- Post is under moderationHEADING SARTHE FOR THE SUMMER
The Le Mans Classic is a favourite on the DRIVE-MY calendar, and that is mainly down to the road-trip aspect of the journey there. The Reader Run has become a team-bonding exercise in getting our old nails to La Sarthe and back, hopefully without having to throw in the towel and hitch a ride on a recovery truck. The process of preparing our respective classics always begins nice and early – literally days before the off – and in typical fashion it included Port carrying out an emergency water-pump overhaul, MacLeman install a cooling fan, reinstating the overdrive wiring and fixing the wiper motor, while Clements checked the oil and set his engine tinware to ‘summer’.
Making it to the docks at Portsmouth is always the first success and, with the UK still basking in a heatwave, it was a relief to get on board the Brittany Ferries boat for St Malo – particularly for Port, who had a last-minute reprieve from a £140 surcharge because his #Land-Rover-SII was deemed too tall. After entrecôte avec frites all round and a few cooling beers, we were suitably refreshed for the overnight sailing – a chance for our extended group to get to know each other.
The DRIVE-MY crew – Clements, Port and MacLeman – was joined by BMW Z4-driving former #DRIVE-MY designer Paul Breckenridge and Le Mans virgin Sam Read (both on hand to help Clements celebrate a significant birthday), while MacLeman’s travelling buddy was fellow professional beard-grower and millennial Paul Bond. After years of pestering, Port gave in and brought eldest son Alfie – the end of GCSE exams finally giving no reason to refuse. After a fitful sleep and the usual rude awakening by tortuous lute music, our quartet rolled off the ferry early on Friday morning. For a while it was business as usual, following a familiar route from previous excursions including a stop for breakfast at Combourg. But here we met up with fellow DRIVE-MY cohorts Mick Walsh and Julian Balme, who had burbled down enthusiastically in Balme’s Lincoln Cosmopolitan, ‘Wooly Bully’, adding to an already eclectic mix of classics parked up in the surrounding roads. This included Reader Run regular Scott Fisher’s stunning #Porsche-912 – previous winner of the DRIVE-MY car park concours at the Hotel de France. Echoing 2010, Port set the 55mph pace up front in his #1959-Landie while the #Suzuki-Cervo , #Triumph-2500 and #BMW-Z4 shadowed his every move – owners doing well at concealing their frustrations at his cruising speed.
As temperatures soared we ploughed on, avoiding autoroutes, and were rewarded with some fantastic countryside – freshly harvested fields and abandoned stone farmhouses beckoning a new life away from the constant onslaught of Brexit negotiations and a government in turmoil. Hitting the roads around Le Mans meant two priorities: a visit to the supermarché to stock up on food and drink, then heading to pitch tents at the Porsche Curves. Naturally, our shopping was made up of the three Le Mans staples: meat, snacks and booze – the latter mainly consisting of French lager, but also the finest vin rouge that three Euros could buy. (We’d tried the one-Euro alternative two years earlier, and decided to push the boat out on medical advice, and also because it was Clements’ birthday.) Rolling into the Travel Destinations campsite reminded us just what a great location it is – despite being a road-train ride away from the paddock. As the GT40s roared past the banking within stumbling distance, tents were pitched and thoughts turned to chilling beers and burning meat. Crucially, we had all made it without significant mechanical issues – albeit with Balme reporting brake troubles – just a little hot and bothered thanks to the Europe-wide heat-wave.
There then ensued three days of the usual mix of breathtaking cars, spectacular on-track action and paddocks to die for – a combination that never fails to result in a magical atmosphere. With temperatures hitting 35º-plus during the day, it was important to maintain fluid intake – but fortunately the local cider proved very useful in ensuring that stamina was maintained, as well as a finely honed sense of humour at all times…
The ‘good old days’ of sitting on a busy banking at Maison Blanche are now a distant memory, but the Porsche Curves campsite offers a relatively quiet experience (at least in terms of numbers).With most of us now being past 40 (Clements only just, a milestone marked by late-night cake), the short roll down the hill to the toilets and showers is pleasingly convenient and doesn’t interrupt viewing of the right- and left-handers for long. The relative peace also provided the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to absent friends. Although he was never keen on camping, the Le Mans Classic was one of our late chief sub editor David Evans’ favourite events, so in his honour we each drained a dram and saved him a space on the banking, before some made the pilgrimage to his favourite spot at Arnage corner the following morning.
Wooly Bully left on Sunday and, with heavy hearts (plus a few heavy heads), the rest of the team packed up to head home on Monday. But not before Port had dived under MacLeman’s Triumph in a bid to reduce the vibration of exhaust on propshaft and gearbox crossmember – Greg using a convenient grass bank as a makeshift ramp.
The convoy headed north without any other problems. Driving into Le Buisson, however, Clements suddenly stopped up front – almost giving the Triumph behind a new Suzuki-shaped bonnet ornament. We’d all seen it: an open yard packed full of French classics in varying stages of decay. Seconds later we were rummaging through the Négoce Matériel collection at the invitation of owner André Papillon, who was working under a Renault 8 – swaying gently on the outstretched arms of a forklift. The noticeboard in his office revealed that he knew what he was doing, however, with an impressive display of past rebuilds.
Back on the road, we headed cross-country and opted to pause for lunch in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Steak tartare, galettes and omelettes filled the table, but we soon found ourselves tight on time if we were to complete our supposedly relaxed trek back to Ouistreham.
“I’ll lead,” announced Port, who then promptly ground to a halt. The cause was clear straight away – muck in the idle circuit of the carburettor – but cleaning the jet and aperture didn’t improve matters. There was little else for it but to raise the idle to prevent stalling and carry on, with as much speed as he could muster. Although the Landie was running fairly unpleasantly, the quartet pulled into the port with minutes to spare – the Series II then doing a decent job of fumigating fellow passengers as it waited in line.
Murphy’s law meant that the rush was followed by a delay, thanks to a computer failure – a blessing in disguise because, after 45 minutes of queuing and a hand over the carb to create a vacuum, the blockage in the Land-Rover cleared itself and the Series II rumbled onto the ferry with no more than a bit of smoke from the rich running.
Yet more steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief that we’d made it, tinged with sadness that it was all over for another two years, and a few hours later we were welcomed into Portsmouth by a stunning sunset and the sight of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
Pulling into our respective driveways at around midnight, we each reflected by text on the mileage covered (just over 400) and fuel consumption. ‘I’ve used about £48-worth,’ boasted Clements, before expressing his disbelief at the Land-Rover’s £147 bill.
Yet the Le Mans Classic is worth all of that and much more. It’s an event where friendships are cultivated, belly-laughs are enjoyed and memories made, all in the company of some of the world’s finest classic cars. (And ours.) Martin Port
THANKS TO Travel Destinations: 08448 730203; traveldestinations.co.uk
‘Steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief, tinged with sadness that it was over for another two years’
A gathering of old scrap… poses alongside André Papillon’s collection of classics waiting to be rebuilt or raided for parts.
Clockwise from top left: first goal achieved, having arrived at Portsmouth ferry terminal; breakfast stop at Combourg; magical sunset bathes La Sarthe; happy campers toast their arrival at superb Travel Destinations campsite with welcome cold beers.
Clockwise, from above: selection of Djets fronts amazing Matra display on Bugatti Circuit; Balme’s ‘Wooly Bully’ pauses while passengers enjoy a break on eventful run to Le Mans; Whizz at speed (well, at 55mph); Peugeot 504 and period caravan equipe.
‘Port set the 55mph pace while Suzuki, Triumph and #BMW shadowed, owners trying to conceal their frustrations’
Clockwise, from right: Port tries to solve Triumph’s ‘prop on exhaust’ issues; troubles of his own with SII; Renault-8 – no health-and- safety concerns here; team #DRIVE-MY seeks new fleet additions; patinated Impala, just one gem to be found outside the paddock. From far left: Citroën IDs and #Citroen-DS s have seen better days, but still provide parts; Sam Read prepares to pilot the Suzuki for the final leg home; stunning sunset over Portsmouth.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationALL-TIME LOW Crazy-low static #BMW-Z4-Tuned
All the haters are always ragging on bags, so here’s something seriously static that couldn’t possibly offend anyone… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Scott Paterson.
