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    LOW AND BEHOLD

    You don’t see many modified E31s around and this bagged Velvet blue beauty of an #BMW-840Ci deserves all your attention. Glorious air-ride 8 Series is the ultimate urban aristocrat. You don’t see many modified E31s about and so a bagged 8 Series is something extremely special.

    The 8 Series is arguably one of the least-modified BMWs around, especially when it comes to decently modified examples. You don’t tend to see many Eights around at all, which is at least partly down to the fact that over ten years in production BMW sold around 30,000 worldwide and most owners are likely to be a little older and more sensible and therefore less likely to modify them. I had a silver 840Ci some years ago and, apart from replacing the broken EDC shocks with something less expensive and more reliable and sticking an exhaust on it, it remained untouched. Which makes me even more jealous of Matt Clifford’s example because not only has he modified it, he’s done an awesome job of proceedings.

    When it comes to modified Eights, there are a few supercharged ones about, a couple of wide-body examples and even the odd engine swap but nothing quite as downright slick and sexy as this. I like the fact that Matt hasn’t messed with the styling of the car which is, without doubt, the most appealing part of the whole. In ten years of production, with the exception of the arrival of the Sport kit, the 8 Series remained unchanged. At its launch it must have looked out of this world. By the time production ended it was starting to look a little long in the tooth but now I think it’s come full circle and looks downright glorious once more. Much like, say, an #E34 , it’s very much a BMW that doesn’t need a lot of work to get it looking absolutely perfect, just a few minor additions are all it takes to really bring out the best in an 8 Series. And that’s exactly what you can see here.

    Matt has long been a car fan, picking up the motoring vibe from his equally car keen dad although, luckily for us, he didn’t get a taste for Fords like his old man. “I love everything about cars: modifying them, driving them, taking photographs and filming them and then sharing the creations with the world,” he says. Like most young car crazy guys Matt did the hot hatch thing but, as he’s only 23, his first set of wheels was rather sturdier than the hot hatches of old and came in the shape of a Citroen C2 VTR. Prior to the 840 he built himself a rather tasty Golf R32, too. “I haven’t always been into BMWs, I must be honest,” he says, “but ever since I saw a 840 on the motorway I was won over; that shape and shark-like design had me hooked and ever since then I have fallen for the older classic designs, such as the 3.0CS, #M1 and 635.”


    The chance motorway encounter was enough to convince Matt that he needed an 8 Series in his life so he sold his car to fund the venture and after a bit of research was ready to start the hunt. The problem was good Eights are a bit thin on the ground, as Matt soon discovered: “I looked high and low for a decent car with low miles and good bodywork in the spec I wanted. After seeing some weird brown and beige leather combos I found this one at Dove House Motor Company in Northampton. It was in great condition in Velvet blue metallic with a white/light grey interior with blue piping. The company was a treat to deal with and honest, too, telling me that the car had a couple of problems that needed sorting but that it had a performance workshop to put the car right for me. After a test-drive and a couple of viewing trips I stumped up the cash and collected it mid-summer 2014.”

    Matt paid strong money for his #BMW-840Ci-Sport , but a good example is worth every penny and this colour combo works so well. Velvet blue is an exceedingly sexy colour.

    When it came to the modifying, Matt had a very clear idea of where he wanted to take the 8 Series: “I had a vision in my head of that shark-like body laid out low so I went with air-ride.” However, as bagged Eights are not something you often see, it wasn’t simply a case of popping onto the Air Lift website and adding some bits to the shopping basket. “John at Air Lift helped out massively with what parts we needed to order, getting us measure this and that to make sure we had the right parts for the car,” Matt explains. “When it came to the build process, I wouldn’t dare touch a car myself. I struggle to change a light bulb. I leave the building to the pros. I enjoy my vision coming together and driving it to shows up and down the country and in Europe. All the work for the car has been done by Pure Customs in Coventry. The guys there are good friends of mine although it was their first air install and, boy, was it a pain! Everything is custom including the top mounts and the struts – which needed angle grinding in two as they are attached to the hub in one piece. They were then welded back up with the Air Lift bag rather than the standard setup. I needed custom brackets for the rear bags and all the mounts and the adaptors for the wheels are custom items from G23.”

    All that custom work was not easy but most definitely worth it when you look at the end result. The 8 Series is a good-looking car but slammed to within an inch of its life it reaches its visual zenith. Breathtaking? Yeah, we’ll go with breathtaking.

    The 8 Series has a decent-sized boot but Matt’s not gone overboard on some massive build back there – lift the lid and you’ll find a single polished air tank and nothing more, which is quite refreshing and sits well with the minimalist approach that Matt has taken with the rest of the car.

    So let’s talk wheels. Now, it’s fair to say that Rotiforms do divide opinion somewhat but as there are so few modded Eights about pretty much anything that isn’t a Style 5, Throwing Star or M Parallel looks fresh, and so it is with these. “The wheels were purely an impulse buy,” says Matt. “I have loved TMBs since I got into the car scene. This set came up on a Facebook group so I grabbed them with both hands. I was in Mexico at the time but still paid a deposit on the wheels to collect them when I got home. I wanted to complete the air and wheels altogether so had to get them quickly.” Rotiform’s TMB is a three-piece wheel and Matt got his hands on a set of polished, staggered 19s (9s up front and 10s at the rear) and proceeded to wrap them in 215 and 235-wide rubber for a bit of stretch. The TMB is quite a modern-looking wheel but as the #E31 ’s shape is so elegant and quite futuristic, they suit the car perfectly and really look awesome tucked up into the 840’s gently swollen arches.

