- Post is under moderationNEW JACK HUSTLER
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do. Jack Smith is someone who definitely walks the walk though.
/ #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-I / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-I / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / VW / #VW-Golf / #VW-Rabbit / #Tarmac / #Volkswagen-Golf-US-Spec-Mk1
“As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window”
“It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one”
“It’s something different and I can say that I built it, there’s a sense of pride in that... it's art to me"
Jack Smith’s Mk1 may look like a genuine #US-spec Rabbit… until you notice it’s right-hand-drive. And that’s just the start of the madness…
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do it. Jack Smith is someone who steps right outside of it... Words: Tony Saggu Photos: Si Gray
To say Yorkshireman Jack Smith has eclectic tastes in automotive faire would be something of an understatement, with less than a decade on his driver’s license the twenty something Rotherham based paint sprayer has auditioned more style and makes of motors than most. “Me, I love building cars, the make and model or even the style isn’t as important as actually making the thing,” he told us. “It gets my mind working, thinking of things that not many people have done before, you know, taking something bland and making it something amazing." His latest metal massaging makeover takes the shape of a German born, English market, Americanised runabout with a petrol to diesel swap, newfangled technology and old fashioned looks... if you’re looking for predictable, keep walking.
“I actually started with a Renault 5 1.2 five door before I could drive,” laughed Jack, “My dad bought it for me so I had something to work on. That went matt black on lowering springs with some P slot wheels.” Once the 'L' plates had been discarded French fancies were replaced with a little German flair in the shape of a shiny Red 1.0 Mk3 Polo. The rims and springs added gave the car the right look until Jack introduced the coupe to a spot of unintended custom bodywork, “It ended up in the window of a local computer shop...” we’ll say no more. Sadly the lad’s luck didn’t improve much with the wrecked red Polo’s replacement, “Yeah, I had a white Mk3 1.3 Polo coupe after that, almost identical to the red one but with wider arches on the front,” he recalled. “That had a Corsa go into the side of it.” After the two crumpled coupes Jack tried his luck with a five door, another Polo, another Mk3, and tempting fate another 1.3. Thankfully the blue-hued saloon worked out well and was only given up when Jacks present project came along. “I’ve had a Golf, a Vento and even a bagged Mazda 3 along the way,” he told us, “I currently have a daily Lexus GS300 that is VIP inspired on Weds Kranze LZX and D2 air suspension with a fair bit of camber.”
Switch hitting Japanese gangster rides aside, Jack admits if he’s honest it’s the Dub life that pushes his buttons. “I think it all started from seeing people I used to ride BMX with buying and modifying them,” he recalled. “I found a German modified VW magazine while I was on holiday in Europe years ago, I couldn't understand anything in it but the cars looked pretty cool and I knew I wanted a piece of that, I started getting PVW after that and as soon as I could drive I bought myself the Polo coupe.” The latest Smith built sensation which you see here began like many makeovers with a chance encounter, “I wasn’t really looking to buy a Mk1,” explained Jack, “I had the blue Polo at the time and was pretty happy with it. My mate Ricky had bought it and done a bit of welding and other stuff so he could sell it on,” he continued. “Then it eventually just came up on a local forum that Ricky was selling it soon and at a good price. I didn’t need another car, but who doesn’t want a nice cheap Mk1? I put the Polo up for sale straight away and got on the phone to Ricky.” At seven hundred quid the antique '83 Golf was a steal, it had plenty of issues in all areas but the Yorkshireman wasn’t daunted. “It was pretty tired looking,” he told us, “and it had the typical MK1 rust problems. The paint was very faded paint and honestly it needed a good general tidy up to make it acceptable.” The car ran though, not too bad either according to Jack, the alternator was a bit dodgy but the car came with coilovers. “I had to take it for a MOT and there with a decent list of problems for me to fix,” he recalled.
A couple of hundred quid’s worth of parts and a spit and polish would have been the sensible thing to do, the resulting ratty but reasonable ride would have kept most Dub fanatics satisfied and smiling. A steady diet of Max Power, Revs, Fastcar and Redline magazines growing up had put Jack in a different frame of mind though, not to mention a couple of older cousins who had done nothing to take the edge off the custom car craving. “There wasn’t a chance of it staying standard,” laughed Jack, “ Initially I wanted to make it like every other MK1 you see at shows, it was going to be silver on polished BBS RS's, but when I actually started working on the car all that changed.” Job one, after the coilovers had been wound down to the limit and a set of Minilites from the old Polo had been bolted on, was to give the car a good clean and go over with a polishing mop to restore the righteous retro Pragus Blue. “As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window,” recalled Jack, “The blue is just perfect, it suits the car so well.” The next few months saw the car more often than not in pieces on the Jack’s driveway, the Mk1 was a sweet little motor but it was teaching young senior Smith a valuable if hard lesson... it was old, and old things break down and stop working a lot. “One of the biggest reasons the car looks and drives the way it does now is that basically everything needed to be repaired or replaced,” explained Jack, “if I was going to fix something anyway I thought I may as well make it better.”
Straightening the generally abused and rust riddled bodywork set the direction of the project and gave the car is final character. “When it came to the look I wanted It was mainly the US cars that got my attention,” revealed Jack, “The American lads were doing really low cars, with half the floors cut out and full of exotic custom suspension work. I knew I'd never go that far as it was out of my skill set, but I knew after looking at their cars that I wanted to make my car look like an American style VW.” The internet had taught our man that when it came to true US spec, there was only one direction he could go.
“The Westmoreland Rabbit,” he smiled, “Once I started thinking about it I realised I’d never seen a US spec Rabbit over here. Everyone was making MK2/3/4/5s US spec, but I couldn't understand why no one had imported or made a Mk1 over here. It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one.” It wasn’t long before Jack realized that giving his German built hatch the American look was going to take more than just slapping a Rabbit badge on the boot. The American built Mk1s have a look all of their own with more than a few US only exterior details and body panels. “Getting the parts was no joke,” lamented Jack, “A lot of the bits like the Hella rear lights, turn signals, side markers and the grill I got from Mexico via dodgy websites and ebay. The front panel was found on VWvortex after months messaging people who were breaking cars for parts,” he continued. “It a big piece to post over so convincing someone to do it took a while, finally someone decided to do it for me. I can’t remember his name but the bloke was a legend. He only charged me about $60 then $60 shipping as I only got the top half of the front panel to save on shipping costs.”
