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    Some of my favourite cars are hybrids, I’ve realised, but they’re not the ones you’re probably thinking of right now. I come from an era when the word ‘hybrid’ meant something totally different. And last week I finally found one.

    I had my heart set on an Aston Martin DB5, but I just can’t bring myself to justify the price. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worth it, it’s just that I grew up in an era when used DB5s were just a few grand more than an #Jaguar-E-type . The car I’m talking about is much rarer than a #Aston-Martin-DB5 . I think they made fewer than 500 of them. It’s a car that has fascinated me for some time, probably because I never actually saw one in person. Then, about a year ago at a car show in Beverly Hills, I finally did see one. It was a deep royal blue with a tan interior, just the combination I would have ordered back in 1965 when it was new. But at the time I was 15 and working at McDonald’s.

    I did hear that Sean Connery, probably the biggest movie star in the world at the time, had one. Years later Sean was a guest on my talk show, I asked him about the car and he seemed pleased I knew what it was. Turns out he actually passed over a #Aston-Martin DB5 for a second-hand #Jensen-C-V8 / #Jensen . True enthusiast, or just a thrifty Scotsman? Well, that made me want one even more.

    Anyway, back to the Beverly Hills car show. Showing the Jensen was a German guy named Chris. I introduced myself and told him how much I liked his car. He smiled broadly and seemed thrilled that I knew what it was. Most people at the show had no idea. ‘What year Jensen-C-V8 ?’ I asked. ‘It’s a 1965 Mark III,’ he replied. To my mind the final Mark III was the most desirable version.

    Even though this was exactly what I was looking for, I never ask people at car shows if something is for sale or how much it costs. I hate when people do it to me because it just seems so incredibly rude. Chris and I chatted for a few more minutes, I complimented him on the restoration and wished him good luck.

    Not quite a year later, my next-door neighbour called me to tell me a friend of his had a car for sale, and was I interested? Normally when people call me with a car for sale, it’s something like an AMC Gremlin with a Levi jeans interior.

    ‘Do you remember meeting a German guy at the Beverly Hills car show last year?’ my neighbour asked. ‘You mean the guy with the C-V8?’ I replied. ‘Yeah, that’s him,’ he said.

    The car was less than five miles from my house. I ran out the door and bought it on the spot. No, I didn’t test drive it first. No, I didn’t put it up on a ramp and look it over like you’re supposed to do. Do you know why? Try and find another one! Luckily the car turned out to be just fine; a few small things but nothing major.

    The car is called a hybrid because, back in the ’60s, ‘hybrid’ meant putting American power plants into European cars. Think early Cadillac-powered Allards, or Carroll Shelby stuffing a 289 Ford into an #AC-Ace to create the Cobra. That started a trend of sticking very powerful American engines into English cars. Jensen used a #Chrysler-383ci-V8 , sending over 330bhp through a three-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission. I like to think of my Jensen as a #Dodge-Dart-GTS that went to Oxford.

    The reason I’m partial to English hybrids is that I love English styling, design and roadholding, and I understand American engines with their torque and durability. It seems the ideal combination to me. The Jensen is everything I wish my GTS could be. Four-wheel disc brakes instead of disc/drum. Classic British wood and leather interior, instead of plastic and vinyl. Sophisticated chassis with rails acting as a vacuum reservoir, to aid braking. It even has shock absorbers you can adjust from the driver’s seat. My GTS shares its body with the six-cylinder runabout model, but the Jensen has a fabulous (to my eyes) custom body made of fibreglass. Combine all this with a 130mph top speed, and you have to wonder why it’s a tenth the price of a DB5. I think there may be a snob factor involved because of the American power.

    I love this era of hybrids. I also have a Monteverdi, a Swiss car with a Chrysler 440, a four-speed manual and a two-door Frua body from Italy. It was bought new, right off the floor, at the Geneva show where it premiered in 1970. I bought it, years later, for less money than the Dodge Challenger with the same engine and transmission made at the Barrett-Jackson auction.

    Not all hybrids are bargains, as the Cobra proves. Yet a #Gordon-Keeble , a #TVR , a #Sunbeam-Tiger , a #Bristol-407 – if you ever see one of those for a reasonable amount of money, grab it! Because a lot of people read this magazine.

    ‘I LIKE TO THINK OF MY JENSEN AS A DODGE DART GTS THAT WENT TO OXFORD. IT’S THE IDEAL COMBINATION’
    • Mr. Leno: Welcome to the world of CV8 ownership, from an old lag, 39 years in this June! I alsofollow your deliberations on Jay Leno's Garage and in tMr. Leno:
      Welcome to the world of CV8 ownership, from an old lag, 39 years in this June! I alsofollow your deliberations on Jay Leno's Garage and in the Hagerty Magazine with considerable interest. Thank you for your stellar endorsement of these hugely underappreciated motor cars.

      I was interested in your comments about the, er, controversial front end styling of the car, which MOTOR notoriously called "a competent design masquerading as the ugliest car in the world. CV8s may have been at first intended to have covered headlamp nacelles, but Mark I and Mark II cars, while lacking covers, DO enjoy fully ducted nacelles that feed cold, high pressure air from slots under all four headlamps into the doubled walled inner front wings, whence they feed cold air to footwell vents in the interior, and to the transmission tunnel, since CV8s have something of a heat dissipation issue. That tranny tunnel air blows out into the low pressure at the back of the car via the slotted rear apron, which your Mark III retains. AFAIK, Mark III cars, having been revised to use four 5.25 inch headlamps instead of two with 2 seven-inch, no longer have this areo detail. In fact, the CV8 enjoys the same drag coefficient -so I'm told- as a Porsche 928S. Eric Neale was a downy bird, indeed!

      My own car (104/2308. also blue) is a truly venerable Mark II, having been road registered and used for all of its 54 years (39 with me). If you are curious, it somehow became a vehicle of record on Wikipedia, despite its many modifications and manifest patina. Check it out online by all means.

      Please feel free to post me directly at .......@gmail.com if you care to extend this correspondence. If you are ever in Nova Scotia, I offer free beer and tech support for any passing Jensen owners.
      Warm Regards,
      Ray Whitley
        More ...
      1 year ago
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    CRAZY V8 ESPRIT / LOTUS ESPRIT / PUNK AND DISORDERLY

    If you want to annoy the purists, what better way than a #V8 #Lotus-Esprit-S3 running on air ride and Jap wheels. A lot of people don’t like this Lotus. It’s got the wrong engine, the wrong suspension, the wrong attitude. But this Lotus doesn’t really care what you think, it’s got its own stuff going on… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Chris Frosin.


