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    / #BMW / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring / #Alpina-B10-3.3-Touring-E39 / #Alpina-B10-E39 / #BMW-E39 / #BMW-E39-Alpina / #BMW-E39-Touring / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E39 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E39 / BMW / #Alpina / #AC-Schnitzer / #Air-Lift-Performance / #Air-Lift / #BMW-E39-Air-Lift

    E39 Touring’s arches swallow the #Alpina-Classics with ease. Lows when you want them, sensible ride height when you don’t.


    I’ve been living a #LIFEONAIR for just about a month now and I’m loving every minute of it. Aside from a very, very angry bunch of Alpina enthusiasts sending me hate mail and calling me out on the Internet, life with the bagged B10 couldn’t be simpler.

    I’d forgive you for thinking that by adding extra airlines and another management system the suspension system might become susceptible to leaks and a bit, well ‘modified’. That’s absolutely not the case and it’s actually much more robust than the OE BMW SLS system. Granted, the BMW SLS only runs on the rear of the car and allows self-levelling to the fixed front axle but the pump size is puny and tank capacity equally small. The two #Viair 444c pumps included in the Air Lift Performance kit are never stretched to fill the two, two-gallon tanks and everything runs at about 40% duty. Thanks to the quality of the Air Lift Performance front bags and leader lines there’s been absolutely no leaks from the get-go. This was helped by the thorough instructions included in the kit that would allow even a relative amateur to install the kit with ease.

    Since the install I’ve covered some 2000 miles in the car and it’s very much been a fi t and forget affair. I’ve only lifted the factory E39 boot floor to show interested parties the trick setup lurking beneath. Driving the car at a sensible ride height, it’s really difficult to identify a difference in ride quality between the Alpina suspension and the Air Lift Performance setup. It sounds crazy, and I’m sure that statement will leave plenty of Alpina lovers chortling and shaking their heads, but it’s true though. Air Lift Performance 3H is such a sophisticated system that it can out-handle even the most coveted BMW suspension upgrade. Now that this car is on air there is no way I would go back to a static setup.

    It’s the flexibility that strikes me the most. It’s already a hugely versatile car; it can carry big loads, has the heart of a true performance car and now it can party with the show crowd while remaining grown up and demure. Likewise, through town it’s possible to drive at a dangerously low height, usually not possible with a pressure-based system. This is because #Air-Lift-Performance-3H continuously monitors pressure and height and adjusts bag pressure to maintain ride height. This means it’s possible to have your wheels mere mm from the arches and not have contact, pretty fun for posing. Parked up at a slammed height the E39 can mix it with the best of them, however park it at ride height and no one is any the wiser. It’s also perfect for visiting the in-laws and avoiding awkward car questions from non-car relatives. For those reasons alone Air Lift Performance 3H is a game-changing suspension system and something I’m certainly pleased I plumped for on this project.
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    A period-styled early-’90s E30 is a very desirable thing these days. So what happens if you exaggerate all of the details just a little bit? Ernie Hofstetter is the man to ask… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Anna Taylor.

    / #BMW-E30-M50-swapped / #BMW-E30-Cab / #M50-swapped

    Exaggeration, despite what your teachers at school told you, is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it can be helpful in getting ahead in life to artfully embellish and subtly big up the finer points of your character and achievements, to massage the salient facts into something more colourful. Doesn’t hurt anybody, does it?

    Ernie Hofstetter is a man who appreciates the nuances of this sort of behaviour. We’re not saying he’s a show off, of course – not by any means. But he’s reached the stage in his life when he’s seen a few automotive scenes come and go, ebb and flow, and he’s been taking notes all the way through. And here, with this E30, we find his meisterwerk; the physical manifestation of his years of careful observation, made real in glorious style. He’s taken the archetypal retro #BMW convertible, made it look sort of like a spec’d-up period example, but cunningly exaggerated the details. Thanks to this carefully thoughtthrough approach, the car’s almost like a cartoon – it looks like it would have done rolling through his hometown of Howell, New Jersey back in 1991, but something’s different… it’s lower, broader, meaner, more aggressive. Those subtle small details have added up to a mighty whole.

    “Back when I was 18, I thought these E30s were the coolest thing,” Ernie remembers. “When the time came around decades later that I wanted a fun car, that model immediately came to mind. Throughout the years my cars have always been modified – one of my favourites was my 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pick-up truck – but this a bit different. I’ve always been interested in BMWs, it’s a quality European driving machine, so it was the clear choice this time.”

    Ernie happily admits that he didn’t have a distinct plan for the car when he first got hold of it, and was willing to let inspiration be his guide. The cabriolet was found for sale in Philadelphia, and was in reasonable condition – not amazing and certainly not up to Ernie’s high standard but, of course, it was never the intention to buy someone else’s project. He wanted to create something unique of his very own: “Let the modding begin,” he mischievously grins.

    The first area that was primed for exaggeration was the big oily bit under the bonnet. While M20 motors have their merits, Ernie wanted to go harder, better, faster, stronger, and the way to achieve this was to swap the thing out for the rather mightier choice of the M50. Specifically, an #M50B25 : the 2.5-litre #straight-six that you’d normally find powering an E36 325i. “The M20 was boring and ugly,” he says, somewhat mercilessly, “and the M50 is much cleaner and sleeker. Any non-essential parts were removed from the engine bay, along with any unnecessary brackets and so on, to make it all look as clean as possible; the battery was relocated to the boot to help with this too. I uprated the cooling system with a Mishimoto radiator and a Spal fan, and the exhaust system consists of ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds with heat wrap, a Borla mid-section and a Vibrant muffler – all custom, of course!

    The car also started off as an automatic, but we couldn’t have that so it’s been swapped to a manual Getrag 260 five-speed transmission, with a Z3 shifter and aluminium shift carrier.”

    A pretty comprehensive transformation, you’ll surely agree, but Ernie was just getting started. Having substantially beefed up the muscularity of the old drop-top, neatly morphing it from cruiser to bruiser, it was time to address the question of altitude.

    Now, Ernie’s seen a thing or two, as we said, so he’s observed the stance scene evolving from grass roots to comparative mainstream. However, while air-ride has been around since World War II, its presence at the forefront of custom car culture is a relatively recent thing; back when our man was a teenager, the way to get your ride hopping was to slam in some hydros. So is that what Ernie’s opted for here? Not quite… you see, that exaggeration factor has come into play again. “I’ve always had the need to go lower,” he explains (note that he uses the word ‘need’ – that’ll no doubt be familiar to a number of you. This isn’t just playing, it’s a lifestyle). “The only thing that could satisfy me with this project was air suspension. So now the car has a full Air Lift system, with 3P management, rolling sleeves up front and Slamit Industries bags in the rear with Bilstein shocks. I custom-painted the airtank in the trunk, which gives a good supply of air at all times!” Well, that’s good to hear.

    The next logical step was to put some thought into the wheels. No good slamming the thing over a set of weedy stock steels, right? So Ernie bolted on some 17” rims from iForged… but then he quickly changed his mind. The period style of the early Nineties was calling, and he found himself drawn toward the timeless charms of the BBS RS, knocking the diameter down an inch but beefing up the girth to amusing degrees: these things are 7.5” wide at the front, 8.5” out back, and the way it sits is so aggressively juicy that it almost makes your eyes water. Imagine an automotive cartoonist in the early 1990s sketching up a BBS-shod E30, slamming it to the ground with improbable lows – that’s the look Ernie’s achieved in real life. Once again, it’s a masterstroke of considered exaggeration. “Whatever happened to the car, I wanted it to be as clean as possible,” he assures us.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love! The bulk of it was actually built by Michael Hockman, who is a legend in the E30 community, and has now become a great friend of mine. But all the fine finishing work was done by me, with great pride, as well as some talented people: Levent from Guten Parts, Andrew from Open Road Tuning, Rich from County Line Auto Body, and of course my fantastic wife Michelle who has the patience of a saint!”

    What’s clear as Ernie talks us through the detail points of the car is that this sits somewhere on the mid-point of the scale between evolution and revolution; some of the changes he’s made are pretty extreme, and yet the whole ethos of the thing is to consider a period build and artistically amp it up for a 21st century audience. Take the treatment of the interior: “I wanted the insides to be as stock as possible, but I still wanted the modern amenities,” he says. “So that meant an AV audio receiver, iPod interface, reversing camera, satellite radio, navigation – all of the things that make it more comfortable.” And that’s exactly what we find in there, all subtly and tastefully integrated into the old-skool vibe. It certainly helps that work like this is his bread-and-butter, being a salesman of stereo and security systems for cars as well as all manner of bolt-on performance gizmos, and this E30 ’vert is a solid manifestation of his skills as well as his aspirations.

    “It took a good six months to get the car to a quality I was happy with,” Ernie explains. “But there’s always fine-tuning going on – they’re never really finished, are they?” Well, no, he’s hit the nail on the head there. We always find new things to fiddle with. And when you’ve been observing the scene for as long as Ernie has, your mind can’t help but be constantly swimming with fresh ideas and new things to try. So this E30 is bound to change in the near future – possibly unrecognisably – but in this cheery little snapshot of the here-and-now, it’s pretty much perfect. An early-Nineties style convertible, with all the details cleverly exaggerated to turn it into a thoroughly modern creation.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i-E30-M50 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet / #BMW-325i-Cabriolet-E30 / #Getrag / #Viair / #BMW-E30-Air-Lift

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M50B25TU / #M50 / #BMW-M50 / #M50B25 from E36 325i, #Mishimoto radiator, Spal 16” fan, battery relocated to boot, #Raceskids skid plate, 318i harness cover, ceramic-coated headers with heat wrap, custom Y-pipe, #Borla mid-pipe and #Vibrant rear box with 2.5” piping, shaved and wire-tucked bay, #Getrag-260 five-speed conversion, custom transmission brace, Z3 shifter, aluminium shift carrier, 3.73 LSD

    CHASSIS 7.5x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ET14 #BBS-RS / #BBS , 180 slant lip (front) and 247 slant lip (rear), with 195/45 (front) and 215/40 (rear) Yokohama S-Drive tyres, full #Air-Lift suspension system with front rolling sleeves and Slamit Industries rear bags, Autopilot 3P management, dual #Viair-444C compressors

    EXTERIOR Smoked projector headlights with integrated indicators, 6k low- and 3k high-beam HID lights, Euro grilles, rear impact strip fitted to front bumper, smoked tails and corner lights, front and rear valances with Ryan G splitter

    INTERIOR #M-Tech-II suede steering wheel, suede gaiters, chrome gauge rings with Alpina tach strip and painted needles, #ZHP illuminated gear knob, #BMW pedal set including foot rest, Alpine AV receiver with navigation and reversing camera, JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amplifier

    Gorgeous 16” #BBS RSs boast impressive width and have serious dish going on.

