled scene and yet they’re almost unheard of in air-cooled circles.” He had considered doing Autostradta Modenas but is pleased he went with the RSs and being direct fit, they couldn’t be any better. “I really, really didn’t have the money for the wheels at the time but I just had to have them,” he reveals.

    “I struggled money-wise for a while but don’t regret them one bit.”

    If anything, Max wishes he’d done a bit more to the bodywork, which is still very much stock (other than the graphics) but we reckon it looks perfect as it is. Okay, we’re obviously massive fans of the look but how has the car been received on the air-cooled scene? “It’s been a bit of a mix, with some people not even noticing it at all and then others just totally getting it,” Max tells us. He reckons the air-cooled scene is very set in its way and if it’s not an early-type car, done the right way, on the right wheels, then it just won’t get a look in. “They probably look at mine and wonder why I’m running Mk1 Golf wheels. It’s one of those cars you either get or you don’t, I guess,” he grins.

    When it comes to the motor, Max is running a 1641cc lump with an Engle 110 cam, straight- cut gears, all high-rev valve gear, 1.25:1 ratio rockers, a pair of Solex Kadron carbs, and a Vintagespeed stainless exhaust. The engine runs on electronic ignition with a custom breather box setup, MST serpentine pulley kit with all-gold tinware and powdercoated black auxiliaries. “It all runs through a Freeway Flyer gearbox with a longer fourth and final drive. I’ve had the car into triple figures a few times and it just keeps on pulling,” Max smiles.

    It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though. “The car’s been super reliable, always starts and runs great. There was this one time, though. We were on the way to our local meet, gunning it down the motorway at a fair pace, when all of a sudden there was a big plume of white smoke out the back,” Max says. He killed the engine and coasted to the hard shoulder. Turns out the main oil line for the remote filter on the exhaust had melted. “As I didn’t have any more oil line with me we had to wait for a recovery vehicle, but that just gave us chance to air it out and take a couple of ‘scene’ photos for social media,” he laughs. We like the fact Max doesn’t take himself or the car too seriously. Max is the first to admit he never set out to get attention. “I’m honestly so chuffed when people do get it. I never expected a magazine like PVW to be interested in my air-cooled car. I’m still as in love with the car now as I was when I drove it daily at 17.”

    As for the future, well, Max has already retrimmed the interior since our shoot with Porsche Pasha pattern and half leather seats and doorcards, plus a trimmed boot build along with Alcantara headliner and a new air controller. This year he just intends to enjoy the car for now, but when it does start looking a little tired then it will get torn down and the colour changed, as he explains: “I’ll probably go for some super-deep Nutmeg brown metallic or maybe even classic Porsche Guards red.” It sounds like Max has put some thought into this already. “I certainly never plan to sell the car. I’d like to make it properly fast one day too,” he adds. We’ll just have to watch this space. This is certainly not the last we’ve heard of Max or his Beetle for that matter.


    You can’t beat a Bug for mod-cos, you know, like a steering wheel, seats, erm…
    “I’ve had the car into triple figures a few times and it just keeps on pulling”
    “The water-cooled scene always struck me as being a bit more experimental, so I wanted to apply this to my air-cooled car”

    Dub Details #1978 / #Volkswagen-Beetle / #VW / #1978-Volkswagen-Beetle / #Volkswagen / #VW-Beetle

    ENGINE: 1641cc four-cylinder with Engle 110 cam, straight cut gears, all high rev valve gear, 1.25:1 ratio rockers, twin #Solex-Kadron carburettors, Vintagespeed stainless steel exhaust, electronic ignition, custom breather box setup, MST serpentine pulley kit and other dress parts, all gold tinware and powdercoated black parts. Freeway Flyer gearbox with longer fourth and final drive

    CHASSIS: Stock VW spine and floorpans, #IRS converted. Six-point braced rear, 2” narrowed front. #Air-Lift suspension all-round

    EXTERIOR: Pure white paint, vinyl stripes, aluminium running boards, body-coloured bumpers, yellow headlight covers, rear window slats

    INTERIOR: Porsche 964 leather front seats, stock basket weave rear, charcoal carpets, cream vinyl headliner, Porsche three- spoke wheel, Auto Meter tach, ‘boot’ build with exposed tank and Air Lift 3P manifold

    SHOUT: My dad for help on the bodywork of the car and other stuff along the way, girlfriend Emma for emotional support and when I’ve needed a hand! Best mate Ed for tons of support and helping out where possible, plus all my other good mates for being the best company ever to do all the shows with!
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    Alex Grant

    BEHIND CLOSED DOORS #Audi-SQ5-Stance / #Audi-Q5-Stanced

    3.0 BiTDI SQ5 killing it on 22” rims with lashings of carbon and 570lb ft of torque #Carbon-Clad #Audi SQ5. Built away from the social media limelight and unveiled without warning, Ian Kelly’s impossibly stanced SQ5 is a daily driver with details to die for. Words: Alex Grant. Photos: Si Gray.

    As a global melting pot of ideas, a live feed of projects and a route to finding obscure parts, you’d struggle to argue that the scene would be a better place without the internet. But for all the good it’s done, there’s one thing that the rise of forums, social media, and updates on every detail has robbed us of: surprises.

    That’s not to say we don’t enjoy a good build thread or finally getting to see the end result in the metal when it rolls into its first event. But those show-stopping projects, patiently and quietly put together out of the digital limelight and unveiled without warning, are becoming a real rarity. Which makes them all the more remarkable when they do happen.

    When we first met Ian Kelly back at Ultimate Dubs in #2014 we’d got no idea how he’d managed to keep this one quiet. In six months, he’d turned a box-fresh SQ5 into the talk of the show without even hinting at what he was up to: an impossibly low static drop over 22-inch wheels on a car nobody else had modified to this level in the UK. Impressive not only because the work needed to get it there was more than worthy of a project thread but also because it’s his daily drive.

