“My car is Shabby chic. It’s a bit like your Nan’s house, but with a hint of style.”
It’s a thoroughly personal point of view I know, but I’m pretty certain this is my favourite car for quite a few years. True, it’s probably not one I’d actually own (I’m nowhere near cool enough to pull that off), what I mean is, judging by the way it’s been put together and the story behind it, this one beats just about anything else hands down.
You see, for someone like myself who perhaps takes this whole modifying lark a bit too seriously, it’s nothing short of a wake up call. Dare I say it? This is in all likelihood the most inspiring motor that I’ve seen for ages, and it’s definitely the most fun.
Now, if you’re questioning why such a crazy creation is here on FC, you just don’t get it, and you probably never will. But don’t worry about that too much because neither did we for quite a while – I don’t think we’re actually supposed to. ￼￼￼￼In fact, the owner, a certain Mr Jon Dryer, doesn’t really seem to mind too much about any sort of reaction. And that’s my point.
I guess, for starters, there’s a few things that need to be explained about Jon… and I’m not talking about that rather epic facial appendage that I’m massively jealous of.
First of all, he’s a hairdresser from Brighton who takes great pleasure in getting parts from Germany addressed to Herr Dryer (yep, even I couldn’t make that shit up). Secondly, his girlfriend’s dad owns a 1970’s caravan with a sofa in the exact ￼￼same pattern as his doorcards. And finally, he’s taken the idea of a budget home-brew build to the extreme every step of the way. Look at it like this, not only is this Polo put together for well under 5-grand, almost entirely on his tips from Toni & Guy. But, back in the day, he’s even been known to spend weeks eating nothing but three square meals of Cup-a-Soup a day to be able to afford stuff like the genuine VW Colour Concept seats. That’s some supreme dedication for ya’.
Now, I suppose all that should tell you just about everything you need to know about about Jon, and what’s undeniably one of the most random cars ever to hit these pages, but there’s still so much more to the story. This motor is special in a way that no other ride seems to be. In a world filled with distinctly clear trends and styles it’s something that impossible to classify.
You can’t pigeon-hole this car into the usual categories because it doesn’t seem to fit in with any sort of criteria. It’s totally unique. I suppose you could call it Jon-style but, as mad as he appears himself, even that doesn’t quite do it justice. This build is so out of the ordinary, even if there was a style you actually could put your finger on, you wouldn’t be able to copy it anyway, and most people probably wouldn’t want to.
No, I think I’m right in saying that what’s important here is the overall concept, it’s the epitome of a modifier imprinting every bit of himself into a long-term project. The truth is no one else could have put together this car but Jon and, with the amount of gorgeous but undeniably repetitive modified cars out there, that’s refreshing.
Anyway, being his first car, Jon’s owned this baby VW for the best part of 8-years but interestingly it’s never actually been finished, not in the usual sense of the word. In that time other projects have come and gone of course, but the Polo has always been milling around in the background, a kind of a never-ending project fuelled by Jon’s love of random bits and pieces from around the world. You could even say that nowadays it’s part of the family.
Initially though the modifying took more of a conventional approach than we see here today. Born out of competing with his older brother’s collection of Saxos and RS Turbos, the first incarnation was every bit as Euro-style as you’d expect from someone simply following the latest trend. It’s only the fact that Jon was disappointed with the way it slotted discreetly into the scene that shaped the way it looks today. After spending a not insignificant amount of cash on coilovers, paint and Colour Concept seats he almost inevitably found himself pulling up next to a near-identical Polo at a show and that’s when he thought, “what’s the point in copying? I might as well do it my way.” Only then did things go bonkers.
With a new outlook, not constrained by the limits of any fashion, timescale or modifying convention he now describes his car as “what an interior designer would refer to as shabby chic.” And while I can plainly see that Jon is indeed the Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen of the modified car world, I can’t help thinking there’s also a distinct air of the Antiques Roadshow about that interior. Even Jon admits that as his mum is a former antiques dealer, “It’s not as if I had a choice in the matter, this kind of stuff has just always been around.”
It doesn’t take anything more than a peek inside to prove my theory. Take those crazy door cards for a start. Your Nan definitely had a sofa like that once upon a time eh? And most likely a similar walking stick. In fact, combined with the tweed retrim this one definitely makes you want to don the smoking jacket and start puffing away on a massive Sherlock Holmes-style pipe. A crack pipe at the very least.
All this interior trinketry also seems a little at odds with the immaculately-detailed exterior. Jon’s made this one so showcar- smooth, with added OEM+ details like the Beetle-inspired front bumper and German- spec rear clusters, that more than a hint of its Euro roots remains clear. Except of course all the carbon fibre doesn’t exactly fit in with that idea, there’s just no need for it, it doesn’t make any sense. But then again, maybe that’s exactly why it’s there in the first place – maybe that IS the idea. Damn, my head hurts.
And therein lies the problem. It’s not so much the car, or the way it’s built – it’s simply how, as serious modifiers, we’re subliminally trained to look at it. Personally speaking, everything I’ve ever known about modified cars makes me want to justify the whole package. Every fibre of my being instinctively tries to make all those different pieces fit neatly together into something that makes perfect sense. But they don’t, and they never will.
That’s the real genius in Jon’s Polo – it does your nut in the nicest possible way. The fact that he never set out to build a car to be loved by anyone but himself demonstrates a new kind of thinking. On this very rare occasion the beauty doesn’t have to be in the eye of the beholder, and I can’t help but love that concept.
OWNER: JON DRYER
TECH SPEC: VW POLO 6N2
One off front bumper with Beetle grille, carbon wings and bonnet, smoothed bumpers, deleted aerial, German rear clusters, Wolfsburg Edition side repeater blanks, 50-yr old ADAC badge, GTi headlights, splitter, VW script side badges, resprayed in BMW Ice blue.
8 and 9x15inch MTi 5 wheels with gold hardware and Mk2 Golf Chrome centre caps, 165/45×15 and 185/50×15 Nankang tyres, Gaz struts, 2-way manual air ride system, VIAIR compressor and stubby tank.
Mk4 Golf V5 front seats trimmed in tweed, biscuit stitching, floral accenting and doorcards, duck walking stick, VW key door pins, lazer cut stag air vents, rare wooden steering wheel.
Huge thanks to Ben Parsons, Hurst and Hassocks Auto Center for never backing down when a tyre just won’t meet the bead, Adam Ashcroft for the paint, Amy Lewis for embracing the madness, Dub Lounge for adopting me, 3D Detail for hooking me up with valve caps, Madcowuk and the brethrens Tom, Marc and Adam, for keeping the car on form with the quality detailing gear. The family for putting up with car parts in the house. Not forgetting Fast Car for making the dream come true.
Words Midge Photos Dan Pullen