Elsecar at the Races is a new one for us at Slam Sanctuary, so let's begin with a little history... What started out as a car meet known as 'Elsecar Mega Meet' / 'Club GTI Mega Meet' a whole 19 years ago, this historical gathering of cars has grown into something much, much bigger. With previous meets taking place at the Elsecar Heritage Centre in Elsecar, Barnsley, they were seeing over 200 show cars and 200 club cars in attendance! With popularity continually growing, 2016 saw the organisers move the event to Doncaster Racecourse, which has the the capacity for 700+ vehicles. This went hand-in-hand with re-naming the show to 'Elsecar at the Races'. Our friends at Only Charged Dubs (and Elsecar show sponsors) had been raving about last year's show, which meant we had to come up this year to see what all the fuss was about. We were met with one of most chilled-out events we'd ever been to. The whole vibe was perfect and everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly to each other. Along with an excellent mix of stanced, classic, air-cooled, and a whole host of club stands on display, Elsecar is a show that any petrolhead can enjoy - catering for all tastes.
This isn't the typical kind of car that you'd expect to see gracing our digital pages here on Slam Sanctuary. It's... how do I put it? Less 'stancey' than our usual spotlight features. However, Carl Shakespeare (or Shakey, as he's more commonly known) has created a stunning example of a fast-road hatchback that we just had to showcase. Let me introduce his '96 Mk3 Golf VR6, nicknamed 'Lionel Racey'... It not only looks the part (subtle and understated), it goes and sounds like an absolute rocket, too, with a supercharger under the hood and a recent NOS setup. Considering the car's purpose (driving fast!), it sits just right, too. It's an impressive overall package, and after seeing it go through some significant changes during 2016, I bided my time and waited for the right moment to get this awesome VR6 behind the lens. That time finally arrived one late afternoon in the New Forest...
Although 'show season' began a couple of weeks ago for us (did you check out our Ultimate Dubs coverage?), the air-cooled enthusiasts had to wait a bit longer for their first UK event - The VolksWorld Show, held at the delightful Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher. Traditionally, this is the the most anticipated show of the year and people travel from all ends of the United Kingdom, and even Europe, to make it to this one. Any projects that have taken place over Winter period usually aim to make their special debut at VolksWorld. Held over a weekend, we always like to go up on Sunday (the last day) to have a mooch around. As usual, we were graced with all sorts of builds from the extensive corners of the air-cooled world.. from showroom-finish restorations, to the patina'd and ratty, there was something for everyone at Sandown Park. The sheer amount of similar Volkswagen models in one place can get overwhelming, but we managed to refine our coverage down to the best slammed examples, check them out below...
It's been a long, drawn out, winter for us at Slam Sanctuary. So, we were fully stoked to finally arrive at Ultimate Dubs in Telford last weekend for the 'show season' opener. Hosted over a Saturday evening and all day Sunday, it's a great chance for friends to catch-up after being busy with their normal lives... With the majority of people staying overnight, there's plenty of time for social gatherings, whether it's over cars, food, or beers - unless you're too busy setting up and running a stand, like us, unfortunately! That's because we've been sitting on the brand new Spring '17 clothing collection for a couple of months waiting to drop it on you all at Ultimate Dubs. Well, it went down an absolute treat - we can't thank everyone enough for almost clearing out the whole store. In fact, we've already had to restock a lot of items, which should be available through our online store in a few weeks time. We also supported our good friends at Distinct Detail Co. with debuting their new brand of boutique car care products on our booth - they're definitely a company to watch!
If you're a car enthusiast, it's highly likely that you endeavor to keep your pride and joy squeaky clean. However, with so many different cleaning products on the market, it's hard to decide which products to start with. Luckily, Meguiar's have released a new kit with all the essentials for keeping your car clean. Founded all the way back in 1901, there's no doubt that you've heard of the brand... And with so many years experience in the car care industry, you know you can feel safe using their products. In fact, we already use their gear on our cars, so when we heard that they'd had just released a new range, we were eager to try it! The Mirror Bright collection sees the company revisit their roots, mimicking their old school glass bottles and metal screw tops with a modern-day plastic interpretation, for a vintage feel. With classic branding in black and white, the kit is designed to fit right in with classic cars. The Mirror Bright products are made up of completely new formulas too, for a premium performance and user experience - Meguiar's tell us that these are truly high-quality items. Of course, with such a cool looking product range, we had to get our hands on it to try out on some classic cars. Our friends at Meguiar's UK kindly sent over some gear, so we called up a few friends and decided to make a day of it and use the products on the cars.
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'.
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.
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...
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.
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.