Bagged 2012 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk6 features turbo upgrade, APR tune, BBS splits, 35th bumper & more
Very little beats that news car smell or the benefits that come with buying a car brand new. We ask Dave Raybould whetherthe novelty, or that smell, ever wears off.
Words: Bryan McCarthy
Photos: Derek Kenison
THAT NEW CAR SMELL
«The guys and girls I roll with are like a huge extended family»
There is a certain appeal to owning a new car. The starting from zero odometer reading. The peace of mind that comes with a factory warranty. And the comfort of knowing that no one has spoiled the new car smell and soiled the driver’s seat. Besides being coupled with a car payment for as long as your credit will allow, not to mention being crippled by depreciation as soon as it leaves the showroom, there really are no downsides to new car ownership. “When I moved to the States, I inherited my mother-in-law's Chevy Malibu before I purchased my Mk6 GTI brand new in 2012,” says British transplant Dave Raybould.
For the 35-year-old professional ski instructor currently residing in Stowe, Vermont, the Shadow Blue Mk6 represented his first attempt at a black diamond run down Modified Mountain. “As a kid growing up, I was always around cars with my dad,” Dave recalls. “I remember having to wait years until I was old enough to drive.” While his father may have found faith at the church of Clan McRae of Latter-day Subarus, it instilled a set of automotive values that would guide him from his teenage years through to present day. “My high school friend Arun Sharma got me into VWs. He had a white Mk1 before he even passed his driving test, which was so cool at the age of 16!”
From the age of 15, Dave would hit as many VW/Audi shows around the UK as he could. Anyone whose interest in the scene being sparked at a young age can recall the feelings of awe when attending any sort of meet. That sense of wonder when you first saw Audi door handles on a MK3 Golf, or crisply pulled arches on a Vento.
Dave’s VW CV is rather short, and includes a Lupo and a MK3 GTI prior to his current MK6. There are also a few Audis sprinkled in. “I've modified every car I've owned to some extent,” he muses in true enthusiast spirit. So how did Dave, a cultured individual from Whaley Bridge, find himself doing business in a US VW dealer? “I grew up playing lacrosse and did an exchange program which meant coming to the States every other summer to play,” he tells us. “I went to Loughborough University where I graduated with a Bachelors in Geography and Sports Management, and also did a study-abroad year [while a junior] at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). There I met my wife, Cat, and the rest is history. She's from New Jersey, so we lived there for a couple of years after college before moving to Stowe in 2013.”
That buddy of his from high school really made an impression, and Dave knew he always wanted a GTI. So when he was in a position to purchase, the current model was the MK6, smack in the middle of its five year tenure in the US market. “I knew the car would get modified before I even bought it, and I even had parts waiting for it before I picked it up!” To have a vision before the canvas is even hung is something to be applauded. For the first few years, the blue hatch benefited from basic boltons — lowering springs, wheels, some window tint. You know, the budget-friendly bits that begin every automotive love story.
The car was enjoyed as a daily driver for a few years until 2016, when its DD status was revoked. Those sport springs were served their walking papers, being replaced by Air Lift’s Performance Series struts up front paired with Slam Series rear shocks. “I'll never forget or forgive myself for airing out and crushing a fender though! I think that's a right of passage for anyone on air ride.” Ultimately, the rears were matched with the fronts, the management was upgraded to Air Lift’s 3P system, and the tank was swapped for Accuair’s ENDO-T in a very coordinating bronze color. Dave mounted the tank on the rear strut brace. “Something I had never seen done before at the time…”
Pop the hatch and you’ll find neither the rear seats, but more importantly there is loss of cargo volume. “I have all the management hidden under the trunk floor, with a full size spare and without a raised floor,” beams Dave. More on the seat delete later.
With an Audi A4 sourced to go head to head with Vermont’s vicious winters, the MK6 was ready for its transformation into a forbidden fruit. “Volkswagen never imported the Edition 35 to North America so I knew how unique it would be,” says Dave. The Edition 35’s exterior consists of front and rear bumpers, and side skirts. For his E35 tribute, Maxton Design was tapped to provide additional enhancement for the front bumper and side skirts via their front splitter and side extensions. “The biggest hurdle was getting my hands on an ED35 front bumper,” admits Dave. “I've only seen [online] about four or five other guys who have done it here, and never seen another one in person in North America.”
Lucky for him, his parents still live in England, so it’s no heavy lift for him to source parts on UK eBay and use them as either a hub or a shipping service. “My dad shipped the bumper straight to Sterling Autobody for paint,” Dave explains. “My dad is more OCD than me so he built a wooden crate to ship it in…God knows how much it cost to ship.
He wouldn’t tell me and just took care of it. So to say he supports my endeavours is an understatement. He’s a car guy too, but I don’t think he had the same fortune as me when he was younger to really modify cars, so I guess he’s living vicariously through me.” The only deviation from the Edition 35 theme is the Duraflex RV-S rear bumper and diffuser.
