Fully rebuilt 2.8 VR6-engined Volkswagen Bora


On our world, there have always been, and always will be, cars that define that marque. They’re the first one you think of when someone mentions that car; flawless in their execution, with a spec list to make super yacht manufacturers jealous. There are multiple examples, but to me, there are two examples that spring to mind: Big Ron’s Mk1 Golf defined a generation. It was the template for many of the first generation Golfs on the circuit right now, and has been for the last 15 years or so. Dripping in carbon, rolling on beautiful polished RSs, and wearing paint borrowed from one of its much younger brothers, it is the archetypal Mk1. If you don’t know it, look it up, because not only did it define a generation, but it would still win awards at shows today (had it not been destroyed).

The other is right here. It is ‘The Ultimate Bora.’ It’s not the fastest, by any means, but when we’re talking show cars, there’s not much that comes close to it, and is the example that immediately springs to mind when we’re talking Boras. There’s not a single piece on it that hasn’t been thought out in depth and executed with precision.

Which is no mean feat, considering how many are out there. They’ve shaken off their bad rep now, but for a while were seen as the Mk4’s cheaper, frumpier cousin. You could pick one up for a song, which resulted in there being a few, how can we put this…that weren’t modified to our tastes.

Which is exactly what drew Nathan White to them in the first place. At the time, he was building what, in his head, would be “The Ultimate Mk3.” Can you see a theme developing here? The Ipswich-based 37-year-old picked up the 1.8T-powered Bora back in 2014 for just £700, putting it straight into daily service, meaning his beloved Mk3 could be lavished with the attention it deserved.

Nathan is no stranger to both PVW, and other (ahem, lesser) publications. His current daily A8 (which we’ll get on to, be patient) has been featured in these very pages, as well as an old 1.8T powered Mk2 making it onto the cover of Golf+. Notice the distinct lack of Mk3 in that list? Well, there’s a very good reason for that.

Back in 2014, Nathan was working hard on his other passion; Low Collective. He realised that there weren’t many decent Boras on the scene, so it was only fair to give this one a chance really, and show what could be achieved by subtle, well thought out mods. He wanted to keep it “clean and classy”, so a GLI splitter found its way onto the front, along with the obligatory wheels and bags. Inside, some black Recaros and a retrimmed headlining would suffice. It was a daily after all, so he didn’t need to go OTT. He was saving for a house at the time too, so couldn’t go too crazy.

It was around this time, just before the inaugural Low Collective show in fact, that Nathan came across a stunning Bora on stepped up RSs. Quicker than you can say “I’m saving for a house, and those look expensive, I should be sensible”, he had a set. He doesn’t mess about. When he saw them on the car, he was in love, but, being a grown up (debatable), something had to give, and so the Mk3 and all its associated shiny bits were put up for sale to fund a house deposit. Not only that, but the aforementioned wheels, which were achingly rare at the time, were sold to fund, of all things, the living room carpet in Nathan’s newest pride and joy. Being grown up sucks sometimes.

Nathan opted for stock R32 wingbacks, alongside a Bora SE rear seat, so he could keep the all-important armrest

Not long after, Nathan came to the realisation that his long standing and unscratched itch for an A8 needed…well, scratching. And he dutifully fell in love with that, too. He was in a quandaryshould he get shot of the Bora, that he loved dearly and wasn’t finished with yet, and build the A8, or should the A8 be relegated to daily duties and go balls out on the humble saloon?

Well, the fact that you’re reading this should give you an idea of the answer. But the process involved in achieving a build as finely honed as this is no easy task. But which route should he take with it? For Nathan, that decision was pretty simple.

“I had unfinished business from back in 2001, with my BMW E36. I was 19 at the time, and that car at the time was stunning. It had a full Zeemax body kit, loads of Breyton inspirations and a few other mods. I wanted to take it further, but money just wasn’t available. I always wanted to paint it a candy type of red with tan interior. Then, when I was building the Mk3 I had all those ideas back and that’s what I had planned for it; red, tan and shiny wheels.” Obviously, with the Bora taking the place of the Mk3, it was basically a foregone conclusion how it was going to look. Simple, right? Not quite…

One of the things this car is best known for is that engine bay. In the flesh, it’s unreal. But to achieve that look took some serious work. And nearly cost Nathan some body parts.

The more astute of you will notice that, despite us mentioning that the car was a 1.8T earlier, that the powerplant the car currently sports very clearly has six cylinders. Nathan knew that the car was never going to break any land speed records, it’s just not what the build was about. But, as we all know, there’s something unbeatable about the noise from a VR6. It’s also, when stripped bare of its big intake manifold, one hell of a sexy looking engine.

