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    Alex Grant

    Ultimate Volkswagen Golf 1.8T Mk4

    Posted in Cars on Saturday, 30 March 2019

    Ultimate Mk4 1.8T. Just when you thought you'd seen everything done to a Mk4 Golf. Think again, yeah!   Neil Chapman took some drastic measures to breathe new life into his former daily drive, but since when have the best builds ever taken the easy route? Words: Alex Grant. Photos: Si Gray.

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    PUTTING THE BOOT IN #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk4-1.9TDI / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.9TDI / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.9TDI-Mk4 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora / #VAG / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora-TDI / #VW / #Volkswagen-Bora-IV / #Volkswagen-Bora-1.9TDI / #OZ

    We don’t tend to get too excited over modified Boras these days because we very rarely get the chance, but Anthony Warrior’s example literally stopped us in our tracks. Just look at it! Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: Si Gray.

    It’s funny, but looking back over the years, we’ve only ever featured a small number of Boras on these hallowed pages – the majority of which have been created across the pond. I’d go so far as to say you could probably count the amount of full-fat, UK-built Boras on one hand. The booted version of the Golf just never really took off here in the UK, largely because people didn’t deem it as sporty as the hatchback or as practical as the estate. Understandably we’re more than a little bit excited to bring you coverage of what Anthony Warrior’s vision of a sporty Bora should look like. It’s more than simply a breath of fresh air… it’s awe-inspiring!

    Despite being very fond of cars from an early age, the engineer from Darlington didn’t pass his driving test until he was 21! “I was certainly a late starter, that’s for sure. I remember as a kid that my dad was always a Ford man, but for me it was hearing my friend’s Mk3 Golf VR6 for the first time. That triggered my passion and love for all things VW almost instantly,” he confessed. Despite initially being into the idea of getting a Golf, due to owning quite a large dog Anthony’s other half, Claire, insisted that it had to be a five-door: “I’m not keen on five-door Golfs to be honest,” said the 35-year-old, “so I started looking at Boras and ended up buying this one.”

    The car might have only had one previous owner and been low mileage with just 50k miles on the clock, but it was totally bone stock and that just wouldn’t do. “Okay, I can honestly say that all I ever really planned originally was a set of wheels and perhaps a remap. Now, some 12-years, five sets of wheels, three sets of coilovers, air ride and £1000s spent on bodywork and interior, I can safely say I didn’t intend to go this far.”

    Anthony’s modified journey didn’t begin all that positively though, with a set of 18” Audi A8 replica wheels shod in equally awful balloon tyres being his first step on the ladder. It was actually PVW’s very own Dave Kennedy, or rather his Bora project, that helped Anthony see the light: “I have to say that I’ll always remember watching the progress of Dave’s black car… And those huge wheels he attempted to fit to it.” Needless to say after the rep’s came a set of BBS RCs, followed by a couple of sets of BMW wheels before Anthony finally wound up with his current set-up: “The wheels were something that took ages to get right, especially as they’re 20s, which nobody had really done at the time or certainly hadn’t pulled off,” he said. Anthony claims it was a bit of a gamble buying the genuine Ferrari wheels as it was a big financial outlay, but when they came up for grabs he accepted the challenge. Talk about trial and error, too: “I knew I’d need to run adaptors and the fronts were pretty straight forward being a pair of 25mm items. Out back the adaptors were quite large at 38mm, but that wasn’t a problem until I offered the wheels up before ordering tyres. For some reason one of the wheels poked out a bit more than the other, so I had to take the adaptors to work and have 2mm machined off one of them.” It’s quite a common problem on the Mk4 platform where the axle never sits perfectly in the arch. You don’t actually notice when running standard ride height as there’s lots of clearance in the wheel arches. It’s only when you’re go low and are dealing with millimeter clearance that it becomes apparent.


    Talking of air-ride, after running numerous sets of coilovers over the years Anthony finally decided to bite the bullet and opt for air: “I decided I was sick of bouncing the 130-mile round trip to and from work, so invested in and Air Lift Slam set-up.” Obviously the install has progressed over time, from the original set-up he fitted in his in-law’s freezing garage, to the carbon-clad, hard-lined work of art you see today. “The air tank is still the original item, but now wears a carbon-fibre skin with copper strands running through it, which Paul from C6 Carbon said was a must-have to tie-in with my copper hard lines.” Since the initial air install, Anthony has also fitted poly bushes throughout and also added IDf drop plates to allow the amount of camber needed to run 11s out back.