“Even with the ED35 black lower valance I still wasn't happy,” rationalizes Dave. “I saw the Duraflex rear bumper and knew it would fit the bill of OEM++. I reworked the exhaust to fit the two center exit slots in the valance and I'm happy now with how it matches the aggressiveness of the rest of the car.”
If someone decades from now would happen to find this parked up in a barn, they’d be pleased to find original paint still on most of the panels that weren’t replaced, such as the doors, roof, quarter panels and fenders, blended flawlessly with the fresh coats of Shadow Blue. “My guys at Sterling Autobody kill it every time (and have also painted other cars that have been in PVW),” says Dave. “The car barely goes more than 100 miles without a wash, and gets a proper polish and wax once a year.” Simple math based on the car’s current mileage would mean he’s washed it nearly 750 times. Tennis elbow, anyone?
The Edition 35 isn’t all show and no go, mind you. “The ED35 has the bigger Golf R K04 turbo,“ says Dave. “So naturally the car got one of those with all the supporting mods you can think of to wring the most out of it.” Dave preheated the proverbial oven by installing an upgraded intake, intercooler, charge pipes, engine mounts and the like before the K04. “What really grinds my gears is when people just slap a big turbo on something and don't upgrade anything else and then wonder why it breaks.” Silly Dave, stop trying to be so logical.
The turbo swap was done via jack stands in the driveway, something Dave vowed to never do again. Shortly after a lift was installed in his shop at his house. “I'm getting old enough now where I feel it the next day,” laughs Dave.
Anyone with a tune and a manual gearbox can relate to the following. “The clutch slipped immediately after going Stage 1,” Dave advises us. With the transmission out for that job, the downpipe was attended to for its close proximity. “This is probably one of the very few jobs I didn't do myself. I was working at a shop at the time (Vermont Tire & Service) where I was the Performance Specialist for their performance division; VTT Performance.” Sometimes convenience wins over the points earned for DIY.
Just like trying to go skiing in sliders will spoil your day, the wrong set of wheels can easily bin any build. Fortunately, Dave said yes to BBS. “The RSII is that one dream wheel for me and I knew one day I had to own a set.” After doing his research, knowing what they cost and saving for six months, he found a guy in Poland building custom sets. «I knew exactly what I wanted; the 703 slightly concave 17» face, stepped to a 3-piece 18" with a final size of 18x9.5 ET35(ish). Originally a BMW fitment, I wanted them redrilled to 5x112 because running adapters was not an option.” With a lead time of three months, and Covid supply issues delaying delivery by another three, they eventually arrived in the summer of 2020.
“I hadn't put many miles on them when one of the wheels had snapped 18 out of the 34 bolts, and another one 12. I nearly threw up when I realised what had happened! After working out how they had failed I couldn't believe that someone could put another person in danger like that. Just outright poor workmanship and lack of human decency. [The builder] tried to make it right, but wouldn't admit that they were built incorrectly.
So after giving me a partial refund to have them rebuilt, I never spoke to him again. Note to anyone wanting to convert RSIIs to 3-piece: make sure the builder knows what they are doing! After doing a lot of research, I had the lips welded to the barrels and they've been fine ever since.” On a lighter note, the centers are painted Mercedes Canyon Beige, matching the bronze vinyl to a tee.
Open the door and you’re greeted by an inviting cabin not unlike the fanciest chalets on the mountain. The GTI is only a two-seater now, thanks to a homebuilt seat delete. “I built [it] myself because I didn't like any of the off the shelf options — they were just clunky, didn't lay flat and didn't follow any contours of the inner panels.” Up front are two Braum Racing Elite-X Series seats, certainly more supportive than a ski lift. The black with red diamond stitching pattern is continued on the floor mats and the rear panel, combing with other red elements to tie the interior together in one cohesive package. Gone are the analog dials, too, replaced by a more modern looking digital cluster from Rex Super Sport. After cleaning up at every event he attended in 2022, including Best in Show at Eurobuilt (and Best Interior, but who’s counting?) and First Place MK6 at New England Dustoff, it’s nice to know it was simply a byproduct of the car’s attributes rather than a clout-chasing mission. “I haven't built the car for anyone else, or to win shows, I've always done the mods I've wanted to do. But to get some recognition and appreciation at shows feels awesome and so humbling.”
Not only that, but the relationships created thanks to it will last long after the lustre of trophies has worn off. “Most weekends during the summer you'll find the boys over for a BBQ and a new mod they need installing! The guys and girls I roll with are like a huge extended family,” says Dave.
