- GRANDE DESIGNS Mk5 GTI gets big wheels, big brakes and a big attitude. It’s kind of a big deal.
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Volkswagen Mk5 Golf GTi “I wasn’t going to do much to it, honest.” How many times have we heard that one? Ricky Grande is the latest person to roll out that line in front of our cameras… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Anna Richardson and Keith Sowden.
“You can write Ricky’s Mk5 feature this month Dave,” said Elliott as we put the plan together for this issue, “it makes sense, you wrote his last one didn’t you?” Yeah, I did, way back in 2008 when I was only a year into my tenure with PVW.
Back then I had no idea I’d still be doing this almost a full decade later, heck, I was surprised Elliott hadn’t seen through my nonsense at that stage and I was still getting away with it. Now, roughly nine full years since Ricky Grande and I first met and almost a decade since I started on the mag, a whole lot is changing for me on a personal level but just looking at Ricky’s ‘5 is turning into something of a trip down memory lane for me. It’s funny, back then we went on far more shoots than we do now (yay, budgets!) but I still remember Ricky’s like it was only last month. Fresh faced, definitely thinner and most likely with a really stupid haircut, I went to Ilford in my Bora (back when we could take our own cars on shoots before the accountants here stopped all that!) and met Ricky and his cousin Harm and we instantly clicked. James Lipman was the photographer on the day, a guy who is now without a doubt one of the most in-demand and popular car photographers in the world, and we had such a fun day shooting the two cars, Ricky’s Mk4 and Harm’s Passat, on the streets of Ilford in the sunshine. I’ll never forget us performing a kind of rolling road block on a random overpass to get the rolling shots Lipman wanted, me driving his old Passat and him hanging out the back tailgate like he used to. Health and safety? Yeah, we've totally got that.
Ricky and I stayed friendly over the years, bumping in to each other at shows and reminiscing about the old days and how much fun the shoot was. He is definitely one of the scene’s nice guys, so it’s pretty cool to be able to write up the feature on this, his really rather cool Mk5 so long after we first met.
But anyway, that’s enough of the misty-eyed introductions, let’s get down to business. “This has been the biggest build I’ve done since the Mk4 days,” Ricky remembered, “I've had a few things in between, coilovers, wheels and a map, but nothing all that interesting,” he continued. “You see, after the Mk4 I’d sworn to myself that I’d never get that stuck into a car again… famous last words, right?”
He is right. ‘I won’t get so involved with the next car’ is up there with ‘ah, it all got out of hand’ and ‘I didn’t mean to go so far’ as the most common sentences uttered to us when we interview a feature car owner. Ricky bought the car from the Edition38.com classifieds (remember them? Facebook has got a lot to answer for, they were the place to find a car back in the day) for the simple reason that he hadn’t owned a fifth-gen Golf yet and simply fancied one – simple as that! “I wanted a DSG rather than a manual but the deal on this one was too good to pass up on, I just wanted a simple, fast and reliable new daily really, nothing more than that,” he explained. “I don’t think I’d even got home from picking it up before my brother Naz and some other friends started sending photos and Instagram links of sorted Mk5s to my phone,” he added laughing, “I didn’t really stand a chance, did I?”
Things started simply enough, like they often do, a good service and going over at GNR Motors, his brother’s garage, was the first port of call. “I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to my cars that I like them to start in the best condition possible, plus doing the boring servicing stuff first saves money in the long run, there’s no point spending all that money doing a car up if it’s going to blow up from something silly later down the line,” he reasoned.
Service book stamped, next came some coilovers and wheels, a set of Audi Speedlines, which kept our man’s modifying itch satisfied for a little while. A season of shows later, including a few trips to Europe and most notably Worthersee, was the catalyst for the next stage, as it so often is.
