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    Time for the autumn chill-out

    1989 BMW 320i Convertible Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    As I write this the sun is shining outside. It’s bloody cold, though. Autumn is setting in quickly and suddenly and it’s only just over a month since I spent a balmy late-summer evening with a whole bunch of BMW convertibles near Henley-on-Thames, as regular readers might remember. I had a fantastic time piloting such beauties as a BMW-328-Roadster , a #BMW-507 , a #BMW-Z1 and a #BMW-Z8 (see right), before sunset called a halt to proceedings.

    Thing is, I’d already had a fabulous drive down there in my own #BMW-Convertible . And no matter what the charms of those other cars were - only one of which I could even imagine owning, if you bear their market values in mind - mine more than held its own. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to have some of the other assembled journalists take a look over it; one or two of them even assumed it had been brought down as part of BMW’s own fleet!

    The journey was a hundred miles or so, much on trunk roads plus a spell on the M40. But the scenery turns bucolic in a major way on the stretch south from Stokenchurch, narrow lanes winding and plunging through dense woodland with the sun barely filtering through at times, thee leafy smell and the birdsong make a convertible a real treat to be in - quite a different effect from the more usual roof-down/howling exhaust scenario.

    A few hours later I had to think about my route home, those thread-like lanes could easily hide the occasional inebriated local, lurking in a 4x4 without thought to a delicate 1980s soft-top, so I headed out of Henley towards Nettlebed and Watlington and was treated to some fabulously sinuous B-roads, perfect for the innate balance and modest yet useful power of my 320i. Even the roundabouts on the A43 past Brackley did their bit to make this a properly life-affirming high-speed late-night trek. One I’ll remember during the winter evenings ahead.
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    It was given the #BMW-E52 #BMW model code. The #BMW-Z8 was the production variant of the 1997 Z07 concept car. The car design was the effort of a design team led by Chris Bangle. The exterior was designed by #Henrik-Fisker and the interior by Scott Lempert. The #BMW-Z07 originally was designed as a styling exercise intended to evoke and celebrate the 1956-1959 #BMW-507 and to celebrate the millennium change. The Z07 caused a sensation at the '97 3Tokyo Auto Show. The overwhelming popularity of the concept spurred BMW's decision to produce a limited production model called the #BMW-Z8-E52 . 5,703 Z8s were built, 3,160 in ECE and 2,543 in US outfit.
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    / #2000 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8 / Auctions America, Santa Monica Sale / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E52 / #BMW /

    SOLD FOR: $189,750 Approx £145,000

    It seems as if the Z8 is a perennial favourite on the American auction scene, perhaps hardly surprising given that almost half of the entire Z8 production run were bound for those shores. This 2000 example sold by Auctions America looked like a fine specimen and presented well in its original black paint and fetching red and black interior. It was wholly original and had covered just 11,000 miles, and in today’s market its £145k hammer price appeared to be about right.
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    / #Bonhams Festival of Speed / #2003 / #Alpina-Roadster / #Alpina / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW / #Alpina-Roadster-V8-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-Roadster-V8 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-Roadster-V8-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-E52 / #Alpina-E52 / #Alpina / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E52 / #Alpina-Roadster-V8

    The Roadster V8 was Alpina’s take on the Z8 and it’s a sublime machine – see our May issue for a full test on a similar example. This was just one of a handful of UK cars and one of only 11 (out of a production run of 555) finished in Alpina blue. Having covered just 9500 miles this Roadster had been maintained regardless of cost and its £247k hammer price was just about bang-on what Bonham’s estimated it would sell for.

    SOLD FOR: £247,900
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    / #2003 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW
    SOLD FOR: €184,000
    Approx £140,000

    Another low mileage machine, if not quite in the same league as the Z1 and Silverstone’s 850i, this 23,000km Z8 had spent part of its life in a collection and looked pretty much immaculate in its fetching silver paint with red leather interior.
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    Stunning Alpina Roadster V8. The Other Z8. It might look like a Z8, but Alpina’s Roadster V8 was an entirely different animal and all the better for it.

    Think this is a BMW Z8? Think again! It’s the even rarer #Alpina Roadster V8, but it might just be the car the Z8 should have been in the first place… Words: Matt Robinson. Photography: Max Earey.

    ALPINA ROADSTER V8

    Late summer, 2003, Nottingham. A different time, a different world, a different job. I might be making this sound overly nostalgic, given we’re only talking about 13 years ago but in many ways the pace of change in the 21st century does make the early 2000s feel like a different era in retrospect. Take BMW. Back on that sunny day I’m referencing above, the company’s lineup ran thus: Three, Five, Seven, X5, Z4. The 6 Series was on the way but it wasn’t in showrooms. That list doesn’t, of course, include the MINI, which was still only a three-door hatch at that point, but it’s clear to see that the current widespread diversification of the Munich fleet had not yet begun to take effect.


