When building a motorsport-inspired, race-look project there are certain base cars that just seem like obvious candidates to be modified, but a Skoda Octavia vRS Estate isn’t one…
We’re no stranger to motorsport inspired cars here. Over the years .we’ve featured everything from ultra-lightweight Mk2 Golf sprint cars, to super-trick, all-wheel-drive Audis with power outputs into the four-figure range. But there’s a pretty simple formula that almost everyone sticks to; no estates, and no Skodas. We say almost everyone, because apparently Andy Cowley didn’t get that memo.
The story of this modified Skoda Octavia vRS estate and its owner starts a fair few years ago, when the now 38-year-old was gifted a car by his godfather. Apparently, this guy was all kinds of awesome, as he decided that the then 16-year-old needed something a bit different for his first car, chucking him the keys to a 3.1 V6 powered Dutton Sierra kit car. Fair enough. Apparently it was a “big, ugly, boxy thing, which probably started my love of all things boxy wagon shaped. But it was very fast and did great rolling burnouts!” Unfortunately, it was far, far too unsafe for Andy’s first car, and he ended up with a Mk4 Escort 1.3, which was, as he describes it, “a rusty hand me down from my sister.”
As you’d expect from someone with something as ridiculous as the modified Skoda Octavia vRS you see here, it didn’t stay standard for very long. It quickly became an RS Turbo replica, with north of 200bhp in its final form a couple of years later. Alas, it didn’t last, and Andy blew his baby up, putting it in storage, where it still resides.
An appreciation for Fords
You see, deep down, Andy is a Ford boy. This whole German thing came about out of necessity more than anything else, when he was looking to pick up a cheap, simple to run daily. At the time, the boy from Birmingham was doing mobile bodywork repairs, and a decent estate that he could easily modify was required. With even simple things like coilovers necessitating a mortgage for anything bearing the Blue Oval, he turned to the Germans, and was initially looking for a nice, clean Mk4 Golf Variant. As it turned out, his mate had an early Octavia TDI wagon up for grabs, which was significantly cheaper than it’s VW cousin, and finished in a rather fetching purple colour. Fancy.
As with all these things, the whole “lows and wheels” plan very quickly became far more, and quicker than you can say “wait, no, this isn’t what I wanted at all” his bargain daily had become a full-on show car. On air, with an enormous chassis mounted wing and numerous subtle but impressive motorsport touches, it became a fairly well-known car on the scene. Until a white van man T-boned Andy on his way to work one day, destroying all his hard work in one fell swoop.
But disheartened he was not, and with a metaphorical boatload of parts sat in the workshop ready to fit, Andy decided to stick with the Octavia estate theme, but do what he should’ve done in the first place, picking himself up a lovely, bone stock vRS. And it stayed that way, for all of about 6 hours.
Andy ended up stripping both Octavias down on his dad’s brand-new drive, something we can imagine went down like a cup of cold sick. The distinctive vRS leather interior and numerous parts that were now surplus to requirement quickly found new homes, and the air, chassis mounted wing and a few other shiny bits found their way onto his newest steed.
Andy knew exactly what he wanted to achieve with this build, and that was a proper homage to the Touring Cars of his youth. “I wanted to build something as true to the look of the 90s Super Touring car era as possible. My dad took me to watch all the rounds at Donington Park back then. I loved the way Volvo brought along the 850 T5 estate and just upset the system. But then I really loved the mad aero and big wheels and tubbed arches of the true super tourers.” So, what was he to do? Could he achieve attributes of both, without it looking daft and breaking the bank? Well, obviously, yes, or we wouldn’t be here.
Creating the modified Skoda Octavia vRS estate
First up were the body panels. With no Super Touring-esque Octavia estate ever existing, he was working blind, in the hope that what was in his head would work on paper. The arches needed tubbing, obviously, and the panels stretching, without it looking ridiculous and fake. Oh, and it had to roll low on 19”s, just to make things more complicated. With the rear extensively modified and widened by more than 40mm, it was the turn of the front wings, which were heavily stretched to match the rears, with spacers being added for good measure. The finishing touch to keeping it looking somewhat close to factory was the inclusion of the factory swage lines on all the arches, which weren’t present on Super Tourers, meaning people scratch their head in confusion when trying to work out how the extra width has been added. Genius.
