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    No brakes in the rainfall
    CAR: 1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / 1967 / Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / Alfa-Romeo

    OWNER: Evan Klein

    / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina-Type-105 / #1967 / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Marelli-Plex-electronic-ignition / #Marelli-Plex / #dual-Weber / #Weber

    That’s right, it’s 100% reliable. At least that’s what I tell everyone. Seems Alfas run great for short periods of time. I’m starting to become embarrassed when the car breaks; it doesn’t leave me stranded, it just, well, doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. And if I do tell anyone, I have to put up with the ‘Why don’t you get something new?’ speech.
    Last month, at the height of the Los Angeles rain-storms, the brake master cylinder failed, leaving me without brakes. OK, no problem, I’ll just carefully drive to the shop using that horrible under-dash handbrake. The traffic was horrendous, bumper-to-bumper, rain coming down in buckets. At one point I was following a motorcycle officer. If he only knew. Fortunately I arrived without incident. We lifted her up and pulled the brake master. A rebuilt Bonaldi unit was standing by; we put it on but it didn’t work. No pressure. What to do now? Its not like these single-circuit units are off-the-shelf items.

    We searched the shop, and with a stroke of luck found an original ATE rebuild kit. So we rebuilt my original, bolted it in and it worked. I had brakes, glorious, glorious, brakes again. King of the Road. We ate doughnuts to celebrate.
    That was Wednesday. On Thursday the brake pedal became very hard; the brake servo had decided to quit. Back to the shop. Have you priced a servo lately? Executive decision: let’s get rid of the servo and run a straight line.

    Now I had brakes again, test drive around the block, perfect. But I got a ‘Pop the hood’ request upon returning, the engine sounding funny and running on two cylinders. Bad gas? Carbs out of sync? Time for yet more fiddling. If it wasn’t for Guru Benny I would be driving something new. Everything is sorted now, I don’t smell of gas, my hands are clean. I have told no one; as far as the wife knows, the Alfa is 100% reliable.

    Above and below Giulia gets uncharacteristically wet during los angeles rain-storm; original master cylinder now rebuilt.
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    Audi in the 1970s, his Coupe S an exclusive GT variant would have set aside? Niklas Frist is currently giving an answer to this question with his precious Audi. Text & Photos: Ansgar Wilkendorf.

    / #1972-Audi-100-Coupé-S / #1972 / #Audi-100-Coupé-S / #Audi-100-Coupé / #Audi-100-C1 / #Audi-100 / #Audi / #Audi-100S-Coupe-C1 / #Audi-100S-Coupe-S-C1 / #Audi-100-F104

    Young Niklas looked out the window of his classroom at the teacher's parking lot. Of the many cars that stood there, however, interested the student only one: an Audi 100 Coupé S from 1972.

    The Audi 100 with the rear end in the Italo design of a Maserati Ghibli of the late 1960s, but at least a Fiat Dino of that time it had done to Niklas. He would like the car. There was only one problem or two: First, he did not have enough money for it, and second, the car belonged to his math teacher.

    But when the school was around, the then 17 -year-old in 1989 actually got the opportunity to buy the car for his former teacher for 19,000 crowns, or around 1,800 euros. To raise the money, he had to sell his moped with a heavy heart. For this he finally had his dream car. "The first drive brought me back from the world of dreams," smiles Niklas.
    "The head gasket had said goodbye, so I could only slowly roll home. Nevertheless, the great feeling was unbeatable. "But that came with time. Education and job simply did not leave him the space to continue the restoration that had begun, and so the car initially fell into oblivion. "A kind of Shelby version of Audi"

    "Just in time for my 40th birthday, I decided to breathe new life into the Audi," recalls Niklas, who is like his Coupé built in 1972. But he did not want to leave it at a restoration: "In his time, there was never a performance package or an exclusive GT variant for the coupe. Such a kind of Shelby version of Audi. I wanted to change that now with hindsight. "

    But before that there was a lot of sheet metal work to do. "The body looked so good at first," says the Swede. "But when the sandblaster had finished its work, there was not much left of it." For Niklas no reason to worry: He had come across several recommendations to Dan Johansson in Degefors, a "coachbuilder and sheet metal artist," the so far mainly styled American cars. Nevertheless, he quickly understood what his client wanted out. "The car was shaped to the wheels," smiles Niklas, "and grew accordingly in the width." The wheel arches come from the Golf 1 and that the end tips were widened, can be seen at the distance to the original remained bumper. "In the past, you could easily put a finger through it, today there is hardly room for a hair." In the course of the body work, the tank filler neck was moved one floor higher in the C-pillar. By the way, the owner of the coupe has cut the neck, welded here by Dan, out of a Victory motorcycle tank.

    The mix makes it!

    Under the new trunk floor not only the supply line to the tank has disappeared, but also the compressor, the valves and the air tank of Niklas implanted Airex air suspension. Previously, however, he had modified the entire powertrain. In cooperation with Bäcks Engine Overhauling first the engine received an update including cylinder extension, head machining, Weber respiration etc. The gear comes from a 1975 model year, so that the front brakes, which can be found on the 72er Coupe right and left directly to the switch box, could be moved to the outside in the wheels. Front as well as on the rear axle originating from the Golf 3 GTI is a four-piston brake system of three-Golf with 330 mm ventilated discs installed.

    Contact with the asphalt is maintained by the 225/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on the Dotz SP5 Dark in the 18-inch dimension. Of course, the exclusive GT variant also got an exclusive paint job. The paint called "Casino Royal GT Gray Metallic" comes from the supercar forge Aston Martin.

    Exclusive is also the interior. Hanngrens Car Interiour did a great job here. Both rows of seats were upholstered and newly upholstered with rough and smooth leather. Fittingly, the upholstery with the door and side panels and the dashboard. On headrests and mats you will find embroidered white lettering "Coupe S / GT". Hand-brushed aluminum has meanwhile replaced the wood look in the dashboard. The Luisi sports steering wheel got a new leather collar and the gear lever got a Simoni Racing gear knob.

    On the way Niklas enjoys the subtle sonorous sound of the 2.5-inch Ferrita stainless steel exhaust system. Every now and then it's a bit louder for the hard rock fan. With the support of buddy Racer Putte and AVD Sundvall, he has provided a suitable sound package. In the footwell works the two-way front system El Comp 5 of U-dimension. Under the backseat are two Prox 8 subwoofers, also of U-dimension, for fat basses.

    However, Niklas does not have much time to drive around. It is not just the job of Marketing Manager for Indian Motorcycles that captures him. It is also his new project, which he nicknamed "overkill". It is again the same type, but this year built in 1975. So much is already revealed: "What if Audi had built a rear-wheel drive S-Coupe with a V8 power plant under the hood ..."

    1. The filler neck comes from a motorcycle and has been placed in the C-pillar behind the gills
    2. Golf hubs thanks: behind the Dotz rims delayed a Golf-3 brake system.