    It’s a matter of pride here at Retro Cars that we seek out cars which don’t follow the welltrodden path; the mavericks, the outlaws, the oddballs – the cars with a bona fi de punk ethos that thumb a nose to authority and cock a snook at the naysayers. There are plenty of people within the traditional classic car scene who’ll tell you that there is a correct way of doing things, and to deviate from the norm is to invoke their ire. But screw them.

    Where’s the creativity in building a car that dozens of people have built before? Where’s the sense of achievement? The lifestyle we celebrate is one of brash weirdness, and they certainly don’t get a lot more brash or weird than Rob Howard’s Series 3 #Lotus-Esprit . We’re talking gruff supercar power, scene-friendly altitude, down-with-the-kids rims fresh from Japan… this is the polar opposite to a pipe-and- slippers concours resto. This is a punk collage, a scrapbook of ideas pasted together from all corners of the modifying world, and we couldn’t be more in love with it.

    Now, we know what some of you will be thinking – ‘Oh, it’s another old Lotus on air-ride’. Sure, there are a few of these on the scene these days, and we’ve featured a couple of ’em ourselves; Dean Meeson’s Esprit and Luke Gilbert’s Elite. But if a surfeit of bagged Lotuses is the biggest problem you encounter today, then you should probably take a few minutes out to consider how damned lucky you are. Besides, this is very far from ‘just another old Lotus on air-ride’ – this is nothing short of a work of art.

    “I’ve always been into cars, even when I was a kid,” says Rob. “I started working on cars when I was about fourteen years old, always wanting to change them, to fi t bigger engines and bigger wheels. I guess it’s in my blood? Anyway, the Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked! Someone in my town had one when I was growing up, and I knew I just had to have one… one day.”

    While Bond’s Lotus may have been modified to cope with the salty rigours of sub-aqua mischief, Rob’s would eventually end up taking an altogether different turn – but, of course, he had to find one first. And that sort of thing doesn’t always go as well as you might think.

    “This is actually my second Esprit,” he explains. “The first one I had was a yellow Series 1, which had a Rover V8 already fitted. But it was crap – horrible to drive, and the 130bhp P6 engine was really underpowered. They do say ‘Never meet you heroes’, and I was just so disappointed with it.”



    As you’ve probably deduced, however, Rob is not the sort of man who gives up easily. Having harvested the V8 conversion parts and squirrelled them away, he waved goodbye to the disheartening yellow cheese-wedge and went on the hunt for the car he’d really wanted all along: a white Series 3. “These have a much better chassis,” he explains, “and an improved rear suspension setup. Much better for sticking a V8 in there!” And, naturally , there’s that spectre of 007 lurking in the broad rear aspect, ready to indulge in racy espionage at the drop of a Martini glass…


    “I found the car for sale on a Lotus forum, totally stock and needing a little work,” Rob recalls. “The exhaust manifold was cracked, and the interior was horrible; very faded and turning green! It ran crap but was perfect for my needs – and it was white! I had no use for the four-pot engine anyway, I already had an engine lined up to transplant into it. V8 power was, of course, at the top of the list for the project. I just love the sound. There’s no stereo in here, it doesn’t need one! And another high priority was the wheels; I hate stock wheels, very boring. This car needed to have something unusual. The Esprit is a tricky one to change wheels on though, and it can look horrible if you choose the wrong type or size. I got lucky, I think my wheels look killer – maybe I’m biased? But lots of people that see it also agree the wheels look great! Anyway, after the V8 and the wheels it was all about making it better and faster, and a tad lower…”

    Heh. ‘A tad’. Rob really does run a masterful line in understatement. Being an avid fan of American hot rod shows of the Fast ‘N’ Loud ilk, air-ride was increasingly permeating its way into Rob’s subconscious as a viable option. Having experimented on various previous projects with lowering springs, coilovers and what-have-you, he knew what he wanted and, more importantly, what he didn’t want. There would be no crashy ride or smashed sumps here, this was going to be a suspension setup done right and done well. “I thought air-ride would be the best of both worlds,” he shrugs. “Any height I like, and any spring rate? What’s not to like? OK, it’s not quite as simple as that, and the ride is still fairly harsh, but it’s way lower than I could have got it by other means.” The most cunning part is that Rob’s combination of coilovers and Universal Air bags is managed by AccuAir’s E-Level system, which keeps the car at whatever height you determine regardless of external influence – so, say, if you tell it to run at a particular height, then stuff the boot and passenger seat with bags of cement, it’ll still run at that height you’d told it to. Isn’t it great living in the future?


    The ride-height’s taken care of then, so let’s talk about that engine. It’s a Rover V8, like in his maligned old yellow Lotus, but in this instance it’s a pukka TVR unit. What’s more, it’s been stretched yet further into the realms of motorsport excess; the already-formidable 4.3-litre TVR Griffith engine has been reworked by V8 developments into a rumbling 4.5-litre monster. “I found a hillclimb car for sale that had this engine fitted, and I knew it’d be perfect for my Esprit,” Rob grins mischievously. If you cast an eye over the spec box, you’ll see why he’s grinning. The motor really is a monster, with a torque-rich spec designed for propelling light things up tall things at alarming speed. Just the job!


    “Fitting the V8 was actually quite straightforward, using the gearbox adaptor I had kept from the Series 1,” he says. “I had to make new mounts and carry out a lot of cutting to the rear body to make room for the big-bore 3in twin exhaust, and things kept changing throughout the build as parts got altered and made better; more often things wouldn’t work out how I planned, so had to be reworked or changed completely. The exhaust was re-done three times before I got it how I wanted! The air-ride was a nightmare to fit too - getting it to go a lot lower than Lotus ever intended meant that, with a car that’s well over thirty years old, a lot of the suspension parts were a pain to remove due to neglect and rust. Jobs take a long time to do as it’s all done on my driveway; the car has spent most of its time on axle stands and in bits since I’ve owned it due to always changing things and waiting for parts. And I still have plans to improve the car, it’ll always be evolving and getting better. Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”


    Thank goodness Rob’s enthusiasm lies in modifying old cars rather than delivering babies, we’re a bit concerned about where he’s planning to stick his torque wrench. But thankfully his skills are entirely well suited to Esprit rebirth, as the results you see here demonstrate; sure, he says it’s unfinished, but that’s true of pretty much every feature car owner we speak to. We particularly love his choice of wheels, too – that James Bond influence of international mystique has led him to source a set of three-piece Super Star split-rims straight from Japan, the rears arriving 9in wide apiece and being rebuilt to a meaty 11.5in girth using Image 5in lips. That’s the sort of forthrightness that gives the car proper supercar presence, something that the old-school wedge always deserved.

    “I like to get out in it as much as I can – when it’s working, that is,” Rob laughs. “It’s a Lotus, so something generally needs fixing, but it’s fun to take it to work and there’s always a buzz around it wherever it goes. My colleagues are always saying ‘I saw someone taking pictures of your car again’! And yeah, I know it’s annoyed a few Lotus purists, but who cares about them? It’s my car.”

