Monthly Archives: March 2015

Static Passion – Jamie Hitchcock’s 2003 BMW E85 Z4

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


The modified BMW scene in the UK seems to have been overrun with E36’s and E46’s lately… Don’t get me wrong, I love them both having owned a few myself, but I’m always on the look out for those more unusual models that the marque has to offer. It’s easy to go and build a car that has been done multiple times – parts are available, you know what wheels will and won’t work, and the suspension options are endless and can be done on a small budget. Plus, there are knowledgeable owners out there willing to help others out with said modifications – one of the many reasons why I love the car community. But I have the most respect for those building rarer cars. Our feature today focuses on Jamie Hitchcock, who got bored of seeing the same thing and made the big decision to purchase a BMW Z4 and introduce it to the floor.



Jamie has only recently become a car fanatic. Five years ago he hated the idea of cars and modifying them, whilst his major interest was with music. It wasn’t until a home move to Oxford that he started to build a connection with the machines we love. Alone in a new city, Jamie knew nobody and started spending his time washing his car, and it seemed to grow from there. 99% of his friends now have come through a shared passion for cars, now his major interest.



Jamie isn’t ashamed to admit that he started off in a Saxo which was ‘all boyed up’. Luckily he then upgraded to a Polo on ATS Cup’s, following this up with an Audi A4 on Rotiform NUE’s. Eventually he became bored with VAG ownership and made the switch to BMWs, and he’s never looked back. Unfortunately his E46 M Sport 325i was crashed into and written off, but this led him to an E36 with air ride, Vader seats and Throwing Star alloys for an OEM+ look.



However, this brings me back to what I was saying earlier… Jamie eventually grew tired with the E36. It was evident that numerous examples were popping up, and that they were becoming far too common for his liking. Jamie is one of the most chilled out and humble guys I’ve met, but I feel he likes to stand out through his cars.



It took a while for Jamie to make the jump.. whilst toying with the ideas of an E39 or even an E36 Touring (as these were still less common), and worrying about the Z4 being seen as a ‘hairdressers’ car. But deep down, after seeing pictures of Z4 DTM cars, and other Z4’s with impressive fitment over in the States, he knew he wanted one. With his girlfriend Molly constantly telling him he wouldn’t be happy until he just bought the car he really wanted, he went and found himself a 2003 Z4 2.5l manual in grey with a gorgeous and contrasting red leather interior.



Not much had been done to the car by the previous owner, apart from adding a set of cheap AP coilovers and some nasty carbon fibre vinyl. Jamie’s plan for the Z4 was to get it as low as he possibly could, whilst staying static. Even though he’s owned a car on air, he just has a passion for static cars. Seeing a car scraping along the road, no f**k’s given, is what it’s all about to Jamie. Fair play to him, it certainly takes guts to drive a car this low especially in a county with some of the worst roads.



The first job was to get rid of the AP’s and replace them with a new set of D2 Racing SL (super low) coilovers to give him the drop, and whatever possible drivability, that he required. Unfortunately, adjusting coilovers to their lowest setting is hardly ever the only thing needed when you’re lowering a car this much, naturally Jamie ran into some complications.




Firstly with the secondary cats on the exhaust system – these had to be removed because they were catching on absolutely everything. A lot of brutal driving on country roads saw the ‘flattening’ of the rest of the exhaust system which will no doubt be due for renewal soon.



Jamie ran the car on a set of black Rotas up until recently, when he could finally afford what he had his mind set on; Work Meister S1’s. Due to Driftworks recently becoming the Work Wheels UK distributor, getting hold of them was easy and he didn’t have to worry about the hassle of import duties and waiting times, so Jamie decided to go for an 18″ set with 9.5j fronts and 10j rears, with white centres.



Getting the fitment correct on these huge wheels was crucial. This involved a lot of playing about with magazines, arch rollers, and so on. Jamie has had to do a few tweaks to the front camber mounts in addition to new adjustable rear arms for precise camber control. It took a long while to get it all right and, more importantly, drivable… But with the help of Josh (from LikeHell Design) who also runs these wheels on his static Nissan 350Z, they cracked it in the end.




