Tag Archives: Autopilot

Rejuvenation – Chris Goring’s 1988 BMW E30 325i

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


The amount of incredible cars out there that are hiding away from the internet, and even car shows for that matter, still amazes me. Sometimes the only way to find these gems is through friends or word of mouth, and that’s just the story here… You’d think a bagged E30 would be all over the place even more so, considering their popularity within the community. Well, not this one. Allow me to introduce Chris Goring’s 1988 325i coupe, finished in diamantschwarz-metallic. Considering the car was finished a good few months ago, I’d still not had a chance to see it for real, only snapshots here and there on Instagram. Luckily, thanks to the help of Jamie (who’s BMW Z4 we recently featured), we finally arranged to meet up and take a closer look this rather gorgeous E30.



This seems to be a common similarity with a lot of our recent features, but Chris’ love for cars started off with Volkswagens, owning two Mk3 Golf’s previously, in addition to a Polo 6n2. In 2012 he decided to buy his first BMW, an E46 323i coupe. Ever since that first bimmer, he has been hooked, progressing to an E36 328i coupe, an E34 525ix and then an E46 325i saloon. Throughout that whole time though, the dream was always to own an E30. But with all the straight-six engined cars he’d owned, Chris didn’t want to downgrade to the more common 318 or 318is. So, the hunt was on for a manual 325i coupe in black, which he had his heart set on.



After some tedious searching, Chris finally picked up a 1988 325i from Bristol, as a standard car, which is arguably the best way to start a project. It was in fairly good condition, minus a few rust issues which is to be expected on the majority of E30’s these days. Both sills, bulk head and the rear valance needed some attention, but Chris made sure these areas were all sorted before the all-important modifying commenced.



He also replaced the plastic grill surrounds up front, as the original ones had faded from age. A lot of people forget about small touches like this, but give these areas some attention and it can totally transform the car and bring it back to life. Other than that, the car was given a proper clean and detail, which did wonders for the original paint which came up a treat.



Even with the big 2.5l straight six under the hood, Chris knew he wanted to amplify that classic BMW sound even more so, with a little work on the exhaust system. This was easily done by removing the entire back box and replacing it with stainless steel straight pipe to the mid box with dual outward rolled tips to finish it off.



So let’s get down to my favourite aspect of the car, the suspension. It’s the usual story of those who make the jump to air… Having destroyed the underside of most of his previous cars, Chris decided that the time had finally come to bite the bullet and spend the money on a full Air Lift Performance E30 kit. After all those previous BMW’s, this was the dream car, so it was going to be treated accordingly.



The Air Lift kit is designed specifically for the E30 chassis, and is basically a like-for-like suspension swap, minus the cutting and welding of the front strut tubes due to BMW’s design on most of their older models. In addition to the all-adjustable struts and bags on all four corners, the kit ships with a 4 gallon air tank, VIAIR 380 compressor and the all-important AutoPilot V2 digital management. Chris decided to enlist the help of Oxford Car Audio to undertake the whole install, with the intentions of an impressive yet simple boot build to perfect the car.



Of course, with the car now dropped Chris had to decide on a set of wheels. He opted for a set of WatercooledIND CC10’s, 16×9 all round. It’s difficult to pull off a modern wheel on a classic car, but these really feel at home on the E30 and somewhat rejuvenate the car. Plus, makes it stand out from the crowd of the usual Alpina’s or BBS RS’s. To get that spot on fitment, the wheels are married to 205/40 tyres on all corners. A lot of playing about and adjusting, and Chris has nailed the camber even up front.



A look into the cabin, and you’ll notice that not much has changed from a regular classic BMW. Other than some super clean original Sport seats, a 330mm Nardi classic steering wheel has been fitted along with gear knob which completely suits the car. Chris wasn’t entirely sure how he wanted the boot set up to look, but he knew he wanted it to be simple, and let Oxford Car Audio do their magic.