ULTRA-LOW Z4 You won’t believe it’s static!
For a very long time now scene scientists have been asking the question: “How low can you go?” and for all their research and science the answer eluded them but now, it looks like “Big” Jamie Hitchcock may have solved that particular mystery with his Z4, because if it was any lower it’d be ploughing a furrow down the middle of the road. Oh, and it’s static. Did we mention that? We did? Well we’re mentioning it again. And it’s his daily…
So… Where to begin? It’s hard not to just dive into everything that’s going on here so let’s distract ourselves by talking to Jamie for a bit, about his personal motoring journey from “a very badly modified Citroen Saxo” to where we find him today, before we build ourselves up to actually talking about this car. “I have had a love for BMW for about five years now,” says Jamie as we begin to work out what makes this man tick, “ever since the first time I drove one, an E39 5 Series, I just fell in love not only with the way they look, but the way they drive is just like no other brand.” This Z4 isn’t Jamie’s first foray into BMW ownership, he kicked things off with an E46 325Ci Sport, which he treated to a set of coilovers and Rotiform Nue wheels and things were progressing nicely until one month into his time with the car someone crashed into the side of it and that was that… He followed that up with an E36 328i Coupe, which he managed to get further along with, chucking it on air, adding a set of Throwing Stars, some Vader seats and, tellingly, engine raisers in order to be able to go even lower, which was clearly a sign of things to come.
So, why a Z4? They’re not a staple of the modded #BMW community, part of the appeal we suppose, and they definitely divide opinion when it comes to looks, but then again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “I have always loved Z4s,” explains Jamie, “I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential.’ I had seen a lot of Z4s in Japan and America and I loved just seeing how they look like a toy car once modified. I was really worried about driving one, being a 6’4” grizzly bear I didn’t think I would fi t, but finally my close friends told me to just go test drive one and I’ve been in love ever since then.”
The Z4, Jamie says, was bought to replace the E36 as a slightly more sensible and reliable car and, while wheels and a little bit of lowering were on the cards from the off, he had no intention of taking things as far as he has, but then again no one ever does. The one area where things have really gone about as far as they could possibly go is the lowering and achieving such an incredible level of low has taken a lot of work. “Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around,” chuckles Jamie. The core of the whole setup is made up of a set of D2 Racing coilovers fitted with shorter springs all-round and these are accompanied by some Driftworks adjustable rear camber arms. Just how much camber is Jamie running? Well it looks like most of it, we think… “The anti-roll bar has been removed as it restricted the front from getting lower,” explains Jamie, “and I even had to get my friend at Hard Knocks Speed Shop to make a custom exhaust because my downpipe was touching the floor and that made a huge hole; it’s tucked right up under the car now and from the manifold-back it’s a two-into-one setup and straight-through with no mid-boxes or silencer.” There’s not really much you can say about how the car sits, the pictures do a far better job than mere words on a page ever could and it’s even more dramatic in real life. It’s just so low, that’s really all you can say.
Obviously the fitment is killer, as you might expect, and as it really would have to be when you have no room for manoeuvre around the arches. Wheel choice was pretty essential as far as creating enough of a visual impact to go with that drop was concerned. “I have and I always will get different wheels for the car,” Jamie tell us, words that every wheel addict will be able to relate to completely, “and so far the Z4 has had four different sets, but I always come back to running my current wheels. They are Work Meister S1 three-piece splits and I don’t know why, I just really love the style of them and the way the car sits with them on,” and he’s not wrong. “Before ordering them, Josh from LikeHell and I spent weeks talking about offsets and widths and lip sizes etc. just to get them the perfect size. The three month wait was a killer, not knowing if they would fit or not, but luckily when they turned up they were so worth the wait,” he grins. “They are just beautiful and there is no better feeling than opening a box of brand new custom wheels. They took a lot of camber adjustment and arch rolling just to get the car to drive but, eventually, they worked out perfectly.” We would have to concur there, the white Works look fantastic on the Z4, those polished lips, the gold bolts, and it’s all finished off with a set of striking purple extended wheel nuts. You might think a colour combo that’s completely concentrated on the wheel areas wouldn’t work so well with no other colours to tie it to, but the clean, grey bodywork is a perfect blank canvas and just crying out for a splash of colour, and these four hotspots at each corner are just the ticket.
Contrasting with that outrageous ride height and those wild wheels is the inherent simplicity of the exterior styling; even now the Z4 has quite an unconventional look with some striking lines and Jamie has just given the styling a little tidy up. The front bumper has been painted and smoothed, black grilles have been fitted, the wheel arches have obviously been rolled and pulled in order to accommodate the Works and, in perhaps the ultimate show of commitment to his Z4, Jamie has even removed the windscreen wipers as he felt they ruined the smoothness of the car. While he hasn’t gone overboard on the interior either, being a fan of what he calls its simple style, it’s certainly got some striking elements that give it a bit of a kick. “My friends at Oxford Car Audio have transformed my dash by custom making me a double-DIN head unit install by deleting the central vents,” says Jamie, “I’m so happy with the way it looks. They also did my boot install for me; I felt a bit left out seeing all the cars on air suspension with nice boot builds so I thought I really wanted a nice, clean audio build and with the help of JL Audio UK that’s what they did for me,” he adds with a grin. “The gear knob makes everyone giggle; I had always liked these We Are Likewise gear knobs but they only came in Japenese screw fitment, until one day they finally made a Euro adapter that fits most European cars. Getting it to fit involved a few tweaks but I got it on there in the end. Finally the steering wheel is by Renown USA and I love it, it’s just such a quality wheel,” he says.
Often people take modifying cars far too seriously and it’s good to see someone really having fun with their project and enjoying themselves, which was the core philosophy of Jamie’s Z4 build. “The Japanese fitment scene has always been a big influence for me but with a German twist, it to me just seems more fun and that’s what my car is all about,” he says and we can only agree. We’re certain that there will be parts of this car that don’t appeal to everyone, some people might even have a problem with the whole thing, but ultimately they can get stuffed because this is all about Jamie and what he wanted and what he’s created. It’s the automotive equivalent of a smack round the chops, a shock to the senses and you’ve got to admire it. But Jamie’s not done yet… “I’ve got a never-ending list of plans,” he laughs, “more wheels, more lows…” What? More lows?! He’s already got all the lows. There are literally no more lows left for anyone else. But if you’ve come this far, then why not go that little bit further? In a mad modified world, it’s the only sensible thing to do.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E85 / #Work-Meister
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , induction kit, custom Hard Knocks Speed Shop two-into-one straight-through exhaust system. Five-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x18” ET3 (front) and 10x18” ET5 (rear) #Work-Meister-S1 three-piece wheels with 215/35 (front) and 225/35 (rear) tyres, stud kit, #326Power extended wheel nuts, #D2-Racing coilover struts, #Swift and Tein custom springs, #Driftworks E46 adjustable rear camber arms
EXTERIOR Front bumper painted and smoothed, black grilles, windscreen wiper delete, rolled and pulled arches
INTERIOR Renown steering wheel, We Are Likewise gear knob, custom-fit Alpine Apple CarPlay, JL Audio boot build trimmed in red and plastic moulded to match dash
THANKS There are far too many people to thank with this car; firstly to Josh of LikeHell Design for all the help, James of Crescent Tyres for putting up with all the hassle of my monthly tyre needs, Yusuf and the boys in Team Untamed, everyone at Oxford Car Audio, most of all Lamb and the RXTI boys
“I have always loved Z4s, I used to see them and think ‘Wow, they have a lot of potential’”
18” three-piece Work Meister S1s look spectacular.
Engine fitted with induction kit and straight-through exhaust means it sounds awesome.