    “I’d only told a handful of people that I’d bought the car,” Ian recalls. “The plan was always to keep it under wraps until it was ready for its first show. That was quite a challenge given I used it daily – especially once it was lowered. It was spotted a few times but nobody knew who the owner was.”

    Just under three years later and it’s lost none of its impact, the studio lighting picking out every crease of the carbon-accented, Zaino’d bodywork and two-tone Rotiform DUS wheels. But it’s more than just a one-trick car; the result of 15 years of developing ideas, this might just be the ultimate nu-wave build. Ironically, for someone who’s never gone for project threads, that’s something you don’t fully appreciate without understanding the work that’s got into it.

    Even Ian admits it almost never happened. Having moved out of an S3, he’d got far enough down the road of planning a Tiguan build that he’d even bought a Golf R bumper to graft onto it. But the performance, economy and rarity of the e big Audi was too good to pass up. “The key thing about the SQ5 for me was the engine,” he explains. “I wanted big power and torque but without having the fuel bills of a petrol car as my daily commute is 100 miles. Plus the fact the car was so fresh. Apart from the odd Q5 in Japan and the US no one was really modifying them.”

    Plans had started coming together before this car had numberplates. Ian is good mates with Paul Brown at C6 Carbon, having worked together on his previous cars, and they’re used to bouncing ideas off each other. For the SQ5 the route ahead was pretty obvious: the biggest drop, with the largest wheels that would fit, and enough carbon fibre to make a Formula One car feel inadequate. But getting there without the backup of other Q5 owners’ shared solutions to problems was never going to be simple.

    Even the car itself was a leap of faith. “I’d never even driven a Q5, let alone an SQ5,” Ian says. “Some would say that was pretty risky on such an expensive car but I knew I’d love it. It came from Bath Audi, which is a long way from my home in Newcastle, but the drive back home was fantastic. The exhaust note on the 3.0 #V6 #BiTDI in Dynamic mode is like a screaming petrol V8. I was hooked.”

    Ian didn’t make things easy, starting out with a static drop and a need for custom parts to get it as low as the picture in his head. Si Sweetland at StillStatic put him onto Alois Hankover at AH Exclusive parts in Germany to build a 150mm H&R Race Kit for the Audi; the first of its kind, it took two attempts to bring the back end low enough, and caused problems he didn’t notice at first. For example, taking several inches out of the ride height gave it excessive negative camber, lunching a set of tyres in a couple of thousand miles (the same also happens with the A4 and A5). “Everything was very much experimental at that point because nobody else was modifying the SQ5 or Q5,” he says. “I imported a set of 034Motorsport front upper control arms in the hope this would resolve the issue… it didn’t. The kit simply isn’t designed to run on cars as low as mine was, so we had to redesign them and C6 machined a new set to work with our specifications.”

    Even this didn’t fix all the problems. Filling the arches with 10.5x22-inch Vossen CV-T wheels highlighted a total lack of clearance, with suspension components hitting the frame on bigger bumps. Getting the ride height where he wanted eventually meant ditching the rear anti- roll bar and making some ‘adjustments’ to free up extra space.

    “The front and rear chassis modifications mean we can run the biggest drop of any Q5 or SQ5 to date, and it can drive this low static. The trouble was, having got the ride height how I wanted, it was too low to run daily. I was scuffing the fuel tank, so I had to change to air. People thought I was anti-air as I’d resisted it for so long; I wasn’t, I just hadn’t needed it until that point.” The end result of that two-year trial and error is a setup which Ian reckons is pretty much perfect. Paul at C6 Carbon modified a set of airbags to fit the shortened H&R dampers Alois had built for the car, and the kit is controlled via Air Lift 3P management. He drives it as low as it was when it was static but lifts it over tank- scraping obstacles when needed. Not that it’s finished yet. “We’ve got plans for some more front chassis development,” Ian laughs.

    “It just depends when we can fit it all in.” There was, at least, plenty of room to be greedy with wheel sizes. It’s still remembered on the Vossens it was wearing when it broke cover, but they spent only a year on the car before Ian moved on to the set he’d wanted from the start. “I had been a fan of Rotiform from day one and had been chatting to Brian for a while about changing to a set of three-piece wheels,” he says. “They were going to be the main change for the car in 2015 and they were fitted just before MIVW. It totally changed the look of the car, adding more class to it. The centres are painted the same dark black bronze as the Vossens.”

    As easy as it is to get wrapped up in that hard-earned stance, it’s only part of this car’s talents. Ian and Paul’s collective eye for detail is woven through every part of the SQ5. For example, they deleted the chrome before Audi offered that as an option and replaced the seat belts and all the stitching with yellow matched to the brake calipers – one of the few bits of colour left on the outside. Both bits you can miss at a glance.

    Harder to miss, though, is the acres of carbon fibre. Ian had started working with C6 Carbon when he was building his old S3 but the SQ5 took that carbon skinning obsession to an all-new level. We’re even talking boot hinges, the inside of the armrest, even the end caps of the dashboard – parts that are usually out of sight. Everything got treated the same way, with Paul using a larger weave than usual and rotating the roll 45 degrees which means the weave follows the line of the car instead of being diagonal.

    Actually, Paul’s had such a big hand in the project that he’s the only other person who gets to drive it. When it made the trip to MIVW last year with its new RS6-style front bumper, it was Paul who’d fitted it while Ian was on holiday in Ibiza. It had also meant a week of frustration when the new bumper’s paint didn’t match, and a last-minute rush before heading for Valkenburg.

    But it seems Paul likes a challenge; so when Ian opted for seamless air tanks for the boot install, there were no corners cut with the layer you can actually see. Paul skinned the tank in a single sheet of carbon fibre – a job which would usually take three pieces. As we said, it’s as much about what you don’t notice at first, as what grabs you at a glance.