When it came to things like bumpers, Andy had thrown out the rule book and started from scratch. No one had ever done anything like this before, so he was on his own, but thanks to being something of a whiz when it comes to bodywork (it’s quite literally his job), he quickly came up with some sublime ways to achieve the look he really wanted. Take that front bumper. Looks like a factory Skoda item, right? Well, no, as you’ll have gathered by now, it’s far from it. The main bulk of it is the original vRS item, but those impressive swept up side vent areas are nabbed from a new Civic, with a few random bits donated by a random Hyundai.
The central intake was enlarged, the foglamp apertures blanked and a proper plywood (that’s how it’s done, trust me) splitter fitted, all smoothed in with some lovely fibreglass work.
Out the back of the modified Skoda Octavia vRS estate, the standard bumper was extended down by 2.5”, with an aluminium diffuser cut in, and the sides vented for good measure. The eagle eyed amongst you will notice the lack of exhaust, at the rear anyway, but if you look at the homemade side skirts, which were fashioned from something that Andy can’t remember, you’ll see the touring car style (there’s something of a theme here) side exit poking through, which necessitated a chunk of sill being removed and reshaped. He doesn’t do things by halves this lad.
There are a number of other subtle touches, such as the smoothed boot badge, removal of the third brake light, those DTM-style mirrors, which required completely bespoke mounts to fit properly, and the headlight vent, which he knocked up from a spare headlight he had kicking around. As you do. Perhaps most impressive of all the body mods, which were all done by Andy and mate Daz, is that bonnet. In his own words “I’d always wanted a show off style vanity bonnet, but I hate how people do it so rough, so I smoothed the skin back into the frame, which it gives a really clean edge all round.” It’s certainly effective.
Under the flashy bonnet he’s kept things remarkably sedate, perhaps surprisingly. The engine itself is still pretty much standard, with the original K03S still in place, albeit with the K04 style pipework in place. As with most race cars, Andy wanted it to be very much function over form, visually at least, and so what seems to be an entire year’s supply of matt black powder coat was liberally applied, with a number of parts polished to contrast. One thing he did want was a mahoosive motorsport inspired airbox, so mate Andy was left with the largest K&N filter he could get his hands on and told to crack on. The result is impressive, and flows some serious air to the 1.8T, thanks in no small part to the aforementioned headlight vent.
One of the most Marmite parts of the modified Skoda Octavia vRS estate build is the colour scheme. Contrary to widespread belief, the famous HKS livery didn’t just find itself on Skylines and the like when they played such a pivotal role in the Japanese Touring Car Championship. Oh no no. Because, when the Skyline was banned for wiping the floor with everyone else, it was the Europeans that the famous Japanese tuning house turned to, running both Cavaliers and Vectras.
In fact, Anthony Reid himself (if you don’t know, look him up) piloted a HKS Cavalier to victory, wearing a livery remarkably similar to this. Andy kept it as close to the original as possible, even going so far as recreating logos that didn’t exist anymore, with a few additions thrown in along the way. It all nearly went wrong when he was let down, but mate Russ stepped in at the 11th hour to save the day. Seems to be a common thread with this build that.
With the whole Super Touring vibe deciding the aesthetic for the build, finding the right wheels could make it or break it. What Andy really wanted were a set of legit Enkei 5-spoke centre locks, but with him not being a Middle Eastern Prince, they weren’t going to be an option, so he “settled” (we use the word in its loosest possible sense) for Fifteen52’s Chicanes, in 19×8.5” fitment all round.
One point of contention for many people is the rear setup, with many remarking that “turbofans don’t belong on the back.” Well, to silence the haters once and for all, they aren’t turbofans, they’re aero discs, and if it’s good enough for the ‘90s Super Touring teams, it’s good enough for Our Andy’s Octavia. He took a punt that a set of Rotiform examples would fit the Fifteen52’s centre lock-style system, and with a bit of fettling, they went on like the proverbial glove.