    Air Lift 3P #Air-ride setup lets Ernie go as low as he wants to while custom boot build shows off both air components and upgraded audio elements, which include JL Audio speakers, subwoofer and amp.

    “The small details count to me. So this car was a real labour of love!”
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    JAWS 2 Ten years ago we featured this E24 in its original incarnation but now it’s back and meaner than ever. We’re going to need a bigger magazine… Words and photos: Andy ‘Sharkey’ Starkey

    / #JAWS-2 UK air-ride E24 #BMW-635CSi-JAWS-2 / #BMW-635CSi-Highline-E24

    The iconic Spielberg movie, Jaws, put a whole new spin on suspense and horror, and we have never looked back. This movie was responsible for making an entire generation of film fans squeal, hide behind their popcorn and give them involuntary bowel movements. It was such a success and a landmark in cinema history that it spawned several sequels. Now, I have a problem with the whole sequel thing. If you have made something good, I guess it’s a given that you want to continue the success and do it all again.

    That’s all well and good if the subject matter can cope with the return, and if the public want it. The big difficulty for the moviemakers is that we’ve already seen the shark, the villain, the hero or whatever in the first one; we’ve had the shocks, the cheers and the laughs. This usually results in a very loose link to the first instalment which develops into almost the same story but with more blood, scares, laughs, bangs or car chases; all a bit disappointing really.

    There are exceptions of course: Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, Austin Powers and naturally Mr Bond – all have had continual success with their ongoing escapades and adventures, and that’s all because the key character has what it takes for audiences to keep coming back for more. They all have charisma, attitude and presence, which is exactly what this E24 has in abundance and this too is something of a sequel.

    We think you’ll agree that this particular 6 Series possesses the kind of credentials that any movie icon would give their right arm for. That’s because this #BMW-635CSi-Highline is a continuing story of ownership and development. It even graced the pages of this very magazine some ten years ago and was dubbed ‘Jaws’ by us at the time. For once, this is where a sequel really has paid off, although maybe sequel isn’t the right word, a ‘continuation’ is probably better…

    Way back when, this 635 was owned by a certain Kabir Miah and both he and his brother Lala had a very particular idea for this car in mind. The shark theme was to be played out by having the original paintwork in a two-tone scheme; grey on top graduating into a much paler off-white towards the sills, just like the skin of a shark. The front wings also got the ‘big fish’ look by having a large, striking set of gill slits added. These were not just a stick on adornment, either, these gills were actually pressed through the wings and the finishing touch was the addition of the Jaws number plate.

    That was then, but what about now? To start with, the car now belongs to Lala himself. It may have been Kabir’s car but Lala was the one to make the transformation happen both ten years ago and now. This is wholly because he’s a fully trained painter. In fact he co-owns and runs a Birminghambased styling business, LA Modz, specialising in window tints and wraps, so he’s going to know a thing or two about making cars look good. He still does some bodywork but, as he told me: “Tints and wraps are so much cleaner to work with.”

    As you have probably noticed the, two- tone paint job has gone this time around in favour of clean, bright Nogaro silver with a fabulously deep gloss. The trademark gills and numberplate still identify the car as the original Jaws but now a lovely set of rims highlight the new look.

    Lala does have an eye for detail so the choice of wheel that was to achieve the desired effect had to be right, and boy, are they right. They started out life as a set of M System II Style 21 ‘Throwing Stars’ but they’ve been made into a special set of bespoke three-piece splits by CR Customs in Poland. The guys there have added extra diameter and width, taking them from lowly 17s to a whopping 19”, with the fronts measuring 9.5” wide while the rears are now a massive 11”. The hardware has also been plated in 18ct gold and the wheel nuts had nifty covers made for them from 12 bore shotgun cartridges.

    The interior has been redesigned this time around too; the tired black has now been replaced with luscious terracotta leather. Lala has taken the lead from an M5 he’d seen with a Fox red interior and rather liked the contrast. The style and choice of covering carries on with modified and decluttered doorcards and centre console. The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold and the stark difference between some of the retained interior scheme and the new is striking. Hats off to Autotrims UK for a sterling job. The whole interior theme has been topped off by the addition of an MTech 2 steering wheel and the all-important shark tooth hanging from the mirror.

    Ten years ago most suspension setups comprised springs and shocks but today air is where it’s at and it’s all about getting your car so low that sometimes you think you could sneak under a snake’s belly wearing a top hat. With its low roof and sleek look, the CSi is the perfect candidate for air and dropping it to the ground accentuates those long, low lines. Lala’s done something very smart here too; sure the air-ride gets the car down low but the clever bit is the use of a specially made M3-style chin spoiler and the fitment of, would you believe, Volvo 850 side skirts.

    These additions make the whole profile look even lower and very sleek. As Lala explains: “The idea with the spoiler was really to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth, but it does lengthen his nose.”

    His nose, did you say? “Definitely,” Lala says. “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too.” Looking at the car now after that statement, you have to agree it does look masculine. It has a sharp, angular feel to it and we’re sure that’s pure testosterone coming out of the exhaust…

    Having a wrap expert on-hand would make you think that this car would be littered with the stuff but on initial scrutiny you’d say there wasn’t any wrapping going on at all. Well, you’d be wrong. Look a little closer and you’ll find something very subtle, but very nicely done: the window surrounds. It may not look much but, while all the glass was out for the paint job, Lala took all the mouldings that fit between the glass and bodywork, and wrapped them in a fabulously deep gloss black wrap. Not only does this look really neat, but you just have to think of how much of a nightmare it must have been to do.

    Externally the look gets further enhancements with the fitment of American side marker lights, smoked headlamps, taillights and badges. The window glass has been replaced with some from a pre-1985 model, purely because the glass had a tasteful bronze tint to it (unlike this 1989 version). This was then made deeper by adding another layer of tint, thus creating a totally unique shade.

    How many times do you feel a tad disappointed when you’ve read all the interesting guff about the fancy bodywork and the trick bits only to be told that the engine has been left totally standard? Well, brace yourself, because this motor is pretty standard too but, before you go all ‘I told you so’ on us, remember one thing, this is a 635CSi which has the lusty 3.4-litre ‘Big Six’ under the bonnet. That’s over 200 feisty ponies in there wanting to get out so – why mess with something that good? Lala has added an induction kit, though, and a bespoke exhaust, making the tuneful straight-six sound even better, from air going in to exhaust gases coming out. To top off the whole package the standard 635 brakes up front have been swapped for the beefier ones from an 840.

    With the subtle changes, bespoke additions and attention to detail, Lala has given us a worthy sequel to his original Jaws, and just when you thought it was safe to go back on the road… This is real proof that sequels can work and work well, providing the main character has what it takes, of course, and this 635 has exactly that.

    “The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”

    DATA FILE #Air-ride / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi / #BMW-635CSi-E24 / #BMW-6-Series / #BMW-6-Series-E24 / #M-System / #BMW-E24-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride / #BMW-635CSi-Air-ride-E24 / #BMW /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.4-litre straight-six #M30B35 / #M30 / #BMW-M30 , induction kit, stainless steel exhaust system, four-speed auto gearbox #ZF-4HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) custom three-piece #M5-M-System-II-Style-21 ‘Throwing Stars’ with 3.5” (front) and 4” (rear) polished lips and 18ct gold-plated hardware, 235/35 (front) and 255/30 (rear) tyres, Air Lift Performance air suspension, 840Ci brakes (front)

    EXTERIOR Full respray in BMW Nogaro silver, gloss black wrapped window surrounds, pressed metal gills in front wings, custom E30 M3 chin spoiler, Volvo 850 side skirts, pre-1985 bronze window glass with additional tint, American side marker lights, smoked headlights and tail-lights

    INTERIOR Re-trim in terracotta leather, modified doorcards and centre console, #M-Tech 2 steering wheel, custommounted #AutoPilot-V2 digital air-ride controller, single #ViAir compressor, single air tank, 2x #Pioneer Champion Series 12” subs

    “The idea of the chin spoiler was to give the impression of a shark’s open mouth”

    The craftsmanship of the interior is something to behold…

    “Jaws was certainly male, so this car must be a bloke too”
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    Purists may argue that the Mk3 GTI wasn’t exactly the Golf’s finest hour, but Kyle Wilinsky begs to differ. He’s a ‘never say never’ kinda guy… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jonathan DeHate.

    The concept of the ‘difficult second album’ is something muchdocumented in the music press.

    Bands that come in strong with their first long-players can find themselves mired in their own hype, their early work becoming an impossible act to follow – look at The Stone Roses’ Second Coming, The Strokes’ Room on Fire, or The Clash’s Give ’Em Enough Rope; following the success of such strong debuts, these LPs were always doomed to be sidelined. And it can be true of third albums too – a band may manage to hurdle Difficult Second Album Syndrome, only to come crashing headfirst into Questionable Third Album territory. Just ask Oasis about Be Here Now.

    This is precisely where Volkswagen’s GTI sub-brand found itself in the early 1990s, with the advent of the Mk3 Golf and all of the peaks and troughs that car entailed. With the Mk1 GTI having woven itself firmly and celestially into the firmament of all-time greats, the Mk2 carrying on the good work with forthright decisiveness, and then ramping up the levels of excellence with casual aplomb in the sublime 16v evolution, the third-generation hot hatch came as something of a damp squib. 150bhp-odd was handy enough, but the thing suffered from a bit of middle-age spread, it was podgier and less agile. Perfectly okay for some, but not really good enough for others.

    However, in the USA that fabled GTI badge could also be found glued next to one that read ‘VR6’ (rather than being separate entities like in Europe), and the addition of a couple of cylinders and a further 20bhp or so helped to liven things up a bit. And that’s where the story begins for the Golf we’re looking at today…

    The story of its owner, Kyle Wilinsky, starts rather earlier: “My love for Volkswagens began when I was 15 years old,” the smiley Pennsylvanian explains. “I was introduced to the VWVortex forum, and that was that; when the time came to purchase my first vehicle, it had to be a #VW – in the end, it was a Mk2 Jetta.” You can see the seeds being sown here, can’t you?

    An all-consuming online community, a fledgling first-hand introduction to the Golf platform, there was only one way this was destined to go. And it wasn’t long before those seeds grew up and bore fleshy Teutonic fruit. “After a couple more years and a couple more cars, a friend had this Mk3 Golf for sale; we came to a deal on the price and it was mine for $1800. It wasn’t in the best condition, quite neglected, but I only bought it as a cheap second car so I wasn’t too worried. I just gave it some basic maintenance and cleaned it up a bit.”

    As you’ll have deduced from the photos (or if you’ve cheated and have already read the spec box), however, this wasn’t where the project stalled. As we hear so often from feature car owners, there was one sole spark of inspiration that crystallised into the kernel of an idea, and went on to dictate the ethos of the project from that date forth. In Kyle’s case, this spark showed itself during a joyride in a buddy’s car.

