Just like his body art, talented tattoo artist Danny Birch’s slammed and tuned R32 Golf MK5 is set to stay in his life for the long-term. So regardless of what it took, it had to be absolutely perfect…
You shouldn’t need us to tell you that it’s worth putting at least a little bit of thought in before committing to getting your next tattoo. Because having some self-restraint and a well-thought-out plan can make all the difference between getting a tasteful swallow on your arm and having the McDonald’s logo stamped on your derriere in Ayia Napa during a lad’s holiday, and we know which one we’d rather live with for the rest of our days…
If you’re really serious about modifying your car and plan to reap the benefits of your hard work for several years to come, you could do a lot worse than applying this theory over to your next project car, too. It’s probably little surprise to hear that this is exactly how London-based tattoo artist Danny approached the building of his beautiful Mk5 Golf R32 here, carrying his patient, considerate work ethic over and gradually developing an extremely personal ride that’ll be in his life for many years to come as a result.
This isn’t a new addition to Danny’s driveway. In fact, it was only his second car when he bought it several years ago, but even the process of finding the right example took its time thanks to the strict standards that he’d set himself. “I looked at at least three others before finding this one,” he reveals. “I went to check out one three hours away in Leeds but I just wasn’t happy with the condition so drove home feeling gutted and disheartened.”
Luckily, as is the case in many parts of this incredible story, Danny’s patience paid off in the form of this Deep Blue Pearl example of VW’s hot hatch, and it really was a case of love at first sight for the car’s new owner here when he clapped eyes on it. “I knew it had to be that colour as soon as I saw this car, and the more-doors thing really appealed to me too as it was a little different”. Some digging revealed this V6-powered pocket rocket was an ex-JVC demo car, too, meaning all the speakers inside had been upgraded to the firm’s range-topping units – a big bonus for a car that’d serve as Danny’s daily driver for the next four years.
“I wasn’t too impressed with the condition of the bodywork, but it served me well as a daily, and I eventually got the bumpers, roof, bonnet and wings re-sprayed in the standard hue when things got more serious,” Danny continues, explaining how his relentless hunt for perfection began when the project was stepped up a notch a few years into ownership. Because after a bit of dabbling with basic modifications, he employed Car Audio Security in nearby Hayes to get the car rolling on air suspension, giving him far more options in the stance department and marking the start of the transformation the car’s received today.
Setting off the new adjustable ride height, Danny treated himself to some rare Bentley rims which looked the business when the Golf was aired out, while also flipping some of the exterior body panels from gloss black to carbon fibre for that premium motorsport aesthetic. This was around the time he began showing off his ongoing project at local car meets and shows, admitting he soon fell in love with the car show vibe and the chance to make like-minded mates across the scene.
As this was no longer his daily driver, Danny reckoned he could now get away with getting a full boot build installed to really tie everything together, once again heading to Car Audio Security to mull this idea over with the lads there. “I actually drew up the design I had in my head on a piece of paper,” he explains – using a tactic that he often does in his day job to explain one of his ideas. “The guys totally exceeded all my expectations when replicating it in real life, though!” Comprising two large carbon fibre air tanks for the suspension system that’re finished with Alcantara covers, along with those chrome compressors and a Rockford Fosgate sub also proudly on display, the boot is now an extremely classy and restrained feast for the eyes – more than a match for the car’s sumptuous standard interior which features those sought-after ‘Wingback’ Recaros up front.
The next stop for the ever-escalating machine was Slough-based VRT – a VW specialist that ramped up the performance of this hatch with the likes of new drilled brake discs, a full Milltek exhaust system, as well as a complete overhaul of the under-bonnet affairs, as it was clear Danny was taking no prisoners by this stage and wanted every square inch of the car to be treated with the same high level of attention-to-detail that was starting to be oozed from every pore.
Having gone through no less than three colour schemes on his aforementioned Bentley hoops, one area that was starting to fall behind the rest of the stunning build was the choice of rimmage adorning each corner, with Danny hoping to utilise the help of his new-found car pals to sort this predicament out. “A guy I met through the scene had this lovely set of BBS RSs that I wanted as soon as I saw them up close,” he confesses. “I told him to tell me if he was ever selling up, and one year later, he did just that! I didn’t even know if they’d fit my car but snapped them up straight away – I just had to have them.”
Sadly, this slightly irrational purchase wasn’t as plain-sailing as planned, with all 32 bolts on the inner lips of each rim snagging the bigger brakes found on his sporty R32 variant. “I genuinely thought about selling them but couldn’t bring myself to do it – I’d only just got them! So instead, I took a Dremel to the ends of the bolts to try and make them clear the brakes.” Along with some small spacers and three months’ worth of fettling camber settings, Danny’s now got these beauties fitting to perfection, complete with their triple-step staggered lips that look simply to-die-for to self-respecting stance aficionado.
The modest blue-and-black bodywork has been finished off for now with one of the subtlest yet effective touches on the car in the form of Triple R Composites’ Low Line Kit – a set of gloss black body extensions which sit under the bumpers and side skirts and succeed in making the whole car look even more planted from every angle! The kit came as a gift from Danny’s other half Charlotte, and certainly beats receiving another pair of socks!
Dodging the more drastic mods such as spraying his car in an eye-searing shade of pink or riveting on two-feet arch extensions to each wing might just be the reason that Danny’s managed to stay in love with his Golf for such a large amount of time. Seeing what people want inked onto their bodies for the rest of their life on a daily basis has helped him build up the vision needed to produce a timeless project car that’s sure to look just as sharp in 2030 as it does now. Be prepared to see Danny and his stunning Golf around for a fair few more years yet…!
TECH SPEC: VW GOLF R32
Factory Deep Blue Pearl paint; carbon fibre front grille, headlight eyebrows, rear diffuser and wing mirrors; Triple R Composites Low Line Kit (comprising gloss black front splitter, side skirt splitters and rear spats).
3.2-litre VR6 V6 engine; Forge Motorsport induction kit; full Milltek stainless steel exhaust system; Audi R8 oil cap; Porsche coolant cap; blue coil pack.
Factory 6-speed DSG semi-automatic twin-clutch gearbox and Haldex four-wheel drive system.
9x18in (front) and 9.5x18in (rear) BBS RS split rims with American-built triple-step lips; 205/40/18 Nankang tyres; Air Lift Performance adjustable air suspension system with V2 management and twin air tanks; R32 brakes with drilled and grooved discs.
R32 Recaro ‘Wingback’ bucket seats; full boot install (featuring Alcantara-covered twin carbon fibre air tanks, twin compressors and Rockford Fosgate P3 sub-woofer); Kenwood 8160 touch-screen head unit.
Car Audio Security for fitting the air ride, custom boot build sound system and alarm; VRT in Slough for all mechanical, engine detailing and maintenance work; Tommy and Dale from Meguiar’s for the detailing kits and helping to keep that gloss shine on the car throughout the year.
Words Sam Preston Photos Chris Wallbank