Saturday, February 27, 2016

Land Rover is booming, so it has introduced round-the-clock working. What’s it like on the graveyard shift?


It’s midnight at the oasis – the manufacturing bright spot that is JLR Halewood. Last year
the plant produced 184,000 Range Rover Evoques and Land Rover Discovery Sports. Add

production from the company’s other two manufacturing sites – Castle Bromwich and Solihull – and the combined figure of almost 490,000 was sufficient to make JLR the UK’s number one car producer in 2015.
I’m working on the night shift, taking a break between sticking Range Rover badges on Evoques to ask my fellow line workers what it’s like toiling away at Halewood when much of the country is asleep.
Not that you’d know it was midnight. For one thing, there are no windows in the walls of the vast production area, and for another,
I haven’t seen anyone walking in circles, clutching a vital component and demanding a bedtime story.

All the same, there is, I imagine, something a little different about working the night shift, which
runs from 2230 to 0630 Monday to Thursday – it finishes early Friday mornings – compared with lates (1430-2230) and earlies (0630-1430), which run from Monday to Friday.

For one thing, there’s the simple fact that while the rest of us are away with the fairies, 1000 Merseysiders are labouring amid
a maze of overhead tracks conveying Evoques and Discovery Sports at various stages of completion, to emerge fully formed into the cold night air at the rate of one every 80 seconds (from coiled steel to finished vehicle takes 48 hours).

There’s also the fact that among those curled up in their beds are many of the managers who, by day, pace up and down the Halewood plant poking, prodding and fixing.


“We’re virtually on our own at night,” one supervisor tells me, with not a little relish. “If there are any problems, we fix them.”
This, if I’m not being too fanciful, seems to breed a spirit of ‘we’re in this together’ – a feeling that if you make a slip or something plays up, your mates and supervisors will help.
However, there’s another, more powerful factor at play, too: a sense that what’s happening here at Halewood between the hours of 2230 and 0630 is too good to throw away.

The Range Rover Evoque was launched in 2011. It was an immediate hit that took JLR completely by surprise. In 2012, with delivery times standing at nine months, the company decided to introduce round-the-clock production. The 1000 vacancies attracted 35,000 applicants.

John Witty, a team supervisor, tells me how the significance of that moment is not lost on any of his 1000 colleagues in the plant tonight.

“Like most people here, I’ve done all sorts of jobs in the past and I’ve known three-day weeks, too,” he says. “None of us want to go back to that. This plant is being utilised 100% of the time, which means we’re doing something right. If we keep doing it right, that means security for all of us – for people like me with a family and a mortgage, as much as for younger people just starting out who want
to build a life and a career. Working nights is a massive deal.”

It isn’t just JLR employees who appreciate the night shift. During the course of a 24-hour working day, 6000 people will pass through the factory gates, including around 1800 contractors and suppliers. Some of those contractors, mainly DHL workers (the company is JLR’s logistics provider) are on the night shift, busily bringing components from the suppliers to the production line, just in time to be picked and fitted to the cars.
I arrive on the production line just as the previous shift – called the late shift – is ending. To ensure production isn’t delayed more than is necessary, most of the night shift crew have clocked on and taken over their so-called oppos’ responsibilities. This allows the departing late shift workers to clock off bang on 2230. By 2227 the queues of lates at the wall-mounted clocks are at least 15 deep. Most of the workers – called associates – are quiet, staring into space and winding down from eight hours
of production line toil. As 2230 arrives, there’s a burst of activity as they swipe their ID cards over the 
machines and leave the plant. By 2231, Halewood belongs to the night shift, plus one rookie: me.
Tonight, I’ll be putting the hallowed Range Rover badges on the noses of Evoques, as they pass down the production line [see panel].
As long as I can stay awake. It’s 2230. I’m tired. I want my bed. Doesn’t everyone feel like this?
Apparently not. John Whiting, a 45-year-old associate who will keep an eye on me, is not only cheerily pressing on badges but also installing third-row seats in Discovery Sports.
“It takes until Wednesday night to get into the night shift rhythm,” he says. “Your sleep pattern on the Monday night is the worst. In winter you get home and go to sleep quite quickly, but in summer it’s much harder. Most mornings I sit up with my wife, have breakfast, grab a shower and then turn in. I’m up at 2pm and potter about until it’s time to go back in. You get used to it.”
At the next work station is 21-year- old Gemma Fitzgibbon. She’s deftly installing dashboards with the
aid of a robot arm that selects the component (it’s bar-coded to ensure the right fascia goes into the right car; there are 400,000 component permutations to manage), slides it through the car’s door aperture and attaches it in seconds. She’s on top

of things. How?



