Starting off by following the super-clean styling movement his home country of Belgium is renowned for, Brendan’s modified Audi TT then took an Oriental twist with some cutting-edge, JDM-inspired additions that make sure you won’t forget it in a hurry…
It’s funny how certain road laws around the globe can have a have a huge effect on the styles of car modifications that are favoured in that particular area. Because it seems that no matter how strict the policies are, our incredible community will always find ways around the problem.
Back in Belgium in the early Noughties, the government was so strict on people tweaking with their rides that car fans were forced to conceive their very own style to stay under the radar whilst adding personal touches to their motors. Known as the ‘cleaned’ movement, it revolved around smoothing down the standard body panels in favour of eye-catching, lairy body kits, spawning the restrained ‘Euro’ look we’ve all come to know and love since as a result.
You’ve gotta take your hats off to these mavericks for creating what has become such a renowned worldwide style that lives on to this very day. And with the recent addition of the instant, Insta-happy social media sphere that’s taken over our lives, we’ve noticed a whole load of other styles from around the world slowly being laced in to the latest super-clean builds to keep it fresh after all these years.
Belgian Brendan Dolo’s modified Audi TT here is living proof of this evolution in process. At first glance he’s stuck to that iconic, smooth aesthetic that’s proven so popular where he grew up, but take a closer look at this curvy coupé and you’ll begin to notice styles from plenty of other corners of the world creeping into the mix.
The heavy machinery mechanic isn’t shy of ‘testing the limits’ of his country’s tight road regulations, with the majority of his car back-catalogue receiving an equally as impressive string of upgrades as his current TT here. “I had a modified Saxo, then a modified Polo, and then a 205 Rallye for racing,” Brendan reveals, his broad love of motors beginning to shine through. “My last car was a Mk6 Golf that I had for three years and went through 10 different sets of alloys with…”
Thinking he’d probably done all that he possibly could with the Golf, Brendan began looking for a new project back in 2015. A trip to Germany saw him stumble upon the perfect replacement, too: this Mk1 Audi TT which was asking for some minor cosmetic work that would promise to make a fantastic base for his big ideas.
Getting the 1.8 turbo-powered sports car back home, Brendan was pretty set on getting cracking straight away. “I picked it up in June, and had ordered air suspension by July!” he grins.
The system of choice was Air Lift’s ‘Slam Series’; a hassle-free way of providing adjustable ride height (a must for modified cars in Belgium which aren’t technically meant to be any lower than standard), incorporating OEM-replacement struts that make it easy to switch back to standard components for the likes of the car’s annual inspection.
With some tasty height presets dialled in to the AutoPilot management, Brendan’s focus shifted to that dodgy front wing that needed some attention. “I replaced the damaged wing and got the front bumper smoothed over at the same time,” he reveals, with the car no longer rocking that ugly number plate recess and looking a million times smoother as a result. See what we mean when we say it’s all about the subtle touches?
You’re probably already aware that Brendan’s a bit of a connoisseur of the old wheels based on what we’ve heard about his previous exploits, so you won’t be too surprised to hear that a tasty set of rims was next on his to-do list. Finding a quartet of BBS RS2s that were promptly drilled and repainted with white faces by a good pal, this was as good a way as any to signify the end of another show season, with a nice complete show car already on his hands after just a few months in his possession.
Over the winter, the wheel craze continued, with the likes of RH ZW3 and OZ Futura splits all making their way onto the corners of Brendan’s ride at one point or another. Until he stumbled upon a set of rims that he’d always dreamt of… “I found these Autostradas,” he recalls. “I absolutely love these wheels so it was a great opportunity for me to own a set…”
The Japanese-made Monzas mimic the painfully Nineties design found on Lamborghini Diablos, with our man here delighted to find a rare set with an 18-inch diameter.
With the first year of ownership coming to a climactic end, things were put on the back burner for 2016 as Brendan lived out his quad bike-racing exploits (sounds like he’s living the dream!) “It all came together quite quickly for Ultimate Dubs at the start of 2017, though,” he explains, picking up the story 12 months down the line where plans were once again in full swing.
Planning to head over to the UK for the March event left him with a small window to perform the final few touches. These included the installation of a multi-point roll cage by local garage MaqRacing – finished up to match the body colour which is bang-on-trend right now, as well as giving his beloved wheels the once-over with new staggered barrels and a lick of white paint on the gorgeous faces.
Following the JDM theme these wheels began, Brendan went against the grain with his choice of seats, opting for some Bride fixed-back offerings that are normally reserved to crazy Japanese drift and track cars. “People ask me why I’ve gone for JDM seats, but the simple answer is I love them!” he proudly states. And we can see why – that legendary gradient-effect fabric in the middle panels never fails to look the business no matter what car it’s sat in!
With the rears sprayed up to match the body and cage, the interior was beginning to look just as epic as the outside. To finish it off, Brendan stopped by at Huddersfield-based Bag House Customs on the way to the show, who put together that tasty hard line boot install which beautifully sets off the caged-up rear, before his finished work of art finally saw its grand debut.
It’s amazing what a few subtle tweaks can do to the aesthetic of a vehicle. Brendan’s clearly a master at the clean, less-is-more aesthetic his country is so famous for, with his TT being completely transformed with just a few choice adjustments. “I absolutely love this car! It’s different; not like everyone else’s…” Our gleeful owner confesses. Using it as a daily up until a few months ago, it’s sounds like a hoot to drive too with its boosted motor receiving some breathing upgrades and a remap making it good for around 210bhp.
“People ask me why I put Jap parts on it, but I just really like them,” he continues. You’re not the only one Brendan! Things are about to change though, as he’s set to embark on new adventures on British soil with his girlfriend Jemima (who owns a particular VW Polo herself which you might recognise…), which may signify a new vehicle for him to focus on. Rest assured, at the rate he works at, this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing from young Brendan…
TECH SPEC: AUDI TT
Front bumper smoothed; Xenon headlight conversion.
1.8-litre 20V turbocharged engine; BMC carbon fibre air intake; red silicone hoses; 210bhp remap.
Five-speed manual gearbox.
8.5x18in (front) and 9.5x18in (rear) Autostrada Monza three-piece split rims with white faces and ceramic polished lips; Air Lift Performance AutoPilot V2 Slam Series air suspension setup; OEM brakes.
Bride fixed-back bucket seats; full roll cage; carbon fibre/Alcantara steering wheel re-trim; Bose sound system; hard line boot install.
Bag House Customs; MaqRacing; HXRNY; my girlfriend Jemima for all her help and support.
Words Sam Preston Photos Chris Wallbank