Adding branding from a certain soft drink to the bodywork of this SEAT Leon has transformed it from a respectable show car to an unforgettable machine that’s receiving love from all corners of the globe. And it’s also making us a bit thirsty…
We’re always being told that money doesn’t necessarily buy us happiness. And while we’ll let you decide just how applicable that testament is to your own life, we will offer this small nugget of wisdom: an unlimited budget certainly doesn’t guarantee that you’ll walk away with an award at a car show.
Because while it goes without saying that a wallet-busting show car build is likely to be a pretty impressive sight to behold, it’s thankfully much more about the creativity and thought processes a particular owner goes through that determines if you’ve already forgotten about their pride and joy or not as you’re rolling home from a show.
This phenomenon is something that both James Holland (the young man behind development of this rather eye-catching SEAT Leon here) and Dan Whitfield (now-owner of the car) have both experienced after spending time with this rather orange creation you see before you. With all of its show-friendly mods allowing it to gain moderate interest at the events it attended, it wasn’t until James applied one crucial alteration that the popularity escalated tenfold. And best of all, it didn’t break the bank in the process…
The story begins when sign writer and vehicle wrapper James picked up this second-gen Spanish hatch a couple of years ago. It may have been powered by a diesel lump, but it did sport that funky orange paint job from the factory, and also came in the desirable FR spec which meant a lot of the options boxes were ticked when it came to both exterior and interior goodies.
“It was one of those things where I said I wouldn’t modify it, but soon changed my mind after seeing slammed Leons online,” James explains how his first foray into VAG ownership soon opened up many modification doors to him that he just couldn’t resist walking through. Based on his day job, it’s somewhat unsurprising to learn that this began by wrapping some of the car’s shinier bits to a much stealthier gloss black hue to get the ball rolling.
Content with some small personal touches, James left it there for a few months, enjoying the way the premium hatchback performed his daily driver duties in style. That is until his mate Tom put up an air suspension kit for sale just before the fabled Ultimate Dubs show… “We both set out to get the kit fitted to my car over a couple of weekends,” James explains. “At some points we ended up doing the wiring in a multi-storey carpark out of the rain; we had all the seats out in the carpark and the looks we got were hilarious!”
Eventually taking refuge in the much more accommodating workshops at his work to finish off the job, the lads were able to get the adjustable V2 suspension kit on and working at 2am the night before the show, fuelled with pizza and soft drinks, naturally. By this stage, James had also gone through his fair share of striking alloy wheels, which made the whole thing look the mutt’s nuts when it was aired out at the prestigious indoor event the next day.
Next up came more subtly brilliant touches like the Triple R Composites splitters – slithers of gloss black on both the front and rear that really sharpen up the aesthetic – as well as those supremely sumptuous Raemco carbon fibre buckets which make the cockpit feel no less than a million dollars when sitting up front, to help put this car on the map more than ever before. But there was still something missing in James’ eyes, who wanted to find a way to take the SEAT’s status to the next level entirely.
“When we were fitting the suspension I wanted to wrap the air tank in a certain style,” he remembers, keen to utilise the materials and knowledge that he possessed from his day job once more. “I was going to go with the Irn-Bru logos but I didn’t really like the drink, so I settled on Fanta, with a designer at work making mock-ups of the logo on the side of the car at the same time.”
You can probably guess what happened next, as James ordered those huge stickers which would dominate the side of the León and set off its orange flanks so brilliantly when they were eventually slapped on. It’s amazing just how much of an impact this small, inexpensive upgrade has on the car, and acts as extremely effective evidence that memorable car builds aren’t all about money.
James settled on some seriously funky Radi8 turbofan-style rims set off in a brushed gold tone to prop up each corner once the Fanta livery was fitted – a bold choice that only makes the whole thing stick in your head that little bit longer! These are shod in sticky Nankang rubber which helps to transmit the power from that lightly breathed-on oil burning motor up front.
But this isn’t where this tale ends, with James soon selling up his beloved hatch to its current owner, electrician Dan, who’s thankfully kept the Fanta dream alive and offers further evidence of just how much of an impact this awesome creation now has on the general public.
Already the proud owner of a sportier Cupra version of this particular shape Leon, Dan was interested in this orange beast to help him perform his day-to-day tasks in a more MPG-friendly fashion. Reflecting James’ experiences of receiving a whole lot of love wherever he goes, the car created such an impression on him that it moved him to do something pretty drastic indeed… “When my son was born me and my partner Lisa were thinking of names, and seeing as we both love Leons we thought ‘can we name him after our cars?’ so we did!” There’s no guessing what little Leon’s favourite car will be when he’s grown up, then…
It’s not the fastest, loudest or most expensive car that’s graced these pages by a long margin, but thanks to some inspirational touches that are totally unique to this one machine, it’s now up there with the coolest rides currently on the scene. Just remember that next time you think you can’t afford to build a shop stopper!
TECH SPEC: SEAT LEON FR TDI
Factory FR body kit; BTCC-spec colour-coded side skirts; gloss black Triple R Composites front splitter and rear diffuser; Team HEKO wind deflectors; Fanta livery; sponsor decals.
2.0-litre PD170 turbodiesel engine; Honda S2000 air filter; short shifter gear upgrade.
8.5x19in Radi8 R8T12 monoblock alloy wheels in brushed gold; 215/35/19 Nankang tyres; Air Lift Performance Slam Series air suspension system with Slam XL rear shocks and V2 management; factory brakes with Brembo discs and pads.
Raemco carbon fibre fixed back bucket seats; Alcantara and gloss black trim all-round.
Dan: I’d like to thank James Holland for selling me the car and Michael Devonshire for taking me to collect the car from Stoke which is a four-hour round trip that ended up taking 10 hours…!
James: I’d like to thank Tom grand for selling and helping to fit the air suspension with me, Tom Hamilton and Warren Plimmer, Leight from Europl8 in Stoke for the plates and show plates.
Words Tom Preston Photos Chris Wallbank