    1st age Swede: Niklas Frisk and his Audi 100 Coupé S are both built in 1972
    2. Exclusive interior with brushed aluminum, rough and smooth leather
    3. Brilliant console custom made 4. The footwell houses the soundboard

    The shiny revised four-cylinder now makes 136 hp
    Who tuning parts that influence each other, combined without approval in the test certificates and drive with his car on public roads, comes in Germany not around an assessment in accordance with § 21 StVZO around. Tip: Let yourself be advised by an expert before the beginning of extensive conversions. The expert knows whether the planned tuning is approvable and can provide information on the expected assessment costs.
    Name: Niklas Frisk

    AUDI 100 COUPÉ S (1972)
    Engine: 1.9-liter four-cylinder (standard: 112 hp), cylinder drilled to 2.0-liter, flywheel balanced, head machined and planned, large valves, sport camshaft, Ajden Racing
    Intake manifold, two 45 #Weber twin carburettors, 123 ignition system, Red devil fuel pump,
    Aluminum fuel lines with AN8 connections, special aluminum radiator, electric fan, power 136 hp
    Suspension: Airex air suspension, Golf 3-wheel hubs front, Golf 3 GTI rear axle
    Wheel / Tires: #Dotz-SP5 Dark 8 x 18 inches with Michelin Pilot Supersport in 225/30 R20
    Body: Total restoration, self-made front spoiler, Golf 1 wheel arch widened by Dan
    Johansson, Dagefors; End tips widened, filler neck offset, recess for rear
    License plate, painted in "Casino Royal GT Gray Metallic" by Aston Martin
    Car-Hifi: Retro stereo radio, excursion HXA30 power amplifier for two-way front system El Comp 5
    of U-dimension, Excursion HXA2K power amp for Prox-8 subwoofers of U-dimension below the
    Rear seat, Hollywood cable and battery
    Interior: Luisi steering wheel with leather upholstery, original seats and rear seat upholstered and covered with rough and smooth leather (Hangreens Car Interiour), Speedhut instruments with S /
    GT lettering, Simoni Racing gear knob, coupe / SGT embroidery in the headrests and
    Floor mats, custom console, new straps
    Brakes: Four-piston brake system from the Golf 3 with 330 mm ventilated discs front and rear
    Exhaust: Ferrita 2.5-inch stainless steel system with 3-inch tailpipes
    Thanks to: Racer Putte and AVD Sundvall
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    Anger management

    CAR 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Saloon

    OWNER Evan Klein

    / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Saloon-Type-105 / #Alfa-Romeo / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina / #Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Berlina-Type-105 / #1967 / #1967-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Super-Type-105 / #Marelli-Plex-electronic-ignition / #Marelli-Plex / #dual-Weber / #Weber

    The guy was standing in the middle of the parking lot with his back to the car, wearing goofy red gym shorts and a puffy green jacket. To get his attention, I did what any gearhead would do with unfiltered dual Webers and a straight-through exhaust: I blipped the throttle. He spun around with a startled look and we locked eyes – it was actor Adam Sandler. He looked down at the Giulia and a huge smile spread across his face as he pointed at the car. I blipped again and smiled back.

    That’s the thing about classic cars: you can’t get mad at them. And it’s why I love the random nature of Los Angeles. Sure, I could have jumped out of the car and chatted to him, but no, a smile would do.

    The Giulia has had a busy month, trying to keep up with exotic cars in La Jolla at the concours show, and getting some new parts. I’d fitted a set of sport cams from Alfa guru Richard Jemison, then noticed one carb was having problems. No matter what we did, the air/ fuel mixture screws weren’t responding. We cleaned it and tried again, but still no go.

    Hmm. A rebuild? All the labour and parts would cost the same as a new carb, so, executive decision: new carbs. Done. And the car fired at first try. Once it had warmed up, the difference was Jekyll and Hyde; this thing was a little monster now, although I noticed a slight hesitation on initial throttle.

    Time to check out the distributor, #Marelli Plex electronic ignition, and idle jets. I compared my car’s distributor with another, on which the weights swing further out and the springs are smaller, giving more advance. And so we swapped the parts, checked the timing, and decided to go down a size in jets.

    Time for another trip around the block. Yes, it’s still fast but this time there’s no hesitation on take-off, and it pulls to the redline and then some without fuss. It is everything it should be. And I’ve now got my hands on a European airbox too, which will complete the look under the bonnet.

    As for the old carbs, once they were off, we saw that gas had been blowing against the back of the butterflies and not into the chamber. Easy fix, maybe. But the Alfa runs great and that’s the goal: more time driving, less time fixing.

    Above and below New cams, new carbs, and an ignition rebuild. The result? Hotter performance for this LA daily driver.
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    Wonderful 1800 Ti/SA race car.

    The Phoenix BMW 1800 Ti/SA. When BMW wanted to go Touring Car racing in the ‘60s it chose to use the wonderful Neue Klasse. When campaigning a car as obscure as the 1800 Ti/SA, you can’t let something as trivial as a massive, terrifying accident set you back. Especially when your whole racing career is founded on a bedrock of dreams… Words: Dan Bevis. Photography: Chris Frosin and BMW Classic.

    The world of historic racing has never been as rich, vibrant, and downright popular as it is right now. Cheerful, cherry-cheeked crowds descend upon Goodwood en masse for the annual Revival, clad in tweed and chiffon (not generally at the same time, but don’t rule anything out), their engorged numbers comfortably eclipsing anything you’ll find at any contemporary race meet – Formula One included. And the Revival is just one event; there’s also the Masters Historic series, the Silverstone Classic, and all manner of others. You can see more 1960s and ’70s race cars haring about now than you could back when they were current. The spectating public just can’t get enough.

    One of the highlights of the Revival for us is the classic Touring Cars; in particular the BMW 1800 Ti/SA racers. These are unusual and befuddling little poppets, generally erroneously identified as 2002s until people spot the extra doors and squared-off tails, whereupon much headscratching ensues. The reason for this is pretty simple: the 1800 Ti/SA is sufficiently rare to make a chicken’s bridgework seem comparatively abundant.

    These were fancy-pants models campaigned in the mid-1960s, using the 1800 Ti road car as a base – ‘SA’ stands for ‘Sonder Ausführung’, or ‘special version’. And it is just that. The revvy M10 motor produced an extra 20hp over stock – a heady total of 130hp – thanks to its juicy twin- #Weber-45DCOE carbs, counter-weighted crankshaft, big valves, 10.5:1 compression ratio, and competition cams. The chassis was beefed up with quicker steering, thicker anti-roll bars, bigger front discs and hubs, and an over-arching frisson of good times and mischief. Hubert Hahne won the German National Championship in one in #1964 , and then came second in the Spa 24-Hours with Rauno Aaltonen co-driving. These were serious cars and just 200 of them were ever built, only being sold to licensed racers and bona fide teams.

    This particular one has been catching our collective BMW Car eye with its alluring chequerboard stripes for some time, and we caught up with it at Goodwood to capture a few images in its native habitat without either hordes of admiring fans or a gaggle of oily mechanics swarming around it. Scrubs up pretty well, doesn’t it? And you may be interested to note that its owner and driver is the author Peter James. That’s right, he of the Roy Grace detective novels; winner of copious awards and relentless smasher of bestseller lists the world over. This old BMW, it seems, is rather a refreshing way to unwind.