When he picked up the car he was blown away, not surprising as they’ve got it spot on. Clean and simple, not to ruin the classic style, but with a load of small details chucked in compromising of alcantara, LED’s and hard line. You’ll also notice that Air Lift V2 controller has been beautifully mounted in the centre console where it looks right at home.




The E30 is also Chris’ daily driver, which is brave but refreshing to see. The guys at Oxford Car Audio took this into account and made sure there was still plenty of room in the boot to make it usable and not a full-on show piece.




For Chris, cars are his life. Most of his time is spent thinking about cars, and ways to improve his, and of course secretly browsing for parts online at work! When the weekend rolls around it is all about chilling with pals, working on and cleaning their cars and eating pizza. “It’s the best kind of life” according to Chris. It really makes me happy to see more and more younger people buying classic cars and showing them some much needed love. Chris is considering a new set of wheels in addition to a leather interior once he can source one. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing the E30 again at some shows this year. Keep an eye out for it, it’ll blow you away.



Better Known as ‘The Curse’ – Jack Waller’s 2006 Volkswagen Mk5 Golf R32

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


Within the car world the Volkswagen Golf has always been one of the most popular cars to modify, from the first generation Mk1 all the way through to the current Mk7, you’re bound to see a diverse selection of these cars at any car show. If you’re looking for a modern-ish car that pretty much does it all, the Mk5 is the all-rounder, especially now they have now become so affordable. For this reason the show scene often feels overrun by these cars and owners can find it quite a task to differentiate their pride and joy from their peers. Jack Waller’s example is  quite unique though… For one, it’s the R32 model – the holy grail of Golfs from this era.. packing a 3.2 litre VR6 engine with 247bhp straight out of the factory. For Jack, stock power wasn’t enough – his car boasts a supercharger, pushing it to over 360bhp!



But before we get into details, first let’s take a step back and delve into Jack’s motoring past… Cars have always been a huge part of his life, with his late father having quite the collection; including two Porsche 911’s, an Aston Martin DB4 and a 1960’s Alvis. Jack admits that there was little hope for him! He started off with a Renault Laguna 2.2 diesel as his first car when he turned 17. Fear not, it wasn’t long before he discovered the world of VW’s and Audi’s. At 19, Jack made the move to the VAG world and purchased an Audi 8L A3, which eventfully ended up in a rather large ditch. Next up saw him in a Mk2 Jetta (which is still an ongoing project to this day) which he used whilst searching for another A3. Jack has also had a few shared cars and projects with his friend Will (aka. Wingate) including Mk1 Caddys & Golfs, Mk2 Golfs and a Mk3 GTI. However, after three years and endless sump changes from being stupidly low, Jack decided to sell his A3 and treat himself.



With his mind set on something quick, after several test drives in various R32’s and B8 S4’s, Jack came across ‘The Curse’. The car had already been supercharged and was up for sale at the same cost as a standard R32. He knew he’d found something special. As soon as he fired the car up inside the specialist’s warehouse, Jack was smitten and knew he wasn’t leaving that day without it. Bank account emptied, he was finally the proud owner of a supercharged R32 – with the drive home being one of his favourite drives to this day thanks to the R32’s signature exhaust note.



A month into ownership and things started to go downhill, when a worrying noise emerged from the engine bay one morning. Jack called up Turner Race Developments (TRD) straight away – the company who had previously installed the supercharger and taken care of the car. They collected the car the following day to discover the cam chain tensioners had loosened. A lucky escape, and just a few days later and the R32 was fixed and back on Jack’s driveway. Another few weeks passed and ‘The Curse’ struck again – with the auxiliary belt snapping, thanks to a carrier pulley ceasing. Several months went by problem-free, until Jack was out driving one day when he came to a halt after an all mighty bang followed by a sudden loss of power – plus a noticeable dent to the bonnet! To his and TRD’s great surprise, the supercharger belts had snapped – something they’d never seen happen on one of their kits before. Luckily the guys at TRD sorted it right out and new belts were fitted and realigned with a slightly higher tension. To this day, the engine and charger have been OK. Let’s hope it stays that way!



