I haven’t physically bumped into Ashley in a good few years, five or six in fact, and in that time he’s not only gained more tats and a rather epic beard/moustache combo, but built this stonker of a drop-top Beemer too. Where does the time go eh?
You see, back in the day, when Ash was about 20, I remember him knocking about Swansea (not to mention all the shows) in one super-smooth, DIY-built Citroen C2. At the time he was one of the first preaching a more traditional Euro-style outlook in deepest, darkest Wales, before it became such a universal scene staple.
He said to me once that the whole smooth and subtle movement may be directly inspired by the past but it’s actually the future of modifying. As time has told it turns out he was right.
Of course we’ve kept in touch, many know Ashley as Mr @bitsandtitz through his thoroughly amusing Instagram page. So, since he bought the BMW a couple of years ago, I’ve followed what’s he’s been up to with the build closely, albeit through an increasingly bonkers selection of incomprehensible pics and videos.
You might say his dedication to his motor is only surpassed by his love of the world’s favourite photo-sharing website. Think of Ashley as the Dan Blizerian of the modified car scene… only with more ladies and far better facial hair, obviously.
What is unusual about this motor, unusual for FC anyway, is this is one of the few features that’s seems to exclusively revolve around Instagram. It’s not just the build pictures and all the general sodding about either, everyone who’s ever been involved in the build is also heavily involved in the site. It’s almost as if they live their life on a global scale through a series of off-the-cuff images. It certainly goes to show the power of social media!
For Ash at least, maybe that’s because he’s always been a keen snapper, he even had a few pics published in FC once upon a time, so perhaps he’s just moved with the times and channelled his creativity online. I’m not sure, I guess I really should have asked.
Anyway, what’s also clear to me is that, even though he’ll be the first to admit he’s always been something of a nutter, bouncing up and down like some sort of bi-polar yoyo, his inspiration and core values haven’t changed at all. Then again, maybe some things don’t have to move with the times quite so much because the real classic mods never go out of fashion.
The Euro influence in this car is as clear as a slap in the face, even though the way it’s actually been achieved has been thoroughly updated. What I mean is a penchant for chopped springs or coilovers may have given way to sophisticated air-ride systems and many parts may now be made from space-age carbon fibre but the end result is the same classic look – just a little more, I dunno, modern.
There’s not loads of modified Z4s out there, compared to other German cars they make up a tiny percentage, but that’s exactly why Ash chose the project in the first place. Not that it was meant to go beyond a set of wheels and coilovers you understand, but then that’s a story we’ve heard a million times before. Once a modder, always a modder and all that.
His roots are pretty apparent in the execution too, Ash certainly hasn’t been afraid to get stuck in DIY style. In fact, with help from his mates, he’s done everything from fitting the air and building the install to the majority of the interior trimming and carbon fibre skinning. This was partly because of the availability of parts, partly due to the budget and partly, I suspect, to give him more to take pictures of.
Throughout it all, the only things he’s had to get online and find a pro to do was the bits he physically couldn’t manage himself, tradesman stuff like seat trimming and paintwork. Even the portable suitcase ‘beat box’ is one of his own mad creations – something he’s made quite a few of over the years.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from Ash’s Beemer I guess it’s the fact that a spec sheet doesn’t have to be long to make an explosive impact. The list here is short but distinguished offering the perfect combination of mods working together to ensure the car becomes so much more than the sum of it’s parts.
A great man once said “it’s not what you spend, it’s how you spend it”, and this is a motor that categorically proves the point. Actually, come to think of it, he’s not that at all great – it was our Jules – but for once I’m inclined to agree.
OWNER: ASHLEY MORELL
TECH SPEC: STANCED BMW Z4
Smoothed Z4 SE front bumper with number plate delete, black bottom valance, clear front indicators with black inserts, OEM clear indicators, cutom rear lights, carbon wing mirrors, black badges and kidney grilles, carbon splitter, custom backbox delete with stainless steel pipe.
9×17 and 10×17-inch Rial Imola two-piece splits painted in custom candy red with gold metal flake, Air Rex V2 air ride system with cutom copper hardlines, adjustable camber arms, chassis notch.
Carbon fibre door handles, handbrake handle and steering wheel controls, 1M shifter, retrimmed M-Sport steering wheel, retrimmed seats and rollbars, custom suitcase boom box.
My Instagram of course – @bitsandtitz, Nick Wealleands and Kieran Phillips for help with fitting the air, Tom Beleschenco (@twosugars88) for the paintwork, Aaron Brooks (@scenecleanvaleting) who is the only other person allowed to touch the car, Royal Stitching.
Words Midge Photos Jon Davies