This citrus-hued bagged Audi TT represents something very fruity going on up in Glenrothes. We meet serial VAG modder Carl Robinson to find out more…
Feature first appeared in Fast Car. Words: Dan Bevis. Photos: Ade Brannan.
There are garages, and there are garages. Some are in it for the cold hard cash, churning through the servicing of greyscale commuter fodder to keep the coffers bulging. But others… others do what they do for an entirely different reason. There’s a simple focus backed up by a rich complexity of history – they work on cars because that’s their passion, their calling, and it’s just that simple. All of this is bolstered by years, even decades, of automotive obsession. It’s not just twirling spanners for profit, it’s living out an achievable but very satisfying dream.
Such is the case with Carl Robinson up in Glenrothes, Scotland. Over the years he’s owned all manner of modded VAG rides, including B7 and B8 RS4s, TTs, Corrados, and somewhere between fifty-to-sixty Golfs, so it’s fair to say he knows which side his automotive bread is buttered. Carl’s new venture, along with co-owner Faezan Ali, is UnitSix8, a one-stop modding shop, and the lurid citrus TT you see here was the catalyst for finally turning this ingrained keenness into a profession.
“This car was actually meant to be a daily,” he grins. “I’ve had a few before, and was desperate for another 3.2 to use for work to try keep the miles off my RS6. I’d looked at a few but they just weren’t right for me… then I found this one – standard 3.2, DSG, but painted orange which was right up my street!”
The car was found for sale on Facebook, over three-hundred miles away from home, although Carl’s a road-trip junkie who’s always seen a number followed by a string of zeroes as an adventure and an opportunity rather than any sort of barrier. “As if by fate, we were going down to a show that weekend and the car was only thirty miles from the hotel we were staying at,” he grins. “Other than the colour change the car was completely standard, and aside from a few scratches it was in really good condition. So a deal was done and I drove it back to the hotel!”
The first thing Carl did when he got back to his room was to start Googling for parts, because that’s just how this guy rolls, and within moments he’d ordered up an air-ride kit for the TT. “The 3.2s sit so high as standard, at least with the kit ordered I was a little less embarrassed about driving into the show field the next day alongside the RS6 and my mate and now partner Faezan’s bagged A7,” he laughs.
And with a certain sense of inevitability, it quickly became obvious that the new daily wasn’t going to remain a daily for long. In fact, it took all of twenty-four hours for everything to escalate beyond all semblance of rationality, plans and ideas flying in from all angles. Once back home, the show plans were in full flow and Carl began collecting parts; “we had six weeks to get the car turned around before a 400-mile drive to Northampton for the Edition38 show,” he says.
You’re right, this is a man whose work ethic would make a sweatshop employee blush, and there wasn’t a moment to lose. With the new Air Lift Performance setup pencilled in, complete with dual Viair compressors and twin tanks, it was time to consider the perfect wheels to complete the aired-out vibe. Helpfully, Carl already had a set of BBS LMs from a previous Mk4 Golf project, which he highlighted as being the perfect design for the look – although they were bright green, so clearly a colour-change was in order to ensure that the bagged Audi TT didn’t end up looking like a cartoon packet of Skittles. The centres were duly re-finished in crackle black, with chrome hardware and the lips a shimmering gloss black.
“I knew just what I wanted it to be like inside,” Carl continues. “I had the Recaro Pole Positions already waiting for a car to go in, so then I went looking for the ’cage; the 4-point harnesses followed to add to the style I was looking for, and after a few weeks of planning, two weeks before the show we started work at what is now UnitSix8. The interior was stripped out and we fitted the air-ride, then test-fitted the ’cage and started on the custom seat delete and air install.” The speed at which this slick team works is really quite phenomenal, and this is far from a case of getting it thrown together in order to meet a deadline – they may be quick, but Carl and his crew go to incredible lengths to ensure that every inch of the car is perfect. An unimpeachable finish, nothing less will do.
As such, the guys realised that a little spruce up of the paint would be in order for it to match the quality of the other upgrades. “The person who sold the car didn’t know what shade it was, and thought it was a Lamborghini colour,” says Carl. “We took it to our friend Scott at SJH Bodyworks, and discovered that it’s actually Honda Repsol orange! Scott repainted both sides of the car and the roof to ensure it was all flawless; meanwhile, the seats along with the boot build were sent to Del at Optimus to be trimmed, opting for an old Ford fabric to complement the orange exterior.”
While the car and interior were off being revivified, the UnitSix8 crew split down the wheels to be refinished along with the seat mounts, ’cage and fuel filler – all in crackle black. “It helps when your mate and business partner owns a powder-coating business!” says Carl. And so, one week before the mooted show debut, the bagged Audi TT was sat there in the shop next to a small mountain of parts that needed refitting. It took a lot of late nights and plenty of early mornings, everybody pitching in to help, and it looked touch-and-go for a while… but of course these people are go-getters, there was never any jeopardy here. Twelve hours after the build finished, Carl was four-hundred miles away in the TT, debuting the car in Northampton. “People seemed to really love it at the show, especially sat next to the RS6 – it even picked up a top-15 trophy,” he beams. And that is pretty much the perfect definition of hard work paying off – there was no messing about here, no panicking about deadlines or compromising over quality, the TT simply got done right and done fast. If this is what we can expect from the fledgling UnitSix8 outfit, then this is clearly a company we’ll need to keep an eye on.
Tech Spec: Bagged Audi TT
3.2-litre VR6, DSG
8.5×19-inch 2-piece BBS LM – with crackle black centres, chrome bolts and gloss black lips, Air Lift Performance struts and bags, 3P management, Viair 444c dual compressors, twin seamless tanks, sectioned subframe and engine spacers to raise engine
Full respray in Honda Repsol orange (inside and out), US-spec plate recess cover, crackle black fuel cap, textured-finish V6 spoiler extension
Recaro Pole Position seats – retrimmed by Optimus Automotive Trimmers in black and orange cloth, Alcantara and orange stitch, doorcards, kneepads and air build trimmed to match, side-mounts finished in crackle black, TRS 4-point harnesses, custom Quattro Sport-style seat delete – trimmed in headlining fabric, Safety Devices 4-point rollcage – finished in crackle black