Tag Archives: EMP Performance

Old & New – Reflex Auto Design’s Slantnose Porsche 997

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

There are some incredible demo vehicles within the UK modified car industry, but today’s feature car has got to be one of the most eye-catching builds that we’ve seen in a very long time. Sadly, we’re rarely rewarded with such high-calibre cars over here, so on first glance, you’d expect this sort of machine to hail from the USA, Japan, or Europe where folks tend to put a lot more money into their show builds. Reflex Auto Design’s Porsche 997 has been at the forefront of social media since it was unveiled a couple of weeks ago, mainly because this is no normal 997, but one which has been fitted with an ‘Old&New‘ slantnose body kit, a sort of homage to the early flatnose/slantnose “Flachbau” Porsche 930S. Thanks to Reflex’s expertise and bodywork experience, the final results are absolutely phenomenal. Naturally, we had to make a trip to Northamptonshire to take a closer look, nabbing the 997’s first ever feature shoot.

 

 

The Porsche is a joint-venture between Reflex Auto Design (a bodyshop based in Daventry, Northamptonshire) and Matt Clifford, who works with Reflex – dealing with their social media and marketing. The whole idea for the car was to get Reflex back into the modified car community spotlight… well, it looks like they’ve done just that! Matt and Reflex initially considered countless options for a project car… Being a Liberty Walk dealer/fitter already, a car with one of the kits was tempting, but they just couldn’t find anything that hadn’t been done and within budget. Eventually, they considered the Porsche 997 Liberty Walk kit, which then led to the discovery of a Japanese Old&New kit that existed for 996’s and 997’s. After some initial research into the kit, it turned out that their friends at V.A.D Design just so happened to be the UK supplier for Old&New. They got talking, and eventually placed an order.

 

 

With the kit on its way, Reflex had the task of deciding how the car was ultimately going to look. “We all decided to go for a race car theme… Paying homage to the Porsche 962 Le Mans race cars, we had several options such as the Leyton House and Hawaiian Tropic liveries, and we even considered the modern red and black design seen on the newer GT3 911’s” Matt explains. In the end, they came to the realisation that nothing was more iconic than the Rothmans Porsche livery. With the theme set for the 997, they needed to finalise a design and concept to work towards.

 

 

It just so happened that Matt had been in touch with Khyzyl Saleem, a concept artist at EA, for the past year and have become friends. Khyzyl (aka. The Kyza), has become well known for his conceptual automotive imagery, just check out his Instagram on @the_kyza and you will see why. Anyway, back to the Porsche… “I dropped him a message and told him what we were building and that we wanted a Rothmans Livery, I sent a photo of Phazes slant nose in America and a Render he had created of a 964 with a Rothmans livery previously… after a few weeks he sent us over a completed visual, which we all thought looked badass” Matt comments. With the image on everyone’s mind, it was time to set about making the dream a reality.

 

 

Next, Matt had to source a suitable Porsche 997 to use as a base car, eventually settling for a black 2005 Carrera 3.6. He decided not to fork out unnecessarily on a ‘Turbo’ or ‘S’, just to chop it to pieces on their first big build. “Personally I’ve never really been a big fan of Porsches, plus I could never work out all the different 911’s! But now, after driving and owning one, there’s much more to it than their looks, it’s the feeling behind the wheel… they’re so planted on the road.” he tells us.

 

 

The Old&New kit finally turned up in a huge box all the way from Japan, consisting of a front bumper, front wings, air ducts, rear arches, side skirts, rear bumper, tailgate, headlights, DRLs and fuel cap. Having worked with countless fibreglass kits in the past, Reflex knew what was needed to make everything fit correctly, with only minimal work required to get everything lined up as it should. They also decided to alter the rear bumper to house an exposed exhaust set up. “We really wanted our car to the best Old&New Porsche in the world, so nothing but perfect would suffice.” Matt explains. With Reflex being a paint and bodyshop, they also wanted to show off their skills, so rather than simply painting the car white and wrapping the rest, countless hours were spent hand-painting all the colours and stripes you see on the livery, made up of Ford Imperial blue, Rolls Royce gold, Audi Misano red, and Audi Pearl white.

 

 

“We knew the car wanted air, it had to for the look and audience we have” Matt tells us… so given their previous experience working with Air Lift Performance kits, they opted for Air Lift universal bags/struts tied to a 3P management setup (which all sits nicely in the trunk under the bonnet). After considerable measuring and fabrication, the new bag set up was installed in-house and made to sit perfectly with the front bumper touching the ground once fully aired-out. It really is a nice modern twist on a traditional race car. And, let’s face it, with the way this body kit sits, there’s no way it would survive the dreadful UK roads on a low coilover setup.

 

 

Inside the cockpit, you’ll notice the racer theme continues with the addition of Recaro Pole Position seats, and a half cage painted in white to match the main body colour. Capital Seating in Leicester supplied these, and re-trimmed the dash, centre console, and door cards in black alcantara with red stitching to conform to the seats and exterior stripes. Reflex also painted the interior plastics in a gloss piano black which really helps to bring the interior together. Furthermore, the Air Lift 3P controller has been tastefully moulded into the centre console and a Kenwood double-din headunit added for some refinement and entertainment on long journeys.

 

 

Getting the wheels right was hugely important for this build. Having run several 3-piece Rotiform wheels in the past, Matt and Reflex opted to stick with them, describing them as the “show wheel kings”. To pull off the Rothmans Porsche livery, they selected Rotiform LVS design with hidden hardware, a cool modern twist on the traditional magnesium gold BBS wheels you would have seen on the original race cars. Rotiform sized these to 19×10 and 19×13 to fill the huge arches, fitted with 265/30 and 305/30 tyres. There are also plans to create some turbo fans for the front wheels in the future to complete their initial vision/concept!

 

 

Whilst the stock 3.6 motor has been left alone, the 997 still needed a big noise to go with the big bodykit, so Reflex enlisted the services of Dave at EMP Performance to create a custom exhaust, which is completely exposed at the rear of the car to showcase his welding porn. We can 100% confirm that this system sounds awesome, and is ridiculously loud! The stock brakes weren’t going to cut it either, so a Forge Big Brake kit was installed up front along with new EBC rear discs and pads. All these elements really help this race-car inspired build to come into fruition.

 

 

 

Whether you’re a Porsche fan or not, you can’t disagree that this build is completely nuts! There’s no doubt it will be dropping jaws throughout the year when it hits all the major car events – if you don’t see it coming (you’d have to be visually challenged, mind…), you’ll definitely hear it. The 997’s first stop will be Wörthersee at the end of the month. We’re humbled to have been given the first opportunity to photograph it, making it an incredible first feature car for us to kick off 2018. We’ll also be in Wörthersee from 6-10 May and looking for more quality cars to shoot, so don’t hesitate to get in touch via Instagram or email if you have something mind-blowing.

 

BONUS GALLERY

 

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More info on Reflex Auto Design:

@reflexautodesign on Instagram

Reflex Auto Design on Facebook

Reflex Auto Design website

 

 

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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.