    As we mentioned earlier, Matt has left the exterior untouched and that’s fine by us. “I wanted to keep the car looking as normal as possible yet with a nice stance and low to the ground,” he says. “I have got a front bumper in mind which I’m currently working on getting sorted. The car still has the standard interior as it is pretty special with its floating headrests and trimmed leather. People always ask me if I have changed the interior or had it retrimmed. I tell them it’s standard, it’s just BMW was way ahead of the times. I have added an M Tech 3 steering wheel, which I had trimmed in grey Alcantara with M-style stitching, as the standard 840 steering wheel resembles a tractor steering wheel,” he laughs.

    Despite only picking the car up last summer and getting it finished not long after that, Matt got seriously stuck into what was left of the 2014 show season. Well, you don’t build a car like this just to tuck it away in a garage! He won ‘best non-VAG’ at the car’s debut outing at the Dub Fiction show, as well as bringing it along to Ultimate Stance, where it was part of our very own #BMW display. Needless to say the 840 received a whole lot of love and that has been the general theme since it was finished. “At first, when I bought the car as standard, my girlfriend didn’t understand why I had a sold a newer R32 to buy an older classic,” Matt explains, “but when it all came together and she saw the final result she started to understand. All my friends love the car, well I hope so anyway, but it only matters if I love the car; other people are allowed their opinions and on this project opinions vary but you should drive what makes you happy, and this makes me smile every time, especially when I see people twisting their necks on motorways or at petrol stations to get a better look.”

    With so much love for the Eight, it’s not going anywhere and Matt is already thinking about plans for this coming season. “I have some plans but I don’t want to give too much away at the moment,” he says. “I can say it involves new wheels and some body work, maybe a funky wrap just for a joke at one show! If money wasn’t an option, I would have a set of HRE Vintage wheels, a loud exhaust and a nice sound and air install…” But whatever the future holds, what really matters is the here and now of owning and enjoying a beautiful bagged 8 Series, and that is something Matt knows all about.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E31

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre V8 #M62B44 , five-speed automatic gearbox.
    CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) polished Rotiform TMB three-piece wheels mounted using custom G23 adapters with 215/35 (front) and 235/35 (rear) tyres. Air Lift Performance universal air-ride kit modified to fit #E31 with custom top mounts, custom struts, custom brackets for rear bags.
    EXTERIOR: Standard Sport kit.
    INTERIOR: Standard two-tone Sport leather interior, BMW M Tech 3 steering wheel trimmed in Alcantara with M tricolour stitching.

    THANKS: My team at Watercooled Society, Pure Customs for the hard work on the install.


    The gorgeous lines of the 8 Series look even better when the car is sitting on the ground.
    The E31’s ample arches are more than capable of swallowing the 19” Rotiform TMBs.
    I wanted to keep the car looking as yet with a nice stance and low to the ground normal as possible.

    Standard two-tone Sport leather interior looks fantastic and those floating headrests are a special feature.
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    The six-cylinder BMW, originally developed for the mid-engine sports car M1 #E26 , has become a popular tonic #BMW tuner.
    Car road test #1988 road test #BMW-E26 M1 277 bhp vs. B#MW-M3 #E30 #Hartge H35-24 300 bhp and BMW #735i #E32 Hartge-H7-25 330bhp.

    Max Speed:
    #Hartge-H35-24 – 265 km/h
    #Hartge-H7-25 – 260 km/h
    #BMW-E26-M1 – 265 km/h

    0-62 MPH:
    Hartge-H35-24 – 5.9 sec
    Hartge-H7-25 – 6.7
    BMW #E26 #M1 – 6.0 sec
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    Racer for the Road #E26 #BMW #M1 #AHG #BMW-E26

    Only ten E26 #BMW-M1-AHG versions were produced and here’s one of the survivors. BMW’s M1 was a stunning road car and in its ProCar form was a pretty dramatic race car, too. German tuner AHG decided to combine the best of both worlds and created ten stunning bespoke M1s for the road Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Andrew Tipping.

    Despite having British parents my wife and her siblings (there are six in total) were all born in Peru and my wife lived there for the first ten years of her life. Naturally enough they were all pretty fluent in Spanish with the odd phrase of the indigenous Quechua language thrown in for good measure. While the majority of them have forgotten most of the language they spoke as kids there are a few phrases that still get bandied about when they all get together these days. Most of these words seem to centre around food but there’s one in particular that has always fascinated me: ‘huachafa’.

    It took me quite a while to work out what they were going on about and I still haven’t really mastered the perfect translation, although ‘naff’ comes pretty close. It’s generally aimed at someone with more money than sense, someone who’s a little nouveau riche and has yet to develop a proper sense of style to go with the accompanying cash. If you had ventured to the Geneva Motor Show this week you’d have seen plenty of machines from some styling houses (that I won’t name here for fear of being sued) daubed in dubious paint finishes or wraps, slathered in carbon and wearing quite ridiculously large wheels and bearing equally ridiculous price tags. These machines would have all have fallen into the huachafa category.

    You could argue that this makes me sound like a frightful snob but to my mind there are some things in life that simply shouldn’t be messed with. Those items that appear to be so intrinsically right from the get-go that trying to improve upon them is a massive folly. Friends at school used to lust after Koenig 512BBs but I just couldn’t stand the wide-bodied bespoilered monsters, preferring the delicacy and purity of the car’s original form. These days I’ve mellowed my views somewhat and machinery such as Koenig Ferraris do exude a certain period charm, a reminder of some of the excesses of the 1970s and 1980s; who knows, perhaps some of those machines in Geneva that I’ve just vilified will one day be looked upon just as kindly?