    It’s obvious that Anthony, who is an engineer by trade, is pretty proud of what he’s achieved with the car, especially as he’s carried out virtually all of the work – other than the paint and carbon – himself! Believe it or not the all-metal, wide-body makeover was carried out around six years ago (before the air ride and Ferrari wheels, in fact) when Anthony was still on coils and looking to fit some wide 6-series BMW wheels. “The bodywork had to be one of the most time-consuming parts of the whole project but then it was done twice. I wanted the arch lines to be as close to factory as possible, to keep it subtle.” As if widening the car by around 4” front and rear wasn’t going to be pretty damn obvious. The thing is, despite the added girth and crazy-wide wheels filling each corner, Anthony almost pulled off the whole subtle thing. For some reason though, he wasn’t really happy: “I seemed to fall out of love with the car for a while at this stage and it just got used and abused really.” It was only after talking to his friend, Dentman that Anthony got the bug again: “He suggested I should take the car to Autospray in Darlington, which I did. We discussed my plans and I quickly decided they were the right guys!”


    Apparently the car was only booked in to have the wide-body conversion reworked, which should have taken a week, but that soon changed to include smoothing the doors and rear bumper, repainting the front bumper and bonnet, then doing the B-pillars and rear door quarterlight bars gloss black, plus adding new window rubbers, clips and screws: “Four weeks later it was ready for show season. That was four years ago, and since then it’s been back ever year to have little bits added or improving,” he said. The car has got continuously smoother as time has gone on. However, we love how the gloss black external parts break up the Satin silver colourcoding so it’s not too over powering.

    On the engine front Anthony hasn’t gone too overboard, but he did admit to getting a little fed up being left behind by his mates whenever they went out in their cars together: “I needed to do something, so I took the car to Revo for a remap, but that turned out to more than a simple flash. We actually had to remove the ECU and install a new chip. What a difference it made out on the open road, though.” After a quick rolling road session it showed 152bhp and 270lb/ft of torque: “I was pleased but figured we could do a little better, so went for a full Milltek system from the turbo back, with de-cat pipe, too." With the addition of an ITG panel filter and Allard EGR delete, the final outcome was 165bhp and 297lb/ft and Anthony was finally happy! Having driven the car for best part of a year with the tiny stock brakes hidden behind those monster 20” hoops, Anthony was ready to up his game again, especially now he had a bit of extra power, too: “Even though I’d fitted a 312mm TT set-up up front they still looked small and the standard rears we just embarrassing, so a set of fourpiston Ferrari Brembos were sourced to replace the fronts. Then all I had to find a set of suitably large discs and make them fit,” he smiled.

    After quite some time spent searching, Anthony eventually found a set of 400mm Alcon discs originally intended for a Jaguar XKR: “First these needed redrilling to fit my 5x100 hubs, then the bell housing needed machining down so the wheels would clear them.” And this was before he’d fathomed out how to make the calipers fit: “I started with cardboard templates and using wooden blocks to get the measurements for the adapters right. Then I bought two pretty large bits of steel, which were drilled and milled for around ten hours apiece. I went a bit over the top getting them as smooth and shiny as possible,” he said. Anthony claimed by the time it came to the back he’d run out of ideas, not to mentioned money: “I figured I’d got a perfectly good 312mm set-up going spare now, so why not just convert that to fit the back?” How hard could it be? “Well, after a bit of drilling, cutting, grinding and lots of swearing they went on.”

    Although hard pushed to choose his favourite single modification, Anthony admits that he is particularly fond of the way the interior came together as a whole: “I just love the Recaros up from and am so pleased Paul made me do the Mk3 Rocco rear bench conversion, too. I love all the carbon work Paul’s done inside as well, then there’s the TT dash which tops it all off for me.” That said, the dash swap was probably the hardest part Anthony had to tackle himself: “I thought, how hard can it be?” Turns out, pretty damn hard! “I needed modified clocks because my car’s a diesel and they never made a Mk1 TT diesel, then the steering column had to be lowered and brought backwards,” he continued, “and because I did the full centre-console, the gear linkage had to be modified so I could select all gears. This, along with all the wiring and installation of the electric heater box – as my car didn’t have climate control – made it more than a challenge.” It was worth it in the end, especially with the diamond-stitched leather top, tying it all in nicely with the rest of the trim.

    We asked Anthony what he’d change about the car if anything and he had this answer: “I wouldn’t really change a thing other than just doing it the right way the first time around, rather than rushing in and regretting it after.” As for the future, he’s going to look at cleaning the bay up, tucking some wiring and adding some more carbon: “Of course more carbon, lots and lots of it!”


