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    With the weather finally improving, now is the time to start getting excited about show season. I can’t wait to see what this year’s shows will bring as there are always some amazing new builds that are revealed to the world and existing builds that have had a makeover for the new year. Having said that, it’s equally nice to admire some of your favourite cars that haven’t been touched; not everyone has the time, money or inclination to just keep modding. We always say that a project is never truly finished but, sometimes, it really is and then all that’s left is to just enjoy it and let everyone else enjoy it too.

    / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW /

    After last month’s 20th anniversary celebrations it’s now time to crack on with taking #PBMW into the future and I’d like to think our July issue is the perfect way to get on with creating a new modified BMW legacy for future generations to look back on and enjoy. Our fully-custom #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 cover car is an absolute beast of a machine, easily up there with some of the wildest and most incredible feature cars that have ever graced these hallowed pages. This awesome M5 is making a seriously healthy 560hp courtesy of an #ESS supercharger kit, has been fitted with a custom metal wide-arch kit, a stunning set of custom forged splits, massive brakes and quite possibly one of the most incredible interiors we’ve ever seen. It is the consummate show car, a build of epic proportions and we guarantee it’s going to take your breath away. We’ve also got a selection of awesome additional feature cars for you to enjoy, like a fast and furious Fashion grey F80 M3, an absolutely stunning 2.8 M20 stroker E30 running ITBs, a ferocious, 480hp supercharged Z3 M Coupé and a slick SR20-swapped drift E30 plus we’ve got a 3 Series guide, an S62 engine guide, show reports and loads more.

    Next month it’s the power issue and our Summer edition of the mag will be absolutely crammed full of some incredible big-power builds that will rock your world. It’s going to be awesome and I genuinely can’t wait; see you then!
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    / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-523i / #BMW-523i-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW

    JOEL’S E39 523i

    I know I sound a little like a broken record over these last few Our Cars entries but there’s a reason for it. Fugazi, despite her slightly dishevelled appearance, damaged paint and sad-looking stock wheels tucked up in the arches never, and I mean never, fails to do what I ask of her. A track day on a hot afternoon? Not a bother. Central London stop-start-stop-swear traffic? Not a whisper of complaint. Four hours up the M1 in the wind and rain? She just gets on with it, no questions asked.

    Which is why I thought this month I’d treat her to a freshen up. Not on the outside in terms of new paint or wheels but where it actually matters, with north of 120k on the clock, inside the engine. Now she’s not got a stock 2.5-litre engine; back in 2008 or so I had a 3.0-litre top end conversion, had the head ported and polished and whacked in some bigger injectors too, so she’s had attention before. But that was nine or so years back and well, things could probably do with a clean in there.

    I’ve been doing a lot of research on carbon clean machines which are said to remove the carbon deposits that build up over time and clog up your engine’s vital bits. A lot of machines make a lot of claims, but from my research and from talking to people in the know the best one with proven results to boot was from a firm called, simply, Carbon Clean. I booked my service at a local Authorised Carbon Clean Centre online and a week later I was there watching Fugazi get hooked up.

    Plugging her in took a matter of minutes with no invasive surgery required and the process takes just 30 minutes where water is turned, via electrolysis, into a hydrogen and oxygen mixture that is cooled and filtered before going into the engine. This oxyhydrogen (aka HHO) mix is what breaks down the carbon deposits inside the engine.

    Carbon Clean claim that, by removing the carbon deposits, the engine will perform better, use less fuel, use less oil, run smoother and, overall, be more reliable. Seeing as Fugazi is not getting any younger and has been running a little rough of late I figured giving it a go was well worth the £99 price of the service.

    Boy, was I happy with my £99 spend on the drive home. She definitely felt a little perkier and keener to rev and felt noticeably smoother too. Obviously I can’t report back on long-term reliability improvements just yet but, as the figures state, CO2 emissions are down 14%, hydrocarbons are down by a factor of six and the O2 readings are through the roof, proof positive that there’s more efficient combustion.