The all important and decidedly unique Hella Projector headlights were apparently liberated from some sort of Jeep and sourced through the Edition38 forums for a reasonable £90. “The front wings were a major headache,” recalled Jack. “The driver’s side came from #VW-Heritage over here and only cost £30 delivered, it was a brand new genuine wing. I couldn't believe my luck when I found that.” The passenger side 'fender' however wouldn’t be such an easy acquisition, “The other side I was really struggling,” he explained, “Everyone wanted $500 for shipping and I couldn't justify spending that much for one wing. It took a lot of hunting but after talking to someone on #VW-Vortex from a place called Old-Skool-VW we worked out a way to get around the postage.” Clued up VW heads will already know that the major difference between the German wing and the Pennsylvania panel is the leading edge around the US spec corner light. “He agreed to cut me a spare wing up and sent me only the front part which wraps around the turn signal,” revealed Jack. “He cut it just big enough to fit in a USPS Fixed Rate shipping box. I think this was also $60 plus $45 shipping. Once it arrived I had to figure out how I was going to graft it into a Euro wing.” A good deal of careful measuring, delicate cutting and skillful welding had the wing looking every part the perfect stock American example. While the welder was out the rear panel needed to be similarly cut and shut to house the long rear lights the Yanks like so much. Unsurprisingly Smith has strapped on a pair of Westmoreland issued bumpers fore and aft to complete his American auto adventure, the heavy girder style steel protrusions are normally the first US styling faux par to be binned by Stateside Dubbers, in favour of the slim and sexy Euro examples.
Toned down with matt black paint and pushed closer to the body with custom crafted brackets however, it seems Jack has made VW of North America’s design department’s bumper blunder a thing of stylish beauty. It’s no surprise, with our man being a painter by trade, that the reapplied Pragus Blue top coat is smooth, silky and to our eyes perfectly refinished, Jack though, ever the perfectionist, reckons he could have done better. “I’d like to go back and redo the bodywork,” he told us, “Since I've gained more experience in the trade over the years, I've got more of a eye for detail now than when I first painted it, I was only in an apprenticeship back then.”
Jack told us the original 1.1 under the bonnet was on its last legs, pumping out more oil than horsepower. “I got offered a 1.8 conversion and tried fitting that, but it would never run and no one could figure out why it wouldn't start,” he told us, “I got so annoyed and decided just to rip it all out and find a cheap engine to chuck into it. I saw a 1.6 #GTD for sale for £150, it had everything including the fuel pump and turbo.” Jack admits his experience with engine conversions is pretty limited, but dropping in the diesel was a doddle, “essentially its four mounts, a custom downpipe and about six wires,” he enthused. “Obviously there's a little more to it than that, I had to get a gearbox and some other stuff, but me and my mate Kyle could take it out in less than two hours.” Although originally the cheap oil burner was just supposed to be a temporary engine to get the car mobile, Jack told us it wasn’t long before the diesel started to grow on him, “I soon fell in love with it,” he smiled, “ turning the fuel and boost up made it really nippy and it was still stupidly economical.
The kinda reason I decided to keep it and refine it,” he continued, “I took it out a couple of years ago to clean it up and smooth the engine bay. It still makes me smile when you look in the rear view mirror and see a cloud of black smoke.”
Despite the nicely detailed diesel swap and skillfully executed body conversion, Jack reckons his favorite part of the build lays elsewhere, “It’s without a doubt the wheels,” he smiled proudly, “The Fifteen52 Tarmac348 wheels, I wanted them the day they got released but I couldn't afford them.” A good deal of overtime and skipping a few nights out with the lads, as well as selling his Fifteen52 Snowflakes had the prized rollers bought though, to up the ante a touch the boys at the legendary California style haus custom made the rims in two piece with brushed centres and polished lips for the Mk1.“The suspension is a Havair strut kit with paddle valve management,” continued Jack, “I think they were the only MK1 struts available at the time when I was wanting to get air for the car. To be fair I've had them a fair few years and it’s all still working fine, which is not bad seeing I used to use this car daily as well.”
Raising the turrets and giving the frame a little notching love helps the bags put the little Mk1 in the weeds, “The wishbone mounts and sump sit on the ground now,” he assured us. “The front struts have been drilled out to give me more negative camber and the rear suspension has some camber disks behind the stub axle to do the same at the back.” The dropped and diesel swapped hatch from oop north is certainly unique, not just in the land of dales and moors either, Jack’s built himself something very different from a familiar platform and we reckon you would be hard pressed to find a twin on either side of the Atlantic ,” he smiled, “Its art to me, creating something special out of something ordinary.” We think he nailed it.
1.6-litre Mk2 Golf GTD lump provides plenty of smiles with the 'boost and fueling would up." Looks sweet too!
Air install out back is simple but clean and nicely functional. Well, what more do you need really?
"Heeeeres Jacky!" Jack's plan to chop Si Gray up with an axe thankfully didn’t pan out. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...
Old-skool Cobra buckets work brilliantly up front with rears trimmed to match.
ENGINE: 1.6-litre GTD from a MK2 Golf, ‘fuelling wound up, boost wound up’, Mk1 Series 1 radiator, front mount intercooler, custom solid boost pipes painted gloss black, Mk3 8v GTI rocker cover painted gloss black.
CHASSIS: 8x16” #Fifteen-52 #Tarmac-348 two-piece wheels, ET5 front and ET0 rear with 165/45/16 Nankang NS2 tyres, #Havair #air-suspension struts, paddle valve management with a five gallon tank, #Viair-380 compressor, raised turrets, camber holes extended on front struts and turrets, camber disks on the rear hubs.
EXTERIOR: Full repaint in the original Pragus Blue colour, late Westmoreland Rabbit front end conversion with #Hella Projectors, late Westmoreland Rabbit Long rear lights, Late Westmoreland Rabbit bumpers refinished in matt black, Rabbit rear side markers, GTI plastic arches, GTI A-Piller trims, #Zender three-piece spoiler, flared and cut arches, partially smoothed bay with the scuttle panel removed and hidden wiring.
INTERIOR: Renewed door cards, new carpet, 80's Cobra bucket seats with the original rear bench trimmed to match, boot build fully carpeted with tank and compressor on show with hardlines. Gloss black painted Mountney steering wheel with a chrome centre.
SHOUT: I would like to thank Cayla for putting up with my love for my cars, supporting me and helping me out with them. Big thank you to everyone at Rollhard, they helped me out massively last year, I couldn't have met a nicer bunch of people. Also a big thank you to the guys at Autoperfekt for keeping my cars clean. I would also like to thank Brad for the welding, Kyle and anyone else that's helped me along with the build process.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAPEX PREDATOR 535whp turbo E24 sleeper with an appetite for speed… #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-635CSi-Turbo-E24 / #BMW-635CSi-Turbo / #BMW-E24-Turbo / #BMW-E24
It’s impossible to resist the charms of the E24 and with 535whp from its turbocharged M30, this unassuming, power-hungry 635CSi is the ultimate sleeper. The great white shark has no natural predators and with 535whp this turbocharged land shark doesn’t have any either. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Deniss Podnebess.