    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 1.9-litre PD 115 TDI with custom chip (producing165hp and 297lb/ft), 3” down pipe and de-cat, #Milltek non-resonated system with twin-exit back box. Allard EGR delete pipe, #ITG panel filter, Touran engine cover painted crackle black, #Forge short shift kit

    CHASSIS: 8.5x20” and 11x20” Ferrari 599 HGTE three-piece forged wheels by OZ with polished lips and faces mounted on G23 adapters (25mm front, 38mm and 36mm rear) with 215/30 and 245/30 Nankang tyres respectively. #Air-Lift-Slam-Series front struts, #Air-Lift tapered rear bags, #Air-Lift-V2 management, #Viair-444cc compressor and five-gallon tank, #Powerflex poly bushed all round, IDF rear correction plates. Ferrari four-pot front callipers with custom machined brackets and 400mm Jaguar XKR Alcon discs re-drilled to 5x100 with machined-down bell housings, Audi TT 312mm front brake set up adapted to fit the rear with callipers painted yellow to match fronts

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in the original Volkswagen Satin silver, arches extended 40mm each side in metal, smoothed factory bumpers blended in the extended arches (front and rear), smoothed rub strips, side repeaters and roof aerial deleted, genuine Golf Anniversary front valance modified to fit and painted gloss black, genuine Golf Anniversary side skirts, Bora 4Motion rear valance (painted gloss black), genuine OEM xenon headlights with twin, centre running lights and turn signal relocation, all-red rear lights with gloss black housings, Lupo stubby mirrors (electric and heated) with clear glass and gloss black basis, new window rubbers all round, gloss black B-pillar and rear door window bar, gloss black grille, bumper grilles and scuttle tray, genuine Jetta GLI grille (carbon skinned), aero wiper arms and blades, gloss black rear towing eye cover

    INTERIOR: Full Mk1 Audi TT dashboard and centre console conversion with diamond stitched leather top and custom instrument cluster, modified steering column and shortened gear linkage relocated OB2 port, Climate Control retro-fitted with heater box change, Recaro Sportster CSs in black leather with gloss black inserts, Mk3 Scirocco rear seats retro-fitted and trimmed to match fronts, six-speed Beetle Turbo gear knob, Momo 280mm wheel, carbon-skinned door card tops (with deleted door pins), steering column cowl and TT knee bars (all carbon skinned in Audi small weave by C6carbon). Black perforated leather roof lining and A, B and C pillars, Golf Anniversary black grab handles, interior light, seatbelt tops, sun visors, alarm sensors and rear view mirror, Passat mirror adjuster, leather door cards all round with custom audio builds in front doors. Brushed-aluminium door grabs, custom bootbuild with floating floor (lit by LEDs), five-gallon tank skinned in small-weave carbon with copper strands running in the weave, copper hard line installation, twin AVS polished water traps, polished compressor fittings and polished bulkhead fittings

    AUDIO: JL Audio MBT-RX Bluetooth receiver, #Precision-Power-Par245 five-band EQ mounted where head-unit would have been, JL Audio XD 1000/5v2 amp with copper/carbon-skinned cover to match air tank, JL Audio TW3 12” sub in non-ported custom enclosure, 8 x 6” Jehnert woofer speakers 2 x 4” Jehnert mids, 2 x 2” Jehnert tweeters, Jehnert crossovers and lots of Dynamat throughout

    SHOUT: My wife, Claire for putting up with ‘that car’, Paul at Deluxe Detailing for looking after and preparing the car, Mike and Vicks at Kleen Freaks for all their support, Paul at C6 Carbon for all the carbon goodies, Pete, Adie and the crew at Autospray Darlington, Justin at Car Spa Darlington, D&W Wheel restorers for the powder coating, Rob at JL Audio UK, plus Lee, Woody, Roger, Ricky and lastly my buddies Dentman, Shaun, Begley, Wardizzle, Cuzy and Nathen

    It’s obvious that Anthony is pretty proud of what he’s achieved with the car, especially as he’s carried out virtually all of the work himself.

    I just love the Recaros up from and am so pleased Paul made me do the Mk3 Rocco rear bench conversion, too.

    Recaro CSs are pretty special up from but Scirocco rear bench is a genius addition.
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    CLASSIC CUTS Classic #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk4 1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T / #Volkswagen-Jetta-1.8T-Mk4 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Bora / #VAG

    American Jetta 1.8T gets a timeless makeover to die for. Jealous? Us…?

    Keep it simple, stupid. We’ve all heard it a million times but when it comes down to it, it’s a hard rule to follow. Not for Alex Bednarik, though, he’s pretty much got it nailed. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Sam Dobbins.