“Suspension-wise there has been a lot, and I mean a lot, of playing around”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSecond Thoughts / Bidding a fond farewell to the Z4
The latest generation Z4 has quietly ended production but will the history books look kindly on the sexy Roadster? Time for a re-evaluation perhaps… Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
A fond farewell to the misunderstood E89 generation Z4.
Over the years BMW’s Zed cars have had a little bit of a rocky relationship with the motoring press and while those actually buying BMW’s range of Roadsters have always seemed very keen on them the somewhat less than glowing press reports have tainted the reputation of many a Zed. It started so well, too, with the now iconic Z1 – a bespoke machine that looked like no other BMW – before or since – and while it might have been a limited production test bed for BMW’s Technik department it was met with almost universal praise. Those dropdown doors were pretty neat and its chassis was an absolute revelation and more or less the only mutterings from the press were directed at the fact that the chassis could cope with far more power than the E30 325i’s engine could muster.
In a way, perhaps, the Z1 set the tone for subsequent views on BMW Zeds – it set a pretty high bar for the cars that were to follow. The Z3 that arrived in the mid-1990s had an inordinately long gestation period and when it did arrive it didn’t receive universal praise. Sure, it looked good, but after the Z1’s stunning underpinnings the Z3 made do with an old E30 chassis and initially there was only a relatively wheezy four-cylinder engine under the bonnet. Owners absolutely loved the Z3, the press on the other hand were generally less kind, and with machinery like Mazda’s MX-5 showing what could be achieved with a cheeky little Roadster the Z3 looked and felt a little old hat.
All that was to change with the Z4 though. It hit the streets in 2003 and must be one of the finest examples of Chris Bangle’s ‘flame-surfacing’ school of design. It still looks pretty fresh today and in rangetopping 3.0i launch form it was also pretty rapid.
There were some mixed messages from #BMW at its launch, though, particularly the assertion that there would be no Coupé, M model or four-cylinder Z4s (all subsequently arrived in the showrooms), and while the Z4 might have had all the right ingredients it was almost as if BMW had got the blend just a little off. Don’t get me wrong – it was a fine car and I spent many happy hours at the wheel of the E85 generation of Z4 – but there was always a thorn in the side of the Z4 as it was Porsche Boxster-shaped.
The two cars were natural rivals even if Stuttgart’s offing was a little more expensive, but in terms of driving dynamics the Boxster had the BMW licked.
Which brings us to the most recent Zed, the E89 Roadster you can see here, and despite the fact that it still looks fresh and modern and very pretty to my eyes it’s already ended its production run. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that it was being launched under a retractable folding hard-top fanfare. Yes, that was perhaps the biggest news for the E89 Z4 – no longer would it have a simple fabric hood – instead featuring a Mercedes SLK-esque folding hard-top. And it was the buyer of the SLK and the Audi TT that were the new Z4’s target audience with BMW aiming to produce a slightly less sporting but more refined Roadster – it was what its customers wanted, said BMW, after consulting with buyers of the previous generation of Z4. If you read between the lines of the press pack it was almost as if BMW was saying that it had tried to build a Boxster-beater, discovered it couldn’t so it went for a different demographic with its next Z4.
Initially there were three models to choose from, all under the sDrive banner – 23i, 30i and 35i – with the two former models using different versions of BMW’s sublime naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre straight-six while the 35i packed a 306hp turbocharged punch from its 335i-derived powerplant. As with the E85 BMW was adamant that there would be no four-cylinder model, no coupé and no M Power model. This time it kept good on its promise on two out of three of those pledges as an four-pot did eventually arrive as BMW moved away from the naturally aspirated ‘six to turbocharged ‘fours.
Having said there was no M model, the machine we have in front of us here today was as close as BMW came to endowing the Zed with M Power as this is the range-topping 35iS that made its debut in 2010. It was tantalisingly close to being an M as it featured the 340hp engine from the 1M Coupé coupled to a DCT transmission and blistering straightline grunt – 0-62mph was knocked off in a very M-like 4.8 seconds. Its vital stats and almost-an-Mpowerplant seduced me into thinking this would be a real ripsnorting performer but when I returned from driving the 35iS for the very first time I felt that while the engine and drivetrain were sublime there was definitely something missing in the chassis stakes. Time for a revaluation then.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that I love the way the Z4 looks – sharp styling, classic BMW Roadster proportions and bucket loads of presence. The front end has something of a Great White shark about it, making the previous model look soft and apologetic. It also looks good with the roof in place as it reaches far back along the rear deck to almost give it a coupé silhouette.
Inside, the premium quality feel goes a step further with excellent materials and superb fit and finish. There are some pleasant swoops and shapes to the dash and centre console while the design is modern, fresh and ergonomically sound. As you’d expect from a BMW, the minor controls all work very well with a deliberate action, although it has to be said that the heating and ventilation controls take a little getting used to as they’re unlike just about any other BMW you’d care to mention with their round dials and combination of rotary knobs and push buttons.
There’s significantly more room in this model than the E85 generation and there’s a modicum of more space for oddments, too. Overall, it’s a fine cabin, a great place in which to spend time, and perfectly in tune with the Z4’s new found touring credentials.
Whereas the previous model was stiffly sprung and edgy when driven hard, this generation was engineered to offer a much more refined driving experience. It was a step change that sat very well with the more spacious cabin and larger dimensions, confirming BMW had GT, rather than more overtly sporting aspirations for this car. That would explain the comfortable ride, the engine pulling barely 2500rpm at motorway speeds and the clever folding hard-top roof. That roof is a two-piece unit, operated electrohydraulically in 20 seconds and while it offers great all-season use it did significantly eat a big chunk of the generous boot space with it stowed.
As a cruiser the Z4 really was an excellent piece of kit but despite going softer with the E89, BMW still very much talked about this car in sporting terms so we need to see what happens when you tackle some challenging roads.
Build the pace up gently. The roof is down and the sun is beaming. It might be cold outside but with the heater and bum-warmers cranked up the cockpit is nice and snug. With each up-change of the dual-clutch gearbox, the exhaust blasts out a glorious parp, howling as the revs rise. At six-tenths pace and with those factors in place, the Z4 makes for an ideal companion, a fine tool for reminding yourself of the joys of relaxed motoring.
The Z4 has both Adaptive M Sport suspension and #Dynamic-Drive control and we opt for Sport Plus and manual mode on the #DCT ‘box for a spirited drive. On tricky roads, the steering wheel paddles are very welcome indeed, allowing you to change gear without taking your hands off the wheel. Ultimately, they help you to concentrate on lines, braking points and turn-in speeds, allowing you to carry more pace than a Hpattern manual would. The speed of the changes both up and down the ‘box also allows you to make rapid fire decisions as the corners approach ever faster, so you never find yourself out of the power band. Through the corners the steering takes on a weighting that feels pretty good, allowing you to place the car smartly, but there aren’t quite the levels of feedback we’d like from a truly sporting machine. With that long bonnet slung out in front of you the front end can feel a long way away. Quick direction changes reveal inertia to the front end, which just needs a moment to settle before committing to the next steering input. That makes for a degree of lethargy that inhibits your ultimate pace a touch, and encourages you to back off a little to avoid demanding too much of the car, and to allow you to keep things tidy.
In full attack mode, the Z4 begins to reveal its mass, with its hefty 1580kg kerb weight causing the body to lurch into corners. There is plenty of grip from the front end though, and the rear will step aside slightly under power to help keep the nose in check through the corner exit. The seats offer plenty of torso support, but the thigh support is lacking. That means you find yourself forcing your knees against the door and centre console, which will have them aching before long.
This engine is a familiar one, and it suits the Z4 very well. The twin-turbos give it a very useful spread of power and torque, but it’s the lowdown delivery of twist that’s most welcome. It punts the Z4 down a road very quickly indeed from low revs, but doesn’t respond to a hammering like a naturally aspirated unit would. If driven with some care, you can even squeeze close to 30mpg from it.
