Tag Archives: Air Zenith

Shop Visit: Only Charged Dubs

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

The popularity of air ride has grown considerably over the past couple of years. Not only has it become more accessible, but many people have finally realised how practical it really is. With so many options now available, it doesn’t have to break the bank either. The question is, if you want someone else to do the work for you, then where do you go? Whilst there are plenty of shops dotted around the UK, Only Charged Dubs (OCD) have put out some incredible work as of late and are one of the few that go above and beyond to cater for the customer. The key word that comes to mind with these guys is variation. If you read our show reports, you will have seen plenty of their cars (and customers’ cars) pop up. They were kind enough to invite us up to their headquarters in Doncaster, South Yorkshire where we were welcomed with open arms. Spending a few days with these guys was more like hanging out with mates than visiting your typical garage – the whole experience was a pleasure. Although mostly known for their air installs in the ‘slammed/stance’ scene, the business didn’t actually start off by working with suspension. In fact, OCD is a lot more than just an air ride shop. So let’s take an inside look…

 

 

 

 

Catching up with the owner Matt Payne is always a refreshing experience. Unlike so many people in the industry, he’s completely open about his business and the community in general. One thing that has always stuck with me is that he’s always looking to solve problems, however big or small, so it’s really no surprise that his company has achieved so much. But how did OCD get to where they are today? “It all came about from my Mk2 Golf project. I was working as an apprentice for my local VW dealership when I bought my Golf, which I spent 3 years fully rebuilding from a 1.6 Driver to a G60 8v conversion. Fully overhauled, the only thing I couldn’t do myself was the paint work as I was building it on my parents drive.” Matt reminices. This led him onto the path of G-Lader rebuilds (superchargers found on the G40 & G60 Volkswagens – hence the name ‘Only Charged Dubs’), after other enthusiasts saw the work on his Mk2. He even started developing his own parts for the Golf that weren’t available, as you do. Slowly but surely Matt began to build a customer base on the main UK G60 online forum at the time.

 

 

 

“As well as doing more work at home on friends’ cars, word of mouth spread, leading to more and more jobs” Matt explains. At the time his daily driver was a Skoda Fabia, and to make this more practical he started to look into air suspension. Because he was starting to lug more and more parts around, Matt wanted to lower the car in a way that would accept the excess weight. “I managed to get a trade account for air suspension which led on to installing air to a friend’s car shortly before the Elsecar Megameet 2013, which made OCD more well known in the ‘stance’ scene.” he says. Anyone starting up on their own cannot wait until they’re in a position to quit their full time job and concentrate on their true ambition, I can tell you this myself from starting Slam Sanctuary. Well, for Matt this opportunity came soon after that Megameet. He said goodbye to his job at Volkswagen and set up shop in a unit next door to Darkside Developments in Barnsley. With help from their team, together they pushed the OCD brand forward by modernising the website, adding more products and providing the much needed extra space for installations and “crazier work!” Matt laughs.

 

 

 

 

After 12 months in his first ever unit, neighbours Darkside Developments decided to re-locate to a new premises, which meant that Matt could also move the business back to Doncaster, his home. Not only was the new unit on his doorstep, but it was also closer to Carl Atkins, the man behind OCD’s boot installs and custom fabrication, overall making it a worthwhile move. “OCD had reached a point where it could stand on it’s own two feet much better and was needing much more operating space, both for stock and workshop.” Matt reveals. They’ve just finished it off to a state where they are happy with it, with a brand new showroom and waiting room. Having spent a good few days there myself, I can tell you it’s a great place to be and hang out.

 

 

 

With the facilities covered, OCD can offer anything from VAG servicing to full-blown engine swaps and classic car restoration. “Of course, G-Lader services, parts and expertise is something we will always offer. It’s where my VW love came from and I still believe there’s nothing quite like a well tuned 8v G60 engine in a classic dub!” Matt points out. One thing I do love about OCD, is that they give their customers a broad range of options to fit most budgets. Unlike a lot of salespeople, Matt and the team won’t just try and sell you the most expensive product. This has been an aim of theirs from the beginning. “Everyone loves an R8 on air with expensive wheels, but in reality only a lucky 1% can own that. So we aim to offer the same parts, service and options to every customer.” Matt explains. The key to Only Charged Dubs? Offering a wide range of products of course. If you’re looking to bag your car, a look on their website shows that there’s several options. From the popular Air Lift Performance, HP Drivetech, AccuAir and VIAIR options, to brands such as Airdynamiks, Air Zenith and several BagRiders products. Plus, they even offer their own “Bags by OCD” branded items – which we’ll look at shortly. If there’s no kit readily available for your car, Matt and the team will come up with a solution.