    Sometimes we wonder if the guys at Matchbox and Hot Wheels have any idea of what their little toys are responsible for. You don’t need us to tell you that since their launch in 1953 and 1968 respectively they’ve given millions of children countless hours of entertainment and drained the bank accounts of many adult collectors. How many of us spent our childhood flinging them off kitchen table ramps or round the lounge set circuit? We would bet that virtually all of us at one point or another have had these toys, and that a lot of us still have some in a box in the loft somewhere. So how many of us can trace our current interest in cars back to playing with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when we were kids, then? Maryland resident, Alex Bednarik – owner of this rather fine Mk4 Jetta you see here – certainly can. Well, that and a little family influence, too. “I have been into cars for as long as I can remember,” he started. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my dad around classic American cars and at the drag strip. And I had buckets of Hot Wheels cars and tons of other model cars, too. However, I had always been more into Japanese cars, and imports in general. This interest really kicked off when my brother got a Mk4 Jetta Wagon as his first car and I’d tag along with him to some of the big East Coast shows.”


    Here in the UK the good ol’ Bora has always been something of an underdog. You hardly ever see them on the road these days. Heck, you rarely saw them when they were fresh off dealer forecourts, thinking about it. And at shows, other than a few memorable creations built over the years, you could probably reel off on two hands the number of modified examples that have been built. Strange, then, that in the US the Bora, or Mk4 Jetta as we should really call it, has always outsold the Golf in massive numbers. Alex explained it this way: “I loved seeing what people were doing to them when I started going to VW shows. The Jetta has a very simple design but it’s a good looking car from the factory. And it can be made to look even better when the modifications start piling on, too.”

    Alex tells us that he was fortunate enough to have his parents buy him his first car – this very car, in fact. With just 50k on the clock and a clean bill of health, it seemed like a smart choice for the youngster to cut his driving teeth on. We’re sure that neither his parents or even Alex himself knew where it would end up, however! “The week I got the car, I booked it in with the garage to remove the pinstriping and badges. Shortly afterwards I put coilovers on the car,” he remembered. “At that point I still didn’t have my licence, so I couldn’t even drive it without one of my parents in the car with me.”


    Alex’s parents helping out with getting the car in the first place was a pretty sweet deal but it did have one drawback: they had something of a vested interest in the car and, in particular, what Alex wanted to do to it. “My brother’s wagon was pretty low, and he broke his oil pan one night,” Alex remembered. “My parents were pretty annoyed by that so they made it a rule that I wasn’t allowed to do anything to my Jetta that they didn’t approve of until I turned 18. Since they bought me the car I couldn’t really argue the rule, unfortunately. However, on my 18th birthday I jacked the car up, spun the coils down and cut the sway bar out. Well, I had to, didn’t I?”

    Unfortunately, this was a case of parents knowing best because just a few months later Alex followed in his brother’s footsteps and, well, broke it. “The Tiptronic gearbox is the lowest point underneath the car and hangs down,” he explained. “I was on my way to a meet a few hours away and I hit a large hump in the road and the car got air. I’d cracked the transmission casing, which made for an interesting journey back after my dad had to come out to tow me home.”

    Killing one transmission prompted our man Alex to look in to air-ride. “I knew I wasn’t going to raise the car and have it sitting really high so it seemed to me that air-ride was the only viable option really,” he figured. Air Lift XL front struts and Firestone rear sleeves were drafted in along with the ever-popular AccuAir E-level management system to keep everything in check. A couple of different valances were bolted up and a set of cloth Sport seats were acquired from his brother. And for a while, Alex was pretty happy with how his Jetta was working out for him.

    “As it is a Triptronic I’ve never been too concerned with trying to get any performance out of it. Everything I’ve done has been with the aim of building a car that looks good and is fun to cruise around in,” Alex explained. “The engine bay was never a huge focus point for me until I started running out of things to do to the rest of the car really,” he smiled. It’s funny to think that this might be the first US car for a long time with a 1.8T engine that doesn’t have a Dub Details box packed full of big turbo specs, larger injectors and the like. Big turbo kits and performance modifications are so affordable in the US, not to mention the vastly cheaper fuel and insurance costs compared to Europe, that sometimes you think #VW should have just thrown a GT28RS on the 20v in the dealers to save everyone time! “I only really got the 20v engine by default really,” Alex explained. “I knew I didn’t want the 8v as they’re just so slow, and I might be the only person in the world who doesn’t like the VR noise. The only other option is a TDI but the US didn’t buy many diesel Mk4s in the first place, so finding one is really tricky.” The engine bay hasn’t been untouched, though. Far from it, in fact. A session clicking around on eBay.de brought a SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover to Alex’s attention which, while not that big of a deal over here in Europe where SEATs are commonplace, in the US, where they aren’t, well you don’t need us to explain why it was cool, do you? “I realised I would need a new intake manifold to put the throttle body on the other side of the car in order to run the engine cover,” he explained. “I started sourcing a TT 225bhp intake manifold but was not pleased with the prices people were asking so in the end I imported a SEAT intake manifold along with the engine cover that I wanted.”