    Ian’s had his hand in where possible, though, as he explains: “The air install was my first attempt at air and hardlines. It didn’t go to plan first time and after a set of PTC cartridges later and numerous lengths of tube, the air install was finally in. Then the management just wouldn’t fire up. Paul eventually found the issue after chatting to Phil James at the Install Company. Somehow the loom was wired incorrectly from the factory. It’s never easy.”

    With 313bhp and 480lb ft of torque, and 62mph out of the way in around five seconds, big performance upgrades were never really on the shopping list. Ian’s swapped to an APR intake and custom DTUK map which takes power up to 370bhp and 570lb ft of torque without denting economy for commuting. He then treated the bay to plenty of matte carbon fibre to bring it in line with the rest of the car.

    Which means – even with a two-year-old daughter and a wedding to pay for this year – life shouldn’t get in the way of SQ5 ownership any time soon. Just as well, really, as it almost happened the other way around. Ian’s fiancée Karen went into labour while he was at Edition 38, leaving him frantically shuffling of the showfield before sprinting back to Newcastle to get there in time. Having poured so much effort into the Audi, 2017 is all about the final details rather than big changes – the priorities, for now, are elsewhere.

    “It’s great taking it all in when it’s parked-up at shows – I love how complete it is yet how simple. There are so many details that most people miss and that is how I wanted it, and how it should have left the factory.” So it’s part of the family now then? “Karen, my fiancée doesn’t mind it although she does say it’s ‘daddy’s silly car’ to our daughter… read into that what you will,” Ian laughs.

    Of course, that’s not stopping him planning further ahead. So, what’s next? “I have a plan for a new car. However, I’m not going to say too much… all will be revealed once the car is ready to show, just like the SQ5,” Ian smiles.

    We love this new-wave Audi, not just for what Ian has done to it but because it’s right out of the old-skool – built the way projects used to be before the internet made every nut, bolt and late night public. For that, Ian, we salute you. Now close those garage doors and get building!




    “Everything was very much experimental because nobody else was modifying the SQ5 or Q5”
    “There are so many details that most people miss and that is how I wanted it”

    Dub Details #ARP / #Rotiform / #Audi-SQ5 / #Audi-Q5 / #Audi-SQ5-3.0-BiTDi / #Audi-SQ5-Tuned / #Audi / #Audi-Q5-8R / #Audi-SQ5-8R / #Audi-MLB /



    ENGINE: 3.0 BiTdi diesel, #C6-Carbon / #APR-intake , #DTUK-Tuning-Box (370bhp, 774Nm), one-off C6 Carbon strut brace, C6 Carbon slam panel and scuttle panel, one-off C6 Carbon R8 washer bottle cap, R8 coolant cap and oil cap

    CHASSIS: 10.5x22” forged #Rotiform-DUS , 265/30 Nankang NS2 tyres, #H&R 150mm #RSS-Race coilovers modified to run airbags on C6 Carbon CNC hardware, Air Lift Performance 3P management, C6 Carbon front upper control arms, C6 Carbon chassis development, rear anti-roll bar deleted

    EXTERIOR: #Xenonz-UK RSQ5 front bumper conversion, C6 Carbon grill surround, C6 Carbon crash bar, C6 Carbon side blades, C6 Carbon rear diffuser, exterior trim painted black

    INTERIOR: Yellow seat belts and stitching, C6 Carbon dash/door trim, sill trims, seat backs and seat sides, RTA Fabrications #Air-Lift-3P controller holder modified to fit into the ashtray, C6 Carbon air install with Speciality Suspension one-piece seamless tanks, C6 Carbon acrylic/carbon illuminated #Air-Lift manifold plate, C6 Carbon fire extinguisher #Air-Lift-Performance-3P

    SHOUT: My fiancée Karen and daughter Grace, my family, my friends, Paul at C6 Carbon, Simon at StillStatic, Alois at AH Exclusive Parts, Brian at Rotiform, Steve and Rod at RA Bodyshop, Simon at Syco Graphix, Matt at Only Charged Dubs, Parm at Car Audio Security, John at Bespoke Leathering, Richard for CAD work, RTA Fabrications, Zeeshan at Xenonz UK Ltd, John at Zaino Europe


    The perfect daily? We’re struggling to think of many cars on the road today we would rather have for the daily drive!

    There’s just something so badass about slammed SUVs isn’t there? Imagine seeing this in your rear view… GET OUT OF MY WAY!
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    Prime cut S3 8P Show-stopper revealed. When Matt Vanstone isn’t preparing the Southwest’s finest fillet steaks, he’s working on his stunning S3…. Words Davy Lewis Photography AJ Walker.

    The second generation Audi S3 is a cracking little car. Launched in 2007, it packs a potent 2.0 TFSI engine, quattro drive and the kind of neatly understated looks that set it apart as a premium hatch back. Audi sold bucket loads of them and they’ve become one of the most frequently tuned of all the S models. So when Matt Vanstone was after a new car, he had his sights set on an S3. “I’d been into Fords before,” he explains, “but I wanted something I could modify in a Dub style.”

    After looking at a couple of cars, he found an immaculate S3 in Sprint blue, which he fell in love with. “It was only down the road from me and although it wasn’t as highly spec’d as the others I’d seen, I didn’t mind as I planned to upgrade it.”

    Having thrown £14k at the salesman, Matt proceeded to enjoy his new toy. “I’d spent all my cash, so it was standard for about a year,” he says. But the plan right from the off was to create something show worthy – just as soon as he’d saved up the money. Then disaster struck...
    “It was during the floods of 2014; I was driving home and hit standing water.” The S3 aquaplaned into a ditch and the damage was significant. “My heart sank, I thought it was a write-off – but I just got away with it,” recalls Matt.