Tyre wise, Jamie is running 215/35’s on the front and 225/35’s at the rear, but as fitment is always on his mind, he’s thinking of replacing the fronts with a pair of 205/35’s soon. Nevertheless, I think you’ll agree with me when I say that the stance and fitment on the Z4 has been well and truly nailed. I went out in the car with Jamie and the amount of looks the car gets is crazy.



Of course, being this low comes with endless consequences. As well as the exhaust being constantly ripped to shreds, the design of the Z4 bumper means it is forever unclipping when it touches anything slightly raised. Plus, his poor front arches are taking quite a beating – but to Jamie, it’s all part of the game and he absolutely loves it.




Believe it or not, Jamie doesn’t think the car is low enough! But when you can actually feel the floor warp and change shape under your feet whilst driving over the slightest uneven surfaces, I’ve assured him that it is, and that he’s crazy. It takes serious balls and patience to drive this low in the UK… but then again the car is a great reflection of Jamie’s personality, one of the nicest guys you will come across in the car world. Although the Z4 looks finished, cars never are. He’s already thinking about a wrap in addition to (and to my amazement) trying to get it even lower. What astounds me the most is that Jamie doesn’t own another car. He drives this every day, and for this I salute him.



Spring ’15 Open Day at The Wheel Specialist Fareham

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


I do quite a bit of work with The Wheel Specialist in Bournemouth, seeing as they’re local and always do some incredible wheel refinishing, but today’s blog post takes us a bit further down the road to the Fareham branch, whom I’ve heard equally good things. The guys at Studio Incar mentioned to me that Olly and the rest of the crew were putting on an Open Day, and the turnout was expected to be rather good. Being just an hour away, I decided to head on down the M27 on a surprisingly pleasant Saturday morning. It seems that Summer is finally on the horizon.



I only arrived about an hour later than the event was scheduled to begin, and the whole industrial estate surrounding TWS was already taken over by modified cars. It was clearly going to be worth the trip! The first car that caught my attention had to be Olly Snow’s Mulberry Mk3 VR6 on some mint BBS RS and rocking a Vento front end.



Over the road, I spotted Ben Fisher’s awesome Golf Rallye van on a set of fully white BBS RS with gold hardware and centre caps, making them somewhat different from the norm, but suiting the car to no end.




A look inside the TWS headquarters, and Mike Allen’s gorgeous Chevy truck was on display along with Roy Allen’s Mk3 pickup on Image 3pc splits.




Sadly Mark Harbour’s Beetle decided to not start later in the day, but it was nice to get the chance to shoot his beautiful air-cooled example again.




Jack Ashley recently added a lovely set of OZ Fittipaldi splits to his Mercedes C Class wagon, it’s great to see this project coming together.




Josh Hawker’s Mk4 R32 Golf was looking super mean on a set of 18″ 8.5j/10j XXRs.



The award for ‘Best Wheels’ had to go to Chris Phillips and his incredible Lexus IS 300 on stepped up BBS RS. BBS aren’t always easy to pull off on a Jap car, but this works incredibly well. This thing is static and sits crazy low, big respect!




BBS Mahles suited this Mk2 Golf GTI really nicely, it shows you don’t always need to spend big bucks on a set of splits for a car to come together.




It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Carl Levy and his super clean Mk1 Caddy, which I hadn’t seen since the Westside show last year when he was running black centres. This year the BBS RMs have been refinished in a clay brown which matches his chopper in the back, very cool.





Steven Doe debuted the car a couple of weeks ago at Ultimate Dubs, but I was so happy to finally see his BMW E21 outdoors to check it out properly. A lot of fabrication has gone into getting this sitting perfectly on the AccuAir suspension and CCW wheels. It’s already fast becoming my favourite car of the year.




Our friend Nick Sahota turned up in not one, but three cars.. including his Ford RS Cosworth!