“It’s the last day of the night shift,” she says. “It takes the first couple of days to adjust. At the beginning, people are tired and quiet, but as the week goes on you get used to it, and because tonight we’ll finish at 0630, we’ll have a long weekend. Our next shift rota is lates, which starts at 1430 on Monday.”

The shift rota changes weekly and is known by the sequence in which the shifts fall as ‘Len’: lates, earlies, nights. All things considered, it doesn’t sound so bad: four days of nights followed by a bank holiday weekend, every three weeks.
As I offer up the name badge to my first Evoque of the night, I wonder what my chances are of being among the one in 35 fortunate enough to win a job at the Halewood production line the next time JLR launches
a recruitment drive. 

OLD VS NEW



DO YOU PREFER A NEW 4X4 OR AN OLD ONE? I JUST GOT HOME FROM AN 800-mile road trip in a 44-year-old Jeep Wagoneer. A few months back I did a similar road trip in a brand-new Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, and you know what? I enjoyed every minute of both. The old Jeep had exhaust fumes and barely any safety features but road like a Cadi and gobbled up mountain passes with ease. The new Jeep had heated seats and a smooth clean-running four-cylinder with about as much power as the old Jeep’s V-8 but lacked the security of the manually shifted transfer case in the Wagoneer. And this isn’t just a comment on Jeeps. During the holidays I spent a week in a stunning new diesel Range Rover. I also spent a week on the road this past year in an early 1990s Land Rover Defender 110, and I really want to own both. (Oddly enough, the older 110 has climbed in value until it is worth almost as much as the new Range Rover!)
But which do you prefer? It’s easy to gripe about how new trucks are expensive, have too many computerized parts, and don’t hold their value. But it’s just as easy to com- plain that old trucks are plagued with less-than-perfect brakes, finicky fuel systems, cold and wet leaking cabs (or soft tops), and are in constant need of repair. The fact is I’m more than spoiled by the heated seats, GPS, and instant throttle response of a fresh new 4x4, and yet I’m enamored with the rattle of real steel, well-worn seats, and the timeless style of an old 4x4. I can’t decide which is better. Some days I want the chal- lenge of getting somewhere in something that could die any second, and other days it’s nice to slam the door and just marvel at all the technology in a new vehicle (Though it does seem the Wagoneer door shut more solidly than the new Renegade.)
And that’s just new versus old in stock form, what about when you start to modify them? A new 4x4 is expensive to tear into, but it makes for a nice clean slate to build off of, whereas an old 4x4 is plagued with rust and worn parts. Parts that may need to be replaced and may be hard to find a replacement for if damaged off-road. A new 4x4 has computerized nannies, speed sensors, traction control, and so on that get ticked off when we cut and hack or tweak, tune, and hot rod the engines. At the same time, the comfort and performance of a modified and trail-ready new 4x4 is pretty awesome. The old 4x4s, on the other hand, are great because you can ditch all the unreliable stuff and add late-model fuel-injected engines and new drivetrain to end up with a 4x4 that per- forms like new but with age-old body lines. Sure, carbs and drums are fun to tinker with and make for an adventure if they don’t work perfect, but I prefer some of the technol- ogy we’ve developed over the years to make wheeling more fun. But I also love a steel dash, not a plastic-coated one.
I guess that’s the answer: The perfect 4x4 would be a mix of new and old. Part classic patina’d body. Part late-model comfort and performance. Part adventure to just keep it run- ning. Part reliable enough never to leave you stranded. I guess there just isn’t a perfect 4x4. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

