The Mk5 Golf may have been around for a decade and a half but it can still look pretty damn fresh, especially after a few choice mods as Ryan’s widebody Mk5 Golf GTI will now demonstrate…

Feature first appeared in Performance VW. Words & photos: Jon Cass

It’s hard to believe the Mk5 Golf has been around over 15 years now, but in that time, it’s made its presence felt on the show scene for sure. Twenty-three-year-old Ryan Willows has been a huge Mk5 fan right from the start and he’s taken his latest widebody Mk5 Golf GTI further than most would dare. “Even while I was at school, I wanted a Golf GTI,” Ryan recalls, “I had a vision of a wide arched Mk5 which I hadn’t seen on the modified car scene before.”

By 17, when most of us would be considering a miserable three-cylinder one-litre granny mobile, Ryan was already rocking a Mk4 Golf 1.6 SR which he soon modified with lowering springs, 19” BBS LM replicas and a full R32 bodykit. “I fitted a twin cherry bomb exhaust and resprayed it in Jazz blue House of Kolor glitter,” he adds.

Widebody Mk5 Golf GTI

Despite taking the Mk4 to an impressive level so quickly, it was the respected Mk5 that Ryan really lusted after, the Mk4 was sold on and in its place came a 1.9 Mk5 TDI. “This soon became a full GTI replica and was the first car I bagged,” he points out. On went a set of 3SDM 0.06 rims and Ryan soon became a regular at shows.

The progression to a Mk6 seemed only natural and once funds allowed, Ryan soon had the keys to a Mk6 1.6 TDI. Yet again, this one didn’t remain stock for long and was treated to a full R20 bodykit and Rotiform TMB alloys. The Mk6 experience wasn’t to last however, within a year Ryan realized he preferred his older Mk5.

Widebody Mk5 Golf GTI

This time around and armed with a few more years no claims on his insurance, Ryan began searching for the best Mk5 GTI he could find. “I’d been looking for a while and came across this 2005 GTI in Tornado red, three hours away in Newcastle,” he recalls, “it had a couple of areas of minor rust, but it was stock and unmodified, perfect for what I had planned.”

The bagged look of his previous Mk5 had gone down really well and Ryan decided to take the same route with his latest Mk5 GTI which runs an Air Lift Performance v2 system. Now, a bagged Mk5 GTI is nothing unusual these days, but the next step was certainly more extreme to say the least! “The bodywork was in fantastic condition, but I was still keen on the idea of running a wide arched look,” Ryan recalls, “this meant I had to cut out the original arches to fit the larger ESC Tuning carbon fibre arches.”

We should point out here that Ryan is a bodyshop technician by trade, but even so, he was admittedly nervous when it came to butchering the bodywork on his beloved GTI! “I really didn’t know what the end result would be,” Ryan laughs, “I knew if I messed this up it’d be very hard to rectify!” Luckily, his worst fears were never realized and the carbon arches fitted perfectly at the first attempt. The original GTI rims would now look more like castors, but Ryan already had a set of Rota MXR rims waiting in the wings. With a 10″ measurement at the front and 11″ at the rear, he’s managed to nail that perfect stance while also filling those wide arches once the car is dropped into the weeds too.

Ryan could easily have left things there and received plenty of admiration for his handiwork, but he was keen to ensure the remainder of the bodywork had a purposeful and aggressive look to match those arches too. “I adapted a Focus ST front splitter to fit the GTI front bumper than grafted on an R32 rear diffuser which helps support the custom twin exit exhaust I had made,” Ryan points out.

Widebody Mk5 Golf GTI

The Mk5 remained in that guise for a year, still wearing its tornado red paintwork. Without a doubt, it was already beginning to stand out from the pack, but not quite enough for Ryan. By chance Steve Kempster was building himself a widebody Mk6 around this time and helped Ryan keep motivated.

“The standard rear spoiler now looked out of proportion and I considered a small carbon extension,” Ryan explains, “then I saw an ad for the big BYC rear wing and knew that would have a much bigger impact.” Not many cars could pull off wearing a rear wing this size, but combined with the clever selection of upgrades Ryan had already added, we can agree it really doesn’t look out of place.

Working in a bodyshop has its advantages and Ryan was able to use the  spray booth from his day job to create a dramatic colour change. “Stealth grey had always appealed to me,” he explains, “I’d been inspired by Focus STs wearing this colour and reckoned it would suit my Golf.” He was right too and combined with the black wheels and trim and that freshly smoothed tailgate, he’s now achieved the look he envisaged all those years ago.

The Mk5’s TFSI turbocharged unit is a strong performer out of the box, but Ryan was keen to extract a little more power from the 2.0. “I’ve had it remapped and fitted an Audi R8 coil pack along with a bigger Audi S3 intercooler,” he points out. Along with the custom Powerflow exhaust, this lot brings the power up to an impressive 250bhp. He’s also added an Audi S3 engine cover and intake to ensure his GTI stands out from any standard example.

With that aggressive exterior , you may expect to see a fully stripped out interior and excessive full roll cage. While that might sound the natural direction to take, Ryan still drives this car every day and covers a load of miles. Thoughts of a deafening 200-mile journey and back seat passengers left behind don’t really appeal, so a compromise has been met by swapping the original GTI seats for a pair of leather Recaro wingback seats, the carbon fibre trim hinting towards the motorsport theme. Ryan’s adaptive handiwork has again come in useful for the neat iPad build linked to a Kenwood stereo. Perfect for those long-distance road trips to shows!

The response to Ryan’s wideboy Mk5 Golf GTI has been positive and just as he intended it attracts attention wherever he takes it. “There’s always plenty of thumbs up and photos being taken, its great,” Ryan smiles.

Routinely he’d have moved on to his next project by now, but considering the colossal amount of hours he’s poured into this one over the last three years, he’s decided he’ll hang on to it for some time yet! Having said that, he confessed to a classic VW being an exciting proposition or maybe even a Golf R…

Widebody Mk5 Golf GTI

Tech Spec: Widebody Mk5 Golf GTI


2.0T GTI with Audi S3 intercooler, custom Powerflow exhaust, Audi R8 coilpack and remap, Audi S3 engine cover and intake


10×18” and 11×18” Rota MXR wheels, MK5 Golf Air Lift Performance v2 management


BYC wide wings, ECS Tuning carbon fibre arches, Focus splitter, R32 rear bumper, shaved bonnet notch, smoothed tailgate and full respray in Stealth grey


Recaro leather wingbacks and carbon fibre trims


iPad build linked to a Kenwood stereo