    Actually, I’m missing a car out of the 2003 roll call of honour and that’s the Z8, one of BMW’s largely forgotten vehicles. A glorious mix of the cutting edge (aluminium space frame chassis, 4.9-litre V8 from the contemporary M5) shoehorned into that indulgently classical body (designed to evoke the 1950s 507 Roadster) it rather spectacularly missed its target because it didn’t appeal to flame-surfaced petrolheads wanting the latest Bangle designs, nor did its six-speed manual gearbox and rather aggressive manner coerce historic car buyers into shelling out for it. Almost 6000 of them were made, which suggests that #BMW would argue the Z8 was an unqualified success, but we can’t help feeling that without a largely underwhelming appearance in the Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond film franchise (it basically did bugger all before getting cut in half longitudinally with a helicopter-mounted buzzsaw), BMW’s most opulent roadster would have fared worse on the global markets. It needed to be a little more laid-back, a little more comfortable to ride in. It needed an automatic gearbox option. In short, it needed to be more like the Alpina Roadster V8.

    Which is the reason I’m banging on about Nottingham in the days when England’s cricket team were still desperately searching for an Ashes series victory, when Gareth Gates was (shudder) a force to be reckoned with in the charts, and when Tony Blair was midway through his second term as Prime Minister. Because, lucky sod that I am, I was in the biggest city in the East Midlands that day in order to drive an Alpina Roadster V8 when it was new. It was car 47 of 555 and it was Sytner’s demonstrator, finished in Stratus grey with a light-coloured leather interior. It was utterly glorious and, as cars go, rarer than rare. Sure, 555 might not seem the most limited of production runs but 450 of the Roadster V8s were destined for the US, another 75 remained in mainland Europe, 20 headed east to Japan, and the final ten were allocated to the UK – although rumour suggests only eight of these actually sold. I drove that 2003 UK car and thought it was magical. I was also convinced I’d never, ever get to have a go in one again.

    Cut to a cold moorland road somewhere between Bradford and Hebden Bridge, early 2016. And to my surprise, I’m in a 2003 model year Alpina Roadster V8 once more. This time, naturally, it is not new, but it might as well be – the example I’m in has covered a scant 15,000 miles in its 13-year life and it feels as tight as the proverbial percussion instrument. The mellifluous 4.8 up front is burring away, responding with decent haste to throttle inputs and shoving the ‘modern classic’ forward with real intensity. The Alpina Switchtronic gearbox isn’t unduly hesitant or struggling to find the right cog for the job, while its quaint, handstitched ‘+’ and ‘–’ buttons on the steering wheel prompt shifts as and when you need them. It feels good to be back in the saddle. Actually, scratch that; it feels superb. It seems this most curious of Alpinas has retained all of its allure, and then some.


    And that undiminished appeal brings us onto another area where 2003 again feels like a different era. Back then, the brand-new Roadster V8 was around £6000 more expensive than the 400hp Z8, costing £86,000 in the UK. Time, though, has done funny things to the values. The BMW Z8 has become something of a collector’s piece, despite everything, with values sky-rocketing past the original purchase price. So imagine what has happened to the financial status of a car of which just 555 were made. This one, in the more traditional Titanium silver so many Z8s are seen in, is No.116, a machine which has spent its pampered life cloistered away in a collection over in the US. Imported back here by those connoisseurs of fine automotive exotica, Kahn Design, it is now up for sale – with a previous owner on the logbook and 15,000 miles on the clock – for practically three times its original value. You’ll get a fiver change from £240,000 if you want to buy it. Wow.

    It is an astonishing market performance for a less well-known example of an often-overlooked BMW model. But maybe there’s a wider appreciation for its deliberately retro looks nowadays. Put it this way, in about four hours in the Roadster V8’s company for our photoshoot, we had the full gamut of public response: young kids on the roadside gawped and even applauded as it trundled past (maybe the ‘OO 77’ numberplate helped); one bloke in a garage was convinced it was a modern re-creation; another was astonished when we told him that the Alpina was from 2003, not 1963.

    Yet it cannot be denied that the Roadster V8, and by extension the Z8 on which it is based, is a gorgeous car. That long bonnet, those sweeping haunches, the slender rear light clusters – it’s a design where you can really enjoy spending a long time simply drinking in the details. For what it’s worth, Alpina didn’t do a lot to BMW’s basic shape. You’ll notice there’s no branded ‘cow-catcher’ spoiler adorning the Roadster’s face, nor are there side skirts or a revised rear bumper. The V8 actually wears a lot of BMW roundels, on its bootlid, side gills and at the pointiest bit of the sharp prow. The biggest giveaways that you’re not dealing with your common or garden Z8 are the Alpina legend on the Roadster’s rump and those 20-spoke alloys – not cotton-reels, in this instance, but rims with five clusters of four spokes each. When driving No.47 back in 2003, I was told by Sytner’s then-representative that fitting spoilers to the Roadster V8 would have been “like putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa”. What was true then remains valid now.

