California Love

I recently shot a couple of rolls of Fuji Super HQ 200 which had expired in 2001. It’s been too long since I have shot film and I have been eager to get back in to it. I’m pleased with the results, although I know the mass appeal may be a bit less than normal.

I intend on shooting film much more often.

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Ireland Engineering: BMW Heaven

We’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that here at StanceWorks, we are a diehard group of BMW fans. It can often be tough for us to deviate from German steel to provide our readers with content that is more appealing on a broad scope, but if you’ve been around long enough, you know that sometimes we fall back to our roots. Season after season, the S|W garage has gotten older and older, with an E10 parked in the shop and an E9 just outside… We’ve realized they just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Part of our mission here at StanceWorks is to embrace the classic car culture, and push the idea that new cars aren’t always better. When Ireland engineering called and invited us to check out their shop in Duarte, California, it was an opportunity to take a glimpse into BMW part heaven.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

Ireland Engineering does one thing, and they do it well. They build BMW race parts. I don’t care what kind of car guy you are; chances are you see the appeal. Ireland, at its core, is one of the few places not only dedicated to keeping our favorite old BMWs on the road and running until the end of time, they are dedicated to making them faster. More than 40 years after these cars’ debut, Jeff Ireland spends day in and day out ensuring that they won’t be forgotten, left to rot away in the junk yard like so many other cars. He and his team see the heart behind them, just like we do.

The first thing we noticed when we walked in to Ireland’s shop was the copious amounts of BMW parts… from cylinder heads and spindles to camshafts and connecting rods; hundreds. It was as though we had found where BMWs go to die. Then again, this is also where BMWs are reborn a little bit faster.

Strewn throughout the shop were what I can only assume are customer jobs receiving the Ireland touch. Preservation and restoration of the classic BMW powerplants that today’s engines only wish they could be. The boys at IE would agree with us that there’s nothing like the scream of an old straight six, a sound only comparable to a monster that eats children and rocks for breakfast and howls like a banshee when the loud-pedal is mashed. It’s that sound cars dont can’t make anymore.

Further exploring the IE shop, we find the stuff they’re known best for. Race parts. Lots and lots of race parts. Every little goodie to make that old piece of metal do the tango through the back turns is found here. Aisles and aisles of boxes and drawers, filled to the brim with machined nicknacks and trinkets, much of which you only pray stuffs your stockings this Christmas; it is the bona fide BMW paradise. We’d be in serious trouble if we were let loose in the shop after hours. To reiterate, without guys like the ones at IE, enjoying these cars the way they were intended to be would have stopped long ago.

But there’s more to the shop than engines and parts: as we said before, they see that these little old BMWs have a heart in them, and they’re still willing to get their hands dirty to keep it beating. If I had a dollar for each of the “parts manufacturers” out there only around to gain a buck or two, I’d be a wealthy man. On the other hand, I only dream of the inability to count the number of shops out there who dont have dust on the tools in the machine shop.  The corner of Ireland was occupied by the production of camber plates while we were there. Just like your grumpy grandfather always said, there’s no substitute for “Made in America.”

At the end of our tour, we realized a few things, but the most important was this: We’re not alone in our desire to drive these old cars, to prevent them from being locked away in glass cases under bright white lights in climate controlled prison cells. These old machines were mean to be driven. It doesn’t matter whether your car is corner-weighted and track prepped, or slowly wearing away at the edges of your tire entirely for looks. If you’re driving these old cars, you’re doing everyone a favor. Someday, they’ll all be gone, there’s no question. But thanks to shops like Ireland Engineering, they’ll be driven, perhaps even driven hard, until their final drop of oil is spilled.

Their shop is only 45 minutes from here. I see us visiting quite often, and now I have the perfect excuse to purchase even more vintage BMWs.

While I’m there, I’ll have to talk Jeff into letting me run the Formula BMW up and down the street. (That’s a hint if you read this, Jeff.)

 

 

 

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StanceWorks Goes to SEMA

We’re finally home from SEMA, one of the largest automotive trade shows in the world. SEMA, which stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, holds the annual SEMA Show once a year, allowing buyers, sellers, and exhibitors to congregate across 2 million square feet of exorbitantly extravagant booths and cars.  It is the industry’s ultimate networking tool, allowing companies to meet one-on-one to further their businesses. Relationships are formed every second at SEMA, laying the groundwork for the entire industry for the year to come. And if you didn’t know, it takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, meaning that the show is bound to be anything but ordinary.