    That said, there was a big bill for replacement parts, including a new front end, wings and other bits, which all told added up to about four-grand – which wiped out the tuning budget. However, there was some good news…

    “I came into a little bit of money and while the car was in the bodyshop I decided to do a few bits to it.” This included fitting the latest (at the time) Air Lift Performance kit, some Forge Motorsport goodies and new wheels. With the S3 making good progress, Matt went along to Ultimate Dubs, where he was blown away by the standard of some of the cars. “I met Jules Loose and he invited me to join Dubfiction, which is where I got a lot of help and inspiration for the car.”

    At this point, there weren’t any RS-style honeycomb grilles available off-the-shelf, but Matt had his heart set on one. So, he set about making his own. “I ordered a brand new RS6 grille from Audi and my mate cut out the honeycomb section and adapted it to fit the S3’s OEM grille. It involved a lot of work and expense, but looks fantastic, especially with the satin silver surround, which he’d seen on an RS4. Next came new wheels.

    “Jules offered me a set of RAD48s, but they weren’t quite “wow” enough for me, so I sent them off to be ceramic-polished. Sounds simple enough, until Matt explains this involved shipping them off to Belgium for the work to be carried out, at a cost of about £500. Now that’s commitment.

    With the exterior looking good, Matt turned his attention to the inside.

    “I knew I had to really go for it to make the car stand out at shows, so I bought a full S5 interior,” he says. Unfortunately, the seats were in bad shape, with dodgy electrics and bent sub frames. “They needed about £900 spending on them and I felt like giving up,” he admits. But it’s when you’re at your lowest point that your mates really help and Jules, plus girlfriend Terri told him to carry on – setting a deadline of the next Ultimate Dubs show to get the car ready. “That left us just three weeks,” laughs Matt.

    “I managed to get hold of some genuine Bentley leather for the seats – I hadn’t even seen the colour, apart from a picture,” he says. When he visited the trimmer to see the progress, there was another heart-in-mouth moment: “I didn’t like the colour,” laughs Matt. But girlfriend, Terri, said it would be okay and told him to let the trimmer get on with it. “She even bought me a flat-bottom steering wheel, which spurred me on.” The trimmer had some work to do though – the stitch pattern alone took over a week to complete. Finally, with the show just hours away, having pulled another allnighter, Matt and his crew made it to the show, even having to stop en route to pick up the parcel shelf.

    But you know what – it was all worth it. The S3 was very well received with plenty of nice comments about the interior. With a renewed enthusiasm for the 8P, Matt began planning his next show – Early Edition. Then, disaster struck for a second time: “An inlet cam snapped and I ended up having to get an engine rebuild.” This took another chunk out of the tuning budget, but as Matt says, ‘You can just give up, or accept that life gives you hurdles like this and get on with it.” Wise words indeed.

    The engine itself is now in rude health and although not currently running any performance software, the Cobra Sport exhaust has transformed the S3’s character. The 3in turbo-back system, with sports cat, is much freer flowing and delivers a nicely rorty sound, without any annoying drone. There’s also a Forge twintercooler and inlet, which means this S3 is ready to have its potential unleashed with a remap.

    At the time of writing, Matt is recovering after a flat-out Christmas rush preparing turkeys for his customers, but in between wielding his cleaver, he’s been planning his next upgrades. “I’m fitting some new wheels, plus some carbon bits and maybe big brakes for next season,” he says. “I also want to get the engine sorted, so I’ll be giving the guys at MRC Tuning a call at some point.” There’s lots more to come from this S3 – look out for it at this year’s shows.

    SPECIFICATION #2017-Audi-S3-8P / #Audi-S3-8P / #Audi-S3 / #Audi-A3-8P / #Audi-A3 / #Air-Lift / #RAD48-DR1 / #RAD48 / #Audi-8P / #Audi /

    Engine 2.0 #TFSI , #Forge twin take induction kit with carbon fibre air filter covers, Forge chrome recirulating value, #Forge-twintercooler , Forge blue silicone hose kit, Forge chrome charcoal canister cover, Forge chrome oil water and coolant caps, custom made engine cover using old air box and dipped in carbon fibre affect and colour coded pipe work in sprint blue, turbo back sport cat exhaust system by Cobra Sport all in 3in pipework

    Transmission 6-speed manual, Forge adjustable quick shifter

    Suspension Full #Air-Lift-Performance slam struts with 3/8 airlines and two #Vair comps and 4-gallon skinned tank with #V2-Auto #AutoPilot-V2 management

    Wheels #RAD48-DR1s 8.5x19in all round et45 fully ceramic polished by Felgenwerkes/puc polished in Nanking tyres NS2s 215/35x19

    Interior 2011 flat bottom steering wheel with carbon fibre air bag cover, Audi S5 front seats with custom diamond stitch in centres and retrimmed in Bentley nappa leather with a blue stitch, carbon fibre control panel and seat backs and grab handle, rear seats, arm rest, hand brake, gear gaiter, parcel shelf, glove box, under steering wheel and door card inserts all trimmed to match

    Exterior 2011 rear lights, custom made, front grille using RS6 and standard one moulded together to make one grille then painted gloss black centre and satin silver ends, carbon fibre b pillars, Forge chrome petrol cap

    Contacts and thanks Stefan May at Tiki Custom, Kris Butler at Forge Motorsport, Jules and Mario at RAD48 wheels, James batty at Autofinesse, Colin Haden at D Hayden Upholstery, Matt at System Clenz, Indy at Felgenwerkes/Stefan puc polished, Nick Cockman at Cobra Sport exhausts, the Mrs, Terri for putting up with my temper tantrums, the whole Dubfiction crew, Adam Ford for many late nights working on it before shows.

    “I knew I had to really go for it to make the car stand out...”

    Essentials: air and detailing kit.
    Bentley leather was used for the interior.
    Flat-bottom wheel with carbon centre.
    Nicely detailed bay, with big power to come.
    Cobra exhaust looks and sounds ace.

