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2012 VW Golf R - Fresh Catch

What could professional fly fishing and a 535hp Golf R have in common? Apparently, a lot…

Justin Fivella
Jan 23, 2014
Photographer: Jordan Donnelly
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Luke Williams is a car guy. The kind of gearhead who doesn't discriminate. Nor is he tied to a particular marque - if it's cool, he likes it. As a result, he's owned everything from an E46 M3 to a Mitsubishi Evo. As you might predict, each of his cars has been heavily modified, but what we didn't expect was that Williams also happens to be a professional fly fishing tour guide, who spends his days on the water and his nights conjuring up one of the baddest Golf Rs to ever hit the streets.

"I always appreciated Volkswagens but had never bought one because I wasn't fond of FWD cars. So when I heard about the Golf R in 2012, I knew it would be my next project," Williams explained.

2012 VW golf rotiform VCE race wheels 02 Photo 2/26   |   2012 VW Golf Rotiform VCE Race Wheels 02

A trip to a local dealer was planned simply as an information gathering expedition, but what ensued made it clear that the relationship was meant to be: "It just happened that during the trip to the local dealer, somebody cancelled their allocation on a Golf R order, so I was there to take their place," Williams said. "Two months later, I was the proud owner of my own Golf R."

Like most good automotive stories, this one started with meager intentions, but quickly ignited into an inferno. He might have only wanted an ECU re-flash, but within three short weeks of owning the R, he'd already entered the realm of the lowered. "My buddy had a bagged Mk4 and I always liked the thought of a slammed stance and a good ride," Williams said.

2012 VW golf LED taillights 03 Photo 3/26   |   2012 VW Golf LED Taillights 03
2012 VW golf shaved front bumper 04 Photo 4/26   |   Shaved front bumper and tinted Euro LED tail lights are the only exterior additions to a flawless package

A call to Bluewater Performance forever changed the path of this hot hatch, though, as the crew set out to build the first stage 3, bagged Golf R in three short weeks. "It didn't take long, with the help of Bluewater, to put my R on air plus an APR stage 3 upgrade because it was so similar to a Mk6 GTI," Williams explained.

Just in time for Wuste 2012, the car was equipped with plenty of Air Lift equipment, like the Slam Series front struts, SE-5 rear bags with Dorbitz Designs D-cup shorty bag brackets, a V2 management system with dual Viair 444 compressors, along with a trunk-mounted five-gallon skinny tank.

2012 VW golf air lift v2 management system 05 Photo 5/26   |   2012 VW Golf Air Lift V2 Management System 05

Not one to leave the interior unloved, Williams added what would ultimately become his favorite modification - European-spec Golf R seats. "The funny thing is, out of all the mods on the car, even over the air-ride and motor work, the seats are still my favorite addition, and I'm reminded they're awesome every time I sit down," Williams added.

Wuste 2012 came and went, and with it came plenty of supporters and the usual haters. But Williams didn't let the criticism of "ruining the best handling Golf of all time" deter him from his goal of creating an R unlike any before it. "By the end of 2012, I was ready for more power, but wasn't sure how to obtain it," he explained.

When the stock clutch started slipping, he again sent the car to Bluewater for what he thought was going to be a clutch upgrade but it grew into a larger makeover. "I went in for a SouthBend stage 3 clutch, but came away with a fully built motor. That's what happened for going there thinking about the big turbo route!" Williams admitted.

A successful fly fisherman must have scalpel precision, dedication and a ton of patience - it ain't easy. It takes a rare breed to succeed in the sport because lesser people crumble under the anguish it can evoke. Why are we bringing up fly fishing? Because Williams was hell-bent on perfection, and that led him to build a car of this caliber. "I knew that if I was going to go big-turbo, I wanted to do it right. So we built the motor to handle the abuse," Luke said.

2012 VW golf HE performance coolant overflow tank 20 Photo 9/26   |   2012 VW Golf HE Performance Coolant Overflow Tank 20

Unlike most ticking time bombs that blend a big turbo with a stock motor, Williams dropped the coin so he could turn up the boost without worrying. The stock block was fitted with forged Tuscan I-beam rods, ARP head and main studs, 9.5:1 forged JE pistons and Calico bearings supporting the stock crank. Up top, the stock head was ported and fitted with oversized Ferrea valves and springs plus billet Integrated Engineering adjustable cam gears.

With the heart assembled, the auxiliaries had to match the all-star roster of internal components, so a race-ready Precision PTE 5130 turbo was hung on an APR exhaust manifold. A Forge DV worked alongside an APR MAF and intercooler handling the charged air, while RS4 injectors and a custom Bluewater Performance fuel kit with a high-flow drop-in fuel pump took care of the fueling duties.