    Linked to the lack of a bodykit, the biggest change Buchloe made to the Z8 was one you cannot see, with the E39 M5 drivetrain of the regular car replaced by one of Alpina’s own making. A 4.8-litre V8 developing 381hp (down 19hp on the Z8) and 383lb ft (up 14lb ft on the Z8, and crucially peak torque is available at lower revs in the Roadster V8, too), it was mated to Alpina’s five-speed Switchtronic automatic. That last detail alone is what made the Roadster infinitely more appealing in the US than the manualonly Z8. But what has all this got to do with spoilers?

    Well, although the Alpina is slightly slower on acceleration than the Z8, clocking the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3 seconds compared to 4.7 for the BMW, it has a higher top speed of 166mph against the Z8’s 155mph limited maximum. However, the Alpina could go faster still, but aerodynamic lift beyond 166mph means that a rear spoiler would be needed – and we’re back at square one in terms of disrupting the Roadster V8’s delicate exterior lines. The fantastic interior is much the same story of restraint. No.116 has black leather, which is practical, and again the Alpina changes are subtle. The trademark blue dials are in place, complete with the little gear indicator directly in front of the driver, while there’s an Alpina-branded centre boss on the exquisite three-spoke steering wheel, which also features the green-and-blue stitching of Buchloe. Other than that, it’s the same as a Z8, Switchtronic gear lever notwithstanding. Again, this is no bad thing, because the Z8 used bespoke switchgear that you won’t find in any other BMW – such as the rocker switches for the electric windows, the slender silver stalks on the steering column, and the rotary dials for the climate controls. About the only familiar button you’ll spot is the heated seat switch, sequestered away next to your thigh on the centre console.


    That 4.8 is worth looking at in closer detail. A double overhead-cam 32-valve V8 of 4837cc, it is a development of the Alpina 4.6 – and, yes, these are the same pair of motors that Buchloe famously ‘gave back’ to BMW as a present, for use in the ‘iS’-badged performance variants of the original X5. With an aluminium block and head, Bosch Motronic engine management, a revised crank with a 93mm bore and 89mm stroke, Mahle pistons and an Alpina exhaust system, it managed to develop its peak outputs without resorting to forced induction. All right, the specific output of 79hp-per-litre might be a touch leisurely, but the way it goes about its business is anything but. Even in a world where hot hatches can do 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, the 1615kg Roadster V8 still feels acceptably punchy.

    Alpina’s final alterations came in terms of the handling. Buchloe chose to soften off the Z8, fitting its own dampers and springs with gentler rates in both instances. However, beefier anti-roll bars front and rear ensured that the handling didn’t go to pot. And, to an extent, Alpina worked its customary magic. Fire up the engine with the plain black leather starter button to the right of the wheel and it turns over with a creamy roar. Slot into ‘D’, release the brake and the Roadster V8 oozes off down the road in a charming, cultured manner. It’s a doddle to drive and despite 20-inch rubber of 255/35 aspect front and 285/30 rear, the ride is sumptuous. I remember No.47 rode well, but not as smoothly as this. Maybe sports cars of today, adjustable dampers and all, still can’t flatten out imperfections as well as these cars of, er, yesteryear. The steering is another area which deserves credit, as it’s full of weight and feel from the off. It would appear it hasn’t been Americanised beyond all reason. Stoke the 4.8 up and the Alpina will pick up its skirts and hustle, although it’s a GT first and foremost.

    Under harder cornering the rear axle tries to skip and jump on bumpier surfaces, while during this style of driving the steering feels a touch slow on the uptake. Point-and-squirt would be the better approach to adopt when pushing the Roadster V8 quickly, rather than trying to eke every last ounce out of it as the last of the late brakers. Nevertheless, however No.116 was being conducted, it felt as good as new – no undue squeaks, rattles or groans were to be heard, and all of its major controls felt cohesive and taut.

    Is there anything negative to note? Yes, we couldn’t get the hard-top off. The tool was there and all the locking bolts moved smoothly enough, but our guess is that its previous owner never once removed the hard-top and, as a result, it’s a little too attached to the windscreen’s header rail. A little bit of care and attention in Kahn’s workshop will see that right in a jiffy. Apart from that, it’s a clean bill of health. Not only does No.116 feel mechanically sound but the interior is absolutely flawless, as if it has never been used. Slightly more than a decade might not be the most challenging period to keep a vehicle in time warp condition but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be commending the Alpina’s former owner for having done so.


    In short, then, this is your best chance of owning an as-new Alpina Roadster V8. But should you splash out a quarter of a million on such a machine? That’s trickier. It remains a sublime GT, with its bespoke interior, svelte appearance and that wonderful Alpina drivetrain. But £240,000 gets you a lot of choice in the car world these days and for all the things the Roadster V8 excels at, a supercar it ain’t. Kahn’s people reckon it will become part of a larger collection, where it will be the fifth, sixth or maybe even 20th addition to a rich person’s horde. That sounds about right to us. Whoever buys it, though, is getting something magnificent, out-of-the-ordinary and from a completely different era of car building. Even if that era is 2003.


