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2010 Volkswagen GTI - Lımelıght

James Sokol ignored the naysayers, building the GTI of his dreams that’s as fast as it is impressive

Justin Fivella
Oct 15, 2013
Photographer: Jordan Donnelly

Although James Sokol, the owner of this knockout Mk6 GTI, might not want us to share this tidbit with the world, he's pretty OG. That's "original gangster" for those unaware, and it means he's an originator, and a damn cool one at that.

How OG are we talking? Well, his first car in high school was out of the movie Training Day. Yeah, a 1980 Pontiac Monte Carlo Low Rider with 13" Dayton wire wheels and all. So it should come as no surprise that when Sokol joined the VW scene, he'd apply the same mentality to the sophisticated German canvas.

"I was just looking for a reliable and safe daily driver when I bought my Mk6 back in 2010, but it didn't take long for the urge to tune it," he said.

The urge first came in the form of motor mods. You see, after his lowrider days he owned a heavily modified Lexus IS300 that made him appreciate the art of straightline speed. And it just so happens that APR was running a software sale one weekend, 500 miles into his GTI ownership - it would be a move that would change his course forever.

2010 volkswagen GTI european spec R20 side skirts 02 Photo 2/13   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Lımelıght

"I started with software but before long I was diving into a ton more motor mods," he said. Soon he added a Forge Motorsport Twintake, Twintercooler, aluminum boost pipes, bigger DV and wastegate along with a 3" custom stainless exhaust system from SPM and a Eurojet axle-back muffler.

When the first round wasn't enough, round two involved an AWE Tuning K04 Quarter Mile big-turbo kit that used GIAC stage 3 Race software. It was accompanied by a nitrous kit plumbed with a 50-shot of laughing gas.

The combination was said to be good for 405hp and 395 lb-ft when sipping 100-octane race gas. No matter how you cut the cake, this was a fast hatch.

Along the way, Sokol found plenty of time to introduce his green accent color. Like the green RS3 coil packs, green intercooler and intake piping, with plenty more under the hood. If you ask Sokol he'd joke it represents all the money he dumped into this creation, but if you ask us, it's green like the best color on a traffic light.

But James quickly realized "all-go and no-show" wasn't going to cut it in the VW world. It only took a few local shows for him to realize ultra-low was the way to go. "After attending some VW shows I realized the lower cars always looked better, so I added coilovers and wheels," he explained.

Since then, the green machine has seen no less than 12 different sets of wheels during its tenure. "I used to change wheels like I did my shoes. I easily tried more than a dozen different sets before I found my current wheels; these are keepers," he said with a grin.

Indeed they are keepers! They're one-of-one and before you recognize them from the fifteen52 VW Beetle at SEMA, they aren't the same rollers. These are ultra-exclusive three-piece fifteen52 Formula Split Classics with gold faces, polished lips and hardware, and black inner rims. The 18x9" front and 18x10" rears were wrapped in severely stretched Nitto Neo Gen tires.

Hiding behind the wheels are legit Porsche 911 GT3 six-piston front calipers with 350mm StopTech carbon-ceramic rotors. Out back, you'll find green powdercoated stock calipers with slotted StopTech rotors and stainless lines on each corner.

When coilovers wouldn't go low enough, Sokol turned to the dark side and chose air suspension. A special combination of Air Lift XL front struts, Slam Special SS-6 rear bags with Bilstein shocks and IDF lower rear control arms create the desired stance.

2010 volkswagen GTI european spec R20 rear bumper 03 Photo 6/13   |   Euro R20 bumper is wrapped in matte Green Apple metallic vinyl

An Air Lift V2 digital controller runs the whole show, while an AccuAir five-gallon tank, Viair compressors and custom "Hardlines by Swoops" act as support staff to help this hatchback hit the deck. Of course, you won't get this low without notching the frame front and rear, so that happened along the way.

Life inside the green machine is bliss thanks to an ensemble that includes Sparco Chrono seats, a candy white Autopower roll-bar and rear-seat delete. The Schroth four-points are nice, but the Nardi flat-bottom leather wheel steals the show.

Lets not forget the retrofitted Audi RS3 shifter and other Euro parts like the R20 kick plates and floor mats as well. There are splashes of carbon inside, and hidden LEDs add a touch of class.

In the back, a custom subwoofer enclosure and the air-ride components make jaws drop whenever somebody glances inside.

The sweet sound of the exhaust pipes was rivaled only by the killer sound system within. It uses a Pioneer head unit to conduct the symphony, while Pioneer components and a 12" sub handle the reproduction.