Plus, his breathtaking “318” Chromie, which features an M60 manual engine swap which sounds and drives like an absolute beast. I also love all the rare parts on this car like the rear louvre and heckblende, which sets it apart from other E30s, along with a set of polished Schmidt TH-Lines.





Of course, the car everyone knows, Nick’s E30 M3 was there alongside the Chromie. If you’re still not aware, the M3 is hiding an E46 M3 “S54” lump under the bonnet, and he’s just installed a centre lock conversion in order to fit a set of BBS Motorsport Bugatti wheels.




Richard Wint had a bit of an unfortunate incident when leaving the event in his E36… luckily I managed to get a shot in before the aftermath.





I loved Joe Saunder’s TFSI-converted Mk3 Golf on OZ Turbo splits which was also sitting spot on.



Although still on his winter wheels, Stevie How also turned up in his Mk3. I’m looking forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve for the Summer.




The cool thing about smaller events like this is the variety of cars that turn up. It’s always worth a few rounds up and down the surrounding estate until you come across some gems…



Looking super shiny, Carl Shakespeare’s E39 M5. These are cars you really don’t need to touch in the cosmetic department. Along with renewing the suspension components, a subtle drop and refurbing the wheels, he’s ended up with the perfect do-it-all vehicle.



Latham’s wrapped RS4 Avant pulls off these BBS LMs and meaty tyres so well, resulting in a proper aggressive machine.



What a perfect way to spend a Saturday, catching up with mates, awesome cars and even a raffle to top things off. The Wheel Specialist Fareham certainly have a great bunch of supporters, which is no surprise seeing the quality of their work demonstrated on all their customer’s cars. These guys know how to put on an event, and I hear there may be some sort of Summer BBQ on the cards, so keep an eye on the TWS Facebook page and stay up to date. Until next time!


See more on The Wheel Specialist Fareham:

TWS Website
TWS on Facebook
TWS on Instagram


Ultimate Dubs 2015 – Part 3

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


Welcome back, to the final part of our Ultimate Dubs 2015 coverage. What a fantastic weekend it was for everyone, catching up with friends and checking out people’s new builds. We’ve already taken you through the outside areas and two main exhibition halls, which leaves us with two remaining indoor areas, which are mostly occupied by the traders. The quality of cars keeps on getting better and better, with ridiculously high standards in every class. We’re still amazed how much money is being thrown into new builds every year. Anyway, let’s check them out… Grab a cuppa, get comfy, and enjoy…


We’ll start in the exclusive carpeted hall, always dimly lit – annoying for photographers, but the cars do look incredible under the light. The first car that grabbed our attention was Matt Glassup’s Porsche 911 (964) sitting on a mint set of widened Eta Betas with Rotiform finished centres.




Over on the ‘I Love Bass’ stand, Niall O’Dowd’s Porsche Cayman S took things to the next level, with a hydraulic suspension install and Rotiforms!



The VRS Northampton Mk7 Golf R on the StillStatic stand was looking mean, with a big brake upgrade, StillStatic coilovers and mbDESIGN wheels.



Alongside was this brutal Audi B7 A4 on a gorgeous set of 20″ Vossens.



We loved this Audi S3 on custom BBS Super RS’. Is it just us, or is there a bit of a gold wheel vibe going on this year?



Check out Clark Thurman’s bagged Mk1 Caddy on Keskin KT1s, which we first papped at last year’s Show & Glow event.




We were pretty stoked to see this, Kevve Raekelboom’s AccuAir equiped BMW E30 on the Wheel Whores stand, although the car is still a work-in-progress, it’s already looking to be an incredible build. The brown VIP Modular VXS210 wheels certainly make it stand out from the crowded E30 scene.



In Part 2, we mentioned that there are some cars that you keep seeing throughout their build process, whether it’s through Instagram or Facebook… Steven Doe’s E21 is another of these cars, so it was awesome to finally see it finished and on display. Bagged, but switching things up from the norm and opting for CCW wheels, it is one beautifully executed project.




Continuing along the Wheel Whores stand, we bumped into Adrian May’s US spec Mk3 Golf, we loved the paintwork on this along with the Corvette salad shooter wheels.