    Dubfiction 9 July 2017

    If you haven’t heard about Dubfiction, it’s a cracking show with a very welcoming attitude. Based in Derbyshire’s Peak District at one of the UK’s most picturesque locations, it offers plenty of space to park up, a show and shine, trade, music and camping. The new date for 2017 is 9 July, so make sure you get it in your diary and check out Dubfiction on Facebook. Dubfiction 2017 – 10am - 4pm, The Bull I’ th’ thorn Inn, Ashbourne Road, Hurdlow SK17 9QQ.
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    HOT RIDE: Porsche 993 Words Daniel Bevis Photography Mike Kuhn On (Roti)form RWB 993
    Planet Girth The wide, wide Porsches of RWB are a global phenomenon. You’ll find them in Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, and now, thanks to the work of Crolls Customs, a bright green 993 has popped up in Pennsylvania. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Philly #1.

    RWB 993 Have you seen enough RAUH-Welt Begriff Porkers yet? No, we didn’t think so!

    Ben Harmony’s RWB 993 Porsche

    The acid-green vision you see before you is the product of passion and heritage, of vintage methods and new-wave thinking. You may be familiar with the cult of the RAUH-Welt Begriff (RWB) Porsche. But do you know just how deep the rabbit-hole goes?

    The whole trippy merry-go-round is a million miles from simply buying and fitting a bodykit – it involves the synthesis and fusion of sensibilities, a personal commitment in time from Akira Nakai himself (for he is the enigmatic figure behind RWB), and a mind-boggling array of decisions in order to arrive at something unique. RWB cars are rare fruit indeed.

    This car, which began life as a 993 Carrera 2, is the proud possession of Ben Harmony, Philadelphia resident and seasoned car modifier. His roots lie in the VW scene, although it’s fair to say that this scene-defining build has really taken the idea of OEM+ to a whole other level. This isn’t just bolting a set of Twists to a Golf. This is a different hustle on another game court.

    “My first car was a 2008 Golf R32,” he says. “It was lowered on coils, and I did the exhaust, chip tune and so on. That started the car craze for me! My next project was a 2012 Golf R, which was bagged, stage 2+, and had a full Milltek turbo-back, APE fuel pump, tune, intake, and also HRE 501s and OEM European Recaro seats imported from Germany.” This car was sold to partially fund the RWB build, as well as Ben’s beloved daily – a 2004 Golf R32, which was also bagged, and running Rotiform INDs. “I miss that car a ton,” he laments. But don’t feel too bad for him. Just look where that money went.

    Now, there are two key steps to take when you start down the bespoke RWB path: one is that you need to source and prepare the right car, and the other is that Nakai-san needs to interview you, to get inside your way of thinking and see how the car will intertwine with your wants and needs. And after numerous lengthy discussions with the great man, pinpointing every specific element of the details, Ben was ready to take the plunge, having been deemed worthy by the creative puppetmaster who pulls all the strings.

    “It all really started about three years ago, when I found the original build videos on YouTube,” Ben recalls. “I began watching them and fell in love with the look of the cars and just Nakai-san’s passion for building. And I knew one day I had to have one!” At this point Ben had a shiny new BMW M3 on order, but he made the call to cancel that and instead refocus his life in an entirely more lairy direction. “It was the best decision I ever made,” he grins.

    A suitable donor was soon found advertised on eBay and Rennlist: a straight Cherry Carrera with no accident damage and just 52,000 on the clock. “It was a three-owner car with a good history,” Ben explains. “Not many people would buy a mint car for an RWB build, but I wanted to find the cleanest because my ultimate goal is to have one of the most all-round best built cars. I don’t cut corners – if you’re going to do it, do it right from the start.”

    The 993 was located in Kansas City, Missouri, so Ben sent over a PayPal deposit and got himself booked on the next flight out, along with buddy Roman, to collect the car and take it on a road trip back home.


    If your knowledge of US geography is a little rusty, a quick route-planner on your favourite online mapping service will reveal that this is a journey of well over 1,100 miles. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he laughs.

    And what better way to get to know your car. Before entirely tearing the thing to pieces and starting afresh?

    So, what’s it like watching a RAUH-Welt Begriff creation be spirited into existence by the frenzied, nicotine-fuelled Nakai-san? “I’ll be honest, it’s pretty surreal,” says Ben, in masterful understatement.

    “The car was getting worked on for over a year getting it ready for Nakai-san’s arrival. It was a long journey of emails, details and planning. These builds take a lot of time and effort, especially when you’re a young kid who runs his own business and goes to school full time, it can be very stressful! I flew out to visit a build a few months prior to mine commencing, to meet some of the RWB guys, and also set my date with Akira Nakai and meet him for the first time – which helped out a lot! When he arrived in Philly we already had that bond and knew each other, which was very cool. But to see it all come together and hang out with Nakai-san at my house and watch him build my car was probably one of the greatest events I’ve ever experienced.”

    RWB builds are noted for being a three-day process, but such was the quality of the base car and the fastidiousness of the planning that Ben’s Philly #1 only took two days to build. “It was a weekend of hanging out with my best friends and family, and just watching the project car I worked hard to build finally come to life,” he enthuses. “The best part was just watching my buddies’ eyes light up as Nakai-san worked and put the car together, because they used to joke and say ‘Ben, get real, you’re not building one’. But now it finally happened it just made it that much sweeter.”


    As you can probably imagine, this certainly isn’t a car for shrinking violets, and Ben gets a fair amount of attention when he’s out and about. “I do drive the car a decent amount,” he assures us. “I’ll take it to dinner with my girlfriend, drive it to class, or just run errands. People go crazy over the car trying to take pictures while driving, or just stop me to talk about it. I get tagged in so many social media pics! Whenever I drive it I usually end up talking to at least one or two people about the car, and I always take the time to answer questions and let them take photos. People love Nakai-san’s work, and it feels great to be a part of that.”

    The nature of extreme modification is not to rest on one’s laurels. Sure, Ben may have had his car converted into something hand-crafted and unique by one of the world’s premier automotive artisans, he may be rocking some obscene wheels and a delectable interior, but there’s something about that standard flat-six that’s niggling him.