But this being Nathan, a skanky high miler plonked in the high was never going to cut it. First off, he decided to completely rebuild the lump. With the head off, it would be rude not to give it a tickle really, so enlarged valves and some porting were the order of the day. When it was ready to go back together, brand new chains, tensioners and bolts were employed-nothing was reused. The head and block and been painted to offset the polished accents that were to come, along with every single bolt, both visible and not, clear zinc coated. There’s literally not a single piece in here that’s not been touched.

In order to get the engine in, Nathan employed Epytec mounts as the base, before heavily modifying them, involving a custom subframe, custom Passat B4 front crossmember with strengthened chassis legs, for a totally hidden setup. It was during this process that he “heavily modified” his finger, with a grinder nearly destroying his digit for good. With his pinkie hanging off, the ever-resourceful Nathan drove himself to the hospital, and still managed to make a dinner date that evening on time! It’s that level or resourcefulness and tenacity that have propelled what started as a simple build to the top of the game.

With the engine now in, it was time for all the ancillaries. Totally clear on the look he wanted an unwilling to compromise, Nathan employed a Turbo-Parts.de intake manifold, alongside modifying a Beetle RSi stainless exhaust manifold to fit the 2wd platform, which was summarily ceramic coated. In order to hide all that pesky wiring, a bespoke lengthened and slim-lined loom was fashioned, with a complete one-off Fresh Reflections loom cover to blend header tank in with the 42 Draft Designs coolant adapter, to give the invisible effect above the cam cover. Like we said, there’s some serious thought and work gone into this. Even the power steering wasn’t spared, with the entire system being modified to make it invisible. The Pirtek black and silver lines throughout keep everything tidy, and the six-speed box has been fettled and painted body colour for contrast.

Speaking of which, that colour is something that Nathan has guarded with his life since the car was announced. In fact, it had created so much of a stir following Nathan revealing nothing but black and white photos of the car, that when it was revealed on one of Fitted UK’s fabled platforms, it broke the internet.

Nathan has dropped a few hints over the years about what it is, including that its “of Japanese origin”, but its not until now that’s revealed that in fact its actually Mitsubishi Primal red, made famous by the Evo X.

It’s actually painted Mitsubishi Primal red, made famous by the Evo X

Knowing exactly what colour it was going to be, he also knew exactly what he wanted to do inside. But it had to be perfect, to match up to that engine bay. And it’s surprisingly subtle, though, as you’d expect, absolutely flawless in there. Nathan opted for stock R32 front wingbacks, alongside a Bora SE rear seat, so he could keep the all-important armrest. Colour wise, a heavy grain biscuit leather with perforated accents, including the rear arm rest, Momo Team 300mm steering wheel, gearknox and seat centres is paired with subtle as you like copper stitching. OEM-style black perforated cloth covers the headlining, paired with black Anniversary components makes the interior a properly nice place to perch.

That exterior is what draws the attention though. You’ll have to take a look at the spec list for the full low down, but there are a few highlights worthy of mention. A brand-new aftermarket GLi kit was sourced, to ensure that every part was perfect and undamaged. That was paired to the smoothed front bumper and US tailgate, to create a look that isn’t exactly unique, but is utterly perfect in its execution. One of Nathan’s favourite parts of the whole build is the wheels. Drilled by the wheel wizards themselves, Wheel Unique, and ceramic polished by PucPolish, the double stepped up 16-18″ BBS RSs are an absolute work of art. Coming in at 8.5” and 9×18”, they wear 205/40 Nankangs all round. In order to get the car sat right, it was a given that the Bora was going to be on air. And, this being Nathan, it was also a given that it would be the best system and install possible. Ready for the spec?

Its running an Airlift Performance V2 setup, almost completely hard lined. The only non hard lined section is the flexi pipe from the front struts. This has all been built with 3/8” copper piping and braise joined, not only to be strong and secure, but to look proper for the handful of people that’ll ever see it. The build itself employs twin compressors, and the tank itself was completely smoothed, with welded mounts, before being painted body colour. The boot build was even made so the spare wheel could be accessible.

Underneath, the chassis has been properly notched, with flattened pinch welds. Nathan has gone to the extent of removing the anti-roll bars and flipping the track rods to get his Bora as close to terrafirma as possible.

So, what’s next for the Bora? Well, by the time you read this, it’ll have been won by some lucky swear word, after being given away in a prize draw. Nathan’s also got his ex-feature A8 up for sale, and is looking to move them all on to fund the purchase of a Porsche 911, in 997 flavour. Though judging by his social media, and the appearance of multiple R32 Skylines, Mk4 Supras and E36 M3 GTs, he could end up with anything.