    Perhaps this is why I can happily report that MPG has gone up by around 10% over the course of four tanks so far. I’ll call that a win considering the miles I do! I’ll admit I was sceptical but as you can see from the printouts pictured, the numbers representing the #BMW-M52 ’s health don’t lie, she’s definitely running better since having it done. Well worth the price I’d say. Now, if only I could sort out how clean she looked in just 30 minutes…


    Joel’s E39 hooked up to Carbon Clean machine. Before and after printouts show a significant improvement.
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    THE WILD WEST The first Vollans family touring holiday sees JJ head to Ireland's west coast – the ideal place to test his ‘ultimate driving machine’

    / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-528i / #BMW-528i-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #1997-BMW-528i-E39 / #1997 /

    JJ takes his #BMW-528i-E39 to Ireland and then tries to sell it

    OUR DRIVES Tales of running modern classics in the real world

    I’ve been visiting the Republic of Ireland sinceI wasa kid. My mum’s family is from Leitrim on the west coast and we used to spend many a family holiday back in the ‘old country’. My parents moved there permanently about ten years ago when they retired, so I’ve had even more opportunity to visit since. A few times a year we jump on a plane at Stansted and fly to the wild and windy, bog-surrounded destination of Knock airport in county Mayo. It was built after a local saw a vision of the Virgin Mary, who told him to build a shrine. Honest– that is genuinely the reason.

    Since becoming a father back in April, I’ve noticed that any trip now involves a lot more luggage (try getting a travel cot through hand luggage!). So when I had a week's holiday recently, we decided to forego the stress of the departure lounge and go on a full-on touring holiday. Two of my cars – the Mercedes 190E 2.6 W201 and the BMW 528i – were ideal for this long- haul journey, providing the right mix of high-speed motorway comfort and tight handling on the much slower, twistier roads on the other side of the Irish Sea. On this occasion, the BMW got the nod.

    I love the rugged beauty of the Atlantic coast. Looking out to sea, knowing that the next landmass is America – 3080 miles away – is humbling. The mountains rise straight out of the sea, the lochs are lined with spruce forests and every village or town is full of welcoming pubs with roaring fires, bottomless Guinness, great food and the inevitable ‘craic’. For me, Ireland in the winter takes some beating – every icy shower merely provides an excuse to find another cosy bolt hole.

    This rugged rock clinging to the very edge of Europe also has some of the best driving roads anywhere within the British Isles. The World Rally Championship acknowledged this by adding the north-west of Ireland as a round during the 2007 season. A lot of the stages took in some of my favourite routes around my ‘second home’, the town of Sligo. Standout routes included a lap of Loch Gill and a final stage finish on the top of the cliffs at Mullaghmore.

    Before departing for Ireland, the 5 Series was treated to a refurbished #ZF-steering-rack , new radiator and – most importantly – a fresh set of Michelin Cross Climates. These top-tier, award-winning wet-weather tyres are designed specifically to grip in all weathers. BMWs of any era aren’t known for their grip in adverse conditions, so I gave Vintage Tyres a call to see what they recommended. Although the Michelins cost £171 each, I reasoned that leaning on the brakes up in the mountains and ploughing straight on could end up costing a lot more.

    It was a good call; the fighting-fit 5 Series on these exceptional tyres proved an ideal combination. The pre-dawn run over to Wales to the ferry, driving over the Pennines in torrential rain, instantly reassured me that I’d made the correct choice. On the motorway, these tyres are quiet and smooth, gripping even when the road resembled a river. Once in Ireland, they dealt with the drizzle and mud better than any rubber I’ve ever put on a classic #BMW . And in the dry, they keep up the astonishing grip without sacrificing noise levels.

    THANKS TO… Vintage Tyre Supplies Ltd, Hampshire 01590 612261 Stena Line – choice of four routes from the UK to Ireland

    Precious metal on the Emerald Isle. Michelins showed off their wet-weather superstardom. Thanks for the advice, but… Sparkle in the rain. About as busy as the beaches ever get in these parts Little margin for error on these roads, so vicelike grip is reassuring. Don't worry, gorgeous – Nathan didn't come on this trip. Wild west hero: 5 Series purred its way around deserted coast roads. The contented look of a man en route to his next Guinness.