Dynamically the Z4 might not be the last word in pin-sharp handling, but that’s almost forgetting that this generation of Z4 was never meant to be an out-and- out sports car. Treat it more in the manner in which #BMW intended as a sporting #Roadster with GT pretensions and you’ll get on far better with the Z4 than if you drive it everywhere with your pants on fire. It doesn’t take long to work out that the Z4 doesn’t respond to a full-on thrashing, so by working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure. Sure, some other cars thrive on those further two-tenths of effort and commitment, and would tackle each corner slightly faster, but they wouldn’t offer anywhere near the same levels of comfort and refinement for the rest of the time.
If you’re happy to accept that then the Z4 is a stunning piece of kit. It looks utterly beguiling even now after it’s been with us for seven years and with a superb cockpit and build quality it’s an excellent second-hand proposition today. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to buy the range-topper – great though it is – as if you accept you’re not going to be driving it at ten-tenths the whole time one of the lower-powered machines should do just as well. The four-cylinder cars are good, but we’d probably opt for one of the normally aspirated straight-sixes. Plenty of pace and a stunning soundtrack – what’s not to like? For many buyers the original Z4 used to be too hard, too small and too snappy, the E89 is an altogether more refined Roadster, and offers a depth of talent that wasn’t equalled in its class. The only question that remains is to wonder in which direction BMW will go with the next Z4? We can’t wait to find out.
THANKS: Vines of Gatwick for the loan of its pristine Z4
Tel: 01293 611117
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS-E89 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E89 /
ENGINE: Straight-six, twin-turbo, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5900rpm
MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
PRICE (OTR): £44,220 / $59,250 ( #2010 UK / USA)
The Z4’s cockpit was excellent although heater controls and electronic handbrake took a little getting used to.
Working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationForecourt find #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-M-Sport-Roadster (E89) ( #2007- #2013 ) / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-M-Sport-Roadster-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E89
THIS MONTH’S BEST BUY!
Critics may claim that the Z4 35i can’t match the Porsche Boxster as a pure driving tool, but that’s to miss the point. If you want a fast, well-equipped, great-sounding and great-looking contemporary Roadster for less than £20,000 then the 306hp E89 Z4 sDrive35i M Sport Roadster is pretty hard to beat. And this Space grey 2010 example with a mere 15,000 miles on the clock could be yours for just £18,999. Advertised at Leeds performance specialist, SCC, the 0-62mph dash is over in just 5.2 seconds and this leather-upholstered example boasts a plush spec including sat nav, Bluetooth prep, the Comfort pack, adaptive Xenon headlamps and parking sensors.
Web: www.sccleeds.co.uk / Tel: 01943 884551 or 07957 355365
Many thanks to John Warren Cars (www.independentbmw.co.uk) for its assistance with BMW BuyerStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSupercharged Z4 M Coupé / This supercharged Z4 M Coupé will blow you away!
Walk the line
Strapping a supercharged to the already potent Z4 M makes for an exceptional performance machine.
Words and photos Chris Nichols.
Tuning a car is often a fraught process. There’s the stress that comes from buying new products, not knowing if they’ll work until they’re on the car, despite your hours of research. There’s the possibility that the workshop you’ve chosen will do bad work or rip you off. And, of course, there’s the likelihood that fitting upgrades will simply expose weaknesses in other parts of the car you weren’t aware of, forcing you to spend money you hadn’t planned to.
Melbourne, Australia’s Kris Hooper knew about all those potential pitfalls when he chose his 2006 Z4 M Coupé. A tearaway in his younger days, he’d managed to destroy one car and blow two engines in another before getting a 1998 Subaru WRX sedan as his first proper performance car. However, his experience making mild mods to that, coupled with his otherwise methodical thought processes and focus on research, meant when he decided on something European to change things up, he wasn’t going to approach the project with anything other than highly considered plans to ensure he avoided many of those common tuning errors.
“Magazines and forums have taught me how easy it can be to perform a modification only to find you are not happy with the result, to not get enough bang-for-your-buck, or to find further down the track that it is incompatible with something else you have planned.” All this is why, before he even began, Kris had a pretty clear idea as to what he wanted and how to achieve it. The Z4 M base was already a great start – powerful, with great street handling and braking, and looks that Kris fell in love with well before the test-drive. But his desire for a true all-rounder that combined ability on the street with track prowess meant things had to be planned well in advance, particularly as, being such a rare car outside of America, parts were not exactly in huge supply. “Most of the parts I’ve used have come from the US,” Kris says, “simply because the number of E85 Z4s in the States makes production of go-faster bits viable.”
While in some respects, that lack of choice made things easy, Kris still needed to make the right decisions to achieve the goals he wanted, so on top of his research he talked to the guys at SouthernBM, a local and highly renowned specialist shop. The end result was a pretty tasty combination of American tuning parts, such as a 34-row Zionsville radiator, Vibra-Technics engine mounts, a StopTech Trophy BBK, Turner anti-roll bars, Hyperco Linear Race springs, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts and adjustable rear control arms, and an APR Performance carbon GT wing. In fact, JRZ RS-1 dampers aside, the only brake and suspension parts Kris didn’t get from the US were the Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and Carbone Lorraine R6E pads. Even inside, Kris relied on US know-how to help improve the already pleasant Z4 M cabin in the form of beautiful and custommade anti-slip pedals from Ultimate Pedals. To these he added a Recaro Pole Position bucket for himself and a ZHP-style weighted BMW gear knob.
Rather surprisingly, given the S54 engine is from the E46 M3, Kris had trouble finding options even here, specifically in the form of supercharger kits. At the time, only ESS kits were available, so to get the power he wanted Kris had no choice but to go with the company’s VT2-525 blower, intercooler and intake manifold kit. Currently it makes 403whp and 228lb ft of torque. Of course, ESS equipment is hardly second-best, and thanks to upgrading the included Setrab oil cooler for a bigger one, Kris reckons even now, with more options on the market, he wouldn’t change a thing.
Thankfully, Kris’s other engine tuning options were easier to come by. He decided on a beautiful Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover to spruce up the bay, and a KSS Performance valve-controlled exhaust to allow him to stay street-legal and not annoy his neighbours on those early mornings when he heads to the track yet still enjoy the full metallic scream of the S54 when he gets there. And he’s there a lot.
In fact, thanks to holding onto his WRX for more practical driving, Kris can afford to use the Z4 as almost purely a toy. This freedom, combined with his desire to learn from instructors on a regular basis and to study his own on-board data stats, means he’s able to really enjoy the car at the Marque Sports Car Association (MSCA) sprint days he attends regularly. He actually won his class in both 2014 and 2015.
Not that it’s all been plain sailing on the way to the top. While Kris has generally been very careful to build the car in a holistic way, avoiding many of the pitfalls others fall into, there have been challenges and even a scary on-track moment coming from a rare lapse of judgement when it came to both on-track behaviour and the order in which he fitted his mods. In terms of the challenges, the biggest was getting rid of the stock suspension setup’s on-track understeer. “For a car that handled so well on the street, I wasn’t expecting so much understeer,” Kris says. “An additional strut brace didn’t help. Wider front tyres didn’t help. Additional front camber didn’t help much either. Nor did changing my driving style to add some extra trail braking. It wasn’t until I swapped the suspension to the current coilovers and anti-roll bars and was able to stiffen the rear relative to the front that I was able to get the car to rotate like it should.”
And that scary moment? That was the result of what turned out to be an unwise decision to head to Calder Park, a track with one of Australia’s longest straights, on stock brakes (albeit with nearly new pads) despite having fitted the supercharger kit. Now, in his defence, Kris says the brakes had been ordered at the same time but not arrived before the last-minute spot opened up. We’ll let him tell you what happened next: “Halfway through the day, the pedal was starting to feel a little sketchy, and I began a cool down lap so I could come in and inspect the pad material. Part way into that lap, though, a supercharged Honda Civic tore out of the pits ahead of me, and the red mist descended. About a minute later he was still in front as we hit the main straight. At the end of it, as we were both hitting 220km/h (135mph), some semblance of rational thought returned and I started braking slightly before my marker because of my earlier concerns. Too little, too late. Under my left foot I could feel little more than air. Brake pressure was non-existent.”