    “Ever since the first Goodwood Revival, I dreamed of racing in this event,” Peter reminisces, a whimsical smile playing about the lips, “but first I needed to get a race licence and an eligible car. I read years ago that Paul Newman got his race licence at the age of 50, so I decided that when I hit 50, if I didn’t already have a licence by then I would damned well get one!”

    Admirable sentiment indeed. So with the half-century milestone achieved, Peter duly received a call from a mate offering a drive in a Citroën 2CV in a 24-hour race at Snetterton – a cosmic act of serendipity. The catch was that it was just eight weeks away and neither he nor his pal, Peter Rigg, had race licences.

    “We got them just in time, and I remember my terror the first time I drove out on to the circuit!” he laughs. “We raced 2CVs for the next six years, during which period Peter had less and less time due to business commitments and other demands on him, and I began racing with another very experienced 2CV and Renault Clio driver, Andre Severs.” This proved to be another turning point, as Peter and Andre set their sights on entering the Le Mans 24- Hour as privateers. Quite a step up, right? But you’ve probably spotted that Mr James enjoys a challenge…

    “We realised we needed to build up experience with faster cars, so we campaigned a Honda Accord Touring Car, and then the ex-Jason Plato SEAT Toledo in the BritCar series,” Peter explains. “In 2012 while I was away in the US, Andre had a massive accident at Oulton Park, breaking his neck and his back in two places. He’s fine now, fortunately, and back racing – but at the time was told he must never race again!” A definite a setback all-round, of course, and while all this was going on, Peter had been receiving tuition from former Mini and Metro champion Paul Taft, who suggested that historic racing might be more fun and less high-pressured than the modern tin-tops. This struck a chord with Peter, resonating with his longstanding aspirations for Goodwood glory, and so in January 2013 Paul introduced Peter to a chap named Richard Shaw at Laranca Engineering, the Solihullbased historic ‘commission to completion’ outfit. Richard races a Ti/SA himself, and just so happened to have a couple of similar cars for sale, and this – in combination with a successful introduction for Peter to Lord March, who was delighted by the idea of a James/BMW/Revival combo – is what sparked the tinderbox.

    “When I saw this white car, with black and white chequering on it, I was smitten!” says Peter. “Not only did it look gorgeous in this livery, it was virtually a ‘new’ car, having had a nut-and-bolt rebuild at Laranca, as well as having some competition history – it won a number of races back in the late 1960s and ’70s. It also had a massively robust roll-cage which, apart from making the car really stiff and tight, was a big safety bonus – something for which I was to be very grateful just a few months later…”

    Followers of Peter’s career will no doubt be aware of what he’s alluding to here – there was, ahem, an incident at Brands Hatch which resulted in the straight-as-an-arrow Ti/SA finishing the day in rather a different shape. Grit your teeth, as Peter painfully casts his mind back: “My co-driver for the race was Paul Taft. In qualifying, he put the car on P1 and we then had a long discussion about which of us would start the race. He felt that I should as it was my car, and that to start on pole would give me experience. I told him that with my lack of experience it would be hard, if not impossible, to maintain a lead. We then finally agreed on a strategy: I would start the race, do my best to defend our position, but knowing I would be letting some quicker drivers through – Paul would then jump in at the driver change and do his best to make up any ground I had lost.

    “I made a good start, but the car seemed a little down on power; as I came around towards Paddock Hill bend at the end of the first lap, at around 120mph I noticed a Lotus Cortina gaining on me and aiming to go inside. I moved over, closing the corner, but he didn’t back off and tapped the right rear wing as I turned in. With the rear being unweighted as I was braking, the car spun sideways – the front wheels caught the apex kerb and the car launched into the air at around 90mph, flipping over and then bouncing on its roof, finally rolling into the gravel on the far side of the circuit quite a way down the hill, and righting itself. I ended up with three broken ribs, a bruised spleen, three slipped discs, and a damaged right wrist carpal tunnel, which required surgery. Very fortunately I was wearing a HANS – something Paul had insisted on a couple of years earlier. Without it, I’m not sure I would be here.” Harrowing stuff indeed, and if you’re not too squeamish you can see the crash in its full horror on Peter’s YouTube channel, at The damage, as you can probably imagine, was extensive. £37,000-worth of extensive, in fact, with the car requiring an improbable amount of fresh steel and straightening. It’s testament to Laranca’s skills and fastidiousness that the car is as flawless as you see it today; this was no remedial patch-up job, but rather an opportunity to take the Ti/SA back to first principles and build it back up as a perfect example of the breed. Classic, as original as possible, but better than new.

    Before long, much to Peter’s unfettered joy, his dream of driving at the Revival was realised – with Steve Soper sharing the drive, no less. “That was very special, he’s a true hero to so many,” beams Peter with his trademark infectious smile. “We got a terrific reception, and an amazing reaction from the crowd. Steve finished fifth in the St Mary’s Trophy Part 1 and I, having spun whilst lying in 12th, managed 20th – we got tenth place overall. One nice bonus is that Steve and his wife Louise have become good friends of mine. I’ve subsequently raced each year at Donington, Brands, Silverstone, and the Revival again last year, 2015, where I co-drove with Amanda Stretton – we got 15th overall.”

    From what must have been a savage low point, a dream car reduced to a battered tangle of despair, such successes come as rare and refreshing fruit to Peter. The Ti/SA, rich in competition history, continues to amuse and delight, all in-keeping with its history and character – and the frightening wreckage has, in a sense, further forged the bond: “I love this car, and have a particular affection for it as it really did look after me in what was a pretty massive accident,” Peter enthuses. “My wife, Lara, has recently got her ARDS race licence – currently she’s racing our Fiat Abarth Evocation and Austin A35, but once she’s built up enough points to get her International licence, I hope to take the BMW to races in continental Europe; Spa, Dijon, Monza, and Paul Ricard are among the circuits I hope to be racing at in the future. Closer to home, I’ll be racing at Thruxton, Castle Combe and Donington this year.” And so it goes, in a relentless cycle of oldtimey entertainment and halcyon thrills. Proof indeed that when your dreams come true, there’s little that can hold you back…

    “I love this car, it really did look after me in what was a pretty massive accident…”

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-1800Ti-SA / #BMW-1800Ti / #BMW / #M10 / #BMW-M10 / #M10B18 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 1.8-litre M10 four-cylinder, twin- #Weber 45DCOE carbs, counter-weighted crankshaft, big valves, 10.5:1 compression ratio, competition cams, five-speed #Getrag dog-leg ’box, LSD

    CHASSIS: 14-inch Minilites with Dunlop CR65 5.50M-14 crossply control tyres, front discs and rear drums, lowered and uprated suspension

    EXTERIOR: All-steel, debumpered, chequerboard graphics

    INTERIOR: Stripped, FIA weld-in roll-cage, gauge/switch panel with Stack dials mounted ahead of original gauges, OMP steering wheel on snap-off boss, Sparco driver seat and Recaro passenger seat with race harnesses

    THANKS: Huge thanks to Richard Shaw and Vic Ingram at Laranca Engineering. They and their whole team are brilliant – highly efficient and always supportive and fun to be with

    “When I saw this white car, with black and white chequering on it, I was smitten!”
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    FULL-ON ’02 Classic beauty boasts race-spec M10 power

    SITTING PRETTY Race-spec M10-powered ’02

    It’s easy to get carried away with getting your car’s stance spot-on, with achieving that perfect look but, as this flawless ’02 demonstrates, sometimes form just follows function… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Seb Mol.

