After years spent languishing in farmyards and garages, Daniel Beckwith’s modified Mk3 VW Golf GTi finally made its show debut at Ultimate Dubs. We were there as he unwrapped his gift to the scene…
There are few modifying scenes quite as competitive as the VAG crew. Certain touchpoints through the show calendar ensure that everyone’s constantly clamouring for a fresh look to shock and amaze; you’ve got to roll into Ultimate Dubs with a new set of rims or a flash new colour, then change it all up for Wörthersee, and by the time Players rolls around at the end of the season the car will be unrecognisable from how it was just a few short months ago. For this reason, you find a lot of people battering their credit cards again and again, money being seemingly no object in the pursuit of likes and shares.
But for some people, it’s more personal. People like Daniel Beckwith, who have come from a household passionate about cars, whose VAG builds are based on cars that have been with them for years and years. These people aren’t scene butterflies or fashionistas, they’re in it for the love. The Mk3 Golf GTi you see here hasn’t simply been snapped up because the Mk3 is on-trend right now; it’s been sitting in the wings for years, biding its time and waiting for its moment to shine.
“It’s all my dad’s fault really,” Daniel laughs. “He was a mechanic when I was young, working for Land Rover and being into off-road stuff as well as the classics – I was always with him on road trips and going to shows, and my passion grew from there.”
When he turned seventeen, he got himself a Rover 400 as a first car, and proceeded to do what every burgeoning petrolhead does: fill it with massive speakers. “The first thing I did was drive down to Car Audio Security – they had a sale on,” Daniel grins. “I got a new sub, amp and head unit, plus obviously a load of stickers…”
Stickers add horsepower when you’re a teenager, everyone knows that, but unfortunately it won’t save your cambelt from snapping and sending all the valves bouncing around the head, which is what happened next. A serendipitous occurrence, however, as it then led to Daniel buying his first Mk3 Golf – a 1.4, which inevitably also received the requisite stickers as well as being lowered. And it was then that things started to snowball.
Fate decided to roll the dice at this point, and it came up double-sixes for Daniel: his dad was working for Audi by this time, and a Mk3 Golf GTI 16v came in as part-exchange. It had received a respray in the recent past and was running alluringly low along with having a few external upgrades, and unbeknownst to Daniel, his dad bought the GTI for him as an eighteenth birthday present! How awesome is that?
Totally awesome, that’s how… but not quite the dream scenario you might imagine, as it’s not all that easy for an eighteen year-old to insure something with a GTI badge. Indeed, after running the numbers and losing heart somewhat, Daniel was forced to park the car up on the family farm and, until it could become insurable, swap some of the pretty bits onto his little 1.4.
Time has a habit of whooshing past while you’re busy getting on with life, and it was a full four years before the GTI found its way off the farm and into his garage. By this point, the 1.4 Golf was long gone and a few other VAG motors had made an appearance; around this time, Daniel decided he fancied something a bit more grown-up and got himself a Bora PD150 to play with.
“I spent a lot of time modifying the Bora with air suspension that I made, and I bought in parts on low money, while the Golf sat there in the garage,” he recalls. “A friend of mine had a set of Autostrada Modena wheels that he bought and refurbed, and when he then came to sell them he asked if I’d like them. I didn’t have the money at the time, but he said I could pay him monthly – and when I saw them, being three-piece splits that I knew I could never normally afford, I jumped at the chance!”
The Bora was moving on apace, but this quickly led to some necessary decision-making: “The time came that driving a modified car everyday was taking its toll,” he says, “so I then stripped all the parts off the Bora and put it back to standard, and that’s when the Golf started getting some love.”
The GTI had been waiting very patiently indeed, and was no doubt overjoyed to learn that its time had come. (Y’know, as overjoyed as a car can appear to be.) Daniel sold the air-ride system from the Bora, and reinvested the funds with a company called AirSystems UK who were able to offer custom struts for the Mk3 at a very reasonable price. He then called upon a good friend, Guy Davies, to fit out and install a show-quality boot build without breaking the bank. The Autostrada wheels were refurbed by Voodoo Motorsport, and the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were really starting to come together.
Well, sort of. If you lay a car up for seven years it’s going to need a bit of remedial work to get it on the road, no matter how good it was when you parked it up. So the to-do list started growing by the day – but Daniel’s a practical and methodical sort of chap, so he didn’t see problems here, only solutions. Sleeves were rolled up, and the work commenced without delay.
“Various parts started failing, as you’d expect,” he remembers with a slight wince, “and when the winter of 2017 came I decided that I wanted to go all out on the car – not just fix it up, but really do it properly.”
With the various niggles remedied, the first order of business was to source a full Safety Devices rollcage and some sport seats, and as the project was gaining momentum Daniel decided that he wanted to get it wrapped. A big visual change like that can really spur you on.
“My friend Rikki at Thirteen Media said he would do it for me, so I got a lovely purple-black flip wrap,” he says. “I then bought loads of new parts including the splitter, ducts, spoiler and sideskirts, trying to go for a kind of stance/race car look, and in February I dropped it back to Rikki to have everything wrapped. But there were a few problems, the wrap kept ripping and it wasn’t working out as well as we’d hoped, so we talked about getting a whole new colour; it turned into a last-minute dash to get the car done for its Ultimate Dubs deadline, and I decided to go stupid and get it done in bright orange!”
It’s certainly one way to stand out, right? The inevitable Tango/ginger/carrot gags flowed freely, and the car was finished on the Friday night before the show, right down to the wire. And that’s where we caught up with Daniel, his Golf more than speaking for itself, and his own story too intriguing to ignore. See, you don’t need to throw a whole load of money at a project to turn it into a feature car – that’s one way to go and it often delivers stellar results, but the path of passion, timeworn respect, and mates mucking in together is a thoroughly respectable route to the same outcome.
“The reactions I got from the car were outstanding,” he beams. “I never thought it would happen! I got inside a car show for the first time ever, and photos started flooding in… I finally got the car to the stage I dreamed of back when I was eighteen.”
Don’t go thinking Daniel’s resting on his laurels though – he’s planning an engine swap, and yet another colour change, a revamped interior and all sorts. After all these years with the Golf, he’s still just getting started…
TECH SPEC VW MK3 GOLF GTI
Mk3 GTI with GTI kit removed, wrapped in KPMF Orange by Thirteen Media, smoothed tailgate with Cult Society plinth, GT Tuning rear spoiler, replica Abt sideskirts, Rieger front splitter, upper and lower front air ducts, rare black headlights and taillights
2.0-litre 16v ABF, uprated cams and induction, Style Dynamics decat stainless exhaust system with twin tails
8.75×17” (front) and 9.75×17” (rear) Autostrada Modena three-piece wheels, AirSystems UK front and rear bags with AccuAir custom 2-way management – boot build by Guy Davies
Safety Devices rollcage – painted Velvet Purple, reclining sport seats, Vertex steering wheel with snap-off boss
“I’d like to give thanks to all my close friends for listening to me go on about how I hate the car and want to sell it, my mum and dad for putting up with my stress with it, Guy Davies for the air, Rikki at Thirteen Media for wrapping it and helping me get it finished, and Style Dynamics for the new exhaust system.”
Words Dan Bevis Photos Jules Truss