Some cars are built with a clear goal. Some cars are an evolution of ideas. This tuned VW Caddy Harlequin is a bit of both, and with a powerful twist that makes it badass!

Feature from Performance VW magazine. Words: Gordie Wollacott. Photos: Andrew Thompson. 

Car building comes at you in different ways. Some have the money, but not the skill. Some have the skill, but not the money. Every now and then the forces of nature whip up the perfect storm of skill and money and you end up with an absolute hurricane of a build, like this tuned VW Caddy by Paul Hunter. It currently stands him at around £60k, but genuinely that’s pretty irrelevant. This build has been a seven-year process of continual improvements in search of the best of the best. The fact he chose to paint it in the colours of one of Volkswagen’s most neck-snapping advertising campaigns, Harlequin, only adds to the madness.

Paul Hunter is the owner and main man at Hunter Automotive specialising in anything paint related whether that’s custom jobs or damage repair. That goes some way to explaining this homage to the Harlequin cars of the past, but that’s only part of the story.

Front shot of tuned VW Caddy

Standing out from the crowd

Folk who like to modify their cars tend to want to stand out from the crowd. Paul’s tuned VW Caddy is the car that stands out from the crowd of people who want to stand out from the crowd. The only downside to that, should there be one, is that the countless hours spent on what’s underneath that colourful coat tends to get overlooked. Well, we’re going to set that straight here and now so that next time you spot this Caddy you’ll realise there’s far more to it than an opinion dividing paint job. In fact, about 300bhp more to be precise.

Paul explained how he ended up with the van in the first place. “It was basically a stock white van that belonged to an electrician,” he begins. “When I saw it for sale, I had to have it. It was in immaculate condition with low miles and made the perfect body shop parts van.” As mentioned, Paul isn’t a big fan of stock rides and so the van was treated to a lowering job on a set of 18” Golf GTI Monza wheels.

Paul hunter's tuned vw caddy

In the process of wanting something that might help promote his business out on the road, the plain white van was not cutting it. “I wanted to colour code the bumpers and add a spoiler,” he says. “It seemed a good opportunity to go for a colour change.” Paul spent weeks looking at colour charts but, with the rising popularity of the Caddy, was struggling to find something that would stand out.

Harlequin VW Caddy

“I just wanted something nobody else had done, and that’s when I remembered the Harlequin paint scheme!” he exclaims. We’ll dive into some of the history on another page, but essentially the Harlequin cars took four existing colours from the VW range (Pistachio Green, Ginster Yellow, Tornado Red and Chagall Blue) and painted the shell and panels using a combination of them all so as no two colours would be side by side.

bluemotion badge on tuned VW Caddy

The base colour, i.e. the colour of the shell, would determine the colour of each panel. Paul went with a Tornado Red base but added his own touches outside of the factory formula with the colour of the roof, side skirts and front splitter. “I think I might have upset a few Harlequin purists,” he laughs. Who knew that was even a thing?!

The evolution of the van had barely begun when Paul made the next change. “Having spent all that time painting it, I decided I liked the look of the new Caddy and so went in for the facelift,” he says. Of course, this was not ‘off the shelf.’ The headlights are MK3 Caddy, whilst the bumper is MK4 and the grill itself is from a MK7 Blue Motion Golf. The splitter is taken from a Caddy Cross and the rear bumper is R32. “It’s like a VW lovechild!” laughs Paul. “But I love it, and the fact you can’t just go and buy it makes it that little bit better.”

1.8T BAM engine in tuned VW Caddy

Caddy gets 1.8T BAM engine

The van earned its keep hauling parts for a couple of years in this guise but a persistent fault from the injectors resulted in a quite spectacular solution to the problem. “It’s not a cheap fault to repair and after the fifth failure I decided enough was enough,” says Paul. The solution came from a bargain Audi TT Quattro he picked up on Facebook. It’s quite desirable 240bhp 1.8 Turbo 20V BAM engine had only done 80,000 miles with a full Audi history to back it up. The car itself had lain forlorn for a few years, but on inspection the engine fired right up, and the deal was done.

The TT was delivered straight to Paul’s mate, Karl (otherwise known as Bikki) at Bro4mance along with the Caddy. “The actual time it took to swap the engines was impressive,” says Paul. “With both cars up on the ramps it was done in less than a day.” Installing the engine is one thing, making it run is a whole different ball game.