    BMW 528i E39
    Year 1997
    Acquired Feb 2017
    Mileage 137,000
    Costs £684 on tyres
    Other cars 1984 VW Scirocco Storm
    1987 Lotus Esprit S3
    1990 Mercedes 190E 2.6
    1990 VW Golf GTI 16v
    1992 Range Rover 3.9
    1998 Peugeot 306
    1999 Alfa Romeo GTV
    2000 Mazda MX-5 MKII

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    / #BMW / Joel reckons this was the most fun he’s ever had on track. A wide variety of metal was enjoying the track that day / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-523i / #BMW-523i-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 /

    JOEL’S E39 523i

    Well I did it, after near-enough ten years out of the game Fugazi made it to her first track day at Bedford Autodrome! And boy oh boy she was far better than I could have ever have expected! Last month you may remember I had the clutch, flywheel and a few other bits taken care of and despite the sizeable outlay on a car that’s worth virtually nothing, I bit the bullet, and I am delighted I did.

    Now I am not an experienced track day driver, in fact in my entire life I have completed about ten track days in a variety of cars, from my old and highly modified Z3 M Coupé that you may remember (what a car that was), to various 911s, RS Audis and a dodgy old Volvo, but there have been few I have enjoyed as much as the day I completed a week or so ago now. The reason, I think, is threefold. Firstly, the E39 in my opinion has one of the greatest chassis of any car, and I really do mean that. Its long wheel base translates into predictability and, more than that, gives you a chance to actually feel and catch things before it’s too late. As an example in the Z3 M Coupe, for someone of my skill level once the back broke loose at speed there was little chance to gather things up neatly. It wanted to spin and it often did. Secondly Fugazi isn’t too fast! Now I appreciate this magazine is called Performance BMW but performance, to me, doesn’t always have to mean straight-line speed. Thirdly she has a cracking chassis; running on H&R coilovers with Eibach springs she sits low enough that you can barely squeeze your little finger between the arch and tyre. On top of this, my Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear do an excellent job of staving off body roll. In fact, Fugazi ducks and dives far less than the Z3 M Coupé used to before I got busy with her! Alongside the solid bushes, uprated EBC discs and pads and a short shift kit that makes cog swapping a real pleasure, Fugazi does everything you ask of it and more.

    This was my first time at Bedford and I was really impressed with the way the day was run. I had access to the GT Circuit, which is near-enough four miles in length and that circuit features a variety of corners, from sweeping right handers to tight hairpins and ‘come at me’ chicanes, and unlike Silverstone, for example, there’s a lot more to do from a driver’s perspective on each lap, which gave me a lot more enjoyment. I also love the fact that there’s loads of run-off, so room to spin and make mistakes, which for anyone wishing to push their skill set, is essential! There was also a really eclectic mix of cars on the day, from 600hp supercharged E46 M3s and stripped-out E30s to classic Fords and Lotus Exiges. It’s fair to say that in terms of hp per tonne I was most likely the least powerful car there, yet through the corners I kept up with, and gained ground on, virtually everything! Now I do have a set of very sticky and expensive Pirelli rubber and I have no sense of self-preservation when driving, but still, only the Exige and rather gorgeous old Scooby left me for dead, and they were both sporting slicks.

    Now, I’m not getting ahead of myself because on the straights everything went past me, but with every turn I caught the field up, and at Bedford there’s a lot of opportunity so lap after lap I rarely lost places (not that I was racing anyone!). Fugazi was quick to turn in, she felt poised and flat and churned out what must have been 40+ laps without incident, although if truth be told I did get to a point where my brakes stopped braking, but when you’re slowing near-enough two tonnes from 100mph to nothing lap after lap I guess it’s somewhat understandable.

    I suppose my main point is that of all the track days I have ever done, this car is the least powerful yet one of the most, if not the most, enjoyable to drive. Fun is a factor few mention when talking track, but it’s one I think is very important. When tuning your BMW, a solid and well-sorted chassis will prove more enjoyable on track than big power. Saying that, though, once your chassis is sorted where do you turn? You’ll have to wait until next month to find out.
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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.