2010 volkswagen GTI fifteen52 formula split classic wheels 04 Photo 7/13   |   Custom fifteen52 Formula wheels with gold centers and yellow GT3 rotors behind

The seemingly simple exterior features European R20 bumpers and side skirts, while other nuances include a shaved hood, emblems and more R20 parts like the front grille, headlights and tail lights. Then there are the lime green LED DRLs to compliment the Lamborghini-inspired Green Apple metallic matte vinyl wrap that boasts matte black accents.

Like anything that pushes the envelope, James has received plenty of praise, but there are always plenty of haters happy to pass judgment. "The funny thing is, I've had a lot of criticism for the car, especially the seats because they're not the most expensive ones out there, yet they're one of my favorite parts of the entire car. They might not be big bucks, but they fit me well and I drive it enough that good seats mean a lot," he added.

And drive it he does, as Sokol pilots his GTI to work five days a week, amassing more than 15000 miles each year.

Inevitably, not everything will be your taste, but there's something to be said for building your dream car and actually driving it. More power to you, James.

2010 VW GTI

Owner: James Sokol
Location: Long Island, NY

Engine 2.0L four-cylinder TSI 16v with AWE Tuning Quarter Mile K04 Turbo kit, GIAC stage 3 software, painted Forge Motorsport Twintake, Twintercooler, aluminum boost pipes, diverter valve, wastegate, catch can with PCV block-off plate, coolant hose kit and throttle body hose, boost tap, nitrous oxide injection, BFI stage 2 motor mounts, Porsche 911 oil, coolant and gas caps, RS4 red top coil packs, washer bottle deleted, relocated battery, Sprint Booster race system, SPM 3" custom stainless exhaust, Eurojet R20 axle-back muffler, 4" polished tips, VEI senders for gauges

2010 volkswagen GTI forge motorsport twintake 12 Photo 8/13   |   AWE K04 turbo and GIAC software plus Forge intercooler endow this 2.0T with 405hp and 395 lb-ft at the crank with the hidden 50-shot of nitrous

Drivetrain DSG automatic transmission, GIAC stage 3 DSG race software

Brakes Porsche GT3 six-piston calipers, 350mm StopTech slotted rotors f, painted stock calipers, 286mm StopTech rotors r, braided lines, Hawk ceramic pads, Motul fluid all round

Suspension Air Lift XL struts f, Slam Special SS-6 bags, Bilstein shocks, IDF lower control arms r, notched frame f&r, Air Lift V2 digital management on custom mount, AccuAir Exo mount and five-gallon aluminum tank, dual Viair 444c compressors, dual SMC water traps and check valves, custom "Hardline by Swoops", 3/8" black braided and aluminum air lines, black AN fittings

Wheels & Tires 18x9" ET34 f, 18x10" ET38 r fifteen52 Formula Split Classic three-piece wheels, gold faces, polished lips and hardware, black inner barrels, 205/40 R18 f, 215/40 R18 r Nitto Neo Gen tires

Exterior European-spec R20 bumpers and side skirts, shaved hood and emblems, badgeless R20 front grille, R20 black HID headlights, cherry red LED tail lights, LED DRLs and LED license plate lights, rolled front fenders, Green Apple metallic matte vinyl wrap with matte black vinyl accents

Interior Sparco Chrono race seats, Schroth four-point harnesses, Nardi black leather flat-bottom steering wheel, Momo hub, Audi RS3 shifter, R32 DSG pedals, R20 kick plates and mats, Safecraft Porsche GT3 extinguisher, Podi digital gauge kit with oil temp/pressure, boost/volt gauges in Mk5 steering wheel pod, candy white Autopower roll-bar, rear-seat delete with Braille 17 lb battery, carbon fiber trim, Euro headlight switch, LED interior lights, Euro dash cubby with air ride controller, ECS rear hatch release, VW first aid kit and ashtray light

2010 volkswagen GTI nardi steering wheel 08 Photo 12/13   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Lımelıght

Audio/Visual Pioneer AVH-X5500BHS head unit, rearview camera, 6.75" front and rear components, monoblock amp and 12" shallow-mount subwoofer in candy white fiberglass housings using BBS RS spike bolts, Dynamat Passport 9500ix, GoPro mount

Thanks Dena, Don, Rich, Pat & Franklin at Tuning Works, Greg "Swoops", Casey at PMG, Matt & Chris at fifteen52, Will at Bag Riders, Mike at Forge Motorsport, John at AWE, all my family & friends

2010 volkswagen GTI european spec R20 bumper 11 Photo 13/13   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Lımelıght
By Justin Fivella
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