    …and that’s exactly the right attitude. This badass Esprit doesn’t care what you think, it just does what it wants. It doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t matter either. The Low-tus exists on its own terms, and that’s enough.

    Monster 11.5in wide rear wheels transmit the 4.5 litre V8’s torque to the tarmac.

    “Working on cars is like childbirth - you forget the pain until you get the spanners out…”
    “The Esprit was my childhood dream car – James Bond driving into the sea had me hooked!”

    James Bond eat your heart out, you can keep your submersible Esprit, we’d rather have this!


    Thumping great V8 soundtrack means that Rob has no need for a stereo install.


    SPECIFICATION #Lotus-Esprit-V8 / #Lotus-Esprit-V8-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit-TVR / #Lotus-Esprit / #Rover-V8 / #Lotus / #AccuAir /

    ENGINE: 4.5-litre #TVR (Rover) #V8 , fully balanced, forged 93.5mm bore #Cosworth pistons and #HRC1037 rods, cross-drilled and balanced #HRC1400 Iceberg crank (80mm stroke), high-volume oil pump, Stage 3 big valve heads, stainless steel 42.8mm inlet and 36.8mm exhaust-valves, fully ported and gas flowed, uprated valve springs ( #VSSV8 ), Piper steel vernier timing chain set, #Piper-BP270 camshaft, Rhoades anti pump lifters, John Eales billet rocker posts and head stud kit, #Edelbrock-Performance inlet manifold - fully ported and gas-flowed to match heads, Edelbrock Performance 1404 (500cfm) 4-barrel #Weber carburettor, #K&N turbo plenum with large K&N cone filter, #Mallory Performance billet distributor with electronic ignition, #Mallory Pro 8mm plug leads and high output coil, TVR big bore exhaust manifolds reversed, twin 3in bore custom stainless steel exhaust system, Rover SD1 sump, Esprit Developments engine conversion kit, custom mounts and turbo rubbers, Sierra Cosworth 60mm core alloy radiator, twin electric 12in rear-mounted fans, Davies Craig EWP 80 pump and controller, extra cooling booster pump fitted at rear, Mocal remote oil filter and oil cooler rad, alloy header tank and swirl pot. 289bhp @ 5500rpm; 300lb/ft @ 4500rpm

    TRANSMISSION: Esprit/Citroën SM 5-speed transaxle, alloy bellhousing adaptor and custom input shaft, lightened race steel flywheel, uprated clutch

    SUSPENSION: #Gaz-Gold-Racing / #GAZ adjustable front alloy coilovers, #Protech rear alloy coilovers, Universal-Air Aero Sport airbags, #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Air-Zenith-OB2 compressor, #Dakota-Digital quad air pressure and tank gauge kit, twin seamless alloy 3-gallon air tanks, front top and bottom suspension arms modified, uprated polybushes, hubs modified to 5x112 PCD and 66.6 centre bore, Canley Classics forged front uprights (trunnion free)

    BRAKES: Front: Audi 100/200 314x30mm cross-drilled vented discs, custom fitted to rear of hubs, Porsche 996 Brembo 4-pot alloy calipers on custom billet mounts.

    Rear: Mondeo 280x12mm cross-drilled and slotted discs custom fitted to rear shafts, Esprit rear calipers, carriers modified for larger discs, stainless braided hoses

    WHEELS & TYRES: 8x17in +25 (front) and 11.5x17in +20 (rear) Super Star 3-piece split-rims with 205/45 Yokohama Parada Spec 2 (front) and 315/35 BFGoodrich Comp T/A (rear)

    EXTERIOR: Side scoop ‘ears’ widened and modified into quad intakes, rear hatch locked ajar with flush-locking bonnet pins, modified front air intake and revised radiator location, rear bumper drilled to improve airflow output, rear engine bay floor removed, extra spaceframe chassis brace fitted with alloy heatshielding

    INTERIOR: Stock ‘teddy bear’ cloth refreshed with black dye, #Nardi Personal 350mm steering wheel, MX-5 suede gearstick gaitor, leather #Lotus gearknob, Stack wideband lambda gauge, #Dakota-Digital air pressure gauge, SJ Sportscars black carpet set, Accuair Switchspeed controller

    THANKS: “ #Gerald-Moors for all the machining work - A4 Engineering, Unit 7 Manor Park, 35 Willis Way, Poole, BH15 3SZ, Tel:¬01202 676047”
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    Famous British firm puts motorsport return in its sights #2017 / #TVR / #TVR-2017 / #Le-Mans / #TVR-Le-Mans

    The new owners of iconic British sportscar firm TVR have pledged to take the name back to Le Mans. Businessmen Les Edgar and John Chasey are behind the company’s rebirth and have put motorsport, and specifically a bid for glory at Le Mans, at the heart of their philosophy. Gordon Murray Design is helping to build the chassis.

    Alongside the GT attack, Edgar says that a one-make series, along the lines of the TVR Tuscan Challenge which ran from 1989 until 2004, will be another core part of their motorsport campaign.

    “It will be mission critical for TVR to appear at Le Mans,” said Edgar. “A true sportscar company should be in motorsport of some sort. That is particularly true of TVR with the heritage it has with previous assaults on Le Mans and the Tuscan Challenge.

    “We started off on this journey knowing there was a slight credibility gap with TVR where they were perceived to be less reliable than other niche car manufacturers. The approach that we took was that this was the way to show that you have got a reliable car and Le Mans is the ultimate test.” TVR last raced at Le Mans as a factory team with the DeWaltbacked TVR T400R in 2003, but privateer examples entered the race until 2005. Its previous attempt on the French classic had been in the 1960s.

    New car coming

    Edgar and Chasey announced the rebirth of the company in 2013, and plans are already well underway for the first road car – which has yet to be given a name. The road car will be launched in the latter half of 2017 and the race car, which will be on show at Le Mans that season, could appear in rounds of the World Endurance Championship late in 2017 as part of the development programme for Le Mans in 2018.

    “Joining the World Endurance Championship in the latter half of the year would be the target – we would aim to join from the Nurburgring round in the autumn if we can,” said computer games mogul Edgar.

    “We have already been to meet with the [Le Mans organisers] Automobile Club de l’Ouest and we have seen the draft regulations. There is a very strong relationship between the ACO and Gordon Murray Design and that has helped us move things along. This programme will be at the forefront of what we want to achieve.” Edgar says he was in liaison with the ACO over rules changes for the GT classes at Le Mans, which is due to boost power of the GTE Pro section and introduce updated aerodynamics.

    After initial testing in 2017, there is a plan for TVR to tackle an expanded programme in the World Endurance Championship, which would pitch the firm up against the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin.

