You ain't Dubbin', unless you're rubbin'. It's an old saying many hardcore VW owners live by. For the newbies out there, we're talking about fitting the widest set of wheels possible with the skinniest tires, then lowering the chassis to reduce ground and fender clearance to zero. This usually results in the constant rubbing of tires against bodywork, something Adam Woodhams and his '03 VW GTI 20AE is used to. It's a philosophy hated by the performance purists, but embraced by the majority of style-oriented Volkswagen enthusiasts.
Adam achieved his supreme stance so the car would stand out in the Mk4 scene without complicated bodywork or engine upgrades. It's a daily driver, yet its posture raises it beyond the norm.
We rode with Adam for a good rubbing session on a cruise through his hometown in San Jose, CA where he revealed this GTI was actually a reminder of a near-death experience.
In his teenage years, he drove a pickup but his ex-girlfriend totaled it. With the insurance money he bought a B6 Audi A4. It was his first real car - his first Euro and first major possession that he'd purchased with his own money.
Adam was immediately bitten by the tuning bug and jumped on the forums. "I liked the Audi community," he explained. "There were a lot of options and it was a tight-knit community. Everybody seemed like family."
Adam continued to meet new friends and built a solid group of Audi brethren. As a result, the A4 slowly evolved as he continued to gather knowledge.
Adam would attend gatherings on a regular basis. But one afternoon his buddies decided to go for a spirited run through a nearby summit point. "The road was gnarly, full of hairpins and turns," he confessed. "I don't have any recollection, but I believe a tire blew out and I caught the lip of the road. I went headfirst into a boulder at around 75mph. It was pretty ugly but somehow I'm alive, although I'm lucky to be walking. That kind of woke me up. I realized the Audi saved me."
There aren't many cars capable of saving your life in a head-on collision at over 70mph, but the Audi proved tough enough, so Adam then decided to stick with the VW/Audi Group for his next car.
"I lost the car I really loved in the accident. It was bothering me, so I got back into it with my GTI and got it to where the Audi never was," Adam told us.
He didn't buy just any GTI, but the 20th Anniversary Edition. The limited-edition Mk4 came with extras such as the more aggressive Votex valances, side skirts and spoiler. It was also equipped with a six-speed manual, Recaro interior and brushed aluminum trim -a wonderful starting package superior to the standard model.
Although Adam had a short education in Euro tuning with his Audi, the GTI developed extraordinarily fast. He started with the basics such as suspension, by choosing Vmaxx coilovers. A Neuspeed sway bar was also fitted to the rear axle to correct the understeer. Next, came the engine performance.
"I wanted to maximize the stock turbo. I love how it drives but it needed a little programming because the car isn't quite where it should be from the factory. Although coming from the heavier B6 A4 quattro, the GTI is a lot more fun to drive," Adam noted.
He flashed Revo stage 2 software, adding a Bosch 4-bar fuel pressure regulator and Forge diverter valve to handle the extra boost. He continued installing a range of horsepower upgrades, including a Forge turbo inlet pipe and cold-air intake. A 3" downpipe with 2.5" test pipe plus Magnaflow muffler expelled exhaust gases at a faster rate, while a Neuspeed front-mount intercooler was fitted to chill the air intake charge.
We should mention Adam sourced most of the components from Supreme Power Parts (SPP). "I met Eric from SPP when looking for my first set of wheels," he explained. "I started chatting and eventually helped him sell things. That progressed into a position a SPP where I now work and get all my parts. I give my input and recommendations to people who want to make their car faster, lighter and better. It doesn't even feel like work."
Adam also used a local shop called BRacing in San Jose to fit most of the bolt-on parts.
Once the GTI was to Adam's liking, he entered the next stage of his project - its stance. "I get shit because I have 19" wheels," he vented, "90% of the Mk4 scene have 18" wheels, but Audis are mostly on 19s and I like big wheels that fit the wheel wells."
Adam owned a set of Rial Daytona wheels but "wanted big-ass rear wheels," so when SPP developed a relationship with autoART Wheels, he quickly contacted them. "I opted for 19x10.5" rears with an aggressive offset giving me a 4" lip in the back. It's poking a lot, just how I want it to look."
The front wheels measured 19x8.5" with 215/35-19 Falken FK-452 tires. But the 10.5" rears used 235/35s. Typically, a 265/30 is recommended for a wheel that wide, but Adam stretched the Falkens so the ultra-wide wheels would fit within the stock fenders - although he had to accept a little rubbing in the process.
Once his stance was dialed-in, he continued with some exterior changes to enhance its Euro essence. "I did subtle stuff only modders would notice. Not visible to the normal eye," he said.
The most noticeable upgrade is the DTM hood, which shows off a carbon fiber weave, Aero Latch hood pins and a bser look.
Next, Adam experimented with matte paint to highlight elements of the body. "A lot of guys run matte parts on Jazz blue or silver GTIs because matte black cuts the car up and gives it a nice contrast. I ran with it after starting with the mirror caps," he said.
More matte black was applied to the emblems, rub strips, badgeless grille, hatch spoiler and fuel door. A matte Seat Cupra R lip was then added to give the front valance even more depth.
Since our photo shoot, Adam's moved back to the Audi platform. His new project is an A3, which he plans to build in a similar fashion. You can bet Adam will strive to outdo the supreme stance on his GTI while having the peace of mind knowing he's safe in an Audi.
2003 VW GTI 20AE
Owner: Adam Woodhams
Location: San Jose, CA
Occupation: Sales at Supreme
Power Parts/Preferred Sales Inc
1.8 liter four cylinder 20v with Revo stage 2 software, Bosch 4-bar fuel pressure regulator, Forge Motorsport splitter diverter valve and turbo inlet pipe, cold-air intake, Neuspeed front-mount intercooler, 3" downpipe, 2.5" test pipe, resonator delete, Magnaflow muffler, Beru coilpacks
six-speed manual with short shifter
Vmaxx coilovers, Neuspeed rear sway bar
drilled and slotted rotors all round, Neuspeed stainless lines, Mintex pads, red calipers
Wheels & Tires:
19x8.5" front, 19x10.5" rear autoART VY wheels with 215/35-19 front and 235/35-19 rear Falken-452 tires, H&R lug bolts
DTM Karbon bser hood with Aero Latch flush-mount hood pins, matte black rear emblem, rub strips, center grille bar, hatch spoiler, mirrors, fuel door and Seat Cupra R lip, smoked LED halo headlights with 6000K HID bulbs, 42 Draft Designs license plate lights and 42 Draft Designs LED city lights, custom LED tail lights, two-bar badgeless grille, stubby antenna, deleted rear wiper, smoked turn signals, 35% window tint, red tow hooks
42 Draft Designs gauge pod with Stewart-Warner boost gauge, 42 Draft Designs LED lighting, Porsche Turbo steering wheel badge, red alcantara shift boot with black stitching, flannel sunroof panel
Eric at Supreme Power Parts (www.supremepowerparts.com), Robb and Bruce at BRracing, and all of my online buddies