I hate the E24. I hate it because I really want one, so very badly, but I can’t afford the best examples and fear of rust and potentially eye-watering repair costs puts me off the cheaper ones that I might be able to afford. So I remain in a 6 Series-less limbo and writing about ones like this makes me sad. But not for long because they’re awesome, and this one especially so…
This E24 belongs to serial modifier and 6 Series junkie, Maxim Rakut. This Latvian resident has already graced these pages before, back in our October 2014 issue with his M62-swapped E24 but now he’s back with something a little spicier. But first, in case you didn’t read about his V8-powered Six, a little background. Maxim is the owner of IXT Workshop, which specialises in repairing and modifying BMWs. Cars, BMWs in particular, have been a huge part of his life for a very long time. “I’ve been into cars since school,” he says, “and when I finished school I opened my own garage. I’ve loved BMWs since I was 16; BMWs are made for driving, not for just moving from point A to point B. They are everything I expect of car – fast, reliable and beautiful. My first car was an E30 323i, which I bought because it was accident damaged and the price was cheap, which was important for me as I was a student at the time. Since then I’ve had some E28s, E21s and some more E30s before the E24s.
“I saw this car for sale in Germany, an unfinished restoration project. It had done 173,000km (just over 107,500 miles). It had only had two previous owners and the body and interior were in pretty much perfect condition. I bought the car for €2200 and I’ve spent over €15,000 on modifications. One of the first things we did was have it resprayed – it was originally red before being repainted in Germany in BMW Dunkelblau (Dark blue) but the paint wasn’t in perfect condition when I bought the car so I had it redone in the same colour. I decided to do a turbo project because the car was a good base but didn’t have enough power and the handling wasn’t perfect, even though it’s a CSi.”
The M30B35 is a great place to start a turbo project from, being very well-suited to forced induction and Maxim has put a lot of work into the engine to make sure that it is up to the task. “It took me a week to build the engine,” he says, “and my goal was 500whp with 480lb ft of torque, but we got a bit more in the end.” The engine might not look all that special – there’s no overly clean bay or mirror polishing – but all the work has gone into the inside. The head has been polished, pistons from the turbo M106 have been fitted and there are additional nozzles for cooling them with oil, while 660cc Bosch injectors fed by a 300lph Bosch 044 pump chuck plenty of fuel in. The turbo itself is a Garrett GT45 which sits on a custom equal length twin-scroll exhaust manifold. “It was very hard to make the exhaust manifold an equal length. Trying to fit a twin-scroll manifold with two wastegates and a huge turbo in the limited space of an E24 engine bay was not easy,” says Maxim. “The turbo is able to push out 800hp. At the moment it is making 535whp and 590lb ft of torque but it’s good as it is and I don’t want to destroy the engine with too much boost.”
Additional modifications include an oil filter housing and oil cooler from an E34 M5, M52 coils, a Spal cooling fan, an E36 M3 Mishimoto rad (that replaced a completely custom item which was made from the wrong material and kept overheating), and an Emusa intercooler with custom pipework.
Maxim mentioned the handling of the 635 not being up to scratch and sorting this actually proved to be quite tricky. “Finding a good suspension setup was hard,” he says, “as there’s no aftermarket solution for coilovers so I had to combine and experiment with different stiffnesses and heights and make my own custom coilovers using H&R springs, Bilstein B8 dampers and XYZ uniball top mounts.”
The ride height has been reduced nicely and the arches sit down nice and snug over the 18” Rial Daytona Race wheels. The Daytona is a wheel that maybe doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. Here at PBMW, as you may expect, we’re addicted to searching for wheels on eBay and Daytonas keep popping up. We’ve spend far longer than is healthy looking at them. We even came across someone on a forum accusing them of being BBS reps… some people!
The Daytona Race may have that traditional cross-spoke design but this is a seriously sexy two-piece wheel that looks good on just about any BMW it’s fitted to, including the E24. “I had these ones in my warehouse,” Maxim tells us, “and I decided to make some custom lips so they would fit the E24 arches perfectly. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, they’ve made this classic car look really fresh now.” We think they look fantastic on the 635 and the custom lips have taken them from 8” all-round to 9.25” at the front and 9.75” at the rear.
The E24 is one of those cars that looks right and really doesn’t need anything much on the styling front, and Maxim has sensibly not messed with perfection. The #BMW Dark blue really suits that slick sharkshape and it’s actually closer to something like Macau or Carbon black than a simple dark blue hue. “I didn’t consider any other body colour,” says Maxim. “This one is perfect. I love how it changes colour in different light – when it’s dark it’s almost black, when the sun is shining it’s blue and sometimes it’s even a bit green.” Up front there are Hella smoked headlights and at the back what appear to be smoked light clusters are actually custom units made from dark plastic. Inside, things have been left pretty much standard, too, with cloth Sport seats and the original steering wheel.
The only additions are a bank of four retrolooking gauges that keep Maxim informed of water temperature, oil pressure and boost along with a digital AFR gauge. “I like it stock and clean but had to add extra gauges to monitor the modified engine,” says Maxim.
After nine months of hard graft, the 635 was ready and rather than parking it up at shows, he set about actually driving it.
“It was my summer car last year and I had so much fun with it!” he laughs. “The engine is my favourite part of the whole car – when it gets to full boost, 1.6bar in third gear, the car is unstoppable. It’s fun when you are street-racing against a fast motorbike and it can’t catch you. You can’t compare the feeling of driving my 635 with newer cars. Without electronics you feel everything like you are at the centre of everything. It’s different and I love it.”
Unfortunately, as with so many projects, this one is up for sale as Maxim is ready to move onto his next one. “New season, new car. Works for me,” he says. “This summer I will build an E46 335Ci with a twin-turbo N54.” It sounds like it’ll be a spectacular machine but not quite as spectacular or as cool as this. For us, this turbo’d 6 Series is on the next level, the greatest of all sharks.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.5-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #BMW-M30 / #BMW-M30-Turbo , polished head mounted on pyramid ring gasket, #ARP bolts, #M106 / #BMW-M106 pistons, extra nozzles for cooling of pistons with oil, E34 M5 oil filter housing and oil radiator, equal length twin-scroll exhaust manifold, 2x35mm wastegates, #Garrett-GT45 turbocharger, #VEMS engine management, #Bosch 660cc injectors, Bosch 044 300lph fuel pump, two #AEM wideband lambdas, M52 coils, Spal cooling fan, #Mishimoto E36 M3 radiator with modified right tank, #Emusa intercooler with custom pipework, blow-off valve behind left foglight, 80mm downpipe, 76mm centre exhaust section, standard rear silencer. Five-speed manual gearbox, #Clutch-Masters Stage 3 clutch, lightened E34 M5 flywheel, 3.15 E46 M3 LSD. 535rwhp and 590lb ft at the rear wheels.