As he later learned after pumping a whole extinguisher into the front left caliper, the pad material had just crumbled away by that point, leading to piston seals melting and fluid spraying everywhere. Luckily he still managed to save it, steering the Z4 around the Civic and through the narrow gate at the end of the straight before spinning to slow down in the field beyond. Safe to say, the StopTechs went on straight afterwards!
One additional benefit of fitting the big brakes was that they necessitated a wheel change. Never a fan of the OEM design, Kris had previously chanced upon a forum member running Volk Racing G2s in the same matt black as his own Z4 and decided they were perfect. And, as luck would have it, a member of a different forum who lived locally was selling a set just when Kris needed them. “They must have been the only used set of wheels in the correct fitment available locally at the time, and possibly ever since,” he says. “I was so happy with them that when it came time to get a separate set of track wheels I went straight to Volk, who made me up a set of TE37SLs that, again, are exactly what I wanted.” It’s hard to argue with Kris’s choice, too.
Japanese wheels often look great on BMWs and this is no exception. The relatively rare G2 design’s sharp edges and rounded curves, especially, match perfectly with the E85 Z4 M Coupé’s similar mix of lines, keeping the car looking current and fresh, despite now being ten-years-old. And thanks to Kris’s focus on getting the handling, power and braking right, it’s now a car that doesn’t just look great but one he can enjoy driving for years to come (like his WRX, he has no plans to part with it though).
“The Z4 M, to me, represents a challenge, one that never gets old. There is such a fine line between getting it right and everything going to hell in a split-second. Sprinting along the right side of that line is one of my favourite things in the world.”
DATA FILE #Supercharged Z4 M Coupé / #ESS / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupé / #BMW-Z4-M-Coupe-E86 / #BMW-Z4-M-E86 / #BMW-Z4-E86 / #BMW-E86 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #Rogue-Engineering / #Vortech / #Volk-Racing-G2 / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54B32-Supercharged / #S54B32-TUNED
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six S54B32 , #ESS-VT2-525 supercharger kit ( #Vortech-V3Si supercharger, #ESS intercooler and intake manifold), #K&N air filter, #Zionsville aluminium radiator, #Vibra-Technics engine mounts, #Tekarbon carbon fibre engine cover, #Bosch-453cc injectors, #KKS-Performance valve-controlled exhaust with push-button controller, KKS-Performance 4x80mm exhaust tips, software reflash to remove speed limiter and raise rev limiter to 8200rpm, six-speed manual gearbox
CHASSIS 8.5x19” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x19” ET+22 (rear) #Volk-Racing G2 wheels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the street, 8.5x18” ET+35 (front) and 9.5x18” ET+22 (rear) Volk Racing TE37SL wheels with 245/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) Nitto NT-01 tyres for the track, JRZ RS-1 coilovers with Hyperco Linear Race springs (450lb front, 600lb rear), Turner Motorsport 30/25 E46 M3 anti-roll bars, stock front strut brace, Rogue Engineering adjustable rear control arms, Rogue Engineering rear shock mounts, Vorschlag E46 M3 camber/caster plates and perches, StopTech Trophy Sport BBK with six-pot calipers (front) and four-pot calipers (rear), 355x32mm two-piece slotted rotors allround and stainless braided lines, Carbone Lorraine R6E sintered endurance pads, Motul 600RBF fluid
EXTERIOR Carbon fibre centre grille (sourced by Turner Motorsport), APR Performance rear carbon GT wing, M Power windscreen decal
INTERIOR Recaro Pole Position race bucket (driver’s side only), Macht Schnell Competition Liteweight seat mounts, BMW ZHP-style weighted gear knob, LeatherZ leather door handle covers, custom billet Ultimate Pedals anti-slip racing pedalsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOU’S #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW /
It’s been almost four months since I last updated you with news of my Z4 and that’s because, to be honest, nothing much has happened apart from a change of rubber that was required. Truth be told, the mechanics at my garage, ETA, recommended I replaced my tyres back in January, but it wasn’t until I hit a corner in the wet one warm evening and things got a little wayward shall we say, that my hand was forced.
I think the chore of replacing tyres is about as horrible as buying petrol; it’s expensive but it’s got to be done. However, you can at least select a budget when it comes to new tyres, but you do get what your pay for. Cheaper tyres often have to be replaced more frequently and are far less superior in terms performance.
Premium tyres will offer better braking distances, steering precision and aquaplaning resistance.
Now obviously Goodyear Dunlop has a long history in the tyre industry but that’s not to say I choose tyres based on their brand name; I choose tyres to best suit my driving style and requirements, as well as my vehicle, obviously. As such, I opted for the Sport Maxx RT (inspired by Racing Technology). It is Dunlop’s Max Performance Summer road tyre developed for drivers of sporty cars. Perfect. Prices range from £64.92 to £89.50 for 225/45R17s, so they’re not too expensive either.
On the road, thanks to their impressive array of innovative technologies, the Dunlops are proving to be an excellent choice. The stiff ‘Short Braking’ blocks help to ensure shorter braking distances when travelling at speed (type ‘Dunlop Sport Maxx RT – Braking Block Demo’ into YouTube for an example of this) while the massive outer shoulder blocks help to enhance stability and handling through the twisties. This is further helped by the motorsport-derived polymer compound and flatter tread profile to ensure a stickier, bigger contact patch.
Overall, they’re very quiet, comfortable and have good levels of grip and braking performance in both the dry and the wet, to the point that they give me the confidence to push my car hard through the corners.
If all that wasn’t enough, they also offer excellent fuel economy. In a tyre comparison test undertaken by Auto Express it recommended the Dunlop to high-mileage drivers as it offers a 20 to 25 per cent advantage over its rivals thanks to its lightweight construction to reduce rolling resistance. so they really do tick all the boxes. This is also a tyre for those with expensive rims as it has a rim flange protection system, which employs a profile of rubber that runs around the circumference of the tyre above the wheel flange. I’ve never ventured beyond the factory wheels but even so it’s nice to have that buffer zone.
All I need now is for the summer to come into its own so I can drop the roof and really begin to enjoy the benefits of fresh new rubber, and the noise of the (now rare for BMW) straight-six. You can’t beat wind-in-your-hair motoring.
THANKS SE Tyres Tunbridge Wells www.setyres.com/branch/ car-tyres-tunbridge-wells 01892 459965 Dunlop www.dunlop.eu
Old tyre on the left, new on the rightStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWING COMMANDER
This wild 800hp Z4 boasts a genuine #BMW-Motorsport carbon fibre GT3 kit and is fully road-legal to boot. 800HP Z4 Big single turbo, carbon GT3-kitted Roadster. This might just be the most outlandish Z4 we’ve ever seen but with 800hp on tap, this carbon fibre road racer’s talents go far beyond its outrageous looks… Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
It would seem that modified Z4s are like buses: you wait forever for one to come along, and then you get two ridiculous builds within the space of as many issues. I was about to say that the Z4 doesn’t get a whole lot of love on the modified BMW scene but if you’d read last month’s issue and now picked up this one, you’d probably call me a liar. So let me explain. Generally speaking the Z4 is not a particularly popular BMW to modify. It’s also weird because it’s actually a really good car. The Bangledesigned, flame-surfaced E85 was a bit of a shock to the system after the more traditional-looking Z3, but it was a grower for sure and a pretty sweet drive with the more powerful sixes on-board. The E89 was a little easier on the eye and while BMW has decided against producing an M model, the 35is is a pretty rapid machine. Its performance pales into insignificance when compared with the Z3 GT3 racer, though, which is powered by a 515hp, 4.4-litre V8 based on that of the M3 GTS and which, above all else, looks absolutely awesome.
It’s low, wide and has a massive wing and scoops and ducts galore. It’s the sort of car that you might find yourself gazing at and fantasising what it might be like to own something like that, but that you could actually drive on the road.