FORD GT A MONUMENT OF STYLE, INSIDE AND OUT


latest installment of Automobile’s Design of the Year was almost too easy for us to pick. The Ford GT was the most exciting, most innovative, and most surprising meant-for- production car to make an appearance in 2015, period. No matter how you consider it—as a front-line competition car or a fabulous high-performance coupe—Ford’s decision to return to serious international sports-car racing 50 years after GT40s first showed up at Le Mans was the biggest perfor- mance-car news of the year. The fact Ford sprung the new GT on the world without the series of concepts and multiyear promises of “real soon now”—as heralded the Camaro’s return to market a while back—is all to the credit of the Blue Oval’s upper management, whose silo- centric methods were changed radically by former CEO Alan Mulally and carried on by present incumbents.
You do not often see a whole new way of shaping a specific category of automobiles. Most new designs are evolutions or derivations of what came before, with little variations in details, maybe as simple as inte- grating separate trunks into the body form, as was done in the early 1930s, or adding fins to enveloping shapes, as was done to the point of absurdity in the ’50s. In grand touring cars, we’ve seen gorgeous road- capable racers like the Ferrari GTO and the Ford GT40 evolve into very exotic supercars like Koenigseggs and Paganis, all still very much in the same mold. Racing “sports cars,” like the incredibly efficient (but also insuperably ugly) Prototype racers that now fight for overall victory at Le Mans, have absolutely no visual linkage to anything any of us would want to be seen driving on the road. That’s not true for the new Ford GT.


Design Analysis
1. Seen with the finned “cans” behind the lenses, the taillights look like something out of a 1930s Flash Gordon comic.
2. The “mustache” form in the rear is quite a bit more refined looking than the front one and integrates well into what is a very complex rear fascia.
3. The inside surface of the front fenders flows into a horizontal shelf on which the mirrors mount. The hard line continues into the tunnel where it fades to nothing.
4. This apparently hanging panel recalls the original BMW i8 concept car ... and some Formula 1 cars as well. It directs cooling air toward the front wheels and brakes and rests on the black under-nose extension as it wraps around the sides.
5. In June, I said, “This black band is the least a􏰱ractive aspect of the overall design ...
a li􏰱le thick and less refined than the rest of the car.” I still think so.
6. The grille texture is coarse, and the whole opening seems very big. But who knows? It could be necessary to provide sufficient cooling to the turbocharged engine.

Many of us have seen some shots on the Web wherein the GT is flanked by the very pretty McLaren 650S, one of McLaren design director Frank Stephen- son’s best efforts to date, and the beautiful Ferrari 458 Speciale. All three are great- looking machines. Yet the Ford, which is longer, wider, and taller than its ancestor—from which it is clearly influenced with multiple points of recognition artfully incorpo- rated—also looks fresh. And surprisingly, it manages to look smaller than both the half- century-old GT40, with its tiny, typically British racing 95-inch wheelbase, and Camilo Pardo’s brilliant GT follow-up of a decade ago, with 11.7 inches more wheelbase and nearly
4 inches more height.

Chris Svensson, British-born design leader for the new GT (and all North American Ford products), attributes the impression of it being much smaller to the body’s very narrow central portion, which includes the nearly vertical exterior cabin walls. Amko Leenarts, Ford’s global director of interior design, insists the cockpit is certainly cozy but also generous enough in width for two people to be truly comfortable in the car. The two top designers are genuinely our kind of people. Svensson has been with Ford for 22 years, having launched his career with the Blue Oval in Cologne in 1992. One of his first big projects was the Ka, a minicar highly polarizing in its style. We ran a Four Seasons test of the Ka soon after it appeared, in anticipation of it coming to the U.S. I liked it very much, to the point of buying the test car and running it happily for a few years. Others hated the look.
Svensson has moved around the Ford world, spending three years in Australia during one stretch. He drives our kinds of cars, too, with a Shelby GT350R 

The best-driving Audi A4 yet, with more tech and less weight: Auto Business News


VENICE, ITALY
Welcome to Auto Business News blogIf you hear someone call the 2017 Audi A4 boring, smack him in the back of the head. That clown doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Strap yourself into the A4, and you’ll find the crisp new Virtual Cockpit making up the instrument cluster and a large and equally beautiful display atop the center stack. Why do you need two nav screens? That’s like asking why your phone needs a screen at all. It didn’t, until it had one, and then you couldn’t live without it.