    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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    SUPERCHARGED E39 M5 Business class just got faster

    STRICTLY BUSINESS This executive saloon may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled, Matt Benson’s supercharged E39 M5 will easily cash any cheques your right foot can sign. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover” is an age-old adage instilled in us during our youth. While it is one of the earliest morals taught, it is too often forgotten as we grow old. Taking past experiences and using them to make prejudices towards a result which we expect to be true can get us into trouble and that is the case with Matt Benson’s E39. What looks to be a civilized saloon is in actuality a complete and utter lunatic. Don’t be fooled – this unapologetic M5 will leave you scratching your head when launching from a red light or as it commands curves, winding through the mountains.

    Maintaining a balance of ferocity and modesty is not an easy task and while on paper it might be contradictory, we assure you that Matt’s E39 M5 is a textbook example of a proper business saloon. The key to retaining modesty is doing without the wild colours, aggressive aero, and flashy wheels. Aesthetically, it has to be something to simply get you into work without being the topic of conversation among co-workers gathering around the water cooler. However, that commute to and from the office is a different, exhilarating story. In order to fully appreciate the final product, we need to briefly highlight the evolution of Matt’s mods and previous cars.

    Matt Benson has always had an affinity for V8 muscle and taking the more subtle approach is something of second nature for him. His first car was a Ford Mustang 5.0 LX “Fox body” which, in a sense, was a sleeper in its time compared to its sister version, the Mustang GT. He drove that LX into the ground with over 200,000 miles on the odometer. After many advancements up the automobile food chain, Matt traded some American torque for German refinement as he found himself in another V8, but this time in the form of a 2000 E39 540i Saloon.

    Though Matt was satisfied with the graduation to the European sports saloon and recognized it as a big improvement, the horsepower bug bit him hard. Dinan parts made their way all over the 540i to increase the performance in both the handling and the engine, pushing it to 350hp. Knowing his reasonable limitations had been met with the 540, yet still wanting more out of his car, Matt set his eyes on his current ride – this 2000 Carbon black on Caramel leather M5.

    He found this car over a decade ago, desirably, with one previous owner and only 13,000 miles logged. Immediately, the performance difference was prominent between the 540i and the M5; the torque off the line and the way the car hooked in the corners didn’t leave him with seller’s remorse over the 540i. While he was tacking on roughly 50,000 miles of his own back and forth to the office and on spirited drives, Matt was continuously adding mods to enhance the performance even further. As superior as he felt the car was in comparison to his previous cars, it wasn’t quite enough. Relentless and back with a vengeance, the mod bug bit hard this time, and it did not let go.

    Matt’s first modification to the M5 didn’t lead to horsepower gains per se. Back in 2005 he sourced a Dinan 3.55 differential and while it is one of the biggest improvements that you can make to a naturally aspirated car, ironically, it has nothing physically to do with the engine. Over the years it served its purpose, but as Matt says “I guess I modded a mod” and changed the rear end out to a 3.62. The tight gear ratio shifts the power band, launching the car and virtually making first gear useless in the best way possible. Surrounding the differential in the rear is a matching Dinan high performance exhaust, which flows out back from a Supersprint four-into-one stepped exhaust manifold system. Above the manifolds, under the bonnet, lies a Dinan cold air intake and Evolve Alpha-N tune with MAF delete and while this combination achieved Matt’s 450 horsepower goal, it was time to raise the bar yet again.

    Chasing greater horsepower and maximising the NA bolt-ons, he crossed the threshold into the forced induction world. Matt commissioned Autocouture Motoring in northern NJ, well-known for its work with BMW and supercharging the E9x platform specifically, to do the work. The team installed an ESS Tuning VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit. To handle the horsepower increase and fight the ravages of age, Autocouture also installed a Dinan subframe reinforcement kit at the same time as the performance upgrades. The combination of the Dinan differential chewing through first and second gear with the pull of the ESS supercharger and meth higher up the power band is a visceral experience that delivers an exceptional one-two punch.

    In fact, when Matt was asked what his favorite modification to the car has been, he responded happily, “I have two favourites, the first being the supercharger, which brought the biggest smile to my face, and second would be the shorter diff, it’s like a 50hp equivalent increase!”

