The unveiling of VW's three R GT cars at SEMA '05 caught most people off guard. We knew about them but very few people had actually seen them in the flesh. Well, this time around things are going to be very different. We already have spies camped outside VW's Californian design studios and we're in contact with several tuners that are building cars for the show.
We'll be giving you sneak peeks of these cars in the months leading up to SEMA and we're starting with this one. It belongs to Tein, the Japanese suspension manufacturer that builds the clever in-car adjustable suspension systems we've fitted and tested (et 1/06 and 7/06).
Traditionally Tein builds a car to showcase its equipment, and last year they contributed to the arrival of the new Civic (sorry, I said a bad word!) at SEMA '05 after they were selected to create one of Honda's (and again!) show cars.
We threatened to douse the Tein offices in sake and set it on fire if they ever did that again, so SEMA '06 will see the Tein GTI breaking cover.
In addition to show duties, it's also being built for Time Attack competition and will be taking part in our annual Time Attack event at Willow Springs, to be published in our 2/07 issue.
Taking on double duties, the car has to look good and perform well, so a widebody conversion seemed like a natural choice. At least that's what Philip Chase thought, the sales and marketing manager for Tein. "We went widebody for two reasons. Obviously performance is important because it allows us to use a fatter tire to improve traction. But also there's the visual appeal that will differentiate it from a normal body kit. The kit is being developed in conjunction with BRS Auto Design and will be made available to the public after SEMA."
As you can see from these spy photos we smuggled out of Tein's appointed bodyshop, the car is coming along nicely. The widebody is in place and the interior's stripped, ready for its race preparation. With tuning parts limited currently, plans for the motor are slightly less ambitious, yet Philip is still hoping he can achieve respectable power in a lightweight car. "Our target is 350hp to the wheels but we want it to be drivable, not peaky. We're hoping it can be driven around but can also be taken to track. So we're working with Eurocode but not many parts are readily available, so many will be custom. It'll have forged Carrillo rods, forged pistons, an APR turbo and a bigger intercooler, for example."
Obviously we're delighted to see a new player on the Euro scene, but wonder why a Japanese suspension manufacturer chose a GTI as its latest project. Philip filled us in. "When we developed products for European applications they were entry-level cars like the Mk4 GTI, 3-Series and A4. Most of these have been around for at least a year, but the Mk5 GTI is still new, so we decided to start with this."
Stay tuned next month to see how the car progresses. We look forward to exclusively revealing the finished product after SEMA '06.