 

 

 

OCD keep a large variety of stock on their shelves, from air tanks of all sizes, fittings, compressors, and tons of spares which makes them one of the few companies that can offer their people specialist items next day to your door if needed. This is always handy if any of your components fail and you get stuck. With shipments coming in every week from the USA, OCD are now the sole UK distributors for BagRiders (a large air ride distributor in the USA), meaning that you can order most hard-to-get items from OCD without paying those dreaded import charges if you were to order direct from the States. With their online sales ever increasing, Matt says that 2016/17 will show an even bigger expansion with more and more products being added across their range.

 

 

 

Only Charged Dubs recently introduced their ‘Bags by OCD’ range of air bags. The idea initially came up whilst they were working on their demo Mercedes-Benz W201. Of course, being a classic car everything on the Merc had to be custom made… “We found that there is an ‘ok’ range of bags to work with instead of independent springs. But bags that work over dampers are hugely limited, and the ones available are ok on some platforms but offer poor drop or lift on others depending on how they are set up.” Matt explains, “Plus there’s no options of sleeves over dampers too, meaning some cars with tight suspension space either have to lose out with no air option or undergo expensive custom work to the rest of the suspension.” To combat this, they launched ‘Bags by OCD’, a product that is moderately priced alongside most air suspension kits, which work and perform to the same level, but allowing a bigger range of custom bags. Designed to work with BC Racing’s Extreme Low coilovers, they allow customers to mount the bag on to the threaded body, sealing it to the damper giving the maximum drop and lift that the damper gives. Obviously this still allows for BC’s threaded body adjustment, dampening adjustment all round plus camber front top mounts of most applications. Most kits retail at around £1300-£1500 depending on the rear bag mounting. So far they’ve used these kits on a BMW Z4, VW Mk6 GTI and will soon be testing on a Honda S2000 and Lexus IS220. Plus, having universal bags readily available means they can be used on cars with absolutely no air options available, such as our own Slam Sanctuary demo Audi A6 FWD which we’ll be showing you soon!

 

 

 

Being the main UK distributor of Airdynamiks, this was the first time I had the chance to check out their products in person. I have to say that the build quality and attention to detail is second-to-none. After noticing them testing various car kits around 18 months ago, they got in touch and began working on a kit for their Audi C5 A6 Allroad demo car, a customers Audi A1 (and Polo platform) and their Audi Mk2 TT Quattro demo car. Based in Canada, the turnaround time on these products means a slightly longer wait, but it is definitely worth it. Sister company to Scale Suspension, who primarily build top end racing suspension for track, time attack and drifting, Airdynamiks use the same dampers which they convert into air suspension. “Their twist is using a range of air bag sizes to suit certain models of car. Giving a smaller air bag if space is tight but also giving a much better spring rating. A smaller bag allows for a high bag pressure at ride height, whilst using less air tank volume. So less compressor time!” Matt says. These kits come with threaded body dampers, dampening adjustment and optional camber top plates for most applications. “As well as anodized components, stainless hardware and powdercoated mountings these kits don’t just work well, they look the part too as well as lasting for years!”. I was so impressed with the quality of these products that we decided to make them available through the Slam Sanctuary online store, too.

 

 

 

“Our air suspension work is something we have grown slowly and worked hard to get to the point we’re now at. We feel we aim our work to an ‘OCD’ level of fit and finesse, being able to carry out almost any modification to a customers car. From simple suspension swaps, crazy show installs & wheel/tyre fitting and fitment.” -Matt Payne

 

 

 