Audi A4 - Auto Business News



What makes the A4 special this time around is the fun you’ll have behind the wheel. This is the best A4 in that department by far. Even under heavy provocation, you’re not going to find any understeer even though the whole engine block is still hung out over the front axle. The redesigned strut-type suspension adds another link to separate steering and vertical forces. The setup provides a great balance between comfort and handling, especially when paired with the optional adaptive damping system.
The 2017 A4 that’ll likely be most popular with American buyers is the 2.0 TFSI with Quattro all-wheel drive, so we focused on that model during our drive time. It’s downright snappy thanks to its 252 hp and standard seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The European-spec car will hit 60 mph in about 5.6 seconds, according to Audi. U.S. cars might be even more agile thanks in part to a unique transmission tune.Expect a 2.0-liter TDI with Quattro at launch as well. (Given recent events, we’re guessing it will be tested within an inch of its life before it hits the road.) Front- wheel-drive models will follow soon after. Sadly, no manual transmission is in the works.
Part of the new A4’s graceful driving character comes from its decreased weight. American cars will be between 75 and 100 pounds lighter than the previous A4, depending on trim. Some of the biggest savings come from the brake system, where fixed aluminum calipers replace floating iron units for an 11-pound savings. The new A4’s forged aluminum suspension and the electromechanical steering rack shave a total of 35 pounds. Audi engineers found another 30 pounds or so by obsessing over small stuff throughout the car. The steering wheel rim, for instance,
is now magnesium. 



THE SPECS
ON SALE:
Spring 2016
BASE PRICE:
$40,000 (est)
ENGINE:
2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/252 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm, 273 lb-􏰲 @ 1,600-4,500 rpm 
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT:
4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan EPA MILEAGE: N/A
L X W X H:
186.1 x 72.5 x 56.2 in
WHEELBASE:
111.0 in
WEIGHT:
3,329 lb
0-60 MPH:
5.6 seconds (est)
TOP SPEED:
155 mph 
Audi A4 - Auto Business News
























The diet plan comes despite more equipment than ever on the A4, as Audi hasn’t forgotten that technology is what sets it apart in this crowded segment. The optional Virtual Cockpit acts like your typical luxury sedan’s center console display: a brilliantly crisp (1440 x 540 pixel) and fast (60 frames per second) unit. The difference is that it is right in front of you and can be controlled from the steering wheel. The screen lets you access an impressive array of features, including Audi’s latest and greatest MMI interface, new apps, and detailed Google Earth maps, without reaching for and glancing at the center console.
The large, responsive center display (7-inch standard, 8.3-inch when equipped with navigation) added to Virtual Cockpit nets you nearly as much screen real estate as the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with even smarter features. On top of all that, there’s an
optional head-up display. It also has crisp graphics, smart alerts, and all the information you’d want in front of your eyes. In practice, it’s basically redundant given the Virtual Cockpit screen just below it.
The center console’s touch- sensitive controller allows for quick, intuitive, and scroll-free text inputs via its capacitive-touch upper surface. When scrolling does become necessary, it now scrolls the right way. Yes, that’s right, Audi has finally yielded to logic and stopped with the up-is-down nonsense.
The center screen won’t be completely redundant, either, as the passenger (or greedy driver) can use it to access not just the full suite of items available in the Virtual Cockpit but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. Audi is also planning an expanded form of Audi Connect that will include emergency roadside service, smartphone lock/unlock and status reporting, and smartwatch app functions.
Driving the Audi A4 through the Italian countryside near Venice, we discovered for ourselves how this display can aid rather than distract from driving. We’re able to keep a map of the overall route on the center screen while scanning a zoomed-in map on our instrument cluster to find curvier, less trafficked roads. No more trying to futz around with a single display, cursing at your harried passenger’s incompetence as you speed through unfamiliar territory.
When we do hit congestion, traffic jam assist keeps the pixel-fueled party going with the ability to follow the lane and control the vehicle speed from a stop up to 40 mph. The lane- recognition system works as well as most others we’ve tested, which is to say it had some difficulty. (Mercedes retains the edge here.) The adaptive cruise control works flawlessly though. When the systems are working in concert, they take the bulk of the load off the driver in heavy-traffic situations. It’s worth at least 10 points off your blood pressure reading. You can even take your hands off the wheel for a handful of seconds.
You’ll save another 10 systolic points—and possibly a life—with the exit warning system, which leverages the A4’s blind-spot detection sensors to scan for traffic approaching from the rear when you exit the car. If the car detects a threat, it will alert the driver or passenger by flashing lights in the door. The system activates once the A4 is stopped, and it remains active for up to three minutes after the car is turned off. It’s a simple and obvious application of existing sensors and data, but its impact is potentially enormous. Brilliant.
In the U.S., much of the equipment mentioned above will be standard, in addition to a 4G LTE data connection and a rearview camera. Must-have features such as the Virtual Cockpit and navigation will be “priced to be easily accessible” to most buyers. Of course, buyers will have opportunities to lay down extra cash, such as for a 755-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
Audi hasn’t yet released U.S. pricing, but expect that information—plus U.S. trims, features, and other details—closer to the car’s launch next spring.
No matter the final spec sheets, however, with all that’s offered the Audi A4 makes a truly compelling case for your luxury sedan dollar. Is it smart? Sure. Fun? Without question. Boring? Never. 