    But if we turn to the matter in hand, this AHG modified M1, I’m not entirely sure what I would have made of it back in the day. I’d probably have lumped it in the same category as the Koenig as the notion that anyone was actually going to be able to successfully modify Giugiaro’s strikingly simple lines of the #BMW-M1 was utter heresy. But that would have been doing the car an injustice as there’s actually quite a lot to like about the #AHG-M1 and it does now have bags of period charm going for it. But before we go any further we should have a very quick recap on the M1 itself.

    Designed from the get-go to be a racing car that would be able to take on, and beat, Porsche in Group 4 racing the M1’s long gestation period and protracted and complicated production cycle meant that by the time the car was ready the rules had changed and the car wasn’t able to compete competitively. This wasn’t really BMW’s fault, although you could argue that #BMW-Motorsport shouldn’t really have put so much trust in Lamborghini’s ability to manufacture the car in the first place. Eventually, though, cars did slowly begin to trickle down the ‘production line’. The fibreglass bodies were joined to the tubular space frame chassis by Ital Design in Turin before being transported to Baur in Stuttgart who installed the engines and running gear (supplied by BMW) before the cars then returned to Munich for the final finishing and sign-off. Given this complicated process there was no way BMW could produce the 400 road-going examples to homologate the car for racing in the required time and as a result the #ProCar Series was born. For two years this was a glorious support series to the #F1 circus and had F1 drivers pitting their skills against racers from other disciplines – have a look for some of the period footage on YouTube – it was quite a sight (and sound!).

    Sadly the ProCar series ran for just two years – #1979 and #1980 – and the production cars continued to trickle their way to market until the middle of #1981 . At the time there were plenty of small BMW tuning companies out there, some of them based in #BMW dealerships, and one such dealer was AHG in Bielefeld in the north of Germany between Hanover and Dortmund. It had a proactive MD, Peter Gartemann, and it was his idea to do something a little special with the M1. The company already had a decent sideline going tuning the #E30 3 Series, #E28 Five, #E23 7 Series and the #E24 Six. We’re not talking about just adding a set of spoilers and wheels here, the company offered engine conversions and suspension upgrades, too.

    Gartemann wanted to produce an M1 that was closer to the ProCar than the production car but wanted it to still be usable on the road. The result is the machine you can see before you. It would appear that the original idea was to simply install modified ProCar spoilers while retaining the road car’s interior but pretty soon it became apparent that fitting the racing aerodynamic parts was going to be a bit of a nightmare if AHG wasn’t going to fall foul of the strict German TüV authorities which would mean its modified machinery would not be legal for the road. The main problem was that the rear spoiler was going to fall foul of what was permitted and in the end AHG had to resort to designing a new rear spoiler made from a softer material. The front spoiler was redesigned with ducting for the brakes and the three centimetre wider sill extensions blended in well with the new front end design. As well as the extended bodystyling Gartemann wanted his M1s to stand out from the crowd, so once the bodies were completed they were sent to the artist Hermann Altmiks for the distinctive paintwork.

    In an article in a 1982 edition of German magazine Sport Fahrer the impression was given that Gartemann thought that the standard car’s performance would be more than adequate, and whether he had a rethink or his customers decided that the car needed more go to match the show isn’t known but he did subsequently offer some performance upgrades for the car, which we’ll come onto in a moment.

    This particular machine that’s for sale at Canepa in the US is number 94 of the 454 M1s that were produced and actually started its life as a spare body for a ProCar. It was subsequently assembled as a series production car and sold by BMW AG Niederlassung to its first owner from Mainz in November 1979. It then changed hands in late 1981 and was then owned by an artist who used the car to display his designs and it was featured at shows and in contemporary newspapers.

    It wasn’t until #1983 that the M1 was delivered to AHG ready to be transformed. As well as the special aerodynamic package it was treated to the Hermann Altmiks paint scheme and then underwent a series of mechanical upgrades, too. The most significant of these was an engine rebuild to 350hp spec and this was mated to a sintered clutch and a freer-flowing exhaust system. It sits on a custom suspension setup and is finished off with a set of period BBS alloys. As each AHG machine was built to its owner’s instructions there were plenty of different interior treatments available. In this particular machine the houndstooth cloth seat centres and door trim panels have been retrimmed in Alcantara and this also features on the dash pod, too. Presumably some owners wanted to go further than this as, truth be told, the standard M1’s interior was more functional than opulent and AHG’s price list of the day has plenty of ‘price on request’ categories for special leather finishes and the installation of more powerful speakers for the stereo.

    This machine was only very lightly used after its conversion, covering less than 750 miles, before being imported into the US in the mid-1980s. Getting the M1 through strict US regulations was tough but once done the car was often seen on the BMW show scene before it entered long-term storage. It emerged from storage in #2012 before being given a thorough recommissioning, so it’s done less than 5000 miles since it was converted by AHG over 30 years ago! As you can see from the images, we weren’t able to drive the car but we spoke to Canepa’s marketing director, John Ficarra, about it and he was very enthusiastic about the AHG machine. “The car drives great. M1s are beautifully balanced cars but in my opinion they have always been woefully underpowered. With the AHG engine upgrade this M1 moves the way you’d expect a ‘70s supercar should, and the sound of that normally aspirated BMW straight-six through a racing exhaust is sweet, sweet music.”

    Having experienced the aural delight of a standard M1 and watched plenty of M1 ProCar videos we can only say that John is a very lucky man indeed to have sampled this car.