    Stance. That’s a tricky word, isn’t it? A loaded buzzword that, in recent times, has become an allencompassing way of life for some and anathema to others. Vast swathes of modifiers devote every waking hour to calculating with millimetric precision how the lips of their new rims will kiss their arches just-so, while others merely look on appalled, using words like ‘ruined’ and ‘pointless’. This game wouldn’t be any fun if everyone was playing by the same rules, though, would it? Diversity is what motivates us and we’re sure that’s the case for you too. And today we’re taking it old-school.

    We thumbed through our dog-eared and crumbling copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to help determine the embodiment of stance and came up with two timeless definitions: first, ‘the position or bearing of the body while standing; posture’. And second, there were no words, just a photo of this silver ’02. Really, there was. It’s a pretty strange dictionary, to be honest, but a handy one to have kicking about the office.

    Now, language evolves by virtue of how it’s used, that’s obvious – this is why you can use the phrase ‘totes amaze’ in Facebook comments without the enraged spirit of Shakespeare rising up and jabbing you in the eye with his quivering quill – but today we’re looking back to a time when ‘stance’ was synonymous with race car aggression and purposeful squat. Not pan-scraping lows but the sort of taut gait that suggests a peppy up-and-at-’em attitude and a no-nonsense approach to clipping apexes and dominating straights. This 1502 is effectively a 1970s race car with numberplates.

    It’s the brainchild of a shadowy German figure going only by the name of Patrick. (We suspect that he’s like Shakira or Voltaire, an enigmatic entity in and of himself. We’re reticent to ask, he’s just so focused on the car that he’s positively exuding waves of Bavarian eagerness.) “I modify all cars,” Patrick tells us, matter-of- factly, with that economy of words that’s so peculiarly Teutonic. “My first was a Fiesta XR2i, followed by a #BMW E30 Cabriolet, a Toyota MR2, another E30 Cab, an E36 Cab, an E46 M3, and now a Porsche 964.” Pretty strong list there, we can see a clear path of stepping stones from zero to hero (not saying that the XR2i is a zero per se, but… y’know) with each step appearing stronger than the last. So where does this shiny silver ’02 fit in?

    “Well, it was about ten years ago and I was looking for an old, small, rear-wheel drive car,” Patrick explains. And then he unexpectedly breaks character, his face cracking into a broad smile. “I wanted to have some fun. An NSU TT? No. But a BMW ’02? Most definitely yes!”

    There you go, there doesn’t really need to be any greater motivation than that. Fans of retro saloons will always effusively wax lyrical about the merits of the ’02-series over its contemporary rivals – it has proper suspension instead of cart springs, for starters – so there’s no better base for an old-school project. And the mononymous Patrick was planning to keep it old-school through-and-through. “I was looking for a car just like this,” he grins. “The body was okay, the engine was… well, it was too small, but I had a vision in my head for something better. The suspension? That was pretty horrible but two days after buying it I’d replaced it all!” This is a man who gets things done. So let’s dive in and see just what he was up to.

    Under the bonnet, replacing the car’s original 1500 motor is a spankingly refreshed 2.0-litre M10, tuned the oldfashioned way. Regular readers will have enjoyed ’02s in these pages in the recent past sporting Honda S2000 motors or E30 S14s, but this right here is the archetypal traditional racer approach: twin-Weber 45s for maximum juiciness, forged Mahle pistons, spiky cams, lightened and polished internals, trick valve gear – the works. It rocks an uprated radiator and oil cooler, and there’s also an Alpina fuelling system comprising long-range tank and twin pumps. Hanging off the back of all of this retro splendour is the bullish five-speed cogswapper from an E30 M3 Sport Evo, along with a short-shifter and a lightweight flywheel to keep Patrick constantly and firmly believing that he’s nailing it around Monza in 1975. Which he might as well be. This thing’s a little time warp.

    “I built up the engine over the winter season,” he says. “I also fitted the rear axle and braking setup from a 2002 Turbo. There’s a 4.11 diff with 75% locking and a diff cooler with an additional tank. And the front axle’s been fully reinforced in the style of the period Works rally cars.” All very fit for purpose, and you’ll have no doubt noted that all of this mechanical excellence is neatly wrapped up in a gloriously straight-and- true shell. “Every modification on the car was carried out by me,” says Patrick, rightly proud, “aside from the paintwork, which was done by a friend of mine. Like I say, the body was in pretty good condition, and now it’s all flawlessly finished in silver, including the underside.” It’s the sort of finish that you sometimes happen across on showgrounds, where effusive owners have placed mirrors around the car to give you a cheeky ‘upskirt’ view of the car’s shiny underbelly. And while Patrick was cleaning up the bowels of the build he took the time to galvanise and powdercoat the axles, too.

    Belt and braces, and so on. But don’t go thinking he’s one of these showground concours buffers – he built this car to be used, and used hard. Just check out the interior for evidence of this…

    “It’s fully stripped-out. There’s no carpet or sound deadening or anything like that,” he points out. It’s impressive to note, however, that this isn’t just some functional track build, all rough edges and sticky patches: the interior is just as clean as the underside, every inch of it looks freshly stamped and exquisitely clean, like being in the belly of some vast robot. The Heigo roll-cage is a statement of fortitude, squeezing in around the race seats and harnesses and joined by a few oh-so-period accoutrements – the Alpina steering wheel, for example, and supplementary Alpina gauges. It’s a riot of retro race intent.

    And so we must return to that issue of stance. How has Patrick managed to get this car sitting so perfectly? The answer, somewhat unsurprisingly, is that form follows function; it looks good because it is good. “The original suspension was in a pretty horrible state. I really have no words for how bad it was,” Patrick shudders. “But now it’s wearing custom Bilstein coilovers with uniball camber plates.” The wheels are the classic BBS RS design – chosen here not because it’s a scene-darling rim but simply because it makes sense for a retro BMW to have retro BBS wheels – staggered in fitment and running just enough sidewall to hint at formidableness on the track while also slightly irking the classic car purists.

    Wherever you look on, in or around this 1502, you find aesthetics that just make sense – everything about it bristles with quintessential rightness. The engine bay is resplendent in snaking silver hoses, fruity carbs and boisterous blue cam cover; the interior shimmies to the rhythm of 1970s testosterone battles at Spa and Zandvoort; the exterior, while unadorned, exudes just the right amount of purpose to suggest that you’re only a set of race number decals away from the grid. It all adds up to a thing of greatness.