    “I was offered a ride in a friend’s VR6 turbo, and from that moment I was completely hooked on the idea of fitting a turbo to my car,” he laughs. “I started ordering parts, and after a couple of months I had everything I needed to start the project. I guess I must mention that I had no real mechanical experience, and basically had to learn everything as I went, along with the help of some friends.” Kyle seems to be a man who enjoys a steep learning curve though, as it was only a matter of weeks before the newly force-induced motor was back together and offering an eye-watering 411bhp, which is certainly enough to quieten the Mk3 naysayers. “It was an absolute blast to drive,” he enthuses, as you might expect from someone who’s way more than doubled his car’s factory output using little more than a set of spanners and some well-placed advice. The sense of achievement must have been nearimmeasurable.

    And naturally, with things going so well under the bonnet, Kyle’s eye began to turn to the rest of the car – after all, once you’ve started putting the effort in, you need to make it an object of personal pride, don’t you?

    “The stock interior was pretty neglected, so I decided to pay it some attention,” he says. “I got it professionally detailed and the factory black really came to life; I was shocked at the result, and that’s when I started to gather parts for the exterior. I’d always loved the look of the Euro-spec GTI, so I knew that was the direction I was headed: I started purchasing everything I could get hold of for the full Euro makeover!”

    Piece by piece the aesthetic transformation came together, with the ’98 GTI receiving bona fide texture-top bumpers, mouldings and arch flares, along with a shaved CL tailgate with its Euro-sized numberplate recess. Kyle hasn’t gone full OEM though; in fact, he’s cannonballed square-on into the choppy waters of obscure parts-hunting that define the builds of so many of you out there – when was the last time, for instance, that you saw a Henri Lloyd Yachting edition front lip? These appeared on an obscure Italian version of the Mk3 estate, and watercooled obsessives pay through the nose for them, if and when they can track them down.

    “Eventually I started to get used to the power and decided to turn the boost up,” he recalls, slightly uneasily. “About 30 miles after I’d cranked it up to 22psi, the gearbox decided it wasn’t going to hold and shattered third gear! After doing some research I found that if I kept the power levels where they were, I was either going to deal with breaking and replacing gears regularly or I was going to have to build a stronger gearbox. I opted to park the car and save my money for some hardened straight-cut gears to ensure I would no longer have issues.”

    By this point Kyle was around two years into ownership, and over the course of the next two years the car saw a number of changes to complement the evolving powertrain, with the Golf being reworked during the cold winter months to emerge from its chrysalis anew in the springtime – seats, wheels, they were changing all the time. “I’m never satisfied!” he laughs. “I’m always looking for fresh things to do with the car. I embarked upon a full engine bay shave and wire-tuck which, with the help of some friends, was a three-month marathon of grinding and welding… the bay and the motor are what I’m most proud of with this car, I spent countless hours and nights in the garage with friends and cheap beer to get the car ready.”

    ‘Ready’? Ah yes, Kyle had a target in mind to showcase the fruits of his labours – a Pennsylvania show entitled Cult Classic. With the date drawing ever nearer, our man was in the garage at all hours trying to get the thing tip-top, and his tireless endeavours paid off with gusto.

    “I ended up winning ‘Best In Show’, out of around 500 cars,” he says, still flabbergasted. “Without a doubt it was the best feeling knowing that all my hard work was worth it and people were really enjoying the car.”

    This was all going off in 2014, and the car has changed a fair bit since then. Well, as you might expect, really. People like Kyle aren’t prone to kicking their heels or watching the grass grow. Indeed, for this feature alone the car had to be reshot twice because Kyle kept changing things. “I really do have a problem,” he says, but it’s a pretty good problem to have.

    “As I’m talking to you about it now, I’m only just realising that I’ve owned the car for seven years,” he continues, evidently slightly shellshocked by the telescoping effect of time’s relentless pendulum. “I can’t express how grateful I am for all the people that have helped me turn wrenches, given advice, or simply kept me company during this journey – it’s really what the car community is all about for me. The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built. The Golf has won multiple awards, was invited into Top Dawg class at H2Oi, and now this feature. Wow, what a feeling!” All of which serves to prove that you don’t need to be a scene darling or an Instagram celebrity to nail this VW lark. You can set out with an unloved example of a maligned model and, starting with a knowledge base and skillset close to zero, still manage to totally kill it on the showground time and time again.

    The fact that this Golf is just as fast and agile as it is easy on the eye is solid testament to Kyle’s tenacity. He has put in the hours to make it work, and that’s what makes him a winner. He’s really got a taste for it now too… reckon the car’s looking the same today as it does here in print? No, of course it isn’t. Kyle’s always got plans. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the Mid-Atlantic water-cooled scene – this old-skool rough diamond is only going to keep getting sharper…

    “The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built”

    Dub Details / #VW-Golf-III / #VW-Golf-Mk3 / #VW-Golf-Mk-III / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-III / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk-III / #VW-Golf-VR6 / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Precision

    ENGINE: Shaved and wire-tucked bay, 2.8-litre #VR6 , polished engine covers, #Megasquirt standalone ECU, #Precision-6262-T4 turbo, #ATP exhaust manifold, custom heat shield, #DEI turbo blanket, 3” stainless steel turbo-back exhaust, #Tial wastegate and blow-off valve, Precision 600 intercooler, custom intercooler piping, #Schimmel intake manifold, #Accufab 75mm throttle body with custom manifold adaptor, 034 fuel rail with 630cc injectors, #Walbro 255 fuel pump, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Mishimoto aluminium radiator, dual slim fans, custom aluminium coolant lines and overflow tank, Eurosport oil cooler, relocated temp sensors, hidden coilpack, custom front crossmember with #Black-Forest motor mounts, O2A gearbox with #APTuning straight-cut gears, #Quaife differential, #ARP hardware, reinforced clutch fork, #SPEC Stage 3 clutch, Euro-spec lightened flywheel, CAE shifter, O2J shift tower and cables

    CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #CCW-D240 with brushed faces, polished lips, #ARP gold wheel bolts and goldplated lug nuts, Falken tyres, #Air-Lift suspension, #AccuAir-ELevel management, five gallon aluminium air tank, two #Viair-444C 444cc / #Viair compressors, #H&R 25mm front anti-roll bar, Eurosport rear strut brace, Audi TT 312mm front brakes with cross-drilled discs

    EXTERIOR: Euro texture-top bumpers, shaved Euro CL tailgate, Euro textured mouldings and arch flares, shaved windscreen squirters, custom shortened mirrors, badgeless grill, Henri Lloyd Yachting front lip, Kamei air ducts, smoked indicators, Hella tail-lights, E-code headlights, #Bonrath mono wiper

    INTERIOR: Recaro Sportster CS with suede inserts, suede wrapped A, B, and C pillars, suede headlining, custom rear seat delete with leather-wrapped air tank, Wiechers roll-cage, AEM digital boost controller, AEM air/fuel gauge, AEM oil PSI gauge, GReddy turbo timer, NRG quick release hub, Momo steering wheel, Alpine head unit, Pioneer speakers, JL Audio stealthbox with 10” JL audio subwoofer, JL audio amp

    SHOUT: Thanks to my fiancée Lisa for always understanding and supporting my hobby. Borek, Adam, Jacob, Thompson, Jarad, Steve, Bergey, Rick at DEFIV, Jason at 4everkustoms, Andrew at Open Road Tuning, DeHate for the pics, and everyone else who has helped along the way
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    This stunning bagged E60 lays the visual smackdown. The E60 is not a car you often see modified, but this example makes up for that in a big way… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Petrie.

    When it comes to BMWs, we like them all ways; we like ones that are subtly improved upon and retain their originality but we’re also keen on ones that have just been pushed to the limit and that just come along and smack you in the mouth. Ramiro Sangco’s E60 525i is most definitely the latter because, let’s be honest, there’s not a shred of subtlety or discretion about it. And that’s a good thing. But before we start digging into the details of the car, we’d like to discuss the owner…

    What’s wonderful about the modified BMW community is that age ain’t nothin’ but a number. We’re sure Ramiro won’t mind us mentioning the fact that he’s a touch north of 40 and, looking around the office at people of a similar vintage, that’s the sort of age where you settle into some sort of comfortable, sensible, practical saloon or estate, probably diesel (on this side of the Pond). Or maybe you go for some discreet, grown-up performance in the shape of an M5 or something similar. But not Ramiro. This is partly because once you’re into modified machinery it’s awfully hard to go cold turkey, and partly because, as the owner of MODjunkies Motorsports, he couldn’t possibly be driving around in something drab and dull and standard. Oh no, that would never do.

    The journey to massively-modified E60 began with a 1991 Acura (Honda) Integra, took in a seriously-played-with 1994 Honda Del Sol (which was featured in numerous magazine articles) and a Mercedes C320 that was involved in an accident. The latter car and incident set Ramiro looking for some new wheels and that led him squarely to the doors of BMW, a brand he has been interested in since the early ’90s and one he’s always wanted to own. “Originally I had my heart set on buying a 7 Series,” he says, explaining his choice of BMW. “After doing research on the availability of aftermarket products for the 7 platform, I discovered that there were more parts available for the 5 Series. That made it easy for me to change my mind and go with the E60.”

    Unlike a lot of our feature car owners, Ramiro at least knew that he was going to be modifying his BMW, but like almost everyone else he hadn’t planned on taking things quite this far…

    “My initial plan was to go with a simple setup which included a front lip, wheels and lowering suspension. Because of my association with the automotive industry, I could not just stick to the original plan. I could not stop myself from doing so much more,” he laughs. “The car was modified in stages with the help from my friends at Infinite Auto Design in Bellflower, California, and a good friend, Ernie Corrales, with each lending a hand in gutting the car down to its shell and slowly building it to its current state.” This gives you a rough idea of just how much work has gone into creating this monster of an E60.

    So, where to start? Well, the wheels are arguably the most striking aspect of the entire build, so that seems as good a place as any to begin. Like many of us, Ramiro knew from the outset that he didn’t want to follow the crowd when it came to wheel choice; he wanted something different for his build, and he’s certainly achieved that with these beauties. “With the help of my friend Brian Garin from Infinite Auto Design, I decided to custom build my wheels,” he says. The forged, three-piece wheels feature a classic cross-spoke design, gunmetal centres and vibrant copper outer barrels measuring 20-inches in diameter, a hefty 9.5 inches wide up front, and 11 inches at the rear – really filling out the E60’s big arches and nicely offsetting that large rear quarter panel. Wrapped around those gorgeous wheels is some Falken rubber, the 235 and 255 sizes selected to deliver the optimum amount of stretch to see the combo neatly and safely tucked up inside the arches. And for that to happen, you need some air suspension on board your ride.