    Ultimately this really is a car of its time. If you proposed doing this to an M1 today you’d probably be shot by the BMW community but it’s a real throwback to a time when a few discerning owners wanted something a little different from a contemporary Ferrari or Lamborghini. How the car would have been seen back when it was transformed in the 1980s I’m not quite sure, but I’m almost certain it would have divided opinion between those who thought Koenig Ferraris were the last word in style and those who thought they were a byword for nouveau riche naffness. Today I think it’s a brilliant period piece and dream purchase for someone after an ’80s icon with added ProCar-style aggression. Huachafa? Not a bit of it.
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    BMW CONCEPTS

    The cars they could have made – Turbo Concept #1972
    For a car that was first penned on paper over four decades ago the Turbo Concept has stood the test of time remarkably well…

    In a time when #BMW was still busy producing the #BMW-2002 , can you imagine the stir this would have caused when it was first unveiled back in 1972? Launched to celebrate the Olympics in Munich that year, the Turbo Concept, known as the #BMW-E25 , was built on a modified 2002 chassis although it actually looked much larger in pictures. The four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that powered it was also borrowed from a 2002 Turbo but, like a true sports car, it was mid-mounted and connected to a manual gearbox. It was also tweaked to produce a respectable 276hp which allowed for sprightly performance; 62mph came in just 6.6 seconds, enough to rival the offerings from both Ferrari and Porsche at the time. Top speed was also an impressive 155mph but this was long before an electronic limit was introduced.

    However, it was the styling that undoubtedly made the biggest impact and the Turbo Concept ticked off plenty of the typical 1970s styling traits. In a time when many European car manufacturers were experimenting with aerodynamics, the #E25 appeared to be BMW’s test mule. Its wedge-shaped profile and low-slung front end complete with new-age pop-up headlights ensured it looked like a car from the future. Some pictures of the car also showed the rear wheels enclosed to further improve the aerodynamics. It was a quirky package, too. The extravagant gullwing doors pivoted from the centre of the roof with large supporting struts and the at the back the whole rear clam structure raised as one to reveal both the engine and a small loading area at the very tail end of the car. It was finished in a period perfect fade-in paint job with a matching set of deep-dish wheels.

    As a concept car, the E25 wasn’t just a styling exercise either. It was packed with new, innovative features for its time. The front and rear bumper sections were filled with impact-absorbing foam and there were also revolutionary side impact bars to protect the occupants. Most impressive of all was the radar-based braking distance monitor.

    Inside the car the layout was positively futuristic, featuring a strip-type speedo in front of the driver and, unusually, a rev counter and other additional displays mounted to the right-hand side of the driver in the centre console. To the left was the advanced LEDbased warning system.

    BMW apparently used the car for extensive aerodynamic development and a second working prototype was produced. Although it never went any further it’s clear the E25 had a huge influence in the design of the M1, which followed some years later. The front end is nigh-on identical to the 1978 M car, although the #M1 was actually squarer. A lot of the other quirky traits, such as the doors, were toned down though. It’s a shame as 1970s supercars have a reputation for wackiness, and the E25 Turbo Concept certainly had that.
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    What’s in your Garage?

    We meet a man with a fine selection of rare and modified BMWs in South Africa.

    The finest BMW collection on the African continent and arguably one of the best in the southern hemisphere, each one of these eight machines is a masterpiece in its own right Words: Johann Venter. Photography: Oliver Hirtenfelder.

    Jack Kaplan’s reputation precedes him. His cars have been featured in BMW Car multiple times over the years and won countless accolades. Indeed, they continue to do so, including numerous classes at the South African BMW Car Club’s annual Concours. This year was no exception, his #2002 Turbo taking top honours in the d’Honneur Modified, Best Classic and Best 2002 classes.

    As we arrive at Jack's home under the cover of darkness for our 5.30am shoot, snapper Oli cannot contain himself and starts shooting before Jack can completely raise the garage door. Each masterpiece is neatly cocooned in a grey car cover; six cars are housed in the one garage while the remaining two share a second garage with less favourable stablemates. Once all the covers are removed one is completely seduced as some of the most revered models that BMW has ever spawned are revealed – it is truly a sight to behold.

    Jack is a true petrolhead, having raced his own cars and several dragsters, with an astonishing ensemble of BMWs, yet he is the most softly-spoken gentleman I have come across. After Oli has snapped away to his heart’s content Jack treats us to breakfast before we delve into his collection. It is hard to believe that before buying his first #BMW in #1983 Jack was considering a #Skyline #GTX 2.8. Thankfully a friend intervened – pointing Jack in the direction of an #E30 #323i – and sanity prevailed. Jack’s immediate impressions were that the BMW was much better put together in terms of the fit and finish and once he had driven the car he was sold. Ever since then he has been infatuated with BMW.

    Jack confesses that he has had quite a few BMWs over the years. That’s nothing to be ashamed of Jack, we like the fact that you've had multiple BMWs! “I regret not having kept all of them but then I could not afford to get a new one without trading in the old one. Once I could afford to not have to trade them in I kept all of them,” he explained.

    They say that you always remember your first true love, so what impression did the 323i leave on Jack? “The 323i led me to bigger and better things,” he replied. “These cars were known for cambelt failure and mine was no different so while my engine was being repaired I traded it in for an #E30 #325i Saloon, in Henna red. It was a great car, I really loved it. The handling was superb, it was a true driver’s car.” Jack then opted for the first version of the E30 #325iS (commonly known as the Evo 1) in silver, a South African special with a 2.7-litre engine partly developed with #Alpina . It had a power output of 197hp (145kW) and a maximum torque figure of 195lb ft (265Nm). “Not to get into too much detail but let’s just say that the iS was too much car for me to handle at that point,” he told us.

