Starting with just a (Kamei) bodykit isn’t the usual modifying route. But it hasn’t done James from Auto Finesse any harm…
The 1980s. The time of leg warmers, leotards and leggings, as well as the introduction of the Volkswagen Mk2. So what better shoot could there be than what you see sprawled across these pages now?!
This particular modified Mk2 Golf is pretty hard to explain without pictures, due to its off-the-wall styling combined with motorsport accents. This mash up is the brainchild of the team over at car cleaning product company Auto Finesse (AF).
If you’ve been to any car shows this year, you’ve probably already seen the Auto Finesse stand and possibly already seen this exact car. Not only do they run a successful global business producing car care products, the car-obsessed team regularly take on ridiculous projects such as this one. And they always come up with the goods!
Head honcho James is no stranger to having cars featured here in Fast Car magazine, with the Volkswagen Caddy also gracing our pages. When you’re into cars and modifying them, the Volkswagen scene in particular is one of the biggest in the UK, so it’s not surprising the Auto Finesse fleet has been quite Dub dominant with its fleet.
“The Mk2 is one of those cars that never gets old. But on the same token, it’s been done, done and done again,” James told Fast Car. “We try and do something different whenever we modify anything, no matter what it is. But it gets more difficult with popular models such as this one.
“It’s funny because we never planned to do a Mk2. It’s a long story, too long for this feature, but we ended up acquiring the kit from a mate over in Belgium and, of course, we then had to find a decent Mk2 to fit it to,” James added.
Auto Finesse are renowned for turning things around quickly. This Mk2 was completed only a few hours prior to the 2016 Edition 38 show, taking just three weeks in total to do. Having known James a while now, it’s safe to say he’s not afraid of trying new things and the more radical the idea, the harder he gets. Er, so to speak!
It’s the Kamei kit that started it all off. Starting out as just a kit is probably the opposite way to how most builds come about. Often as modifiers, we’ll choose a particular manufacturer or model and then decide from there what we want to do with it. It’s like choosing an outfit. You tend to have a key piece (often the biggest item) and you then build up around it. James happened across the kit as his key piece. Though not the traditional way of doing it, it’s clearly worked!
“Over at the DUMPd show in Belgium – one of the best European shows I’ve been to – one of our Belgium friends asked if we fancied a new old stock Kamei X1 for a Mk2. Still boxed, with everything included. It was just too good and offer to pass up!
“It was as though someone bought it with the intention of fitting it, but never did. It had clearly been stored really well, too, because it was in perfect condition. We had our BBS car with us, so I reckon he assumed we’d just change that up, but it didn’t go that way.
“The BBS car was one of our favourites and we thought it’d be cool to build a sort of sister car to it,” James said. The guy James bought the kit off had every intention of using it himself, but ended up heading down the air-cooled route as opposed to the water- cooled route of the Mk2. “Knowing I’d do the kit justice, he sold it to me,” smiles James.
We know, we know, bodykits. You either love ’em or hate ’em. Ever since the noughties, they seem to have dropped off people’s radars, with favour airing toward the wide arch look. Bodykits have always been an ’80s/’90s thing, but they’re slowly coming back, thanks to the Auto Finesse crew. And it’s a proper kit, unlike some we’ve seen over the years.
Founded by Karl Meier, Kamei was first famed for producing a ‘horizontal stabiliser’ or ‘chin spoiler’ – the first spoiler in car history – which he presented at the Geneva motor show back in 1952. Its X1 kit came later, but runs off the same principle of aiding aerodynamics. It was shaped with the help of a wind tunnel, designed to aid air flow over the Mk2. “It’s a kit that’s not really been done on the scene and, naturally, I just had to get involved,” James added.
Timing is everything so they say and, upon delivery of the new kit, James got wind of some freshly rebuilt Ronal Racing wheels from tuning and design specialists Racingteam Hofmann, in Germany.
Wheels and kit sorted, it was time to sort the body shell. “We really did get lucky with parts being available at the right time. But I’d say the key with any build is getting a clean shell. If you have a clean base shell to work with, it shouldn’t be too much of a money pit. Also key with our builds is keeping an eye out for unconventional parts,” James said.
Talking about the shell. Now that James and the guys had the kit and the wheels, they needed to find the shell. One of the AF guys found a clean rolling shell, freshly painted in Miami Vice white, coming complete with a number of powder-coated chassis parts. “When we got it, though, the paint really wasn’t all that great, hence the addition of the wrap,” James told us.
