Santorini Blues – Barry Smith’s 1998 BMW E36 328i

Having featured a selection of stunning examples already, the BMW E36 is undoubtedly one of our favourite cars here at Slam Sanctuary. However, you could argue that they've somewhat over-populated the modified car scene as of late, but we're continuing to sift through them and still finding notable builds that we feel are worth highlighting - if they're done right, they are still one of the best looking BMWs, ever. Today, the spotlight is on Barry Smith's E36, which has been re-built from the ground up. Thinking about it, it'd be hard to find a cleaner example in the UK that looks like it's just been delivered from the factory - well, at least one that features a few improvements over OEM. Notably, a healthy drop on Air Lift Performance bags and a set of 18" 3SDM forged wheels. But don't worry, this isn't just another "air and wheels" build... Barry's car has undergone some extensive refreshing, including a full respray in the gorgeous BMW 'Santorini Blue'.

De-Alpina’ing an Alpina – Ryan Stewart’s 2002 BMW Alpina B10 3.3 Touring

Recently there's been one car, in particular, that's blown up my social media feed. Ryan Stewart's E39 Touring has had a lot of heads nodding in admiration, and it's not even his project car (a highly modified track-spec Porsche Cayman), but the daily driver! Plus, this isn't just any ordinary BMW 5-Series, it's the incredibly rare Alpina B10 3.3 Touring, which include cams, big valve head, bespoke Alpina inlet manifold, tubular manifold and twin race cats as standard. So, with around nine facelift Tourings left in the UK, bagging it on Air Lift Performance and adding some 20" Rotiforms was never going to be to the purist's tastes, but for the rest of us it's refreshing and damn cool to see someone adding their touch to a rarity like this. Personally, I've always felt like Alpina has been targeted at the elderly enthusiast with their choice of styling, but "de-Alpina'ing" it slightly, as Ryan puts it, has brought the car right up to date. I don't think you could ask for a much cooler daily driver, either.

Old Ragtop – Ben Rye’s 1957 Volkswagen Beetle

There's no hiding the fact that the UK car scene has become somewhat stale as of late, and this isn't just my point of view, there's plenty of you that agree with me... Let's not hide it. The idea of buying a newer car, paying it off monthly, and sticking on some air ride and wheels, is extremely tempting. It's a sure way of becoming involved in the car community that we all know. But, where's the fun in that? Although I still admire each car that has undergone any sort of modification resulting in a better look than stock, there's a massive lack of passion by just bagging a modern car and changing the wheels. Obviously, this isn't the case for every 'show car' out there, which brings me on to our latest feature, Ben Rye's '57 Beetle. I first came across this neck-breaking project at the VolksWorld Show 2016, where it was wearing a slightly different guise, but still looked absolutely badass... plenty of patina, visible rust and it was laying frame. It was just cool...

Bagging Our Wagon – The Slam Sanctuary Audi C5 A6 Avant

2016 presented a new chapter for Slam Sanctuary. With the introduction of our Pop-Up Store, I had the task of transporting it around the UK and Europe to multiple automotive events. This meant that I needed a suitable vehicle to haul a lot of gear around, although I still wanted the car to look cool. I knew that whatever I chose, it was by no means going to be a show car, but more of an appealing daily beater that could demonstrate some of the products we sell. A true BMW fan at heart, I first thought about an E46 Touring (having owned one previously, I knew what great cars they are). Unfortunately, they just weren't big enough, so I then considered E39 530d Touring's, but the price of these were still ambitious. Then there was the option of buying something newer, like an E60 530d, however then there would've been no spare funds to "slam" it.

Less is More – Carlos Gomez’ 1997 BMW E36 323i

The E36 3-series market has recently shifted, with resale values shooting upwards (a great thing for owners, but disheartening if you're still looking to buy one). They're now becoming more difficult to find, with no "middle ground" cars available. You'll either encounter the battered drift-spec examples which are far from perfect or the near-mint cars which will be selling for strong money. Hell, I remember when you could pick up a 328i Sport for less than £1500, and that was only a couple of years ago. It seems to be impossible to find a decent one at that money now! These days, it's all about finding a good shell and building from there. Can't find a genuine Sport? No problem.. all it takes is bumpers and an interior. Want a 328i lump? The M50 engine can be uprated relatively easily. Stuck with a 318i? Hell, you can still swap the engine cheaply enough. Anyway, finding an E36 that remains OEM+, with the correct stance of course, is a rare thing. Bring on Carlos Gomez' coupe, the perfect example of how less is definitely more. An original Alpine White car, his E36 is finished with a set of gold-faced BBS... A match made in heaven. Still, Carlos has had to put in a lot of hard work to get the car looking as good as it does today, which is easier said than done when it's also his daily driver.