    “I originally installed a coilover suspension kit on my car but was not satisfied with the stance of the vehicle and it was hard for me to drive in and out of driveways and over speed bumps,” explains Ramiro. The most obvious solution was to go down the air-ride route which, after doing his research, is precisely what he ended up doing. The strut and airbag assemblies are from D2 Racing while the management is Accuair’s e-Level height-based system. There’s an extremely smart install in the boot, comprising a pair of 2.2-gallon aluminium air tanks from Speciality Suspension, finished in metallic grey, copper hard pipes and twin 444c Viair compressors, all mounted on a piece of wood with an analogue pressure gauge between the tanks adding the finishing touch. Ramiro has also added a pair of Eibach anti-roll bars.

    A quick glance at the exterior will tell you that this is not your common-or-garden E60 and an in-depth study of the spec list will tell you why. When it comes to styling this E60 has had more work done than you can shake a stick at with a real mix of parts but everything comes together so well and the end result is a sheer visual spectacle.

    The bulk of the styling is made up of the Duraflex kit which compromises a 1M front bumper (arguably one of the most aggressive BMW bumpers around), M5 side skirts and a rear bumper. The front bumper has been filled with a diamond-cut mesh grille from Extreme Dimensions and a custom carbon fibre lip, and there’s a vented, bare carbon fibre bonnet by VIS Racing, complete with power bulge. Those side skirts have been embellished with a set of custom carbon side splitters, which seem to be very popular these days, and these are complemented by a pair of rear carbon splitters from Carbon Creations which cling purposefully to the edges of the rear bumper. At the back you’ll also find a Hamann roof spoiler and a CSL-style carbon fibre bootlid by VIS Racing, with just a sliver of carbon on show. The whole lot has been painted in Infinite grey with a fourlayer chromo clear coat. The colour might be a slightly unusual choice but it looks fantastic, a sort of warm grey that works really well with the wheels and various carbon elements, and is just different enough from a regular white to catch your eye and pique your interest. All the styling elements work so well together and this E60 looks like a slice of pure aggression. Heck, even the BMW Performance roof rack looks good and adds a quirky touch to the whole affair.

    Unsurprisingly, the interior has been given just as much attention as the exterior and it’s all rather lavish now. “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look,” explains Ramiro, “which made it easy to decide to go with the full custom interior.

    The seats and panels are upholstered in leather and perforated suede with a custom double-stitched diamond pattern. There’s also suede on the headliner and steering wheel and I’ve added carbon fibre accents throughout the interior, which give it a little bit of a sporty look.” The combination of suede, leather and carbon-wrapped elements is indeed both sporty and sumptuous and really takes the cabin to a whole new level of luxury and ensures the inside looks and feels just as special as the outside.

    Finally, we come to the engine and, while the 2.5-litre M54 straight-six under the bonnet might not be a particularly fire-breathing powerplant with a large range of aftermarket upgrades available, Ramiro has added a freeflowing intake and a plug ’n’ play Sprint Booster to get it performing at its best. This, then, is a really magnificent 5 Series, the kind of car that makes you sit up and take notice and it has clearly been built by someone who knows what they are doing as everything, from the styling to the colour and wheels, marries together perfectly. As exciting as it may have been to look at, Ramiro is clearly not one to rest on his laurels as, since the photoshoot, the car’s been given a complete makeover, with a new front bumper, side skirts, head and taillights, and a new colour for the wheel lips. By his own admission, Ramiro says that the car is never finished and we expect even wilder things in the future for this roller coaster ride for the eyes.

    Extremely elegant air-ride install features twin metallic grey 2.2-gallon air tanks, copper hardpipes and an analogue pressure gauge; custom Infinite Auto Design wheels boast copper lips and look absolutely stunning.

    TECHNICAL DATA Air-ride / #BMW-E60 / #BMW-525i / #BMW-525i-E60 / #AccuAir-E-Level / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M54B25 / #M54 / #BMW-M54 , #AFE air intake and filter, Sprint Booster, custom exhaust to fit dual exhaust bumper utilising #Magnaflow components, six-speed auto’ gearbox #ZF6HP / #ZF

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Infinite #Auto-Design custom three-piece forged wheels with gunmetal cross-spoke centres and copper lips with 235/30 (front) and 255/35 (rear) Falken Azenis FK453 tyres, D2 Racing air-ride, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, #Eibach anti-roll bars, #StopTech slotted discs, performance brake pads and braided stainless steel lines (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Infinite grey with Dupont four-layer chromo clear coat, Duraflex body kit comprising 1M front bumper, M5 rear bumper, M5 side skirts, Extreme Dimensions diamond cut mesh grille, VIS Racing XTS carbon fibre bonnet and CSL-style carbon bootlid, Hamann rear roof spoiler, custom carbon fibre front lip and side splitters, Carbon Creations rear splitters, #BMW-Performance roof rack, Spyder Auto head and tail-lights, custom front LED bumper lights

    INTERIOR Seats retrimmed in leather and perforated suede with double stitched diamond pattern, suede headliner, OE steering wheel custom wrapped in suede, OE shift knob wrapped in 3M carbon fibre, custom suede shift gaiter, AC Schnitzer pedals, handbrake handle and gaiter, panels in suede with double stitched diamond pattern and 3M carbon fibre wrap, 3M carbon fibre-wrapped dash trims, Cadence sub and mid bass amps, subwoofers and mid-range speakers, twin 2.2-gallon seamless Speciality Suspension aluminium air tanks, twin #444c #Viair compressors

    THANKS Infinite Auto Design (, Duraflex (, Carbon Creations (, Magnaflow (, Stoptech (, Cadence Audio (, D2 Racing (, Falken Tire (, VIS Racing (, LR Auto Body, Art Induced, Accuair (, and special thanks to my family and my friends (you know who you are) for all the support and especially the patience

    “I wanted my interior to have a rich yet sporty look…”
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    BOP IT #VW-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf /

    Many think there’s nothing you can do to a Mk2 Golf that hasn’t been done a million times before. James ‘Bopper’ Moran, however, disagrees. He likes to look at things a bit differently, as his unique Mk2 demonstrates perfectly… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Sam Dobbins.

    Do you ever get the feeling some people out there in the car scene have had an unfair advantage in building the car they have? No, we’re not talking about someone having more money to throw at a project than the next guy, or a job where they can work on their own car after hours, although those people sure are lucky compared to the weekend driveway workshop crews out there. No, what we’re talking about this time is how they were brought up and how their parents influenced them in their younger years, be it intentionally or not. You see, one of the first questions we ask the owner of a car when we’re taking notes for the story, is: what got you in to cars in the first place? The influence of friends already involved in the scene, magazines or the internet are the most common answers but every so often someone will cite their parents as being the reason they’re a self-confessed car guy/girl today.

    “My family wasn’t into modifying cars but I was always around motorsports,” James Moran, aka Bopper, explained. “When I was six or seven my father raced hydroplane boats. He took me on one of his road trips across the country racing but he was never into cars really. My stepfather, however, took me to a lot of IMSA road races. At the time all I wanted to do was stay at home and play video games or hockey but now, man I look back at all the experiences I had sitting in GTP cars and asking hundreds of questions and the drivers answering me.” If that wasn’t enough of a cool upbringing, his neighbour was the local backyard hot rod dude and would often show the young Bopper around what he was working on.

    Before we get too far in to the story on the amazing Mk2 you see before you – one of the freshest Mk2s (and we don’t just mean the colour) we’ve seen in years – we need to get one thing out of the way. Why Bopper? “Well when I was young between the ages of three and five, I was told that I was a very bad kid. I use to hit my older sister all the time on the head,” he laughed. “My aunt always would say ‘stop bopping her’, and it turned in to Bopper and it stuck. I grew up known as Bopper. All my family and friends have always used that name. It makes me stand out. If you don’t know me by the name Bopper then you don’t know me!” Right, that’s that sorted. Let’s get on to the car, shall we?

    “It all started in 1995. I was 17 and driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass and I met my friend Mike Beier. He had a black 16v Scirocco, which I got to take a ride in and a month later I bought my first VW. I was hooked.”

    The word ‘hooked’ doesn’t do it justice. Three months in to owning his first VW, an ’84 Mk1, he blew the stock motor and swapped a 2.0-litre 16v in. Since then, well, let’s just say things have only got more impressive with each subsequent build. With a 2.0-litre 16vT Caddy, a twin-G60 Mk2 and a rear-engined 20v Mk2, not to mention he also put together Frank The Biz’s (look him up) hidden turbo setup in ’04, it’s safe to say Bopper likes to put a unique spin on stuff. “I had started building a 24v VRT Haldex’d ’79 Mk1 Rabbit that I wanted to finish before my 40th birthday but it got out of hand (you don’t say? ~ All), so I bought a clean Mk2 to use as a daily and, well, this is what happened to that ‘daily’!

    “I wanted something original, something that would represent me and my new company, BackFire Fabrication. I was told there was nothing I could do that hadn't already been done to a Mk2 and that although I was a good fabricator I was irrelevant in the current car scene – so I decided to make my mark.

    “I was inspired by all the people that made crazy cars – Dubsport, the Edition 38 guys, Big Ron, Scott Norton, there's many other people in the VW scene that I have a great deal of respect for – but my biggest goal was to strike up conversation in the VW community: love or hate it.”

    Bopper found this Mk2 up in New Hampshire, not too far from his Connecticut home. This was back in 2011 but, he didn’t actually start the project until the H20 weekend of 2013. With his friends away at the show, Bopper was able to roll the car into their shop and get to work. “I told them I would have all the metalwork in the bay done before they were back,” he explained. Talk about setting yourself a challenge!

    Our man Bopper, though, sure does like a challenge. Starting out at a Porsche restoration shop as an apprentice straight out of high school taught him the ropes in machining, bodywork and engine building. Then he opened a VW/Audi shop in ’99 with a friend which ran to 2004. After moving in to industrial fabrication, he started working for ProMod drag teams which led to a job building Porsche race cars. As far as honing your skills go, backgrounds don’t come much better!

    Bopper tells us he spent the first three months of the car’s total build time working on the engine bay and the bodywork. “It’s what I pride myself on, if someone comes to me to work on their car they will have an engine bay that is totally different to anybody else’s. I built this car to show what I can do,” he explained. “I wouldn't call mine a completely shaved bay, I would call it an honest smoothed bay. I got a lot of shit for leaving the heater, not shaving all the holes in the frame rails and making a low profile air intake. I like the look of having all the original body dimples in the frame rails. I was trying to make this a driver: the engine bay looks super clean and shaved but everything is functional.” Makes sense to us.

    There’s so much going on in the engine bay that we honestly don’t know where to begin. We love the way the custom intercooler wraps around the radiator and the shaved Euro-spec valve cover with no oil cap or oil cover. Plus the whole front end is attached to the Westmoreland front for easy one-piece removal. Yet, in car with a bay so clean you wouldn’t believe the motor even ran, this car’s got plenty of power. The 1.8T boasts a GT28RS turbo on a beautiful tubular manifold with a custom inlet mounted up front, the whole thing mounted on custom mounts and running off AEM Infinity 6 management. It may be colour-coded perfectly with the right mix of colour and bare metal and clean enough to eat off, but with up to 328bhp and 312lb ft at 27psi, it’s definitely not just a pretty face.

