Master craftsman Richard Klarby is back again to take the world stage with his newest ride. And he certainly deserves very close attention, having created a custom, yet functional, matte-metallic show car of international quality. The builder has struck a balance between show-style and OEM+ that's perfectly passive-aggressive, and was handcrafted by the owner to an impressive degree.
Of course, many would hesitate before taking VW's most powerful production car from the dealer floor and cut it up. But Richard is a bit skewed. His reputation was built on painting a multitude of show cars over the last ten years. He's worked on everything from widebody Corvettes to a range of high-horsepower Supras and top-notch BMWs - most recently a baby blue E92 M3.
Skills don't come easy. And with incalculable time invested in insurance claim restorations, the large workload and long nights away from his family have resulted in an unprecedented level of experience and expertise.
Despite the sacrifice, that's how Richard is always able to deliver something of absolute perfection. And after building a prize-winning Mk4 Golf, he decided to invest in the new VW Golf R for other reasons.
At first, the R was intended as a daily driver, delivering Richard from his home near Nyköping in Sweden the 60 miles to his paint shop in Stockholm and back. It was an excellent choice but we know car builders. They can't leave anything alone for long, and it was perhaps inevitable that the R would be modified.
"It looked like it was wading through cold water," Richard laughs, referring to its stock ride height. "I had to do something quickly, so I got KW coilovers."
The stock 19" wheels were painted bright red to accent the black body, but that was only stage one. Arriving by express delivery from Denmark were a set of ultra-wide 20x10 and 11" Rotiform NUE wheels in shimmering gold.
Fitment issues were expected, and rolling the fenders were the obvious solution, but this didn't resolve the problem. So Richard cut the fenders on his new car, skillfully slapping Audi allroad flares over them, sectioning them to get the correct radius and extending them inward. "Nobody thought the wheels would fit, but I proved them wrong," Klarby smiled.
Having taken such a radical step to fit the wheels, he was now committed to far more work since the fenders would have to be painted, so why not do the whole car?
At his first attempt, everything above the window sills remained factory black, while the body was sprayed in the same Candy Red as the previous Klarby Mk4 Golf.
The R was now a red, black and gold show car, but he wasn't finished. The long Swedish winter arrived and new inspiration came with it.
The Stance trend was heavily influencing the hearts and minds of Scandinavian tuners and as the snow fell outside, Richard decided it was time to take the next step.
Choosing an Air Lift air suspension system from fifteen52 in the US, he installed Slam Series struts and two chromed Viair 440 pumps with a "shorty" tank. The installation was done with help from a man known only as "The Professor" and the bar was set high - it wouldn't just be lower; it would be slammed.
For maximum impact, the Audi fender flares were cut off and repositioned further out, snuggling up to the wide wheels at the lowest ride height possible. The bodywork was carefully stitched together by Richard, tailoring the placement with millimeter precision.
Once completed, the fitment was truly epic. The 20" forged three-piece wheels had no room to spare. American-made from the finest 6061 T6 aluminum, the concave, deep-dish wheels were slathered in sparkling Candy Red paint and tucked in tight.
The stance also required 245-section tires stretched over the 11" rear wheels with 3.5? of negative camber. It's created an extreme appearance that wins fans and mystifies onlookers in equal measure.
While Richard's Mk4 Golf was finished in an almost nostalgic '60s Candy Red paint, his new flame has a high-tech slant. The painter selected a sparkling, high-grain, matte paint using Ferrari Tungsten Silver on a PPG base, finished with a matte lacquer. In its execution, Klarby displayed his painting prowess with a technically demanding approach. And, of course, it's all laid on top of a serious amount of preparation work. Success starts from the core.
Looking at the body, you'd be hard pressed to see any inconsistencies, yet the matte paint is very revealing. The finish is similar to the anodized aluminum you find on Apple products. It's smooth to the touch, reflecting light like pearl paint, yet in natural sunlight it's almost solid grey like a spaceship. It's certainly intriguing to look at.
"At car shows I bring separate paint samples for people to touch," Richard said. "Otherwise I have millions of fingerprints on the car because people instinctively want to touch the paint. But it's all good; you have to get close to understand it."
Inside, the stock VW black cloth-and-leather combination was substituted for something more eye-catching. Drawing on the red accent of the wheels is a custom interior reupholstered in red and black leather, courtesy of Bilskraddarna.
Up front, red and black Recaro Sportster RS seats have red contrast stitching and painted shells. The matching rear seats are flanked by red door cards with black surrounds and contrast stitching.
Richard's previous Golf housed dual 15" subwoofers in place of the rear seats, so Klarby wanted something more modest for this project. Recruiting friend "Kotten" for assistance, they spent 40 sleepless hours building the trunk the weekend before a big show.
The audio consists of DLS Reference component speakers, RA amplifiers and four 6.5" subs in a custom enclosure. Everything was made to perform, fully insulated as an altar of audio that also highlights the air suspension equipment alongside it in the trunk.
With its wide shoulders and pouncing stance, Richard's Golf R is anabolically enhanced. Yet the body was organically extended to retain factory quality. And in case you weren't sure what passed you on the freeway, a Lamborghini Aventador-style trapezoid exhaust tip sits in a custom valance to confuse you even more.
"It's probably the first widebody Golf R to be built," Klarby proclaimed. "I've looked everywhere and haven't found another."
We believe him. After all, he made a thorough search, traveling 1200 miles to the annual GTI meet in Worthersee, Austria to be sure. Of course, driving the heavily cambered R with his Mk4 Golf tagging along for company made an epic adventure to show off Swedish stance, mingling with the elite German tuners and 120,000 visitors. Naturally, the car was a huge hit and went viral on social media as soon as it was spotted.
Despite the huge amount of work that went into it, the Golf R is currently for sale to summon the next project. However, Klarby won't reveal what he's got in store, but we look forward to finding out.
2011 VW Golf R
Engine 2.0L EA113 TSI inline-four 16v turbo with hand-built stainless steel exhaust tip, painted engine cover
Drivetrain six-speed DSG transmission, 4Motion AWD
Suspension Air Lift Slam Series front struts, dual Viair 400c compressors, four-gallon steel air tank, remote control
Wheels & tires 20x10" f, 20x11" r Rotiform Concave NUE forged three-piece wheels, Candy Red centers, polished lips, 225/35 R20 f, 245/35 R20 r Nankang NS-II tires
Exterior custom widebody with Audi allroad flares, custom splitters and gloss black rear valance, debadged gloss black front grille, black roundel, carbon fiber rear wing, shark fin antenna, adaptive VW bi-xenon headlights and LED DRL, Dectane V39LSL LED tail lights, underside of hood in Candy Red, gloss black LED mirrors, car painted Ferrari Tungsten Silver with PPG basecoat and matte lacquer
Interior finished in red and black nappa leather with contrast stitching including Recaro Sportster RS seats with R logo stitched in, Candy Red and black seat shells, R Sport steering wheel with grey contrast stitching and perforated leather
Audio/Visual Pioneer AVIC-P9310BT double-DIN head unit, DLS RM6-2 front component speakers, DLS 426 rear, four DLS 6.5" RW6 subwoofers in custom ported enclosure, DLS PowerCap, concealed DLS RA10 and RA25 amplifiers
Thanks My family, Patrick Adel, Uffe at Lycksele Bildemontering, Niclas at DLS, Johan at Pioneer, fifteen52, Eric and Kotten at dialect, Micke at Carsystem, Matte "The Professor", VW-Smurfen, Bilskraddarna, Aker