    With all of this newly-added power he now addressed the other areas of importance: brakes and suspension. Matt went top shelf when choosing suspension, opting for the JRZ coilover kit and set the car up slightly lower than the stock ride height, maximising suspension travel and comfort while optimizing the performance that the JRZs offer. StopTech ST60/ST40 brakes at all four corners enhance the stopping power tremendously, with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, both sets finished in silver to keep the M5’s modified appearance at a minimum.

    Matt loved the car’s aesthetics, especially its finely crafted, unadulterated exterior however, he needed a wheel that would clear his brakes and be lighter in weight than stock, while still maintaining the M5’s factory appearance. Wanting to mimic the style of the OEM M5 wheel, Matt, along with the crew at ACM, carefully selected the HRE Classic 301 monoblocks. Taking it a step further, he went with HRE’s gorgeous, custom, hand-brushed finish with a darktinted clear coat, tying them in with BMW’s factory chrome shadow finish on the M5’s original wheels.

    This M5’s interior is straight out of a #BMW catalogue with the smooth caramel-coloured hide flowing from the seats onto the extended leather lower dashboard, with just the right amount of wood trim. Nothing is out of place nor unnecessarily added. Under close examination, only an aluminium pedal set and short shift kit can be spotted in here and even at that point the SSK is still capped off by the stock wood knob to maintain the factory look and feel. Matt was highly selective with every modification made to his M5, and held the highest of standards for how this on-going project was executed.

    “While the car is more than 16-years-old, it rivals anything on the road currently,” Matt says and we’d have to agree with him, it is completely relevant in every way to any of the European sports cars of today. The gentleman’s executive saloon is one that does not cry out for attention, but rather discretely delivers to those who know what they’re looking at. Each modification was carefully considered and completed with one goal in mind, which was to make the car perform at its full potential. His car takes everything that was incredible about the E39 M5 and sharpens it to to modern standards, making this one of the most fun cars you will ever drive.

    “Autocouture Motoring installed an #ESS-Tuning-VT1-560 supercharger system along with an Aquamist meth injection kit”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE Supercharged #BMW-E39 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-E39 / #BMW-M5-Supercharged / #BMW-M5-Supercharged-E39 / #ESS-VT1 / #ESS / #Vortech-V3 / #Vortech / #Howerton / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E39 / #BMW / #ESS-Tuning

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 , Supersprint four-into-one exhaust manifolds, #ESS-VT1-560 #ESS-Supercharger kit with #Vortech-V3 supercharger, #Howerton-Aquamist-HFS-3 system, Dinan performance velocity stacks, #Dinan high-flow performance exhaust, high capacity electric fan, oil separators. Six-speed manual gearbox, #CNS-Racing 10.5 Kevlar clutch and dualmass flywheel, Dinan short shifter kit, 3.62 LSD with three clutch ramps and polished ring and pinion gears

    CHASSIS 8.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #HRE-301 monoblock wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Continental tyres, Dinan subframe reinforcement kit, Dinan front tower strut brace, Dinan camber plates and monoball front ball joint kit, #JRZ-Stage-3 suspension system from Dinan, #Beast-Power heavy-duty anti-roll bar brackets, #StopTech-ST60 BBK with six-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (front) and ST40 BBK with four-piston calipers and 355x32mm discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Tinted windows, Depo angel eye upgrade kit, front lower bumper grille with aluminium mesh brake ducts

    INTERIOR Black carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedal set, widescreen nav upgrade

    THANKS Autocoulture Motoring (Tom Limatola, Sal Benanti, Matt Petrie and team) for bringing it to the next level, Northeast Motorsports (Mike O’Neill and team) for all their expertise, Motorsports West (Dave Bogert and team) for being the source of my performance BMW “condition”

    Caramel Heritage leather adds a dash of luxury.

    Gorgeous #HRE-301 monoblocks and #StopTech #BBK all-round.
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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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    JOEL’S E39 523i / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-523i / #BMW-523i-E39 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW /

    Having had all the minor issues fixed last month my first port of call was to have the car’s alignment sorted. After having a new side steering and track rod end the car was pulling under braking and tramlining all over the shop, making it really unrelaxing and unenjoyable to drive at any speed.

