Bagged Corrado 1.8T Beauty. They don’t come any more complete than this. Silver Fox. If you thought you’d been around the VW scene for while then think again, Patric James has been modifying Dubs since most of you we born and when he talks it’s usually worth listening, especially when he's on the subject of Corrados. Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Si Gray.
atric James doesn’t have a million Facebook followers, his Instagram numbers are average at best and as for Twitter, we’re not sure he even has an account. The man has no blog, no podcast, no website and you won’t find any PJ signature trainers on eBay selling for a mint… but you try to find anyone who is anybody in the old-skool VW modding game who doesn’t know him or has heard of him. Pat’s perennial and persisting presence in the world of not so stock Volkswagens seems to predate the scene itself. Think PVW has been around a while? VW-Vortex seem ancient? Consider H20 and GTI International old skool? Our man was tinkering with water-cooled Wolfsburg faire well before that lot even got out of first gear. If you’re looking for an insight into the spirit and character of the early days of our hobby, the pure essence of the scene before the Internet, social media, hipsters and clueless muppets tried to dilute the soul out of it, then anything more than five minutes spent in the company of Mr James and his breathtaking newstalgic Dub coupe will put you right in the picture.
“I remember the early 90s like it was yesterday,” smiled the London based lowriding luminary, waxing nostalgically, “Sundays were always about cruising into the West End and down to the Kings Road in Chelsea with my old pal Jeremy (Hillock) and Sajjad (Anwar) from Westside VW. We’d spend hours at some of the newsagents which would stock European magazines like VW Scene… I’m not sure if PVW was even in existence back then,” he laughed.
While his mates were to become subsequent legends modifying their Mk1 GTis, Pat’s attention was grabbed by a newer and more obscure offering from VW. “I don’t know if I can say I was a Corrado fan before I bought my first one,” he confessed, “I was on my way to buy another car, an Alpina BMW in fact, back in early 1992. The deal fell through and I bought a Corrado on a whim instead… Honestly, I think I bought it because no one else I knew had one at the time and it was totally different.” That Nugget yellow coupe would be the first kiss in a twenty-five-year love affair that would see over a dozen Corrados come and go, “The fact is I have owned a Corrado every day of my life since 1992.” Pat admits there was a price to be paid for buying a lesser known VW; “There was next to nothing out there if you wanted to modify the cars,” he lamented. “The Internet was practically in its infancy and sourcing and trying to buy tuning parts was near impossible, even drawing inspiration was a bitch.” Having one of the first few modified Corrado in the country took a special kind of fortitude and ingenuity.
Pat had networking skills down to a fine art before social media had been invented, longterm and enduring face to face friendships were established with similarly afflicted Dub freaks all over the world, producing an almost clandestine Corrado grapevine for information and parts. “It took forever just to get some lowering springs for it,” he recalled, “and we had to cut those as they were only 40mm lowered out of the box…”
Much like the first encounter, this sublime silver coupe was also something of a chance purchase. “I had to buy it to save it from being destroyed by Carl [Taylor],” he told us. “No, really,” he continued, “Carl had owned it for about a year and he was throwing around ideas to modify the hell out of it. You know, crazy stuff… you’ve seen what his cars look like…” In an attempt to rescue the car the two struck a deal for a car Pat neither needed or could afford at the time. Having a Corrado he wasn’t driving was nothing new for Pat however, a serial car and parts collecting habit had netted dozens of coupes languishing in various storage units around London. “I didn’t really touch the car for five or six years,” he told us, “I finally pulled it out in 2011, with plans to go through it and drive it to Worthersee the following year.” The trip across Europe would take more than a quick tune up and wax job though, the coupe, though something of a mint example, had been liberated of a good few of its parts for other projects. “It needed a lot of parts and we’d left ourselves a short amount of time to get the car together before the trip.” The time for calling in favours and plundering his own parts bin was at hand.
Thankfully the engine was complete and in place, although Corrado purist will probably not recognize it as stock. “It came with a well engineered 20vT swap when I got it and there was no sense in messing with that,” explained Pat. An Audi S3 had been gracious enough to donate its well tuned motor which VW/Audi maestros VRS had slipped under the bonnet of the Corrado just before Carl had taken delivery of it. “We gave it a little more love after taking it out of storage though,” revealed Pat, “a Mercedes Sprinter intercooler and few Bahn Brenner bits on the fuelling side.” The KO4 equipped silky 20v had already been treated to a Swiss cheese style port and polish job on the head, and the addition of oversized valves, a 3" big-bore exhaust and a Cupra R gearbox. “It’s got some power,” he winked, an assertion which would seem to have been well proved by post 2012 Worthersee tales of frantic Autobahn skirmishes with all manner of well tuned exotic machinery. Much like the running gear, the paint and bodywork had already been tackled when Pat signed his name on the log book, although the all important details were all his doing.
