For years, Kate Dixon had been trying to snap up this modified Volkswagen Amarok, even unsuccessfully entering a competition to get her hands on it. Now it’s finally on her drive with her personal touches applied, and boy, was it worth the wait…
Welsh-born Kate (now residing in Cornwall) certainly isn’t a new face in the modified VW scene, after years of shows in her bagged Polo 9N and her T6 front end-swapped T5 Transporter (and prior to these, being a passenger princess in some of her father’s builds from a young age, particularly with his T4 Transporter).
It was at one of these very shows where she first clapped eyes on this particular Copper Orange Metallic Amarok, and where this curious story really begins. “I got engaged to my now- husband, Kieran, on the pink carpet of Ultimate Stance,” she grins. “This truck was actually on the stand too at the time, how crazy!”
Ignite The Fire
Whether it was the emotionally charged situation or just the fact that this modified Volkswagen Amarok was so damn cool in its own right, a fire was ignited in Kate’s head at that very moment, which she found very hard to put out in the coming months and years. “I loved it and what had already been done to it,” Kate continues. “Ollie Maslin, the previous owner, built such good foundations with it… The truck sold, unbeknownst to us, then popped up in a car raffle, which we bought many tickets for but sadly, didn’t win.”
Never give up
Slightly demotivated by losing out on the competition, and with a wedding and the birth of their first child to focus on, the Amarok fell to the back of Kate’s mind for a while. But that pesky thing called fate ensured it made an unexpected return before too long…
“We decided it was time for a ‘sensible’ family car,” Kate brings us up to speed. “I remember sitting in a garden centre while Kieran looked at cars on his phone. I said I’d love an Amarok and to build it up just like Ollie’s. One eBay search later and there it was, for sale. A week later, it was sitting on our drive.” Isn’t it funny the way things work out?
Rare of the year
What was it about this particular vehicle that Kate was so enamoured by, exactly? Well, for a start, there aren’t many modified Amaroks out there, especially in the UK, with previous owner Ollie adding some well-thought-out touches to allow this pick- up to really stand out in all the right ways. Combined with the fact it’s a limited-edition ‘Canyon’ model, meaning it’s got nicer paint, a plush interior and a tuneable BiTDI engine as standard, and Kate understandably saw it as the ideal starting point to create into her ultimate do-it-all motor.
With crane mechanic hubby Kieran helping where needed, the duo put their heads together to further transform their latest acquisition into something which even more closely reflected their unique personalities and ticked all their boxes. “I loved it as it stood when we got it,” she admits. “But part of me wanted to add and change some things to make it more mine.”
There’s no denying the presence of this beast as you first set eyes upon it now. The combination of those tough Black Rhino off- road wheels and chunky Cooper tyres, topped off with the suspension lift all-round, highlight just what a big and capable beast the Amarok can be. Other touches like the roof-mounted spotlights (standard on the Canyon model) and grille-mounted light bar, as well as the trick spare wheel/tyre holder over the loading bay, ensure this is one VW that would never look out of place on even the most demanding off-road course.
“It’s mainly our sensible family car, but we do take it off-road,” Kate is keen to say. “It’s been through rivers and 4×4 experiences but also takes us to Tesco and the doctors!” Despite its obvious practicalities, don’t go thinking for one second this beast has lost any of its show credentials. Polish it up, and another layer emerges – that of a stand-out show-winner with some seriously unique touches.
That tailgate, for example, was painstakingly custom made from an actual Mk1 Caddy unit, with the embossed VOLKSWAGEN branding somehow working perfectly as a subtle retro nod. Inside, Recaro bucket seats are trimmed to the exact same fabric as the standard Amarok Canyon seats, giving a luxurious OEM+ vibe. “I won two trophies at 2022’s Edition 38 show,” Kate reveals. “I have always dreamt of it, but never thought it would happen.”
Laugh out loud
Dig even deeper into the build, and Kate’s humorous side emerges, with a Cornish Rattler cider pump pull converted to become the gear knob for the six-speed manual ‘box. There’s also a perfectly matching miniature model of the modified Volkswagen Amarok inside, as well as colour-coded Canyon-themed baseball bat!
Finally, a trick Kenwood head unit and reversing camera module ensures the in-car entertainment setup is thoroughly up to date. In fact, Kenwood specifically chose the Amarok to feature in its most recent marketing campaign (see video above), further cementing this vehicle’s coolness and broad appeal.
The end is in sight, maybe…
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Kate is far from finished with this particular project, however, with plans afoot to add even more unique touches to the interior with the help of Hawkes Automotive, as well as more audio work, a sun hood for the windscreen and maybe even an engine swap a bit further down the line.
Mind over matter
By keeping nothing but a strong mind in the lead-up to purchasing it and throughout its entire build, Kate has proven with her stunning Amarok that you really can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. The car itself also stands as living proof that growing up and starting a family doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it can be the most fun you’ve ever had…
Tech Spec: Modified Volkswagen Amarok
Engine & Transmission:
2.0-litre BiTDI turbodiesel engine, K&N panel filter, side-exit exhaust with straight-pipe or divert- to-silencer valve, ECU remap (220bhp), six-speed manual gearbox
8×17” Black Rhino Calico monoblock off-road alloy wheels in matte black, 285/70/17 Cooper Discover STT Pro off-road tyres, matching spare wheel/tyre mounted behind cab, staggered wheel spacers, suspension lift kit (50mm front, 25mm rear), factory disc brakes, custom diff drop
Copper Orange Metallic body, bonnet and window wind deflectors, factory roof-mounted light bar, aftermarket lower grille-mounted light bar, custom metal side steps with water jet-cut ‘AMAROK’ moniker, custom over-bed spare wheel rack, roller shutter on bed, custom Mk1 Caddy embossed tailgate conversion with smoothed badge/handle, all-black front grille, custom 3D printed side repeater guards with embossed ‘Canyon’ logo, smoked directional indicators, rear light guards, textured pillar wrap, custom rear lights, tinted windows all-round, tow bar
Heated Recaro CS reclining bucket seats (retrimmed in the Canyon limited-edition fabric and with hard backs colour-coded to the exterior), colour-coded vent surrounds, custom trimmed armrest, orange-piped seatbelts and steering wheel stitching, custom Cornish Rattler gear knob, OEM-sourced ‘Amarok’ door shut trims, custom matching miniature Amarok model, colour-coded ‘Canyon’ baseball bat and custom window hanger, Kenwood head unit and reversing camera
With thanks to Performance VW Magazine. Words: Sam Preston Photos: Nick Williams