We’ve often said here on PVW that Worthersee is where trends are born. We can’t quite remember which year it was now, our collective memories definitely are more fuzzy than clear cut these days, but we definitely remember when we first started seeing the first of the ‘super low, static, tucked’ cars around the lake. They wore German plates, they were almost all nu-wave cars at the time and while the UK was still loving poke and aggressive fitments, these lads were running tall, relatively narrow wheels tucked right up under widened arches on Mk5 Golfs and the like and most importantly, they were doing it without a compressor or bag in sight. It certainly made an impression on us, and it certainly made an impression on Ricky and his crew too.
“Our heads were buzzing with ideas on the way home,” Ricky smiled, “and after a few dinners, beers and phone calls back home we had a plan set for the Mk5 to try and get that look we had all fallen in love with out there.”
The shopping list was impressive; RS4 buckets for the interior, wide wings from SRS like the German boys were running, OZ Ultraleggeras, big brakes on the front and the all-important special super-low coilovers. “Sukh of Westside planted the seed to get the extra low coils on it and he sorted out a set of H&R Ultralow 140s which were fantastic,” he remembered.
The colour change also came around this time. “Out in Europe we had seen so many brightly coloured cars and just loved the impact they made,” he remembered. “I wasn’t sure what colour to do the Golf but I knew it had to be lairy,” he smiled. “I then saw a Lamborghini Huracan at my friend’s place and fell in love with its bright yellow paint which settled it. It was hard to wrap my head around the car being yellow for a while but it gets noticed where ever it goes which is cool I guess,” he laughed, “you certainly can’t miss it!”
A little while later and it was time for a change in the chassis department. No, Ricky wasn’t abandoning the static life for a set of Air Lift’s finest, it was more of a sideways move. “My good friend Jason Debono started Gepfeffert UK which is the special super-low KW coilover arm here in the UK,” Ricky explained. “The H&Rs were fantastic but I wanted to support a friend’s new business, and the KWs came with fully adjustable top mounts, trick stainless bodies and adjustable damping too which really sold it for me.” The result of the coilover change? The Golf ended up another centimetre closer to the Tarmac and the Ultraleggeras were shoved even further up in to the arch liners, resulting in a happy Ricky.
A number of the super-low static cars in Worthersee back then had cages in, purely for the look, and it was a look our man loved. MAQ Racing provided the show cage which also got treated to a wrap of the same yellow as the car itself and the backs of the leather RS4 buckets. Of course, with a show cage and two rear brace bars in place of where the rear bench used to be, something needed doing to the boot itself so in went a false floor setup in matching carpet. Out back Ricky had already put a Gladen 10” subwoofer in a custom enclosure on one side and a pair of Gladen amps on the opposite one courtesy of another friend of his, Amarjit at BladeIce.
“Then we decided that the rear end didn’t look wide enough so I tracked down a R32 rear bumper and bought a R32-style Milltek system from Ruben at Tuningwerkes to suit it,” Ricky explained. “That, the EVOMS intake, RS4 coilpacks and a stage one map is all it’s got under the bonnet but that’s all it really needs,” he continued. “I’d like to have K04’d it and all that for a big jump in power but being this low does compromise the drivability, of course, and living in London like I do I didn’t think it was worth the extra effort and cost.”
Speaking of expense, the most costly part of the whole car was without a doubt the brakes. “The brakes, no question, were the hardest and most brain-frying thing we did to it,” Ricky winced, “we must have spent £6k on second hand brake kits Naz and I trying to figure out how to make what we wanted to work, work.” The fronts were simple enough, eight-pot Brembos and 370mm discs but it was the rear end were things were complicated. “We wanted to go with R8 rear brakes with the twin calipers but with larger discs, so the rears are 365mm, only 5mm smaller than the fronts,” he added. “The hard thing was because we didn’t want to run spacers it made getting the ridiculous disks and twin calipers to fit properly a real hassle but we found a way… I’m not telling you our secret though!” He added, smiling.”