The Performance BMW E28 535i

Welcome to Auto Business News-Sweden’s Christopher Björåsen has developed a habit for E28s that borders on the obsessive. This Hartge tribute throws into focus just how easy it is to get carried away with trying to find matching period upgrades... 

There’s a line between a homage and a poor imitation, and it’s not always a thin one. If you’ve got, say, a bone-stock E36 320i and you replace the badges with those from an M3 and maybe slap on a set of wheels from a better-spec’d model, that’s not going to fool anyone. It’s just a bit embarrassing, claiming it’s something it’s not. If, however, you spent some time collecting a variety of appropriate parts, building the thing up piece by piece, you could be onto something – M3 wheels with the appropriate brakes behind them, the suspension, the body addenda of the superior variant, the interior accoutrements and embellishments, the hallowed drivetrain... you’d be incrementally building something genuinely interesting there. It’s never going to be a real M3, but with care, patience and dedication, you can make a fairly close approximation. That’s a decent homage, a tribute, a job done well

So it is with the E28 5 Series you see here. It’s not a genuine Hartge E28, but its owner, Christopher Björåsen, is slowly but surely ticking off the details to make it a thoroughly respectable homage. The idea he’s shooting for here is a sort of modern interpretation of the old Hartge H5S; the legendary aftermarket tuner (who, incidentally, was approved as a manufacturer in its own right in 1985, a couple of years before Chris’s own 535i left the factory) raised the 3.4-litre M30’s power output from 218hp to 240hp, then tweaked various elements of the car to suit. The suspension was uprated and necessarily lowered and some spangly wheels appeared. Front and rear spoilers were bolted on – naturally, it was the Eighties – and a lesser H5 variant was offered based on the 528i powertrain. Most importantly of all, it had in- your-face side-stripes. Again, Eighties. All of this forms a neat picture of what Chris sought to emulate and, given the inherently retro nature of the concept, we can assume that it’s an aspiration that’s been simmering away for some time, right? “Er... no, not really,” he says, cutting us down in short order. “The first time I saw an E28, I thought it was really ugly. I was about 12 years old, I was at a friend’s house, and his grandparents came down the street in a stock beige 5 Series. I thought it was horrible. I couldn’t think why anyone would choose to buy such an ugly car.”
Well, that’s a pretty damning analysis. But time makes fools of us all and, as you’ve no doubt guessed, Chris’s sensibilities toward shark-nosed Bavarian executive saloons has mellowed somewhat over the decades.
“A few years after that, when I was 18 and working toward getting my driving licence, I was at a local hangout on a Friday night when this maroon E28 with the M package and 17” Contour wheels came drifting around corner with its straight-six screaming... from that moment I flip- flopped, and decided that I had to have one!”
Now we’re getting somewhere. If only that elderly couple had been a bit more aggressive in their beige runabout, maybe the ball could have got rolling a little bit earlier! But heigh-ho, here we are, and things seem to have turned out all right in the end. As luck would have it, a friend of a friend happened to have an ’83 528i for sale at this time, so with a fresh licence in hand, Chris pulled the trigger on a new era of shark- fancying. Which is rather a lot cooler than the average first car. “From the first time I drove it I was hooked!” he enthuses, revelling in the heady stew of rich, tasty memories. “I did a few small mods on it – lowering springs, 17” throwing stars and so on – but after a year I managed to slide it into a lamp post and totally trashed the front end. So that was the end of that one.”
But by this point, of course, the passion was set in stone. Grown-up Chris was thumbing his nose at his 12-year-old self, the enthusiasm for E28s growing ever stronger by the day. That early foray is something he describes affectionately but realistically as “just my first E28”, and there have been an impressive seven more since, ranging from daily-driven 518 up to an M535i. He’s really been ticking the boxes across the model range, keen to try every flavour. This is beginning to border on obsession.