Exhaust shot on tuned VW Caddy

Before it went in the tuned VW Caddy, the engine was fitted with a Cupra R gearbox along with a new cambelt and water pump and a solid flywheel conversion. Fortunately, the engine mounts happen to sit in the exact same place and, by using new Audi TT mounts they were able to get the engine in the perfect position. “With the VW ones, it sat too far back,” Paul explains.

Problems for the tuned VW Caddy

There were many other modifications needed before any bodywork could be bolted back up and that included the intercooler. Paul continues: “The Audi intercooler wouldn’t fit and so I upgraded to an Airtec version that, with some chopping about and plastic weld, sat perfectly behind the stock bumper. There was the option to have the pipework routed through the bumper like some do, but I wanted to keep it just a little bit stealth.” The installation of the intercooler took a week to complete with Paul and Bikki putting in the hours after both their workshops had shut for the day.

Roll cage in tuned VW Caddy

The next hurdle was the wiring loom. The intricacies of modern cars, particularly a high-spec Audi TT bring with them complex wiring. Paul wasn’t looking for anything fancy in the Caddy, for example he didn’t need a light to tell him when the bonnet was open! “Initially we had engine lights all over the place,” he laughs. “In fact, it won’t even run until you get a certain degree sorted out.” With all its complexities, it was decided it would be easier to integrate the TT loom to the tuned VW Caddy, taking out any unnecessary connections as they went.

With a forklift truck, they suspended the still connected TT loom above the car and with the wiring diagrams for both cars loaded up on separate laptops they began the arduous task of cross referencing each and every wire. “When we came across something in the Audi that we didn’t need, we simply cut it,” says Paul. “Some wires are fibre and so it wasn’t a simple case of just cutting them out so the whole process took almost three weeks. Some nights we’d spend five hours on it and have only dealt with four wires.”

VW wheels on tuned caddy

300bhp in a front-wheel drive, tuned VW Caddy

Ultimately, what they were left with was a stripped back TT loom that was able to communicate exactly what was needed from the engine to the dash. The fuel gauge still needed some help that resulted in the Caddy sensor being mated to the original Audi fuel pump. “I was fortunate to have Bikki working on it,” says Paul. “He’s a proper mechanic, not just a parts fitter. He actually understands the principles behind engines. It’s a dying art.”

With a hybrid K04 turbo, that big Airtec intercooler and an AMD ECU, the 20v engine has been mapped to around 300bhp. “I’d love to get it on a rolling road,” says Paul. “We tuned it on the street and it just wasn’t possible to lay down a full power run without the wheels spinning!” With all this extra power on hand it would be remiss to overlook the brakes. Paul has gone for some beefy Porsche Cayenne Brembo brakes up front and a Golf R32 setup on the back.

rollcage in harlequin tuned vw caddy

The Tylah Motorsport rollcage and uprated BC Racing multi adjustable front shocks with Konis on the rear suggest that Paul might have something a little more than street planned for the Caddy, but that’s not the case. “I just wanted to build something that had the best of everything,” he explains. “Like the shifter. It was awkward getting first gear in the new Cupra box so I fitted a CAE race shifter. It fixed a problem and looks cool at the same time. In fact, it’s one of the best things about driving the car due to the short shift!”

Tech Spec: Tuned VW Caddy Harlequin


1.8T 20v BAM, K04 hybrid turbo, R32 exhaust, remap, AMD ECU, Airtec TT RS intercooler, silicone hoses, Cupra R gearbox, CAE race shifter


19” VW Motorsport wheels, 225/35/19 Pirelli P Zero tyres, BC Racing multi adjustable front shocks, Koni rear shocks, fully poly bushed, welded Tylah Motorsport roll cage, front Porsche Cayenne Brembo brakes, rear Golf R32 brakes


Painted Harlequin colours; Tornado Red, Pistachio Green, Ginster Yellow, Chagall Blue. Custom bonnet, Golf MK7 grille, hybrid MK4 front bumper, Caddy All Track splitter and skirts , R32 style rear bumper


Recaro Sportster CS seats, custom Harlequin stitched GTD Golf steering wheel, Takata 4-point harnesses. Pioneer head unit and speakers, under seat subwoofers


Bikki at Bro4mance