    Next up came the issue of what to do with the intercooler. “I didn’t want to run a big front mount as I don’t like when you see them through the bumper, and I didn’t want to have to cut the bumper up either,” Alex said. “Then I remembered a VRT Jetta from Texas that had dual side-mount intercoolers so I started looking and then found a TT 225 dual setup which worked perfectly.”


    The Audi S3 engine plastics are another part of the car that but actually took a lot of thought to get right. This was because the S3 covers have rounded corners and the Mk4 core support doesn’t. “A friend pointed out a small trim piece from the European market that goes in that corner to round off the core support so I had a buddy of mine in England source me one and send it over,” Alex explained. “I like to pay attention to the details, you see. I like looking over a car, noticing all of the little things, and thinking ‘wow, that is awesome!’ and so I put that mentality into the build of my car. I want people to stop, look and see all of the little things that differ from the stock car while keeping it looking factory.


    It’s an ethos that’s been carried on inside, too. The retrimmed R32 seats and complimentary trimmed headliner, parcel shelf and door inserts are the first things you notice, and they look great, but look a little closer and you will spot all the little things that really set it apart, like the 2013 Beetle steering wheel, the SEAT headlight switch, the stubby rear headrests and, possibly the most subtle bit of all, the right-hand drive door insert with the smoothed door pull.

    “There are always times when I wish I had gone a little bit more ‘out there’ with the build and done a motor/transmission swap and a full shaved bay or gone with a different colour for the interior,” Alex explained. “In the end, though, I am satisfied with the path I choose. It serves the purpose I built it for: to look nice and cruise around in.”

    We’re pretty massive fans of the Alex’s choice of rolling stock, too. Part of that has to be down to the fact they’re so understated. Don’t get us wrong, we love seeing a trick, intricate wheel design or a finish combo that leaves us staring but sometimes it’s just nice to see a simple elegant wheel design. “I contacted CCW about making me a set of totally custom wheels similar to OZ Breytons,” Alex explained. “In the end the guys there said they would make a set of Classic 5s – which hadn’t been made in a good while and they would be the first set in 18” which sounded good to me. One of the main things that attracted me so much is that I like having rarer items.”


    Since our shoot Alex has been pretty busy with his car although, unusually, not actually through choice! “About a month after the shoot I was visiting a friend when a storm hit. The wind ended up picking up a canoe and dropping it on my car. Yes, a canoe, you can’t make it up!”

    Well, that’s definitely a first for Drive-MY! It sounds funny now but at the time not so much, as Alex confirms: “It messed up the passenger rear door pretty bad, ripped the door handle off, and cracked some filler on the quarter panel. Fortunately, my insurance covered canoe damage (that must have been an interesting call to the insurance company ~ All). It ended up needing a full respray and while it was in the bodyshop I decided to have the antenna and fender markers shaved.”


    Since then Alex has actually parted with his beloved CCWs for a new set of rollers and is planning to change a few things up inside and maybe tuck a few wires in the engine bay, as he explained: “The wheels have since been sold and changed up. As far as future plans are concerned, the only things I want to do at the moment are some small changes to the interior and possibly a wire tuck in the engine bay. “For the most part, I’ve received a positive reaction to it at shows and meets. I’ve even had people tell me that it is their favourite Mk4 – which is pretty crazy. Add to that, the fact that I now have a feature in #Drive-My is just surreal. I never expected the recognition the car gets. I am just a kid throwing money at a car, having fun.” And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Keep on having fun Alex…

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 1.8T with TT 225 intake manifold, 5.5L wiper fluid reservoir, SEAT Ibiza Cupra engine cover, SAI delete, N249 delete, EVAP delete, 42DD cat-back exhaust, 2.0T coil pack upgrade, dual side-mount intercoolers, S3 engine plastics, R8 oil and coolant cap, smoothed and painted core support, misc Euro trim pieces, billet dipstick tube.

    CHASSIS: 9.5x18” and 10x18” #CCW-Classic 5 wheels, #Air-Lift-XL front struts, Firestone rear sleeves, #AccuAir-E-Level management, R32 control arms and spindles, 330mm front discs with Tarox ten-pot calipers, 308mm ECS Tuning rear disc upgrade.

    EXTERIOR: Custom Japanese-spec front moulding, smoothed and painted 4motion front valence, Emphase Clean side skirts, GLI rear valence, custom OEM HID reps, #PZWO grille, #Hella Magic white tail lights, Passat Lingyu door handles, stubby mirrors, OEM Lexan headlight covers, custom billet antenna.