Dan Taylor’s E46 M3 was the centre of attention sitting super low on Broadway Static coilovers and a lovely set of OZ Futura splits.




Check out the new in-your-face Fatlace wrap by JD Wraps on the Players Show S14, along with a colour switch up on the awesome Rotiform TMBs.



Jamie McToldridge’s Mk1 Golf was equally eye-catching sitting alongside it…



Over on the Meguairs stand, Greg Howell’s Porsche 911 was sparkling due to his impressive paint, on KW V3 Ultra Lows + HLS 4 (Hydraulic Lift System) and 19″ BBS E88s splits.



We actually captured this last year at Ultimate Stance when the car was in a completely different state, but still cool nonetheless. Rory Hamilton has put his Mercedes W115 240D through a complete transformation over the winter, including a full respray and a beautiful set of BBS Mahle wheels which add to the car to no end.



We see it a lot, but Richie Payne’s ‘Milestone71’ Porsche 911 is one 964 we never tire of seeing. This is as close to Porsche perfection as you can get.




Never have we seen so many 964’s at one show.. We also loved this black beauty on Voodoo’s stand, demonstrating some of Elie’s split rim handiwork.



Heading over to the Radioworld stand, their Nissan GTR was certainly unique, being on D2 air suspension and a set of 20″ D2 Racing Forged OS02 wheels.



Not forgetting the E38 740i, also on D2 air suspension. We shot this back at Ultimate Stance, and it’s now rocking an Alpina splitter, amber corners and D2 Racing TS-05 wheels. One badass car.



Check out this incredible BMW M4 on the BC Forged Wheels UK / Swissvax UK stand, on H&R suspension and BC HB09 wheels in custom gloss black and BMW Sakhir Orange to match the car.




Kay Singh was along in a black E30 M3, parked up next to the M4, on a classic set of BBS RS with yes, you guessed it, gold centres! A flawless example of a truly heroic motorsport icon.



Props to the guys at Plush Automotive, for going all out on Ollie Manuello’s Audi R8. Who’d have thought AccuAir suspension and BBS magnesium E28s would look this good on a supercar.




The standard continues with this 700hp Audi RS6, again on AccuAir and HP Drivetech suspension and ADV1 wheels.



We also loved Justin Appleford’s bagged Audi RS5, which was tucking huge 21″ BC Forged HB-R5s!




This Mk6 Golf wagon on the Dub Fiction stand caught us by surprise, sitting very nicely on air and Cast13 RB2 wheels.



Gepfeffert UK had an incredible Audi S3 on their stand which some of you may remember seeing last year with a different guise. It’s now slammed on Gepfeffert’s very own HLS 140 slam kit.




We caught up with Car Audio & Security a few weeks ago back at their ‘Caffeine & Cars’ event, but we had to of course take a couple of snaps of their rides again. Check out their Air Lift bagged Mk5 Golf on the new Rotiform SPF wheels – they go together so well.



Parm switched up the wheels on his stunning new RS4 Avant with a set of double dark tint IND-Ts. Click here to check out our coverage from the ‘Caffeine & Cars’ event for more on this car and boot install.



The copper plated Rotiform SPFs on this B7 RS4 were definitely out of this world and super cool!



So that just about finalises our round up of the year’s show starter. We had a fantastic weekend overall. Ultimate Dubs is always the busiest show and the buzz it creates is just amazing. From the quality of cars debuting here, the car community is certainly on the way to a very exciting year ahead. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date on our latest car show visits. Next up is VolksWorld for a check up on the air-cooled community. Stay tuned!