Once the these issues had been taken care of, it was time for Jack to get down to business, sorting out the essential lowering of course. When he purchased the car it was already sitting on Bilstein coilovers, but after many painful experiences with static cars – combined with living down a mile-long gravel track in the middle of the New Forest, he knew it was time to make the switch to air ride. After some research, he called upon the services of Air-lift.co.uk (Intermotiv) to carry out the install. Jonathan (at Air-lift.co.uk) talked Jack through the whole process and helped work out what was best for the car and what he wanted as an end result. The solution was Air Lift Performance Slam struts with the all important AutoPilot V2 digital management, for optimum control. Finished with a hidden boot build including double tanks, plus custom anti roll bars and the addition of a quick release air line, Jack hasn’t looked back and absolutely loves the way it drives and handles.



With the stance sorted, it was time to give the R32 a new set of shoes. Going back to the popularity aspect of these Mk5’s, wheels are a tough element to get right – or stand out for that matter, with the usual BBS’ done to death. After considerable hunting, Jack finally came across something slightly different, a set of Image DM’s in 18×8.5 and 18×9.5 for sale second hand. After striking a deal and getting them home, he realised that the former owner had built the wheels with the front centres running on one side, and the rears on the other. So, an unexpected tear down and rebuild was required straight away.



See how the car is still continuing to live up to its name… After an initial test fit, Jack realised he had gone a bit wrong with his offset calculations – but a quick chat with a local engineering company and 5mm was shaved from the mating of the centres. 205/35/18 tyres were fitted all round, and finally the wheels were on! After a couple of late nights tweaking the camber and rolling/pulling the front arches, he was happy with the result.



Being the production manager for a signwriters by trade, Jack thought he’d do something about the original Magic Black Pearl (LC9Z) paintwork that had become more than tired. The option to wrap the car seemed obvious and at minimal cost to himself. The first wrap to hit the car back in 2013 was a ‘gunmetal matte metallic’ colour, although recently this was changed again to ‘night blue matte metallic’ as seen here. Both wraps were left until the last minute for Edition38 2013 and 2014 consequently. I wonder if he’ll be in the same situation for 2015’s show…



Let’s take a look at some more figures on that Ruf-Kompressoren / TRD “Stage two supercharger”… with a dyno reading of 362.5bhp and 349.7lbs/ft and a 0-60 time estimated at 5.5 seconds, there’s no comparison to a stock R32. Jack thinks if he was to ever sell the car, he’d struggle to find something that can put such a grin on his face – or any passenger for that matter. He also wants to stress that Jamie and Dan (the guys behind TRD and Series 1 Suspension) have been brilliant and by no means are the unfortunate incidents with the supercharger kit a reflection of their handy work – more so a combination of bad luck and possibly his ‘eager’ driving style. They’ve always done their upmost to sort any issues as quickly as possible and Jack highly recommends them to anyone looking to have work done. It’s awesome to see a company that care about their customers and take care of the aftersales promptly.






With his bad luck striking again at the end of 2014 with a burst radiator the week before Players, then hitting a badger at 4am on route to the show, Jack has stuck with ‘The Curse’ for 3 years now through thick and thin. At the end of the day, it still puts a massive smile on his face every time he takes it out. He’s done the car justice and it certainly stands out from a lot of the other Mk5’s in the country. Plus, the owning the car has been a massive adventure in itself, meeting some brilliant people and some of his closest friends along the way. Despite the odd ‘hater’ here and there, Jack is proud and happy to be a part of the modified car community. Whether you’re trundling along to work in the daily (his Lupo TDI) or cruising to a show in the R32, he says you can’t beat a wave from a fellow VW owner. With a US spec front end in the works, talks of an interior retrim and (naturally) a colour change, I can’t wait to see what Jack has in store for us later on in the year. Although I’m just as intrigued to see what will happen with his other project car – a 1976 Audi 100!