CHASSIS: 9.25x18” (front) and 9.75x18” (rear) two-piece Rial Daytona Race wheels with custom lips and. 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) tyres. Custom coilovers made by #IXT Workshop, using #H&R springs, #Bilstein-B8 shocks and XYZ uniball top mounts, fully polybushed with #Powerflex bushes throughout, E34 535i brakes (front), stock brakes (rear).
EXTERIOR: Full respray in #BMW-Dark-blue-metallic , #Hella smoked headlights, custom dark rear light clusters.
INTERIOR: Four-gauge cluster in centre console, #Innovate-Motorsports digital #AFR gauge, Sony head unit.
It’s fun when you are street-racing against a fast motorbike and it can’t catch youStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCLASSIC CUTS Classic #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk4 1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T-Mk4 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora / #VAG
American Jetta 1.8T gets a timeless makeover to die for. Jealous? Us…?
Keep it simple, stupid. We’ve all heard it a million times but when it comes down to it, it’s a hard rule to follow. Not for Alex Bednarik, though, he’s pretty much got it nailed. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Sam Dobbins.
Sometimes we wonder if the guys at Matchbox and Hot Wheels have any idea of what their little toys are responsible for. You don’t need us to tell you that since their launch in 1953 and 1968 respectively they’ve given millions of children countless hours of entertainment and drained the bank accounts of many adult collectors. How many of us spent our childhood flinging them off kitchen table ramps or round the lounge set circuit? We would bet that virtually all of us at one point or another have had these toys, and that a lot of us still have some in a box in the loft somewhere. So how many of us can trace our current interest in cars back to playing with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when we were kids, then? Maryland resident, Alex Bednarik – owner of this rather fine Mk4 Jetta you see here – certainly can. Well, that and a little family influence, too. “I have been into cars for as long as I can remember,” he started. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad around classic American cars and at the drag strip. And I had buckets of Hot Wheels cars and tons of other model cars, too. However, I had always been more into Japanese cars, and imports in general. This interest really kicked off when my brother got a Mk4 Jetta Wagon as his first car and I’d tag along with him to some of the big East Coast shows.”
Here in the UK the good ol’ Bora has always been something of an underdog. You hardly ever see them on the road these days. Heck, you rarely saw them when they were fresh off dealer forecourts, thinking about it. And at shows, other than a few memorable creations built over the years, you could probably reel off on two hands the number of modified examples that have been built. Strange, then, that in the US the Bora, or Mk4 Jetta as we should really call it, has always outsold the Golf in massive numbers. Alex explained it this way: “I loved seeing what people were doing to them when I started going to VW shows. The Jetta has a very simple design but it’s a good looking car from the factory. And it can be made to look even better when the modifications start piling on, too.”
Alex tells us that he was fortunate enough to have his parents buy him his first car – this very car, in fact. With just 50k on the clock and a clean bill of health, it seemed like a smart choice for the youngster to cut his driving teeth on. We’re sure that neither his parents or even Alex himself knew where it would end up, however! “The week I got the car, I booked it in with the garage to remove the pinstriping and badges. Shortly afterwards I put coilovers on the car,” he remembered. “At that point I still didn’t have my licence, so I couldn’t even drive it without one of my parents in the car with me.”
Alex’s parents helping out with getting the car in the first place was a pretty sweet deal but it did have one drawback: they had something of a vested interest in the car and, in particular, what Alex wanted to do to it. “My brother’s wagon was pretty low, and he broke his oil pan one night,” Alex remembered. “My parents were pretty annoyed by that so they made it a rule that I wasn’t allowed to do anything to my Jetta that they didn’t approve of until I turned 18. Since they bought me the car I couldn’t really argue the rule, unfortunately. However, on my 18th birthday I jacked the car up, spun the coils down and cut the sway bar out. Well, I had to, didn’t I?”
Unfortunately, this was a case of parents knowing best because just a few months later Alex followed in his brother’s footsteps and, well, broke it. “The Tiptronic gearbox is the lowest point underneath the car and hangs down,” he explained. “I was on my way to a meet a few hours away and I hit a large hump in the road and the car got air. I’d cracked the transmission casing, which made for an interesting journey back after my dad had to come out to tow me home.”
Killing one transmission prompted our man Alex to look in to air-ride. “I knew I wasn’t going to raise the car and have it sitting really high so it seemed to me that air-ride was the only viable option really,” he figured. Air Lift XL front struts and Firestone rear sleeves were drafted in along with the ever-popular AccuAir E-level management system to keep everything in check. A couple of different valances were bolted up and a set of cloth Sport seats were acquired from his brother. And for a while, Alex was pretty happy with how his Jetta was working out for him.
“As it is a Triptronic I’ve never been too concerned with trying to get any performance out of it. Everything I’ve done has been with the aim of building a car that looks good and is fun to cruise around in,” Alex explained. “The engine bay was never a huge focus point for me until I started running out of things to do to the rest of the car really,” he smiled. It’s funny to think that this might be the first US car for a long time with a 1.8T engine that doesn’t have a Dub Details box packed full of big turbo specs, larger injectors and the like. Big turbo kits and performance modifications are so affordable in the US, not to mention the vastly cheaper fuel and insurance costs compared to Europe, that sometimes you think #VW should have just thrown a GT28RS on the 20v in the dealers to save everyone time! “I only really got the 20v engine by default really,” Alex explained. “I knew I didn’t want the 8v as they’re just so slow, and I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t like the VR noise. The only other option is a TDI but the US didn’t buy many diesel Mk4s in the first place, so finding one is really tricky.” The engine bay hasn’t been untouched, though. Far from it, in fact. A session clicking around on eBay.de brought a SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover to Alex’s attention which, while not that big of a deal over here in Europe where SEATs are commonplace, in the US, where they aren’t, well you don’t need us to explain why it was cool, do you? “I realised I would need a new intake manifold to put the throttle body on the other side of the car in order to run the engine cover,” he explained. “I started sourcing a TT 225bhp intake manifold but was not pleased with the prices people were asking so in the end I imported a SEAT intake manifold along with the engine cover that I wanted.”
Next up came the issue of what to do with the intercooler. “I didn’t want to run a big front mount as I don’t like when you see them through the bumper, and I didn’t want to have to cut the bumper up either,” Alex said. “Then I remembered a VRT Jetta from Texas that had dual side-mount intercoolers so I started looking and then found a TT 225 dual setup which worked perfectly.”
The Audi S3 engine plastics are another part of the car that but actually took a lot of thought to get right. This was because the S3 covers have rounded corners and the Mk4 core support doesn’t. “A friend pointed out a small trim piece from the European market that goes in that corner to round off the core support so I had a buddy of mine in England source me one and send it over,” Alex explained. “I like to pay attention to the details, you see. I like looking over a car, noticing all of the little things, and thinking ‘wow, that is awesome!’ and so I put that mentality into the build of my car. I want people to stop, look and see all of the little things that differ from the stock car while keeping it looking factory.