    True to form, Jack then followed this by getting the second iteration of the iS: the Evo 2. It’s the Alpine white one you can see in the photos. Jack got it as a company car in 1991. It still has the original windscreen and the air-con has never been regassed yet it can create an Arctic atmosphere in seconds. It’s a bit of a sleeper – bog standard on the outside except for the grille that has been colour-coded like E30 racers of old. “The engine has been enhanced by gas-flowing the cylinder head and installing a 280-degree camshaft. The late great Tony Viana [legendary BMW race driver in South Africa] installed the Unichip, the air-box was modified and a specially fabricated Sports exhaust was fitted,” Jack revealed.

    South Africans were denied the E30 M3 as it was produced in left-hand drive only and were therefore so much more receptive to the launch of #E36 M3 in South Africa 21 years ago, compared to the lukewarm reception it received in Europe. The initial batch that landed in South Africa predominantly had cloth seats that were structurally different from the leather ‘Vader’ seats. Jack elaborated: “I wanted the black Nappa leather seats so I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately I managed to keep the iS and used the #M3 as my daily-driver, but soon thereafter decided on a V6 Ford Ranger bakkie [pick-up] as a runaround. It used to jump around a lot on the road so I put a bag of cement in the boot.” The Alpine white car we see here, however, is very different from the car that Jack took delivery of in #1993 . A picture on the garage wall shows the M3 fitted with a front spoiler that made it look more like a snow plough and although the original bumper has been refitted, things are not that subtle at the rear as the boot spoiler looks like it belongs on a Learjet. The upgrades are not all cosmetic, though, as Jack explained: “It still has the original #S50 , 3.0-litre motor but to spice things up a Vortech supercharger producing 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost was fitted and, to add to the fireworks, nitrous was added resulting in 428hp at 7000rpm.”

    At this point it seems that Jack tired of sporty Bavarian coupés and opted for an American peoplecarrier: “In #1996 I imported a brand-new left-hand drive #Chevy #Surburban 5.7-litre V8. It has three rows of seats that can comfortably seat eight people and weighs 2.7 tons. It has a cavernous boot, ideal for long stints and that is exactly what I use it for – travelling to Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, although it only has 116,000km (72,079 miles) on the clock.” Thereafter Jack bought his first BMW 5 Series in the form of an #E39 #540i Individual with the six-speed ‘box, not a bad first choice for a 5 Series. “I really didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t fit in my collection. My wife drove it for a while and then we tired of it,” he said.

    The next car in his collection is probably the biggest show-stopper in the collection. Apparently traffic comes to a standstill and people swarm around the car whenever he takes it out to an event. “The E30 M3 is such an icon and unfortunately we never got it in South Africa,” Jack explained. “In fact, I think there are only three road-going examples in the country so you can understand why people react the way they do. I acquired this Lachs silver example in #1997 after two years of pursuing the owner with whom I conducted business with. Unfortunately his business was liquidated; I tracked down the liquidators and bought the car from them.” This is a very attractive colour and the car looks like it has just driven off the production-line. “Thousands of hours have been invested trying to achieve perfection,” Jack said. “The car was completely stripped and rebuilt from the bottom up.” Purists will once again be raising their eyebrows as Jack has fitted #E36-M3 Motorsport rims. “The E30 M3 was fitted with the #BBS crossspoke rims, as was the E30 Shadowline and iS.

    However, I really wanted my E30 M3 to be different and standout from the rest as it truly is a special car and even more so in the South African context,” Jack justified. “Those E36 M3 Motorsport rims are my ultimate favourite, you’ll see that my whole garage is full of them and if I can find another set I will buy it.” Many folk give Jack plenty of flak for not keeping his cars – especially the ones that are so collectable – completely original: “People often ask me why I don’t keep my cars as BMW intended. Whenever I get a car I change at least the pedals, exhaust and the steering wheel; this is something that I have always done. But I keep all the original parts. I always remove the radios as I prefer listening to the exhaust.” So what changes has Jack made underneath the skin of his E30 M3? “The engine has been enlarged to 2493cc through the replacement of the crankshaft and connecting rods. The cylinder head was gas-flowed and a 260-degree Schrick camshaft was installed, together with a Unichip. Better breathing apparatus was also fitted in the form of a #K&N air filter, modified air-box and a stainless steel Sports exhaust.”

    Jack does have a bit of a thing for the E30 shape though and his iS indulgence does not end with the white one he’s owned from new. “In #1999 I came across a panel beater who had managed to find an iS bodyshell. His intention was to build the car to his specifications, unfortunately he ran into financial difficulty so I bought it from him. He’d already painted the car in the colour you see here, which is a metallic dark green [this was definitely not a factory option], slightly lighter than British racing green. That is all that he had done to the car. This really gave me the opportunity to build the iS the way I wanted to.”

    We’ve seen Jack’s need for speed so we can’t resist but ask what lies underneath the bonnet? “I managed to source a 3.5-litre Alpina #M30 motor and went the whole hog again by fitting a Vortech supercharger producing 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost and nitrous was added resulting in 373hp at 6209rpm,” he replied. That sounds like a lot of power for such a small and lightweight car. “Initially I really struggled to put all the power down onto the road. The car suffered from massive wheelspin in virtually ever gear,” he continued. “The car was also fitted with two Unichips but it was undrivable until I took it to Gavin Wilkens – the well-known South African drag champion who runs GW Racing, a specialist in high performance upgrades. Gavin advised that we fit a Domingo management system, so we did, and now you can use the car as a daily driver. It is actually now a pleasure to drive.” This iS wasn’t just used on the road though, as Jack has also raced it. “Why else do you think I had the nitrous installed?” he grinned. “I used to do the quarter-mile and top-end runs but I don’t think I will race it again in those type of events. I will most likely enter it into Fastest Street Car events or gymkhanas.”