Evidently that’s exactly what Johan Sjöstedt did but the difference between him and the rest of us is that he actually went out and made it happen. And you’re looking at the result of his fantasy right here. Hailing from Stockholm, the 40-year-old selfconfessed “serial entrepreneur” has been a #BMW fan for all his life, as you might expect from someone whose father owned a BMW workshop. And while his first ever car was a VW Beetle 1303 (a little rebellion, perhaps?), his BMW journey began at a very early age when his father gifted Johan a 1969 1800 while he was studying – a very cool thing to be trundling around in (especially as his dad could fix it for him if it ever went wrong).
An interest in BMWs, then, was established at an early age and modified cars have also been a big part of Johan’s life. He has, he says, modified almost all of his cars and has always leaned towards performance upgrades rather than the aesthetics. And with his last modified car being a Porsche 911 GT2, you can be sure this is a man who enjoys performance cars and driving them the way they were intended.
When it came to this project, Johan knew exactly what he wanted to do: create a street-legal Z4 GT3 for the Gumball 3000 event. That’s no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination. Fortunately for him Johan knew a garage that would be able to help: Westcoast Racing in Sweden. Indeed, the guys there carried out pretty much all of the work. Now, Westcoast Racing might sound like a Californian speedshop but it’s a full-on race outfit that knows what it’s doing when it comes to making racing cars. It was the perfect place for Johan to turn when it came to turning a plain Jane Z4 into a full-blown road-going racer – which is exactly what this car is. It doesn’t just look the part, it’s the complete package. It’s a full-on performance machine.
Let’s start with the body kit, partly because it looks so damn awesome but mainly because it’s the real deal: an allcarbon BMW Motorsport kit. This is what Johan wanted from the beginning but, as you might imagine, getting hold of the genuine kit was another matter altogether, with components being either very difficult to find, expensive or both. It was mostly both! Of course, getting hold of the kit was just half the battle as actually getting it to fit the road-going Z4 required a lot of work, not least because of how massively wide it is.
Westcoast Racing was clearly up to the task, though, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. I mean, you really wouldn’t expect anything less because you’re basically looking at a GT3 race car. It’s the arches that impress the most, not just because of how far beyond the body they extend (15cm per side) but how high they are. The tops of the very outer sections actually sit above the bonnet and remind us of the Batmobile from the Tim Burton-era Batman movies. The front bumper features a massive central aperture and twin canards on each corner, while the vented bonnet looks no less wild. Viewed in profile you can see how the upper rear portion of the front arches are sliced away, exposing the tyre and the body, and then pinches in where the doors are before expanding out again with the rear arches. The side skirts feature exposed carbon splitters along their length and NACA ducts ahead of each rear wheel.
The rear of the car is arguably the most dramatic view, not least because of that absolutely vast spoiler, which almost sits as high as the car’s roof. The rear bumper and diffuser assembly is just plain crazy. The lower side sections and middle are made entirely of mesh, with the massive twin exhausts poking up and out like cannons. Beneath them sits the extreme diffuser. It’s certainly not going to be to all tastes but as far as visual drama goes, it takes some beating, make no mistake.
There’s no point fitting some wild, widearch racing car kit if you wimp out on the wheel front and the challenge for Johan was actually finding some wheels that were up to the job of filling those gigantic arches, which add half-a-foot of width to the car on each side. After an extensive search, Johan realised that there was nothing available off-the- shelf and so the only option was to go down the custom route, with Rotiform tasked with building the wheels.
That the three-piece forged SNAs measure 20” across will come as no surprise, with the fronts nine inches wide and the rears a massive eleven. And with this build being racing car-inspired you’ll find no stretch here, just ridiculously wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber all-round, with 285/30s up front and 335/30s at the back. This is one car you don’t want to get a puncture in. Vast Brembo calipers clamp slotted front discs while the suspension is a fully adjustable custom Öhlins coilover setup developed especially for this car.
As wild as the exterior may be, it’s possible that the interior is actually even wilder and while there’s no roll-cage that’s just about the only thing that’s missing from what might otherwise have been lifted straight from the GT3 racer. First, the entire lower portion of the dash looks to have been removed leaving just the arguably more useful and now flocked upper portion. It houses things like the light switch and HVAC controls, indicating that, for the sake of driver comfort, the air-con has been retained; after all, this is a road car.
However, that’s where the similarities with the regular Z4 end. The Sparco Ergo M seats look like refugees from the Le Mans 24 Hours, with their single-piece design and extensive bolstering and there’s also a carbon fibre intercom system for the driver and passenger. Carbon fibre plays a big part in the interior, making up many of the components and covering so many of the surfaces. The custom centre console is fabricated entirely from carbon fibre, the electronic handbrake release neatly relocated to the side, while an iPad sits in a custom shroud beneath the ventilation controls, displaying additional data. The carbon and Alcantara-rimmed AIM GT steering wheel features a digital display in its centre while an AIM MXG digital dash logger features a TFT screen that can display an overwhelming array of parameters, allowing Johan to keep an eye on all of the car’s systems. Interestingly, the standard speedo and rev counter have been relocated to the passenger side of the dash, presumably to allow those fortunate enough to get a ride in this beast to see just how fast they are travelling.
Now this is all well and good but it would be incredibly disappointing to remove that bonnet only to find a standard N54 peering back at you. But take a look under the bonnet of this Z4 and you’ll see that this is most definitely not the case: the engine is no less extreme than the rest of the car!
The first thing you’ll notice is that massive turbo, which is the main component of the FFTec single turbo kit that replaces the stock twins with a 64mm CEA ceramic ball bearing Precision turbo and includes a tubular exhaust manifold, three-inch downpipe, which leads to that straight-through exhaust system, and external wastegate. Johan’s Z4 features an uprated intercooler and injectors along with modified software and a new diff to help cope with all that power. It definitely needs it as the FFTec turbo kit turns the Z4 into an absolute monster. According to FFTec the kit is capable of putting down 650whp, which is knocking on the door of 800hp at the flywheel, and with the additional supporting upgrades that have been fitted to Johan’s Z4, this is an 800hp car, make no mistake.
Setting out on his Z4 journey, Johan knew exactly what he wanted to build and the monstrous machine he has created is the realisation of his Z4 GT3 dream: a road-legal racing car with the go to match the show. And as you might expect this wild Z4 has been getting plenty of attention. “I took it to Elmia, Sweden’s biggest show, and it won the ‘People’s Choice’ award,” says Johan with a smile. And he should be proud of this build as it’s an amazing car. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that he’s not done yet. “If money were no object I would have bought a real one in the first place,” he laughs, “but now we are in the process of changing the engine for a V8, just like the real thing.” This might already be the most extreme Z4 we’ve ever seen but that V8 swap is going to propel this car into the modified stratosphere. You’ll never look at a Z4 the same way again.
DATA FILE Carbon fibre wide-body #BMW-Z4-35is / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89 / #M-DCT
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 , #FFTec single turbo kit with tubular exhaust manifolds, 64mm CEA ceramic ball bearing #Precision turbo, three-inch downpipe, straight-through exhaust system, external wastegate, uprated intercooler, uprated injectors, modified software, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox, uprated diff. Approx. 800hp
CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) #Rotiform #SNA three-piece forged wheels with 285/30 (front) and 335/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, custom #Öhlins coilovers, #Brembo #Brembo-BBK with grooved discs (front), line lock kit / #Rotiform-SNA
EXTERIOR Full carbon fibre genuine #BMW-Motorsport-GT3 body kit
INTERIOR Flocked dash, custom carbon fibre centre console, iPad mounted in custom carbon housing, driver and passenger intercom system with carbon headphones, original gauge cluster moved to passenger side of dash, single piece Sparco Ergo M VTR race seats, #AIM-Motorsport-GT steering wheel with digital display and carbon and Alcantara rim, AIM Motorsport MXG digital dash logger.
As wild as the exterior may be, it’s possible that the interior is even wilder.
AIM Motorsport digital dash logger is a seriously impressive piece of kit and is complemented by an AIM steering wheel.
Fully-adjustable Öhlins suspension was developed specifically for this Z4.