    “We will certainly be taking part in a significant number of the more challenging races. That is our target,” said Edgar. “We would like to be in a position where we have privateer entries, maybe in the amateur class as well, but we are planning a two-car works assault in 2018. If we are far enough along the road then we will be able to provide customer cars too.”

    Edgar said that the entire rebirth of the company has been built around the Le Mans programme, starting from the initial designs. “We have actually approached the design of this new car slightly differently to what others might do,” he said. “We have the ability to start with the Le Mans-spec race car and work backwards, which is what we have done. That benefits the entire programme, including the road car too.”

    The national scene

    TVR ran the hugely popular Tuscan Challenge when the firm was under the control of Peter Wheeler, and it reached its zenith in the 1990s with packed-out grids and events featuring a heat and a final to accommodate all the entries. It operated from 1989 until 2004 and featured the 4.5-litre, 450bhp V8-powered Tuscan model that weighed only 850kg.

    Edgar said that recreating that type of racing would be another ambition for the firm and, alongside a trackday version of the new car, there would be a racebred one to form the backbone of a one-make contest too.

    “That is a critical ambition too,” he explained. “It was so successful beforehand and I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be as successful this time around. Other manufacturers do championships and there is the chance to turn it in to something that will make some money and make a return for the company, which is always good. Everybody can have a lot of fun in the process and it will give the firm and the car a real identity to modern fans.”

    An artist’s impression of what the new racer could look like.
    TVR last raced at Le Mans in 2005.
    Tuscan Challenge was a big UK hit.
    Le Mans return was a special moment.

    Huge reaction

    Edgar says that the reaction to TVR’s rebirth has been impressive, and he thinks the groundswell of popularity will spread into the sporting sphere.

    “Having seen the support behind the relaunch of TVR, we have expanded the project more than we had originally planned,” he admitted. “We sold out of the first year’s production already-admittedly, that is only a part-year, but it is still several hundred cars. We are beyond 300 cars now, I think. TVR deserves to be there and we are very proud of the fact that we have been able to re ignite that passion that the fans feel. It was in the doldrums and, all of a sudden, people are fired up again. We want to fly the flag once more.'’

    The new car has yet to be given an official name, but Edgar says that issue should be resolved soon: “That is a surprise we are keeping at the moment We are still working on it internally and externally. We have sheets of A4 with lists of names, all kinds of various mythical beasts. But we also have a list of some very strong historical names for TVR so we are battling between what we do: do we go for a new name or an historical one?”

    Something for British fans to get behind

    I am proud to say I was there second time around. After a costly and ultimately disastrous attempt at Le Mans in 1962 with the Grantura, which lasted a grand total of three laps, the firm went back to La Sarthe in 2003 and I was there.

    It wasn’t a complete success but one of the T400R cars made it to the end of the race – although it wasn’t classified, that was a triumph in itself and TVR had proved its point. On the driving front, successful competitors who had come up through the ranks in the one-make #TVR-Tuscan-Challenge populated the cockpit. That made it even more special.

    The #TVR-Tuscan Challenge was, to my mind, the best championship I have covered. Big brutish difficult to- control cars, massive grids, gorgeous-sounding engines, a superb paddock atmosphere and a phalanx of talented drivers made it irresistible. And they knew how to party afterwards, too…

    So there was a huge sense of pride as the yellow-and-black cars rolled out on to the hallowed French Tarmac for the first time in June 12 years ago.

    The effort of everyone based in Blackpool and the vision of Peter Wheeler came to fruition that weekend. Seeing the ranks of Union flags waving constantly for 24 hours on the spectator banking opposite the garage showed those involved just how much it meant to the fans as well. The feel-good factor was huge, and there is already that groundswell of enthusiasm surrounding the reborn firm as well.

    Speaking to new owner Les Edgar, it is clear that he shares this passion too. He has been to Le Mans for the last 30 years in his role as a team member, a sponsor and a spectator. He has seen the race from all sides, and his passion for motorsport is evident when he speaks. This is something for British fans to truly get behind.
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    KARMA CHAMELEON #M52 BMW

    Last year, Lewis Maher won our Air Lift competition and he put the kit to good use, building this slick #E46 . Lewis Maher didn’t even want an E46 but some intangible attraction to this #BMW-323Ci-E46 along with some good karma has led him to build this unique brown-green dream machine… Words: Daniel Bevis Photos: Mathew Bedworth.

    The chameleon is nature’s greatest trickster. Rather than running away like a cowardly gazelle or hopelessly trying to fend off attackers like those butterflies that have evolved to look poisonous, the chameleon casually hides in plain sight by simply altering the manner in which predators and prey perceive it. Well, I say ‘simply’, it’s probably taken the glacial pace of evolution quite some effort to develop colour-shifting cells that can be altered at whim but it’s a neat party trick, isn’t it? This Pantone chicanery has been aped by car manufacturers ever since they figured out that holding the spray gun at a different angle can alter the colour scheme depending on where you’re standing. #TVR became obsessed with the technique in the 2000s, and even the humble Nissan Micra and Primera were offered with flip paint, much to the facepalming of countless accident repair centres. And arguably the crowning achievement of this paint-based tomfoolery is the shade of brown you’re looking at here. Which, as logic dictates, is named ‘Irish green’. It looks brown from afar but morphs through a wide palette of green before turning gold in the sunlight.

    As you can imagine, having this Volkswagen-sourced Irish Green paint slathered across the #BMW-E46 that you see before you, this is not so much hiding in plain sight as it is rubbing everyone’s noses in it. Look at all the other cars on the showground, all one-dimensional in their single-colour paint jobs. Yes, your mile-deep black or sumptuous burgundy may be polished to the nth degree, but does it change colour when you walk past it? No. You should really get some Irish Green in your life, it makes everything better.

    “It’s a mind-boggling name for a shade of brown,” concedes Lewis Maher, the man with the keys in his hand. But this is all part of the fun, of course. Boggling minds is precisely what helps you stand out from the crowd. In the land of the ubiquitous, the double-take is king. “The car actually originally belonged to my mate Brendan Tillbrook, who’s in the paint trade,” Lewis explains. “He got the car in Topaz blue and decided to try out Irish green ready for the #2013 Players Classic show. Back then it sat on Porsche twists in a #Mercedes cream colour. That was the state I got it in and I wanted to keep the colour; unfortunately I got crashed into in December 2013 shortly after buying the car. The guy didn’t pay out and I didn’t want to go through the insurance so I ended up funding the repairs myself.