    CONTACT:
    Kahn Design
    Tel: 01274 749999
    Website: wwwkahndesign.com

    Stoke the 4.8 up and the Alpina will pick up its skirts and hustle, although it’s a GT first and foremost.

    Below: Alpina 4.8-litre V8 is a jewel and really suits the car’s character Right: Plenty of modern/retro details and a smattering of Alpina badges.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2003

    BMW #Alpina-Roadster-V8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8 / #BMW / #Alpina-Roadster-V8-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-Roadster-V8 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-Roadster-V8-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Alpina-E52 / #Alpina-E52 / #Alpina / #Henrik-Fisker / #BMW-Z8-Stunning / #BMW-E52-Stunning /

    ENGINE: #Alpina #V8 , DOHC, 32-valve / #M62 / #BMW-M62 / #M62-Alpina /
    CAPACITY: 4837cc
    MAX POWER: 381hp @ 5800rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 383lb ft @ 3800rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.3 seconds / #ZF5HP
    TOP SPEED: 166mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 21.4mpg
    PRICE: £86,000 (2003 UK+Tax), £239,995 (today 2016 UK)

    You’ll get a fiver change from £240,000 if you want to buy it. Wow.

    Left: Auto transmission lever is a surprise addition to the Z8’s interior Right: Trademark Alpina blue dials and neat gear indicator.
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    EASTERN PROMISE Japanese wide-body Z8

    THE BODY BEAUTIFUL

    Japan loves BMWs and isn’t afraid to do things a bit differently when it comes to modifying them, like turning a Z8 into a wide-body masterpiece, for example… Considering less than 6000 Z8s were ever made, would you have the confidence to chop one up? Fortunately for us Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki did, thus creating something rather special… Words and photos: Chris Nicholls.

    Modifying a low-volume car is always a scary proposition. After all, if you mess it up it’s not like you can simply go to online and find replacement parts easily. It may take weeks, months or even years to source the right components and restore things to their former glory. Such is the case with the Z8, as only 5703 were produced over its four-year life span. Okay, it may not be an E46 GTR but it’s still a low-volume car by most people’s standards. It’s also arguably among the most beautiful BMWs ever made. With its flowing compound curves and classic roadster proportions, the Henrik Fisker-designed exterior is a future classic. Which makes it all the more nerve-wracking to think about altering those lines.

    Thankfully, the confidence and skill to do that is not something Yasuaki ‘Bob’ Suzuki has ever really lacked. The founder of Japan’s largest BMW tuning chain – Studie AG – and creator of a string of high-profile cars that act as both his personal vehicles and demo cars for his business, Suzuki-san has seemingly never had an issue altering cars (some in quite extreme ways) to suit his needs.

    Take, for example, the cars Suzuki-san built after selling the Z8 to its current owner. First there was a bright blue E87 130i complete with factory Motorsport wide-body kit. Then there was a neon pink wide-body E46 M3. Then a bright green Z4 M Coupé with another genuine Motorsport wide-body kit. Currently, Suzuki-san drives a bright orange i8, with a matching i3 for city duties and while they’re not wide-body cars, there’s no guarantee it’s off the cards.

    So it’s clear, Suzuki-san likes the wide-body look; in fact, you could say he really, really likes them. However, the issue with making one of the world’s only wide-body Z8s was that, unlike Suzuki-san’s future creations, there wasn’t a factory kit available to do so. This meant that he and his team had to make it themselves.

    They started by designing a kit that would add width but look factory. After all, while Suzuki-san clearly has a penchant for loud colours, judging by his later cars, the body panels themselves were almost always OEM. That level of integration was the goal. Next, they made the one-off moulds, then laid up all the fibreglass and painted it white.

    It’s hard to argue with the results. Those guards draw your eye initially, of course, adding real muscularity to the Z8’s clean lines. Next, your gaze is drawn down to the flowing side skirts and towards the widened and tweaked front and rear bumpers, complete with aero additions. If you linger long enough you might also notice the stock bonnet has gained some added raciness via custom vents.

    The design’s crowning achievement, though, is that level of seamlessness. If you had never seen a Z8 before, you’d never think it wasn’t factory. Yes, the 19” BBS LMs, Brembo six-pots up front (four-pots out the back) and lowered stance on one-off Studie coilovers are a dead giveaway the car’s been tuned but the unsuspecting might only think Suzuki-san had dropped it and added some extra grip and braking. The kit is that natural.