    “The motor’s still stock, aside from a custom titanium exhaust, which weighs around 5lb compared to 98lb for the stock item,” he says. So what’s the future? “Turbo, turbo, turbo,” he cackles triumphantly. “What I really want to do is swap in a 993 Turbo engine, shoot for about 450bhp – not crazy power, because everything on this car was done for reasons of balance and handling and I don’t want to throw that off.” He says that. But this Porsche’s all about the crazy. Let’s see where the mischief takes him, shall we?

    TECH SPEC: 993 CARRERA / #Porsche-911 / #Porsche-911-993 / #Porsche-993 / #Porsche / #Porsche-911-RWB-993 / #Porsche-911-RWB / #RAUH-Welt-Begriff / #Porsche-911-RWB-993 / #Air-Lift / #Airdynamiks / #Rotiform-LVS / #Rotiform / #RWB / #Porsche-911-Carrera / #Porsche-911-Carrera-993 / #Air-Lift

    STYLING Full custom RAUH-Welt Begriff wide-arch bodykit; Porsche Gelb Grün paint by Josh at Crolls Customs.

    TUNING #Porsche-M64 3.6-litre aircooled flat-six; custom titanium straight-piped exhaust system; manual ’box with CAE shifter.

    CHASSIS 10x18in (front) and 13x18in (rear) Rotiform-LVS; 265/35 (f) and 315/30 (r) Pirelli P Zero Rosso; #Airdynamiks-air-ride with #Air-Lift-3H management; #Brembo discs with ceramic pads.

    INTERIOR #Recaro-A8 seats; full colour-coded #RWB rollcage; doorcards retrimmed in black; new black carpets; Alpine Bluetooth headunit; JL speakers; Focal amp.

    THANKS I want to thank Josh at Crolls Customs for the killer paint and bodywork; Brendan Ginty for the interior work and getting all the suspension done – the man is a perfectionist and there isn’t a thing he can’t do; and all the RWB guys for the help along the way.

    WHEELS: GET THE LOOK Philly #1 is rocking a set of miles-deep Rotiform LVS wheels, measuring 10x18-inch up front and a whopping 13x18-inch out back. Proudly manufactured in the USA, these wheels can be ordered in anything from 14-24-inch in diameter, and 6-16-inch in width. (Well, within reason – if you ask for a set of 14x14” they may look at you funny. Still, can’t hurt to try.) You can also choose between forged monoblock, two-piece, or the full-fat three-piece, as you see here. Get in touch via rotiform.co.uk to discuss specs and pricing.

    What is RWB?

    RWB stands for #RAUH-Welt Begriff , roughly translating as Rough World Concept. It’s the brainchild of legendary and revered Japanese tuner Akira Nakai. Beginning operations in his hometown of Chiba, Nakai-san’s outrageously widened aircooled Porsches have captured the tuning world’s imagination, being immortalised in countless frothing Instagram posts and even the Need for Speed video game franchise. Each car features custom arches, bumpers, wings and skirts, decided upon when Nakai-san interviews the client to ascertain how the car will match their character and fit into their lifestyle. The parts then get shipped to the customer for prep and painting, before Nakai-san flies in with his tools and gets to work building the thing. On a diet of beer and cigarettes, he works through the night until the car’s perfect. Everything’s cut freehand, by eye rather than measurement, in the manner of a traditional craftsman. The quality of the finish is testament to his unique skills.

    The youngsters would say Ben’s 993 is ‘on fleek’

    “People love Nakai-san’s work, and it feels great to be a part of that”
    The Rotiforms hide Brembo discs and ceramic pads. Nice.
    Nakai-san has got a lot better looking.
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    Richard Fisheer’s Boss S14

    THE BOSS hot ride: #Nissan-240SX Speed Star: 560bhp LS1-powered Boss S14 Defining Car Culture. Words Paddy McGrath & Ben Chandler. Photography Mark Riccioni. We caught up with Chicago-based car builder, drifter and self-confessed Air Jordan hoarder, Mr Fish and his positively bananas Boss-kitted S14 drift car.

    NISSAN S14 It may look like a Dodge Challenger from the front, but we can promise you it’s all Nissan on the inside.

    In words, at least, this is a car that will almost certainly evoke a sigh or two. It has all the right (or wrong, depending on how you choose to look at it) ingredients for a drift car: an LS V8 motor, a Rocket Bunny kit, some SSR mesh wheels and Air Lift Performance suspension. There was a time when this combination would have blown people away, but now it’s almost the expected, and maybe the proven choice for a fun street/track car. But, we’ve long since learned that it’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car.

    This may not be the very first time you’ve seen this S14. This particular car has appeared on the internet and done the round on Instagram, but we do feel that it’s the first time a UK magazine has managed to capture this beautiful piece of automotive art. It’s still evolving too; since Mark captured these photographs, it’s now running a supercharged LS1 making 560hp to the wheels. It’s far from a show pony.

    Drifting, as a whole, is about expression. It’s always been this way and some might argue that non-competitive drifting is perhaps the purest form of drifting, as it offers the driver the most amount of freedom with regards to expressing themselves. Risky Devil, established 2007, are maybe the most recognised crew from the United States, mostly because they epitomise this mantra so well. There is a certain look that’s considered appealing in this community: as low as possible, wide wheels with lots of dish and as much smoke pouring off the back of the car as achievable.

    This 240SX delivers on all of these things. And more.

    The whole package is a visual treat. While I had seen pictures of the car before, I don’t think I appreciated the two-tone paint scheme; the black roof and pillars are maybe the most important part of tying the Boss kit into the S14, itself combining US and JDM style into one car.

    While it might not be a fully-fledged competition car, safety has still been addressed in a comprehensive way. Fixedback buckets and Takata Racing harnesses are enclosed by a full FD specification roll cage. The aim might be fun, but that doesn’t mean that the impact will be any softer if the worst happens.

