Adam Sheldon was sceptical about whether this tuned R32 Golf could live up to the fun his previous Polo show car offered up. But after adding some epic personal touches, it’s finally won him over, and it really doesn’t take much to see why…
Humans often have a funny way of dealing with change. Without it, the world would be duller than living in the Big Brother house for a decade, but this doesn’t stop us all from feeling a bit freaked out from time to time when something different springs up in our lives. After changing up his beloved stanced VW Polo GTI for this R32 Golf, Leeds-based Dub head Adam here was initially faced with a hefty dose of regret for taking the plunge, with the car throwing up problem after problem and making him wish he’d stayed put instead.
But by keeping a level head and sticking to his plans, he’s now reaping the rewards with one of the finest examples of this V6-powered pocket rocket on the scene that’s finally a worthy replacement of his previous project.
“I first had a 1.0-litre version of the 6N2 Polo; I loved it so much I soon bought the GTI version, though,” our electrical engineer here reveals how it all began. With this potent little ripper stripped down to pieces a couple of winters ago to receive a fully stanced-out transformation, Adam enjoyed a couple of hugely enjoyable show seasons proudly displaying all of his hard work.
“I got to a stage with it where I’d sort of finished it – so it was either a case of pouring loads more money into it, carry on enjoying it for what it was, or find something new…” Before he could make up his own mind about which option of this confusing three-way crossroad to pursue, Adam soon began getting pestered by his mate who was looking for a cheaper ride to swap his current R32 Golf up for. “I kept turning him down with a swap for my Polo, but we eventually reached a deal that suited us both.”
This silver hatch already featured air ride, that tasty Aqua Blue interior and some alloys, and was without doubt a huge step up for Adam. But before he could be too happy about the new addition to his life, a few niggles were already revealing themselves… “During the first week I had it, the clutch slave cylinder gave up on me. Luckily a friend recovered the car and another fitted the parts for cheap. While we were under it, we also noticed the transfer box was leaking and there was no oil left in the gearbox,” he painfully recalls.
Things unfortunately didn’t get much better from here, with situations like one of the air bags deciding to eat itself on the way to Mod Nats show and getting a nasty blowout in the middle of rural Wales during a weekend break leaving Adam in very sticky situations that made him wonder what exactly he’d given up the Polo for. With his dad and a bunch of mates coming to the rescue on more than one occasion, Adam was still confident there was potential to turn his new project around…
“Once I’d sorted all of the problems, I got more serious with changing the car into what it is today,” he explains, revealing how he got the ball rolling by snapping up those OZ Racing split rims which now prop up the German hatchback. The process was finished off with the faces being powdercoated in that tasty gunmetal grey hue, and the lips being swapped out for some wider ones from a friend, resulting in some undeniably gorgeous rims being formed that looked pukka under the car’s arches.
It’s only at this stage that we really get to the crux of the story, though – the pivoting point between Adam pining for his Polo and truly falling in love with this Golf. This of course boils down to one of the most memorable parts of the car now – that comprehensive vinyl livery that adorns most of the bodywork. “I hated the look of the car when it was all silver,” Adam reveals the inspiration for this supremely effective modification. “So I spent hours on my Mac designing different liveries before sending them over to my mates for their verdicts.”
The winning sketch boasts those retro lines which start low at the front before swooping upwards towards the boot, making way for that grey rear end which happens to match the faces of the wheels perfectly. Topped off with iconic Castrol logos (which Adam says will be switched up in the future to keep things fresh), there’s no denying the scene points the exterior of this beast must now rack up!
To match that bright interior, Adam’s massive Brembo calipers (that were taken off a Porsche, no less) have been sprayed up in a matching Aqua Blue hue, tying everything together nicely. Under the Castrol-adorned bonnet, an air intake and ECU map means there’s now around 270bhp heading to all four wheels, controlled with a satisfyingly manual ‘box. “It’s awesome to drive, the noise is the best bit though!” he grins.
The accumulation of a lot of hard graft on his driveway meant that at this stage, it was difficult for even Adam to deny that he had something pretty special on his hands with his Golf now. As such, he once again began hitting up the show circuit, catching up with his car scene pals and showcasing his new creation in the process. “I love it now it’s got the livery on, I really think it makes the car. It’s gone down really well too; I recently drove to VW Days in France and got accepted into the main show which was pretty fun.”
Adam’s story is proof that keeping a positive head through times of change can work wonders in the long run. Instead of letting this Golf’s initial pitfalls drag him down and regret selling his previous car, he’s managed to come out the other side with something arguably much more special to show for himself. And maybe that’s a reminder that we could all do with looking forwards instead of backwards from time to time…
TECH SPEC MK5 GOLF R32
Custom Castrol vinyl livery; tinted rear windows.
3.2-litre VR6 V6 engine; cold air intake; stage one re-map.
Six-speed manual gearbox.
9x19in (front) and 10x19in (rear) OZ Racing Superleggera III split rims; 215/45/19 Falken Azenis FK-453 tyres (all-round); Airlift Performance air suspension system with Slam Series struts and V2 management; six-pot Brembo 18Z Porsche front brake calipers resprayed in Aqua Blue with Mercedes ML discs and Pagid pads; factory rear disc brakes.
Full re-trim in Aqua Blue leather; Mk6 Golf GTD gear knob; carbon fibre grab handles; factory RNS 510 touch-screen head unit.
I would like to say thanks to John at Vinyl Image for doing such a good job on the livery; all my friends that helped me along the way; Kleen Freaks for keeping the car so clean; the lads in Nameless for their support and suggestions and helping me with the design so much and of course my girlfriend for putting up with the hours spent on the car and leaving her almost every weekend to go to car shows and events!
Words Sam Preston¬ Photos Chris Wallbank