The Drop’d Top
The Drop’d Top
The BMW E85, or Z4 as it's more commonly known, is one of the forgotten BMW chassis. For most, it never had enough visual appeal to really invest the time and creativity that it would take to make a mark. I can fully appreciate the position, but when you run across someone who is willing to take a chance that few would consider, it's always intriguing to see the outcome. Turns out Manolo Velasco has the gumption to boldly go where few would dare, and the results beg your attention.
I met Manolo last year at H2O International. The guy is about as sincere as they come, and I know I'm not alone in saying that. He represents the reason why so many are still involved in the euro scene year after year. It's a simple formula: humility + kindness + willingness to help others = awesome guy. Typically nice guys finish last, so it was to my surprise that Manolo was not only the quintessential "nice guy" but also had a knack for making cars look positively stellar.
Manolo has a unique "father-son" story that I know many of us wish we had. He walked home from school one day at 16, to find a roughed up BMW e30 in the driveway. His father greeted him saying, "this is yours son and we are going to rebuild it together." Cue the "pulled heart strings and wishful thinking of childhoods past."
Manolo credits his father for getting him involved in the Euro-scene as it's been 12 years now and he is still at it. Most all of the work done to any of his builds have been executed with elbow-grease from himself, his father, and his close friends. If the part doesn't exist, Manolo implements his "gung-ho" mindset and makes it. He is the kind of character that would remind you of a hot-rod fabricator, but instead he drives a BMW Z4. Sure, that sentence might make you chuckle, until you see this:
Yes, the car is on bags. No, there is nothing "pre-assembled" about it. Manolo works on Industrial air-suspensions on a daily basis so coming up with a list of parts to make air work on the E85 was child's play. Manolo used a bag-over-coil bag with custom strut bushings up front and modified Universal Air air-house bags in the rear with stock sport suspension shocks. It took quite a bit of trial and error, but the dedication to get the Z4 this low just makes you want to grin from ear-to-ear.
Manolo wanted some wheels to give the car a unique look (as if a bagged Z4 wasn't unique enough?) He turned to his sponsors at TMTuning to help him acquire some Schmidt TH-Lines to give the car a strong statement. It's hard not to like them, when they sit so perfectly on the E85.
This car makes a strong case as a poster child for a build being about the "sum of its parts." To describe this car as a Z4 on bags with Schmidt TH-Lines might initially make you think it sounds like a travesty. Upon seeing it, however, all you can do is stare and wonder why it looks so perfect. Things like this are what gets us jazzed here at Stance|Works. Seeing things that shouldn't make sense look so damn good that it causes your imagination to wonder immediately at what you could build.
If you are waiting for a long mod-list, you aren't going to find it in this article. It would be a poor representation of the type of guy Manolo is. He isn't in it for recognition or fame, but rather just to enjoy the friendships he has made over time and to build things that he enjoys for himself. It's that simple. Take a page out of his book, and thank him later. I can assure you he won't mind in the least.
The Z4 has just gotten prepped for winter, and being that Canada defines "winter" for most people, it seems perfectly natural that you would store a car like this....... right?
Not for Manolo... here is his version of "winterizing" a convertible. That's right, you can expect him driving around like this all winter long. Eat your heart out America.
A quick personal note from Manolo: "A personal 'thank you' to my sponsors at TMTuning for helping me with getting my Schmidts, my buddy Marky-Mark for helping me make the brackets for the air bags, Kevin at AAC for helping me aquire all the necessary air ride parts, all my Kool Haus peeps for any help when I needed a hand, especially Jaime and my brother. Finally, like they say 'save the best for last,' my dad for helping me to where I am now."
Stance|Works wants to thank Manolo for these excellent photos and for allowing us to feature his beauty. For more of his work, visit his Flickr account @ Retro Manolo.