I asked Matt the all-important question, what he thinks OCD are best known for?… “I’d like to think our friendliness and social side” he replied, and I completely agree. In fact, I often come across his comments throughout social media which are always trying to assist people, not just selling a product 24/7. That’s absolute gold right there and a rare thing. “OCD has always been something more than just a specialist shop. Friends and customers are always welcome to our shop to just chill out. We feel this is something that has quickly dropped from the scene and made things more of a competition than an enthusiasm.” he continued. The idea of bringing back this enthusiasm for the cars and seeing customers projects go from standard to magazine featured is what it’s all about for Only Charged Dubs. Plus, that VAG group technician training really gives them the upper hand when it comes to find their way around most Volkswagens, Audis, Seats and Skodas. That background has built Matt’s vision of keeping to a certain quality of work which he strives to keep to a factory level. “I’d always like to think should our work be seen at another garage their technicians wouldn’t notice what we’d installed against the factory components of the car.” he adds.

 

 

(left-right) Carl, Joe & Matt

 

With four main members of staff; Matt the owner and technician, Carl who carries out the boot install work, Joe who runs front of house – answering customers calls, emails and handling orders including packing day in, day out, as well as Danny who runs the graphic design side of things behind the scenes, Only Charged Dubs are some of the friendliest and approachable bunch of guys in the industry. Not forgetting, professional, full of knowledge and brilliant at what they do – so there’s no stopping them! With plans to completely overhaul their online presence this year by adding an even bigger range of air suspension kits, expanding on their coilover range in addition to a much-needed FAQ section and an overall easier shopping experience, it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled to their social media and website. In the meantime, you’ll find them at most of the UK car shows, so hit them up with those tricky questions for your build! Also, make sure you check back to Slam Sanctuary soon to find out how they got on with bagging our Audi A6 Avant demo car that we let them loose on for a few days.

 

More info on Only Charged Dubs:

OCD website

OCD on Instagram

OCD on Facebook

 

Near Doncaster, South Yorkshire?
Check out the OCD Open Day this Sunday 22nd May 2016!

 

Air by OCD – Matt Payne’s 1992 Mercedes-Benz W201 190E

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

The Mercedes-Benz 190E has been a hit with petrolheads ever since they were used as touring cars and seen throughout legendary motorsport events. However, with the sought-after Cosworth models now out of most people’s price range, the spectacle has turned on to the standard 190E’s, which back in their time would’ve looked like any normal boxy German saloon car, simply blending into the landscape. What owners are doing to them now though, is quite remarkable. Who’d have thought dumping one on the floor and adding some larger wheels could make such a basic car look so appealing? Even though they’ve been a popular vehicle of choice in the modified scene ever since the late 80’s/early 90’s, the demand has massively grown over the last couple of years in the UK show scene… One of our favourites being Matt Payne’s Arctic white 1992 W201 which we’re showcasing today. Although we’ve already featured a W201 this year, Charlie Wheeler’s static 190D (click here to check it out), we’re switching things up and taking an alternative look at how things can be done using air ride, with Matt’s simple yet effective build.

 

 

Matt has been interested in cars for a long time, mainly through family influence. Since he was 17 years old he’s been following the car show scene, attended local meets and helped out on cars with his friends. Training as a Volkswagen technician certainly played a huge part in his ever-growing fascination with cars and predominant obsession with VW’s. In fact this led him onto starting his own business, Only Charged Dubs (OCD), who predominantly specialise in VAG cars – G40/G60 forced induction, air ride, servicing and much more.

 

 

The car that really got his company noticed was down to Matt’s third car, a Mk2 Golf which started out as a ‘1.6 Driver’, which he fully restored and eventually converted to a G60. After two years of daily driving, something more modern was required – a Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo… This really helped OCD grow as a recognised business.. it was the ultimate car to show off their air-ride services to a ‘general’ audience, not forgetting the development of OCD’s custom Polo platform air ride kit which put them on the map.

 

 

So why the Mercedes-Benz you may be asking? “I’ve never been a huge Merc fan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for any modern classic car… late 70’s, 80’s & early 90’s cars just have that square boxy look that I love” he tells us. The Fabia had been around for nearly three years, so Matt decided it was time for a new OCD demo car, whilst he could still drive the Fabia daily (although this has now finally been replaced by a bigger Audi A6 C5 Allroad, on custom air of course). “The 190 seemed to be a new modern classic, and after seeing a couple bagged and thinking we could get a cheap kit for it, I bought this one.” Matt explains.