    We all know tracking and wheel alignment are important but many people spend money on suspension enhancements that firm up or lower their ride and then don’t bother to spend a few quid on making sure their wheels all point in the right direction! People tend to talk about stopping irregular tyre wear, which sounds boring, but not enough about the startling improvement to a car’s handling proper alignment can make – especially one on #H&R coilovers! I would say that alignment is the best bang-for-your-buck investments you can make on any car.

    It’s been very long time since I took Fugazi anywhere at all, let alone setting off with the intention of simply driving, so with everything in order, and after six years, the time had come. A full tank of super, a greasy and (almost) inedible sausage roll, and a full day ahead of me, I started early and headed south out of London. Once you’ve negotiated the A21, the Garden of England has some pretty tasty back roads which I was hoping to explore.

    There were some real positives. The Rogue Engineering short-shift kit I fitted years ago is awesome. And the chassis still feels very stiff indeed thanks to the Eibach anti-roll bar kit and slam. I don’t know how low it is but you can’t even get a finger between the rear tyre and arch, and it doesn’t rub (unless there are people in the back) so it’s nicely setup to go quickly round the bends. The brakes are pretty good actually. I’m surprised how much bite they have and the roadholding is impressive for such a massive hunk of metal. But there’s a limiting factor to both aspects: I can feel the budget tyres squirming. They need to be changed asap! Speed-wise it’s not fast in the grand scheme of things but the power delivery is linear and it sounds brilliant with the air box and exhaust mod, so I think it will be fun to drive on track – especially for a relative novice like me.

    The bad news came at the end of the day when, after six hours of thrashing, the clutch started to slip, and then slip some more! It has been with me for a good 50k miles so I’m not too upset considering the abuse it’s taken but that’s going to be another big bill for sure!

    Living with the car, one thing that I have really enjoyed (which I never expected) is the thrill of owning a car with its bodywork in bad shape! Stick with me here… most cars I have owned I have wrapped in cotton wool. If I scratch the paint, curb a wheel, scuff a mirror it’s all I can think about. I park it away from other people. I keep thinking I can hear it being driven off. And I stay awake at night replaying the crunch, the silly gap I went for, the width restriction I lost the fight with, beating myself up about any and every bit of damage I subject the car to. Those moments of stupidity feel like you’re withdrawing your savings and eating them.

    I totally appreciate having a car with perfect paint and bodywork, but you’re on a hiding to nothing and it’s a stress. Having a car that drives beautifully but one that you don’t have to worry about is liberating. When I park I use the bush as a gauge: when it almost falls over I’m in. Dog, get in the back son. Keys and shopping, on the roof. Supermarket car parks, right in that tiny space by the front door. People actually avoid you when there are bits of your car hanging off – it’s joyous. I am in no rush to get any bodywork sorted but I warn anyone against parking near me.
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    …It’s what you know

    Looking for an #BMW-E34 sump to enable you to drop an #BMW-E36 / #BMW-328i engine into an #BMW-E30 ? You might struggle as E34s are rare beasts now and a sump and dipstick kit will make up to 200 quid now, maybe even more. But fear not because the #BMW-E38 / #BMW-728i-E38 sump does the same job – unlike the E39 sump, the oil bulge on the E38 is at the front. The difference is, you’re far more likely to find a time expired 728i in a breaker’s – and they’re so cheap, a complete 728i (single Vanos only) engine will often be the best option – we’ve seen complete running cars for well under £500.

    On the subject of sumps and #BMW-M52 / #BMW-54 engines, don’t be taken in by expensive used M54 units for the #BMW-E60 because the #BMW-E39 unit is to all intents and purposes identical – the sump is the same. E39 engines are half the price though and whilst you’ll need to swap the engine loom over, it’ll fit and work as per the factory. And, a 1998-2000 #BMW-M52TU (double Vanos) from an E39 523i will drop into a pre-2006 E60 520i/525i just fine with that loom and manifold swap whilst a 2.8 from a double Vanos 528i gives a 525i E60 a touch of extra oomph.

    We touched on E90 diffs above – what a pity #BMW cast the iron diff casing on the E46 diff so that the front mounting bolt holes are an inch apart – I can feel an entrepreneurial moment and a nicely made adaptor plate coming on…
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