Words & Photos by Henry Phull
The modified BMW scene in the UK seems to have been overrun with E36’s and E46’s lately… Don’t get me wrong, I love them both having owned a few myself, but I’m always on the look out for those more unusual models that the marque has to offer. It’s easy to go and build a car that has been done multiple times – parts are available, you know what wheels will and won’t work, and the suspension options are endless and can be done on a small budget. Plus, there are knowledgeable owners out there willing to help others out with said modifications – one of the many reasons why I love the car community. But I have the most respect for those building rarer cars. Our feature today focuses on Jamie Hitchcock, who got bored of seeing the same thing and made the big decision to purchase a BMW Z4 and introduce it to the floor.
Jamie has only recently become a car fanatic. Five years ago he hated the idea of cars and modifying them, whilst his major interest was with music. It wasn’t until a home move to Oxford that he started to build a connection with the machines we love. Alone in a new city, Jamie knew nobody and started spending his time washing his car, and it seemed to grow from there. 99% of his friends now have come through a shared passion for cars, now his major interest.
Jamie isn’t ashamed to admit that he started off in a Saxo which was ‘all boyed up’. Luckily he then upgraded to a Polo on ATS Cup’s, following this up with an Audi A4 on Rotiform NUE’s. Eventually he became bored with VAG ownership and made the switch to BMWs, and he’s never looked back. Unfortunately his E46 M Sport 325i was crashed into and written off, but this led him to an E36 with air ride, Vader seats and Throwing Star alloys for an OEM+ look.
However, this brings me back to what I was saying earlier… Jamie eventually grew tired with the E36. It was evident that numerous examples were popping up, and that they were becoming far too common for his liking. Jamie is one of the most chilled out and humble guys I’ve met, but I feel he likes to stand out through his cars.
It took a while for Jamie to make the jump.. whilst toying with the ideas of an E39 or even an E36 Touring (as these were still less common), and worrying about the Z4 being seen as a ‘hairdressers’ car. But deep down, after seeing pictures of Z4 DTM cars, and other Z4’s with impressive fitment over in the States, he knew he wanted one. With his girlfriend Molly constantly telling him he wouldn’t be happy until he just bought the car he really wanted, he went and found himself a 2003 Z4 2.5l manual in grey with a gorgeous and contrasting red leather interior.
Not much had been done to the car by the previous owner, apart from adding a set of cheap AP coilovers and some nasty carbon fibre vinyl. Jamie’s plan for the Z4 was to get it as low as he possibly could, whilst staying static. Even though he’s owned a car on air, he just has a passion for static cars. Seeing a car scraping along the road, no f**k’s given, is what it’s all about to Jamie. Fair play to him, it certainly takes guts to drive a car this low especially in a county with some of the worst roads.
The first job was to get rid of the AP’s and replace them with a new set of D2 Racing SL (super low) coilovers to give him the drop, and whatever possible drivability, that he required. Unfortunately, adjusting coilovers to their lowest setting is hardly ever the only thing needed when you’re lowering a car this much, naturally Jamie ran into some complications.
Firstly with the secondary cats on the exhaust system – these had to be removed because they were catching on absolutely everything. A lot of brutal driving on country roads saw the ‘flattening’ of the rest of the exhaust system which will no doubt be due for renewal soon.
Jamie ran the car on a set of black Rotas up until recently, when he could finally afford what he had his mind set on; Work Meister S1’s. Due to Driftworks recently becoming the Work Wheels UK distributor, getting hold of them was easy and he didn’t have to worry about the hassle of import duties and waiting times, so Jamie decided to go for an 18″ set with 9.5j fronts and 10j rears, with white centres.
Getting the fitment correct on these huge wheels was crucial. This involved a lot of playing about with magazines, arch rollers, and so on. Jamie has had to do a few tweaks to the front camber mounts in addition to new adjustable rear arms for precise camber control. It took a long while to get it all right and, more importantly, drivable… But with the help of Josh (from LikeHell Design) who also runs these wheels on his static Nissan 350Z, they cracked it in the end.
Tyre wise, Jamie is running 215/35’s on the front and 225/35’s at the rear, but as fitment is always on his mind, he’s thinking of replacing the fronts with a pair of 205/35’s soon. Nevertheless, I think you’ll agree with me when I say that the stance and fitment on the Z4 has been well and truly nailed. I went out in the car with Jamie and the amount of looks the car gets is crazy.
Of course, being this low comes with endless consequences. As well as the exhaust being constantly ripped to shreds, the design of the Z4 bumper means it is forever unclipping when it touches anything slightly raised. Plus, his poor front arches are taking quite a beating – but to Jamie, it’s all part of the game and he absolutely loves it.
Believe it or not, Jamie doesn’t think the car is low enough! But when you can actually feel the floor warp and change shape under your feet whilst driving over the slightest uneven surfaces, I’ve assured him that it is, and that he’s crazy. It takes serious balls and patience to drive this low in the UK… but then again the car is a great reflection of Jamie’s personality, one of the nicest guys you will come across in the car world. Although the Z4 looks finished, cars never are. He’s already thinking about a wrap in addition to (and to my amazement) trying to get it even lower. What astounds me the most is that Jamie doesn’t own another car. He drives this every day, and for this I salute him.