    Luckily Steve Denton and the guys over at Stylehaus in Northampton were on hand to repair the damage and give the car a good tidy up all over for the #2014 show season.” What’s interesting about this stage of the story is that Lewis didn’t actually want an E46 in the first place. “I was never really a fan of them,” he shrugs. “My original plan was to buy an #E36 , or maybe even a Nissan S14, but one day Brendan came along offering me this car and there was just something about it. To this day I can’t tell you exactly what it was that drew me to it, it just has… something. It’s the first BMW I’ve actually had on the road, too! I briefly owned an #E30 project when I was a teenager but I had to get rid of it and, prior to this car, I mostly had VWs.” This makes sense.

    The VW scene is arguably one of the key driving forces in the stance movement (there’s no point seeing it as a rival to the BMW stance scene, they’re such wildly different offerings that happen to intersect here and there), and it certainly explains his enthusiasm for that weird paint shade. But anyway, back to the preparations for the 2014 season. “I left the car with Steve and Ash Hinton from Allstance in January, before I went back to phase one training in the army,” says Lewis. “I was going to be away for a while and just said to them that I wanted it all sorted. And it was around this time that I entered Performance #BMW ’s competition for the Air Lift suspension kit… and I won!” This radical change in the very being of the #323Ci provided just the impetus and momentum that Lewis and Allstance needed to progress the car to the next level. After all, it’s one thing to buy someone else’s show car, but it’s quite another to make it your own.

    At this point, however, it’s probably important to point out that the phrase ‘show car’ only relates to one facet of the E46’s function. “The car’s used for daily commuting. I run around wherever I need to go as well as getting to shows in it,” Lewis explains. Which is just the way it should be, and is all the more impressive given the aggressive chassis mods and super-spotless rims he’s running.

    “I couldn’t have been more excited about winning the Air Lift suspension and got straight on the phone to Ash to get it fitted,” Lewis continues. “I was actually on the train home for a long weekend break from training when I got the news, so that weekend I popped over to Stylehaus, with the help of my mate Travis Price, to go and see Ash and Steve and share the news. It just so happened that Ash introduced me to a guy named Aaron who knew of a set of wheels that [Players linchpin] Carl Taylor was getting sent over that he thought would work. This set of wheels happened to be the VCEs…” The Rotiform VCE, to the uninitiated, is a forged design that evokes the motorsport rims of retro rally cars and homologation specials (think Delta Integrale or Escort Cosworth Monte Carlo, that whole Compomotive/Speedline vibe) while ballooning the dimensions and adding a frisson of shimmer that shifts the race look into somewhere between VIP and OEM+. And they look pretty badass, do they not?


    “I saw them in a picture on Aaron’s phone and immediately knew I wanted them on my car,” Lewis recalls. “I had no clue what they would look like, I just wanted them! So the wheels and air-ride arrived a month or so later and Ash and Steve began cracking on ready for April when I was due to collect it. They quickly realised that the Rotiforms wouldn’t fit without some arch work but, naturally, I said ‘just get them to fit!’ which they did!” And what a cracking job they’ve done. But let’s not forget that behind the glitz and glamour, we’re still looking at a daily driver. With this in mind, Lewis sourced a complete M-Sport interior in cream leather from eBay, along with complementary steering wheel. It’s important to have these little luxuries when you’re spending so much time hammering the thing to work and back. The Eonon double DIN stereo helps here, too, while the full wooden trim provides a touch of class to sit neatly alongside the cream cowhide. “I always thought wood was for granddads until I saw how it looked in this car!” Lewis laughs.

    This holistic approach spreads to the exterior as well. Sure, the paintwork is unique and alluring but there’s more to this build than simply slapping a wacky hue on a stock body. While the arches have been inevitably massaged to squish the Rotiforms under there – rolled and smoothed, with the rears subtly widened by 10mm apiece – there are myriad details to discover; the more you look, the more you see. Both bumpers have been fully smoothed, along with the wings and bootlid. You’ll spot a glistening gloss black finish on the wiper arms, scuttle panel, grilles, and wing mirror back plates, while the carbonfibre BMW roundels are counterpointed by chrome window surrounds. The devil, as they say, is in the detail.

    Lewis’s thinking behind this build is very much like the eyes of the chameleon. The big lizard’s peepers move independently, meaning that it can keep an eye both on predators and prey; similarly Lewis can focus on what’s right for the car’s aesthetics while also retaining its usability. The fun part is when both of these approaches align: for the chameleon, it means stereoscopic vision; for this E46, it’s a win-win fusion of delectable aesthetics and practical rearwheel drive thrills. And that’s very good karma, isn’t it?

    DATA FILE #BMW-323Ci

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straightsix #M52TUB25 , #Getrag #323i gearbox and stock diff.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x18” ET35 (front & rear) #Rotiform VCE wheels with 20mm adaptors, 215/35 (front & rear) #Nankang NS2s, Air Lift Performance digital air-ride with camber-adjustable top mounts, stock 323i brakes.

    EXTERIOR: VW Irish Green paint, fully smoothed bumpers, wings and bootlid, gloss black details (wiper arms, scuttle panel, rear bumper grille, front grilles, wing mirror back plates), chrome window trims, carbon-fibre BMW roundels, rear arches widened 10mm, arches rolled and smoothed all-round.

    INTERIOR: Cream leather M Sport interior, M Sport steering wheel, Eonon double DIN head unit, wood trim.

    THANKS: A massive thanks to my mum and her partner for putting up with the car, and also helping me with all the little things getting done on it! My dad for helping with the clutch when I needed to change it and all we had was a jack and two axle stands (for a 50-year-old he still has the knack of working on cars!), Ashley at Allstance, Aaron for helping us get it running for Players, Carl Taylor, Steve and the crew at Stylehaus, all my friends that have helped in every way with the build, Travis Price for holding me to my word and making me build this epic car, Josh and Dan for helping lift the engine when I needed to get it out, Jason Manton for all the valeting work, and Matthew Bedworth for the images and keeping me going with this car. And finally, a huge thanks to my girlfriend Samantha for putting up with me and my addiction to the car. If it wasn’t for her the car wouldn’t have got to where it is now!

    18” Rotiform VCEs look fantastic on this E46, especially when combined with the Air Lift kit.
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  • Post is under moderation
    Before the #Boxster , #Porsche made its first mid-engine road car almost 30 years earlier. But is the underrated #914 a good alternative to its modern successor – or a #VW in drag?

    GIANT COMPARE BOXSTER VS. 914

    Can a classic be too successful for its own good and put the company that made it in jeopardy? Take the #911 as a classic case. Over the decades Porsche has produced equally worthy sports cars and GTs – some to replace the #Porsche-911 – but it all usually ends in failure simply because ‘it’s not a 911’ or ‘it’s not a real Porsche’ in the eyes of enthusiasts. The #Porsche-914 and the Boxster were not intended as replacements for this classic icon but instead viable, cheaper alternatives – and they still are. Okay with almost 30 years between them, nobody will deny that the Boxster is the better car – but would a 914 suit you better?

