We check out Brendan’s modified Audi TT RS…
Owning a car these days can feel like pushing water uphill. You’re stymied at every step by things that just don’t want you to succeed. Premium unleaded is eyewateringly expensive, insurance costs are ever-rising thanks to the huge number of uninsured ass-clowns driving about, the roads are riddled with potholes big enough to set up a tent in, and as if all of that weren’t enough you get snooty berks in Priuses looking down their noses at you and judging you for your gas-guzzling toy, regardless of the fact that their Prius really isn’t that green. You can’t win. And all we have to look forward to is a future of autonomous motoring in which the driver is eliminated from the equation entirely.
But don’t be too downhearted. If you think things are bad here in Blighty, you should try living in Belgium. Not only do their strict regulations make it essentially impossible to legally modify your ride, but their car tax is gobsmacking. In the UK, your annual car tax bill for a Mk2 Audi TTS would be £250. In Belgium? More like €2,500. Astonishing, right?
The owner of this solar-hued TTS, however, has an altogether sunnier outlook. Hailing from a little village named Coutisse, way out in the verdant tranquillity of the Belgian countryside, he decided that he’d had enough of being relentlessly punished for trying to build the car he wanted to build, so he harnessed his perennially sunshiney values and upped sticks for Britain.
It helped that a love interest already had roots in his new-found home; Jemima, who lives in West Yorkshire and works for Jaguar Land Rover, was karmically brought into Brendan’s life through a shared love of VAG life and a particular Austrian car show. Yep, this was a Wörthersee romance, and once Jemima’s bronze Polo met the red Mk1 TT Brendan had at the time, it was inevitable that their owners would form a bond.
A match made in heaven, for sure, and also a handy set of circumstances in which he could build up his dream Mk2 TT. “I wanted a car in Imola Yellow because I saw my best friend Steven painting a Bora this colour, and after that I knew that my next car had to be that shade,” says Brendan. “I was looking for a Mk2 TT, and as far as I’m aware it was only the TTS that came in Imola Yellow. After a couple of months of searching, Jemima found the car for sale on Auto Trader last July in a garage near Preston. It was standard and clean, with rear sensors, xenons, LEDs, black leather – perfect for me.”
The TTS is more than just a colour, of course. Even in stock form it’s a formidable machine: the 2.0-litre TFSI motor was heavily reworked from standard TT specs, with the head, block and fuelling system all modified to produce 268bhp. Quattro AWD was standard, as was Audi’s ‘Magnetic Ride’ suspension and two-stage sporty traction-control. It had huge brakes, and even a lap-timer right in the middle of the dash.
A pretty cool base for a project then, and Brendan’s plan was always to follow a program of evolution rather than revolution – the aim here was to augment and enhance the TTS, to make it the car it always should have been while also stirring in a few of his unique touches.
The fairytale ending required vaulting a few hurdles first, unfortunately. Always the way, isn’t it? “I bought a second-hand Air Lift Performance kit, which was sold as being in ‘good condition’,” Brendan recalls. “However, after cleaning and a thorough check of the kit, it was knackered! I had to change both top mounts as these literally crumbled on removal; both rear bags were warped and rubbed, and I had to weld a front strut because I received two left suspension struts rather than one left and one right. And finally the supposedly new 3P manifold was leaking terribly!”
An ignominious start indeed, and it did cause a certain amount of tension and stress. “Unfortunately the poor condition of the kit resulted in a traumatic experience for Jemima,” he continues. “As she was driving it home, the bag turned on the strut resulting in the wheel rubbing through the braided hose. This caused quite a problem as she needed to limp the car home, having to constantly raise the suspension, until the compressor got too hot and shut off. She had to do a final right-hand turn round a roundabout to get it home which meant damaging a wing and having to later get this repaired.”
We suffer for our art, and in a situation like this you have to look at it as an opportunity rather than a disaster, however hard that may seem. Laugh or cry. Brendan gritted his teeth, regrouped, and set about making the Imola sweetheart shimmer. With steely determination, he cracked on.
“At this time I was still living in Belgium, and still had my Mk1 TT,” he explains. “I planned to move to the UK to live with Jemima in November; in September, I sold my Mk1 and found the RS4 seats in Britain, and my wheels second-hand in Belgium. I finally moved to England at the end of October (we were too impatient to wait and changed the booking!), and in December I asked a company to do all my carbon fibre work. When it came to February, my friend Nick at ND Fabrications helped me and made a rollcage for me – it’s a beautiful job, I would recommend him if you need any welding work! I then received my carbon fibre parts and started a long week of work on the car to build it all up, finishing the car the night before its first show at Ultimate Dubs.”
It was a tricky few months for Brendan and Jemima, not least because it took him until February to find a job, but the focus on the TTS helped keep heart and soul together while their new life found its feet, and when they emerged blinking into the light at UD, the shiny yellow reward proved just how far this kind of passion and dedication goes. The car took home a top-25 award on its first time out – not bad given that it’s not a pure show car, it’s also a daily driver.
The aggressive look on those brilliantly weird Messer wheels is a full-on show-stopper, with the angriness further ramped up by the RS front grille, and it makes all the right noises too; while the TTS is mighty in stock form, Brendan took it to a mate in Belgium to have a Scorpion system custom-modded to help unleash the power from a fresh remap, meaning that he’s now rocking 315 very noisy horses. Everyday show car? Sure, and the interior’s all decked out to suit, with those comfy and supportive RS4 seats along with the pukka RS wheel and all of that fancy custom yellow carbon and Kevlar.
“People went crazy for the pops and bangs at Wörthersee,” he grins. “And the extra power’s given me ideas about doing some more engine work in the near future. I’m planning to change the wheels too – I love these Messers, but I’ve got a sponsorship deal with Radi8 USA now, so expect some more changes…”
One thing’s for sure: the UK is the place to build a car like this. Yes, Belgium has beautiful countryside, delicious chocolate and excellent beer, but they do like to punish the motorist… for all our potholes, expensive fuel and snooty hybrid drivers, we still love modified cars on this sceptre isle.
TECH SPEC Audi TT RS
Imola Yellow, RS front grille and honeycomb fog grilles
2.0-litre TFSI, exhaust system modified by Evolve Performance, Scorpion downpipe and decat, remapped to 315bhp & 310lb.ft
Custom 8.5×20” Messer ME03-3 wheels, 215/30 Nankang NS2 (front) and 225/30 Nankang NS20 (rear) tyres, Air Lift Performance suspension with 3P management
RS4 Recaro F1 seats in carbon fibre and yellow Kevlar, RS steering wheel in carbon fibre and yellow Kevlar, yellow ND Fabrication rollcage, full Alcantara-trimmed hardline air install – Air Lift tanks in carbon fibre and yellow Kevlar, Ground Zero sub and amp