Our week at the SEMA Show, our first time attending as StanceWorks, was a successful one. It was a week that we hope sets the playing field for 2012, and it began with quite the bang. Our first meeting of the show was with the president of BBS.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

We had a long discussion in an effort to answer everything we could possibly come up with. We got the truth on everything from the relationship between BBS NA and BBS Germany, to the notorious bankruptcy, and even what the future holds for BBS. We asked about the role of vintage BBS motorsport wheels in today’s market and what the chances of a comeback happening are. To say that BBS is well aware of today’s trends is an understatement. They attend countless events in direct relation to our community. To simplify it all, we’re looking forward telling the story of what is inarguably one of the most powerful names in the history of the wheel, as well as laying to rest the constant rumors we hear each and every day.

The pace of the week to come was only realized when shortly after, we were off to a private party hosted by HRE.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

HRE’s affair was hosted in one of the top-floor suites of the Aria Hotel. The term “extravagant” doesn’t quite do justice to the outstanding room, and the wheels that were converted to tables were just as impressive. It’s quality you obviously won’t find at the closest IKEA. The future of StanceWorks and HRE was discussed over drinks as we all celebrated the success of the new HRE 454. Unveiled here at SEMA, the 454 is HRE’s latest offering in a line of recreations of their classic wheels from the 1990s. The line came about as a collaboration between HRE and StanceWorks as an homage to designs of the automotive era we at StanceWorks still live in. It’s only the start of a long lasting relationship with much more to come. To those who are familiar with the classic HRE family of wheels, you won’t be disappointed.

But the evening didn’t stop there. It was only our first night out and we were already off to yet another party. Our friends at Fifteen52 scored us invites to the Hoonigan launch party, hosted by Ken Block and the Hoonigan family. After being checked off the guest list, we approached the door to hear quite the commotion and what sounded like the wood-on-more-wood collisions of a bowling alley. But it couldn’t be, could it?

Oh, but we should have known that such an party could only take place in a penthouse suite with a bowling alley. And a pool table. And wall made of TVs. And, well you catch our drift. Drinks were had, bowling balls were thrown, and Linhbergh even showed us his Hooniwang®. “Celebrities” in all directions, even some that hit close to home. We had quite the discussion with Jamie, the creator of VW Vortex. I suppose it goes to show that a party is no excuse to stop working.

Evening number one ended when day two should have started. After making the rounds at the show once again, we were back in HRE’s suite, only to be followed by dinner with Cory from Kahn Media and Mike Garrett from SpeedHunters.

In typical fast-paced SEMA/Vegas fashion, we made our way to the next thing on the list. After-dinner drinks were shared with the boys from our home turf. Rotiform, AirLift, and VIP Modular brought us all together for a solid evening that reminds us that friendship can transcend business, and why we love to do what we do every day. As we’ve always said, we’re here to form relationships with everyone we work with. It’s guys and companies like these that keep us in check and remind us why aiming to fill our pockets with money from every sponsor that approaches us is simply not the way we work.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

Thursday was one of the highlights of the trip. An early morning introduction to the president and international marketing manager of Work Wheels lead to what may the birth of a fantastic relationship. We were thrilled to hear that the big guys at Work, and the rest of the Japanese, are well aware of what we’re up to here at SW. Work invited us to a private tour of their facility in Japan, the first time such an offer has been made in 3 years. To say we’re honored is putting it rather subtly. You know that screaming jumping dance high school girls do when they find out their crush likes them? Well, I’m not quite saying that happened, but…

If all things go according to plan, StanceWorks will be in Japan in January for a tour of the Work facility as well as the Tokyo Auto Salon. Here’s a call to all of our Japanese readers- get ready.

The mad-dash continued for the rest of the day, with constant shuttling back and forth between one hotel and another underneath the Vegas lights. The final day of the show was highlighted by an outstanding meeting with the owners of Piloti shoes. Knowing that such an outstanding company is a home-grown and family run operation, we quickly decided that a full-on article must be done. We’re planning on heading to their offices up North in the coming weeks, and who knows what may come of the newly found relationship. The day was capped by the highly anticipated “rollout”. At 4:00, SEMA comes to an end, and at 4:01, hundreds of engines fire up inside of the Las Vegas Convention Center as everyone with a car in the show wants to get out before the aisles become impassable.