 

 

Matt found the 190E through eBay, it was a completely standard 1.8 8v petrol, but the head gasket had gone due to lack of use and the exhaust had fallen apart inside so it ran way too slowly for his liking. The all-important paint, however, is original and came up incredibly after a good detailing session and machine polish/seal. It was an ideal base for OCD’s demo car and it meant they could create something from a completely blank canvas.

 

 

“We needed it to be on the floor, looking OEM+ and really show off what OCD and air suspension can do. Not just the usual brands of air & wheels!” he explains. Only Charged Dubs are well known for their custom air work, not just bolting on the usual ready-made kits which are widely available. This car is a fantastic example of what is possible when you think outside the box.

 

 

The air setup on Matt’s car was created completely from scratch, after trying out a cheap kit that was available for the platform and realising it was “crap”. The team at OCD got to work on creating a better solution, including new front arms, bag mounts and a custom BC Racing damper kit with camber top mounts, allowing for adjustment all round. “Our kit is a full comprehensive suspension kit, this replaces the OE front arms with no other modifications required. The only thing that’s needed is 2 holes drilled in the rear upper spring seat to allow the air bags to mount up.” Matt reveals.

 

 

This allows the body of the car to drop as low as possible with no rubbing or catching – now that’s what we like to hear! “This allows much better air bag pressure when driving, allowing a much nicer drive – it really feels like factory still and just floats along the roads.” he continues. After fully testing the setup, OCD’s kit is now manufactured and available for the W201 platform – get in touch with them for more information.

 

 

Along with the custom front LCA’s and bag mounts, Matt opted for Universal Air ‘AirHouse2’ bags front and rear, 3/8″ air lines all run by dual Speciality Suspension 28″ & 24″ air tanks, two Air Zenith OB2 compressors, an AVS 9 switch box, Zaetech Digigauge and wireless touchbox. “The main piece is the RideTech BigRed manifold that really makes the car bounce!” he chuckles… this really has a different effect to airing up and out in comparison to a lot of other products on the market – making it that extra bit cooler! All this has been built into a beautiful boot installation which is a superb demonstration of hard lines and fabrication which OCD are known for.

 

 

With the car on the floor, Matt wanted to get the wheels right. They’d already gone custom with the air ride, so why not go the same way with the wheels? The outcome was a set of Mercedes-Benz ‘Barrock’ wheels, a Mexican hat-styled wheel originally found on W123’s. OCD had their machinist precision cut the wheel faces and matched to a BBS RS 16″ face bolt pattern, allowing them to go for 16″ to 17″ ‘bubble’ step up lips, resulting in 17×8 up front and 17×9 rears. “It’s a slight mod that no one really notices over the custom wheels. Which I like, it adds even more to the OEM+ look of the car and really suits the car well.” Matt explains. These are paired to 195/40 tyres up front and 205/40 at the rear, a tasteful amount of stretch.

 

 

Interior-wise, Matt preferred to keep everything original, similar to the outside of the car. “I wanted black as it doesn’t age as much and appears to be quite rare in the old 190’s”… The only elements out of the ordinary that you might notice are; the Zaetech Digigauge air pressure display which is neatly installed into one of the blower fans and the chunky AVS 9 switch box used to control the ride height. Sticking to a manual air set up just seems so right in a classic car like this – a modern looking digital controller wouldn’t look at home in the W201.

 

 

 

 

We’ve seen the Merc at several car shows this year and it’s unsurprisingly turned a lot of heads. Matt and the team have put just the right amount of modifications on the car. Only air and wheels you may ask… What more could you possibly need on a classic car like this? Matt has put his touch on an already beautiful shape. As well as putting the car on a set of BBS RS for a few shows to change things up, the custom Barrock wheels do suit it perfectly. From now, not much will be happening with the Merc other than a little more colour coding to the boot build over the Winter. Matt mentioned he may even regrettably put it up for sale in the new year to make way for another OCD demo car. Despite the name ‘Only Charged Dubs’, the 190E demonstrates that they really can tackle any sort of air build, whether it’s a ‘dub’ or not. We’ll be finding more about what they get up to with an exclusive shop visit, so check back to Slam Sanctuary soon.

 

 

More info on Only Charged Dubs:

Only Charged Dubs website

Only Charged Dubs on Facebook

Only Charged Dubs on Instagram