Bagged Stage 3 370bhp Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk5 gets the full works
Dig beneath the clean lines of Jack Fanning’s Mk5 GTI and you’ll find a show-and-go car more thoroughly put together than you might first expect…
Words: Sam Preston
Photos: Ross Delaney
STAGE 3 Mk5 GOLF GTI Bagged Stage 3 Mk5 Golf GTI gets the full works
including Rotiform splits, red leather trim & boot build
COMPLETED IT, MATE
It’s always good to have a rough plan in place when you’re starting out with a project, and building a breathtaking modified vehicle is certainly no exception to this rule. You know what they say: by failing to prepare, you’re ultimately preparing to fail.
Of course, we’ve seen countless builds come together on the fly over the years, but there’s something about cars that have been developed to closely follow their owners’ rigid and detailed briefs from day one that gives them a complete and well-thought-out look that’s hard to beat.
One man that’s followed this systematic approach with his latest whip is Ireland-based Jack Fanning here, whose stunning Mk5 GTI is packed with killer touches that you just couldn’t execute without a whole heap of prior planning taking place.
“I’ve always wanted a grey Golf with a red interior,” Jack tells us with conviction. “It didn’t stop me from getting side-tracked along the way, though…”
Although the pipe dream of the car you see before you had floated around the back of his mind for some time, Jack’s first properly customised machine came in the form of a diesel Mk6 a few years ago.
Despite its impressive spec that included a full blackberry-colour body respray and re-trimmed interior complete with Audi wingbacks, there was still an itch that Jack just couldn’t scratch.
“I was actually getting that car shot by Ross Delaney after a Fitted UK show,” Jack recalls. “Ross had a Mk5 GTI at the time and let me have a spin in it while he was shooting my car. The noise and performance were both next-level and I knew one of these cars would make a great base for my dream project. I needed one!”
The Mk5 from that fabled test drive happened to be a DSG model, with Jack initially starting his search for one of these semi auto-equipped hot hatches. Spotting this very example with its classy United Grey body, however, was enough to persuade him over to the three-pedal side.
“I initially wasn’t interested because of the gearbox, but the colour grew on me and I knew it would be the perfect starting point to build up to the spec I had in mind,” Jack explains. Although a lot of the goodies he’d added to his Mk6 would have bolted straight onto his newly acquired TFSI-powered pocket rocket, it’s a testament to Jack’s strict vision that only the air suspension system and front wingback seats made their way over to this new ride.
Talking of the seats, they may have been shown off in his previous car, but Jack wasted no time in giving them, and the rest of the Mk5’s interior, the mother of all overhauls with the help of pal Baron Bedi – the first major step in the development of this build.
“Within a few months, the interior was red,” Jack laughs, touching on the sumptuously finished Bentley Hotspur leather and Alcantara that’s been applied to almost every visible surface of the car’s innards. This deep red colour works incredibly well against the cool exterior, especially on the wingback seats, giving off the effortlessly tasteful OEM+ vibes that you’ll be able to spot on almost all other aspects of the Golf as we work our way through them.
The interior is complemented with a matching boot build that Jack proudly whipped up himself, showing off the Air Lift Performance suspension system in all its glory (which Jack proudly installed himself, along with most other upgrades you see on the car). There’s also a half cage, a Mk6 GTI steering wheel and a Mk7 gear knob to give the cabin that extra-special OEM+ feel that never strays the wrong side of classy.
You’re probably not surprised to hear that Jack had equally as exciting plans for the car’s exterior, too. A self-confessed perfectionist, the Golf was promptly sent in for some panels to be resprayed in their original hue – a job which escalated to the extent that most of the car received new paint bar the roof. “I’ve always had a slight addiction with carbon fibre,” Jack grins, hinting at all the panels that are now shod in (fully genuine) swathes of the stuff, including the front grille and splitter, as well as several parts inside – subtly breaking up the smooth grey lines in just the right way.
Continuing his theme of adding parts from other VAG-group cars that we mentioned earlier, Jack next grafted on a significantly larger braking system to all four corners of the GTI, including iconic Audi 8-pot calipers and wavy discs up front, which certainly looked the part under the OZ Racing wheels he was rocking at the time.