    WHICH ONE TO BUY?
    ONLY ONE IS A REAL PORSCHE

    Strictly two seats, engine mounted ahead of the rear axle in the best possible place for optimum handling and balance, plus a reasonable amount of luggage space in the nose and the tail. Could be either the 914 of 1970 or the current #Porsche-Boxster , but there’s one big difference – production 914 never carried the Stuttgart badge between its headlights! It’s been a cause for contention ever since. Was it a #Volkswagen , or was it a Porsche? In the USA it was the Porsche 914, marketed by the newly formed Porsche-Audi division. In Europe it was a #VW-Porsche-914/4 sold through another created joint venture, #VW-Porsche Sales.

    That Porsche badge appeared nowhere on any production car anywhere. On cars sold in the USA the lettering ‘PORSCHE’ was fixed on the engine grille immediately behind the rear window, and the hubcaps of steel wheel cars were blank; in Europe the grille was unadorned, but both the hub caps and the steering wheel boss carried the VW motif. In England there was an extra complication: the four-cylinder car was marketed as the #Porsche-914S .

    Because it never initially relied upon proper Porsche power, the 914 was always stigmatised and it was a lesson the company failed to learn when it launched the sports car’s replacement, the #Porsche-924 . Porker power did arrive, albeit late in the day and its 911-like prices resulted in few sales. That said, the improved 2-litre VW variant but breathed on by Porsche of the early 1970s isn’t a bad all rounder and carried the hallowed SC badge, which was unique to the UK market.

    The 1.7-litre version was boosted to 1800cc with fuel injection in #1974 . Most UK cars will be US imports, mainly from California, where the bulk of the originals were sold.

    When launched, the Boxster (the name is derived from the word “boxer”, referring to the car’s horizontally-opposed engine configuration) made the likes of a #TVR and Lotus redundant overnight. Here was a (relatively) affordable sports car that was part 911 (996) and some say had the feel and character of an old 911 combined with typical Porsche use-ability and reliability. Still in production after almost 20 years, successive updates have seen larger more powerful engines and better trim; it’s really a case of how much you have to spend. The second generation surfaced in #2005 (type #987 ) and the engine power was upped to match the newly launched Cayman. After another power hike in #2009 the third generation Boxster was introduced in #2012 .

    Majoring on the original Boxster #Porsche-986 for this twin test, a choice of 2.5, 2.7 and 3.2-litre engines were offered yielding 201bhp-250bhp with a choice of manual or Porsche’s famed #Tiptronic semi automatic transmissions. Sitting behind the wheel of any Boxster you could be forgiven in thinking that you’re in a #996 (911) as the interior is virtually identical!

    WHAT’S THE BEST TO DRIVE?
    PAUL DAVIES COMPARES THE TWO

    So, how do these mid-engine sportsters four decades apart drive? I well remember the 914S press test car of #1970 . Despite the meagre 80bhp (72bhp on the US version strangled by emission regulations) of the VW engine, but perhaps because of the primarily 911 running gear, it was a ‘nice’ car, mainly because that engine location meant the level of grip, despite skinny tyres, exceeded the power potential. You could not imagine getting into trouble in a 914 – unlike the mid-engine Twin-Cam #Lotus #Europa of the same period where power far exceeded grip!

    At the time I remarked, “the handling is superior to any car I have ever driven but, for the price, the performance is disappointing”. Back then the 914S cost a whopping £2260, compared with just £1015 for that #Lotus-Europa and £2502 for a #Jaguar 4.2 #E-type !

    Further memories of the 914 revolve around a rather rubbery gear-change (most likely because of the length of the linkage) the hefty pressure on the brake and clutch pedals (non-servo brakes, cable clutch) and the need to keep swapping cogs to maintain good speed. Back then I remarked that, with the limited power available, a four-speed gearbox would have been as good as a five. Oh yes, the heating system was the somewhat vague, and often smelly, blown air type that was also used on the 911 of that period.

    Finally, the 914 was only available in the UK in left hand-drive – although bodybuilder Crayford offered an expensive conversion and few were made – and, because of the almost bench seat layout, the handbrake was squashed between seat and door. But there was, briefly, a #Porsche-914/6 . Some 65,000 four-cylinder cars were manufactured against 3300 sixes, and few of these made it to the UK. With the 110bhp (911T) engine, the 914/6 was a darned-sight faster than the 914/4. Even better was the 210bhp #Porsche-911-Carrera-2.7RS engine, Gantspeed, version I drove not too long ago. Which brings us to the Boxster.

    Here we have a minimum of 204bhp (2.5-litre) to play with, and handling that surpasses almost anything else – apart from the later Porsche Cayman, which is – basically – a coupé version of the Boxster. Unlike the #Porsche-914/4 (or the 914/6) the Boxster is as quick and easy to drive on the road today at ‘real world’ prices. Like any modern Porsche, everything works just as it should.

    Unsurprisingly – because of the 40-odd years between them – the Boxster does just about everything better than a 914. It’s more comfortable, quieter, and extremely well equipped, even more so if the model you find has a handful of the many options Porsche offers. It’s also a true convertible (not a clumsy Targa top) which has the added luxury of electric hood operation.

    It should be easier to buy a Boxster than a 914 because there are so many more around. But care is needed, particularly because the cheapest may have been neglected and there’s always that recurring cracked block problem of the earlier Porsche water-cooled engines. Don’t fool yourself; running costs will be high if you want to keep the car in top order.

    Snags like this apart, the Boxster is now a sports car bargain and you’ll love every minute. My advice is don’t necessarily go for a bigger engine or S models, the 2.5 and 2.7-litre cars offer oodles of performance, and smaller diameter wheels with (relatively) high profile tyres give a better all-round ride than 19in rims on ultra-low profiles. Also don’t dismiss Tiptronic because it’s automatic – Porsche was well ahead of the game with the latest transmissions, and this one is very slick with steering wheel buttons.

    After Bjorn Waldegard’s wins on the Monte Carlo in both #1969 and 1970 in the 911S, the idea of a hat trick on the world’s most famous rally must have been appealing, and Porsche’s #Weissach competitions department was convinced the mid-engine 914/6 was the one for the job.


    Alas, the car was not easy to handle on snow and ice of the #1971 Monte. The best the big Swede, and his equally large co-driver Hans Thorszelius, could manage was third, behind a pair of (rear engine) Alpines. A few years ago Bjorn told me why he considered the rear-engined 911 a superior rally car: “The engineers at Porsche thought this was the ultimate car because it had near 50-50 per cent weight balance, front and rear.

    “I believed them, until I drove it. They were wrong; it was impossible to drive, so nervous. With the 911 you knew when the back end was going in a nice slide and you could control it. The 914 was very unpredictable,” he said.