Final items on the hit list were getting the aluminum-look trim across the dash skimmed in carbon fibre, getting the wheel, gear gaitor, arm rest and handbrake trimmed in Alcantara to smarten things up and a final set of wheels, this time 8.5x20” OZ Superturismos robbed, sorry, borrowed from friend Naz.
So what’s next for Ricky? Well, the Mk5 has already been broken and sold on, its parts living on in numerous other builds while the car itself has gone on to live another life. Ricky himself though, like I was when I was handed this feature to write, has been looking back. “I’ve bought another Mk4 Anniversary Dave,” he smiled, “well, actually we as a group have bought six of them…” Wait, what? “It’s another thing we’ve seen being done in Europe over the years, you’ll see a group of mates all with the same car but in different colours,” he explained. “We already had three Mk4 Anniversarys between us and we’ve all got Mk4s in our blood more than any other car, so we figured if we got three more we would have one each and we could do something like that, all looking kind of the same but different colours, should be cool…”
Knowing Ricky and his group of mates, they’ll knock the idea out of the park. Get in touch when you have mate…
“Then we decided that the rear end didn’t look wide enough, so I tracked down a R32 rear bumper and bought a R32-style MiLltek”
while the UK was loving pokE these lads were running tall, relatively narrow wheels tucked right up under widened arches
He is definitely one of the scene’s nice guys, so it’s cool to be able to write up the feature on his really rather cool Mk5
ENGINE: 2.0 #GTI-AXX-code , #Milltek R32-style de-cat exhaust system, #Evoms-Evolutuion intake, #Revision-D diverter, #Stage-1 map running approx 260bhp, Mk2 Audi TT engine cover, Iridium plugs, RS4 coil packs
CHASSIS: 8.5x20” #OZ / #OZ-Superturismos LM wheels with 225/30 ZR20 tyres all round, #Gepfeffert-KW-Ultralow 120mm V2 coilovers, chassis notched front, eight-pot #Brembo front calipers with 370mm discs, rears R8 rear brake conversion with double calipers
EXTERIOR: Wrapped in Satin yellow, SRS wide wings, R32 front Xenons headlights, rear R32 tail lights with upgraded LEDS, Mk6 rear badge, front US-spec front GTI grille, ‘open air’ front vent grilles, R32 rear bumper, rear wiper deleted, boot button popper
INTERIOR: RS4 front sears with backs wrapped in yellow, MAQ Racing show/roll cage, Gladen 10” sub in custom enclosure, Gladen speaker amp and sub amp enclosure, false floor, carbon fibre dash trims, steering paddles and ashtray, Alcantara steering wheel, arm rest, handbrake lever and MK7 Golf gear knob, Highline instrument cluster and Polar Fiscon, Kenwood DNX521dab headunit, MK6 switches, Candy red hazard button
SHOUT: Massive thanks to my brother Naz and the rest of the team at GNR Motors, without these guys it wouldn’t have happened and I’d probably have a lot more money in the bank. My Dad and family at Grande Auto Spares for all the support and abuse along the way, Dan and Shaun at Dubcustoms for the wrap, Jason for the Gepfeffert Suspension, Ruben at TuningWerkes for endless hours of support and parts, Amarjit at BladeIce for all the Audio, Mario at MAQ Racing for the cage and brakes support, Sunny at SS Autobody for always being up for a challenge, Edge Automotive, Raz at RetroRaz for all the retro fits, Jay at Splash & Vac for keeping the car clean, Umer at Trade4less tyres, Yusuf at ECP, Ted at TPS, Manny, Leroy, Ash, Slim, Avi B, Anna, Keith, Jamie Tall, Jamie Kebab, Danny Allen, Sukh, Raks, Ranvir, Jas, Harvey, Pandy, Sal, Vick S, Hiten, Gary S, RayARD, KamIce, Fet for the bottomless cups of tea, Vick N at Lowpro, Si at StillStatic, our Belgium crew, Gurj, Dalvir and Jaspal and last but not least all the lads at work