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Land of the Rising Son

When a Max Power legend’s son tells you he’s built a car… you can’t not pay it a visit!

It was the Summer of 2003. The Fast and The Furious had been in our lives for almost two years and had changed the modifying landscape in the UK forever. Max Power had just celebrated its ten-year birthday with the highest-selling issue of all time (it came with a free DVD… you may remember it, the one with a Cossie beating a Skyline!). It was basically peak Max Power. And there I was in Colchester stood by the car that had just won ‘Car of Show’ at Max Power Live 2003 – a Veilside widearch R33 GTR Skyline in rainbow metalflake and packing a 900bhp potential engine.

Built by Bob Parker at GBH Motorsport, the Skyline was expertly snapped by Fly while I dug into the details about the car for the write-up. It was one of those excellent days of good people, great cars and bright Essex sunshine. The final task was to get a shot of Bob for the ‘owner spec’ box that accompanied every feature. Only, despite his boyish good looks, Bob’s a bit camera shy… so he shuffled his 5-year-old son, Zack, in front of the camera. Dressed in his size XXS red GBH Motorsport karting overalls, a Fusion cap that he would probably grow in to one day and some oversized shades, Zack’s picture was taken and classroom bragging rights were secured forever.

Fast-forward eighteen years and things are all a bit different. Max Power has become the stuff of nostalgia, cars are faster than ever but, well, a bit boring and me and Dan don’t get paid to live the Maxers lifestyle anymore, we have to do it on our own time. And if we’re not wondering what happened to old feature cars or haemorrhaging money on our own builds, then we’re on our master mission to reignite the Maxing spirit by finding modifiers who know the score: build what you want to build, have a laugh with your mates and f&ck sh!t up a bit. Which is why we’ve ended up at GBH Motorsport once again.

No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't find the car
Dan's silhouette really showed the lockdown weight gain

The car we’ve arrived to see isn’t strictly the usual type we’ll feature, what with it being a track-only drift car. But the owner fits the bill. It’s that five-year old’s, Zack Parker, although he’s now a fully grown car nut as we always suspected he would be, with the tattoos on his arm to prove it. He’s at least twice the height of the kid we photographed eighteen years ago too (maybe).

"It's not how you stand by your car..." - which is a good job for these two!

His E36 drifter has basically been a lockdown project for him and his old man, sourcing a rust-free shell to then cut away most of it, bolt wide arches to and fit a bastardised BMW M52 328i engine in to. You’d have thought given GBH’s pedigree with Jap-machinery he’d have picked something more Nissan-flavoured, but Zack’s love of the E36 shape could not be swayed. The Far East influence is still there though. From the five-spoke style of the 10j Japan Racing rear wheels to using an E36 M3 rear bumper’s side spats to bring the level of the rear more in-line with the sideskirts and front – a rare sight for a German drift car, but common amongst the Japanese.

Then there are the graphics. If you think the style of the flaming chrome red flames would look at home on a 200SX then you’d be right, especially if you’ve ever come across the UCXT drift team while virtually skidding around on your Xbox. You see, when Zack hasn’t been stood ogling boobies at car shows as a kid, or hammering it around a go-kart circuit, then alongside messing about with full-size cars in more recent years he’s also teamed up with mates in Manchester to form an online drift team… and these graphics replicate those they run on Forza. From game to reality. Cool touch.

Builds great drift car, can't afford shoes!

It’s not the only cool touch either. Small things like the BMW roundels modified to say BBI for ‘Bobby Built It’ in homage to his dad’s efforts in the car, the custom dials that replace boring numbers with more accurate measures like ‘full blown aids’ at the business end of the speedo, and the tubbed rear that houses the fuel cell and exposes the inboard exhausts - situated cunningly to help give the tyre smoke a helping hand out towards the crowds at drift events.

Under the lightweight bonnet the 328i engine has clearly given Bob a welcome relief from the electronic trickery of the modern cars he plays with on a day-to-day basis. He’s raided the BMW engine parts bin to stroke the M52 to a 3.0-litre with a knife-bladed 3.0-litre crank, forged rods and an assortment of other bits including an S54 fuel pump (so there's some M pedigree in there!).

Candy red rocker cover pays homage to his dad's roof-chopped 200SX Time Attack car

It’s obviously not making 2JZ levels of power, but it should prove reliable enough to allow for ‘full send’ throughout an event. The gearbox though... well, that's another story.

The day after shooting with Zack his BMW was getting its maiden outing at a drift event. Having been denied burnouts, skids and general hoonery in the yard outside GBH (something ridiculous about annoying the landlords!), Zack's mate Sam was going to get a bit of video of the Beemer smoking things up a bit at the event. A few Instagram messages later and it seemed we might have a long wait for footage as the gearbox shat itself early on in the day.

Fortunately though, that's all part of building a drift car. You need to be prepared to fix stuff when it inevitably goes pop... or at least have a dad who is prepared to fix stuff. Needless to say that teething problem is now sorted and Zack's continuing on his very smoky drift journey. Speaking of which, he's still pretty fresh to drift world (about four events in total when we shot his feature) so there's always the chance he'd be an 'all the gear, no idea' type of guy. Turns out that he might have some talent too though, qualifying fifth in his first Drift League GB outing, so keep your eyes peeled for this rising son.

Check out the video below (him and his mate Sam are top guys) and keep scrolling down for more pics of his E36... and a brief appearance from an E46!


NAME Zack Parker


JOB Son of Bob

INSTAGRAM @zjparker19


ENGINE M52 328i engine with top secret spec (not really secret, we're just still waiting for Zack to send us the full spec!)

TRANSMISSION Factory 5-speed gearbox with TTV racing clutch and flywheel

SUSPENSION HSD Monopro coilovers, reinforced rear subframe

BRAKES Driftworks handbrake with a Willwood master cylinder

WHEELS & TYRES Japan Racing 9x17 (front) and 10x17 (rear) alloys, Yokohama AD08RS 215/40/17 (front) and Uniroyal 225/45/17 (rear)

BODYWORK Fibre Factory overfenders with fibreglass rear clam shell, livery by Funkeefish

INTERIOR Driftworks seats and harness, flocked dash by Stiggy, roll cage and tube work by Huxley motorsport, FIA approved fire extinguisher system

ICE Best mate Sam

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