    Remember we said earlier that Bopper was told there was nothing he could do to a Mk2 that hadn’t already been done before? Well, one look at the bodywork shows he’s proved them wrong. The colour, a custom mint green shade, is out there enough but we’re also huge fans of the Westy front with bi-Xenon projectors fitted inside, the front arches mounted on the rear to bring them higher on the body than the regular rear arches, the single DTM mirror as well as the selective shaving. “I prepped 85% of it and painted 100% of it,” Bopped said proudly. “I’m no body man but I’ve done bodywork before and I wanted to prove I could do it all.”

    But our favourite thing about Bopper’s car, aside from the engine bay, the bodywork and the colour (okay, so we like pretty much everything on Bopper’s car) is the air install. Now over the last few years we’ve seen people display their tanks and compressors in many different ways. In the early days of air-ride, at least in the VW scene, it was all about keeping things stealthy and hiding as much as you could.

    Most air installs were mounted under false floors or in the spare tyre well. Then, as people became more creative with them, they started to mount the tank on show, then the compressors, too. Now, in the vast majority of show cars, the air install is a crucial part of the interior’s overall look. Tanks mounted this way and that, compressors tucked in perfectly trimmed hideaways, hardlines everywhere, themed installs, there’s really nothing that people won’t try. Bopper here has pushed things one step further though. “I wanted to design something that meant I could still use the trunk for things but at the same time, show people what you could do with an air setup,” he explained. “People tend to lose their minds when they notice what I’ve done with the cage. I love it.” What Bopper has done, if you hadn’t figured it out yet, is turn the cage in to a 4.5-gallon tank for his air-ride. “One of the most fun times I had building the car was when I got the air-ride working with the cage. To have a concept work and have it look awesome was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

    A vintage fire department steamer gauge, a nod to Bopper’s day job as a fire fighter for the City of Meriden where he lives, mounted on the cage just finishes off the back end perfectly. Where are the compressors, though? You won’t see them, no matter how hard you look.

    Amazingly, Bopper has mounted the compressor behind the rear driver’s doorcard and the battery behind the other so, with everything else hidden, other than the fire department pressure gauge mounted off the rear cross bar, there is no sign of the car being on air-ride at all. How’s that for ingenuity?

    The rest of the interior is just as cool, too. The SPG buckets have had their backs colourcoded and then trimmed in black leather and suede with colour-coded stitching by Love’s Trim. “They really knocked the seats and doorcards out of the park. Their work just brings the whole thing together beautifully,” Bopper smiled. The custom-made race shifter setup looks awesome, too, tying the whole interior’s part show/part go look together perfectly.

    Speaking of tying things together, Bopper’s choice of rolling stock might not be the obvious one but, in typical fashion, it just works. “I love these Crenshaw wheels. I was surfing the internet one day and came across them and had to have them,” he explained. “They are twopiece with magnesium centres, super light, and The Shine Lab did an awesome job repolishing them. I wanted to have something different other than BBS RSs or RMs on the car. BBSs on Mk2s look amazing but I just wanted a different look and I think they suit the car perfectly.”

    The wheels just about sum Bopper’s car up. Different from the norm but so well-thought-out it’s hard to think why it’s not been done before. We guess that’s the sign of a true innovator: they make doing things differently seem so easy. “I’ve had two stand-out moments with the car being finished: the first was taking my eightyear-old son out in it and seeing his face light up; that is a moment you just don’t forget,” Bopper smiled. “The other is when I debuted it at H20 in last year. I arrived late at night and we were staying with a bunch of guys from other VW shops from all over the US. It felt awesome when I popped the hood for them to be staring at my car using flashlights for like an hour, going over every little detail. I just loved it! “Really, though, it’s the first time since 2005 that I’ve had a VW that was nice to call my own. I was so caught up with working on other people’s cars that I didn’t have time for my own stuff. Now that it’s not my day job I enjoy it so much more.”

    What’s next for our man Bopper then? Well, this Mk2 is finished although we predict he’s not a guy to leave anything alone for too long. “I’m working right now on another Mk2 GTI. It's a bright blue metallic car and it’s going to be a big bumper with G60 arches. The motor is going to be just as crazy, except I’m going to do a twin G60 again,” he smiled knowingly. “So get ready…” Bopper, we can hardly wait!

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 2004 1.8T engine, Eagle rods, #ARP main studs, Eurospec Sport head bolts, head taper ported to fit a large port intake manifold, custom BackFire Fabrication high-flow intake manifold with centre inlet, tubular stainless steel exhaust manifold, GT28RS turbo, custom stainless 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden inside exit, #Bosch-EV14 long nozzle 550cc injectors, single line fuel rail feed, Bosch 044 and Bosch four-bar regulator located in the rear of the car, custom BackFire harness, AEM Infinity 6 management, custom underdrive pulleys, Clutch Net four-puck racing clutch and pressure plate, custom fabricated 23x7” intercooler with end tank made to wrap around the radiator. Twin Forge blow-off valves, custom BackFire motor mount spacers, BFI Mk3 green motor mounts, 02J transmission with Phantom grip and bolt kit, custom shift cables with ball joints for motorsports shifter, motor and transmission colour-coded.

    CHASSIS: 7.5x16” Crenshaw Classic two-piece wheels with 165/40/16 Federals tyres, Air Lift Slam Series suspension, V1 management, Prothane suspension bushings, G60 11” brakes with Euro-spec four to five bolt hubs, Adaptec 5x100 to 5x120 adapters, Mason Tech Great Plates, 3.5-degree rear camber shims.

    EXTERIOR: Custom mint green respray, pulled arches, shaved side markers, shaved rear emblems, front plastic arches on rear, early Golf small-door trim, custom Westmoreland badgeless grille, bi-xenon projectors, 16v lip, removable single wiper, single driver side DTM mirror, passenger mirror delete, shaved rear exhaust cut out, red taillights, European-spec small bumpers, ’85 rear window glass with no third brake light.

    INTERIOR: SPG seats with colour-coded backs, trimmed in black leather and suede with mint colour stitching by Loves Trim shop, matching trimmed doorcards, #Sparco Camlock seatbelts, BackFire custom motorsports shifter with Durlin shift knob, #Vortex centre console, AEM True Boost gauge and air/fuel meter, Autometer air intake temperature gauge, radio dash delete, custom LED speedometer gauge lights, hidden battery behind rear passenger’s doorcard, hidden #Viair 450c compressor behind rear driver’s doorcard, custom 2.5” aluminium polished roll-cage that functions as a 4.5 gallon air tank, custom stress bar with vintage fire department steamer gauge, ’85 rear pillar covers with no seatbelt holes, power windows, door locks, sunroof and trunk release, Memphis Bluetooth audio adapter directly into Kenwood Excelon X700-5 amplifier, Hertz 6.5” HSK165 components speakers, DXC100 4” dash speakers, Hertz EXC 570 5x7” rear speakers.

    SHOUT: First off I want to thank my wife Melissa and my kids James and Caleigh for helping me out and being there while I built this car, BNR Motors in Meriden CT for letting me do the bodywork and paint in their booth, Brian Hall and James Juaire for helping me get my rear quarters straight, Air Lift, Igor at Clutch Net, Jay Bird at The Shine Lab, a super big thank you to Kip Love from Love’s Trim shop, my car would be half of what it is without the interior that he made, my cousin Bobby who stayed up the last week with me almost 24 hours a day to finish it, Scott Norton, Kevin MacDougall, everybody else that helped me get it ready for H2O and Sam Dobbins from More Than More. Check out Bopper_backfirefab on Instagram or
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    BIG BAD WOLFF / #VW-Beetle / #Volkswagen-Beetle / #Volkswagen / #1961 / #VW /

    After over a decade involved with the watercooled VW scene, Andreas Wolff switched his allegiance to worship at the church of air. This ’1961 VW-Beetle is the end result…

    Words: Simon Jackson. Photos: Patrick Hille.

    “For me it’s the only real Volkswagen – I love the Beetle. It’s a special car, not only because of the design, but because young and old people love them – the passion is huge.”

    Berlin-based Andreas Wolff has been into cars, and primarily Volkswagens, since he was a kid. His teenage dream was admittedly pretty humble; he hankered after a Mk2 Polo hatch believe it or not, a dream he fully realised aged just 20 with a hopped-up 1988 86C project running a tidy 240bhp 1.5-litre turbo lump, and shod with deliciously timeless BBS E30 split-rims. That car stayed in Andreas’ possession for ten long years, it transformed numerous times during that period too, leading him on to a bunch of other VW projects afterwards. Two Mk2 Golfs, a rare two-door Mk2 Jetta, and a string of modified VAG daily drivers followed, but after over a decade dabbling in Wolfsburg’s various water-cooled offerings, Andreas made the switch across to the older air-cooled VW motors. In summer 2009 a classic Beetle project finally beckoned.

    “I searched for three long months until I found the car I wanted near Hannover,” Andreas explained, “I wanted a pre-’64 Beetle with a rag-top in good condition and in a rare colour.”

    Andreas came across the green ’61 1200 you see here and instantly knew it was the right car for him. Complete restoration work had been undertaken some 12 years previously, so the vehicle was in decent nick, yet rocking some signs of patina and interior distress. Various parts were either missing or weren’t period correct on the car (which bugged Andreas), but the 31-year-old reasoned that he’d be able to put all that to rights easily enough. This, despite the fact he knew nothing about either sourcing Beetle parts, or working on, and navigating his way around, the cars themselves. Who worries about little details like that, eh?

    Andreas bought and drove the ’61 as it stood (bar the additions of an #EMPI shifter and #K&N filter) a few times a week over a two-month time frame, until winter arrived. With the howl of wind, rain and snow, the car was taken off the road for the planned transformation to commence.

    “I love the colour, it’s one of the rarest; it’s called Beryl green and they only painted Beetles in it between 1961-’63,” he said. “I also love red, so I decided to mix both colours. My inspiration is my wife Astrid.”

    Andreas and Astrid make no excuses for having a crush on the ’50s and ’60s, so Andreas decided to style the car, nicknamed ‘Betty’, in a ’50s Americana vein. While we’re not usually fans of people naming their cars, with the story behind Andreas’ car, we’ll make an exception… “On the aluminium part of the rag-top the name Bettina Giljohann has been scratched in,” he recalled. “It might be the name of a previous owner, so the car is called ‘Betty’. That’s also why Betty Boop is on the mirror inside; a symbol for classic America.”

