Looking back on it, it’s really difficult to sum up the GTI RS build in anything other than “an experience”. The MK7 GTI RS was my first major car build, after spending the past decade traveling worldwide and photographing hundreds of other amazing cars. Countless details were picked up and stored into the archives of my brain along the way, and when the time came to bring my Mk7 VW GTI to the next level, it was a pure cranial chaos trying to create a vision.
Once the Pandem/Rocket Bunny Widebody kit was en route to Miami, back in early 2016, it was time to find a fabricator to help with the installation. The most important aspect of the car was by far going to be execution, given the haphazard and subpar installations of various widebody kits and flares that have plagued the aftermarket scene in recent years. There were to be no corners cut and no expenses spared, and I called up an old friend from New York, Swoops, to handle the fabrication.
A full metal widebody was added to the original GTI panels, following the inner contour of the Rocket Bunny flares. To create sufficient wheel clearance for the 19×11 Vossen Forged VPS-317 wheels that we originally made for the car, a lot of open wounds were made, some opening up to the cabin of the car, and it was of paramount importance to me that those openings be properly sealed. In addition to resealing the factory body, these metal flares also created a rigid, metal contact point for a tire to rub against when cornering, an inevitable circumstance for the car’s eventual track day use.
A maiden voyage to Waterfest in Englishtown, New Jersey revealed the in-progress GTI RS project, in a drivable state but still very raw, and despite a little bit of rain we had a great time sharing the little details with everyone. Once finished, however, the clock to H2O International was ticking and a mountain of details left to complete. With the body mocked up and functioning, AP Racing Brake Kit stopping things, the roll bar welded in and finalized, and bespoke diffuser and exhaust fitted, it was time to tackle the look and feel of things.
The brown wrap was removed, revealing the original Pure White paint and the flares were sent out to be color matched. The rear vents were shaved, gaskets scrapped and fasteners replaced with fancy stainless bits, and the focus was on the interior. With the roll bar complete and Status Racing seats on order, it was time to focus on my favorite aspect of the car—the interior.
With Swoops’ fabrication shop at our disposal, the opportunity to make custom components wherever we could was paramount, and seat brackets, floor pans, rear seat delete and a false floor with tool storage compartment came together. Dimple dies started with the roll bar and quickly flooded any other exposed alloy panel we could stamped them on. Our friends at Black Forest Industries, Status Racing, Rennline, and Renown came together to create an ensemble of flowing pieces, following the track-inspired look and feel but providing full functionality as well.
Under the hood saw some new changes too, including bespoke bottles and intake by Swoops, Forge Motorsport intercooler and silicon piping, Southbend Clutch Kit, Wavetrac limited slip differential, Leyo catch can, BFI motor mounts and the AWE Tuning downpipe and exhaust remained. At the time I was considering an E85 tune for the car, though the hardware wasn’t quite developed or proven yet, and APR’s Stage 1 tune remained, putting down an unbelievable amount of power for just a tune and bolt-ons, and more than enough to get in a lot of trouble and have a ton of fun on the track—even though it was just for the initial cover shoot for Performance VW Magazine!
After spending 2017 on the road with Volkswagen of America, as part of their enthusiast fleet and traveling to a wide variety of events around the USA, the GTI RS made its way to SEMA 2017 and represented our friends at Thule with their new Motion Alpine cargo box and Vossen Forged ML-R1 wheels before the second annual cross-country trek back to Miami.
WIDEBODY ///// Pandem Rocket Bunny • @pancrossllc • @rocketbunnyusa
WHEELS ///// Vossen Forged LC-106 (19×11 F+R) • @vossen
TIRES ///// Nitto INVO 285-30-19 (F+R) • @nittotire
BRAKES ///// AP Racing Radical by Stillen • @ap_racing_by_stillen • @stillen
SUSPENSION ///// BC Racing Coilovers • @bcracingna
SEATS ///// Statüs Racing ICON GTX Carbon Seats • @thestatusracing
STEERING WHEEL ///// Renown USA Motorsports 100 Rosso Wheel • @renownusa
ROOF RACK ///// Thule Aeroblades and Motion XT Box • @thule
CHASSIS ///// Tyrolsport Deadset Kits F+R • @tyrolsport1
ENGINE ACC ///// Forge Motorsports Intercooler & Silicon Hoses • @forgemotorsport
MOTOR MOUNTS ///// Black Forest Industries • @blackforestindustries
CLUTCH ///// Sound Bend Clutch Stage 3 Daily • @southbendclutchkits
DIFFERENTIAL ///// Wavetrac Limited Slip • @wavetrac_differentials
EXHAUST ///// AWE Tuning Touring Suite with Downpipe • @awetuningofficial
PAINT ///// PPG Refinish • @ppgrefinish
PAINT PROTECTION ///// XPEL Paint Protection Film • @xpeltech & @detailingdynamics
ACCESSORIES ///// Rennline Quick Release Hub, Fire Extinguisher & Tow Hooks • @rennline
GRAPHICS ///// Sign Factory • @signfactory • @signfactoryadam
FABRICATION ///// SwoopsBUILT • @theswoops