    OWNING AND RUNNING
    BOXING CLEVER? NOT QUITE…

    According to Kevin Clark, registrar of the 914 at the Porsche Club GB (01608 652911; 914@ porscheclubgb. com), there’s around 175-200 cars in the UK, but not all are on the road. He admits it’s true that up until a few years ago, the general standard was at best average but this is quickly changing and there are now an increasing number of well kept examples.

    Spares are in the main not a problem and he cites reproduction panels from Canadian company, Restoration Designs, as being very good indeed.

    Prices for decent 914s start from £10,000 for a 1.7 version and between £12-16K for a 2.0, with the 1.8 somewhere in between, which is about half what a rare 914/6 would make if you can find one. It’s generally accepted that the 2-litre (SC) is the best all rounder, but as Kevin rightly points out due to their sheer rarity, it’s best to buy on condition rather than spec, be it a 1.7 or 1.8. On the other hand a truly top 914-6 can sell of well over £25,000 with ease, so 914 values are on the rise as a whole.

    In contrast there’s no shortage of Boxsters around and they can be picked up very cheaply too, from £3000 or less. However, that may well prove to be a false economy as certain repairs – especially to the Tiptronic transmission – can almost exceed the value of some models.

    It’s far better to buy the best you can and set a budget of around £6500-£9000 at least (depending upon model) for a good car. Support from specialists is very good which is just as well as the Boxster is hardly a DIY proposition even to diehard enthusiasts. It’s not simply because it’s a complex modern design but also the fact that the mid-mounted engine is well and truly tucked away out of sight.

    The 914 is still popular in the US so tuning options are plentiful – including fitting small V8s or Scooby Do ( #Subaru ) engines! The front suspension is early 911 while Porsche brakes can also be fitted. Same again for the VW brakes, which can be substituted for 911 anchors. Even if you like your 914 stock, fitting the later Porsche transaxle from a 930 improves the gearbox no end. There’s no shortage of tuning and custom bits for the Boxster.

    “The real appeal of the Boxster to classic fans is the fact they feel a bit like an old school 911!”

    AND THE WINNER IS…

    You tell us! The 914, despite its faults when new, was a bold, brave attempt to make a 911 alternative that some say is the more purist in terms of design plus boasts better handing. What scuppered the car when contemporary was its price that was too near the 911 to entice buyers. Today they make an interesting and cheaper substitute although, according to experts we spoke to, most are in a shabby state. The Boxster was the nail in the coffin for many traditional specialist makes, such as TVR, because it offered affordable Porsche ownership that two decades on is even more appealing as a used car/modern classic buy. Given the fact that they drive pretty much like older 911s used to feel what more can you ask for?

    Boxster looks best hood down. A hard top is available but pricey.
    911-like cabin is part of the Boxster’s charm.
    Access is bad but performance isn’t – even ‘slow’ 2.5 model!
    As modern classics go, the Boxster is one of the best and fi ne value.

    Square looks have aged well and the 914 looks pretty good to us.
    If anything, the cabin was better designed than a 911. Most LHD.
    VW 412 power meant the 914 was sluggish for a serious sportster.

    WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

    Experts on 914s are thin on the ground yet in Essex two were just miles from each other! PR Services (www.prs356. com) ‘dumped’ the car because there was no money in looking after them. Mike and Paul Smith reckon the biggest problem are owners who won’t shell out for preventative maintenance and as a result end up with bills of £2500 just to prep the car for the MoT plus a service, adding that about 80 per cent of cars out there are pretty ropey. Sad because Paul is a big fan of the 914. Dave Dennett of DSD Motorwerks (07002 911356) broadly agrees and says it’s the cost of shipping etc which really bumps up prices to 911 levels and apart from the 914/6 (of which DSD is making a racing replica for a Belgium enthusiast), their values don’t encourage owners to spend serious money. But given the choice, Dave says he’d always take a 914 over a similar value Boxster because of its exceptional handling that surpassed a 911.
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  • Post is under moderation
    Charged #BMW #325i #E30 #Touring . As an established trendsetter, Dips of Custom Cars knows a thing or two about breaking the mould. His latest project, a subtly styled E30 325i, has all the hallmarks of originality you’d expect. Oh, did we mention it’s also the UK’s first supercharged E30 Touring? Words: Joel Newman. Photos: Mark Fagelson.

    Those of you out there who have been involved in the BMW scene over the years can’t have failed to notice how far things have progressed. Back in #2003 , PBMW’s cover cars consisted of mainly bodykitted and, if we’re honest slightly bling Bavarian metal. At a time when less certainly didn’t mean more, the cars with all their bolt-on parts, chrome detailing and lairy paint schemes lacked a certain amount of class. The boundaries and realms that modifiers and tuners wished to breach were undeniably more restricted, there was far less innovation.

    As the old saying goes, ‘you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been’, and it’s a sentiment that is utterly relevant to modifying, and indeed many facets of life. Even BMW itself has to continually keep the ball rolling, by developing new technologies, and designing and marketing its cars around modern ideals and fashions. We live in a world that changes constantly, an #iPod generation, and it requires rapid evolution. Our TVs are getting bigger and flatter, our diets are far healthier and most importantly our expectations are at an alltime high.

    So, it’s no surprise really that the bar has been raised, with stunning cars shooting up like pubescent teenagers. People are starting to really go to town on their motors, especially within the UK and it has kicked the BMW scene firmly up the backside. In fact even established modifiers have been at it, like Dips, the man behind this, Britain’s first supercharged E30 Touring.

    Many of you will already know Dips, the owner of Custom Cars in Heston. He’s built a reputation around assembling one-off projects that tick all the right boxes, many of which have been featured in this very mag. He also currently owns 12 BMWs including a #2002 once belonging to David Bowie, a 3-door E30 Touring, one of only four ever made, two #E21 s and an E30 pickup. He’s probably better known for the turbo’d E30 with 3.5-litre #M30 powerplant he produced, the first of its kind in the UK (PBMW 03/05). More recently Dips and his business partner Jas have created a turbo’d two-tone touring which featured in the 02/07 edition of PBMW. Today, however, we are here for a different reason, Dips has decided to pull the covers off his latest project, a Malachite green E30 Touring with a difference. A gigantic, #M90 #Eaton long nose supercharger lifted from a four-litre #Jaguar XKR. A project that proves he and his company is capable and willing to take on virtually anything, whether it has been done before or not.

    The idea for this car came about in 2001 when Dips and Jas lightly modified a similar model. Sporting angel eyes, 19” wheels and a sound system, the car went down a treat on the show scene, but as Dips pointed out, “back then big wheels and a decent stereo was all you needed to impress people”. What the duo soon realised was using a more unique base car such as an estate also helped grab people’s attention; it also opens up doors for those who cannot afford the latest and greatest BMW offerings.

