Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

Putting any project together can feel like a mammoth challenge, and executing an original theme can seem like climbing a mountain. Latvian petrolhead Arno combined his love of Alpinism and BMWs and called upon Protuning Design to execute his vision of a Z4 Everest Edition...


Words: Graham Leigh

Photos: Deniss Podnebess


THE CLIMB DAZZLING Z4 CUSTOM ROADSTER

Packed with individual touches, this bold, bright, mountain-themed E85 Z4 Roadster is a unique and eye-catching machine.


Aleisurely hike won’t win you the title of an Alpinist. These are the serious mountain climbers with all the gear and, in this particular instance, an inspired idea. 53-year-old businessman Arno has been both driving and climbing for longer than he cares to remember, starting his automotive journey with a Soviet-built Moskvich 2141 in 1992. The ascent to BMW ownership was first realised in 1998 with an E39 523i in the fetching hue of British Racing Green. He recalled that he wanted an E38 740i, but his budget at the time meant that his comfortable saloon box was ticked with the stylish 5 Series.


Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

The E39 was enjoyed in standard form, but it established a love of the Bavarian brand. Arno’s first E85 Z4 was sold in 2018 to fund an E93 M3. He's kept the M3 for the associated opentop V8 thrills but found himself searching the classifieds for another E85 Z4 as he missed the charming roadster experience.

The E85 on these hallowed pages has been on a bit of an epic expedition itself. Arno imported the car from the USA. It was mechanically excellent, but the interior had been poorly kept. It felt like the right car to embark upon his first modified journey with. Arno had some clear ideas about the project and enlisted Latvian custom house Protuning Design to execute his vision. These guys specialise in customising prestige and sports cars to their exacting customers’ needs and are a leading light in bespoke carbon fibre pieces. Check out their Instagram account at your peril, as you’ll need a good couple of hours to drool over their high-end handiwork. “I had the vision in my head of how I wanted the Z4 to look before buying it. I think BMW did a sterling job with the pretty roadster, and I wanted to keep the exterior lines fairly subtle while still making it a one-off,” he explains. “I fell in love with the custom candy orange colour, and the car was built around the combination of orange, white and black with a deliberate mix of the modern with the use of carbon fibre with the traditional Nappa leather.”


Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

With the colour chosen, the march was on to give the exterior just the right amount of modernisation. Protuning Design created its own front and rear bumpers that retain the lines of the car, but incorporate the venting and design cues of the later E89-generation Z4. The zesty exterior shade is punctuated with a boot spoiler and door mirror caps finished in Protuning Design’s signature forged carbon fibre. With the paint doing the shouting, Arno was keen for the wheel choice to be cool but fairly subtle. After much deliberation, he came across a set of new-old-stock 19” AC Schnitzer Type IVs that he imported from Germany. These simple yet purposeful staggered five-spokes are 8.5” wide at the front and 9.5 at the rear and suit the car perfectly. Keen to retain the factory rear arches, rear adjustable camber arms were drafted in to squeeze the aft wheels in. The larger rolling stock coupled with the existing Sport suspension provides a sporting but usable stance.


Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

Attention now turned to the custom interior. A full retrim in white Nappa leather with orange stitching transforms the cabin. Most interior plastics were trimmed to match the seats, but the dash top has been finished in black along with the top and bottom of the steering wheel, which stops any one colour from being ‘too much’ and balances the custom cues with an OEM+ flavour. Protuning Design has tied in the exterior carbon fibre accents to the cabin by covering the interior trim inlays in the wonder material, as well as the seat backs and roll hoops.

Forged carbon mirror caps looks fantastic and contrast perfectly against the bold orange bodywork.

Mount Everest is depicted in neat stylised logos that have been embroidered into the headrests with the “8848” script, which refers to the mountain’s height for the ultimate ‘if you know, you know’ nod. For the record, we didn’t know, but Arno kindly told us. The inspired and original interior is finished off with a pair of orange seatbelts. The combination of a Stage 1 ECU tune and an Eisenmann exhaust has raised power to a useful 281hp and 249lb ft of torque, which Arno reports has improved the responsiveness of the straight-six, and he is happy with how it drives. “This build wasn’t about outrageous power. The mods were just to wake it up a little and to hear that lovely 3.0 straightsix,” he says with a smile.


Protuning Design 281bhp 2006 BMW Z4 3.0si E85

Arno says that the project is now complete, and it looks pretty much perfect to us. However, in his next breath, there was talk of carbon fibre side skirts, air-ride and maybe even Lamborghini-style doors! Like all good car folk, his head is full of ideas, including a restomod based on either a Porsche 911 Carrera or a 1969 Ford Mustang. If the Z4 is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see which direction he chooses next. We’re all for a bit of originality here at Total BMW, and Arno’s vision for a Z4 Everest Edition was an inspired one. With a mix of custom paint, one-off carbon fibre touches, the themed bespoke interior and the rare AC Schnitzer wheels, Arno and the team at Protuning Design have created something truly unique in just seven months. The build walks the difficult tightrope of custom and tasteful, and the outcome is a stunner that looks like it could have come out of Munich as a special model concept. The guys have reached the summit with this one.

The forged carbon boot spoiler finishes the rear off perfectly.

Protuning Design created its own front and rear bumpers that retain the lines of the car, but incorporate the venting and design cues of the later E89-generation Z4.

Mount Everest is depicted in neat stylised logos that have been embroidered into the headrests with the “8848” script, which refers to the mountain’s height for the ultimate ‘if you know, you know’ nod

The interior is spectacular, with carbon trim, leather with orange stitching, and those Mt. Everest logos on the headrests.

TECHNICAL DATA BMW E85 Z4 3.0si

  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six N52B30, Eisenmann exhaust system, Stage 1 ECU tune. Sixspeed automatic gearbox
  • MAX POWER AND TORQUE: 281hp and 249lb ft
  • CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 9.5x19” (rear) AC Schnitzer Type IV alloy wheels, Gislaved Ultraspeed 2 tyres, rear lower adjustable camber control arms
  • EXTERIOR: Custom candy orange respray, custom front and rear bumpers, forged carbon fibre door mirror caps and boot spoiler
  • INTERIOR: Full interior retrim in white and black Nappa leather with orange contrast stitching, Mount Everest 8848 embroidered headrests, all interior plastic panels trimmed in leather, interior trim inlays, roll hoops and seat backs covered in carbon fibre, custom orange seatbelts THANKS @protuning.design
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