The story of this suave Hartge-alike begins with its predecessor, the aforementioned M535i. “That was a Lachssilber example that I modded quite a lot,” Chris recalls. “I experimented with all kinds of different springs and dampers to get it low as well as quick, but one day my eye was caught by a 535i on a Swedish E28 forum. The owner had just bought a 635CSi and was thinking of selling the saloon, so I called him straight away to go and have a look at it! Since I already had a 535 in good condition and this one looked like it’d cost a bit much, I told myself that I was only going to take a look and I wouldn’t be coming home with it. But, boy, was I wrong! The thing was in mint condition. It was love at first sight.”
The car, it turned out, had been sold new in Nuremburg in 1987, and had stayed with the same owner right up until 2007, covering just 82,000km. At that point it found its way over to a new Swedish owner, who kept it for a couple of years before passing it onto the keeper who ended up selling it to Chris. It’s a pretty rare thing to be able to trace back the entire ownership of a car of this age, so that almost makes the purchase worth it in itself. And the fact that the fella who sold it to our plucky hero had thrown a lot of cash at the chassis was the real clincher. “It had E34 M5 brakes and E28 M5 anti-roll bars, as well as new arms and bushes,” Chris says, which made it seem pretty attractive. “He’d started the Hartge theme, too, although when I bought it a lot of things were stock 535i the wheels, the dampers and so on. So the first thing I did was to throw on a set of coilovers.” The units in question are super- adjustable XYZ Super Sport items, something the manufacturer describes as ‘suitable for daily use and weekend racing’ perfect for Chris. They also help the car get nice and low, taking the original old-school Hartge stance and refracting it through a modern filter. These new lows were swiftly augmented by a set of Hartge Type C three- piece splits that were already waiting in the garage, destined for the old M535i but suddenly feeling far more appropriate for the new project. And from this point on, the car became a sort of cross between a jigsaw puzzle and a retro treasure hunt.
“With the Hartge decor on the exterior and the wheels to match, I started hunting for the other period parts to complete the picture,” he explains, casually tossing into the conversation a concept that actually represents months of tireless and exhausting scavenging across the internet and beyond. Inside the car, complementing the leather dash and nifty heated leather M-Sport seats, you’ll find a Hartge steering wheel, gear knob, gauge cluster with unique rev counter, and the sought-after finned dead pedal on the floor. It’s all as Herbert Hartge would surely have intended in there, and the exterior was shaping up rather neatly, too. Working alongside the stripes ’n’ rims combo are an M5 front spoiler and a BBS spoiler on the bootlid, and it’s worth noting as well how utterly, mind-bogglingly clean the whole thing is. It’s a proper period-tuned showcase.
Now, as previously alluded to, Hartge’s own approach to tweaking the M30 motor was to liberate an extra 30hp+ by fiddling with the fuelling and ignition, as well as reworking the cylinder head and fitting a redesigned exhaust manifold. This isn’t the route that Chris has gone down, although his straight-six is rather feistier than you might expect. “I bought a genuine Hartge exhaust manifold from a guy in Montenegro, and I made a custom 2.5” stainless steel exhaust to fit,” says Chris, eager to assure us that his classic homage isn’t all mouth and no trousers. He’s certainly added some bark to it. “Because I run so low, and the oil pan on the M30 sits so low anyway, I had to modify it to stop it from hitting the ground all the time,” he continues. “It now sits 28mm higher from the road. I’ve had too many close calls, so this just seemed to make sense!” Indeed it does – particularly when you factor in that this car isn’t just hard- driven but daily driven, too.
“The reaction to the car has been great. E28 fans around the world really seem to love it,” Chris enthuses. “I even had Stanceworks’ Mike Burroughs getting in touch to talk about it. But I’m not finished yet, far from it... I’m still always on the lookout for period-correct Hartge parts for the car; I’ve already picked up a Hartge rear wing, and I’d really like a matching valve cover, too.” He seems keenly aware of the performance-oriented nature of the original H5S as well, and he’s certainly not done with the engine. New cams are on the cards, along with some head porting and a fresh management system, which should pull everything beyond that tweaked 1980s power figure. There’s talk of rebuilding the wheels, too, to provide a bit more dish from wider lips. Again, it’s all about reworking that classic tuning for the modern era. Subtle, but devastatingly effective.

