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 |   |  2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change
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2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change

Stefano Tringali counts his pennies to build a beautifully executed GTI.

Alex Bernstein
Jan 15, 2013
Photographer: Jordan Donnelly
Epcp 1212 01 o+2010 volkswagen GTI+thunder bunny side skirts Photo 1/7   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change

Sitting low with a sparkle of light in its industrial setting, Stefano Tringali’s 2010 GTI evokes a certain mood – it’s sexy. Not in a Ferrari F40 way, but there’s definitely something seductive about the lines of the sixth generation GTI, especially in its Shadow Blue, and stanced accordingly.

In a scene saturated with redundant taste and style, standing out isn’t easy, and while the VW scene is still more active than ever, it’s also endlessly adapting. Yet Stefano instinctively knew what would work, and in a parking lot packed with wild colors and poor fitting panels, simplicity takes the win.

Epcp 1212 02 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_thunder bunny rear diffuser Photo 2/7   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change

“After spending about $16000 on a Mk5 GTI, I wanted to tone this one down,” he said. “I originally wanted Shadow Blue on the Mk5 but it wasn’t available, so I petitioned VW to bring back the blue GTI, and they listened!”

There aren’t many people who appreciate a navy blue car. It’s hard to keep clean, impossible to avoid swirl marks and difficult to photograph, but Stefano appreciated the challenge; hell, he’s as overwhelmed by the outcome as we were.

“I love the color. I’d been back and forth about buying another GTI, but I saw the color and fell in love,” he explained. “I saw its potential even though I wanted to keep it stock.”

We’d all be lying if we picked up a new ride and told everybody it would stay stock forever. After all, you’re reading this because you can’t help yourself either. Embrace it – Stefano seemed to have no problem surrendering…

Epcp 1212 03 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_slat grill Photo 3/7   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change

Starting with the body, he took a minimalist approach. All mods are subtle but meaningful, particularly on the front-end where a badgeless grille was installed and the hood notch filled.

The shaved front bumper then received matching slats in the front intake and over the foglights to match the grille, losing the GTI’s honeycomb mesh in the process.

The bumper was then completed with a painted Euro lip, while elsewhere Stefano fitted Thunder Bunny skirts and a carbon fiber rear diffuser, modified to perfectly accommodate Volkswagen Touareg exhaust tips work. Check out that impeccable rear-end: Volkswagen should have thought of it…

Thankfully, Stefano’s ride doesn’t fall into the low ’n slow category. The 2.0T benefits from a stage 2 APR tune and full 3" custom exhaust with Magnaflow muffler. It was topped off with a BSH intake and complimented by painted accents and a re-badged engine cover.

Epcp 1212 05 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_touareg tailpipes Photo 4/7   |   Carbon diffuser modified for Touareg tailpipes

Filling the fenders, Stefano went with a set of 360 Forged S12 wheels but, like most Dub guys, he swaps wheels more than his socks.

“I’ve been through six sets of wheels since Jordan did the photo-shoot, and should have the seventh by the end of the month!” he exclaimed. And the plans don’t stop there.

The wheels are 10" wide all around, which wasn’t easy to squeeze inside the stock fenders, but running very stretched 215/35 tires made it possible.

Getting it low, while not necessarily enhancing the performance, was made possible with a custom air suspension kit, front sway bar delete and frame notch to clear the drivshafts.

We’d always choose strut and spring over air, and Stefano was the same. “I was a hardcore static suspension guy, but a friend was parting out his car and I couldn’t pass up the deal!” he laughed. Fine, we’ll admit, an application like this it just works.

Epcp 1212 07 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_false rear floor Photo 5/7   |   Trunk full of air and pennies

Take a peek inside and you’ll spot something interesting. “It [the false floor] was originally going to be [covered in] bottle caps, but I was working in retail at the time and we recieved a box of brand new, uncirculated 2011 final run United Shield pennies,” Stefano stated. “The polished copper just got to me.”

So any thoughts about shaving weight were forgotten as the trunk floor was covered in shiny pennies, highlighting the half-submerged eight-gallon air tank.

The shift knob was also decorated in money, and the contrast between the copper and blue seems to work pretty well. If nothing else, a car packed full of change offers good luck to its occupants.

I’ve been through six sets of wheels since Jordan did the photo-shoot, and should have the seventh by the end of the month!

2010 Volkswagen GTI

Stefano Tringali
Fort Lauderdale, FL

2.0L four-cylinder 16v FSI turbo with stage 2 APR software, 3" custom exhaust with Magnaflow muffler, 2012 VW Touareg exhaust tips, BSH Intake, painted engine accents, wheel center cap on engine cover

Epcp 1212 04 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_four cylinder 16v engine Photo 6/7   |   2010 Volkswagen GTI - Pocket Change

stock six-speed manual


Air Lift front struts, Firestone rear bags on custom mounts with Tokico shocks, dual Viair 444s compressors, eight-gallon air tank, quick connector for air tools, AutoPilot V1 air controller, notched subframe, front anti-roll bar removed

Wheels and Tires
19x10" ET38 f, ET24 r 360 Forged Spec 12 wheels with pearl white centers and copper-painted barrels, 215/35 R19 Falken FK452 tires

Front bumper shaved and honeycomb grilles replaced with slats, hood notch filled, badgeless grille, painted Euro lip, Thunder Bunny side skirts, carbon rear diffuser, rear wiper delete, 6k HID Xenon head- and foglights, Euro R LED tail lights

Custom mount for air ride controller, penny shift knob, false rear floor covered in pennies

Epcp 1212 06 o_2010 volkswagen GTI_euro lip Photo 7/7   |  
Front-end shaved and treated to slatted grille
By Alex Bernstein
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