It’s an ethos that’s been carried on inside, too. The retrimmed R32 seats and complimentary trimmed headliner, parcel shelf and door inserts are the first things you notice, and they look great, but look a little closer and you will spot all the little things that really set it apart, like the 2013 Beetle steering wheel, the SEAT headlight switch, the stubby rear headrests and, possibly the most subtle bit of all, the right-hand drive door insert with the smoothed door pull.
“There are always times when I wish I had gone a little bit more ‘out there’ with the build and done a motor/transmission swap and a full shaved bay or gone with a different colour for the interior,” Alex explained. “In the end, though, I am satisfied with the path I choose. It serves the purpose I built it for: to look nice and cruise around in.”
We’re pretty massive fans of the Alex’s choice of rolling stock, too. Part of that has to be down to the fact they’re so understated. Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing a trick, intricate wheel design or a finish combo that leaves us staring but sometimes it’s just nice to see a simple elegant wheel design. “I contacted CCW about making me a set of totally custom wheels similar to OZ Breytons,” Alex explained. “In the end the guys there said they would make a set of Classic 5s – which hadn’t been made in a good while and they would be the first set in 18” which sounded good to me. One of the main things that attracted me so much is that I like having rarer items.”
Since our shoot Alex has been pretty busy with his car although, unusually, not actually through choice! “About a month after the shoot I was visiting a friend when a storm hit. The wind ended up picking up a canoe and dropping it on my car. Yes, a canoe, you can’t make it up!”
Well, that’s definitely a first for Drive-MY! It sounds funny now but at the time not so much, as Alex confirms: “It messed up the passenger rear door pretty bad, ripped the door handle off, and cracked some filler on the quarter panel. Fortunately, my insurance covered canoe damage (that must have been an interesting call to the insurance company ~ All). It ended up needing a full respray and while it was in the bodyshop I decided to have the antenna and fender markers shaved.”
Since then Alex has actually parted with his beloved CCWs for a new set of rollers and is planning to change a few things up inside and maybe tuck a few wires in the engine bay, as he explained: “The wheels have since been sold and changed up. As far as future plans are concerned, the only things I want to do at the moment are some small changes to the interior and possibly a wire tuck in the engine bay. “For the most part, I’ve received a positive reaction to it at shows and meets. I’ve even had people tell me that it is their favourite Mk4 – which is pretty crazy. Add to that, the fact that I now have a feature in #Drive-My is just surreal. I never expected the recognition the car gets. I am just a kid throwing money at a car, having fun.” And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Keep on having fun Alex…
ENGINE: 1.8T with TT 225 intake manifold, 5.5L wiper fluid reservoir, SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover, SAI delete, N249 delete, EVAP delete, 42DD cat-back exhaust, 2.0T coil pack upgrade, dual side-mount intercoolers, S3 engine plastics, R8 oil and coolant cap, smoothed and painted core support, misc Euro trim pieces, billet dipstick tube.
CHASSIS: 9.5x18” and 10x18” #CCW-Classic 5 wheels, #Air-Lift-XL front struts, Firestone rear sleeves, #AccuAir-E-Level management, R32 control arms and spindles, 330mm front discs with Tarox ten-pot calipers, 308mm ECS Tuning rear disc upgrade.
EXTERIOR: Custom Japanese-spec front moulding, smoothed and painted 4motion front valence, Emphase Clean side skirts, GLI rear valence, custom OEM HID reps, #PZWO grille, #Hella Magic white tail lights, Passat Lingyu door handles, stubby mirrors, OEM Lexan headlight covers, custom billet antenna.
INTERIOR: Retrimmed R32 seats, retrimmed headliner, parcel shelf, trunk liner and door inserts, black headliner trim, 2013 Beetle steering wheel, right hand-drive door insert with custom smoothed door pull, SEAT headlight switch and climate control knobs, stubby rear headrests, polished Euro Image billet door lock slides, armrest removed, GLI pedals, JCaps billet seat adjustment knobs, shortened and trimmed two-gallon air tank, custom hardlined tank setup.
SHOUT: My family, especially my father and brother, KDI Customs, Bagriders, Joe, Travy, Swoops, Doey, Sam, Dehate, Ramon, Adam, Sammy, Jonny, Piney, Garrett, Muffin, RollHard and anyone who has helped me with the car in any way over the past years.
Engine bay is a masterclass of OEM+ modifying with plastics and parts brought in from across the VAG range and modified to fit.
Smoothed right-hand drive door plastic is a neat touch that you don’t spot at first, as is the relocated switch gear in the door pocket.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDEF ROWE / #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Jetta-II / #VW / #VAG
If ever we needed proof that America leads the way in the booted Dub department, Harry Rowe’s turbo Coupé is all the evidence you’ll need. Words: Elliott Roberts / Photos: Sam Dobbins
It’s safe to say the Volkswagen Jetta Mk2 never quite took off in Europe like it did Stateside. Granted, as with any minority motor car you will always have your fan bois that obsess over them, but for the most part modified Mk2 Jettas in the UK were extremely thin on the ground and if you did find one, well, it would most likely be average at best. Okay, they were until we started to see a bunch of killer examples emerging across the Pond but if we’re honest the Yanks have always led the way with the booted Golf. I guess Harry Rowe’s VR6T Coupé is a great lesson in just why.
“As a kid I was always into cars and bikes. I had dirt bikes and go-karts before eventually winding up in an 1983 Rabbit GTI,” claims Harry. Despite the natural draw to American muscle cars Harry was soon turned on to the VW way of life after a bunch of mates dragged him to a couple of European car shows. “Also, my father’s good friend worked for VW and they built quick quarter-mile cars in their spare time. It was good fun back then,” Harry adds.
He actually ended up taking the ’90 Jetta Coupé as a trade with a friend, as he explains: “My friend Paul Harley had bought the car but quickly discovered it had a lot of bugs and it was soon just parked up. It had lots of potential but was poorly put together I guess.” After getting the car running Harry drove the thing daily for a couple of years so he could iron out all the little niggles and get it mechanically flawless. Then trouble struck. “One day a tractor slowly reversed into the front, Tunacanning the fender off,” Harry says. He was originally planning just to fix the cosmetic damage but, inevitably, got carried away. It was at this stage the engine came out and Harry started to plan which angle of attack to take. He was set back a little due to the purchase of his first house… and mortgage! “The good thing was it had a garage, though,”
Harry says, “so at least there would be somewhere to store the car and work on it.” On paper the car as Harry purchased it was quite sorted. “It had widened rear fenders, a semishaved bay, shaved body mouldings and marker lights,” Harry tells us, “but I just perfected it by doing a full-on smoothed bay, fitting the pop-out rear windows and adding a number of other little touches.” Harry claims he just loves changing things up and being creative. Although he was aware of some of the US scene’s Mk2 Jetta Coupé ‘greats’ Harry claims he wasn’t inspired by any specific one: “I just wanted to make the car nice and put my own spin on it.” Stuff like the key-hole-mounted rear-view camera and Mk3- style boot popper are things that most people wouldn’t even notice but Harry knows are there and will appeal to the real anoraks.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. After Harry exchanged on the house he began stripping the car right down for a full repaint: “I did a lot of the engine bay prep in my garage while Haggard Fab took on some of the other fab work before the rolling shell went off for paint.” According to Harry it’s Mars red but with a Mercedes Benz paint code.