    INTERIOR: Retrimmed R32 seats, retrimmed headliner, parcel shelf, trunk liner and door inserts, black headliner trim, 2013 Beetle steering wheel, right hand-drive door insert with custom smoothed door pull, SEAT headlight switch and climate control knobs, stubby rear headrests, polished Euro Image billet door lock slides, armrest removed, GLI pedals, JCaps billet seat adjustment knobs, shortened and trimmed two-gallon air tank, custom hardlined tank setup.

    SHOUT: My family, especially my father and brother, KDI Customs, Bagriders, Joe, Travy, Swoops, Doey, Sam, Dehate, Ramon, Adam, Sammy, Jonny, Piney, Garrett, Muffin, RollHard and anyone who has helped me with the car in any way over the past years.

    Engine bay is a masterclass of OEM+ modifying with plastics and parts brought in from across the VAG range and modified to fit.

    Smoothed right-hand drive door plastic is a neat touch that you don’t spot at first, as is the relocated switch gear in the door pocket.
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    Gitter
    We’ve seen some well thought out Mk4s over the years, but Ryan Proulx’s creation has got to be one of the most complete all-rounders we’ve seen. Words and photos: Kris Clewell.

    Several years ago PVW solicited me to write about the state of the scene, and where things would be in the future. One of the benefits of growing older is you get to observe the evolution of the things you love. Many of us have been around long enough to watch technology affect our lives in ways we never imagined. What was once a marque-centric, locally driven VW culture has evolved into the behemoth of social media-driven innovation we’re now mixed up in. While exploding in size, the internet has brought everything to our door. You’re not only competing with your friends or your local community for respect. With the advent of the internet and what it’s done to the culture, the bar has been raised worldwide. You’re now competing for bragging rights in absentia with show cars on either side of the Pond… and beyond.

    Enter Ryan Proulx, a man who had no idea the journey he was setting out on when he bought a one-owner Silverstone GTI. Ryan’s journey started at a young age. Playing with toy cars evolved into building scale models. From European exotics, DTM and Le Mans prototypes to GP bikes, model building was an outlet for a growing passion. The detailoriented neurosis needed to complete some of the models would be a precursor to the real deal. Fortunately hours of Gran Turismo furthered the transformation from regular guy to car guy.

    Scale models and video games eventually gave way to a step-side Ford Ranger. Ryan told us: “My cousin had a mini-truck at that time that I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted to put the Ranger on air but it was always just a pipe dream.” While admittedly it isn’t acknowledged as an inspirational vehicle, it served to move Ryan around. Fuel economy was awful but it was utilitarian and reasonably cool for a guy in high school. Then one of Ryan’s friends bought a red MkIV GTI and the bug hit. It was game on. Ryan drove the truck down to the dealer with trading on his mind and went on a few testdrives.

    He mentioned: “I drove a Dodge Neon SRT4. I had my dad in the back and the salesman on my right. It had been a long time since I’d driven a manual. I killed it while being Mr. Hot Shot on the drive. I ended up not buying it. It was fast but it was also a cheap, boring piece of plastic American sh*t.” Ryan drove a few other things but ended up at the VW dealership with his GTI buddy. “The only #VW-Golf I looked at was this one,” Ryan said. Struck with the colour and the simple but comfortable and functional design, it was love at first sight. It had a turbo and 17” wheels. What more could it need? A stereo. A big one.

    Other than a door-rattling stereo the car rolled stock for four years until 2009. After joining the Eurowerks forum and visiting the shows, Ryan saw that it was time to take the car past the stereo stage. A set of FK Streetlines from New German Performance (NGP) was installed at SCI Performance. Though still rocking the stock 17” wheels, Ryan was just happy to be low. Eventually Ryan coughed-up and bought a set of RH ZW4 splits. The car remained dumped on that set of shoes for three years. We all know once it starts it never stops but Ryan was undecided on the direction he wanted to go with the car or even what kind of car to build.

    To try and help him make his mind up Ryan made a list of all the parts he really wanted for the car. However, this almost had the opposite effect, demotivating him rather than spurring him on with the build, as he explains: “When I added it all up the cost was just discouraging.” So Ryan put the MkIV to the back of his mind and bought a Westmoreland-built Mk1. The car had been sitting in a field for 17 years but it cleaned up well and was rust-free. “A buddy and I had previously tried to build a Mk1 ice race car that we never finished so when the Mk1 popped up I got all nostalgic, I guess.”


    With the Mk1 as the new love of his life, the Mk4 took a backseat and became Ryan’s winter transport. With a fresh 16v engine swap, coilovers, and a set of RS007 wheels, the Mk1 looked sharp in Mars red. It went to H20 and a few other shows but in the end there was never a vision. The car was sold and eventually wrecked by a idiot in a Jeep who was texting whilst driving. Sadly, its story is over.