So no, this isn’t a genuine Hartge H5S. But with every day that passes, it gets closer to being a faithful replica, with a few fun tweaks to contemporise it for modern use and a new-wave audience. This is no disrespectful parody. This is a loving and aspirational homage, and it just keeps on getting better 

BMW Might Build a McLaren-Based Supercar-auto business news

BMW and McLaren first got together in the early ’90s when the Germans supplied the 618-hp, 6.1-liter V-12 that powered the Brits’ 231-mph McLaren F1 supercar, but the tie between the two all but withered away after that. Or so we thought. Word is BMW has gone to McLaren for help on a new halo model, a supercar that would be based on the next-generation McLaren 650S. 

About a year ago, BMW’s recently discharged chairman, Norbert Reithofer, nixed the plan for the BMW M100 supercar, a lightweight, mid-engine two-seater with a 750-hp, twin-turbo V-8 and adaptive aerodynamics, as well as a concessionary proposal that would have rebodied and retooled a BMW i8. So Klaus Fröhlich, head of BMW research and development, met with McLaren in hopes of creating a high-performance halo car for BMW that would complement—not challenge— the i8. The idea of building a BMW-branded supercar based on a McLaren carbon-fiber monocoque that wouldn’t tarnish the brand image of either BMW or McLaren came to life, and the project is now underway. 
BMW plans to use its new 4.0-liter V-8 engine fitted with four turbochargers—two exhaust-driven, two electrically 
operated—and the total power output could be tweaked as marketing requires, with the stillborn M100’s 750-hp mark set as the baseline for now. (At the moment, a plug-in hybrid or fully electric version is not on the agenda.) A coupe has first priority, but a convertible might also be in the cards. The start of production is penciled in for late 2018, which means the timing could be right for BMW to take advantage of McLaren’s updated sports car architecture, which will be going under the next McLaren 650S. 
The suspension, steering, and brakes on this still-nameless joint venture will be of McLaren design, but it should be dialed in with a BMW-specific calibration. BMW design cues will be worked into the exterior and interior so the message of this supercar won’t be reduced to a BMW-powered McLaren. Think custom door treatments, unique aero concepts, and BMW-supplied infotainment, connectivity, and assistance systems. The plan is to reveal 

a concept car at the 2017 Frankfurt show and to have the production version, priced well above $225,000, at dealerships for model year 2019. 

Air-Ride BMW E30 325i


This super-clean bagged E30 keeps things deliciously clean, though the devil is in the detail. 



We probably say this about every E30 we feature but it really is a car that requires next to no exterior addenda to make it look addenda to make it look awesome. The older BMWs are definitely blessed with this natural elegance and irresistible appeal that means even a well- kept standard E24 or E34 will look fantastic. And, when enhanced with even just a subtle drop and the right wheels, the ‘cool’ and ‘want’ factors go through the roof! Drop it on a killer set of special wheels and, well, you’ve pretty much achieved automotive perfection right there. 
Just look at this E30. It looks absolutely awesome, a visual treat that’s hard to beat but break it down and there’s been precious little done to the exterior, minimising the risk of ruining the whole thing. It kisses the Tarmac when parked up thanks to that front splitter and the copper centres on those polished Gottis (which are tucked to perfection) add a fantastic flash of colour, but that’s it. It’s just so super-clean, so simple and so damn good you’d never get tired of ogling this piece of petrolhead porn 
Abraham Cruz is the American modifier behind this delicious build and, amazingly, this is his first ever BMW and only his second modified car, having come from a trio of Civics. Considering he’s conjured up this magnificent E30, we can forgive him for that. “I’ve been interested in BMWs since I sold my RHD Civic in 2011, which was a full show build. What makes BMW’s special to me is that they are incredible machines, mechanically and aesthetically. They are really fun to drive as well,” he says. “I have always loved the E30 model. Everything about it is beautiful. I also wanted a car that was an ’89, like the year I was born. I found ‘Eve’ on Craigslist. The condition she was in was pretty horrible, with faded paint, a bunch of dings and dents, a cracked dash, a beat up interior etc. I saw the potential in her and that’s why I decided to purchase her. She was actually supposed to be a daily driver but that quickly changed once I sent her in for paint.” With a fresh coat of black paint, the E30 was looking much better than when Abraham had purchased it and, presented with what was now an exceedingly clean car, the temptation to turn it into something even more special was too strong to resist. “I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to go with a simple but classy look,” he says, and that’s a philosophy he’s remained true to throughout the three years and numerous changes the car has been through during that time. The exterior perfectly captures this ethos, with minimal effort for maximum impact. Abraham turned his attention to the E30’s styling on our side of the Pond and opted for a Euro bumper trim, Euro rear plate filler and Euro grilles. These additions are complemented by a set of Hella Smiley headlights and a set of MHW smoked taillights. This smokey theme continues with some ZKW smoked repeaters and smoked foglights. The finishing touches, a flourish of OE additions, include an M Tech 1 rear spoiler, an iS front lip enhanced with a Ryan G splitter for optimum Tarmac interface, a BMW front plate filler and a set of Motorsport door handles. 
fabulous, though Abraham clearly figured that a flash of colour would work wonders, retaining the amber indicators in the front bumpers and then adding those wheels. These were actually purchased in tandem with a set of BBS RSs but we’ve got to say the Gottis it’s currently wearing (8x16” ET11 G1001s all- round) are a breath of fresh air, especially in that lush shade of copper. The custom colour is gorgeous but only covers the faces, including the faintest sliver between the edge of the lips and the centres; the sides of the spokes have been finished in gunmetal, along with the bolts, and then the lips have been polished to perfection. It’s a heady combination and the contrast against the all- black body really makes the wheels pop. 