    I don’t think it’s anything that we haven’t seen before but when something looks this good, it’s genuinely exciting to have this drift weapon in Fast Car. You might forget about it in an hour or you might not stop thinking about it for weeks – we’re just glad it exists.


    Wheels: Get The Look

    Speed Star Racing, or SSR to you and me, are one of the Godfathers of Japanese aftermarket wheels. They’re responsible for some of the most famous of all wheels, the SSR Super Mesh – a most beautiful wheel that can often be found on AE86s, Hakosuka GTRs and Nissan S31s. Basically old and Japanese. The wheels on Fish’s fine S14 Boss are Formula Mesh. These have been around for decades and are now certified as absolutely timeless. SSR, for the most part are all 3-piece wheels. As the name suggests, the company has been involved in racing for many years. If you look closely at the logo on the caps of SSR wheels you’ll notice an actual outline of F1 genius Graham Hill, a gentle nod to SSR’s passion for racing.

    Risky Devil

    If you’ve not heard the name Risky Devil before then stop whatever you’re doing and head over to YouTube immediately. Type ‘Risky Devil’ into the search bar and hit return. Seeing a car static in photos is one thing, but actually seeing it living and breathing in video is another. We also came across a clip on YouTube which gives a pretty good insight into the sort of life this car lives. Sure, it might make you flinch when you see it, but I respect that the car is still out there being driven as intended. It’s better than the alternative, right?

    AIR LIFT PERFORMANCE

    Fish is a long time friend and customer of Air Lift Performance. He worked directly with Corey at Air Lift on this built to create a car that sits (and drifts) super close to terra firma. The S14 Air Lift Performance kit is a bolt on solution, which means that if you have an S14 chassis, you can fi t this kit in a weekend and be airing out at work by Monday! Check out www. airliftperformance.com for further info.

    Muira-san

    This fine Japanese gentleman is a living breathing legend. Now, legend is a word that is overused, but it is certainly well deserved in this case. Why? Well, Muira-san has pretty much single handedly made bodykits cool again. The mad scientist is responsible for the Rocket Bunny brand and has also penned designs for the likes of Liberty Walk, Old N New, Pandem and more. This USDM and JDM mash-up kit found on Fish’s S14 is one of his finest designs.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS: #Nissan-S14 / #Nissan-Silvia-S14 / #Nissan-Silvia / #Nissan-S14-Boss / #Nissan-S14-LS1-V8 / #Nissan-S14-V8 / #GM / #GM-V8 / #SSR / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #Nissan / #Nissan-240SX / #Nissan-240SX-S14 / #Nissan-240SX-V8 / #Nissan-240SX-LS1 / #Nissan-240SX-Boss / #Rocket-Bunny-V2 / #Nissan-Rocket-Bunny-V2

    Styling #Rocket-Bunny-V2 “Boss” wide body aero package, with front lip; bullet wing mirrors; license plates removed front and rear; fully repainted in red and black (only to be repainted again and again, and probably again when Fish runs the wall); genuine, eBay rare Risky Devil sun strip.

    Tuning LS-1 motor swap; #K&N intake, #CSF radiator upgrade (now running a supercharger post shoot).

    Chassis #SSR-Formula-Mesh 10.5x17 (f), 12.5x17 (f) with Dunlop Direzza ZII 245/40x17 (f) and 265/40x17 (r); Air Lift Performance struts with 3H management.

    Interior Fully stripped with FD-spec cage; Takata harnesses; Racetech seats; snap-off steering wheel; fly-off handbrake; repainted in a tasty looking silver hue.

    Thanks #Air-Lift Performance – www.airliftperformance.com
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    SIZE MATTERS

    A period-styled early-’90s E30 is a very desirable thing these days. So what happens if you exaggerate all of the details just a little bit? Ernie Hofstetter is the man to ask… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.

    / #BMW-E30-M50-swapped / #BMW-E30-Cab / #M50-swapped

    Exaggeration, despite what your teachers at school told you, is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it can be helpful in getting ahead in life to artfully embellish and subtly big up the finer points of your character and achievements, to massage the salient facts into something more colourful. Doesn’t hurt anybody, does it?

    Ernie Hofstetter is a man who appreciates the nuances of this sort of behaviour. We’re not saying he’s a show off, of course – not by any means. But he’s reached the stage in his life when he’s seen a few automotive scenes come and go, ebb and flow, and he’s been taking notes all the way through. And here, with this E30, we find his meisterwerk; the physical manifestation of his years of careful observation, made real in glorious style. He’s taken the archetypal retro #BMW convertible, made it look sort of like a spec’d-up period example, but cunningly exaggerated the details. Thanks to this carefully thoughtthrough approach, the car’s almost like a cartoon – it looks like it would have done rolling through his hometown of Howell, New Jersey back in 1991, but something’s different… it’s lower, broader, meaner, more aggressive. Those subtle small details have added up to a mighty whole.

    “Back when I was 18, I thought these E30s were the coolest thing,” Ernie remembers. “When the time came around decades later that I wanted a fun car, that model immediately came to mind. Throughout the years my cars have always been modified – one of my favourites was my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck – but this a bit different. I’ve always been interested in BMWs, it’s a quality European driving machine, so it was the clear choice this time.”

    Ernie happily admits that he didn’t have a distinct plan for the car when he first got hold of it, and was willing to let inspiration be his guide. The cabriolet was found for sale in Philadelphia, and was in reasonable condition – not amazing and certainly not up to Ernie’s high standard but, of course, it was never the intention to buy someone else’s project. He wanted to create something unique of his very own: “Let the modding begin,” he mischievously grins.