    So, October 2009 saw Andreas kick-start his planned programme of mods. First the car was fastidiously checked for rust and rot. Fresh rubbers, lights, and other parts went on to the car, and Andreas ripped out its interior, which it turned out wasn’t original, having come out of a later 1968 car. It took eight weeks to track down a period perfect set of 1961 inners, but Andreas used this time wisely to prepare his air-ride setup. Now, many folk we come across have their air-assisted gubbins fitted by an external expert, but Andreas built his up at home (tank, valves, compressor and tubes) learning as he went.

    “The first problem was the spring plates; they were rusted to the torsion bars, so I needed new plates and bars!” Andreas recalled. “Then I worked on the narrowed front beam with lowered steering knuckles, and the air-ride shocks.” Andreas also added his reworked wheels at this point, narrowed at the front from 4” to 3.5x15”, and banded those out back to 5.5”, up from the original 4”.

    Andreas then fitted new carpets and gauges, and refinished the whole cabin in white and red vinyl in a ’50s diner-style, he painstakingly undertook all this work himself. “I put in the new carpet and some details like the VDOs, MPH speedometer, a secret modern stereo and I painted the interior pearl white and put the red/white vinyl leather in by myself. It was a lot of work!” Andreas said.

    With the interior looking far sprightlier, Andreas moved his attentions on to the engine compartment out back. Some brave soul had painted the ’bay orange (we just hope it wasn’t Betty…), so this needed addressing quick smart. Black paint was shot across the bulkheads, accented with Andreas’ white/red theme, and the block was polished up to a presentable level too. And that’s how the Beetle stood for its first show season in 2010.

    “When the next winter came I decided to change something more on the technical side,” Andreas said, “so I fitted a new longer range gearbox and swing axle, which is very difficult to change – it was the first time I’d ever done this!”

    While Andreas had the car apart he also changed that first air-ride install. His original system had employed axle valves, which Andreas switched to single wheel valves: “The air-ride is home-made,” he explained. “I spent weeks on it. I wanted to lower the car as much as possible with the perfect stance. I can now drive it with 0bar of pressure on its shocks.”

    In fact there were a few teething problems with the air-ride system. Andreas found himself chasing a leak around the car for some time, only to discover a dodgy weld on the tank was to blame. With this located and the tank changed in good faith by the supplier, everything has run beautifully since. Andreas also sourced and fitted a rare set of Porsche 356 carburetors. A Piper exhaust and electric ignition setup was slotted on for good measure, excess cables were relocated or removed, and the heater arrangement was deleted for aesthetical purposes.

    The ’bay now looked pretty smart. A couple of cool additional details, like badges and that driving school secondary mirror were added for a splash of personality. Ultimately though, Andreas has tackled the whole lot himself bar any welding, and all in an underground car park where he couldn’t even fully open the car’s doors! After this second stage of the makeover the car now completely reflects Andreas’ original brief; hinting at ’50s and ’60s American themes and colourways, and looking every inch the cool classic.

    “I was a bit doubtful of how people would react to the car at its first outing because of the colour mix, but in Austria for Wörthersee 2010 everyone was positive,” Andreas said. Since the trip to the ’See, the car has been well received all across Europe at events from MIVW in Holland to the Wolfsgruppe VAG Event in Poland, and seeing it in print here we’re sure it won’t surprise you to hear that. Having crossed over from the water- to air-cooled VW scenes, Andreas is better placed than most to pass comment on how the two sides of the Volkswagen coin compare. “Both scenes are very cool, both are special,” he said.

    “But I hate it when guys discriminate against each other because of their preference, we all have the same passion; cars! But the retro car scene is growing up, many of my friends have started projects with old cars (not only VWs). It’s a new love and I think some guys were inspired by Betty!”

    We often joke that project cars are never finished, but could Andreas’ be the exception to that rule? “It’s the first car for me where I can say yes! It is finished, I think Betty is perfect,” he laughed. “There are no new projects planned, but the dream is an American V8, a muscle car or ’rod from the ’30s to the ’60s. We’ll see…”

    Yes, we will see. In fact, we would actually love to see Andreas’ customised take on a thoroughbred period American motor – something tells us it would be pretty damn special.

    “It’s the first car for me where I can say yes! It is finished, I think Betty is perfect”

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 1600cc air-cooled engine with Porsche 356 #Zenith-NDIX-32 carburetors, #Piper exhaust, 123ignition 12V electrics, heating system deleted, cables and brackets deleted and smooted, ’bay repainted gloss black with red/white details, long Rancho gearbox.

    CHASSIS: Front beam shortened 3.25”, lowered steering knuckles, notched rear spring plates, lowered rear torsion bars, highjackers front/back for the air-ride function, 19L chrome tank with four valves and #VIAIR / #Viair-480 / Viair compressor, front wheels narrowed from 4” to 3.5x15” with 135/70 tyres, banded rear wheels from 4” to 5.5x15” with 185/65 tyres, Ravus system whitewalls with stainless steel hubcaps and beauty rings.

    OUTSIDE: Export bumpers, colour-coded roof, US-spec sealed beam front lights with yellow tints, US-spec red rear clusters, hooded Albert swan-neck mirrors, pop-out rear windows, red window breezies, red/white Berlin badge on the front hood, lots and lots of chrome.

    INSIDE: Red/white interior, EMPI shifter, flower vase with red/white flowers, hidden air-ride control, rabambus storage, MPH-speedometer, RPM and oil temp #VDO in original speedometer optic (needle strips), Venetian shades at rear, driving school double mirror, original #Blaupunkt-Frankfurt radio with one speaker, #Hirschmann antenna, hidden modern stereo with #Pioneer head unit, two-way rear-system and subwoofer.

    SHOUT: Special thanks to my wife (Astrid), Denis, Moosi, Janek, Low-Familia, Watercooled-Customs and Patrick Hille/
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    Super-clean with devilishly delicious details, this gorgeous bagged E30 makes it look so easy. This super-clean bagged E30 keeps things deliciously clean, though the devil is in the detail. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    We probably say this about every E30 we feature but it really is a car that requires next to no exterior addenda to make it look awesome. The older BMWs are definitely blessed with this natural elegance and irresistible appeal that means even a wellkept standard E24 or E34 will look fantastic. And, when enhanced with even just a subtle drop and the right wheels, the ‘cool’ and ‘want’ factors go through the roof! Drop it on a killer set of special wheels and, well, you’ve pretty much achieved automotive perfection right there.

    Just look at this E30. It looks absolutely awesome, a visual treat that’s hard to beat but break it down and there’s been precious little done to the exterior, minimising the risk of ruining the whole thing. It kisses the Tarmac when parked up thanks to that front splitter and the copper centres on those polished Gottis (which are tucked to perfection) add a fantastic flash of colour, but that’s it. It’s just so super-clean, so simple and so damn good you’d never get tired of ogling this piece of petrolhead porn.

    Abraham Cruz is the American modifier behind this delicious build and, amazingly, this is his first ever BMW and only his second modified car, having come from a trio of Civics. Considering he’s conjured up this magnificent E30, we can forgive him for that. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I sold my RHD Civic in 2011, which was a full show build. What makes BMW’s special to me is that they are incredible machines, mechanically and aesthetically. They are really fun to drive as well,” he says. “I have always loved the E30 model. Everything about it is beautiful. I also wanted a car that was an ’89, like the year I was born. I found ‘Eve’ on Craigslist. The condition she was in was pretty horrible, with faded paint, a bunch of dings and dents, a cracked dash, a beat up interior etc. I saw the potential in her and that’s why I decided to purchase her. She was actually supposed to be a daily driver but that quickly changed once I sent her in for paint.”

    With a fresh coat of black paint, the E30 was looking much better than when Abraham had purchased it and, presented with what was now an exceedingly clean car, the temptation to turn it into something even more special was too strong to resist. “I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to go with a simple but classy look,” he says, and that’s a philosophy he’s remained true to throughout the three years and numerous changes the car has been through during that time. The exterior perfectly captures this ethos, with minimal effort for maximum impact. Abraham turned his attention to the E30’s styling on our side of the Pond and opted for a Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler and Euro grilles.

    These additions are complemented by a set of Hella Smiley headlights and a set of #MHW smoked taillights. This smokey theme continues with some ZKW smoked repeaters and smoked foglights. The finishing touches, a flourish of OE additions, include an M Tech 1 rear spoiler, an iS front lip enhanced with a Ryan G splitter for optimum Tarmac interface, a BMW front plate filler and a set of Motorsport door handles.

    The decidedly dark exterior theme looks fabulous, though Abraham clearly figured that a flash of colour would work wonders, retaining the amber indicators in the front bumpers and then adding those wheels. These were actually purchased in tandem with a set of BBS RSs but we’ve got to say the Gottis it’s currently wearing (8x16” ET11 G1001s allround) are a breath of fresh air, especially in that lush shade of copper. The custom colour is gorgeous but only covers the faces, including the faintest sliver between the edge of the lips and the centres; the sides of the spokes have been finished in gunmetal, along with the bolts, and then the lips have been polished to perfection. It’s a heady combination and the contrast against the allblack body really makes the wheels pop.

    On the suspension front, Abraham was already an advocate of the low lifestyle but his dedication to the cause was causing frustration as the poor E30 was scraping everywhere. So, in order to keep things lovely and low whilst also making the car that little more practical he decided to head down the air-ride route – now a road very well-travelled by many BMW owners. He grabbed himself an Air Lift kit with BC damping adjustable dampers, Viair compressor and a four-gallon tank, all watched over by Air Lift V2 digital management. Of course, when it comes airride, the suspension is only half the story; just as important is how it looks when it goes in your boot. Well, pop open Abraham’s boot and you’ll find a very clean, unique build, with the single air tank proudly on display, sitting on a wood grain floor.

    Under the bonnet you will notice two things: first, it’s very clean. Second, there be wood in here. Well, not actual wood, it’s a hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover that carries on the woody theme from the boot and interior. It’s certainly not something you see everyday, that’s for sure. The reason the bay looks so clean is because Abraham has carried out a mild wire tuck, just to make it all a little more presentable beneath the bonnet and he’s also added a few neat little touches like the E46 M3 oil filler cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, and the crackle black intake manifold. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also discover a chipped ECU and an Ireland Engineering cat-back exhaust.

    Abraham hasn’t done much to the interior but then again this is an interior that doesn’t really need much in the way of work to get the most from it, much like the rest of the car. While some of you out there might not be fans of light leather, we’re rather partial to it and the cream hide in here is the perfect contrast to the blacker-than-black exterior, with the front seats coming from an E30 Saloon. We mentioned more wood in the interior and it takes the shape of that gorgeous Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob, which has also been treated to a leather gaiter. Another leather gaiter protects the E36 leather handbrake handle, while a set of Schnitzer pedals, an analogue Euro clock and a custom E30dad cluster finishes the whole lot off. We can’t think of many places that would be nicer in which to spend some quality time than this exceedingly clean, classic interior.