    With an epilogue on the Rabbit written, Ryan once again focused on the GTI. Sometimes being low just isn’t enough. Having gone as far as to cut the sway bar out to go lower static, Ryan wanted more. After an APR flash, exhaust, and turbo inlet from local shop Further Performance, the bug was still there. “I could never be as low as I wanted static on the streets,” Ryan said, “so air-ride seemed like the best of both worlds. I was sick of smashing pans, and popping axles.”

    Using some money from a tax rebate he bought an E-Level Kit with Air Lift Slam Series struts from Bagriders. Unfortunately, Ryan still smashed another pan and went through five more axles before finally switching over to a set of Raxles. The air-ride setup Ryan had in his car didn’t always look as good as it does on these pages. “When I first got it, I had it mounted on an old bit of plywood in the boot. It was just held down with some twine but really my friend had to hold on to it from the front seat. I had to retie the twine every day to make sure it didn’t wear through and flop around,” Ryan said. The tank on the board was flanked by two compressors, and the management system. The car then went to its first show in Michigan. Needless to say, Ryan returned without any skid-plate hardware! Later that summer, Ryan earned a golden ticket at Eurowerks, and parked amongst some nice cars there but he wasn’t done.

    The bodywork began with a drunken idiot. In the capital of Minnesota, St. Paul, a drunk sideswiped the GTI. Autoworks Collision took the helm. The initial damage was fixed but Ryan had other plans. He picked up a shaved hatch from a local guy and started making plans to shave the front of the car. The latter never happened, which ended up fitting well into the theme of the car. The new hatch went on, and the entire car received a treatment of Silverstone paint over a selectively shaved body. Ryan started to realise that he was getting in deep. The air-ride came out, the twine was tossed, and things went back in. This time, Ryan did his own hardlines. Things turned out average. The symmetry wasn’t quite there and Ryan hadn’t used stainless lines but it lasted through that show season. Serious plans turned even more serious. It was time to build the engine…

    In a skin-deep scene, the motor is often ignored. ‘Well-rounded’ is now a box that’s ticked if you’ve done hardlines, used a keg for an air tank or used your tuition money for a set of splits. Dragging by Seacrets on Ocean Boulevard at H20 looking fly or airing-out 20 times a night at different get-togethers along the strip is often enough for most. These skin-deep motives coupled with cars that have become increasingly difficult to modify with basic tools have driven the performance-based crowd to near extinction. It didn’t help that Ryan was already working on a highly-modified chassis.


    So, seeking added performance, he started a new list. It’s a list that not too many people write these days. Fortunately Ryan found all the bits he needed from a friend. From pan to valve cover, he went over the 1.8T engine and rebuilt it. An ALH crank shoulders the burden put on it by the Integrated Engineering rods and JE pistons. The stroker helps with some extra torque, and bragging rights. If that’s not enough, it’s all fed through an Integrated Engineering intake manifold by a PTE 5858 .63 A/R turbo. Now the motor makes a healthy 450whp at 28psi. How’s that for well-rounded?

    Even so, Ryan admits: “When I made the decision to up the performance I wanted to make the bay look as pretty as the exterior of the car. It was never really about speed; it’s always been aesthetics, if I’m honest. I wanted an engine bay that was worthy of housing such a good motor. It annoys me when I see gorgeous Mk4s at shows without their hoods up.” So Ryan grabbed welder, a grinder, some bondo and made a start on the engine bay. As he got stuck in, though, he realised that (like many of us) his skills stopped at the door to the bodyshop. “I started working on the area by the motor mount. I got about 20 minutes in before I realised that this type of work was not for me.” So he booked it in with Autoworks where things were cleaned and powdercoated. Harnesses were lengthened and bits hidden. The end result is that the engine bay can now be shown with pride. Ass down, hood up!


    Ryan also knew that the air-ride had to live up to the rest of the car. He got hold of hardline expert Swoops who constructed a hardline kit for the trunk, with the stereo sitting next to it. At the end of the lines you’ll find Air Lift Performance Series struts. Ryan was one of the first in the world to get a set. Finishing off the look of the car there are a set of custom coloured 9.5x18” ET 20/25 CCW LM5T wheels. Ryan sent the interior to Sean at Top Stitch in Minneapolis. Grey tweed coordinated nicely with the exterior paint, while the road is connected to the driver via a Nardi Classic wheel.