Ultimate Dubs 2015 – Part 2

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


In Part 1 of our coverage, we highlighted some awesome cars from outside the Telford International Centre for Ultimate Dubs. Let’s continue from where we left off, with Nick Sahota’s E30 M3. This car was one of the most talked about show cars of 2014. We often wondered.. what else could you possibly do to improve the car? Well, Nick has smashed it for this year, adding a set of BBS Motorsport Bugatti centre lock wheels, thanks to a costly conversion. They have totally transformed the car into something visually mesmerising, and far more appropriate. It also continues to be the most photogenic car, so roll on the photographs…





It’s always a pleasure to run into Dougie Flockhart’s PVW featured Mk3 VR6 Turbo on black centred BBS LMs. The attention to detail on this car is outstanding, even if it’s not to everyone’s taste!




Auto Finesse blow us away at every show, they put on the coolest and best quality display, hands down. Of course their Mk1 Caddy project was keeping everyone interested…



…But this year the guys have built something new to keep the Caddy company, nicknamed ‘Project 80s’, a Mk2 Golf with full BBS kit, E50s, and on Air Lift suspension. It was one our favourite cars of the show by a long mile.



Over on the Fueled Society stand, Matthew Richardson’s bagged Edition30 Mk5 Golf was sitting beautifully on a set of stepped up BBS RS with gold hardware and finished with red caps to match the car.




Another car that did it for us was Thomas Flanagan’s Mercedes W201 190 on custom wheels rebuilt from single to 3 piece, along with a stunning air install by Novak & Boden. A modern touch on a classic – an outstanding piece of work.




Also on the Fueled Society stand was Jack Bodenham’s Golf on an amazing set of gold Advan 3 spokes. We love these and don’t see them often, a nice choice.



Across the hall, Hayley Brzezinski’s static Dragon Green Mk3 Golf was looking good on a set of Corvette salad shooters over on the UKMK3s stand.



We also caught a peek of Owen Burnell’s bagged Mk3 wagon that we recently featured – click here to check out the feature!



You’ve probably already realised that Ultimate Dubs has now become about more than just VWs. Some people seem to have a problem with this. Our opinion is… there’s more to car culture than just Volkswagens, plus the show would be boring if most of these non-VAGs weren’t here.



Our friend Matt Clifford (yeah that video guy with the E31 8 series we featured) just had his new wheels delivered from Rotiform just in time for the show. Here it is in all it’s glory on the Obsessive Detail stand. The 19″ 9.5j and 10.5j LHR’s have certainly transformed an already incredible car.



Only Charged Dubs, a company we’ve recently been keeping a close eye on, were out in force with a huge stand to display some of their VAG air ride installs. Check out Josh Hall’s Mk6 Golf below on a colour coded set of Autostrada Modena splits.



Danny Mellor’s Audi A4 B8 has been through a bit of a change up since we last saw it at Ultimate Stance last year. 2015 brings a set of Vossen VLE-1s which really look the part against this car’s extraordinary paintwork.



Opposite we were drawn in by a badass Audi A5 owned by Mark Gunning, which sits on a huge set of VIP Modular VX210 wheels with SPF centres and chrome flat lips.



Moving on to the WORK Wheels UK stand, we bumped into Alex Flanagan’s E36 on Work Meisters and overfenders. It’s static, too. This is one intimidating car!




Alongside Alex’s E36, the Driftworks E90 M3 was on display, this sits on HSD coilovers and 19″ 10j & 11.5j Work Meisters in a black finish to complete the ‘Murdered out’ look.




Over the winter months, there are some cars in particular you keep seeing on Instagram and Facebook. One of those cars was Tom Heap’s Mercedes 300CE over on the SlammedUK stand. Rocking a Zender bodykit and 17×9/17×12 Impul R5s, it may remind you of the previous Merc he built about two years ago. Alas, there’s a colour and wheel change on the horizon soon!




Paige Walton’s (S6 Wraps) static BMW E91 Touring was certainly drawing in the crowds with a striking gold wrap, along with RH Crossline wheels in black with gold hardware to match.



Georgie Marlow’s Mk1 Golf was looking even shinier than usual, thanks to some recently ceramic polished BBS RMs – a fine job by the guys at Felgen Werkes.



