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2006 VW GTI - Liver Little

More than just a modified VW, Peter Tronset’s GTI got him through a serious health problem.

David Putty
Sep 27, 2011
Photographer: Kris Clewell
Eurp 1110 01+2006 vw gti+cover Photo 1/10   |   2006 VW GTI - Liver Little

Do your friends and family get it? Do they understand not only why you love your car, but why you choose to spend so much money on it? Like most of us, your answers are probably less than positive.

We imagine the friends and family of Peter Tronset’s “get it”. It’s not just that the Grand Forks, ND, resident has always been a car nut (starting with a ’89 Golf), but there’s something more profound to his passion.

Back in early 2010, Peter was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his liver. Such a serious condition facing somebody so young puts everything into perspective. So you might believe that when faced with a life-or-death situation, Peter sidelined his car hobby. However, the opposite is true. Rather than quit his project, he found it helped him get through a very difficult time. Let’s just say the “hobby” became a vital part of Peter’s therapy.

After the ’89 Golf “was conquered by a deer” during his senior year in high school, Peter decided to upgrade to a Mk4 Jetta. “I had it for a few years,” he said, “but it wasn’t me. I wanted something I could make much more aggressive.”

The purchase of a Tornado red ’06 GTI was the solution to his dilemma but, like most of us, it took some time for Peter to find his groove. Different lip kits, wheels and lowering springs followed. “The fall of ’09 was when I decided to finally build the aggressive set up I wanted,” he said. “And this was also when I contacted Brad Beardow at fifteen52 regarding Alpil/Newing products the company had. The aggressive nature of Alpil’s Mk5 styling products was right up my alley, and I wanted to buid my project around the RS front bumper.”

While body kits were very common in the ’90s and early ’00s, it’s pretty rare to see them these days. With thousands of VW forum OEM+ fascists ready to scream “Rice!” at the mention of a body kit, not many enthusiasts are prepared to go against the new conventions. But that’s a shame because diversity keeps the hobby fresh, and replacement bumpers like Alpil’s GT3-style piece from Japan can add a new dimension. Yes, the bumper is more aggressive than we’re used to seeing, but by copping some attitude from a Porsche 911 GT3, it has a familial style and stops short of being over-the-top.

Eurp 1110 02+2006 vw gti+side view Photo 2/10   |   2006 VW GTI - Liver Little

It was in early ’10 that Peter was having the bumper painted and installed while dealing with his failing health. He told us about his awesome friends and, while he was having the tumor removed, Tim O’Neil gave his beloved GTI some intensive care. “I remember being in hospital, pretty out of it and getting a photo message. My mom handed me my phone and there it was, Tim giving a thumbs up next to the freshly installed bumper, brakes and wheels. There’s nothing like breaking that stuff out in the middle of a North Dakota February!”

We’re happy to say, Peter’s treatment was a success and he’s barely missed a beat building his GTI to the desired spec. Complementing the bumper are an Alpil front splitter and Rieger side skirts with Carbon Creations skirt splitters. More carbon came from Osir in the shape of the hood, grille, rear diffuser and hatch spoiler.

Eurp 1110 06+2006 vw gti+rear view Photo 6/10   |   2006 VW GTI - Liver Little

Clearly, Peter has gone for track-ready styling, and the GTI’s interior continues the theme by way of a rear seat delete (“I’m not hauling you and your sister around!”) plus a pair of Status Ring GT seats. Further kevlar and carbon touches from Osir are sprinkled around the cockpit, plus extra gauges to monitor critical engine functions.

Tuning was kept on the moderate side because this is Peter’s daily and he hasn’t felt the need for substantially more performance. So APR software, fuel pump and 3” turbo-back exhaust got the mod list started, while a Eurojet FMIC and Neuspeed intake round things out.

With more than 200hp to the front wheels, the GTI has plenty of poke to require some intelligent chassis enhancements such as the FK Silverline X coilovers combined with Neuspeed’s anti-roll bars and upper rear stress bar.

Eurp 1110 07+2006 vw gti+interior Photo 7/10   |   2006 VW GTI - Liver Little

Last but not least was a set of 19x8" SSR Werfen GT-03 wheels wrapped in 225/35 Falken rubber. Glaring from behind the pretty wheels is a serious Brembo brake upgrade consisting of six-piston front calipers clamping 355mm rotors, with four-piston rears and 328mm rotors.

So, as far as many of our friends and family are concerned, our hobby may seem silly or even wasteful. But when it provides a welcome distraction and sets goals for somebody whose health hangs in the balance, it becomes clear there’s more to our hobby than meets the eye.

et Tech Spec

2006 VW GTI
Owner: Peter Tronset
Location: Grand Forks, ND
Occupation: CLS/HT pathology student
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder 16v with APR software, fuel pump and 3" turbo-back exhaust, Eurojet front-mount intercooler and diverter valve relocation kit, upgraded VW piston DV, Eurojet catch can, Neuspeed intake and carbon fiber engine cover, Forge valve spacer, TEKarbon carbon fiber battery and fusebox covers
Drivetrain: stock six-speed manual
Brakes: six-piston Brembo front calipers with 355mm rotors, four-piston rear calipers with 328mm rotors
Suspension: FK Automotive Silverline X coilovers, Neuspeed 25mm front and rear sway bars plus upper rear stress bar
Wheels & Tires: 19x8" SSR Werfen GT-03 wheels with 225/35 R19 Falken FK452 tires
Exterior: Alpil/Newing GTI RS front bumper and carbon fiber splitter, Rieger Tuning RS4-style side skirts with Carbon Creations carbon splitters, Osir custom-painted carbon hood, GT grille, rear spoiler and rear diffuser, Speedtech rear wiper delete, TEKarbon custom-painted carbon mirrors (with Eurojet and Evolution Euro Militia logos), Varad LED lighting, in.pro tinted turn signals, GTR 12k HID bulb set, GTR LED parking lights, window tint
Interior: Status Ring GT carbon/kevlar seats in red alcantara and four-point harnesses, AWE Tuning pedal set, amber Defi Racer gauge, GTR LED interior bulb set, NRG harness bar, OEM GTI golf ball shift knob, Osir kevlar interior trim, Osir carbon door runners, steering wheel badge, gauge bezel and vent-mount gauge pod, TEKarbon carbon door handles, TID carbon steering wheel cover, ABD Racing trunk mat, Abt floor mats
Audio/Visual: Panasonic CQ-VD7003U head unit, two Alpine PDX-1.600 amps and 12" Type-X DVC sub, custom rear-seat delete, sub box and amp rack in black alcantara, Street Wires 0-gauge cable
Thanks: Tintmasters Motorsports, Tim O’Neil, fifteen52, Osir Design, mom

By David Putty
12 Articles

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