Those with a keen eye may also have noticed the rear window seal isn’t as it left the factory. “There I used a number of parts from various brands of car,” Harry reports. “This changes the look of the rear window seal and, in my opinion, makes the car look more modern and, most importantly, different to all the rest.” You won’t see many Jettas running round headlights either. The purists may frown on this but we think they look at right home there and Harry is happy with the end result: “I’ve always loved round headlights. I’ve tried Westy aeros but I keep coming back to these. Of course, I’d happily fit a Rallye front-end if somebody was to donate one though!”
Despite carrying out a lot of work himself, Harry claims he couldn’t have done it without the help of his friends – especially Matt at Eurokraft: “His knowledge of these cars is amazing and helped me tons.” Apparently Harry was most motivated when the car came back from paint: “After that, it was all hands on deck from my friends.”
There’s obviously more to this car than a new coat of paint and a few rare modifications, though. Yup, it’s time to talk about the big turbo VR6 running all the right bits: “The car had a VR6 swap when I got it, although it looked nothing like it does now, even though it is the same motor,” Harry tells us. “It’s a nonintercooled VR6 turbo with titanium valve springs retainers and HD valve springs and head gasket spacer with ARP hardware. For what it is – a lowboost setup with about 13lbs – it really moves.
I’ve embarrassed a number of cars on the highway.” He’s also done alright at the quartermile, with a best ET of 12.7 at 115mph. That’s certainly not to be sniffed at. We like the fact that despite the fresh paint and show car wheels, Harry is still all about driving this thing: “Yeah, I’m not afraid to whoop on it from time to time. That’s why I put it together really.”
So the car can clearly hold its own on the showfield and quarter-mile, but what about in the twisties? “I almost went for air-ride but decided against it. The car is running CX Racing coilovers, which I know are not exactly expensive but they adjust pretty well and the car corners great and rides low, too,” Harry says. When it came to the interior Harry really didn’t want to go overboard: “I love the sight of a Mk2 dash and interior so long as it’s in good shape, so I didn’t see the point in wrapping it up. After all, it’s a car I built on a budget, so just adding simple OEM+ touches and a few creature comforts like the double DIN touchscreen, Hella wheel and SWG gauge pod, plus custom centre vent gauge mounts and suede headline with matching pillars and red stripe seat belts worked for me.”
So now it’s all finished we ask Harry if he enjoyed the build and what was the hardest part of it? “I think staying motivated was the hardest part, especially while moving into my new house,” he replies. “As for the positives, well, despite just being a VW Jetta it gets plenty of attention even from non-car people and I guess it’s pretty fast, too.”
What does the future hold for Harry? “Well, I don’t really have any new projects lined-up just yet. I don’t think I’ll do another serious build any time soon. I did buy a Kamei hood scoop that I painted body colour recently, though. I’m really liking that on the car.” So why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through all of this? “I enjoy making things better whether it’s fixing or modifying things,” Harry surmises. “If somebody doesn’t get it then usually a turbocharged thirdgear pull normally explains it all perfectly!”
ENGINE: 2.8-litre 12v #VR6 with #Kinetics Stage 1 kit comprising Precision turbo, #ARP hardware, upgraded injectors and software, titanium valve spring retainers, uprated valve springs, 8.5:1 head gasket spacer, stock cam, hidden coil pack and tucked wires, #Dahlback-Racing diverter valve, Tial wastegate, shortened oil pan and R32 oil pump, custom Eurokraft wire harness for shaved bay, Forge boost controller, Haggard Fab coolant reservoir, #Haggard Fab 3” exhaust with custom mounted #Borla-Pro XS muffler and short tailpipe, #Quaife differential, ARP hardware, #Southbend clutch, Polo shift box and 02j shifter swap.
CHASSIS: 8x16” and 9x16” #BBS-RS , half caps with red centres, five-stud conversion, Mk3 VR6 brakes, #CX-Racing coilovers, upgrade polybushings, #VF-Engineering motor mounts.
EXTERIOR: Custom-made rear pop-out windows, Porsche script handles, Mercedes Benz Mars red paint, badgeless single round grille, widened rear arches, shaved body mouldings, shaved marker lights and antenna, custom-mounted rear-view camera in trunk key hole and Mk3-style rear trunk popper.
INTERIOR: #SWG gauge pod holding Innovate wide-band, custom centre vent gauge panel housing #Cyberdyne digital boost/vac, oil pressure and oil temp gauges, #Recaro Trophy seats, #Hella Royal Exclusive Line steering wheel, Mk3 silver-faced cluster, suede headliner and pillars, leather-wrapped parcel shelf, custom-made Porsche script ‘Turbo’ floormats and a personalised pillow, #Pioneer double DIN touchscreen display, 10” Pioneer sub mounted in rear armrest, #Kenwood amp, Infinity door speakers.
SHOUT: Big thanks to all my friends that came and helped when I needed it, Paul, Jay, Joel, Dan, Matt from Eurokraft, Matt from Haggard Fab, Sam Dobbins, oh, and I can’t forget my lovely fiancé for putting up with me, and anyone I forgot. This was most definitely an honor, thank you.
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- Post is under moderationHERE COMES THE ‘BOOM
No stranger to seriously modified BMWs, photographer Kevin Raekelboom’s latest creation may be his wildest yet. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin Raekelboom.
If you like your E30s to be jaw-droppingly spectacular, you’re going to enjoy this one . Not only is Belgium resident Kevin Raekelboom a talented photographer with one of the best names in the business, he also has a talent for building utterly spectacular project cars. His last effort was a bagged E21 that we featured back in June ’13 and over the past year and a bit he’s been at it again, building the #BMW E30 you see before you here. Kevve’s approach when it comes to builds is most definitely of the ‘allout’ variety and it’s certainly working for him.
His BMW E21 had been a mix of classic exterior elegance contrasting with an adventurous carbon and Kevlar interior mix, which created a striking juxtaposition. For his next project, Kevve decided to push the boat out just that little bit further… Step one was choosing a car. Here he decided to keep it 3 Series; it had served him well before, after all, and he had the perfect project car starting point in the family: an unassuming #1983 six-cylinder 320i manual that surely had no idea what was about to happen to it. “I bought it from my brother who didn’t have the time for it,” explains Kevve. “He bought it two years ago to restore it but then he bought a house and did a lot of construction on it and had no more time for the car. It was in pretty good condition but needed some attention.”