Over to the LikeHell and RollHard stand, our friend Jamie Hitchcock was unveiling his BMW Z4’s new look, some gorgeous 18×9.5/18×10 Work Meisters. Oh, this is also static. Yeah…



One of our favourites back from Ultimate Stance last year was Jordan Fielding’s bagged Audi 100L on Gottis, so it was awesome to see this again.



Dale Buckley’s Audi TT alongside was spectacular with a fresh new colour and huge BBS RS’s, unsurprisingly this came in the Top 25.



One of our all time favourite Beetles, nicknamed ‘Macy’ and owned by Matt Rudd was on display over on the FittedUK stand. Not bad for a ’63!





We saw Vick Nagi’s bagged A4 Avant a few weeks ago at the Car Audio & Security ‘Caffeine and Cars’ event, when it was on the Audi Rotors which looked perfect. We didn’t actually think he’d be able to top that, but here it was, on Rotiform CENTRELOCKS. Well played, Vick!




That wraps it up for Part 2 of Ultimate Dubs 2015. As you can see, the quality of cars has continued to improve, so check back very soon for the final part of our weekend in Telford where we’ll be looking inside the final two show halls.



Ultimate Dubs 2015 – Part 1

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


It’s been a long old wait, but this year’s show season has finally begun, kicking off with Ultimate Dubs at the Telford International Centre. This has always been one of the biggest car shows on the calendar, and being the first show of the year means people are attending with new projects and updates that have been worked on throughout the winter. Plus, like us and a lot of people in the show, there’s the option of staying overnight in a hotel, a good chance to catch up with friends in the bar until the early hours. To some people that’s part of the fun of Ultimate Dubs. Turning up the day before also means there’s usually some interesting cars scattered around the venue and the onsite hotel car parks, so it’s always worth a wander around. In Part 1 we’ll primarily be taking you around the outside areas of the show.


Every time we’re at the International Centre we bump into this beautiful 911, which is always worth a quick snap.



Opposite the Porsche, Alex Hurd’s bagged BMW E46 was parked up, check out the white-centred BBS RFs with gold hardware which work nicely against the silver paint and amber corners.



Over the road we caught Max Wilde’s gorgeous M4 and Shakey’s E39 M5 parked up whilst they spent a lot of the weekend in the adjacent hotel bar.



We thought we’d put this up to show that not everything runs smoothly at car shows. Our friend Kiran Mistry had some issues with his Mk1, involving a wheel falling off on route on the motorway at high speed. Luckily he’s OK, unfortunately the same can’t be said for his poor Golf.



It’s always fun to see the show car’s getting a clean outside before they queue up to their indoor spots. Here Aneysha (of FittedUK) giving her stunning ’64 Beetle a wash…




Out of the many Lupo’s in attendance, this was a clear favourite of ours, a bagged GTI sitting perfectly on Rota Zeros, it’s just a shame they’re not the genuine Work Equips, but other than that a great looking car.




We were also feeling James Cousins’ bagged Audi A5, there’s a definite chance that white cars are going to big this year.



Fifteen52 Tarmac’s on Mk4 Golfs are always a match made in heaven. Sean Lamb’s bagged R32 is pulling off this look flawlessly.





These two Jetta’s stood out, what’s not to like about a Mk1.. Jamie Lockyer’s example above, and  Travis Price’s bagged Jetta below.



Abi Clarke has upped her game with the addition of Zender Phase 2 Turbos and fans on her Polo, incredible wheels.



Vossen CVTs look spectacular on most modern cars, shown here on Kiran Attwal’s bagged Audi TT wrapped by S6 Wraps in an eye catching yellow.




We’re fans of static and bagged cars, but Scirocco’s always seem to look their best on air. Check out this silver stunner on black Rotiform INDs, spaced out for some awesome fitment.



Although Ultimate Dubs is primarily a VAG show, there’s always going to be a turnout of other marques like we’ve already seen. Let’s move on to some more BMWs… like David Mcdiarmid’s newly bagged E46. With rare factory white paint, M3 front bumper and amber corners, but more importantly those insanely wide OZ Breytons!



But the winner of perfectly executed fitment goes to our Thom William’s and his bagged E46 saloon on newly lipped BBS RFs. Absolutely killer.