Modified Skoda Octavia vRS estate interior
Inside, as you’d expect, he went to town too, mixing touring car look with modern comfort. Literally every piece of plastic trim was sent off to be flocked, and whilst they were out, the car was sent “down south to a random guy who does oval racing.” He’s done a bob on job to be fair, and at least Andy knows that if he’s ever chased and rammed into a concrete wall by an angry man in a windowless Ford Granada, he’ll be safe!
The seats were a second-hand bargain, already finished in the perfect purple hue to complement the build, with TRS randomly coming up with the goods when it came to turquoise harnesses. Sometimes you just get lucky with these things. Cooler Worx were employed to produce the shifter, and a Momo 350 was sourced to complete the contact points, with it being as close to a JTCC wheel as he could find. With this being a show car, Andy was insistent on a proper audio build being present, but with a motorsport twist. So, as well as the usual subs, amps and air tank being on show, he went for a full-sized spare, boot mounted battery and tool kit on show.
And it’s touches like this that make this such a special build. The attention to detail is as good as we’ve ever seen. What to the untrained eye may seem like a mix of styles is actually all incredibly well thought out, with every little detail perfectly planned and executed. There literally isn’t a single part on this car that isn’t exactly as it should be. And that’s why, we hope, the next time you see this at a show, you take an extra long look at just how much work has gone into it. The fact that every part has been done by Andy and his mates just makes it all the sweeter.
Feature from Performance VW magazine. Words: Si McNally. Photos: Ollie Wildsmith.
Tech Spec: Modified Skoda Octavia vRS Estate
1.8T 20v AUQ with full black silicone hoses throughout, oversized turbo intake pipe, custom air box housing with large K&N filter, alloy radiator, large front mount intercooler, custom alloy coolant, washer fluid, and oil catch tanks, AGN cam cover conversion, BAM boost pipe layout conversion, Dahlbeck WRC style inlet manifold, polished charge pipe, polished throttle body and fuel rail, cold side DV relocation with polished forge BOV, injector wiring loom tuck, smooth polished alloy caps throughout, polished coil pack cover, powder coated parts in crackle black, uprated alternator, DW65 fuel pump, 3” downpipe, custom side-exit 2.5” system with oval tailpipe through sill and side skirt, rebuilt 02j gearbox, Quaife ATB diff with ARP bolts, AKS pinion brace, G60 solid flywheel and VR6 clutch conversion, 15mm engine raiser blocks
8.5×19 Fifteen52 Super Touring Chicane, with modified Rotiform Aero Discs to fit the rear, Air Lift v2, BAGS by OCD Performance front struts, IDF rear plates with 3degree camber, Bilstein rear dampers, converted to Cupra R/S3 front subframe set up, caster arms, TT quick rack, TT hubs, Powerflex polybushes throughout, rebuilt rear beam with Powerflex polybushes, HEL braided brake hoses, Brembo 18z front brake callipers with 334mm disc conversion, underside fully stripped, painted body colour, and fully powder coated/painted suspension components, stud and nut hub conversion
Full respray in Porsche Chalk Grey, custom HKS vinyl livery, BYC alloy rear wing mount system, alloy rear diffuser, custom rear bumper vented and extended 2.5”, smoothed tailgate, custom side skirts and fabricated rear arches extended 20mm and raised to tuck 19” wheels, front wings radiused and extended 20mm, debadged front grille, custom front bumper, BTCC style with ducting for FMIC and large front splitter, DTM mirrors on custom base mounts, cut out vented show bonnet, headlight air duct
Corbeau Revenge full carbon fibre bucket seats in custom purple and embroidery, TRS 3” harnesses in turquoise. Dash, door cards, and all interior plastics refinished in grey and purple flock, 4-point bolt in rear cage with double diagonal and harness bars, Momo 350mm suede steering wheel with NRG short hub and snap off kit, Cooler Worx quick shifter tower set up, Race Diagnostics liquid gauge in driver’s side vent, V2 controller in centre vent mount
Kenwood double DIN head unit, custom fibreglass front door builds with 6.5” alpine components, custom front tweeter builds, rear seat delete, with twin 12” JL Audio subs, and centre build housing 6.5inch alpine components. Twin 4-gallon air tanks, boot build housing full sized spare wheel on show frame, 3x Vibe amps, Optima battery relocated to boot