    As gorgeous as Abraham’s car now is, having gone through numerous incarnations during its time with him already, it is in no way surprising to learn that he has more planned for the future. “I’m going to tackle the interior next,” he says. “I’m fitting a new custom black headliner and I have some Recaro LS seats that I’m going to get reupholstered. There’ll possibly be an interior colour change from tan to peanut butter. I’ll be swapping in an LS2 engine from a Corvette in the near future as well!” That sounds amazing; it sounds like this E30 will continue to be a breath of fresh air.

    Ari Lift air-ride kit was chosen to allow this E30 to sit low but still remain practical to own and drive.

    Lots of wood about the place on this E30, from the gorgeous Nardi steering wheel to eye-catching air-ride install and even the engine…

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Air-Ride #BMW-325i-E30 / #BMW-325i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #M20 / #BMW-M20 , #K&N drop-in air filter, chipped ECU, #Ireland-Engineering cat-back exhaust, Hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover, OEM E46 M3 oil cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, crackle black intake manifold, mild wire tuck, five-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS 8x16” ET11 (front and rear) #Gotti-G1001 wheels with custom copper faces and gunmetal windows and bolts, Yokohma S drive 195/40 (front and rear) tyres, #Adaptec 4x100 to 5x120 adapters with extended studs, #Air-Lift Performance air-ride, BC damping adjustable dampers, #Air-Lift-V2 digital management, #Viair compressor and four-gallon tank, drilled and slotted Brembo discs.

    EXTERIOR Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler, Euro grilles, Hella smiley headlights, #MHW smoked taillights, #ZKW smoked turn signals, smoked foglights, #BMW front plate filler, OEM #M-Tech 1 rear spoiler, OEM iS lip/Ryan G splitter, #BMW-Motorsport door handles.

    INTERIOR Saloon front seats, #ACS Gen 1 pedals, Nardi Droopy Spoke wood grain steering wheel, Boss hub, Nardi Evo wood grain gear knob, leather gear and handbrake gaiters, E36 leather handbrake handle, Euro analogue clock, custom E30dad cluster, wood grain custom boot setup.
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    FINE AND CANDY / #VW-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk5 / #VW-Golf-Mk5 / #Volkswagen / #VW / #VAG / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf

    Craig Levens has always liked colourful cars, but his latest Candy creation is probably the most talked-about to date. Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: John Colley.

    “It’s the colour,” explained Craig Levens while carefully massaging the microfibre over his candy-coated creation. “People love the colour, I get asked over and over what colour it is.” The 30- something Cumbrian custom car connoisseur is used to fielding colour queries; this one-off GTI is not his first attempt at a hot hue on a mad motor: “I had a bright orange Subaru STI before this,” he told us. “I was deep into the Scooby scene back then and the car had every modification available on it, as well as a lot of custom stuff.” Craig was obviously munching on the Scooby snacks pretty hard; the 450bhp flat-four 4x4 cost a rumoured £100,000 in parts and labour. Strong money indeed, but Craig did get a lot of Subi silverware and legend status among Fast Car types, bagging ‘Best in Britain’ in 2009 didn’t hurt either.

    While what he’s trying to express may have changed, Craig’s got the hang of using colour to make a statement, but fast and loud have given way to cool and classy. “The car has undergone a couple of makeovers to get it to where it is now, but playing with colour has really changed its character all through the project,” he said. Craig admits the GTI was nice enough straight out-of-the-box, aside from a little rims-andsprings action he was content to leave it factory fresh. “My friend had one,” recalled Craig. “It was awesome to drive, from the first minute I drove one I knew I had to own one.”

    Anyone who’s been on the hunt for a Mk5 will know the perils involved; there’s no shortage of cars, but small cars that go fast get trashed and/or pranged with inevitable predictability. A good few weeks of intense searching eventually unearthed what looked like ‘the one’. “I found it on Pistonheads, a black ’54-plate Mk5 GTI, reasonably priced, low mileage and in great condition,” Craig recalled. “I had to move fast; I saw the ad at eight in the morning and drove three hours that day to pick it up.” The mildly modded fifth generation Golf was perfect for what Craig had in mind: Eibach springs, #BBS CH reps and a gentle tinkering with the ECU was the sum of the aftermarket antics. “I was planning to add some stereo upgrades and just a few bits and bobs really, that was it,” he told us.

    Given his history with the STI and the fact that the car was delivered straight to Plush Automotive in Leicester on the day of purchase, no one was fooled. “The car was bagged within the first month,” he laughed. “Luke at Plush pulled out all the stops to get it done. Plush is always busy and you have to book months in advance. I wasn’t expecting to have the car even touched for ages!” Craig had barely got his name on the logbook in November 2009, and by the time fat man was sliding down the chimney that year plans were already underway to have the car at Ultimate Dubs early in 2010.

    Show car status was going to call for more than merely bags and BBS. So, with a makeover needed and time at a premium, a plan was hatched to go all-out on the interior. “I wanted to do something completely different that would really make the car stand out,” Craig explained.

    A headliner to carpet bright aqua retrim contrasting against the factory black paint certainly did the job! “I added a lot of accents before the show like a Lambo Gallardo steering wheel and some Euro touches to the exterior; the whole package looked good.”

    After Ultimate Dubs, Craig finally got to take the car out of Plush and back home to Cumbria… briefly. “Unfortunately that’s been the story ever since I’ve owned the car,” lamented Craig, “with family commitments, I’m unable to attend all the shows or take the car to places to have it worked on as I live about a four-hour drive away from most of the shows and shops.

    Just recently for example I decided to lend my good friend, and owner of The Install Company, Phil the car so he could take it to as many shows as he wanted, which would enable him to showcase his insane skills and promote his new business. We do meet up at shows from time to time so I can have a look at my own car, which is quite a surreal feeling!” Craig admits the months that followed saw him slowly edge towards the slippery slope of another total makeover for the car. “Things started to get a little out of hand in 2011,” he laughed. “I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get as involved in another project as time-consuming or expensive as the Subaru, but, well, you know…”

    Towards the end of 2011, Craig turned his attention to the engine; a light upgrade was to be the order of the day, he’d already done the whole fire-breathing monster motor thing with the Subi, so mild tuning would do just fine on the Mk5. Aside from the obvious cosmetic work on and around the mill, a lot of it courtesy of Forge, the 2.0-litre turbo has received a Revo Stage 2+ and HPFP (High Pressure Fuel Pump) upgrade.

    Craig reckons the PDT Tuning massaged motor now makes a little over 265 ponies with a healthy 290lb ft of torque. “I originally felt that I should have gone with the Edition 30 Golf, with the KO4 turbo as standard, but Dave at PDT unlocked so much power and drivability from the GTI engine, it’s now a total blast to drive.”

    The following year saw the car largely undercover. Major mods were afoot and 12 months out of the limelight would barely get the work done. “Over the last few years Ultimate Dubs has kinda become the show that we work to as a deadline,” he told us. “Pretty much all the major mods have been unveiled there.”

    Early 2013 would be crunch time and showgoers were in for a big surprise. If there is an exterior finish that can blend stunning, while subtle and crazy, with classic, it’s the scrupulous solvent-based automotive nectar that is Candy paint, and Craig had acquired gallons of the stuff: “I wanted something different,” he explained. “I always loved House of Kolor paints and felt that this car needed something to make it stand out from the crowd. I wanted a classy colour that would never age.

    “I looked at doing a colour that would go with my aqua interior at first but I found nothing that blew me away. Eventually I decided to sell the interior and the possibilities were endless after that. I always liked Candy red but this is quite a popular colour and a little boring if I’m honest, so I looked for different shades of the red, from dark through to light. That’s when I came across the Brandywine; as soon as I saw it I was hooked. Because the original colour of the car was black it made sense to go with the black base coat to give the finished job a rich deep look; the desired finish we wanted was a beautiful Hennessy bottle red.”

    Candy is notoriously tricky stuff to work with, even seasoned painters fear it. The trouble is that true Candy isn’t really paint at all, it’s a translucent tint; a thin almost see-through coating that is as unforgiving to work with as the average traffic warden. The stuff has to be applied with robotic precision, anything but a perfect, even coat and you’ve left the door open to blotches, dark spots and stripes in the finish.

    “It took about nine months to paint the car,” Craig said. “Tim at True Paintworks in Leicester did all the work. It took three months just to get the paint. Then it wasn’t just the paint; Tim was faced with doing all the other bodywork mods as well.” Craig told us he was more than a little eager to see what the custom Candy would look like on the car, but didn’t put the paintshop on the clock: “I told him I didn’t have a deadline for the job, just to take as long as it took to get it perfect. He took his time and did a fantastic job. He had the odd issue here and there but nothing he couldn’t sort out. His skill is extraordinary, I mean just look at the car… it looks like it’s covered in Cognac.”

    Tying the entire Candy brandy bad boy exterior makeover together are a set of seldomseen RSV Forged three-piece split-rim wheels. “I chose them simply because I wanted something completely different, and I have yet to see another set of these in the UK,” explained Craig. “I went with the finish as it matches the Satin grey detail on the exterior of the car, tying it in perfectly. AirLift Performance struts with camber adjust, AccuAir management and Bilstein rear shocks assist with altitude adjustment: “The chassis is notched and lots of custom work was carried out by The Install Company to make the whole setup work,” explained Craig, “including a full stainless steel hardline install. Mine is one of only two cars in the UK to have been done the same way.”

    Craig’s lowriding Hennessy hot hatch is more than just pretty paint job, though. Aside from a myriad of understated mods blended into the bodywork under the Brandywine, the creative custom work continues into the cabin. “Initially I threw a stockish black interior in the car after the aqua trim was sold, although that was a stop-gap measure,” recalled Craig. “I wanted a retrim that would work with the candy colour to form an overall character for the car. The old aqua black contrast was bold and didn’t take too many prisoners. The new interior blends better as it complements the exterior and brings out the class.”

    McLaren MP4-12C front seats are the centrepiece of the interior: “They were owned by a friend who I pestered until he gave in and sold them to me,” Craig explained. “I knew they would be a great addition to the Mk5 interior and make it more unique.” Steve at Edge Automotive in Rugby stitched up the black and Merlot masterpiece swathed in yards of finest Alcantara, and carbon detailing is peppered throughout as the Mk6 and 7 Series VW extras. “We ordered a US Spec driver’s doorcard to replicate the UK doorcard on passenger side,” revealed Craig. “It’s a small detail, but that’s what the project is all about; I wanted to concentrate on attention to detail everywhere.” The Hennessy air freshener certainly didn’t go unnoticed…

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo, S3 Intercooler, #Forge-Motorsport Twintercooler with black silicone hoses, Forge Motorsport polished oil cap, water cap, washer cap, polished atmospheric DV Valve, ITG intake painted satin grey, Autotech Uprated fuel pump internals, R8 coil packs, Stage 2+ Revo mapping, Eurojet Turbo back exhaust, Fuse box cover painted Satin grey, battery cover painted Satin grey, Forge Motorsport front-to-back shortshift, Forge Motorsport side-by-side short-shift.