    Inside, though, things are a little less discrete. The red leather trim is all stock, but the custom-trimmed Recaro SPG buckets certainly aren’t. Neither are the Atiwe wheel and Schnitzer shift knob. And that completely unique silver carbon dash trim? Yeah, that’s pretty obvious, too. It also highlights a specific need for navigational assistance when driving in Tokyo – something the Z8 never came with from the factory. Again demonstrating the skill and care with which the car was built, though, the Pioneer Carrozzeria headunit looks stock. If the dash was the regular silver plastic, the average Joe would probably think it had been installed in Munich prior to Suzuki-san’s purchase.


    Under the bonnet we see a return to the exterior’s integrated theme. The S62 V8 never lacked power but the Okada Projects Plasma Ground secondary spark enhancer and Plasma Direct coils ensure the driver gets the most out of the air/fuel mix, while also remaining invisible to the casual observer. The near factory-looking AFE intake kit and well-hidden Hamann exhaust manifolds, which eventually connect to a one-off Studie silencer, ensure the engine now breathes a little easier and makes a much nicer noise, too. There’s the mandatory performance car bark at start-up and a well-controlled rumble at idle, followed by a lovely smooth roar as the revs rise. It reminds you there’s a reason why so many small performance car makers have used this engine over the years.

    Essentially, looking at the car as a whole, it’s clear that what Suzuki-san and the Studie team have done is to take everything that made the Z8 great and made it better. That’s some skill.

    Sadly, though, in space-poor Japan, Suzuki-san had to sell the Z8 in 2005 in order to move onto his aforementioned later projects, so this is where current owner Kohama-san comes in.

    Kohama-san initially got into the scene after being taken to watch street drag racing many years back, when these things were still a relatively common sight on Japanese roads. He decided then and there that he wanted to drive fast cars. Initially, he started out with classic JDM metal, like an SA22C RX-7 (which apparently burnt to the ground after an engine fire on the Wangan post-sale) and a 3.1 litre ‘full-tune’ L28-engined S130 Z, but soon moved onto BMWs. “They’re just really well-balanced, well-rounded cars,” he says.

    Despite his sports car roots, Kohama-san’s first BMW was actually rather sedate, even if it didn’t stay that way for long. An E39 530i Touring, he modified it so it sported Alpina suspension, a Supersprint silencer, #BBS RGRs and M5 body parts. After that came an E61 530i Touring, this time with ACS body parts, ARC suspension, Arqray muffler, 20-inch BBS LM-R wheels and enormous eight-pot Brembos. He did head back to his sports car roots eventually, though, with a Z3 and E85 Z4, both modified with Bilstein suspension, Recaro seats, Schnitzer aero etc. before shifting back again to practicality with his current ACS F31 320i Touring.


    All this BMW history meant he spent a lot of time at Studie’s Tokyo HQ, and not just as a customer. Like many of Studie’s clients, Kohama-san spends a lot of spare time there just hanging out and chatting with the staff (when they’re not busy with other work), as Studie stores tend to be more like car culture centres rather than just dreary retail and tuning outlets. Because of all this time spent at Studie, Kohama-san was among the first to know that Suzuki-san was selling his pride and joy. And as soon as he heard about it, he was off to the bank. “It was love at first sight,” he says.

    Even better, the car’s timeless beauty and evocative driving experience means he falls “more in love with it every passing year”. “My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it,” Kohama-san says. “It blows away the cobwebs so, of course, I drive it whenever I can.” That means the Z8 is more of a daily driver than a garage queen. Cruising through the city or blasting up mountain roads, this is one #Z8 that gets used. In a world where more and more high-end sports cars are squirreled away for investment rather than enjoyment, it’s refreshing to hear.

    Further proving just how special this Z8 is, it’s worth noting that out of all his other BMWs we mentioned earlier this is the only one Kohama-san has held onto over the last ten years. Of course, it’s easily the most unique and rare, but uniqueness and starvalue haven’t stopped others around the world from selling amazing cars after only short periods of time, so it suggests there really is something special about this particular car.


    Sadly, not everyone seems to agree, though, as the one negative experience Kohama-san has had over his ten-year ownership period is that the paint ended up being deliberately damaged by some low-life a few years back. Thankfully, Kohama-san got it fixed and, as mentioned, isn’t any more cautious about driving it. He has, however, “become obsessed with applying protective coatings to it” ever since. Of course, this unfortunate event does suggest the ‘lucky’ numberplates Kohama-san has on there (which have been blanked out for privacy purposes), and that he religiously puts on every car he owns can’t protect him from all calamities; but then, what can?

    As for the future, the car is now 15 years old so some parts are due for replacement. Specifically, Kohama-san is thinking about refreshing the suspension components, although given the car runs custom coilovers right now, finding off-the-shelf replacements might be difficult. He might just have to go back to Studie Tokyo and ask the helpful staff there if they can make him some new ones. No doubt they’d be happy to oblige, especially as it will mean keeping this unique stunner on the roads for a few more years.