    “When I drive this car, everybody seems to like it,” says Patrick, entirely understandably. “Wherever I look, I see smiling people. There’s only one problem, though… you can’t drive the car slowly, and the police don’t smile!” We don’t doubt it. But with a car this good-looking, we’re sure they can find it in their hearts to forgive. Patrick may have adopted one or two of the trappings of that modern, ethereal notion of ‘stance’, but it’s all simply an offshoot from his pursuit of vintage road-racer perfection. Everything here is exactly as it should be. It is race car stance. It is its own entity. And that commands a lot of respect.

    Race-spec M10 boasts forged Mahle pistons, 316 cams, lightened and polished rods and Weber 45 carbs.

    Interior has been fully stripped-out and fitted with Bimarco seats and Heigo roll-cage while the boot houses the Alpina race fuel tank, catch tank and twin pumps

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2.0-swapped #BMW-1502 / #BMW / #BMW-M10 / #M10 / #BMW / #BMW-Typ-114 / #BMW-1502-Typ-114 / #BBS-RS / #BBS / #Weber

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Race-spec 2.0-litre M10, forged #Mahle pistons, 316 cams, #Weber-45 carburettors, lightened and polished rods, titanium valve seats, polished rocker arms, 47mm inlet valves; 38mm exhaust valves, highperformance oil cooler, aluminium race radiator, E30 M3 sump, Alpina race fuel tank, catch tank and twin fuel pumps, E30 M3 Sport Evo five-speed gearbox with short-shift, lightweight flywheel, E30 M3 clutch

    CHASSIS 7x15” ET16 (front) and 8x15” ET18 (rear) #BBS RS wheels with 195/45 tyres (front and rear), custom #Bilstein coilovers with uniball camber plates, 2002 Turbo rear axle and brakes, 4.11 diff with 75% lock, diff cooler with additional pump, reinforced rallystyle front axle, Alpina anti-roll bar

    EXTERIOR De-bumpered front, full respray in silver including underside, axles galvanised and powdercoated

    INTERIOR Stripped, #Bimarco race seats, Sabelt harnesses, #Alpina steering wheel, Heigo aluminium roll-cage, battery relocated to interior, Alpina gauges
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    BOOTYLICIOUS AUDI 100 GL C1 ARE YOU READY FOR THIS JELLY? SUITED AND BOOTED retro saloons through the decades / #1975 / #Audi-100-C1 / #Audi-100 / #Audi / #Audi-100GL / #Audi-100GL-C1 /

    Audi 100 Is this the cleanest retro saloon on the planet? We’d certainly bet our last couple of Deutsche Marks on it!

    Ruben Mellaerts’ Audi 100 is as clean as a surgeon’s slab and as sharp as his scalpel. But there’s so much more to this build than just rims, altitude and a dab of polish…


    “The closer you look, the more delicious details you find”

    Running a retro car means different things to different people. For some it’s about reliving the honest simplicity of a lost age; of maintaining an old car as a sort of rolling time capsule, keeping every element true to its original state. For others, it’s about using a cool old motor as a base to build something thrilling, optimised for modern use in a form that pre-dates moulded plastic bumpers and catalytic converters. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the former are all concours pedants and the latter are bloodthirsty jigsaw-wielders with no sense of heritage – us car geeks can’t be pigeonholed that easily. What it basically comes down to is that we all like driving old cars, and we all have different ideas about what happens under the skin. Right?

    With that in mind, Ruben Mellaerts’ mission statement is clear: “I wanted to retain the classic look,” he explains, and it’s just as simple as that… except that, no, this ’1975 Audi is very far from simple. Ruben appears to be some sort of dark master of artifice, hiding in plain sight while he mischievously wisps a cloud of retro magic before your very eyes. Sure, at first glance this car may appear to be a shiny, original mid-seventies saloon that’s sitting artfully low, but the closer you look, the more delicious details you find yourself unearthing. If he just wanted to ‘retain the classic look’, he’d have carried out a straight resto, wouldn’t he? But these still waters, they run deep.

    Ruben’s hoodwinking you with details, and you’ve inadvertently sleepwalked right into his cunning scheme. Don’t feel bad though, we all did just the same. But as the myriad tweaks unfurl, you’ll be so glad you did.

    “I bought the Audi on the internet from two old people in Peer, here in Belgium,” he begins, with the world-weary look of a man who’s, y’know, seen things. “It was completely rusted on the inside and underneath the car, but it looked very good at the outside… that was the biggest problem!” He uses the word ‘problem’, but Ruben’s evidently not fazed by such trivialities – there’s no more mention of rust throughout the remainder of the conversation, it’s just implicit that he dealt with it in the manner of a mobster with a leaky informant. He just settled it, no questions asked.

    “I did the deal with the old folks, poured in some fresh oil, drove it home, sorted it out,” he says, brilliantly enigmatically. The dude’s a pro.
    Well, in fact that literally is the case, as the name RM Concept should demonstrate – for that is the name plastered across the bespoke air-ride setup. Yep, Ruben doesn’t just dabble in retro tinkering, he develops systems for others to buy too. And yes, that low-slung stance is indeed thanks to air-ride. “It’s running a custom RM Concept system,” he elaborates, “with shortened Bilstein dampers, my own bespoke uniball topmounts, twin Viair compressors and AccuAir valves.” The rear axle’s been shortened as well, owing to the fact that he’s bolted on some uber-scene-friendly rims that rock quite a lot more girth than stock; the fashionforward #BBS RS sixteens measure 7.5-inches apiece on the front axle, and a robust 8.5-inches out back.

    Of course, any chump can pull off the simple ‘stop, drop and roll’ trick, jamming natty rims and suspension onto a stock old motor and letting that be that. But that’s very much not Ruben’s style. You know how we were talking about this car revealing more and more swanky details? Well, let’s dive in.

    For starters, there’s the paint. It may look factory stock, but there’s a twist: “It’s a little bit different to the original,” Ruben grins. “It’s a bit of a secret, couple of shades of blue, little bit more iso green...” The exterior chrome has been refinished, with the bumpers neatly contemporised with carbonfibre end caps, and have you clocked the roof? Gorgeous bit of hot-rod lace paint there – it’s an old trick whereby you stretch a sheet of lace over the panel, fog it with a few light coats of contrasting paint, then remove it and enjoy the adoring gazes of passers-by. Lace paint is for winners.

    Another mind-blowing element of the build resides beneath the bonnet. Now, your eyes may well already have flitted to the filthy shots of the spreadeagled bay, in which case you’ll have an inkling of what’s gone on: in essence, Ruben’s retained the stock 1,900cc motor (albeit fully rebuilt and treated to some shimmering chrome accoutrements), and focused on giving it the most sumptuous home it could possibly desire. The whole bay’s been shaved, smoothed, wire-tucked and painted to resemble the kind of scene you’d encounter if you dropped the engine from your 1/24-scale Airfix model into the bizarrely smooth lap of your unclothed Action Man figure. It’s all just improbably unadorned, aside from the all-action classic four-banger. Impressive, no?