    Jack definitely has a need for speed but we can’t help but wonder where this came from? “I developed my love for speed when I was knee-high, building soap boxes with pram wheels. In #1962 I progressed to a 50cc two-stroke Zundapp bike and then a 50cc Suzuki and then moved to the big league in the form of a Honda 300s. I first saw guys racing legally at the Tarlton International Raceway drag strip. I also raced the white iS, the E36 M3, and the #Z3 , doing Fastest Street Car races, hillclimbs, quarter-mile and top-end runs. I like gymkhanas with a quarter-mile included. I also like doing the 1km top-end races.”

    So far we’ve talked about what you could call the iconic machinery in this collection but in most people’s eyes the Z3 wouldn’t fall into that category. So what prompted Jack to buy one? “I bought my wife a brand-new red Z3 in #1999 and the following day I bought the white one you see here today. As is the case with virtually all of my cars I set out to put my own finishing touches to the car and decided on a set of ATS rims. Unfortunately the rims were too wide for the car but I bought them anyway and took the car to a panel beater that I had been using for many years. The rear fenders [wings] were summarily cut and extensions of about 75mm were fabricated and welded in. The plastic bumper was then heated and stretched to accommodate the wider wheels. I also then opted to lower the car by about 70mm; I subsequently had to raise it by 15mm as it was too low.”

    Jack’s Z3 was one of the early ones with the 2.8-litre engine so we asked if it felt a little slow in comparison to the rest of his fleet? “At that stage I was driving the E36 M3 more than anything else so there was a massive difference in power when I got into the Z3 which I just could not get used to. To remedy the situation a Powerdyne supercharger with 0.45bar (6.52psi) of boost was fitted. Needless to say I was not satisfied so we removed the motor and replaced it with the E36 M3 3.2-litre engine which had been gasflowed and at the same time fitted a Vortech supercharger with 0.9bar (13.05psi) of boost and a six-speed ‘box. From the outside it’s very apparent that this is not a standard car – it is 150mm wider and 55mm lower. It goes very well, though. The roadholding is superb, although on the top-end you do get a little bit of drift. The highest speed I achieved with it was at Waterkloof which was just over 280km/h. Strangely enough the 3.0-litre E36 M3, although heavier is faster on the top end. The #Z3 has only done 46,000km (28,583 miles).”


    Once Jack had amassed a selection of BMWs from the late 1980s and ’90s he turned his attention to those that he hankered after from the 1970s. “You’ll see I have a picture of a silver Batmobile on my garage wall as well a picture of a 2002 Turbo. I put these pictures up long before I got the cars. They served as a constant reminder that I needed to add these machines to my collection; these cars were always part of my BMW aspirations.”

    The E9 ‘Batmobile’ could be taken for a genuine example at first glance but despite being a replica it looks absolutely magnificent. “I agree,” said Jack, “although this was not the case when I initially got it. I was contacted by the owner who wanted to sell through the BMW Club, so I went and looked at it. The car was very rough and had been in an accident but not well repaired. It was originally a #CSi but fortunately the owner had the entire aero kit that was fitted to the Batmobile, so I decided to take it and got it at a real steal. The car was stripped down completely. It was initially red so we resprayed it Polaris silver. The seats were recovered by #BMW-SA in Rosslyn (tri-colour inserts included) and the front seats were replaced with Recaro Sport seats, as found in the E30 M3.

    “The car had a 3.5-litre #M30 motor which was rebuilt, a set of BBS cross-spoke rims were fitted to complement the chrome mirrors, beadings and wheel arches. I struggled to find the wheel arches. The first set I sourced secondhand from the UK. I shouldn’t have bothered, what was sent was appalling.

    Eventually I managed to find a set in the States. It took four years to do the restoration, but it was worth it as the car now looks fantastic… and goes even better.”

    Jack’s #2002-Turbo should need no introduction as it featured in the September issue of BMW Car. It’s a lovely car. Jack told us its history: “When I acquired the car it was already Chamonix white. When Nicky Oppenheimer ordered it in #1974 he had three requests: that it be Golf yellow and fitted with electric windows and an electric sunroof. According to Robert Gruenberger, founder of the 2002 Turbo Club in Germany, four of these cars were shipped to Angola.

    To make it more drivable I had a Turbonetics turbo fitted with 0.62bar (8.9psi) of boost, together with a purpose-built intercooler. In addition, an Electromotive direct ignition system was fitted, the cylinder head gas-flowed and a custom-built Sports exhaust installed. To improve the ride and handling Bilstein dampers and a front custom-made strut-brace were fitted. The brakes were uprated with 305mm ventilated cross-drilled Wilwood discs with matching Superlight 4-pod callipers in the front and 255mm drums at the rear.”


    The last machine in Jack’s collection – a #635CSi #E24 – is a trifle unusual as it hasn’t been treated to the usual set of upgrades, as Jack explained: “In my opinion it’s the most handsome GT BMW has ever produced. Mine is an #1984 model with the #E28 running gear which makes for better handling. This car is completely original, I have done absolutely nothing to it. It even has the radio that I bought it with. It is Opal green with a Perlbeige interior and came with all the extras of a luxury GT of the day including leather Sports seats (unfortunately not Recaros), air-con, electric windows, sunroof and seats. The drive is superb thanks to the manual ‘box together with the limited-slip differential. It’s definitely one of the great touring cars of its time”.

    All of Jack’s cars are pristine and completely spotless. He’s achieved this through his lifelong dedication to cleaning, maintaining and enhancing each of these paragons. What stands out most for us, however, is the craftsmanship, precision and attention to detail that is found underneath each bonnet. This is in part achieved through the extensive use of Russell braided fuel lines, adaptors, hoses, hose ends, tube nuts and Raceware aerospace-quality engine fasteners. One side of Jack’s garage wall is covered in certificates, a testament to what he has achieved with these shining examples of Bavarian metal.