    DATA FILE #Studie-AG wide-body #BMW-Z8 / #BMW-Z8-E52 / #BMW-E52 / #BMW-Z8-Studie-AG / #BBS-LM / #Getrag / #BBS /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.9-litre #V8 #S62B50 / #S62 / #BMW-S62 / #BMW / , #AFE intake kit, #Hamann exhaust manifolds, Studie one-off silencer, #Okada-Projects-Plasma-Ground secondary spark enhancer, #Okada Projects Plasma Direct coils. Stock #Getrag-420G six-speed manual, short-shift kit.

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) #BBS LM wheels with 255/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact 5P tyres, Studie custom coilovers front and rear with Studie custom springs, Brembo six-piston brake calipers (front), Brembo fourpiston calipers (rear), two-piece #Brembo discs front and rear.

    EXTERIOR Studie one-off wide-body front and rear arches, wide-body side skirts, front and rear bumpers with front splitter and rear diffuser, bonnet ducts in stock bonnet

    INTERIOR Custom retrimmed #Recaro-SPG one-piece bucket seats, Atiwe steering wheel, OEM aluminium pedals, AC Schnitzer shift knob, #Studie one-off silver carbon interior trim panels, #Pioneer-Carrozzeria navigation headunit

    My favourite thing about the car is how exhilarating it feels when you drive it.
    • Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interio Z8s are rare enough but this Japanese custom wide-body beast is a true one-off. With its massively pumped-up arches, 19” BBS LMs and stunning interior, it was an incredible machine.  More ...
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    BMW CONCEPTS #2008 #BMW-GINA - Geometry and functions In N Adaptions

    The cars they could have made. A strange one this month in the shape of the GINA. They don’t come any more futuristic than this: a car covered with a flexible skin that could change shape when required…

    Usually a concept car tends to be a simple styling exercise, a flexing of muscles from the design department to show what it’s capable of. It might explore a new niche but it rarely goes further than simple aesthetics. That’s what sets the ‘Geometry and functions In ‘N’ Adaptations’ (or less pretentious GINA for short) apart from just about any other concept car to emerge from the BMW stable as it’s a far more complex and clever creation.

    Looks-wise it might appear to be a regular kind of concept, featuring an interesting set of swage lines, muscular looks and an aggressive stance. It even looked a bit like a #BMW-Z4 from some angles. However, this was no simple display of sporty styling as the GINA had a rather large trick up its sleeve. The smooth and seamless bodywork was covered by a flexible material that effectively gave the #GINA a stretchy skin. The polyurethane coated Spandex fabric was heat resistant, waterproof and agile enough to flex without damaging. This meant the doors would open by creasing the fabric skin around the hinge, which would return to its original shape afterwards. However, the skin’s abilities stretched much further than that, quite literally. The material enabled wondrous things as it was stretched over four body panels underneath, made up of the bonnet, doors and boot area.


    These featured clever movable frames constructed from aluminim and carbon fibre that were controlled by a series of electro-hydraulics. It allowed them to change shape without disrupting the seamless look of the skin on top of it, almost like a living organism. For instance, the bonnet actually separated in the middle to reveal the engine beneath it and the headlight apertures emerged from nowhere like a blinking eye to reveal the lights themselves. The tail-lights weren’t distinguishable at all until they were lit as they simply shone through the material and a boot spoiler grew seamlessly from beneath the skin at speed before disappearing again.

    The minimalist exterior ensured the car looked incredibly sleek and futuristic. There was no roof and the windscreen frame that divided in the middle had a retro feel that extended into the cockpit. Here the transforming theme also continued as the headrests and steering wheel both moved out of the way to allow easy access for the occupants. Once seated the controls were offered up and the seats moulded around you.

    Underneath the bold interior and exterior the platform and all of the essential running gear was actually borrowed from a #BMW-Z8 , which meant there was V8 petrol power. The minimalist theme and lightweight panels and framework ensured it would be a good drive, too.

    There’s no denying the thinking behind the GINA is brilliant. The ability to actively change the shape of panels brings endless possibilities and benefits and it’s something that seems feasible in a production car, albeit on a smaller scale perhaps as the prospect of having to repair a front panel due to tiny tear would be a scary prospect at BMW dealer prices .
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    Supercharged #BMW #E39 #540i Candyman. With wide-body styling, Candy Fuchsia paint and a supercharger to boot, the creator of this Five has made something truly delicious. A Michelin star car if ever we saw one… Words: John Machaqueiro. Photos: Darren Maybury.

    Whether you’re someone who is into modifying or carrying out full restorations, there are just some things that you never do, assuming of course that you have a shred of common sense. We’ve all heard enough horror stories of people who start a project at point B and work back to point A, or as it’s often referred to in the States as the “ass backwards” approach. You know the type? They flitter from one aspect of the car to the other, usually ensuing in a mish-mash of ill-fitting parts. Needless to say, many factors dictate the steps that one ultimately chooses to take but it still doesn’t change the fact that careful planning and a healthy dose of patience usually achieves better results. There are of course always exceptions to the rules, and once in a while you see someone do something that just doesn’t quite make much sense on the surface.