All of the cars we admired inside were heading out single file, as thousands cheered each one on. Everything from monster-trucks to JJ’s familiar avant came down the aisle, all as the rain that we had dodged for the whole week approached in a rather gloomy fashion.

So to say our week at SEMA was a successful one is putting it lightly. We’re thrilled with every connection we made and every hand we shook, and we’ll be back next year, no question. Keep an eye out for us.

 

 

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Anthony Care’s E36 M3

It’d be tough to find someone who would disagree that the most enjoyable part of the annual H2Oi weekend is simply the gathering of friends and the opportunity to kick it as a gang for the weekend. It’s an opportunity to see those we only get to see once or twice a year, and for many,  an annual highlight. For us, it’s not only a vacation, but a chance to pull out our cameras and shoot the cars we hardly ever get to see.

If we rewind back to Southern Worthersee back in May, Anthony Care brought his M3 down to Georgia for it’s first big show, and to say it went over well is an understatement. At the time, it was on BBS RSs and tickled my fancy in just the right way. I went so far as to talk Anthony into following me back to TN to shoot the car. But we’ve all had shoots that don’t turn out. So this time, Andrew and I made it count.

Part of our job here at StanceWorks is to share the cars that we’re in to, the ones that are doing it a bit differently than the rest. Anthony’s M3 isn’t pushing the boundaries as an automobile, but it’s got that certain neck-snapping quality to it. We think it’s the absurd amount of camber… Scratch that, we’re positive (and for the record, the desire to make some kind of “negative” joke here was unbelievable). The way Anthony’s car sits is unlike any other E36 we’ve come across, and it rests on that fine line of “This is awesome” and “I’m not sure if I like that.”

Anthony has put his car together the right way, and focused on performance first. He’s got quite the NA build going, with every part he could get his hands on affixed to his S52. It’s fast, no question, and his racing seats, harnesses, and slimmed down interior are a fresh reminder of that when you hop in the car. It’s refreshing that Anthony wasn’t afraid to mix both halves of the BMW world together, and he did a great job in doing so.

This time around, Anthony has assembled some seemingly-impossibly wide RFs, staying true to his BBS fanaticism. White faces, blue bolts, and some large lips are all it takes to take the exterior from average to a true attention grabber.

So love it or hate it, we felt the need to share his car. It’s well done, clean, and tasteful. It’s pushing that line of what we like, and for that, he’s found a spot here.

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The Ones That Surprise Us

We’re always told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but it’s something we’re all guilty of. That is of course not only limited to books and their covers, however. I can’t count the number of cars I’ve decided I didn’t like, for whatever the reason may be. I had genuinely outstanding opportunity to eat my own words this weekend while in Ocean City, as Matt Waln pulled around the corner in his 740i.

You see, Matt isn’t new to this E38. He’s owned it for a good while now, and through his first iterations, he did something that, well, I gave him a bit of flak for. He ran candy-blue BMW Style 19s. I almost cringe at the thought (Sorry Matt!). But I needed help from the numerous friends standing around to help me pick my jaw up off the pavement after seeing Matt’s car roll up. It goes to show that you can’t expect people to be a one-trick pony.

As you can see, he’s just finished putting together a set of 19×9.5 and 19×10 OZ Futuras to his 7, and to say they fit perfectly is almost unjust. It’s one of the first euro cars I’ve personally seen pull off the VIP styling cues flawlessly. The big body of the E38, the deep black paint, and the large and tucked OZs add a bit of flare that heavily remind me of Gio’s legendary LS400. Dare I say I like it more? Or is that the BMW-guy inside me?

His car is simple. Incredibly simple. Dropped on FK Highsports, what you see is about all Matt’s car needs to run the E38 game. Dylan Leff’s E38 was, in my eyes at least, the previous leader of the pack, leaving little to be desired; however, Matt’s has improved upon what I assumed couldn’t be topped.

So as you can guess, I was more than excited to shoot Matt’s E38. It’s one of those love-at-first-sight type of things. One of those cars that needs to be seen by everyone who didn’t attend H2Oi. I know I’m not the only one who said this car qualifies as one of my favorites of the weekend.

I’m looking forward to what Matt does next. He’s put himself on my radar, demonstrating without question that he’s a contender in the BMW game. And to ice the cake, he’s a genuinely great guy. Matt, we’ll see you at the next show. Good times, my friend. We’re glad you’re part of the SW family.

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