    Eventually Dips decided that he wanted to use this project to make another huge impact on the UK scene. He wanted to create something that could be reproduced for customers, something that would get him and his company noticed and, of course, something that would be a hoot to drive. It wasn’t long before he decided to resurrect the E30 Touring concept, but this time he was going to add the most enormous supercharger he could find.

    Dips began by finding the right car, a Malachite green E30 325i Touring. He wanted to create the ultimate street sleeper so it was important the body work was in mint condition as the car was, externally speaking, going to be left relatively standard. Once the motor was sourced, it was time to go ’charger hunting; step up good old eBay.

    Dips searched long and hard, his criteria, to find the biggest ’charger he could and strap it to the #M20 lump. Eventually he opted for an Eaton long nosed system, commonly used on the Jag XKR, Ford Thunderbird and the Mercury Cougar XR-7. Generally found on V8 engines, you might be wondering why Dips opted for such a distinctive setup. “The truth is people thought it couldn’t be done. I like to change people’s perceptions and when I hear the words ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible’ it makes me more determined.”

    Clearly this man is determined, as the installation required more than a tad of customisation. Firstly Dips needed to fabricate mounting brackets for the ’charger in order to make use of the engine bay’s spare space, remember we are dealing with an epic bit of kit! Then a custom inlet was manufactured with twin returns so the dump valves and idle stabilisers could be recalculated. Thirdly Dips needed to make a custom inlet plate with take offs for the recirculating dump valves.

    To make sure spool up was ninja quick Dips removed the original pulleys and replaced them with #E36 2.22” 6 rib variants capable of handling 8psi of boost. He also needed to fabricate a new crank pulley. This was achieved by splicing the E36 face to the original E30 part. To aid with supercharger belt tension, E36 power steering pulleys were also employed. To increase fuel pressure a power boost valve was popped in, facilitated with an additional EMF-2 fuel computer that is activated via an adjustable boost switch. Fuelling can now be controlled from 2000rpm to 8000rpm at a predetermined boost level. Apart from fiddling, to put it lightly, with the new installation, Dips also had to relocate many of the car’s original components from the air flow meter to the ECU relays. “I’ve learnt a lot and the knowledge and experience I’ve gained will hopefully be passed down to customers. I like to experiment with my own cars, so I get everything right first time for clients,” he says, and it’s a great business strategy.

    Since the unit has been up and running, Dips has done his best to find a weakness in the system, in other words, ragging the sheet out of it! So far the only problem has been one he predicted: “Forced induction cars use head bolts that do not stretch under high pressure. As the E30 was naturally aspirated the 80bhp power hike the ’charger brought to the party was simply too much for the original gasket and bolts to take.” He had to throw in a new, original but slightly thicker head gasket and ARP no-stretch head bolts. The resulting engine is not only visually impressive; it has got the clout to back it up. It produces approximately 250bhp and oodles of torque. Dips tells me that a recent encounter with a #E46 #330d left the opposing driver ever so slightly embarrassed: “We both floored it and the gap just kept on growing. Because the car is so stealthy he had no idea what was under the bonnet. I love that, the surprise element.” As surreptitious as this ride is, the keen eye will spot a few subtle modifications to the interior and exterior. Clearly Dips’ years of experience have given him a very clear idea of what should, and importantly what should not be fiddled with. Externally he’s tinted the windows, and to maintain the car’s clean and sleek appearance the locks, side-repeators and the badges removed, the door handles and mirrors colour-coded. Up front the kidney grille has been blackened, highlighting the car’s imposing front end. This look is reaffirmed by the smoked Hella headlights, iS front lip spoiler and SE side skirts.

    On the interior the saga continues. Cloth Recaro beige seats look smart and work well with the car’s green hue, while the colour-coded steering wheel also helps with the subtle but provoking styling. Some of you may also have noticed the beige dashboard that could come as a surprise considering they were only ever available in black. So what’s the deal? In a moment of inspiration Dips decided to colonise the original dashboard. In layman’s terms this meant removing it, and colouring it with beige leather dye. He tells me, “I wasn’t sure if it would work but I thought it was worth a try. It came out so well that everyone thinks it’s an original item. I don’t know why BMW never thought to do it themselves, it really does transform the interior space.”

    I have to agree with Dips here, it’s a fantastic idea that looks like a factory option. He tells me he is able to do this for customers too, and the good news is it’s extremely affordable, and one modification I sincerely recommend for any BMW owner. Finally, the ride is set off with 16” Borbet C wheels that are more than fitting and in keeping with the old skool theme. Dips also had one last treat for us: a colourcoded Mini Moto housed in the boot! Straight pimpin’ I think you’ll agree.

    As the day draws to a close I ask Dips if the car is finished. Laughing, he tells me, “Nowhere near, we’re ripping out the engine next week and sticking in the S70 5.6 litre V12 from the #850CSi #E31 . I’ve got an E30 #M3 with a 4.6-litre #TVR V8 lump and it’s getting lonely!”

    Dips is an addict, he loves and needs modified BMWs in his life, and plainly if the scene is to keep on moving forward, the BMW community needs him too.

    DATA FILE

    ENGINE: 2.5-litre straight-six M20, Eaton M90 long nose supercharger with custom mounting brackets, custom inlet plate with twin returns, E36 2.22” 6 rib drive pulley, modified E36 crank pulley, E36 power steering pulleys, fuel power boost valve, EMF-2 fuel computer, relocation of the ECU relays and air flow meter, Custom Cars stainless steel exhaust system, NOS setup. Custom Cars short shift kit CHASSIS: 7.5x16” Borbet C wheels shod in 205/45 Falken tyres all round. 60mm drop on Spax springs and shocks, Custom Cars front strut brace. Standard brake discs and pads.

    EXTERIOR: iS front lip spoiler, black kidney grille, SE side skirts, colour-coded mirrors and door handles, de-locked, de-badged, side repeaters deleted, flushed boot lid, smoked Hella headlights and indicators, smoked rear lights, light smoked window tints.

    INTERIOR: Cloth beige Recaro interior, dyed beige dashboard, colour-coded steering wheel, colour-coded mini moto in boot ICE: Pioneer MP3 player, Focal 5” speakers.

    THANKS: Custom Cars (07958 432167) and everyone that helped with the project, especially my mate Clive Anderson for the fabrication work.

    Classic Borbet C alloys reflect the Touring’s subtle styling while a colour-coded mini moto is a tasty extra.

    M90 Eaton long nosed ’charger takes up plenty of room; at least it’s bringing an additional 80bhp to the party years of experience have give.

    Dips a clear idea of what should and, importantly, what should not be fiddled with.

    Colonised beige dash looks beautiful and updates the cabin perfectly, green steering wheel adds a neat touch.
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