With a successful show season, one could assume it’s all downhill from here. “The to-do list for this year is MK6 Golf R rear brakes to match the fronts, re-do the headliner with something custom (MK6 problems), and I *should* do the timing tensioner and chains (more MK6 problems), but I also have a 3.6 VR6 lying around just in case it goes bang. I have new taillights to install and I'd love to put some Recaro Sportster GT seats in it. Apart from that I'm happy as it sits.”
“I joke with friends that when we're all 75, we'll be driving our gas guzzling cars that we've owned 50 years while all the youth are giving us weird looks from their silent electric cars.” That’s a future we’re okay with.
- ENGINE: 2.0T with HPA Motorsport K04 hybrid turbocharger, APR Stage 3 K04 93 octane ECU software w/ 3bar MAP sensor, Forge Motorsport wastegate actuator, GFB DV+ with Pierburg rev. D diverter valve APR carbon fibre intake system, USP Motorsport tear-duct direct flow rear intake pipe – heat tape wrapped, Integrated Engineering intercooler, modified/custom ECS Tuning 2.5” charge pipes, 42 Draft Designs 3” turbo back stainless steel race exhaust modified w/ custom 4" straight cut black powder coated tips, CTS Turbo oil catch can & Africa plate, BFI Stage 1 engine mount, Bosch red top coil packs, NGK spark plugs, PTP Turbo firewall blanket. ECS Tuning carbon fibre lock carrier support brackets, carbon fibre battery cover, carbon fibre fuse box cover, ECS Tuning Street Shield, billet engine oil cap, billet oil dipstick & billet washer fluid cap, Porsche coolant expansion tank cap, Gold Beauty washers and hardware. DKM Stage 2 MB clutch with single mass flywheel, BFI Stage 1 tranny mount & torque arm insert, ECS Tuning performance pendulum mount, ECS Tuning adjustable front-to-back short shifter, Forge Motorsport side-to-side short shifter, 42 Draft Designs shifter end link bushings, ECS Tuning shifter bracket bushings, Diesel Geek super slider
- CHASSIS: 9.5x18” BBS RSII 703 wheels (ET34), MG Line wheel centrelocks, Toyo Proxes Sport tyres — 215/40R18, Air Lift Performance Series suspension, Air Lift 3P management, VW Golf R brake calipers,Tyrolsport brake caliper stiffening kit, ECS Tuning cross-drilled & slotted two-piece semi-floating brake discs, StopTech rear brake discs and Sport pads, ECS Tuning stainless steel brake lines, BFI Audi TTRS anti-lift control arm bushings & aluminium control arms, Tyrolsport Stage 1 & 2 rear hatch brace, ECS Tuning 23mm rear sway bar, brackets & polyurethane bushings, ECS adjustable sway bar end links front & rear, ECS subframe locking kit, Godspeed rear adjustable camber arms
- EXTERIOR: OEM VW 35th Anniversary Edition front bumper – headlight washers & license plate shaved, Maxton Design Edition 35 front splitter, Maxton Design Edition 35/Golf R side skirts, Maxton Design side skirt extensions, Duraflex RV-S rear bumper & diffuser, ECS Tuning rear hatch spoiler – colour matched, Gloss black VW Mk7 GTI style rear window spoilers, BEC Autoparts Golf R style bi-xenon headlights with LED DRLs, 5K xenon bulbs, ballasts & harnesses, custom wiring adapters for LED DRLs, retrofit Source Morimoto XB LED fog lights, BEC Autoparts Golf R Euro taillights, deAutoLED turn signal, reverse lights & license plate LEDs, ECS Tuning tinted blind spot mirrors, UroTuning rear wiper delete, colour matched grille stripes & gloss black badge with colour matched inlay, UroTuning gloss black rear badge with Klii Motorwerkes colour matched inlay, black/chrome GTI badges front & rear
- INTERIOR: Braum Racing Elite-X Series racing seats (black with red diamond stitching), Planted Technologies seat brackets, Diamond Car Mats luxury mats (black with red diamond stitching), Rennline fire extinguisher mount – modified to fit, BFI GS2 heavy weight shift knob — black anodised with red leather, Rex Super Sport digital dashboard, OEM VW RCD 510 headunit retrofit, OEM VW MFSW retrofit, deAutoLED interior LEDs w/ red footwells, Accuair ENDO-T 5 gallon air tank mounted to Tyrolsport rear hatch brace, Viair 400C air compressor, custom diamond stitched trunk mat & seat delete, ECS Tuning hatch pop kit, 30% ceramic window tint, 70% windshield tint
- SHOUT: Thank you to my wife Cat for supporting my car addiction, my parents for importing parts, Larson's Auto for the help during the early days, Vermont Tire & Service for all the parts and service hook ups, all of the Daves (they know who they are!), Sterling Autobody for the killer paint work, Upper Level Society, Image MFG CO, and anyone over the years who has supported me or just admired the car at a show