The engine here has been left completely stock, as this is very much a visual exercise, though Kevve has had a straight-through custom exhaust made, which handily meant that there was no need to worry about any sort of audio upgrades: “There’s no need for music with an engine sound like this!” So, with all efforts and energy channelled into the aesthetics, it’s no surprise that the finished article is so utterly spectacular. Having bagged his previous build, Kevve knew that his next project would also be on air-ride but with an E30 that’s no simple task. “There was nothing standard available for the car off-the-shelf at the time,” he explains, “so I had to go with a custom air suspension setup. Thanks must go to Kean Suspensions for helping and supplying the parts for this. I don’t know how much lower it is than standard but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower.”
There are numerous exterior modifications, some obvious, others less so. For example, the inner wheel arches have been widened both front and back and you may or may not notice that the passenger-side mirror has been removed. The front-end is a very clever mix or elements – Kevve has opted for a facelifted front but matched to a pre-facelift bumper onto which he’s grafted a DTM front lip – giving the car a face that spans two incarnations of the E30 and then spears off on a motorsport tilt, further reinforced by the addition of the Speedhunters towing strap.
The finishing touch is the set of four original OE #Hella yellow headlights which not only add a flash of retro charm but also offer a fantastic contrast to the all-grey exterior. Ah yes, that paint. For such a special project a special hue was needed and after a bit of searching, the decision was made to go for Lamborghini Grigio Telesto (the same as the E46 M3 on p8). “I saw it on a Lamborghini Gallardo in Las Vegas and fell in love,” says Kevve. This is an awesome shade of solid grey with incredible impact yet it’s surprisingly rich and light enough to allow the light to pick up on the details in the bodywork. It looks fantastic on the classic E30 shape and really makes it stand out.
Of course, choose the wrong wheels and nothing else will matter, regardless of how much effort you’ve put into making your car look amazing, so making the right choice was incredibly important for this project. There was never any doubt in our minds that Kevve would do anything other than blow us all away with his wheel selection and he’s done exactly that with these utterly gorgeous #VIP-Modular-VXS210 s. “I’ve always loved these VIP Modular wheels,” says Kevve, “and I wanted something else other than the BBS RS wheels. Don’t get me wrong, I had them on the BMW E21 but I wanted to step up the game and try something different.”
When it comes to wheel selection on E30s, size matters; but it’s a case of going too big that can often be the problem, so these VIPs measure a modest 17” across and a very reasonable 8”-wide up front and 9” at the rear. Their finish is utterly mesmerising – a gloss copper that looks incredible in the sunlight, rich and warm.
Matching centre caps and the step lips help to further catch the light and add an extra visual dimension to the wheels. Going for a single colour across the entire wheel is a brave, bold move that can look incredible with the right colour and it’s definitely working here. As a final subtle touch, the bolts are finished in gold, adding a little something extra that only the most eagleeyed observer will be able to spot. The contrast against the expanse of grey bodywork is incredible and the overall effect is stunning.
So, the outside delivers a big visual hit thanks to some amazing details in an otherwise clean and simple style but the interior certainly holds its own. It’s actually difficult to know where to start here, there’s so much work that has gone into transforming the cabin. The carpets are gone, there’s not a single strand of fibre left across the entire interior, and everything that would have once been carpeted has now been painted matt black. The rear seats have been removed and in their place sits a Wiechers roll-cage, while the front seats have been replaced with a pair of the most alien sport seats out there – all-metal Kirkeys, which look utterly mental. They also look incredibly uncomfortable but are actually meant to be pretty gentle on your butt; Kevve drove this car over to the UK from Belgium for the Players Classic show, so that tells you a lot. The deep-dish sport steering wheel is the perfect partner for the no-frills, no-nonsense seats but the vast expanse of caramel leather offers a delicious luxury contrast. The entire dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel are lovingly coated in the buttery soft and beautiful leather. It’s quite literally like the fondant topping on an already amazing cake and gives the incredible interior one more layer, one more tasty treat to enjoy.
Kevve’s E30 is an astonishing machine built to an incredible standard but, based on his tenure with the E21, we had the feeling that the E30 wasn’t going to be hanging around long for him to enjoy… and that’s exactly what happened. Despite the vast amount of time, effort and, of course, money Kevve’s spent on this car, after just a mere few months of pleasure with it, he’s now sold it to an enthusiast right here in the UK. Fortunately, Kevve’s pretty pragmatic about the whole situation: “I only drove the E30 once a month and I really needed space in my garage so it had to go.
“I don’t know what’s next. I’m focussing on my business at the moment but I’ll probably build something for Wörthersee.” Whatever that ends up being, you can guarantee it’s going to be awesome. We can’t wait…
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-320i
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre straight-six #M20B20 / #M20 , custom straight-through exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox.
CHASSIS 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #VIP-Modular VXS210 copper coloured wheels with gold bolts with 185/30 (front) and 195/40 (rear) Nankang NS20 tyres, custom air suspension built from scratch with #AccuAir management, Viair compressors, refurbished brakes throughout.
EXTERIOR Custom respray in Lamborghini Grigio Telesto, widened inner wheel arches (front and back), new face-lift front with pre-face-lift bumper, #DTM front lip, all towing hooks removed, Speedhunters towing strap, windscreen wipers removed, original OEM Hella yellow headlights, deleted right hand mirror.
INTERIOR Carpets removed, floor surfaces painted matt black, rear seats removed, Wiechers roll-cage, Kirkey racing seats, leather-trimmed dashboard, doorcards and mid-tunnel, built-in air gauges, deep-dish sport steering wheel.
THANKS A massive thanks must go to my brother who helped me with loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working hard to get it ready, my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet, my sister for picking up parts for me everywhere, my brother-in-law for helping me with building the seat rails, John for painting the car, Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts, Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP Modular Wheels.
This E30 is about as low as you can go and looks absolutely incredible aired out.
“I wanted to step up the game and try something different”
Dashboard, doors and transmission tunnel have been covered in beautiful caramel-coloured leather.
Interior has been stripped of all audio, carpets and rear seats, with cage and Kirkey seats added.
“It touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust line, so can’t go any lower”
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- Post is under moderationBOMBS AWAY! BONUS: RETRO RIDES
BMW E30 Want to know what the next level is? Take a look at this Belgian beauty to find out.
THIS BMW E30 BOASTS BARKINF SIX-POT, STEALTHY PAINTWORK AND A WHOLE HOST OF COLD WAR STYLING CUES – IT’S A LONG WAY FROM YOUR AVERAGE TRACK-DAY BEEMER!
