There are few people on the scene as committed to static lows as Beinn Goodchild. And he started living this life back when his mates were doing homework in front of family guy…
It’s increasingly tricky for youngsters to get car insurance these days. This is unsurprising in part, given their unfortunate propensity to bounce off lampposts and what-have-you, but the financial impact of this is becoming somewhat prohibitive for today’s youth. When I was learning to drive back in 1999, it was the norm among my circle of friends to pay around £200 for a car, then budget about £700 to insure it. At the time, this seemed completely crackers. But that’s nothing compared to what’s happening now – the average cost of car insurance for a 17-20 year old in the UK is over £4000. Average! That means there are a lot of teens out there who are paying rather more than that… the figures are just staggering.
The obvious answer is this: drive something retro. As well as being cooler and more fulfilling, your insurance will almost certainly be much cheaper (and, arguably, an old car might be easier to fix when it inevitably breaks).
After a few years you’ll have built up a nice little no-claims bonus, so you’ll be well equipped for the task at hand in every feature you find in this magazine: modifying your car to make it awesome. And if you want a few pointers to get you going, you could do worse than have a chat with Beinn Goodchild. He’s the owner of this Polo, and he’s been having a bit of fun with it.
“I had a Mk1 Golf project when I was fifteen,” he explains, immediately reducing about 50-percent of you to shuddering heaps of jealousy. Honestly, when I was fifteen I was playing Gran Turismo and shoving Pringles into my face, it didn’t occur to me that I should have been out on the driveway terrorising an unsuspecting hatchback with a Halfords socket set. People like Beinn catch on early.
“I never finished the Golf,” he continues, although evidently it offered a strong and swooping learning curve. “I bought this Polo at the age of sixteen. That was around August 2009, and it cost me £250. Surprisingly it was a very solid car, despite its extremely faded red exterior.” And yes, much like countless young aspirational modders out there, Beinn opted to bide his time with a stock runabout until the insurance man was feeling a little lenient.
This, as it transpired, only held tight for about eight months before the whole plan went banana-shaped, but we’ll get to that in a bit. For the while, Beinn was enjoying that incomparable freedom of holding a shiny new driving licence and freewheeling his way about the country with casual, deliberately aimless abandon. Ah, halcyon days. What we’d all give to be fresh-faced and bushy-tailed, eh?
Now, the VW geeks among you will have instantly spotted that the car in question is a 1991 Polo Coupé. This model was a masterstroke on the part of Volkswagen’s marketing department, as the thing obviously isn’t a coupé at all. It’s a hatchback. It couldn’t be more of a hatchback if it tried. It’s got a bloody great hatch at the back, for a start. But such are the whims of the marketeers, and who are we to argue? Beinn certainly wasn’t bothered by semantics, enjoying his fresh retro ride for a solid eight months… until he managed to accidentally reshape it somewhat during a spell of good ol’ British rain. “I smashed the whole front end up,” he says, a little sheepishly, “and ended up fixing it on my parents’ drive over Christmas 2011. Before I knew it I was prepping the shell for a full colour change, and it all just snowballed from there…”
Ha! In your face, insurance man. Your premiums don’t frighten Beinn. Badass rides are worth paying the extra for, everyone in the game knows that. And so our hero hired a spray booth, bought himself a whole bunch of Hyundai Jamaica blue paint, and set to work on the Polo. Forget any concerns about not having done it before and the right or wrong way of doing things – this is a dude who just rolls up his sleeves and cracks on with it. “Everything that’s been done on the car, I did on the driveway,” he confirms, with impressive matter-of-factness. “Other than some help from friends with the engine conversion, I’ve done everything on the car myself.”
What’s that, now? Engine conversion? Oh yeah, he’s shoved in a 16v AFH motor from a 6N Polo. But of course. And not only that, but Beinn’s shown some extraordinary commitment to getting the thing as low as possible. “Its first show was Early Edition 2012,” he says, “where it picked up a runner-up prize in the Polo class – I was so surprised. So it’s been getting progressively lower ever since…”
It’s rolling static, you’ll be impressed to note, and Beinn’s knocked up some really quite cool one-off coilovers comprising TA bodies with custom springs and MaxRPM rose-jointed top mounts. The engine’s also been raised 35mm, and various other crucial bits have been re-engineered to be higher up too: the gearbox, the ARB, you name it, and the sump and ’box mounts are shallower as well. Brake lines and fuel lines have been re-routed inside the car, all with the aim of running as low as a snake’s belly. This guy certainly doesn’t do things by halves.
And if the brutal daily static lows haven’t blown your mind, just check out the wheels. He built them himself, of course – what more would you expect? “The centres started life as Formula Ford race car centre-locks,” Beinn breezily explains. “They’re now fully custom 13-inch splits – 8-inch up front, 9-inch out back – with Radinox dishes and Gotti hardware; the centres have been plugged and redrilled to 4×100.” Phew. Did you have anything that badass on your first car? No, me neither.
This, then, has been a solid and forthright lesson in ‘how to do your first car properly’ (yes, we know Beinn’s first car was actually that Mk1 Golf, but this was his first road car, it counts.). We stand by the advice that it’s worth considering a rattly old-school motor if you want to appease the insurance company, as the friendly premiums will allow you to save for future excellence. But that stuff we were saying about waiting a few years and building up some NCB? Yeah, forget that. Roll the dice. You only live once. The best advice we can offer here is simply: Be Like Beinn. This is a fella who’s got life figured out.
OWNER: BEINN GOODCHILD
TECH SPEC: VW POLO
Full respray in Hyundai Jamaica blue; semi-smoothed bay; frenched tailgate; smoothed bumpers; rolled arches; flushed aerial; tinted rear lights; Metalplast bonnet vent.
1.4 16v AFH conversion (100bhp) on standard injection; 35mm engine raise; shallow plated sump; SEAT DXP 5-speed gearbox; plated shallow rear mount; raised gear linkage.
8x13in (front) and 9x13in (rear) Formula Ford centre- lock centres plugged and re-drilled to 4×100, Radinox dishes, Gotti hardware; 175/50 tyres; TA coilover bodies, custom 325lb springs and top caps; MaxRPM rose-jointed top mounts; custom lower arms; raised ARB; MaxRPM ARB blocks; PPP chassis brace; stud conversion; VW1 calipers, drilled discs, solid brake lines re-routed inside car.
Colour Concept Recaro seats; 1970s MOMO steering wheel; G40 gearknob; Beetle pedal rubbers; Votex door pods; black doorcards; black GT sun visors; blacked headlining; sound-deadened floor; brake lines and braided fuel lines inside; exposed rear gearbox mount.
My parents for letting me use the drive; girlfriend Tegan for putting up with me; best mate Jack, his dad, Keith and Tim for the help, and anyone that’s given me a hand over the years.
Words Dan Bevis Photos Neil Sterry