On the suspension front, Abraham was already an advocate of the low lifestyle but his dedication to the cause was causing frustration as the poor E30 was scraping everywhere. So, in order to keep things lovely and low whilst also making the car that little more practical he decided to head down the air-ride route – now a road very well-travelled by many BMW owners. He grabbed himself an Air Lift kit with BC damping adjustable dampers, Viair compressor and a four-gallon tank, all watched over by Air Lift V2 digital management. Of course, when it comes air- ride, the suspension is only half the story; just as important is how it looks when it goes in your boot. Well, pop open Abraham’s boot and you’ll find a very clean, unique build, with the single air tank proudly on display, sitting on a wood grain floor. Under the bonnet you will notice two 
things: first, it’s very clean. Second, there be wood in here. Well, not actual wood, it’s a hydro-dipped wood grain valve cover that carries on the woody theme from the boot and interior. It’s certainly not something you see everyday, that’s for sure. The reason the bay looks so clean is because Abraham has carried out a mild wire tuck, just to make it all a little more presentable beneath the bonnet and he’s also added a few neat little touches like the E46 M3 oil filler cap, E30 M3 firewall harness covers, and the crackle black intake manifold. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also discover a chipped ECU and an Ireland Engineering cat-back exhaust. 
Abraham hasn’t done much to the interior but then again this is an interior that doesn’t really need much in the way of work to get the most from it, much like the rest of the car. While some of you out there might not be fans of light leather, we’re rather partial to it and the cream hide in here is the perfect contrast to the blacker-than-black exterior, with the front seats coming from already an advocate of the low lifestyle but his dedication to the cause was causing frustration as the poor E30 was scraping everywhere. So, in order to keep things lovely and low whilst also making the car that little more practical he decided to head down the air-ride route – now a road very well-travelled by many BMW owners. He grabbed himself an Air Lift kit with BC damping adjustable dampers, Viair compressor and a four-gallon tank, all watched over by Air Lift V2 digital management. Of course, when it comes air- ride, the suspension is only half the story; just as important is how it looks when it goes in your boot. Well, pop open Abraham’s boot and you’ll find a very clean, unique build, with the single air tank proudly on an E30 Saloon. We mentioned more wood in the interior and it takes the shape of that gorgeous Nardi steering wheel and Nardi gear knob, which has also been treated to a leather gaiter. Another leather gaiter protects the E36 leather handbrake handle, while a set of Schnitzer pedals, an analogue Euro clock and a custom E30dad cluster finishes the whole lot off. We can’t think of many places that would be nicer in which to spend some quality time than this exceedingly clean, classic interior. 
As gorgeous as Abraham’s car now is, having gone through numerous incarnations during its time with him already, it is in no way surprising to learn that he has more planned for the future. “I’m going to tackle the interior next,” he says. “I’m fitting a new custom black headliner and I have some Recaro LS seats that I’m going to get reupholstered. There’ll possibly be an interior colour change from tan to peanut butter. I’ll be swapping in an LS2 engine from a Corvette in the near future as well!” That sounds amazing; it sounds like this E30 will continue to be a breath of fresh air.