    CHASSIS: RSV: S|1 series 19” RSF1 three-piece forge wheels, centres painted matte gunmetal, lips and barrel painted gloss gunmetal, hidden hardware, 215/35/19 and 225/35/19 Nankang NS2 tyres, M14-M12 stud conversion kit, D12 gunmetal wheel nuts, #AirLift front/rear performance struts, Bilstein rear shocks, Whiteline anti-lift kit, Powerflex wishbone mounts, #Powerflex control arm bushes, H&R 24mm front anti-roll bar, H&R 28mm rear anti-roll bar, BSH rear drop links, #AccuAir ‘E’ Level, 2x380cc #Viair compressors, 2x three Gallonpolished seamless air tanks, chassis ‘notched’, strut towers cut to allow camber adjustment on the font, Forge Motorsport front: 356mm, six-pot BBK, Forge Motorsport rear: 330mm, four-pot #BBK (includes separate handbrake caliper), calipers and disc bells painted in HOK Brandy wine with Charcoal ‘Forge’ decals.

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in House of Kolor Brandywine Candy, OEM Mk5 R32 Xenon headlights (split and painted Satin grey with Brandywine Mk7 GTI-style stripe), USA spec front bumper, smoked USA side-markers, Votex lip smoothed into front bumper, smoothed underside of bonnet frame, Mk6 Golf R mirrors grafted into Mk5 baseplates, Mk1 Audi TT filler cap grafted in, Edition 30 rear bumper smoothed together and edges faded away, front wings widened 10mm, rear arches pulled 5mm, R32 rear lights. Mk6 rear boot handle; centre of handle; centre of Votex lip; centre of rear bumper; smoothed GTI front grill; open fog grills; wiper arms; rear scuttle panel; and smoothed front slam panel all in Satin grey.

    INTERIOR: Wine/charcoal Alcantara trim (every panel), wine/charcoal Alcantara mats, carbon fibre and charcoal Alcantara Mk7 GTI MFSW, carbon fibre dash strips, door strips, fire extinguisher, centre console inserts, McLaren MP4-12C front seats trimmed with original stitch pattern, Mk6 GTI roof liner and visors, Mk6 GTD rear seats trimmed to match the McLaren stitch pattern, Alcantara MK6 GTI gear knob, US-spec driver’s doorcard to replicate UK doorcard on passenger side, chrome tipped switches throughout, Cherry red hazard warning switch, Custom #AccuAir controller in centre console, Hennessy air freshener, #Dynavin N6 OEM-style head unit, Audison Voce Amp x 2, Audison Voce Component speakers, JL rear speakers, Audison 10” Voce subwoofer, #Audison Bit 10D processor, Bit 10D controller custommounted in roof, custom stainless steel, floating polish tank, hardline install, white LED lighting throughout interior/boot install.

    SHOUT: Chloe for putting up with me, Phil at The Install Company: this car wouldn’t have been finished without him. Russ Whitefield and Mark Gurney for all their help, Steve at Edge Automotive for the epic trim. Dale at Meguiar’s UK for looking after the paintwork and keeping it fresh, Paul at C6 Carbon, Tim at True Paintworks, Kris at Forge Motorsport for all my Forge Parts and RSV Forged for my wheels.

    The staggered 19” RSV: SI1 series RSF1 forge wheels may be a bit of a mouthful, but the fit, finish and uniqueness is what steals the show for us!

    It’s hard to believe Craig’s previous ride was a bright orange Subaru Impreza. Something’s obviously changed in his mindset, not entirely sure what, but we’re extremely pleased for him and us!
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    Another month, another mental M4 and this time around it’s the turn of Vorsteiner’s insane creation to take centre stage. Vorsteiner knows how to build a neck-snapping show car, as its audacious M4 so ably demonstrates. Words: Tony Saggu /// Photos: Andy Tipping

    On any given afternoon, depending on your perspective, the drive down to Los Angeles from the suburbs is either mind-numbingly monotonous motoring purgatory interspersed with flashes of near death near misses or a positively delightful adventure filled with sights and sounds to thrill and captivate car connoisseurs of all persuasions. LA flaunts her title as the car capital of the world, offering up an eclectic display of automotive machinery pulled straight from the daydreams and wish lists of car enthusiasts the world over. A sea of raging bulls and prancing horses jockey for attention with all manner of Stuttgart studs, flying spurs, Tri- Stars and Roundels. Even freeway gridlock can become spectacular static car show, if you see your glass as half full.

    The down side is that owning an exotic supercar or thoroughbred sports sedan in the City of Angels soon loses its cachet. Exclusivity quickly evaporates in the California summer sunshine. Familiarity has bred a contemptuous disinterest among the great unwashed, they’ve seen these cookies cut the same way far too many times before.

    You need to drive something a little out of the ordinary to catch the eye of the locals, and it’ll need to be pretty special to hold their interest. That’s where the talented team at Vorsteiner come in. With over a decade in the business of serving up speed and style from their Southern California auto dream factory, the Orange County customizing collective knows what it takes to drop jaws and blow socks clean off. The firm has carved out a pretty enviable reputation for designing and producing all manner of hardware for a select few vehicles, the kind of cars normally owned by chaps who don’t fly economy class and wear watches that cost a touch more than a modest flat in Bayswater. Fortunately the company has a particular soft spot for BMWs. Rethinking and redesigning Beemer bodywork is its core business in fact and history has shown it’s pretty damn good at it.

    As well as the skirts and spoilers many other tuners turn out, Vorsteiner has made a name for itself building fat fenders and wide arches. In fact, some of the most aggressively beautiful full-figured hardware to carry a Roundel on the boot in recent times also carries the now familiar V sign, too. Following up on the success of the M3, when BMW M GmbH announced in late 2013 that it would be offering a new F82 M4 model, Vorsteiner immediately put its name on the list to acquire one of the first few coupés destined for US shores. The designers’ brief was to create a finished product that gave a nod to the car’s M Power racing heritage. Giving it all the presence and character of a classic track terror while accentuating the car’s natural body lines, this was not going to be an exercise in strapping on a quartet of box arches on a showroom model. Complete functionality was another stated aim. Vorsteiner doesn’t pretend the conversion is a performance-maximising allout speed venture; it does, however, maintain that the makeover, despite its uniquely aggressive styling and glorious girth, retains the functionality and drivability of the base car.

    Perhaps equally as remarkable as the car’s extraordinary appearance is the fact that the colossal conversion, from stock to stunning, took a scant three weeks to complete! BMW delivered the car to the firm in mid-October, 2014; Vorsteiner’s extensive makeover was designed, produced, fitted, painted and finished for its debut at SEMA in early November. Job one on the new GTRS4 conversion was to brainstorm ideas among the design team and distil the various thoughts into one final vision; this could then be sketched and put on paper. Ten years in the creative customising game has ensured that the firm now has all the latest toys inhouse: Blue Light Laser Technology was employed to scan every inch of the new M car, CAD and CNC magic then effectively transformed the sketched rendering into actual prototype body panels that could be fitted to the M. Vorsteiner insisted that a great deal of redevelopment and redesigning of the kit occurred along the way; extensive lifesized clay modelling by the design team added a hands-on human dimension to form the panels to perfection. All the new panels are, in keeping with BMW’s own vision for the M4, constructed of lightweight carbon composite materials. Adding seven inches to the width of the rear of the car could have gone very wrong very quickly; we’ve seen far too many myopically modified motors with acres of fibreglass riveted to the sides claiming to be cool. While the wide-body treatment doesn’t tickle everyone’s fancy, we reckon the team has walked the line between elegant and insane pretty damn well. The rear archwork flows into a widened and redesigned rear bumper which carries an integrated diffuser, separation of colour and texture along with the addition of a quartet of polished pipes.

    The front fenders by comparison received a mere two inches of extra girth each. Those vents and scoops are not just for looks; the size, shape and placement of the openings have been carefully calculated to provide optimal cooling for the brakes and smooth airflow through the panels and past the car. A deep splitter comes integrated into the redesigned front bumper with plenty of extra ventilation supplied by extra grillwork. The finishing touch to the wide-body treatment was to refinish the shell in a few coats of the original BMW Austin yellow, a colour which Vorsteiner insist was no afterthought; attention-grabbing was the name of the game and black, white or silver just wasn’t going to get the job done. With daily drivability in mind and about a foot of rubber to hide seamlessly under the arches at each corner, some sophisticated suspension was called for. Bags and switches were the natural choice and the guys at nearby Boden Autohaus in Costa Mesa made it happen. The air affair is based around an Accuair E-Level system with a few custom touches. A brace of Viair compressors feed a five-gallon tank which distributes air through quarter-inch lines to custom bags at each corner. Bilstein struts handle damping duties.

    Full continuous control of ride height and driving characteristics ensures even spirited driving doesn’t introduce carbon to rubber or oilpan to pavement. The M4 is no shrinking violet in the horsepower stakes straight-outof- the-box but if you’re going to dress up a project car in street fighting attire, a little increase in pony power would seem to be a good idea. Vorsteiner has kept things fairly restrained with an ESS E-tronic remap, a multi-channel controller integrates RPM and MAF providing seamless and continuous control over boost and fuel across the rev range. The upshot of all the clever electronics and laptop engineering is a healthy 550 horsepower to spin those 13.5” rear rollers. Despite the model only being weeks on the market Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE) reportedly already had an M4 cat-back system on its shelf. With hours to spare before the car was to be loaded aboard for its trip to the country’s biggest aftermarket extravaganza, the boys at GT Auto Concepts bolted up the tubular finery. For ‘Angelinos’, Americans in general and Beemerphiles across the world, Vorsteiner’s work delivers extravagance with sophistication and exclusivity with taste… a rare mix.

    DATA FILE #BMW-M4-F82-GTRS4-Vorsteiner / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION 3.0 litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #S55 , #ESS E-Tronic, #Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE) cat-back exhaust, #Vorsteiner 90mm quad exhaust tip finishers (options: brushed/diamond black), 7-speed #M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 10.5x20” (front) and 13.5x20” (rear) #Vorsteiner-GTRS4 forged three-piece wheels in Gloss Brushed Shadow finish with 275/30 (front) and 345/25 (rear) tyres, #Accuair E-Level airbag system, #Bilstein dampers, #Viair compressors

    EXTERIOR Full GTRS4 carbon composite wide-body, carbon fibre front bumper with an integrated front splitter element, carbon fibre wide front arches with ventilation (two inches wider each side), carbon fibre aero side blade elements, carbon fibre wide rear arches (3.5 inches wider each side), carbon fibre rear bumper with integrated rear diffuser element

    INTERIOR Vorsteiner embroidered coloured floor and trunk mat set, Vorsteiner chrome trunk badging

    THANKS Accuair, Boden Autohaus, Innotech Performance Exhaust (IPE), GT Auto Concepts.
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