Originally being from the stable of classic custom cars which had passed through the hands of famed craftsman Steve Denton, Carl had passed on nothing short of a piece of VW scene history to Pat. Refinished in the heady days of the Premier Bodyshop era, the panel work was not surprisingly nothing short of show standard. The detailing trinkets added by Pat, some of which took decades to source, give the coupe that understated elegance our man was eager to cultivate. “It’s not too overdone,” he explained, “I’ve seen styles and trends come and go over the years, but keeping it simple and letting the sexy stock lines of the Corrado do all the talking always wins.” Speaking with the authority of one of the world’s most prolific Corrado connoisseurs it’s difficult to argue with him, it’s a study of splendid simplicity in silver. Contrasting with the factory Satin silver pearl panels is an interior that can truly be described as unique. “There’s quite a story that goes along with that interior,” Pat assured us, “It originally came from a super rare Campaign model…
VW only ever produced six of them and they were only ever available in the UK market.” The story goes that the chaps at the factory, for no reason in particular, picked six Corrados off the production line in 1992, the cars were sprayed Dusty Mauve and all given brick red interiors. The corporate suits had suggested that the six were a sign of recognition of good work done by some of the UK’s leading Karmann dealerships, a gift to do with what they pleased. With no MSRP stipulated by the factory the dealers were free to set their own prices, rumour has it that the cars fetched over twenty grand a piece... serious money back in the early 90s. “One car was written off over the years and one has disappeared,” explained Pat, “the Corrado Club of GB have records on the other four. They are proper rare, VW themselves don’t even have one in their collection.” Pat tells us it was purely by chance that he acquired the collectable crimson cabin ware for his project. “One of my old friends I used to work with years ago messaged me out of the blue last year and said he’d seen a car like my old yellow Corrado in East London. He reckoned it looked a bit ropey… and even worst it had 'horrible' red seats, but it was for sale.”
Pat requested his mate send over a few snaps and perhaps a phone number. “I wasn’t too interested to be honest,” he told us, “but a quick look wouldn’t hurt.” A few poor quality pics and a decidedly uninspiring chat with the seller later and our man grudgingly made the trip to the East side. “The bloke wasn’t a VW guy at all, he hated the car in fact,” recalled Pat. “ He had couple of old Ford Corsairs under wraps and had just sold a absolutely mint Vauxhall Calibre. The Corrado was sat in the corner of his warehouse covered in dust and dirt, a black one with plenty of rust and dents.” The interior was indeed red though and seemed to have, under the layers of grime, the characteristic mauve accents of the fabled Campaign interior, “oh man, my heart was racing I can tell you” laughed Pat, “I cleaned off some of the dirt from one of the headrests to check if it had the little sprinter logo that’s only found on the Campaign seats… I nearly passed out when I saw it actually had!”
With perhaps the rarest interior available in any VW installed, our man made a few changes to make his cabin truly a one off. “I decided to bring a little new flavour to the old cockpit by bringing in a complete new black Alcantara roof lining and some tasteful carbon fibre touches,” he told us, “including door pods, gearshift surround, outer dash vents, sunroof control panel, rear ash tray and my favourite carbon addition has to be the Recaro seat bases.”
We are betting the Big Ron built roll bar is something of a prized possession too. “The steering wheel is a Raid item from the nineties and was already in the car from a past owner. I thought it was cool and it seems to fit so well for now, although the Campaign wheel is right there on the back seats.” Aside from the obvious kudos of the rarity, Pat told us the contrasting silver and red give the coupe a character normally reserved for exotics and expensively built Hot Rods; “The two colours just work really well together to class the car up.”
For a self-confessed retro old-skool fan, his switch hitting sump scraping suspension setup would seem to be perhaps a little out of keeping. “It was inevitable,” he laughed, “when you have mates like Carl [Taylor] and Cory [Rosser] running things over at Air Lift Performance it’s just a matter of time isn’t it, they talked me into it and I didn’t have a lot of say in the matter.” Perhaps a little reticent at first, Pat now swears he’s a total air ride convert. “People ask all the time what it’s like on air," he told us. “It’s amazing! I can now boldly go where some static cars may struggle.
Creeping slowly out of the drive and trying not to damage the under belly of the car or slowing right down for sleeping policemen and planning the best angle of attack is a now a thing of the past. It’s just so practical now. The ride is not compromised nor is the handling and trust me I have put it to the test a few times, fun does not come in straight lines!” he insisted. “I am a changed man, I don’t miss that static life at all. All hail Air Lift Performance.” There’s been little change in Pat’s well known wheel whore tendencies though; “I have had everything imaginable from Mim1900s, BBS RS splits, Abt, Alpinas, OZ, TSW, Rotiform, Speedlines, AMG, three spoke Anteras and even vintage JDM splits,” he confirmed. “Fast forward a few sets of wheels later and my wheel of choice currently has to be the seventeen inch Porsche Turbo Twist splits, quite difficult to come by these days and even rarer in the seventeens.” Pat insists that the Porsche Eta Beta hoops add a classic old-skool vibe; a familiar cool 90s character but with a bang up to date style… We could say the same about the car… and the owner.