    But despite the huge amount of effort that’s been expended beneath the hood, that’s not actually Ruben’s favourite part of the build. “I just love the interior,” he smiles. “It was trimmed by R&R Autbekleding; the headrests and rear armrest were removed, and the seats covered in leather along with the centre console and doorcards.” It’s a magnificent job, the door trim wearing Bentley-style diamonds to imbue an element of the louche, while the seats feature studs that call to mind a wingback chair in the smoky corner of a 1920s London gentlemen’s club. It’s sort of meta-retro really, and the diamond/leather interface seemingly can’t be contained either, spilling across into the engine bay like some vast swarm of irrepressible opulence.

    “It took about three or four months to get the car this way, working day and night on it, and in total it’s probably cost me about Ð12,000,” says Ruben. “But if customisation is in your blood, you cannot resist, can you? I had some ideas, and once I started working the ideas kept coming. In fact, I still have ideas, it’s not done yet; I’d like to have a completely new and much younger engine in there for more power, and do further work with leather and chrome.”

    This is all entirely understandable. For people like Ruben, such things are never finished, they’re relentlessly subject to improvement. Which seems like an odd thing to say, because from the current standpoint, we reckon it’s pretty much perfect already. “I built the car with a lot of love,” he smiles. “She’s an old lady, and I treated her with respect. And people like the results, she’s a proper neckbreaker now!”

    Observers certainly get a lot of time to check out those crisp lines, as Ruben loves to cruise low ‘n’ slow in this slick old-school barge. He may say that more power’s on the cards, but for now it’s exactly what it needs to be – a casual, low-slung badass, built unpretentiously to rumble as an art piece in the sunshine. Ruben’s definition of ‘retro’ is hard to argue with.


    TUNING: 1.9-litre four-cylinder petrol, fully rebuilt, #Weber carb, optimised cooling, engine block painted, chromed air filter and cam cover, fully shaved, smoothed and wiretucked engine bay, 5-speed manual ’box

    CHASSIS: 7.5x16- inch (front) and 8.5x16-inch (rear) #BBS-RS ceramic polished 3-piece split-rims with black hardware, #RM-Concept custom air-ride system with shortened #Bilstein dampers, bespoke uniball top-mounts, #AccuAir valves and 2x Viair 480c compressors, shortened rear axle, stock brakes painted in high gloss black

    EXTERIOR: Fully repainted, chrome refinished, lace paint roof, carbon-fibre bumper end caps

    INTERIOR: Custom leather retrim by R&R Autobekleding, headrests and rear armrests removed, period wood trim, new carpets, centre console trimmed in leather, sills trimmed in wood, custom leather doorcards, retro-styled MP3 stereo with Rockford Fosgate speakers, custom boot install comprising wood floor, compressors, air-tank and plumbed-in retro toolbox

    Retro headunit is a master stroke! As is the classy retro toolbox.
    Good job Ruben likes blue eh?
    You could eat your waffle off that!

    DRIVER: Ruben Mellaerts

    You’ve got form with this sort of thing, then?

    “Yes, my first car was a Mk3 Golf, and since then I’ve had a 3C Passat on air, a custom Mk5 Golf, I completely restored a Mk1 Golf, some scooters… and, of course, motorcycles. I love motorcycles.”

    Why did you choose an Audi 100 C1 this time?

    “It was love at first sight, and I wanted something unique.”
    Anyone you want to thank? “Just me, myself and I…”
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    / #1972 / #BMW-3.0CSi-wide-body / #BMW-3.0CSi-E9 / #BMW-3.0CSi / #BMW-E9 / #BMW /

    SOLD FOR: £42,750

    Described as ‘an extremely rare example of a roadgoing aluminium wide-bodied lightweight BMW, with the looks and performance of a ‘Group 2’ #ETC car of the early 70s. The car was converted by #Alpina , BMW’s motorsport partners, we believe in the late Seventies’. This right-hand drive machine had had a three-year ground-up £80k restoration and featured a 3.5-litre #M30 straight-six breathing through three twin-choke #Weber carbs. We bet it goes well and at £42,750 it looked like good value given its restoration cost.
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    / #VW-Karmann-Ghia / #Volkswagen-Karmann-Ghia / #Volkswagen / #Karmann-Ghia / #Karmann / #Ghia
    / #Volkswagen-Karmann-Ghia-Typ-14 / #Volkswagen-Typ-14 / #VW-Karmann-Ghia-Typ-14 / #VW

    VW Karmann Ghia You’d be hard pushed to find another Karmann Ghia as spotless as this one. In fact, we had to go all the way down under to check out what has to be the cleanest on the planet.



    Pat Eung’s Karmann is an exercise in emphasising the timeless prettiness of the Ghia form. But look closer and you’ll see a few modern tricks…

    Even the engine bay is absolutely spotless.

    Like photosynthesis or the patterns of the tides, modifying Volkswagens is one of those universal constants. It’s just something that happens. For as long as there have been aircooled VWs in the world, there have been people champing at the bit to customise them, from the inception of the Type 1 (which you may variously know as the Beetle, Käfer, Coccinelle, Fusca... you name it) through the enduring cult of the Type 2 (aka Kombi, Transporter, Microbus, Camper) and every other model on the spectrum. There’s nothing that hasn’t been done to them – dragsters, lowriders, race cars, surf wagons, every conceivable style exists within the VW scene.

    Nowadays of course the watercooled VeeDub scene is equally massive, and it’s leading the charge in the modern repurposing of the word ‘stance’. If you want to see what’s hot in the world of high-end wheels and low-down suspension, you look to the VW crowd.

    Naturally there are always cars that offer a bridge between the two eras of the VW modding carnival, fusing old and new, aircooled and watercooled, smashing styles together like tiny particles at CERN. There’s a VW K70 doing the rounds that’s been bodydropped over a Passat W8 chassis, a Mk1 Golf rocking aircooled Beetle running gear. All sorts. But perhaps one of the most cohesive and aesthetically joyful offerings is the car you see before you here, Pat Eung’s 1967 Karmann Ghia. It simultaneously shimmers with the memories of SoCal circa 1975, and lassos a knapsackful of cues from the modern stop-drop-and-roll Golf kaleidoscope. And while the Beetle and Microbus are such iconic silhouettes that pretty much everybody in the world would probably be able to recognise them, the Karmann Ghia is something rather more offbeat.

    “The reason I chose it is that the first time I saw one, I assumed it was a Porsche,” Pat admits. Although, to be fair, there’s more than a little shared DNA between Porsche and VW, so such a guess isn’t too much of a stretch.

    The Karmann Ghia was one of those good ideas that we can all be thankful was pushed into existence. Fusing the bombproof aircooled underpinnings of the VW Beetle with an achingly gorgeous body styled by Ghia’s Luigi Segre, the hand-built coupé was a runaway success. It quickly became the USA’s biggest automotive import of its time, and the global production figure topped 445,000 in its 19-year run.