    We can’t leave without asking which one of this superb fleet is Jack’s favourite? “Without a doubt, it’s definitely the white iS,” he said with a grin. “The only cars I drive regularly, though, are the green iS and the Z3. The others I only take to shows and events, although I mostly drive my V8 #Chevrolet #Lumina SS 6.0-litre bakkie.”

    “In my opinion it’s the most handsome GT BMW has ever produced”

    The newest car Jack has is the #1999 Z3. We ask him why this is? “The newer BMWs are fantastic but they don’t give me that driving by the seat-of-yourpants experience,” he told us. “It’s almost as if the car is driving you. Newer BMWs give me the sensation that I am in a plane that is on auto-pilot.”

    While a modern BMW might not feature in Jack’s plans there is one more icon that’s still missing from his collection, a machine that has so far eluded him: “There is a picture of an #M1 on my garage wall that still needs to come to fruition,” he revealed. Well, knowing Jack’s attention to detail you can guarantee that when one does arrive it’ll be the best on the African continent!

    “It took four years to do the restoration, but it was worth it as the car now looks fantastic… and goes even better”
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    #BMW-M1 Homage


    The most stunning BMW concept car of all time? We’d say so, but other than the striking design, details of the rest of the car were a bit sketchy unfortunately…


    Plenty of the concept cars we’ve featured in these pages come across as simple, fun, quickfire ideas, such as building an SAV with no roof. But the M1 Homage obviously had a lot more time and thought put into it and it shows.

    The M1 Homage was released in #2008 to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the original M1 supercar at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este annual event in Italy. Designed by Giorgio Giugiaro, the shape was stunningly beautiful although exceptionally aggressive, just like a true supercar should be. The front and side profiles were dominated by a series of sharp, angled lines and air vents that incorporated plenty of aerodynamic design features gained from BMW’s Formula One experience. Finished in Liquid orange paint that accentuated its muscular looks, swollen arches and strong shoulder line, it was quite a big car and reputedly dwarfed the original M1 when parked side-by-side.


    The pop-up headlights of the original were out of the question due to pedestrian safety, but that didn’t stop Giugiaro making a feature of them. Using the latest LED technology, the lights were much smaller, narrower and partly covered below the bonnet line for a scowling look. At the rear the similarities to the M1 continued and it was finished with the louvered engine cover and iconic twin-roundel arrangement placed either side of the bootlid. Similarly, the wheels were modernised copies of the original Campagnolo items, although now dished and polished to show off their extra girth.


    Sadly, despite the stunning exterior effort, there was very little other information to accompany the car. The only pictures that exist are of the exterior and there was not even a mention of the interior design or layout, although it was confirmed as being a midengined platform. But other than that nothing was insinuated by #BMW as to the technical specifications of the car and that even included what engine would be favourable.


    At the time, speculation ran wild with suitable suggestions ranging from twin-turbo V8s, naturally aspirated V10s or V12s and even the crazy idea of some kind of electric hybrid! Imagine that… Of course, we now know that idea was probably a lot closer to the truth than anyone realised as the i8 that followed some six years later was exactly that. In many ways the i8 is the spiritual successor to the #M1 Homage and there was clearly some crossover influence going on. Whilst the #i8 is definitely a looker it would have been nice to see a respectful nod in the direction of the original M1, but we’re not complaining. There’s still time to make the Homage yet, after all, it already has the platform. Perhaps a twin-turbo V8 might be a little more in-keeping with the modern supercar theme though…
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    #BMW-M5

    The M badge had been seen already on the bootlid of a #BMW saloon with the first-generation (‘ #E12 ’ in BMW-speak) 5-Series but that was an #M535i rather than a fully-fl edged M5. It’s a subtle distinction, but the #M535i was mechanically identical to the #535i , with sporting suspension and trim additions. The M5 was in a different league and was created by dropping in the 24-valve twin-cam straight-six engine developed for the #M1 supercar. The result was a 286 bhp missile hand assembled in #BMW Motorsport’s facility, with uprated handling to match its outrageous pace.
    The real trick though was in making it so very subtle, with just discrete badging and boot spoiler to make it noticeably different from the regular #520i .

    Buyers loved the M5, especially in derestricted Germany where one customer famously reckoned it was faster than his private plane. The #M5 has been with us ever since, becoming the equally plain #E34 model in #1988 and then acquiring V8 power in #1998 and an anything-but-subtle 500 bhp #V10 engine from #2005 . It’s the original which has true classic status though as the first car to really embody the Q-Car concept properly.

    How much? £8000-£45,000
    Classic status: Definitely
    One to buy #1987 BMW M5, £21,995

    The M5 is a rare beast in the UK and there are usually only a handful for sale at any one time, which is why this M5 at longtime classic BMW specialists Munich Legends had been sold by the time we went to press. It’s a good indication of what you can get for your money though, in the soughtafter Dolphin Grey with 139,000 miles being nothing for one of these, especially when the timing chains have been replaced. Keep an eye on their website and another will doubtless pop up soon.
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    #BMW-M1 ProCar rejuvenated

    Japanese entrepreneur and president of the BMW Clubs Japan, Masakuni Hosobuchi, has added this stunning #M1 ProCar to his collection of #BMW-M-Cars when he collected it from BMW Welt in Munich. The ‘Yes to the Nürburgring’ ProCar is painted with the traditional race track in the Eifel and shows the connection between BMW and the old #Nürburgring . #Nelson-Piquet and Hans-Joachim Stuck achieved a class victory and third overall with this car in #1980 at the 1000km race at the Nordschleife. The unique car was restored over several years by the customer workshop of BMW Group Classic and the experts at BMW M GmbH and is now in as-new condition.
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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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    8+8=400? Self confessed 8 Series nut, Steve Parkes, went all out on this Eight and the supercharged V8 results are pretty spectacular.