As it was just the shell, there was still the interior and engine to find – all this three weeks before the Edition 38 show James planned to reveal the car at. Not only that, lows were a must. We’re pretty sure Kamei hadn’t even considered air ride when it produced the kit, but there was a fair bit of work involved to get the Plush-supplied Air Lift kit fitted and the Mk2 laying frame. If you were to look at the car on a ramp, you’d see that there’s no plastic to catch on, so it really can be driven hard. Now, whoever said low and fast can’t work?!
James has a bit of a problem when it comes to engines. He’s a hoarder and, in this case, it’s a handy problem to have. Lying around he had a 1.8-litre 20-valve turbo unit, which was soon sitting pretty in the smoothed engine bay! As it happened, this particular unit had already received a full rebuild, coming complete with stronger internal components. It wasn’t enough to just fi t it as it came, though. James added a BorgWarner EFR turbo unit, with cast manifold and T25 flange, complete with DTA management re-map, and all mated to a Mk3 Golf TDI five-speed transmission with a Quaife limited-slip differential. There’s also a VR6 clutch and flywheel, Wossner forged pistons, integrated rods, high-flow injectors and modified intake. With a standard bhp of 150, it’s now running a massive 380bhp.
“It’s not even as fast as it’ll technically go. We can get more power out of the unit and turbo. But it’s scary enough as it is to drive – it definitely keeps you on edge,” James told us. A three-inch downpipe exhaust system from Track Slag, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was also added.
With the engine gear all up and running, there were a number of exterior touches done to complete the build, including a Voomeran Cup rear spoiler, with carbon-wrapped blade and black end plates, and DTM mirrors. The Ronal Racing wheels (16-inch, et38, 8j up front and 8.5j out back) came with staggered fitment, with centre-lock conversion and lightweight magnesium centres, all lovingly wrapped in 185/40 Falken ZE912 rubber.
Plush sorted the air ride; 3p performance struts and management, with pressure sensors. Finishing off the exterior are a set of G60 brakes, with Goodridge hoses and an in-house designed vinyl wrap (fitted by IdentityWraps, in Kent).
“It’s kind of handy having the wrap. We have tip top paint with our Caddy, bus and so on, but having the wrap allows us to showcase how our products work on a different kind of surface,” James added. You’ll be pleased to know the inside wasn’t neglected, either. A set of Bride Low Max bucket seats were fitted along with a CAE gear shifter, Nardi wheel, aluminium pedal box, and flocked dash and headlining.
AF was born from James’s 12 years of detailing experience and it’s this experience that really translates to the products. He knows exactly what’s required from each bit of kit and it’s the same with the builds. He builds for the love of it as well as to gain the understanding of his customer base. Some brands just call in brand ambassadors to represent and be present on their stands, but AF like to be more involved than that. The cars are real conversation starters at any show and the intrigue translates in their huge social media following. Having picked up third-best Mk2 at the Edition 38 show, this build is definitely a job well done.
Words Danielle Bagnall Photos Aron Vickers
TECH SPEC: MK2 GOLF
Kamei X1 body kit; DTM mirrors; Voomeran carbon wrapped Cup spoiler with carbon-wrapped blade and black end plates.
1.8-litre 20v turbo AGU unit; Wossner forged pistons, integrated rods, high-fl ow injectors and modified intake; custom 3in downpipe exhaust system from Track Slag; Mk3 Golf TDI five-speed transmission painted black; Quaife limited-slip differential; VR6 clutch and fl ywheel; BorgWarner EFR Turbo, with T25 fl ange.
16-inch all round Ronal Racing three-piece magnesium split wheels (8j front / 8.5j rear) with centre-lock conversion; wrapped in 185/40 Falken ZE912 rubber; Air Lift Performance 3P struts; G60 brakes with Goodridge hoses.
Bride Low Max seats; stripped out rear; Securon harnesses; CAE gear shifter; Carbon fi bre door cards; flocked dashboard, pillars and headliner; rear strut brace; floor-mounted hydraulic aluminium pedal box; Nardi Deep Corn steering wheel; gauges for boost, oil and water.
Spanner man Matt Waldock; Identity Wraps; Plush; Track Slag; Turbo Dynamics; Voomeran; VW Heritage.