Alex Gray’s EOS was turning heads, not surprising as it’s bagged on 18″ Artec Turbo splits which bring the car together brilliantly. We loved the decals, too.



Moving along to a couple of the Taunton boys, Adam Wyatt has unleashed his Vento with a super bright new colour, now fitted with Air Lift suspension and a set of Rays Nismo wheels, making this something really different!



Facing it, Aggs Gaines’ awesome new Polo 6R GTI, also on Air Lift suspension. The gold OZ Ultraleggera’s compliment this car so well.




We see a lot of cars throughout the year, but Porsche 968’s unfortunately don’t pop up that much. What a nice surprise it was to come across Giles Ramsden’s impeccable example.



The 3 piece Teledials were a nice touch to Tom Michael’s bagged Mini Cooper S which was also rocking a rather impressive boot build.




We don’t see too many bagged Mercedes CLS55’s, so it was cool to come across Lee Patterson’s AMG on Airrex bags. This thing sounded ridiculous, but that’s to be expected with a supercharged V8.



Wagons are a popular choice in this day and age, but how often do you see a Polo estate? Joe Stackman’s static example really looks the part.




Thankfully we did come across some air cooled goodness, including Khol Parker’s ’66 Beetle.




Our mate Jack Ellis made the journey up from down South in his static B3 Passat. That front heckblende still makes the car for us!



Mk5 Golfs, tough cars to crack as they are so popular within the show scene, but Lee Johns’ new look is ticking all the right boxes – a lovely example.



As we get closer to the heart of Ultimate Dubs, we spotted Nick Sahota queuing up to take his place indoors. Here’s a little teaser of one of our favourite BMW’s new look for 2015. Two words, Bugatti Centrelocks.



Or how about an M4 convertible….



That’s it for our outside portion of Ultimate Dubs. We’ve shown you a variation of car’s that stood out – we’ll continue into the halls in Part 2, so check back soon to see what all the trader’s have been working on during those winter months. The quality of cars will continue to improve – we were not disappointed.



Not Your Average Daily – Owen Burnell’s 1998 Volkswagen Mk3 Golf Estate

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


The third generation Volkswagen Golf is naturally a strong contender in the modifying world, being an affordable hatchback with parts readily available, but in recent years we’ve been seeing far less of them, with the earlier Mk1’s and Mk2’s dominating the scene. Somehow the Mk3’s older siblings seem more desirable with their classic square lines, which is unfortunate – as the Mk3 is a better all rounder and far more suitable for daily driving in this day and age. It doesn’t take much to transform one of these Golfs, it just depends whether you go overboard, like the majority of modified examples from back in the day, or stick to subtle enhancements. What’s more interesting about today’s feature, is that it’s a wagon. You’ll rarely see a modified Mk3 estate at shows… and are more likely to see them dotted about being used as daily hacks, usually in a bit of a sorry state. Show them a little love though, and the results can be spectacular.


Most of the feature cars I’ve photographed recently have been the owner’s second or even third cars.. so it’s something of a breath of fresh air to introduce you to car that is genuinely driven daily, but at the same time would look the part at any car show… Owen Burnell’s 1998 Mk3 estate.



Owen is a fairly young driver, which means insuring and running two vehicles would be a very expensive affair. Therefore his pride and joy is driven every day, rain or shine, and to countless shows – which are a huge hobby of his. The estate is Owen’s second ever car, a step up from his first, a 1.4 16v Lupo on coilovers and BBS RZ which did the job whilst being affordable. When the time came for an upgrade, he knew he’d be able to make something out of the Mk3 – being a wagon it would be something a bit different.



Owen’s estate is one of the later models, fitted with the stock 1.9tdi 90bhp engine, a solid reliable diesel lump, but he wanted to mildly increase the power. He went about doing this by fitting bigger injectors, blanking off the EGR valve, and wiring up the infamous EVRY mod to a switch on the dashboard, which gives an extra bit of power and smoke when required.