    The #E31 8 Series: no one can deny that with its perfect combination of futuristic features and timeless squareedged lines, it’s way up there among Munich’s finest-looking cars, perhaps parallel with the classic, distinctively designed #M1 , #E24 #M635CSi and the #E30 #M3 in our opinion at least. Despite that, once you’re behind the wheel it can be a difficult car to grasp. Contrary to the sporty-looking exterior there’s no hiding the 1,900 kilo kerb weight – if you get it though, and delve deeper into its character, you’ll soon learn to love it. When that happens, it’s unlikely to be long before an addiction takes hold – though there’s no need to tell that to Steve Parkes – he knows first-hand.

    This staggering 8 Series was his second #840i , and he has bought another 840i and an #850i since! After his first he was well clued-up as to what to look for, and this Eight found its way into his hands as a completely standard but clean 37k car. In fact, having suffered from the infamous Nikasil issue, whereby sulphur in the fuel eats at the cylinder liners, the engine was fresh to say the least – it was rebuilt by BMW, under warranty, with a new block less than 8000 miles before Steve took up ownership.

    A full Supersprint stainless steel exhaust system started the car on its modification journey, helping bring out the noise of the 4.0-litre V8 as well as improving the already aggressive rear end thanks to four chunky tailpipes. G-Power cats also help flow and give a slight boost in power. Next, with Steve wishing to give the chassis a bit of a sportier feel, Alpina springs and shocks were fitted, giving the big Coupé a tighter feel whilst also preparing it well for the next step.

    That next step wasn’t a small one either. The 840i was dropped off at Simpson Motorsport, where it was due for a hefty upgrade. Not only were AP Racing six-pot calipers and 362mm discs put behind the front wheels, but a bit of boost was to be applied under the bonnet. With an #ESS supercharger intended for an #E39 in hand, Steve entrusted Simpson with ’charging the M60B40. The bracket for supporting the ’charger had to be redrilled to fit the 840i but aside from that it was a fairly problem-free installation and it wasn’t long before the car was being mapped on the dyno.

    With such a fresh engine, there were no worries over it being able to handle the boost, but getting the power down would be a different matter. To help this, an #E34 M5 limited-slip diff was also installed whilst the car was at Simpson Motorsport. On the rolling road it peaked at an impressive 399.9bhp, but that’s only half the story. A colossal 480lb ft of torque was recorded – enough to propel the car from standstill to 60mph in 5.3 seconds (compared to the standard 7.4 sec), but it was up to 100mph that it really excelled. “Up to 60mph it isn’t much faster than my friend’s 850CSi, but between 60-100mph I can watch him disappear in my rear view mirror,” grinned Steve. In fact, 100mph comes up from a standstill in less than 11.5 seconds – far from shabby for a 1.9-ton tank.

    With the performance well and truly taken care of, Steve’s attention turned to making it look as good as it goes. The windows were lightlytinted by Auto-Asylum in Maidenhead, whilst xenon HIDs freshen it right up and make night driving far less of a stress. Most of the other styling comes courtesy of AC Schnitzer, whilst the bonnet has a little more to it… Steve was after an Alpina louvered bonnet, but when he was quoted £4k for one, he began looking elsewhere. He found a company in the US who built him a replica, so he had it shipped over, but the quality left quite a bit to be desired. After a chat with his local bodyshop, he took it upon himself to measure up the vented bonnet to cut, then the bodyshop tidied it up and repainted it. That’s one way of getting the look you want for less!

    Finally, of course, was the decision of what wheels to put on the car. “I’ve had countless sets of wheels, but it’s currently sitting on 19” Alpinas – or it was at the time I sold it to Clevewood Garage anyway.” Yes, at the time of writing, that’s where it sits, still with a relatively low 68k on the clock. I know if I had USD 15k I’d certainly be sorely tempted!

    With the 840i gone, Steve bought an E39 #Alpina B10 4.6 - a car with enough grunt as to not feel slow after the supercharged Eight, but for Steve it lacked something which his 840 never failed to do: turn heads. To remedy this, he bought his latest toy, a white 850i which he has tinkered with too - though obviously not quite to the level of the 840. A future feature? Quite possibly.

    Now having owned five #E31 s, the last of which is his current car, it’s pretty obvious that Steve has well and truly got the 8 Series bug. Who knows where it’ll stop, but whilst he’s getting asked ‘Is this the new BMW?’ at the petrol station, who can blame him?

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 4.0-litre #BMW V8 #M60B40 , full Supersprint exhaust system with #G-Power sport cats, ESS Supercharger (adapted from E39 kit). Standard four-speed automatic gearbox, E34 #M5 LSD.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19" (rear) Alpina rims, Alpina lowering springs and uprated shocks. AP Racing 362mm BBK with six-pot calipers.

    EXTERIOR: Replica Alpina louvered bonnet AC Schnitzer Aero kit, tinted windows, 6000K HIDs, CSi mirrors and spoiler.

    INTERIOR: Standard E31 interior.

    THANKS: Anthony and Julian at Simpson Motorsport, Roy at CA Automotive, Richie ‘the paint man’.
    • 8+8=400?
      The enigmatic 8 Series is one of BMW’s coolest cars, and with a supercharged V8 under the bonnet, this one has style and power.
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