    Okay, they weren’t quick. But they were easily tuneable, although the model was always meant to be more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. And that’s a brief that, as standard, it fulfils perfectly. These things operate on a sliding scale though, don’t they?

    “I bought the KG because I saw my watercooled VW, a Passat CC, rapidly devaluing, while the insurance was going up,” says Pat. “It seemed a bit crazy, so I bit the bullet and bought something desirable that I could ultimately hand down to my son one day. It was restored by a retired engineer in the States who worked on it out of passion, and modified it to his liking. When I first had it imported over to Australia, I was only really planning on lowering it… How wrong I was!”

    Indeed, there have been a fair few changes made to the car under Pat’s tenure, many of which are hiding under the skin beneath that flawless Polar Silver paint. But let’s look at the suspension first, shall we, given that it was priority number one in the grand plan?

    Rather than go down the old-school route of drop spindles and what-have-you, Pat’s opted to employ the ever-so modern method of air-ride. Okay airride’s actually been around since World War Two. But you can’t deny it’s the darling of the stance scene these days. So it’s that the car borrows heavily from its younger VW brethren, by running Monroe air shocks at the front and a Limebug air-ride kit with Air Lift bags at the rear – to get the thing sitting snake’s-belly low on the showground, while also letting Pat keep his sump intact should he happen across a speed bump.

    Speaking of sumps, let’s take a peek under that engine decklid. Remember how we were talking about the Ghia being a boulevard cruiser? Not so much here. “It’s running a Porsche 914 2.0-litre motor,” says Pat. “The internals are largely stock, but there’s a mild cam in there and it’s fuelled by twin Weber 40IDAs.” The performance figures may not look massive on paper, but as a percentage gain it’s really quite phenomenal.

    A stock KG would offer somewhere south of 50bhp, while this 914 unit provides a dyno-certified 73bhp. Feisty, huh? In order to ensure that these newfound avenues of performance potential were easily mineable, the stock 1600 transmission was rebuilt with Freeway Flyer gears and a short-shift, while a rebuilt Airkewld steering box found its way up front. In combination with the top-flight air-ride setup and a beefed-up braking system (DBA front discs, and an Empi conversion to discs at the rear too), the refined chassis and Porsche flat-four now work in perfect harmony to keep this shimmering butterfly of a car streamlining along as it should.

    With the go and the show taken care of – along with the stop, the sway, and plenty of wahey – the final piece of the puzzle was the interior. Pat’s had the stock seats retrimmed in a tasteful two-tone fusion of black vinyl and brown tweed, topping things off with a classy old-school Porsche-sourced Mota-Lita steering wheel. Timeless stuff, although again it’s interesting to note that Porsche accessories and tweed trim are heavy-hitters on the watercooled scene… further evidence of Pat’s over-arching artistic vision. And while the exterior is an exercise in textbook Karmann Ghia class, from the Euro bumpers to the custom front airdam, it’s the wheels that really are the cherry on the fusion-cooking cake: Schmidt TH Lines, as you’d expect to see on a slammed Polo or somesuch, but cunningly narrowed to fi t into the aircooled logic sphere.

    What Pat’s achieved with this project is to harness the spirit of his more modern VWs and infuse it into a retro Dub platform; old school, new rules – and by keeping it all relatively restrained, the more outrageous features really shine through. As a family legacy, we imagine his son can’t wait to grow up and grab the keys.


    What was the hardest part of the build? “The air-ride! Despite being a bolt-on kit, there were a lot of modi¬fications and tinkering to make it work. The wheels cost a fortune as they had to be rebuilt to ¬ t in with the suspension!”

    What part of the build was the most enjoyable? “Again, the wheels and air-ride. As much as it was a headache, it was well worth it seeing people’s reactions to the end result. I took a gamble on the wheel choice, but it paid off.” Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to do it all over again?

    “I would have taken it straight to Mike at CBB Tuning from the start. It would have saved me a lot of the hassle I had with other mechanics!”

    Any modern extras are perfectly hidden away. We’re loving the custom tweed too!


    Pat’s wheels neatly reflect this Karmann Ghia’s fusion of old and new, taking a design that’s popular and desirable in the watercooled scene and rebuilding it to aircooled specs. He began with a set of 8x17-inch Schmidt TH Lines, and artfully readjusted them to fit the bagged Ghia chassis. The rears have been barrelled down just a smidge to a slightly less arch-troubling 7-inch width, but the fronts are the real showstoppers: they measure an almost dragsterlike 4.5x17-inches, tucking perfectly into the front wings and giving a real nu-wave/retro vibe. The widths are classic, the diameter distinctly modern.

    They certainly don’t come any cleaner than this.

    TECH SPEC: Karmann Ghia

    TUNING #1974 #Porsche-914 2.0-litre flat-four, fully rebuilt, stock internals, mild cam, twin #Weber 40IDFs, Pertronics electronic points, electric fuel pump, #Vintage-Speed Type IV extractor system and Type 1 exhaust, stock gearbox rebuilt with Freeway Flyer gears, Vintage Speed short-shift.

    CHASSIS 4.5x17in (front) and 7x17in (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line Lines, 165/40 (front) and 195/40 (rear) Nankangs, DBA front discs, #EMPI rear disc conversion, early short axle, #Monroe air shocks, #Limebug rear air suspension kit, #AirLift bags, #Airkewld steering box.

    EXTERIOR Polar Silver paint, perfected by Elite Body Repairs, Euro bumpers, custom aluminium airdam and grille.

    INTERIOR #Moto-Lita Porsche steering wheel, seats retrimmed in custom black vinyl and brown tweed by Sewfine, #VDO gauges, Pioneer headunit with custom speakers in rear.

    THANKS All the guys from Liverpool Harry’s for all their help and support – especially Rick and Ali. My wife Ley for putting up with my expensive habits and turning a blind eye most of the time! ‏ — with Ben Hosking
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    If you want to annoy the purists, what better way than a #V8 #Lotus-Esprit-S3 running on air ride and Jap wheels. A lot of people don’t like this Lotus. It’s got the wrong engine, the wrong suspension, the wrong attitude. But this Lotus doesn’t really care what you think, it’s got its own stuff going on… Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Chris Frosin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    THANKS: “ #Gerald-Moors for all the machining work - A4 Engineering, Unit 7 Manor Park, 35 Willis Way, Poole, BH15 3SZ, Tel:¬01202 676047”
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    ULTRA LOW-TECH LADA ESTATE / LADA-2102 / #Lada-1200-Estate / #Lada-1200 /

    It’s not all about big bhp bruisers, this tidy #Lada estate is a great example of how simple mods can make a car!


    Stuart Cross took on the challenge of restoring a 1976 Lada-2102 that has since carried him to car shows all over Britain... Words: Dan Furr. Images: Ade Brannan.

    When introduced to UK car buyers during the early part of the mid 1970s, the #Fiat-124 -based Ladas shipped to Blighty from Russia (without love) were notable for their massively outdated technology, ridiculous fuel economy, questionable mechanical reliability and handling qualities that required owners to enlist a personal trainer who could encourage the upper body strength needed to turn a Lada’s steering wheel at low speed. And in the case of road-going Soviet nuts and bolts, low speed is top speed.