    In speaking with Steve Lin, that B to A feeling is exactly what you are left with when he describes the steps he took in customising his #1999 E39 540i. When faced with the question of what his initial plans were for the Five, Steve simply told me, “I had the wheels fabricated and then built the car up around them.” With no preconception of what the project would look like finished it’s safe to say that this is not the starting point that most would choose to take. It’s ambitious to say the least. There is however a twist to all of this and it starts to make a bit of sense, especially when you consider Steve’s background. He is the general manager for California based iForged so it’s a no brainer that he really knows his stuff when it comes to wheels and how they can dictate the direction a car will take.

    A self-proclaimed lifelong German car lover, his first motor was a #1997 #E36 #328i . That in time gave way to a pair of A4s. Not satisfied with the handling characteristics of the Audi, he gravitated back to Munich’s finest with this current car. Initially purchased as a daily commuter, that all changed when he attended a few shows. Confident that he could build something that would be a winner with the judges, he set about modifying the E39. His choice in the larger BMW was fueled by the desire to be a bit different which more and more is becoming common thought within the highly competitive BMW tuning scene. By virtue of who he works for, this also became an ideal opportunity to showcase some of the products from the iForged catalogue.

    Steve wasn’t content on just slapping a set of high-end rims on his Beemer and calling it a day. He would need something else to make a strong visual statement, and in BMW land that means a wide body. In California if you want a top quality conversion, M1 Autobody is the place to go to. Originally painted black, he knew playing it safe wasn’t going to cut it on the show circuit so along with the surgery that was planned a colour change was also at the top of the list. This is where Brian Fox from Fox Marketing came into the picture. Brian is in charge of Youth Marketing for BASF; he along with Steve discussed what add-ons made the most sense. After sitting for hours testing colour options in Photoshop, they decided upon a trick BASF Carizzma Candy Fuchsia sprayed over a violet basecoat.

    In terms of parts, an M5 front bumper was added to the list along with a G-Power rear bumper which according to Steve is extremely difficult to obtain and probably the only one in the country. From the Hamann catalogue came the front spoiler, eyelids, kidney grille, fog light covers and side skirts. The stock bonnet was replaced with an MA-Shaw carbon fibre item while at the rear a #M3 #CSL spoiler made of the same weave was moulded into the boot lid. M3 carbon fibre side vents were also added, something the E39 M5 never received and demonstrating here how good it looks. With the major body components sourced, it was time to get down to business. The body and paint work took Raymond at #M1 close to two months to complete, much of that due to the fact that the wide body conversion was an all sheet metal affair and done to compliment those custom wheels. This was quite an ordeal for Steve, “It’s a 130 mile round trip from where I live, and every weekend, without fail, I was at the shop checking on the progress,” he told us. As you can see the end result is nothing short of spectacular. As a total package, everything is visually rock solid, the mammoth flanks seamlessly integrating into the natural lines of the body while all the aftermarket add-ons harmoniously blend together. It’s also worth noting that the paint really comes to life in bright sunlight. The choice of colour was certainly a bold move, a decision that for some would perhaps create some apprehension to say the least but looks in this instance to be remarkably spot on.

    All that pretty pink stuff, wait make that Fuchsia, needed some nice hardware to roll on. You do remember the starting point of all this, the wheels? Courtesy of iForged, Steve made a set of custom rims for his car. Best part of that deal was he didn’t have to travel far to pick them up. For the front wheels, he opted for hefty 9.5x20” and rearward a set of 11x20” wrapped in 255/30 and 305/25 Yokohama ADVAN Sport tyres respectively. Featuring powder-coated centres finished in gloss black the chrome lip on each wheel measures a whopping six inches. Bare in mind, these are not your average off-the-shelf store purchased onesize- fits-all wheels, they’re one-of-a-kind, and do a superb job of shielding the equally impressive bright red 8-piston calipers at the front and 4-piston calipers at the rear clamped to massive Rotora cross-drilled discs. The FK KoenigSport M5 fully adjustable coilover suspension insures that maximum handling performance is always there and we’re glad to hear this expensive bit of kit is used to its fullest.

    Along with the visual makeover, a horsepower bump was also part of the plan. Steve decided that forced induction was the most effective way to get to the next level in performance. It all boiled down to either a supercharger or a turbo. By virtue of him working at iForged and the close relationships that such companies establish within the tuning industry, he was able to get VF Engineering to sponsor him. They supplied him with a complete supercharger kit, as if that wasn’t a sweet deal to begin with, as an added stroke of luck, Nik at VF was also a 540i owner so when it came time to fitting it, all the work was done right there at VF on their time. A full MagnaFlow quad exhaust was then fitted to increase breathing capacity and the last thing left for Steve to do was strap it to a dyno, where it recorded 345bhp at the rear wheels. With temptation being what it is, it’s only natural that Steve would at times flog his Beemer, but as with most things, extra power also means extra wear and tear on parts. When you start to hammer a car beyond its designated range, you inevitably end up with cooked clutches and cracked flywheels. To address this, he added a Spec 3+ clutch along with a delay valve to the manual sixspeed box. With all this in place, it was then mated to a UUC short shifter.