2012 VW golf shaved front bumper 17 Photo 10/26   |   2012 VW Golf Shaved Front Bumper 17

Other noteworthy engine upgrades included Bluewater's downpipe with an APR RSC exhaust, a Fluidampr crank pulley and, of course, custom United Motorsports software.

When the motor was finally broken-in it put down a staggering 535hp and 492 lb-ft to all four wheels at 32psi, sipping on pump gas with Snow Performance meth injection.

2012 VW golf RSC exhaust 06 Photo 11/26   |   2012 VW Golf RSC Exhaust 06

Building a motor combo of this stature is no small feat, but doing it in seven weeks was insane. "The car had to be ready for Southern Worthersee, so Bluewater worked late nights to get it done in under two months. In fact, it was ready the night before we left for the show," Williams said.

Although the methanol and high-boost tune weren't ready in time, Williams and his crew made their debut at the show.

2012 VW golf HE performance coolant overflow tank 16 Photo 12/26   |   2012 VW Golf HE Performance Coolant Overflow Tank 16

Did we mention it was sitting on a new set of custom Rotiform VCE Race wheels? "I had Rotiform build a set of VCE three-piece wheels in 18x9" and 18x10" with an aggressive fitment. They had candy-gold powdercoated centers and polished lips to replace my old OZs," Luke said.

Other additions to the killer combo included a shaved front bumper, tinted Euro tail lights, a SouthBend vent-mounted boost gauge and a 10" JL Audio W5 subwoofer in a custom enclosure.

2012 VW golf shaved front bumper 07 Photo 13/26   |   2012 VW Golf Shaved Front Bumper 07

"The finished car was well received at Euro Tripper and SoWo, and I couldn't have been happier with the setup - it's tame when you need it to be, but stupid fast when you want it," Williams said. "I wasn't a huge fan of air-ride until I bought the kit, but now I realize you can truly have the right stance when you want it, without compromising the stock handling characteristics," he added.

So to recap: it has the stance, handles like it's on rails and it makes 535hp at the wheels! Hats off to you, Luke for the impressive spec list. Builds like this don't happen by accident, but they take dedication, perseverance and patience - the same attributes of a successful fly fisherman.

2012 VW Golf R

Luke Williams
Fort Meyers, FL
Fly-fishing tour guide

Engine 2.0-liter four-cylinder 16v with I-beam Tuscan forged connecting rods, 9.5:1 forged JE pistons, ARP main- and head-studs and cam-tower bolts, Calico coated main- and rod-bearings, oversized Ferrea intake- and Super Alloy exhaust valves plus valve spring retainers, billet Integrated Engineering adjustable cam gears, Precision PTE 5130 turbo with APR exhaust manifold, MAF housing, intercooler and RSC exhaust, Fluidampr crank pulley, Bluewater Performance downpipe and FSI fuel pump kit with drop-in pump, RS4 injectors, Forge Motorsport DV, Snow Performance stage 2 water/methanol injection, United Motorsports software, HE Performance coolant bottle, candy gold powdercoated coolant overflow tank, catch can and billet valve cover

2012 VW golf HE performance coolant overflow tank 12 Photo 17/26   |   535hp Bluewater built motor has forged rods and pistons, big-valve ported head, Precision turbo and United Motorsports tune

Drivetrain SouthBend stage 3 clutch, lightweight flywheel, stage 4 Extreme engine and transmission mounts

Suspension Air Lift Slam Series front struts, SE-5 rear bags, Dorbitz Designs D-cups, dual Viair 444 compressors, Air Lift V2 management, candy gold powdercoated five-gallon air tank

Brakes Stock

Wheels & Tires 18x9" f, 18x10" r Rotiform VCE Race wheels, candy gold powdercoated centers, polished lips, 215/40 R18 Nitto Neo Gen tires

Exterior Shaved front bumper, tinted European LED tail lights

2012 VW golf air lift v2 remote 13 Photo 18/26   |   2012 VW Golf Air Lift V2 Remote 13

Interior OEM European Recaro seats, SouthBend vent boost gauge, tint

Audio/visual 10" JL Audio W5 subwoofer, custom stealth box

Thanks Gabe and Hollywood at Bluewater Performance (bwperformance.com), Jeff at United Motorsports (unitedmotorsport.net)

2012 VW golf shaved front bumper 14 Photo 19/26   |   2012 VW Golf Shaved Front Bumper 14
2012 VW golf ferrea intake 15 Photo 26/26   |   2012 VW Golf Ferrea Intake 15
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By Justin Fivella
59 Articles

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