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The King's Chariots.

Airlift BBS BMW Mercedes Tony Adams

We’ve all been there. When you’re sat on YouTube looking through random videos of cars, and you stumble across a car that really grabs you by the balls! Something that really hits you, and you know one day you have to get one yourself. Well that happened many years ago for Adam King. While on YouTube he found a video from Japan (The Japanese have a lot to answer for) of a W220 S-Class and he immediately fell in love.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

“This dude had this thing on the floor on a set of Crown Jewels and it had such a good road presence to it. I knew from then I wanted one.”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

But being young and terrible with money (Weren’t we all) Adam wasn't in any position to buy one at that point in his life. So that idea went onto the back burner for many years while he owned a number of different cars, regretting selling most of them along the way. But the one that he really missed the most was his Audi A6 which was on air and 20” x 10” Rotiform TMB’s.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

“…My A6 was by far one of my favourite cars and when I sold all the parts and returned it to stock, it left me empty – and then the urge to buy a S500 kicked in.”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

After wanting one for a good while now, one thing that had always put him of was the interior. The dash looked dated, the switches had that feel of late 90’s Mercedes and the radio resembled a shit Tamagotchi. It really didn’t sit well with Adam after becoming used to a nice interior thanks to the A6. But what he hadn’t realised is that Mercedes had given the S-Class a facelift, till one rocked up outside his work one day.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

“The interior had been modernised with a new look dash, the lights, grill and bumpers had all gotten a freshen up. That was my decision made.”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

So that night the search started for the perfect one. Sometimes “the perfect one” can be a never ending search. You can travel all over the country to find cars that are described as perfect, to find some mediocre shit box. But it wasn't the usual case this time, he struck lucky. Within a week of the search starting, he’d found the perfect example. Obviously it had to be the long wheel base version. You can’t pretend to be the North East’s version of Pablo Escobar with a short wheel base now can you.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

"It was like driving a living room around”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

This example really was perfect. It had super low mileage. It had only averaged 5,400 miles a year and had a full service history and receipts. It was fully loaded with extras too, Alacantara headlining, heated/cooled massaging seats, heated steering wheel, two TV’s and of course a Nokia 6310 – because what millennial big shot didn’t spec his S500 without one? It had every extra apart from the rear fridge, and the best part, it was only 50 miles away from Adam’s house. Test drive was arranged, he fell in love, did the deal and collected it a week later.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

“…and for £80 you can purchase a set of machined aluminium rods which will ruin it.”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

Adam kept the S500 standard for a month or so, just enjoying the comfort, luxury and sheer ridiculousness of a long wheel base V8 S-Class. It was like driving a living room around. The ‘bug’ finally kicked in. He bought some lowering links, which are essentially adjustable rods that replace the standard level sensors on the car.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

The S500 comes with, which at the time, was an advanced air-ride system from factory. It had many years of research and development, and for £80 you can purchase a set of machined aluminium rods which will ruin it. Adam lowered it sensibly on the standard wheels initially. He also had his old Rotiform TMB’s still kicking about from his previous A6, which he was trying to sell (They’re still available FYI). Adam’s friends told him to stick them on the S500 to which he shrugged it off. But Alex (The owner of the red Jetta we featured previously) relentlessly pestered Adam till he eventually gave in and tried them on. He loved it, the fitment worked perfectly on the S500. So he ran them for while until he fancied a change once again.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

The Rotiform’s were swapped out for an OEM set of wheels from the Mercedes GLK. But he had to run a set of rears to make it a 20” x 9” (Front’s are only 8’s) square setup. As these wheels were an inch narrower that the TMB’s, this allowed for more tuck all round, thus an even lower drive height. The new lowering links were set to the lowest they could go. Adam was starting to really like how the S500 was sat now, and the best part was, it could be driven this low. No monster raise for driving here.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

Now, enough on the columbian drug chariot. Let's get onto the latest acquisition to grace Adam King’s stable. A 1997 BMW E36. Adam had always had a soft spot for one after seeing Mike Burroughs’ E36 sat on a perfect set of AC Schnitzer Type 1’s, and powered by a S54 lump. Later, there was the E36 Mex built on RS’ which pretty much broke the Internet when it hit. Mex’s car made such an impact due to the fact it was one of, if not the lowest static E36 around, and the RS’ were fitted to perfection.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

So with two of the most iconic E36’s inspiring Adam to get one, late last year he managed to pick one up. The S500 is an awesome car if you want to cruise round in complete luxury. But the 36 was purchased to have fun with, to get on the B-roads around where Adam lives and give it hell.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

Besides from being one of my favourite shape 3-series, I love how well the whole package works together.”

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

The 36 currently sits on a set of original BBS RF’s in 17x8.5 and 17x9.5 which have never been split. How many unmolested set’s of RF’s are left now? I’d have a guess at a very small amount. Suspension wise it's sat on Airlift Performance struts and bags, and in Adam’s own words, “perform exceptionally well”.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

There’s plans of course, for both cars. Plan's only really stop once the car's gone don't they? The S500 is being upgraded from it’s current state of ‘ruined factory suspension’ to aftermarket air. Although it will drive at it’s lowest height, the comfort comes at a compromise. Going aftermarket will allow Adam to get the car sitting lower but maintaining drivability too.

Mercedes S500 BMW E36 BBS RF Airlift suspension Air ride

Just to spice things up a little, Adam is doing the opposite for the 36. The Airlift kit is coming off in favour of some adjustable coilover suspension. As well as swapping out the suspension, there's a few more plans he's got for this one. These include a colour change and an engine swap. But with Adam planning his revisit to Wörthersee this year, these plans are going on the back burner for a little while.

And briefly. Adam also has a 1982 Mk1 Golf which is a "long term project". In other words it's sat in his garage in many pieces, waiting for the day when there's enough motivation and money to get back on with it. But this is also dependant on how many more daily car's he buys to replace the daily car he ruined before that. 

 

We're sad to report after these photos were taken the 36's engine has decided to give up the ghost, and Adam has parted the car out.

R.I.P 36.

 

 

Words: Tony Adams.

Photography: Jonny Elliott.



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