FFTec single turbo kit uses #Precision turbo and, with supporting mods, cranks out 800hp.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSHOWOMAN SHIP BAGGED #BMW Z4
Jaw-dropping wide-body roadster. With her bagged wide-body Z4, this young lady can teach the boys a thing or two about modding. You want show-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping? This Z4 delivers all that, and even more… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin King Uy.
Take a good look at this Z4. Drink in the details, the extravagance and the sheer amount of modifications. Regardless of whether or not it’s to your style or taste, it’s one hell of a build, and it was built by a 22-year-old college student. Not only that, but this isn’t just Monique Song’s first project car, it’s her first ever car. Where the hell do you go from there?
By her own admission, Canadian Monique was not particularly interested in BMs or even European cars. “When I was deciding on my first car, I looked into a lot of different models and asked around for suggestions. At first I thought about getting a GTR, then looked into buying a Dodge Charger because it would be pretty badass to drive the same muscle car as the police, then I looked at Mustangs… This Z4 wasn’t planned, I’d never even thought of a European car until I walked into a BMW dealership. A family friend knew the sales guy there so we went to visit. While we were chatting and looking up inventories, a blue Z4 3.5i came in and it fitted my needs. I liked that fact that it was a convertible so I could enjoy the sun, and that it was small and girly, which suits me. I see the car as a little sister who accompanies me wherever I go, so I named her ‘Hitomi’ – it’s Japanese, meaning ‘eyes, the eye that sees pretty things, the beauty and wisdom’. I think a Z4 should be a girl and I want her to be a beautiful, smart girl.
“I didn’t have a plan when I first got the car. I barely knew how to mod it at first and this project has been a learning process for me. There’s still lots to improve but for my first modified car, but I think I’m doing well.
Speaking of modification plans, if I had had a plan while choosing this car, I wouldn’t have bought an E89 as there are barely any aftermarket parts for this model,” she says, but looking at her Z4 you’d hard pressed to tell. As these things often do, Monique began with a set of wheels, Vossen CVTs, before things started getting more serious. “After fitting the wheels, I realised the wheel gap was too big. It looked like the car was tiptoeing, so I lowered it on bags and worked a lot stuff on top of this, including camber arms, to make the fitment more satisfying.”
The ensuing year-and-a-half resulted in the car you see before you now. As Monique has already touched on her choice of suspension, that seems as good a place as any to start dissecting this build. Her reasoning for going with air was simple: “What suspension lowers the car but can also easily get over speed bumps? Air suspension!” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I started seriously researching air suspension that I realised how good bagged cars can look. However, there were no E89s on bags at the time, which meant I had to be ‘the first to eat a crab’. It’s a Chinese saying…”
Monique went for the E36 Air Lift air-ride suspension components along with a Megan Racing E85 Z4 camber arm kit and had them custom-fitted to her E89. For management, she went with AccuAir with the controller nicely nestling in her clip-on cup holder.
The air-ride steered the direction of the rest of the build, and from that point on Monique knew her Z4 was going to be a stance car, and that dictated the styling too. “I’ve seen lots of photos online of the Duke Dynamics project Z4 in Japan and I decided that that was what I wanted for my car. It has some GT3-inspired elements to it but the kit is clean looking and not too crazy for street driving. The only thing missing on the kit is a lip. Luckily, Duke Dynamics is based in Vancouver and I managed to get in touch with the owner who made a carbon fibre lip just for my order,” she says.
The Duke kit replaces all the OE body panels, meaning nothing needed to be cut and everything can be reversed if Monique ever changes her mind. “Lots of people ask me if my car is an M model or some sort because it looks more like from factory than a bolt-on wide-body,” she adds. “Unfortunately, the actual fitment of the kit isn’t very good. Europa fitted the kit for me and it took the team there a month and a half to put it together, but they really did their best to make it what it is right now. The kit contains almost all of the pieces except doors, mirrors and the hard-top.
“Painting the kit isn’t much different than painting the whole car so I thought I’d change the colour to create a more dramatic makeover. I loved the original blue too much to remove it all, so I decided on white with a small amount of blue pearl, which really comes through in the light.”
There was still something missing, though… “After staying on the ground with this kit for a while, I noticed the rear bumper was too high up in the air while the front lip was right against the ground. So I got side skirts and a GT3-style diffuser custom-made by Aero Flow Dynamics when I was in LA, and that really helped the car to look even lower when it was on the ground.” The finishing touch involved wrapping the roof to give the illusion of having a soft-top on the car. “I got the idea from the velvet-wrapped cars I’d seen,” explains Monique. “I got the roof wrapped in black velvet when I had the car in LA. The wrapping guys were all confused as to why I wanted that material but after it was done they knew the reason. It really looks like soft-top! I get a lot of questions about it because a lot of people have never seen anything like it!” she laughs.
The styling, however, is no laughing matter as this Z4 is obscenely aggressive. Up front there’s that big splitter and at the rear sits that vicious diffuser – literally, as it has claimed countless ankles whilst parked – with its curved fins below that swathe of carbon fibre. It has to be said that the widebody itself is relatively subtle, no doubt thanks to the fact that the panels are all new rather than piggy-backing on the standard body. The work put in by Europa to get the fit and finish perfect has certainly paid off. Even the most comprehensively styled car is only half done if it’s on the wrong wheels, and with that kit (not to mention the fat arches that needed filling) the Vossens simply weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I like blue and wanted to keep more blue elements throughout the car, so the wheel colour had to be blue. I also needed something in a negative offset to fit the wider body so my choice was narrowed down to custom ordering a set of threepiece wheels. Thanks to Europa Auto Design and SR Auto, I got a pretty good deal with PUR Wheels; the LG02 design I went for just came out not long ago and it’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s very unique and it doesn’t have too many spokes which makes cleaning a nightmare.”
The 19” LG02s look awesome in blue, the angular spoke design definitely stands out from the crowd. The centres are complemented by the Mevius neon blue lug bolts, with mirror polished stepped lips and polished bolts, and the small matter of the massive six-pot Brembo front brake kit visible through the spokes.
The big brakes are not overkill because this Z4 is not just for show – under that long bonnet sits the vastly tunable twin-turbo N54 straight-six, just ripe for a few go-faster parts strapped to it, so it would have been rude of Monique not to indulge. “It started with a ride in a friend’s Subaru STI. I saw this cool COBB Accessport gauge and decided to get one for my car. After reading the manual I found that if I wanted to go to a higher stage, I needed lots of other stuff. I ordered AR Design downpipes soon after, then got an aFe intake from my friend’s 335i.
I got the silencer removed so the car is basically straight-piped now, which sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention. At the end of 2014 I got a sponsor deal from STETT Performance for its FMIC, chargepipe and a blue Tial BOV. I then did some engine dress-up, adding coloured bolts and a custom painted engine cover.” That comprehensive list of engine mods means that Monique has at least 400hp to play with, meaning the Z4 has the performance to back up its neck-snapping looks.
If you thought the exterior was loud, you’d best get your earplugs in because things certainly don’t get any quieter inside. The blue-and-white theme has been carried over to the interior with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication, and it really helps to tie the whole build together.
Originally, Monique’s Z4 had been spec’d with some questionable wood trim, which she unsurprisingly felt didn’t belong in a sporty roadster, so she had it wrapped in brushed blue, which looks fantastic, as do the Bride single-piece buckets.
“Initially, I got a pair of bucket seats from Status Racing, but it wasn’t a great experience. Not only was the product not what I asked for, but the company also sent me the wrong base mounts. It doesn’t have them for the E89 but claimed that E85s and E89s use the same ones, which is not possible at all, as not a single hole lined up.
The seats were also too wide for the small Z4 and rubbed against the door and centre console. Bride was the only company that had the correct base mount for my car so I got the mount from there instead. Also, at the time, a friend was selling his Bride Zeta 3 and Zeta 2 seats so I got both from him. Thankfully, when I later attended SoCal, I met up with another friend who swapped their Zeta 3 for my Zeta 2 and I now I have a matching pair.”