They Call Her Lolita – Kevin Fitzgerald’s 1989 BMW E30 325i Touring

Words & Photos by Henry Phull


With the weather getting worse by the day and darkness now arriving in the early afternoon, it’s getting difficult to arrange shoots. Most people’s cars are now off the road for winter whilst they drive around in their winter hacks or dailies. Believe it or not, some people do still drive their project and show cars at this time of year, and that’s awesome to see. When Kevin Fitzgerald messaged me to say he was heading in my direction for a Southern E30 meet a couple of weeks back, I jumped at the potential opportunity and arranged to meet up with him afterwards at a location I’d discovered previously in between the New Forest and Southampton. It was a Sunday evening, the sun was out, and I was finally going to shoot the stunning 1989 E30 325i Touring, nicknamed ‘Lolita’. Being on the water’s edge, it was one freezing cold shoot. But don’t let me bore you with my whining, let’s move on to the main spectacle…



Kevin has been interested in the car scene since he was just 15 years old, spending countless evenings on Chelsea Bridge lusting over the modified cars. From the moment he could drive he was there and down Southend seafront in his own car almost every Saturday night. So, it’s no surprise when you go through his car history, to learn that Kevin has been through everything… His first car being a 1983 Ford Fiesta SuperSport, which progressed to a few MK3’s including a 1992 RS1800 which he fully stripped and caged with a respray. After Ford ownership he moved to Volkswagen, first owning a 1989 Golf Rallye, finally leading to a couple of Mk1’s. He eventually became interested in BMW’s, with the purchase of his first E30, another Touring, but the smaller 318i. After running it in the scene for a year and some modifying (naturally), he knew it was time for a 2.5L transplant. Unfortunately, the M20 lump he picked up on eBay was diagnosed with a warped head. Although Kevin managed to get it running, he was left with constant engine problems. It was time to cut his losses and break the car for parts. This resulted in a fair amount to spend on a new project… the hunt was on, but for what?



Kevin considered several other options but ultimately still loved the room the touring gave him and from experience he knew it was always going to turn heads. That was that then… he decided to search for another E30 touring, and after 3 months and 12 viewings, Lolita popped up on eBay. The seller seemed like an honest guy and sent over plenty of photos confirming the condition. Kevin then convinced his friend Marc (a BMW technician) to drive him to Grimsby on a Saturday in some of the worst snow they had seen in years. The 4 hour journey turned into 6, but they eventually made it.



The moment Kevin saw the touring on the driveway, he knew he had to have it. It was time for a test drive to see how much they could knock off the asking price. An hour later Kevin was on the journey home in his new E30, having saved a whopping £850 off the seller’s original price. By this time the snow had worsened, which made for an exciting drive home, even if it did take 7 hours! Kevin still remembers sliding around every time he kicked down on the auto box on those snowy roads, which had him grinning from ear to ear. Even now, after 18 months of ownership, Kevin says his cheeks still hurt after a long drive. That’s what a car should do!



The car started off as a standard 325i automatic finished in Alpine White 2, which was being used by the previous owner as a daily workhorse – so it unsurprisingly needed a detail and some much needed TLC, not to mention the completely worn bushes and suspension. Except for the addition of an IS/Sport front splitter, Kevin decided to keep the rest of the bodywork as standard. He didn’t want to overcomplicate the striking design it rolled out of the factory with from BMW. The basic maintenance was sorted out; new hardware, handbrake cable, new fuel tank, the lot.. plus the car was fully polybushed to sort out those knackered original rubbers. Underneath, the whole car was cleaned, stone guarded and coated in the original white to match the rest of the car.



A look into the cabin and you’ll notice not much has changed here. It’s somewhat different to see a cloth interior whilst most people tend to upgrade to leather. Kevin swapped in the full Sport interior from a 1991 touring which is in outstanding condition, and had the roof lining re-trimmed in Alcantara – a real nice touch and adds to the ‘sport’ look. There are a few in car entertainment upgrades including a Kenwood KDC-5057SD headunit, Hertz H1 amplifier, CDT 3 way Eurosport components and a CDT Eurosport 10″ subwoofer for an improved audio experience.




