…that’s how all good stories start and in our case the time was 2016 and the inspiration was the emergence of the Tribute 250 Coupe, a 1960’s classic GT inspired kit car.
The Tribute 250 is, at its heart, a body makeover for BMW Z3’s with stars in their eyes. It is manufactured in the UK and distributed by suppliers such as Grassbank Conversions who are located close to Manchester. Grassbank is headed up by rally enthusiast and replica car perfectionist Justin Benson.
Whilst loving the body swap opportunity presented by the Tribute 250 Justin recognised that there are many ways in which the car can be further transformed and enhanced to more closely align with the iconic vehicles of the 60s so he set about tooling up to engineer a ‘complete and authentic’ solution. This brings us to this web site, to the first car in the trilogy ‘A12 HHW’ in particular, and into a vast and exciting world of customisation and beyond…
1960’s GTs like the Aston Martin DB5 or the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta and others deserve to be honoured, not just for their great looks and performance but also for the style and elegance which they convey. Tribute cars like these evoke memories of glamorous movie stars and racing heroes in exactly the same kind of way that tribute bands don’t.
There’s nothing wrong with Eddie Mercury or Punk Floyd (not sure if either of them really exists but c’mon, neither of them is going to get you to work in the morning in such style or attract such admiring glances as you cruise to Sainsbury’s as these beautiful creations do. Unless of course Eddie is driving one of them!.
So, what sets a Grassbank Conversion apart from its contemporaries? It would be nice to just say ‘simple’ here but that would be to belittle the great engineering effort and hours of dedication that have gone into transforming these humble kits into exquisite driving machines.
At first glance you might miss the Bodyform rear window, you’re unlikely to notice either the electronic boot lock or the smart cover which keeps all of the boot wiring in place and looking good. The dished 72 spoke wire wheels with custom spinners belie the amount of engineering involved in moving the spinners inboard of the rims and without glancing underneath you’d probably miss the wheel arch linings and front wing improvements which effectively weatherproof the engine bay. If you were to raise the bonnet (which you can’t on the original kits), and take a look at the straight six BMW engine you might notice the polished stainless steel rocker covers that have been custom etched. If you do resort to raising the front section of the car to access the engine (as provided by the original kit) you’ll see the polished stainless steel bonnet alignment arrangement and maybe even the low profile cooling fan assembly which allows the BMW air con to continue to operate without fouling the bodywork.
If you were to wind down the electric windows in their custom fabricated and highly polished 316 stainless steel frames you might realise that the original kit comes with low budget mild steel framed sliding windows and, when you opened the door you’d spot the custom etched polished stainless steel door sills, the custom door cards, arm rests and door tops which can be colour coordinated with the bodywork.
Inside, the attention to detail is a little less obvious only because it all seems so natural, it’s what you’d expect. The specially selected high back GT seats rise and fall to accommodate the tallest and smallest of occupants and the electric backrest enables micro adjustment for those long European runs, maybe not the BMW or awkward bucket seats that you were expecting. There’s a nice deep luggage shelf behind the seats trimmed with a polished stainless steel edge which comfortably takes two overnight bags leaving ample boot space for other luggage . There are new interior moldings alongside the enlarged rear window and new facilities to house the original BMW speakers. The roof vent is highlighted with a polished stainless steel cover and the fascia and steering columns stalks both look just a little bit more retro.
The four pipe twin box stainless steel exhaust system delivers a beautiful burbling sound as the car ticks over which transforms into a lovely rasp when the car she pulls away. You will also notice the retro and functional ‘Snap’ tailpipe enhancements which, in a very scientific way, employ the Bernoulli effect to pull more air into the fuel system? It’s unlikely that you’ll get to look sufficiently far enough into the exhaust system to spot the speed operated (overridable of course) control valves which shut down one half of the exhaust system to improve both efficiency and noise levels when cruising.
Enough said! I hope we’ve managed to convey some of the many improvements that have been built into this trilogy of cars and which are available to purchase from Grassbank Conversions. If you click on any of the links in this section they’ll take you directly to that item’s product page where you can happily dip into your credit card and spruce up your Tribute 250 (other kits are available). Some of it is about driveability, some of it is about looks but it’s all about appreciating those great touring cars of the 1960’s