Several months ago we began In The Garage (see p24); a regular look at interesting projects under construction. At the time, we knew there were a number of cars under construction for SEMA and wanted you to get a first glimpse of what you could expect in the near future.
Of the cars included in the first installment there were two Mk5 GTIs. At the time, the only similarities were the base vehicle and final destination. But as it turns out, they had far more in common than we realized.
When we walked through the doors at SEMA '06 and saw the finished machinery for the first time, it became obvious we'd witnessed the construction of two significant cars. Both were crossover hits from two companies normally associated with the import scene, both were widebody, both were carbon covered, had big brakes and wore cross-spoke wheels. And what's more, both were persuaded to allow us exclusive access to the cars after the show.
You can read Sam's report on the Extreme Dimensions GTI on p36 but in order to find out more about this Tein creation we spoke again to Philip Chase, the Sales and Marketing Manager at Tein USA.
For those who don't know, Tein is a Japanese suspension specialist with divisions in the USA and UK. The American arm regularly builds cars to showcase its products, but this is its first foray into the European market. Why? "Our company has been producing parts for European cars for the past two years and we're hoping this GTI will get our name out there," Philip explained. "When we were planning for SEMA '06 the GTI was brand new and within our price range, so we opted to build one.
"Most Tein project cars are white and we purchased a car in April from a dealer - we didn't get any special discounts from VW. The car only had 130 delivery miles on the clock when we started to disassemble it. We wanted to finish the car early for once, but that didn't work out.
"Normally Tein is conservative with engine work, but with the GTI we felt power mods would make more of a statement since most Euro owners don't do this,"
Work began with the Tein crew stripping the interior and removing the motor. "We scraped all the sound-deadening from the bodyshell and took out 20 lb of tar in the process. That's when we discovered VW engineers use Torx screws to build the cars, so had to buy new Snap-On tools," Philip revealed.
The motor was also stripped and the long block delivered to EuroCode Tuning (EC) in Torrance, CA. "They're one of our dealers and are located close-by. They were also very enthusiastic to participate in the project, so it worked out well," Philip said.
With Tein's conservative nature, they decided to "do it once and do it right," according to Philip. "We decided to build the engine so it would be strong enough for high boost pressure, rather than blow it up and have to rebuild it later."
While this is a worthy notion, the reality for EC was that very few parts were available for the 2.0T at the time. Consequently, the only way to get forged JE pistons and Carrillo rods was to send the factory parts to each manufacturer and have them create the required parts. Surprisingly, they didn't take this opportunity to lower the compression ratio, preferring to retain stock drivability.
Once the pioneering parts were produced, the forged rods and pistons were sent to Cosworth for balancing, along with the crank and lightweight EC flywheel.
The team also sought performance cams and valvetrain products, but the search came up empty so the stock parts were retained.
The motor was reassembled with the stronger bottom end and a K04 turbo upgrade sourced from APR, along with the accompanying software and EC front-mount. The turbo is bolted to an APR manifold and 3" stainless steel downpipe with high-flow cat. The exhaust was then completed with 3" mandrel-bent tubing, resonator and muffler from Vibrant Performance.
The result is a claimed 260hp with 300 lb/ft of torque, but Tein expects to soon adopt APR's more powerful GT2871R turbo upgrade since they have the stronger bottom end.
Along with Cosworth balancing, the engine's rotating assembly and gearbox internals were shot-peened by WPC Treatment. This process produces an utterly smooth, low friction finish on all surfaces that further contributes to strength and durability. The gearbox was then rebuilt with a Quaife LSD to aid traction.
As for the bodywork, Tein originally envisaged a conservative Abt lip kit but when they had a rendering done, the illustrator gave it a bolder look. This was shown to BRS AutoDesign in City of Industry, CA. They liked it and decided to recreate the rendering.
The GTI would be Tein's third widebody. The previous two had been fabricated in metal but weren't track-friendly because they were heavy and difficult to repair. So Tein decided to build this car from glassfiber, bolt on the rear fenders and leave the car white rather than apply custom paint work.
The process of recreating the illustration wasn't easy. BRS attempted two front bumpers and four different side skirts before being satisfied with the results.This inevitably delayed the schedule, and what had been expected to take one month actually took three times longer.
The end product is a body kit that simply bolts on. Even the rear fenders can be screwed into place once the metal arches have been cut away to provide clearance for bigger tires. The front fenders bolt on as well, so would be easily replaced if damaged - all part of Tein's original plan.
The body kit consists of a front bumper, front fenders, side skirts, rear flares and a rear half bumper constructed in glassfiber that's been strategically reinforced. BRS also manufactured a carbon front splitter and rear diffuser to complete the package. They were even responsible for the carbon roof skin.
To reinforce its lightweight motorsport theme, Tein approached regular partner Seibon that specializes in carbon bodywork and was able to supply door skins, a hood, grille, hatch and rear wing in the high-tech material.
Once all the parts were fitted, the GTI was delivered to Autowerks in El Monte, CA for paint and a pearl lacquer. With the schedule delayed, they had one week to complete the work. Tein then had one remaining week to reassemble the car before its public debut in Las Vegas.
One of the harder tasks was installing the custom cage fabricated by Rothschild Fabrication (RF). The company had received the car early in its cycle so it could take all the necessary measurements. It then produced a bolt-in cage that allowed the interior trim to remain in situ. RF also constructed front fender braces that triangulate the firewall and shock towers to reinforce the front end after the rear cage had been installed.