These weren’t just for show, though, with the next aspect of the build given some attention being the TFSI lump under the bonnet. You see, this isn’t just an all-show-and-no- go build, far from it, in fact. Now sporting 370bhp thanks to a larger K04 turbo and stage 3 tune, Jack often enjoys exploiting the Golf’s new-found grunt with five switchable maps meaning he’s prepared for any situation.
“I wanted to keep it reliable and manageable, and this state of tune seems spot-on for the job,” a satisfied Jack tells us. “Don’t get me wrong, it can still catch you out in the rain, though…”
But it’s the most recent upgrade to Jack’s Mk5 that he admits is the one he thinks ties his whole vision together – the Rotiform HUR split rims that now take pride of place under the curvy arches.
“If I get something into my head, I have to get it,” Jack admits, with this particular model of Rotiform’s rolling royalty being stuck at the forefront of his mind for some time. “I was tipped-off that there might be a set for sale in Scotland, and eventually managed to persuade the owner to sell them to me. What followed was a 33-hour round trip to pick them up!”
Dropping his shabby but perfectly-spec’d rims off near Belfast for a refurb on the way home, Jack is over the moon with the results now – the slinky spokes glistening in a body-matched hue, as well as some incredibly impressive finishing touches such as gold hardware and even red Rotiform logos to match the car’s interior.
With nine inches of girth all-round, however, getting them to sit pretty under each arch involved some SRS Tec wide wings being added up front, and a whole load of camber being dialled in out back. The results really do speak for themselves though, with the GTI being taken to the next level by this inspired choice of rolling stock. Jack eventually managed to get his pride and joy to a state that matched his initial vision just as Covid reared its ugly head, meaning he’s not had much of a chance to show it off up until now. That’s all due to change in 2023, however, with plenty of trips over to both English and Scottish shows planned throughout the season.
Although it’s recently been retired from daily driving duties, it’s great to see Jack still using his hot hatch as intended. There might even be some track days on the cards in the not-too-distant future, too, highlighting just what a great all-rounder he’s built for himself here. Just shows what you can achieve when you put your mind to it…
“If I get something into my head, then I have to get it" “I’ve always had a slight addiction with carbon fibre"
- ENGINE: 1984cc, four-cylinder, TFSI turbo, stage 3 tune, BorgWarner K04 turbocharger, Revo intake, Revo intercooler, Revo engine mounts, runner flap delete, Audi R8 coils, Autotech high-pressure fuel pump, full Scorpion exhaust system, Racingline oil catch can, carbon fibre coolant bottle cover, Audi R8 coolant and oil caps, Forge Motorsport washer bottle relocation, Sachs Performance clutch
- CHASSIS: 9x19” custom Rotiform HUR 3-piece split rims with grey centres, polished lips and gold hardware, 225/35 Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, Air Lift Performance air bags and 3P management, Audi RS 8-pot front brakes with 365mm wavy discs, Audi S3 rear brakes
- EXTERIOR: Partial respray in original United Grey, projector headlights, SRS-TEC wide front wings,
- VALEO rear lights, Edition 30 rear bumper, carbon fibre wing mirrors, carbon fibre C pillars, carbon fibre front lip, carbon fibre front grille and panel, carbon fibre front VW badge, carbon fibre scuttle panel, carbon fibre side skirt extensions, optional quarter bonnet
- INTERIOR: Full custom retrim in Bentley Hotspur leather and Alcantara, Audi RS4 Recaro wingback front seats, Alcantara/leather dashboard, Alcantara centre console, floor sills, roof and pillars, Mk6 GTI steering wheel, carbon fibre centre console inserts, half roll cage, Mk7 GTI gear knob, full custom boot build with air ride display
- SHOUT: Thanks to the absolute legend Baron Bedi for the interior – the car wouldn’t be where it is today without trusting him with everything, Daltons.ie for the engine work and Joe Power for the mapping, KLC Wheels for the wheel refurb, and all the lads who ever gave me a hand and advice with the car throughout the years