Tag Archives: Hard Lines

Setting Trends – Becky Evans’ 1983 BMW E21 316

Words & Photos by Henry Phull

 

If you asked me to list some of the most influential classic BMWs of our generation, Becky Evans’ E21 would be right up there. Both she and this little 316 have become icons throughout the global car community (you’ll probably know her as Queen B on Instagram and her recent YouTube channel). Becky’s E21 is the absolute epitome of the classic ‘bagged BMW’ combo, and although the recipe is nothing mind-blowing, the car as a whole has become a complete trendsetter. Simply introducing a classic to the ground and adding the right wheels (notably, a set of BBS RS), effectively blew people’s minds a good four or so years ago. Now, everyone wants their classic BMW to look like hers – that must be quite the compliment. With the car going through several transformations during her ownership, Becky has finally got to a stage where she’s happy with it. Having known her for years, I’ve watched the car progress, and waited a long time to get this gorgeous E21 in front of my lens. Earlier this year that time finally came…

 

 

Prior to the E21, Becky has been interested in cars since her childhood. With both her parents being petrolheads, she spent a lot of time around motorsport and racing. Naturally, she was going to be into cars. When she passed her test, she got a Mk4 Golf 1.4, and the fascination with the modified scene grew. “People really used to go to town on body modifications. Smoothed this, smoothed that. OEM+ parts, adding in later-gen features to older generation cars.” she explains and admits that her Mk4 got a taste of the times, with US-spec bodywork and smoothed tailgate in addition to all the usual mods of the moment.

 

 

However, when the time came for something new, Becky remembered about her mum owning an E21 back when she was her age. “I wanted to recreate this image of her in my mind” she explains. Plus, she had always been fascinated by BMW’s unique style herself. Unsurprisingly, an internet search began… which led her to a Henna Rot example that hadn’t made its reserve price on eBay. “I rang the seller quickly, and asked ‘Is it really as clean as it looks?’ and she said ‘yes, I promise you!’ – so then we grabbed the trailer and made the trip down to deepest darkest Somerset – baring in mind that I lived in Coventry at the time.” Just a two-owner car, the previous (also a woman) owner had only used it around town and to go to the shops. “She was super cool though, and wanted to know that the car was going to a good home. I promised her that I had a plan for it…” Well, I think it’s safe to say that Becky kept that promise.

 

 

The E21 was clean and rust-free, only requiring a small amount of cosmetic work to make it presentable, which made it the ideal original candidate for what Becky was envisioning. “I knew I always wanted to bag it, having gone through the pain having a static car, bags were really the way to go. I always loved the BBS RS wheel, but never had a car that I could put them on. That was the initial vision.” It only took four months to get the car bagged and on wheels, making its first debut at Ultimate Dubs 2013. However, to get it to the level it’s at now took four years. “The overall quality of the build has been lifted over the years, with an amazing paint job, better engineering of the air system and the final finish on the wheels” Becky explains, which we’ll be looking at next…

 

 

In its latest guise, the E21’s air suspension system was completely redesigned by Henry at RIIVA Design, including re-engineered custom air struts (using universal bags front and rear), upgrading to Air Lift Performance 3P management and creating a new tasteful boot build featuring a body-coloured seamless tank and hard lines, trimmed to compliment the rest of the interior. As a result, the car now drives and handles better than it ever did.

 

 

On to Becky’s beloved BBS RS073’s, which were owned previously by several people within a circle of her friends, so she knew they had been looked after. “These ones are pretty special in that they came stepped from the factory, they are 30-bolt centres, as opposed to 34 which traditionally come on the 16s. So these have that smaller centre, stepped lip look that I love but are original from factory like that” she explains. The wheels are spec’d as follows: 16×8 (2″ step) fronts, 16×9 (3″ step) rears with 195/35 and 215/30 tyres.

 

 

The BBS’ were originally purchased at the same time she bought the car, when they had polished lips and powder coated centres with gold hardware – pretty much the go-to spec. More recently, the wheels have undergone complete refinishing by Elie at Voodoo who has ceramic polished everything along with matching hardware and custom quarter height hex nuts. They now compliment the car perfectly.

 

 

It was time to attack the interior. Becky wanted to keep this as original as possible, but just wasn’t a fan of the original SE-style seats, especially considering one of them was damaged. A massive fan of the Ford Escort Recaro fishnet seats, she knew they would look right at home in the E21, if they were trimmed correctly. She finally found a set of Recaro’s from an RS2000, and began hunting for some original BMW material to trim them in, with the intention of matching the original rear bench.

 

 

Becky opted for the services of Dave Goodwin (Dave The Trimmer) to undertake the re-trim. “I wanted it to be perfect, so in the end, the search took us to some guy in Italy who happened to have a roll of the 83 pergament corduroy that we needed.” After a long time waiting, the seats were finally trimmed and now look like they could have been there from the factory. The interior is finished off with a Nardi Torino wooden steering wheel, naturally.

 

 

After running the car in its original cosmetic state for a number of years, Becky finally saved enough money to get a top-level paint job to match the overall picture she had in her head. She enlisted the services of Steve Denton at Stylehaus to carry out a complete bare metal respray in the original Henna Rot red. “The finish on the car is insane, I can’t thank him enough for the job he’s done.” she remarks. Along with the immaculate paint, you’ll notice a few subtle changes, like the rear window louvre, heckblende, and the headlights which have been converted back to a single setup, creating an overall sublime package.

 

 

Aesthetically, Becky has revised the E21 to the point of perfection… truth be told, nothing else needs to be done to the outside of the car without the risk of ruining it. Unlike a lot of people, she doesn’t feel the need to go overboard by trying to win over the internet, even though she’s had the car for so long (a lot of people would get bored, right?). To Becky, it’s been about refining her dream BMW with that timeless look. Of course, like all project cars, there’s still work to be done behind the scenes… The original M10 engine remains untouched (apart from much-needed maintenance), so her next port of call is to fit a set of carbs that are currently sat in the garage, and shaving/painting the engine bay over Winter time. Until then, the car is being enjoyed whenever she gets the time!

 

BONUS GALLERY

 

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More info on Becky Evans:

@queenb_uk on Instagram

Queen B on YouTube

 

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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!