The Bora won’t be forgotten though he’s midway through building a café racer, in exactly the same colour and with matching details (seat stitching etc). Nathan being the way he is, its likely to be something very, very special.


ENGINE: Fully rebuilt 2.8 VR6 with slightly reworked head. New parts throughout where needed inc. chains etc. Painted head and block, Turbo-Parts.de intake manifold, Beetle RSI stainless exhaust manifold modified to fit 2wd platform and ceramic coated, Fresh Reflections original custom header tank with hard line water pipes, 1 off Fresh Reflections loom cover to blend header tank in, 42 Draft Designs coolant adapter, 42 Draft Design stainless crack pipe, ITG filter, rebuilt alternator, silicone hoses, “The Swoops” AN fitted breather pipe, custom wiring loom hidden, lengthened and slim lined to give the overall effect above the cam cover, Pirtek black and silver braided line throughout, battery in boot, hidden and custom PAS system, clear zinc plated bolts throughout, crackle black and smoothed slam panel, hidden brake and clutch lines, ABS delete using Mk3 Servo, T4-4 port master cylinder, Corrado brake bottle, custom MK2/3 style hidden engine mount setup using Epytec engine mounts as starting paint and adapting them to work with the Mk4 setup, custom subframe, custom Passat B4 front crossmember with strengthened chassis legs, every part where possible or decided has been taken apart, rebuilt and chrome powdercoated, brake servo, brake master, steering rack and 6 speed gearbox has been painted same colour as the car, Epytec transfer box delete, shaved engine bay with OEM styling kept in mind

CHASSIS: 16-18″ dual drilled (Wheel Unique) BBS RS 5×100/120, 8.5 (front) and 9J (rear), fully built and ceramic polished by PucPolish, 205/40 Nankang tyres all round. Air Lift Performance V2 setup with ‘FULL’ hardline build. The only part non hardline is the flexi pipe from the front struts. This has all been built with copper 3/8 piping and braise joined. Twin compressors, smoothed tank with welded mounts painted body colour, hardline boot built with floor made accessible for spare wheel, Seat Leon Cupra R hubs, Seat Leon Cupra R wishbones, flipped track rods, flattened pinch welds, dual chassis notch, ARB delete, IDF plates, original brakes up front, Cupra R brakes at the rear with braided brakelines all round, fully polybushed, all chassis parts chrome powdercoated with zinc plated bolts

EXTERIOR: Full respray in Mitsubishi Primal Red, SRS Tec GLi rear splitter and side skirts, smoothed front bumper, V6 front splitter with opened cut outs, smoothed wings, aerial delete, US rear tailgate, all red rear lights and “twindicator” front headlights, Lupo stubby mirrors with blue glass, carbon fibre skinned mirror bases, roof trims, toe eye cover and rear light plastics, paint has been ceramic coated. New window trims bought, new front screen

INTERIOR: R32 front seats and Bora SE rear bench with armrest, 300mm Momo Team steering wheel, 6 speed Bora V6 gear knob all trimmed in heavy grain biscuit leather with perforated accents (arm rest, steering wheel, gear knob, seat centres) and copper stitching. Rear seats where trimmed in 2+2 style to match the roll over like the front seats. Roof lining trimmed in perforated OEM style black material with anniversary black components

SHOUT: My wonderful partner Amanda and daughter Scarlett. Never questioned my madness just supported. Mum for always being there to look after Scarlett if i wanted to spend the day at the unit. My LoCo brothers Tom Healey, Gordon Milne, Sean White. Lee Mcglachie and Ronnie Court at Autoshack for all their hard work and helping whenever they could. Also loan of the recovery truck for the feature, Ricky London at London Bodyworx for the amazing paint job, finding me the colour and that amazing bay, Joe Curtis at Fresh Reflections, Dan Taylor at Wheel Unique, Mike Robertson at Aerocoat, Tom Norman at East County Customs, Richard at Coltec, Simon at ISC, Greg aka The Swoops, Stefan at PucPolish, Andy Chittock, Stefan Banks, Richard Youngs and many more

Air ride is based around an Air Lift V2 setup. Boot install is fancy but still leaves space for an overnight bag or two. Bora SE rear seat meant Nathan could retain the all-important armrest. There’s a reason we don’t see many cars built to a similar standard these days… What an engine bay. Nathan has got the whole ‘floating’ engine look down to a tee.

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