Kevin’s E30 was static for over a year, but he recently found out that Air Lift Performance had released an E30 specific air ride kit, something which he’d been interested in doing for a long time. Knowing the simplicity of installing these car-specific kits, he bit the bullet and placed an order with EMP Performance. Fitting the new Air Lift kit took Kevin a complete weekend to get it just right. For someone that had never installed air before, working out how he was going to run the air lines was the trickiest part. Although, Kevin is yet another happy Air Lift customer and believes anyone that has wired up a stereo or fitted coilovers at any point in their lives would be more than capable of installing the kit, majorly thanks to the detailed instructions included, and hardware that just works straight out the box, thanks to Air Lift’s prior testing and development for the specific car.



Getting the car to sit right was a long process for Kevin, after guessing the width and pre-ordering the 4×100-5×114.3 adapters in preparation, these happened to be almost perfect, bar the rear which only required 3mm spacers to allow the arch to lip ratio that he had envisioned. All that time and effort was obviously worth it though, as the car now sits beautifully. The Air Lift E30 kit was bundled with their AutoPilot V2 digital management system, VIAIR 380 compressor and a 4 gallon air tank. Kevin fabricated a boot build to exhibit these features and to tie-in his subwoofer, which is still a work-in-progress but looking great.




For some power and sound gains, Kevin has fitted a RamAir induction kit to the M20 engine, along with a full custom stainless steel exhaust made by EMP Performance which sounds awesome, which I heard on full whack whilst following him along the dual carriageway. Another modification that has totally transformed the car is the manual swap, which took place about a month into ownership of the car. Luckily Kevin had a manual box and conversion parts left over from his previous E30 which bolted straight on to the M20 lump. He and his dad completed the task over a weekend giving the car a much needed new lease of life.



Along with the air ride, Kevin recently opted for some new shoes to complete the transformation. After seeing the wheels online a while back, with a bit of patience and perseverance he finally got them down to a suitable price and picked up the set of 17″ reverse face Stern splits, 8j fronts and 9j rears, 5×114.3. With the centres finished in gold, these really compliment the car’s white paintwork and are a perfect choice, plus super rare to see on an E30. Kevin is running Design Daft 42 hub centric adapters to allow them to fit. For optimal fitment these are fitted to 195/40 tyres up front and 205/40’s at the rear.




I’ve always been able to clock Kevin’s E30 from a distance thanks to the Thule roof bars, an uncommon addition to the car along with the Thule 871XT wind fairing. Other subtle mods include the custom Grid Motorwerks door handles, with the ‘BMW Motorsport’ engravings. Up front you’ll notice a fully working wash and wipe headlight system, covered with fish eye film for a smoked look. This is often taken too far but Kevin has got it just right, by keeping the original amber indicators and chrome grill surrounds, the smoked headlights work really well.




Being a die-hard BMW enthusiast myself, I wouldn’t personally have gone for some of the mods Kevin has opted for, but that’s just the ‘OEM-ness’ in me. I have to say, I love everything on the car, and this surprises me! For example, he’s even kept the original mud flaps, most of us tear those off straight away, but they really do work here and help make the car it’s own.




Clearly Kevin is a guy that lives for cars. He’s no doubt one of the friendliest guys I’ve met through cars and so easy to talk to, he really does have an unexplainable passion for his E30. With all his best friends deriving from the car scene too, he has had some amazing times through cars, and Lolita has been no different. According to him, the scene is all about “the friends we make and haters we upset” at the end of the day. From VW fans, to Ford boys, to Jap kids, everyone is out for the same thing and that is to build something unique to firstly satisfy ourselves, and of course to break the necks of others. I think it’s fair to say Kevin has definitely achieved that here. And of course, a car is never finished… Next on the list is a Nardi steering wheel to be fitted within the next few weeks, along with a shaved and smoothed engine bay, plus there’s talk of a possible retrim which I can’t wait for. This is a car Kevin never plans to sell, so I’m sure there’s plenty of work to be done. For now though, I’m pretty stoked to have shot the car in it’s current state.