After previously running a set of BBS RS, Owen was set on doing things a bit differently for 2015. He came across a stunning set of 3 piece Image billet 61’s with hidden hardware, which were immediately stripped down and rebuilt, with the faces repainted in white, which I have to agree work wonderfully against the car’s contrasting body colour. The wheels are 17×8 all round with huge lips and are fitted with 185/35/17 tyres.



Like everyone I talk to who has made the switch to air ride, Owen admits the car was absolutely awful to drive when it was static, plus the amount of damage he was doing to the underside of the car on a daily basis was becoming unbearable. It was time to look into the possibility of air… Being an estate, the rear set up is different to the average Mk3 hatchback which have wider rear turrets, so there was nothing available off the shelf for the car. Owen had two options; cut out the rear turrets and weld in some from a hatchback, or find someone that could build some custom bolt on struts.



I truly feel that Instagram and other social networks have now become such a huge part of the car world, with the ease of finding parts and knowledgeable people are usually only a few clicks away. Luckily for Owen, he was following another Mk3 estate owner in the Czech Republic who had gone to the trouble of bagging his wagon by building his own custom air struts. Of course, they got chatting and he told Owen that he was thinking of parting out the car and selling the struts. Joy! A few months went by and the struts turned up on his doorstep.



With all the necessary parts compiled, Owen and two mates started the fitting process one Friday night and managed to build a box for the tank and fit all the lines and wiring. The next morning they set about finishing off the boot install and fitting the struts and bags. By Saturday afternoon it was all done with no issues whatsoever. It just goes to show that fitting air doesn’t always have to be a mundane task. For management, Owen decided to go for the digital Air Lift AutoPilot V2 system, an ever so popular choice and with good reason.. it works so well!



Owen has got the fitment spot on, with some insane camber on the rear wheels and beautiful tuck up front. To add to the car’s look, he’s removed the roof rails that are so common on estates, which has completely modernised the car no end. Additionally, you might notice the Jap spec rear number plate tub which is like hen’s teeth, a nice subtle touch as well as a wiper delete to finish off that rear end.



A look into the cabin, and it’s leather galore. Originally fitted with an aged cloth interior which Owen says absolutely stank, one of the first ever mods was to get rid of that tatty interior and fit a much more desirable Mulberry highline interior complete with door cards and mats. Another upgrade I’m really fond of is the Mk4 GTI 3 spoke steering wheel which he managed to fit with minor modification. This undoubtedly transforms the Mk3 interior, which is usually fitted with a dated and rather ugly wheel.



In addition to the wheel, Owen fitted a Mk4 Highline wooden gear knob to complete the makeover. You’ll also notice that the Air Lift AutoPilot V2 control unit has been tastefully integrated into the lower dash tray, nice and discreet but still looking the part. The boot build follows this theme, with just the 4 gallon air tank visible, whilst the VIAIR 380cc compressor and other air related parts are hidden away in the spare wheel well, making the boot usable… It is a daily after all.



The most obvious transformation to the exterior of the car would be the Vento front end which has been fitted along with a Phase 1 grill. In my opinion, this will always be one of the most effective Mk3 uprades you can do, which does away with the ‘bubbly’ stock headlights and grill – which to most people make these models less desirable. Owen went that extra mile and smoothed the front bumper, relocating the indicators to where the fog lights would usually be.



Along with the front end, Owen also fitted Votex side skirts and added various carbon fibre touches around the car including a skinned front splitter, door handles, wing mirrors, steering wheel cowling and front VW badge. Plus, he even had the whole car resprayed last year in the car’s original Mystic Blue paint colour.




I personally love to see younger folk who spark some originality these days. It’s so easy to follow the masses and go for that easy option. For Owen “thinking of new things I can do to it to add my own touch and be a bit different” is what he says his estate is all about. Building a daily driven show car on a limited budget is not an easy task to get right, but Owen has certainly pulled this build out the bag. If you’re heading to Ultimate Dubs in Telford this weekend, make sure you head over to the UKMK3s stand to check out the car in person.