    The attention to detail outside is also carried over to the interior. “I knew I wanted to paint the car some shade of purple, so I had the interior done a few months before the actual bodywork was performed,” he explained. A very brave move indeed. As a starting point, 540s are for the most part fairly luxurious so in this case he simply personalised what was already there. The seats and door panels were reupholstered in light purple suede along with the headliner, pillars and visors. From AC Schnitzer, a complete pedal kit was installed along with a UUC Motorwerks illuminated gear knob. As an added touch, he also installed a starter button from the #BMW-Z8 .

    When it came to the ICE install, the choice of gear is mostly Alpine. Here Steve wanted to create something bold but clean. An Alpine IVA-D900 7” TV head unit was fitted along with a 12-disc MP3 changer and Navigation DVD player that is neatly tucked in the glove box. Sound delivery is handled by MB Quart Q-line components and when you pop open the boot, you’re greeted with massive MB 15” subs and Rockford Fosgate amps. As with the supercharger, Steve was also fortunate to get help from Vivo Electronics with a pair of 7” LCD monitors installed in the headrests along with another pair in the front visors. A Savv 5” rear view mirror monitor was also installed.

    Steve has assembled a car that really mirrors a mindset within the ever-growing BMW tuning scene in the states, one that is willing to take chances and strives to be different. It’s not hard to make an #E46 look good. An E39, though, requires a lot more imagination. The combination of wide body styling along with a unique choice of colour separates his car from the pack and grabs your attention, the supercharger, interior and audio makeover completing the package perfectly. If he decides to do another car, god only knows what he’s got up his sleeve – one thing that is for certain, we all know.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre V8 M62 with VF Engineering supercharger kit (including OEM idler pullies, OEM high flow fuel injectors, Bosch overrun bypass valve system, custom crank case ventilation system, VF CNC machined oil fittings with high pressure OEM oil lines, K&N induction filter with cold air intake), MagnaFlow custom quad exhaust system, billet aluminium oil caps, body colour matched engine cover. UUC short shifter kit, Spec Stage 3+ clutch and delay valve.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) iForged Daytona (nearside) and iForged Imola (offside) wheels with 3.5” chrome lips (front) and 6” chrome lips (rear), centres powder-coated with gloss black finish, shod in 255/30 and 305/25 Yokohama ADVAN Sport Tires respectively. FK KonigSport M5 adjustable coilover suspension. Rotora 15” cross-drilled brake discs and 8-piston red calipers (front) and Rotora 14” cross-drilled brake discs and 4-piston red calipers (rear), AA brake cooling duct.

    EXTERIOR: M1 Autobody custom sheet metal wide-body, MA-Shaw carbon fibre bonnet, E39 M5 front bumper, Hamann Competition front splitter, carbon fibre upper eyebrows, carbon fibre kidney grille, fog light covers, custom moulded side skirts, custom M3 carbon fibre side vents, Hagus sport mirrors, EuroRev carbon fibre B and C pillars, G-Power rear bumper, custom moulded carbon fibre M3 CSL boot spoiler, Euro-spec angle eye headlights, 8000K HID bulbs with 50W ballast, red and clear Celis rear lights, full respray in #BASF Carizzma Candy Fuchsia over violet.

    INTERIOR: Standard black Nappa leather with purple suede seat inserts, door cards, headliner, pillars and visors, EuroRev silver carbon fibre trim, UUC Motorwerks RK3 iIluminated gear knob, AC Schnitzer handbrake handle and pedals, M5 dead pedal, custom Z8 starter button.

    ICE: #Alpine IVA-D900 7” TV head unit, 12-disc MP3 changer, Navigation DVD player (in glove box), MB Quart Qline component speakers, two 15” subs in custom enclosure, three Rockford Fosgate amps, two Vivo 7” LCD monitors in headrests, two Vivo 7” LCD monitors in front visors, Savv 5” rear view mirror monitor.

    THANKS: Nik for the supercharger installation, Raymond at M1 Autobody for the sheet metal and paintwork, Vivo Electronics for LCD screens.


    As general manager of iForged Steve was able to slam his 5 Series on a pretty hot set of 20s, a 3” lip up front and 6” out back order of the day, no wonder those arches are so wide.

    Full purple suede and black Nappa leather retrim looks every bit pimp as the exterior styling of this Five and with a total of four screens everyone’s sure to be entertained.

    Silver carbon trim – essential garnish.

    The Five’s ample boot space swallows up the two amps and three subs with no problem.

    With 286bhp as standard the E39 540i isn’t exactly sluggish and we can only imagine a VF Engineering supercharger kit and MagnaFlow custom quad exhaust system makes driving the exec saloon that little bit more exciting.
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