Monique had similar woes when it came to finding the right steering wheel, as she explains: “I got a Vertex Seven Star steering wheel because I loved its stitching design and the red, blue and white colour combo. It was sitting in the living room for the whole winter until spring, when it was finally warm enough for the heated steering wheel to go away. I couldn’t find a steering wheel hub for my car so I tried to fit the E90 Momo hub and it worked. After fitting the blue quick release boss from Worksbell, I realised that the Vertex’s deep dish style made the steering wheel too close to me and too far for me to reach the turn signals comfortably. I had it in the car for 15 minutes before deciding to get a flat-faced one. Luckily, I was in LA at the time and Evasive Motorsports has lots of steering wheels in stock so I walked in, picked up a Personal Pole Position one and that’s what I’ve got in the car now.”
We mustn’t forget about the air install in the boot; Monique’s favourite modification on the car. “It’s nothing as crazy as those cars with mass amounts of hardlines and lights,” she says, “but I played with the word ‘bagged’. The air tank was painted as a NOS tank and sits inside a bag. It looks hidden in a natural way. Since I still drive the car quite often, I need a functional trunk. With the bag as protection, I can slide things in without worrying about breaking any pipes.”
Monique has put a huge amount of work into this car and not only was the experience most definitely a learning curve, having unknowingly chosen to modify a car with so little aftermarket support made the whole experience that much tougher, but she persevered and can now enjoy the fruits of her labours. It’s certainly not a shy, subtle build, but it is an incredibly comprehensive one. This is a build with no stone left unturned. It is an astonishing achievement for someone so young with no prior experience of the modifying world and in one fell swoop she’s put the efforts of a lot of older, more experienced people out there to shame. We can’t wait to see what she does for her next trick…
This Z4 has quite literally been bagged, with the fun boot install both a talking point and good way of keeping the hardware protected.
Blue-and-white theme carried over to the interior, with trims wrapped in brushed blue, and Bride seats.
DATA FILE Air-ride / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Air-ride-E89 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #N54 , Stett Performance front mount intercooler, Stett Performance charge pipe with white paint, #Tial BOV, #COBB-Tuning #AccessPort-V3-Stage-2 , AR-Design cat-less downpipe, #aFe Magnum Force Stage 2 Pro 5R intake system, Downstar accessories including blue engine dress-up bolts, custom painted engine cover and power braces, custom muffler delete exhaust, burnt titanium quad tips, six-speed automatic gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) PUR LG02 three-piece wheels with candy blue faces and polished lips with 225/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, custom fit #AirLift-Performance E36 air suspension, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management system with custom ‘bagged’ trunk setup, custom-fit Megan Racing E85 Rear control arm, #Mevius neon blue lug bolts, #Brembo GT six-piston front big brake kit.
EXTERIOR #AutoTechnic matte black kidney grilles, Duke Dynamics full widebody kit (front bumper, front wings, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper), Duke Dynamics power-vented hood, carbon fibre rear diffuser, #CSL bootlid, custom carbon fibre front lip, Aero Flow Dynamics custom side diffusers, Aero Flow Dynamics custom rear diffuser, custom paint using white base with blue pearl, hard top velvet vinyl wrapped, 88% window tint, tail-light tint, #LuxAngeleyes H8 V4, #WeissLicht LED white turn signal bulbs, interior xenon bulbs, custom boot switchable ambient lights.
INTERIOR Brushed blue vinyl interior trim wrap, #Bride seat rails, #Bride-Zeta-3 bucket seats, Bride head cushions, Bride blue fashion protectors, 350mm Personal-Pole-Position steering wheel, blue #Worksbell Rapfix 2 quick release, Momo steering wheel hub for E90/E92 custom-fit to E89.
THANKS Europa Auto Design, SR Auto Group, PUR Wheels, NightRunner International and all of my sponsors. Also to all of the shops that I’ve been to and friends who have offered valuable help in any form. Most importantly, thank you to my parents for accepting their daughter’s hobby even though they don’t really like it.
The car sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLOUISE’S E85 / #BMW-Z4-2.5i / #BMW-Z4-2.5i-E85 / #BMW-E85 / #BMW-Z4 /
The somewhat well-known quote ‘stick to what you know’ couldn’t have rung more true when I decided to take my car to another #BMW specialist for the first time in over ten years (simply because it was nearer). A big lesson was learnt as a consequence.
The specialist was recommended to me by the removal firm that I hired back in January last year to move me and my husband into our first home. I had heard of the name from days gone by when I was editor of this very magazine, so was confident it would be a good choice. As one of my old bosses once said, never assume anything.
The experience all started very positively. To save me going out of my way to his workshop, the owner of the company said that I could drop the car off at his home, which was just a stone’s throw from where we live. Upon arrival he wasn’t there, but his wife was in, so I left my keys with her and my car outside. My husband thought I was mad. I too had concerns but I had committed now and to save face I had to show complete confidence in my decision. A few hours later I received a phone call. It was from the man to say that the car was ready to be picked up. Sure enough the Z4 was waiting outside his house and I handed over £100 for the oil service. So far, so good.
Unfortunately I forgot to bring my service book. “No problem”, he said “I’ll pick it up in a few days from your house when I visit my daughter who lives just down the road from you.” Great, I thought. Sadly I never saw that service book again. After numerous excuses he finally confessed (some months later) to losing the book. To add insult to injury he then lined-up a potential buyer for the car. I was never given a contact number for this ‘buyer’ and apparently when he viewed the car he never drove it. Even though we’d not heard from the buyer for a few weeks, I was assured by the owner that he definitely wanted it. He told me the buyer always takes a while to agree to a sale. Hmmm, really?! Needless to say, over the next few months the owner offered no solution to the lost service book and was still trying to convince me that this mystery man wanted the car. In the end I took it upon myself to order a new service book and then trace its service history to get all of the stamps.
Fortunately, the Z4 only had two previous owners and BMW has a record of every vehicle that is serviced by its main dealership, and the car came with more history than your average American town. As it turned out, only Broad Oak Canterbury and Highams Park were responsible for it before I took over the V5, and they both duly stamped it and posted it back FOC.
In the specialist’s defence, he paid me back for the service book and for my postage costs but he offered no apology. By this point it was December (over ten months since that fateful service) – a fruitless time to sell a convertible, so I’ve decided to hold on to it until spring. On the upside, at least I had the best car for what was the warmest year on record.
So, what else has happened in my ownership of the Z4 since my last report in PBMW? Well, I never got any money from the council for having to replace my tyre after hitting a pothole that had been marked up to fill in for some months. What a surprise. And a few weeks ago the service light reared its ugly bright yellow head.
Needless to say, this time the keys were handed over to my trusty friends at ETA Motorsport, whom I should have never turned my back on in the first place. My plans over the next few months now are to tidy it up ready for a new owner. 2016 is supposed to be even hotter so if you fancy a spot of drop-top motoring for the summer, please email me (email@example.com).
THANKS AND CONTACT
BMW Broad Oak Canterbury
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- Post is under moderationJONATHAN McMULLAN E85 #BMW-Z4-2.2i-E85 / #BMW-Z4-E85 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-E85 /
We don’t get many Z4s appearing in these pages but we really like what Jonathan has done with his Roadster. He’s owned it for seven years, during which time he and his father-in-law (both avid #BMW fans) have enjoyed tweaking it.
It’s been fully polybushed and fitted with FK coilovers along with an #Ultra-Racing cross brace to help stiffen up the body. The Z4 rides on 9.5x19” E46 M3 wheels all-round with 13mm spacers, mounted on a stud conversion kit, while the brakes have been upgraded with an E46 330Ci setup consisting of Black Diamond discs with Predator pads and rebuilt 330Ci calipers with Hel brake lines all-round.
Under the bonnet sits a CDA induction kit and the straightsix has been fitted with a de-cat manifold and custom quad exhaust system. The rear bumper has been modified to accommodate the Stuke rear diffuser, the arches have been pulled to squeeze the wheels under them and allow for a satisfying drop and a pair of carbon mirrors add the finishing touch. Except it’s not finished just yet, with plans for the next few months involving air-ride, LCI rear lights and a Z4 M front bumper, which will make for one seriously slick Z4.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.