There’s a lot more to Pete Matthews’ modified Audi TT than a set of rims and a drop. Although that is a very good place to start…
The BBS RS is so revered and sought-after in the modern show scene, it’s attained full-on legend status. While wheel fashions ebb and flow, the RS is a perennial constant; for some it’s nothing short of a way of life. When Baumgartner Brand Schiltach produced their first three-piece wheel for dealer car applications back in 1983, the RS retailed as a £1,500+ option on new cars, which was a shit-ton of money back in the early-’80s.
But that option box kept getting ticked, this wheel design was like some kind of drug. It wasn’t just VWs and BMWs that you found them on either: Nissan, Chevrolet, Mazda, buyers of all brands were clamouring for the BBS RS. And now, with thirty-five years of desire under its belt, this unparalleled split-rim is on the wishlist of scene kids and race car builders alike across the globe.
Pete Matthews is a man who’s firmly signed up to this retro rim-oriented obsession. “My car history started with a Mk2 Jetta, which was mint green and running a set of BBS RS,” he explains. “Then I had a baby blue MX-5, painted by myself, and again that had BBS RS wheels.” That car was featured in these very pages many moons ago, and Pete’s follow-up act was a Candy Red B5 Audi S4 (again, featured here at some point back in the swirling mists of time), and you’ll never guess which wheels that was rolling on…
After a brief dalliance with a Nissan 350GT – you know, that Skyline that’s not actually a Skyline – Pete found himself taking ownership of a Mk1 Audi TT; this very one, in fact – a 3.2 Quattro with DSG, which is a pretty damn good spec right out of the box. It was never destined to remain stock of course, and the decision on wheels will come as no surprise to you! Having imported the car into the UK from Ireland (Pete lives in Northern Ireland), he set about assessing his options for the totally stock TT, and it was a matter of milliseconds before he was on the phone ordering a Slam Series airbag setup from Air Lift.
“I had the BBS RS from the previous S4, and I decided they needed to be bigger so ordered 3-inch dishes for them, not thinking these would even fit the car,” says Pete. “As soon as the dishes arrived I bolted one together and, well… they didn’t fit at all! This is why the car ended up being wide-arched…”
Yes, you’d probably spotted just how juicy that Audi rump has become, right? And Pete’s execution of the work is really interesting, in the modern context of the scene’s obsession with the likes of Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk and Clinched and what-have-you. This is no bolt-on wide-arch kit, but something altogether smarter. What’s been done here is to take the stock arches and cut them out, welding in fillet sections before reattaching them, so that the standard arches sit a full two inches further out apiece. Clever, isn’t it?
The TT was then painted mint green and the RSs finished in pearl white, which is how Pete ran the car for about a year before changing up the wheel specs with some 24-carat gold centres. At the tail end of last year Pete was getting busy with some louvre fabrication, deleting the rear spoiler and replacing it with some custom slits while also adding a USDM-spec bumper below, and it was at this point that we started talking to Pete about a shoot.
However, before we could get the wide-arched, mint green stunner in front of the lens, a few logistical hurdles jumped in the way, and then before we knew it the TT wasn’t green any more! “Shortly after Dubshed I took the head staggers and decided to paint it Candy Red,” he laughs. And we have to say, the idea was a masterstroke – it’s turned the car from something quirky that’s trying to catch your eye like a kid on blue Smarties into something altogether classier, particularly when you also consider what’s going on in the interior.
“All the work on the car has been carried out by me and my business, Paintworkz Ltd, apart from the interior retrim,” says Pete. “That was done by Optimus Automotive Trimmers, who I reckon are among the best in the UK.” The insides have enjoyed a full retrim in buttery-soft House of Weir brown nappa leather with white stitching, and you’ll find charcoal suede covering the seat backs, centre console and lower dash. Even the Nardi wheel is fashioned from rich mahogany – this TT has been elevated from perky road-racer to uber-premium supercoupe, and the levels of swank are fully off the charts.
Returning to the outside, you’ll find all sorts of unique details that really showcase Pete and Paintworkz’ skills. As if the custom wide-arch conversion and sumptuous paintwork weren’t enough, you’ll also spot that the side repeaters have been deleted and replaced with louvres to echo those on the tailgate, the front bumper has been artfully smoothed, and the overall profile is reminiscent of a TT that’s been drawn by a Manga cartoonist – all the recognisable touchpoints are there, but everything’s been slightly exaggerated. It really is a superbly clever set of decisions that have been made here.
“It sits a lot lower than most bagged TTs too,” Pete points out. “It’s got a custom notched subframe which gives an extra inch of drop, and it also has 20mm engine raisers, supplied by Creation Motorsport, which means that it’s extra hard to sumo the car!” The air controller has been tastefully integrated into the roof lining (well, with a posh interior like that you can’t just leave things lying around the place, can you?) and when Pete airs the Audi out, those sparkling wheels sit so perfectly in the custom-fabricated arches it’s almost too good to be true.
Unsurprisingly, people’s reactions to this dazzling build tend to be universally positive. “Girls loved it when it was mint green,” he says, “and then when they found out a fat ginger bloke drove it they always had this weird look of ‘Why?’! When it went red a few people said I’d made a mistake, but I think it looks better than ever; the green made sense at the time, but I never really loved the car that colour and always regretted selling my red S4 – so basically I just made it again but in smaller form!”
As for the future of the TT, Pete reveals that he’s now sold the car on to a mate; he readily admits that he enjoys the process of building a project car more than the actual ownership, and we do meet a lot of people who share this view. However, it is telling that he owned this TT for over three years, which is longer than the average modifying butterfly. So what’s next? “An E46 M3,” he tells us. “I’ve already bagged it, and bolted on a set of rims.” Yeah, and we reckon we can guess which wheels he will have gone for this time…
TECH SPEC AUDI TT
Candy Red, stock arches widened by 2-inches all round, side repeaters deleted and replaced by custom louvres, front number plate recess smoothed, USDM rear bumper, bootlid spoiler deleted and replaced with custom louvres, chrome peep mirror
3.2-litre VR6, 20mm engine raisers, stainless exhaust system, 6-speed DSG
9.5×18-inch ET0 BBS RS wheels (custom-stepped from 17”), Air Lift Slam Series bags with V2 management, custom notched subframe
Full retrim in brown Bridge of Weir nappa leather with white stitching, fixed-back buckets with backs trimmed in charcoal suede, dash bottom and centre console trimmed in charcoal suede, Nardi Deep Corn mahogany steering wheel, air controller custom-fitted into roof lining