    To quote sucker-for-self-inflicted punishment, Stuart Cross, “they are outrageously slow”. So why buy one? “I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of the Eastern Bloc. I’m also a big fan of terribly manufactured cars that pack a lot of character. Ladas reflect both of these interests, and it was with that in mind that I bought a ’76-plate 2102 three years ago,” he explains.

    The car in question is a left-hooker that had been driven to the UK from Latvia following the opening of the country’s borders when it joined the European Union a little over a decade ago. Full of holes, lacking a functioning engine and sporting what Stuart describes as “horrendous” mustard-coloured Lada Riva front seats, the weird wagon had been put to use as a delivery vehicle by a takeaway restaurant in Edinburgh until mechanical complications put paid to any further fast-food fun.

    “The car was left in its owner’s shed where it sat until I came along,” continues Stuart. “It was clear that this particular 2102 had led a hard life, but it was structurally sound despite its poor cosmetic condition. I decided that it was worth saving, and I asked my mate Ade (Brannan, automotive photographer extraordinaire) to put the car on his trailer so that I could get it home,” he recalls.

    The less-than-refined weight distribution of a 2102 (and its saloon sibling, the 2101) is largely responsible for the model’s heavy front end. This factory flaw caused an immediate problem when the air suspension compressor on Ade’s Range Rover threw in the towel while trying to cart the Lada to Stuart’s East Kilbride residence! Nevertheless, the car eventually landed at its new home whereupon its poorly powerplant was removed in advance of a complete rebuild at the workshop of West Calder diagnostic, service and repair shop, AMK Auto Centre.

    “The engine was stripped bare. Crank out, the works,” Stuart tells us. “A mate of mine managed to source many of the parts required for reassembly direct from a source he has in Russia, while the remaining bits and bobs were acquired on eBay where new and used Lada components are available to buy at very low prices,” he adds.

    Notwithstanding the appointment of a new Weber carburettor, the 1.2-litre lump has been rebuilt to standard specification resulting in almost (but not quite) 60bhp. In fairness, if you’re looking for a quick car, you probably aren’t going to be buying a four-decade-old Lada estate. Indeed, pace certainly wasn’t Stuart’s uppermost consideration when taking on the challenge of restoring his Russian ride!

    “It oozes character,” he beams. He’s not wrong – a quick look around the exterior of his wonder wagon reveals sharp lines, chunky brightwork and the kind of front end that your mate’s kids might come up with if you ask them to grab their favourite Crayolas and draw ‘a motor car’. Sophisticated it ain’t, but this Eastern Bloc block packs plenty of charm. That is, of course, if you like pukecoloured cars. “I have no idea what the name of the factory shade is,” admits Stuart. “Not being able to speak or read Russian has proved to be a stumbling block at various points throughout the project, not least of all when trying to decipher paint codes!

    Fortunately, my brother-in-law runs a body shop in Leeds, and he was able to use the inside of the car’s fuel filler flap as a point of reference that helped him to mix a colour that is virtually indistinguishable from the OEM tint,” he says.

    Fresh paint could only be applied after the state of the car’s body panels had been addressed. Stuart considered importing brand new doors, wings, rear quarters and sills from his 2102’s native Russia (where almost every part for the car appears to be readily available as a new item), but worry over what damage the panels might sustain en route to Britain sewed the seed of doubt in his mind. Instead, and after much in the way of deliberation, he asked his brother-in-law to rid the Lada of rot by repairing the affected bodywork with new metal and an attention to detail that has resulted in a flawless finish.

    In addition to the car’s new coat of colour, Stuart has lifted the appearance of his 2102 by sitting it atop refurbished Maserati Biturbo sixteen-inchers. Costing him the princely sum of £25 a corner, the polished rims suit the car down to the ground (literally), and look even more aggressive than they otherwise would do thanks to the use of chopped coil springs that lower the Lada’s ride height. Ordinarily, you might argue that such measures may compromise the handling abilities of a car, but when the host vehicle is already a pig to drive, any resulting negative impact caused by suspension and chassis modifications is barely noticeable! “The car really is awful around town.

    That’s why I like taking it on long motorway cruises from Scotland all the way down to motor shows in England. Additionally, I’m a familiar face at the Ace Cafe where I meet up with likeminded folk who have an appreciation for Eastern Bloc machinery,” confirms Stuart. Owners of Ladas, classic Skodas, Trabants, FSOs and Soviet military vehicles can be found in attendance with their rides during regular meets at the famous London venue. Arguably more impressive than his willingness to pilot such a slow motor daahn saahf, however, is the fact that Stuart has given his wagon an opportunity to show what it isn’t capable of by subjecting it to the legendary Shelsley Walsh Hill climb!

    He can’t tell us how long it took his pride and joy to reach the end of what is recognised as the oldest operational motorsport course in the world, suffice to say that he’s confident that he might be in the running for being recognised as the most tortoise-like participant of recent times. Nice.

    Stuart’s 2102 left Lada’s Tolyatti factory in 1976 without any form of in-car entertainment system. Fortunately, he enjoys “the racket” produced by his load-lugger’s rebuilt engine, and he likes nothing more than singing his favourite songs out loud during those long journeys to London. His enthusiasm for the output of a vehicle manufacturer that has been on the receiving end of countless jokes is commendable, and it goes some way towards demonstrating that no matter how poorly made, badly designed or rotten a car from the former Soviet superpower might be, it might just be full of eastern promise!

    Lovely Maserati wheels cost just £100.

    Who doesn’t love a ribbon speedo! So much character it hurts!

    SPECIFICATION #VAZ-2102 / #Lada-2102 / #Lada / #VAZ / #1976

    ENGINE: Fully rebuilt factory 1.2-litre engine, #Weber carburettor, new coil, new ignition leads, new steering box, all new gaskets and seals
    TRANSMISSION: Factory four-speed manual gearbox
    SUSPENSION: Standard dampers, chopped coil springs, standard bushes
    BRAKES: Factory non-servo brakes, standard discs and pads
    WHEELS: 6x14in polished #Maserati-Biturbo-alloy-wheels , budget Chinese rubber
    EXTERIOR: Fully restored and resprayed factory body panels, restored brightwork, period-style pressed metal registration plates
    INTERIOR: Lada Riva ‘mustard’ front seats, factory vinyl door cards and rear bench, no in-car entertainment system or speakers
    THANKS: Dave and Jordan at Spraybay Leeds for the paint and metalwork, Marty at AMK Garage for bringing the car back to life, Ali at McMillan Jaguar for reattaching the car’s chassis to its body.

    Front seats in “horrendous” mustard came from a Lada Riva.
    Much maligned in the past, there’s an undeniable charm about the estate’s boxy lines.
    Rebuilt 1.2 provides adequate forward propulsion… Just!
    “I’m a big fan of terribly-manufactured cars that pack a lot of character, Ladas reflect both of these interests”
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