The #BMW E30 is one of those cars that once littered the streets of the UK. It was a common sight and though undoubtedly a good looking and fine handling car, their sheer ubiquity meant that only the likes of the M3 and the larger capacity six-pot models really attracted much attention from the tuning fraternity. It was a similar story around the globe, with the cars steadily building up a hardline, intensely loyal following, something that’s only grown in size and fervour as the E30’s numbers have begun to dwindle. A rich motorsport history and a career spent kicking the stuffing out of all comers in touring car championships across the world helped as well. And that goes a long way towards explaining why the vast majority of tuned E30s tend to stick with the racing theme. All of the above makes this car a welcome breath of fresh air.
It’s been put together by long time Fast Car photographer Kevve Raekelboom, and, in looks at least, it’s about as far from those pristine, inch-perfect race cars as it’s possible to be. Not that that’s a bad thing of course. Kevve’s car just looks a lot more brutal, raw and, dare we say it, menacing.
Those bare-metal Kirkey bucket seats are a case in point. They look like they’ve been lifted straight from the cockpit of a B52 bomber! In fact the whole interior wouldn’t look too out of place in some kind of Cold War plane. With all traces of carpet removed and replaced with matt black paint, the rear bench having been dumped, the extensive Wiechers roll cage poking its way into every corner and no ICE at all! “Who needs music with a car that’s this loud and sounds this good,” chuckles Kevve. In fact the only minor concessions to comfort and everyday usability to be found anywhere inside are the leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel – all of which provide a foil to all that uncompromising exposed metalwork.
This brings us onto what’s under that pristine bonnet, in this case a carefully fettled BMW six-pot. Now BM’s six-bangers really are the stuff of legend, blending performance with everyday usability and, of course, one hell of a soundtrack. The proof of this is in the pudding, with the unit between the front wings boasting a handy 190bhp. That’s a figure that’s been coaxed from the 2.0 by simply adding a custom side-exit exhaust system, an aftermarket induction kit, and a few other minor fuelling and cooling mods. Okay so 190bhp isn’t exactly going to cause GT-R owners to wake in the middle of the night sweating with fear, but it’s plenty in something as lightweight and well balanced as this E30. Gear selection duties are ably handled by a tight, six-speed manual – again chosen as it makes the most of the modest power available.
The drivetrain is all very conventional and wouldn’t look at all out of place on a budget E30 track car, but that stunning grey paintwork undoubtedly would. It’s actually Lamborghini Gallardo grey, and makes the boxy, bluff looking Beemer appear even more aggressive and moody, with the result being that the car now has more than a hint of navy fighter jet going on. “I’d been wondering what colour to go for for months. I hadn’t spotted anything that really appealed to me,” Kevve recalls. “It was only when I spotted this on a Gallardo in Las Vegas that I made up my mind – it was love at first sight!”
There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, with Kevve having blended soughtafter OEM extras (like that deep DTM front valance) with carefully selected aftermarket parts, all of which make the car look that much more purposeful.
Fully paid up Beemer-geeks will no doubt have spotted that Kevve’s also taken the slightly unusual step of fitting the facelifted E30 front end with pre-facelift chrome bumpers. This is a mod that, on paper at least, really shouldn’t work. And yet there’s no doubting that it really, really does, with the bright chrome helping to break up the dark grey paintwork perfectly.
While it’s probably the shade of Lambo grey that grabs most people’s attention to start with, it’s Kevve’s choice of wheels and his car’s sump-botheringly low stance that really get them talking.
The former are 17in VXS210 VIP Modular Wheels and were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs, with most E30 owners opting to run BBSs or something flat-faced and motorsporty. Their copper colour also helps them stand out against the grey and black bodywork, though their considerable width (8in at the front, 9in at the rear) meant the inner arches did have to be modified to provide enough clearance for them. The suspension is actually a custom air kit from Kean Suspensions, Kevve having decided that only bags would leave him the stance he knew the car demanded. “There’s nothing available off the shelf that goes low enough, so I had to go the bespoke route,” he says. “I don’t know how much lower it is than standard, but it touches the floor with the engine, front lip and exhaust, so I can’t go any lower!”
Two long years of hard work have resulted in one of the best BMWs currently on the modding scene, one that’s all the better for looking totally different from pretty much every other E30 out there.
There’s no doubting that Kevve’s looked far and wide and drawn on all manner of influences when building it, with the mix of OE hardware and exotic parts offering pretty much the perfect blend, and all on a model that’s now a very rare sight on our roads. Kevve’s still tight lipped when pressed about plans for the future, though he does admit that he might move on to tackle something totally different.
“I’ll either start afresh and build something new, or I’ll go to town on the engine with some kind of crazy, big-power turbo setup!” Whatever he chooses to do, we’re confident that Kevve’s eye for detail and knack for thinking outside the box will result in something that’s seriously cool and, with a bit of luck, massively powerful too!
TECH SPEC: #BMW-E30 - #Lamborghini-paintwork / #BMW-320i / #BMW-320i-E30
STYLING: #1983 BMW E30 with Lamborghini grey paintwork; custom widened inner arches front and back; facelift front end with pre-facelift front bumpers and trim; #DTM front lip; #Speedhunters towing hook; windscreen wiper delete; OEM #Hella yellow headlights; deleted right side mirror.
CHASSIS: Custom air suspension from #Kean-Suspensions , with #AccuAir management and #Viair compressors; 8x17in and 9x17in VIP #Modular-Wheels-VXS210 in custom copper, golden bolts; 185/30x17 and 195/40x17 Nankang NS20 sport tyres; rebuilt #OE brakes with aftermarket pads.
INTERIOR: #Kirkey-Racing lightweight bucket seats; matt black interior; rear bench deleted; leather-clad dashboard, doorcards and transmission tunnel; multi-point Wiechers roll cage; deep dish sport steering wheel.
TUNING: E30 #M20 2.0 I6 / #M20B20 with aftermarket induction kit; custom stainless exhaust with straight through centre section and side exit; six-speed manual gearbox.
THANKS A massive thanks to my brother, who helped me on loads of things on the car, even during the long nights working to get it ready; my girlfriend for the many, many hours together in the garage working on the car and helping me find parts on the internet; my sister, for picking up parts for me everywhere!; my brother in law for helping me with building those seat-rails; John for painting the car; Kean Suspensions for supplying the air suspension parts; Christophe from Sexy Wheels for getting the VIP #Modular-Wheels .
There’s an invitation we can’t refuse.
You’ve got a bit of a thing for modified BMWs, haven’t you?
“Yeah I do. And some of you might remember my old E21 on #BBS alloys. I just love the look of retro BMWs.”
Why did you decide to build the car in the way that you have?
“I can’t stand stock cars, so it was always going to be tuned to some degree. I love building project cars that stand out from the crowd, hence why I draw inspiration from all over the place.” How long did it take to build?“
A long, long two years!
What’s on the telly tonight then? Stylish all round. You’d never kick a six-pot out of bed. How low can you go? “The wheels were chosen precisely because they’re so rarely seen on BMWs”
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