Picking up a couple of exotics

I hadn't planned on doing much last Saturday, but that all changed rather quickly after I received a call on Friday evening from my friend Nick Sahota (If you frequent the website, you might've heard of him. He owns the E30 M3 and E34 540i that we recently featured, along with a large collection of cars). "I'm picking up the Testarossa and Diablo tomorrow, do you want to come with me?". Well, what would you have done? This did, however, mean a very early start for myself. I left mine at 6:15am, to get to Nicks in Southampton for 7am. The day started, almost catastrophically, with me aquaplaning twice along the A31 because the rain was so bad. Luckily, after doing a maximum of 50mph down the motorway, I made it in one piece to Nicks, where there were two commercial trailers waiting to be hitched up. The tow vehicles of choice were Nick's X6M (his daily driver) and his friend Dean's Nissan Navara pickup, with Chris and Steven piloting it. Still dark and pouring with rain, we connected the trailers and hit the road again for a 250-mile drive up to Bradford.

Ultimate Stance 2016

Slam Sanctuary has just hit another milestone! One year has passed since debuting our booth, clothing range and pop-up store back at Ultimate Stance 2015. That's one whole year of taking our brand and products around the UK and Europe, and I have to say, the reception has been phenomenal and better than I could've imagined. You are all making my dream come true, so thank you - every single one of you who continues to read the blog, purchase our products and visit us when we are out at events. I'm seeing more and more people wearing our clothing at shows - it means so much that so many of you want to spend your hard earned cash on supporting the brand. With that said, the return of Ultimate Stance this year meant that we had to top our previous efforts. Naturally, we returned to our favourite spot, the VIP carpeted hall in the Telford International Centre, with four of the UK's best BMWs... representing the two worlds of suspension that we now offer, with Bekir's E39 & Az's E92 both on air, and Nick's E34 & Alex's E36 showing what can still be achieved on static coilovers...

Westside Treffen 2016

Westside Treffen is the hidden gem of modified car shows in the UK. It really does surprise me how many people don't know of its existence when I mention it. From people that have been, including all the regulars, you'll constantly hear "Come to Westside. It's THE most chilled out show." Well, they ain't lying! The quality of cars on display is usually top notch too, and that's partly what makes this show awesome. It could also have something to do with the time of year, being the last outdoor event on the calendar, a lot of people are about to tuck their show cars away for winter. Westside is one final stage for your pride and joy to make a spectacle before the new show season (Unless you're attending Ultimate Stance this weekend, of course - but the crowd there is slightly different). The ideology for Westside is pretty simple really. Book out a cricket club on the outskirts of West London, bring your friends and their cars (of which 80% happen to be concourse condition classic Volkswagens), get the family to help out with some incredible home-cooked food, 80s/90s music and you're onto a winner. It's no surprise that the show has grown year on year but still remains a small, relaxed event.

Players 10.0

There's one show that, undoubtedly, initiated the birth of several modified car shows in the UK... the one and only Players at North Weald Airfield. Founded by Jamie McToldridge and Carl Taylor, their vision came into fruition by hosting a new type of show that catered for all petrolheads within the clustered automotive world, but most importantly, oozing anything cool. Naturally, Players is known to have a strong presence of cars sporting Air Lift suspension and Rotiform wheels, but that's to be expected when they are the main sponsors of the event. BUT, it's balanced out with plenty of diversity. For example, walking into the main show, the first thing that would've met your eyes was a jacked up Chevy Impala lowrider. Followed by the UK's first RWB Porsche. Then a classic Mercedes-Benz to a brand new BMW M4 on air. From a selection of Mk1 Golfs, to a Bagged Austin Healey! And people say that there's no variation left these days? Well, I'm sorry, but that's just plain B.S. - Jamie and Carl are two guys with quite the opposite taste in cars - put them together and you've got a team of incredible curators, showing us what is cool, and what's going to 'wow' you as soon as you step foot into their show. Players 10.0 proved that they've still got it, ten years later.

Edition38 Show & Shine 2016

It's that time again... Edition38! This is probably the most anticipated show of the year for Volkswagen and VAG fans. It's essentially a camping event held over a long weekend, the ideal opportunity to get together with friends and cars. Thanks to plenty of night-time entertainment, people treat it as a party weekend, followed by one of the best Show & Shines in the country at the end of it. Edition has grown so much, that each year I notice a stronger presence of cars that have travelled over from Europe. This year was no exception, as I was blown away by plenty of examples from the Netherlands, Belgium, and France which stood out from everything else - showing us Brits how it should be done. Now, due to the weather being absolutely disgusting on the Friday and Saturday of the event, we skipped them and made our way up on Sunday (the main day for Show & Shine), where the rain stayed away, luckily. Props to everyone that camped all weekend in the wet and mud - that's dedication! Enjoy our round-up, with some of the UK and Europe's highest quality dubs.