The cage would then be home to a pair of 12 lb composite gas bottles from Nitrous Express. These feed the intercooler spray that automatically activates when full boost is reached.
Up front, Bride Gias seats were fitted. These recliners were fully optioned with black outer panels, graduated grey centers, red stitching and carbon/kevlar back panels. Mated to Takata harnesses, these products represent some of the most popular Japanese performance products. "We always wanted a combination of Japanese and European parts," Philip explained. "We looked for the best products, regardless of country of origin but since we've worked with many of the most sought-after suppliers from Japan on previous projects, it was inevitable we'd return to them for the GTI."
Inside the car we found a brace of Defi blackout gauges that illuminate blue to match the GTI's interior lighting. These include three in the console, EGT in the cupholder, boost on the steering column and voltage in the glovebox.
Upholstery specialist Form & Function created a suede boot with red stitching for the gear change. They also trimmed the door panels in black suede with red stitching, a red trim line and Tein logo. This was matched on the rear quarter panels. The company also built a board to cover the rear seat mounts, installing a Rockford amp underneath.
A second board was used to cover the trunk floor and conceal the battery below in an aluminum box. It sits on a steel plate that strengthened the floor after the spare wheel well was cut out.
Although the Tein GTI is a track car, it's also a show car, so a Rockford amp and speakers were installed, along with an Alpine head unit. It also has an iPod cable and Alpine's Blackbird nav unit, but there's no subwoofer in the interest of weight.
For a suspension company like Tein, the GTI's chassis was obviously paramount. The first addition was its own Euro Damper coilovers. These are a monotube design developed for the European market since they're quieter and more refined. This is because they carry more oil than a twin-tube damper and have larger valving for a smoother ride. It's also easy for Tein to tune the ride to individual requirements, needing just two weeks to complete the work.
The dampers allow the use of high rate 2.5" springs without affecting comfort, but Philip admitted the use of hardened rubber mounts and comfort valving made the coilovers more suitable for fast road than track use.
The coilovers were fitted with Tein's Electronic Damping Force Controller (et 1/06). This ingenious equipment activates a motor on each damper to adjust damping force from inside the car. The EDFC was mounted below the headlight switch and gives the driver 16 points of adjustment via the digital display. There are also three presets that give instant access to preferred settings at the touch of a button.
We've used EDFC before and have even fitted it to our E46 project car (et 7/06). We found it very flexible. The range of adjustment is surprisingly wide and gives the ability to tune out road imperfections on the move, or set it for fast-road use. Currently there are a number of Euro applications, with more on the way.
The brakes are StopTech's finest and sit behind 19" AutoArt cross-spoke wheels. These are American made and the forged centers are said to be very low weight. Custom offsets allowed Tein to squeeze deep-dish 19x10s under the rear with 265/30 Falken tires. This adds to the drama of Tein's GTI and makes the bodywork worthwhile.
For the track they'll use the same wheel and tire combination, but with grey wheel centers in 18" diameter and a different Falken compound.
We're hoping to climb behind the wheel of Tein's GTI and tell you how it works. However, we have to wait for it to return in the spring from the Tokyo Auto Salon where it'll be taking a taste of American Euro tuning to the land of the Rising Sun.
It's now time to turn the page and read about Extreme Dimension's similar but very different widebody GTI (p36).
Tein Usa, Inc
Location: Downey, Ca
Occupation: Suspension manufacturer
2006 VW Golf GTI
Engine: 2.0 liter 16v FSI with custom Carrillo forged rods and JE Pistons forged pistons, balanced and machined by Cosworth with full rotating assembly, treated pistons, rods, wrist pins and rings, APR K04 turbo and manifold, 3" downpipe and ECU tuning, EuroCode front-mount intercooler and lightened flywheel, K&N intake, Vibrant Performance 3" exhaust with mandrel-bent piping, NX N-tercooler kit with composite 12 lb bottles, pressure gauges and billet rollcage mounts
Drivetrain: WPC treated six-speed transmission, Quaife differential, EuroCode clutch
Brakes: StopTech 328mm big brake kit with four-piston calipers, Earl's stainless steel brake lines, stock rears
Suspension: Tein Euro Damper coilovers with Electronic Damping Force Controller, Rothschild Fabrication six-point bolt-in rollcage and front fender braces
Wheels & Tires: 19x9" +15 offset front, 19x10" +6 offset rear AutoArt VY wheels with gold centers and polished lips for street use mounted on Bildon wheel studs and lug nuts with 235/35-19 front, 265/30-19 rear Falken FK-452 tires. 18x9" +15 offset front, 18x10" +6 offset rear AutoArt VY wheels with gunmetal centers and polished lips for track use with 235/40-18 front, 265/35-18 rear Falken RT-615 tires
Exterior: BRS AutoDesign widebody including front bumper, carbon front splitter, front fenders, side skirts, rear flares and rear half bumper, Seibon carbon fiber door skins, hood, grille, hatch and rear wing, custom carbon roof skin, pearl white paint by AutoWerks Body & Paint, Euphoric Designs graphics
Interior: Bride Gias reclining bucket seats, Takata 3" harnesses, Form & Function custom door panel inserts with Tein logos, Defi gauges for boost, oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, EGT and voltage, Momo shift knob with Form & Function shift boot
Audio/Visual: Alpine CDA-9857 head unit, iPod direct link, Rockford Fosgate five-channel amplifier for front and rear component speakers, Form & Function custom rear seat and trunk covers, HeelToe dry cell battery in aluminum battery box in trunk