    The first area that was primed for exaggeration was the big oily bit under the bonnet. While M20 motors have their merits, Ernie wanted to go harder, better, faster, stronger, and the way to achieve this was to swap the thing out for the rather mightier choice of the M50. Specifically, an #M50B25 : the 2.5-litre #straight-six that you’d normally find powering an E36 325i. “The M20 was boring and ugly,” he says, somewhat mercilessly, “and the M50 is much cleaner and sleeker. Any non-essential parts were removed from the engine bay, along with any unnecessary brackets and so on, to make it all look as clean as possible; the battery was relocated to the boot to help with this too. I uprated the cooling system with a Mishimoto radiator and a Spal fan, and the exhaust system consists of ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds with heat wrap, a Borla mid-section and a Vibrant muffler – all custom, of course!

    The car also started off as an automatic, but we couldn’t have that so it’s been swapped to a manual Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, with a Z3 shifter and aluminium shift carrier.”

    A pretty comprehensive transformation, you’ll surely agree, but Ernie was just getting started. Having substantially beefed up the muscularity of the old drop-top, neatly morphing it from cruiser to bruiser, it was time to address the question of altitude.

    Now, Ernie’s seen a thing or two, as we said, so he’s observed the stance scene evolving from grass roots to comparative mainstream. However, while air-ride has been around since World War II, its presence at the forefront of custom car culture is a relatively recent thing; back when our man was a teenager, the way to get your ride hopping was to slam in some hydros. So is that what Ernie’s opted for here? Not quite… you see, that exaggeration factor has come into play again. “I’ve always had the need to go lower,” he explains (note that he uses the word ‘need’ – that’ll no doubt be familiar to a number of you. This isn’t just playing, it’s a lifestyle). “The only thing that could satisfy me with this project was air suspension. So now the car has a full Air Lift system, with 3P management, rolling sleeves up front and Slamit Industries bags in the rear with Bilstein shocks. I custom-painted the airtank in the trunk, which gives a good supply of air at all times!” Well, that’s good to hear.

    The next logical step was to put some thought into the wheels. No good slamming the thing over a set of weedy stock steels, right? So Ernie bolted on some 17” rims from iForged… but then he quickly changed his mind. The period style of the early Nineties was calling, and he found himself drawn toward the timeless charms of the BBS RS, knocking the diameter down an inch but beefing up the girth to amusing degrees: these things are 7.5” wide at the front, 8.5” out back, and the way it sits is so aggressively juicy that it almost makes your eyes water. Imagine an automotive cartoonist in the early 1990s sketching up a BBS-shod E30, slamming it to the ground with improbable lows – that’s the look Ernie’s achieved in real life. Once again, it’s a masterstroke of considered exaggeration. “Whatever happened to the car, I wanted it to be as clean as possible,” he assures us.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love! The bulk of it was actually built by Michael Hockman, who is a legend in the E30 community, and has now become a great friend of mine. But all the fine finishing work was done by me, with great pride, as well as some talented people: Levent from Guten Parts, Andrew from Open Road Tuning, Rich from County Line Auto Body, and of course my fantastic wife Michelle who has the patience of a saint!”

    What’s clear as Ernie talks us through the detail points of the car is that this sits somewhere on the mid-point of the scale between evolution and revolution; some of the changes he’s made are pretty extreme, and yet the whole ethos of the thing is to consider a period build and artistically amp it up for a 21st century audience. Take the treatment of the interior: “I wanted the insides to be as stock as possible, but I still wanted the modern amenities,” he says. “So that meant an AV audio receiver, iPod interface, reversing camera, satellite radio, navigation – all of the things that make it more comfortable.” And that’s exactly what we find in there, all subtly and tastefully integrated into the old-skool vibe. It certainly helps that work like this is his bread-and-butter, being a salesman of stereo and security systems for cars as well as all manner of bolt-on performance gizmos, and this E30 ’vert is a solid manifestation of his skills as well as his aspirations.

    “It took a good six months to get the car to a quality I was happy with,” Ernie explains. “But there’s always fine-tuning going on – they’re never really finished, are they?” Well, no, he’s hit the nail on the head there. We always find new things to fiddle with. And when you’ve been observing the scene for as long as Ernie has, your mind can’t help but be constantly swimming with fresh ideas and new things to try. So this E30 is bound to change in the near future – possibly unrecognisably – but in this cheery little snapshot of the here-and-now, it’s pretty much perfect. An early-Nineties style convertible, with all the details cleverly exaggerated to turn it into a thoroughly modern creation.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet-E30 / #Getrag / #Viair / #BMW-E30-Air-Lift

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #M50B25 from E36 325i, #Mishimoto radiator, Spal 16” fan, battery relocated to boot, #Raceskids skid plate, 318i harness cover, ceramic-coated headers with heat wrap, custom Y-pipe, #Borla mid-pipe and #Vibrant rear box with 2.5” piping, shaved and wire-tucked bay, #Getrag-260 five-speed conversion, custom transmission brace, Z3 shifter, aluminium shift carrier, 3.73 LSD

    CHASSIS 7.5x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ET14 #BBS-RS / #BBS , 180 slant lip (front) and 247 slant lip (rear), with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyres, full #Air-Lift suspension system with front rolling sleeves and Slamit Industries rear bags, Autopilot 3P management, dual #Viair-444C compressors

    EXTERIOR Smoked projector headlights with integrated indicators, 6k low- and 3k high-beam HID lights, Euro grilles, rear impact strip fitted to front bumper, smoked tails and corner lights, front and rear valances with Ryan G splitter

    INTERIOR #M-Tech-II suede steering wheel, suede gaiters, chrome gauge rings with Alpina tach strip and painted needles, #ZHP illuminated gear knob, #BMW pedal set including foot rest, Alpine AV receiver with navigation and reversing camera, JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amplifier

    Gorgeous 16” #BBS RSs boast impressive width and have serious dish going on.

    Air Lift 3P #Air-ride setup lets Ernie go as low as he wants to while custom boot build shows off both air components and upgraded audio elements, which include JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amp.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love!”
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