I had to buy it to save it from being destroyed by Carl Taylor. He w as throwing around ideas to modify the hell out of it . You know, crazy stuff… you’ve seen what his cars look like!
ONE WAS WRITTEN OFF AND ONE DISAPPEARED . THE CORRADO CLUB OF GB HAVE RECORDS ON THE OTHER FOUR. THEY ARE PROPER RARE CARS , VOLKSWAGEN THEMSELVES DON’T EVEN HAVE ONE IN THEIR COLLECTION
I AM A CHANGED MAN AND I DON’T MISS THAT STATIC LIFE A T ALL. ALL HAIL AIR LIFT PERFORMANCE I SAY
OEM INTERIOR IS ABOUT AS RARE AS THEY COME AND WAS TAKEN FROM ONE OF ONLY SIX CORRADO CAMPAIGNS EVER MADE
ENGINE: Audi S3 (BAM) 20vT with 300bhp and 320lb ft torque thanks to ported and polished big valve head, stainless steel head gasket with matched inlet manifold mated to KO4 hybrid turbo, forged bottom end, Bahn Brenner fuel rail, uprated injectors (red tops), Bosch 044 fuel pump, uprated coil packs. Forge Motorsport dump valve, Mocal oil cooler kit, obligatory remap, Mercedes intercooler, all black Samco hoses, modified Viper induction kit, 3" down pipe matched to a straight stainless system with custom silencer by EMP. Cupra R six-speed gearbox, solid mass flywheel with Spec clutch and LSD, uprated gearbox and engine mounts with a Bahn Brenner solid front mount
CHASSIS: 8.5x17 and 9.5x17 Porsche ETA Beta alloys with Continental tyres. Air Lift Performance 3P Slam kit with height sensors, poly bushes all round, Eibach anti-roll bar kit. Audi TT 323mm cross-drilled discs (since photos fitted with Porsche 4-pot calipers), Mk4 Golf rear calipers with full braided hoses
EXTERIOR: Factory Satin silver with pearl LB7Z, front bumper smoothed, debadged grille, colour-coded door handles, debadged and flushed rear panel, US-spec rear number plate plinth, red rear light clusters with Ecodes smoothed out
INTERIOR: Genuine OEM electric and heated Recaro seats in brick red leather with dusty mauve accents including front and rear door cards and centre tunnel plus matching steering wheel. Roof lining and sun visors fully retrimmed in black Alacantara, Rieger shift knob and gaiter, carbon fibre dash vents, door pods, gear stick gaiter surround, rear ashtray, sunroof switch control panel and Recaro seat bases. LV Air Lift Performance tank, Raid 320m steering wheel and custom polished boss, Premier dial kit, Audi TT pedals, optional Corrado auxiliary gauges, black sunroof switch and light pod. Lamborghini head unit, Focal custom fit front stage, JBL custom fit rear quarter speakers, JL Audio CP108G sub powered by Hi Fonics amplifier
SHOUT: My other half Cassie and my two lions Phoenix and Caleb. Carl, Jay Mac, Players Industries, Cory de la Rosser, the Airlift crew, Benjo, Brian, Jason, JJ and Anthony at Rotiform, Pav and Carl ‘battery killer’ Huntington. Big Ron, Mr Muscle Adam, Joe at Trim Deluxe, David my brother in law, cousin Rahjesh, Ben Chandler and Team Scene Media. Elliott at PVW, Hitenx, JimmyB, Saj, Tommy Teapot and Dale at Meguairs, brother Paul, Cuppacino Kid, Big Dave, Arron at VRS, James Brown, Jags Bodyshop, the Westside VW man dem Sukh, Saqib, Ali, Rakesh, Rinky, Sunny, Vicks Leon and Rueben, the flying Dutchman Mikey, Rickyretro, Rip Ten Tigers, my cousin Chris and his Sheila, Si Gray, Sychographix, Sole Flavours, Rahj and Parm at Caraudiosecurity, my Muscle Works crew, CCGB, Vangelis you bhusdi, Elvis, Adam at rawcombat Melbourne, Sol, Donna and Lisa, Heath at Theredlionandsun Highgate, the twins Ian and Nigel California connect, Islam, Grant and Bulldog at Genisis Gym, Rita and Cristian Zurich, Stevie and Cristian at The Bullinachinashop, brother Kay, big Jess and Aarron at Speedwerks, kidboostchris, RIP Campaign Jerry, big up Cory Sterling at Vag Fair, Forge, Cobra Sates, Kenwood UK, big Tony for writing this, Upron and Satnam my old timers, ub1 forever. All my London massiv