    The key to it all is community. There aren’t too many people out there building cars in a vacuum; if they are, it’s a lonely place. Much of society turns to its hobbies when it encounters struggles in life. What’s different about the automotive scene is the extent to which friends and strangers alike go to in order to help a peer in need. As a car enthusiast, setting a goal for getting a car done is something you just do. It motivates. For Ryan the car meant more than just scraping ‘likes’ off the floor of an Instagram free-for-all. Running from his job, to the shop, followed by early morning drives back to crash before another round were a regular occurrence. The car was an outlet, it was therapy. Much of the tail end of Ryan’s build was done while he was in treatment for alcohol dependency. “I ended up getting hold of Mike [Olson],” Ryan said. “A lot of people helped when they didn’t have to. They almost seemed like they dropped what they were doing and for whatever reason decided they wanted to help me out. And they absolutely did. I don’t know where I’d be without that car. If I look back at every single friend that I have, for the most part I can trace our friendship back to that car. It got me to where I am today.”


    In #2014 Ryan took the car to SOWO. With only 30 miles on the car, and after staying up for 24 hours straight with Tristan and Matt from Further Performance, he set out on the road trip and made it. He scored a ‘top 50’ recognition for his efforts but, more importantly, we all got to learn an important lesson in selflessness and why we’re all here. We shouldn’t be here for the likes or the shares. We should be here for each other.


    Dub Details #VW-Golf-IV #Volkswagen

    ENGINE: 2.1-litre Integrated Engineering stroker kit with JE 9.5/1 pistons, Integrated Engineering Tuscan rods, ARP head studs, stock AWP head, Integrated Engineering intake manifold and billet fuel rail, Fuel Lab mini adjustable fuel pressure regulator, modified Eurojet race front mount intercooler, Forge super diverter valve, CTS top mount, T3 exhaust manifold, Precision 5858 .63 A/R turbo, Tial 38mm wastegate routed into downpipe, CTS downpipe, Turbosmart dual stage boost controller, APR 3” exhaust, #6 fuel lines from the tank to the rail, Bosch 044 fuel pump, Trick Flow in-line fuel filter, Siemens 870cc (80lb) injectors, United Motorsport custom tune, 4” Pro- MAF, VF Engineering engine/gearbox/dogbone mounts, Dieselgeek short-shifter, Haggard Fab brake reservoir, Clutchmasters FX400, TDI fifth gear, Quaife LSD, Raxles, full wire tuck wrapped in OEM #VW harness tape, shaved/smoothed engine bay.


    CHASSIS: CCW LM5T 9.5x18” ET 19 and 25, Air Lift Performance Series front struts, Air Lift rear sleeve bags, B&G rear shocks, Accuair E-level touchpad management, custom ‘Hardlines by Swoops’ dual tank air setup, IDF tubular front lower control arm and rear drop plates.

    EXTERIOR: Shaved hatch, side repeaters, bumper lights and numberplate holes, OEM TDI rear valance, shaved bumper and hood notches, rolled front arches, slightly pulled rear arches, FK two-bar badgeless grille, OEM stubby mirrors, OEM 20th AE GTI grille badge, OEM HIDs, full respray in OEM LA7W (Silverstone), matte black vinyl wrapped roof, custom clear bra-wrapped front bumper/hood.

    INTERIOR: Factory GTI high bolster seats trimmed in grey tweed with black stitching, doorcard inserts trimmed in tweed with black stitching, rear parcel shelf trimmed in tweed with black stitching, centre console lid trimmed in grey tweed, headliner and A/B/C-pillars trimmed in grey suede, OMP steering wheel hub, Nardi Classic 340mm black leather/silver stitching, New south performance dual gauge column pod, Innovative Motorsports sideband, New South Performance 30psi boost gauge, GTI monster mats, OEM 20th brushed door pulls/handles, OEM Passat W8 overhead console, OEM R line five-speed shift knob/boot, Kenwood double din DVD headunit, Kenwood components, JL 10w3v3 10” sub, Kenwood four-channel amp, Alpine Mono sub amp, Optima Yellowtop battery in spare tyre well.

    SHOUT: The Further Performance and Clean Schnitt Crew including Mike, Tristan, Frank, Matt, Soleil, Lawrence, Alex, Jose, Connor, Max, Devin, Preston and the rest of the Church Fam. Sean at Top Stitch, Dehate at CCW, Kris and the Eurowerks gang. Mom and dad for not calling me crazy during the builds and always supporting this hobby of mine. Had it not been for everybody the car might still not be done, and I’m grateful for that!

    Swoops, aka Gregory Scigliano, certainly knows how to put together an awesome looking air setup.

    Grey tweed interior makes a nice change from the usual leather retrim and complements the car’s sweet and subtle look perfectly.

    We’re big fans of Ryan’s Mk4 and it’s not hard to see why. It’s one of those cars that doesn’t do any shouting for attention, it lets its details do the talking…
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