Bagged GR Yaris | Cyborg Sakura

The fusion of delicate cherry blossoms and hardcore motorsport machinery has led to something pretty interesting in this bagged GR Yaris.

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Video: Ragit Productions/N4sty Media. Photos: Jules Truss.

The GR Yaris, as a snapshot in automotive history, is the type of car we’re unlikely to see again. The owner of this artfully modded example, Chris – aka @p3lwo – is philosophical about his reasons for buying: “There’s just something bittersweet about the car,” he muses. “Toyota never ended up using it for WRC, yet Akio Toyoda made the call to continue production because he wanted people to have it. With the prospect of the internal combustion engine being phased out in the near future and the move to spaceframe chassis meaning homologation specials weren’t needed any more it’s just a perfect storm of factors that would see any other production car being cancelled. I don’t think we’ll see anything quite like it ever again and I wanted to experience ownership of a mad little rally car while I could.”

It’s fair to say that, as a showroom model, the Toyota GR Yaris is no ordinary hot hatch. This is a limited-run motorsport project, built in the vein of the Group B homologation specials of the 1980s, created solely to be excellent rather than to be affordable or cheap to build. Make no mistake, this isn’t just an ordinary Yaris with a hot motor stuffed into it. In fact, it’s got an entirely different bodyshell to the mainstream Yaris, with fewer doors and a slopier roof. Under the bonnet resides the coolest three-cylinder engine this side of a Charade GTti; the world’s most powerful production three-pot, it’s a 1.6-litre with a ball-bearing turbo kicking out 257bhp and 266lb.ft. There’s a close-ratio six-speed manual hanging off the back, and a super-lightweight four-wheel-drive system. The bodyshell is super-lightweight too, with a carbon fibre roofskin and aluminium doors, boot and bonnet. If you tick the £3,500 ‘Circuit Pack’ box, you also get forged 18” BBS wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, uprated suspension and brakes, and mechanical front and rear Torsen diffs. Alternatively, the £1,500 ‘Convenience Pack’ gives you a premium JBL audio system and head-up display.

Bagged GR Yaris

A stock GR Yaris will rocket from 0-62mph in 5.5-seconds, and yes, it will drift: ‘Normal’ mode splits the torque 60:40 front-to-rear, ‘Track’ is 50:50, and ‘Sport’ is a hilariously lairy 30:70. So yes, this is absolutely one of the most important cars of our generation. A genuine future classic.

Of course, when it comes to modding and personalisation, a car is just a car: there will always be hand-wringing purists who’ll froth ‘You’ve ruined that!’ from behind their keyboards if you should have the nerve to mess with a hallowed classic (or indeed modern or future classic), but the evidence before us shows that this sort of fury is a load of old toffee. Chris has created something awesome here, because that’s just what he does.

Growing up next to a Peugeot garage, Chris’s formative motoring experiences happened behind the wheel of French hot hatches, before Driftland opened up nearby and he made the shift to skidding about in old Beemers. Having had his fill of fixing aged motors out in the wind and rain, he started looking at modern performance cars and, via a Hyundai i30 N, he found his path to the Toyota GR Yaris.

Bagged GR Yaris

“I actually had an order for a flat white standard car locally, but because I’m impatient I found a used car with about 1600-miles on it down in Chester,” he says. “This was a pearlescent white Circuit Pack model with the forged alloys and Torsen diffs, so I had to settle for a better spec than the one I originally ordered! I think I timed it well as I basically paid list price for a low-mileage car while they’re still being advertised online for £3-4k over list; they’ve held their value so well I feel like I got a bargain even though it wasn’t brand new.”

The original plan was to keep the now bagged GR Yaris fairly stock, but – how many times have we heard this one? – he ended up getting a bit carried away. To begin with, Chris was simply envisaging a drop in altitude, some aftermarket rims and one or two trim bits… but after a month or so of ownership, a van reversed into the rear quarter and it needed a bit of paint – and just like that, a switch flicked in his brain. Things can be fixed, things can be upgraded and/or returned to stock, why the hell not just have some fun with it?

Bagged GR Yaris

“I really should know better by now, but I guess I get excited!” he laughs. “I started to model design renders to experiment with ideas, and learned to model and 3D-print which has opened the door to all kinds of possibilities. I try to do everything myself, and learning these new skills means I’ve been able to make an intake, trim pieces, gearknobs, all sorts.

“The biggest challenge was the air suspension,” he continues. “As far as I’m aware, it was the first bagged GR Yaris in the world, which meant it was a bit of leap into the unknown. At the time I had the BC BR Series coilovers and they do a conversion kit for the front struts, but didn’t have anything off the shelf for the rears. Rather than go for custom fabrication and universal bellows, I got in touch with Ricky at Luxury Auto House who sourced the D2 air struts and I did the install myself on my driveway, like most things I do. It wasn’t too bad, but it was something I’d never worked with before so there was plenty to learn and put into practice. To this date though, not one air leak or rubbing issues so I reckon I did well!”

Bagged GR Yaris

With great suspension comes great responsibility, so an appropriately awesome set of wheels was the next thing on the to-do list. Chris was keen on the idea of something bespoke, but such things can take forever and cost a fortune; conversely, used sets tend to be staggered fitment which the GR hates due to the AWD. Fortuitously, however, a square setup of SSR Professor MS1 3-piece wheels popped up at JDM Distro and Chris immediately jumped at the chance.

Interestingly, as is the nature of a modder who can’t sit still, these wheels have already been replaced since our shoot, Chris fitting a set of Rotiform KB1s. The car’s constantly evolving, you see: having achieved 300whp on the stock ECU and turbo, it’s gone back to Flat Out Performance for further development work, and he’s talking to a couple of companies about hybrid turbos to achieve a power figure beginning with a four. Which, on a little three-pot on stock internals, is pretty mad.

Bagged GR Yaris

Don’t go thinking it’s a show pony either: “I use it all the time, it’s my daily and I use it for commuting, site meetings for work, holidays and all sorts,” Chris assures us. “It’s been really interesting seeing reactions to it; of course at first there were plenty of people quick to judge – air suspension still gets a bad rep purely through a lack of understanding so adding it to a car that was built to handle well from the factory threw a lot of people for a loop. Personally I’m not actually bothered what people think, I just shrug it off these days. I think 10-15 years ago I’d have been upset but I’m older and wiser now – it’s my car and all that matters is doing what’s right by me. I still see and hear things positive and negative, and naturally the good stuff is way more welcome than the bad stuff, but I’m not a people-pleaser or seeking attention, I’m solely focused on building my vision for the car. If people vibe with it and want to come along for the ride then great, if they don’t then that’s also great. There’s plenty of people who are keeping their GRs box-fresh and they have every right to. I’ll enjoy mine in my own way.” And that’s exactly the point. A snapshot in time, Chris is doing this by his own rules – and the results, you’ll surely agree, are pretty spectacular.

Tech Spec: Bagged GR Yaris

Engine:

1.6-litre turbo G16E-GTS, DIY forged carbon intake with Ramair Proram filter, Turbosmart Kompact dual-port BOV, Airtec intercooler, custom turbo-back 3″ single-exit exhaust system, Kelford uprated valve springs, tuned by Flat Out Performance in Airdrie for 300whp+ on stock ECU and turbo

Transmission:

6-speed manual, AWD, Airtec rear diff cooler

Suspension:

D2 Racing air struts with adjustable damping, Nshifted management, Limebug 3-gallon tank and Airllen compressor, hidden under-floor setup in boot, Hardrace rear camber arms

Brakes:

GR 4-pots, 356mm discs

Wheels:

9.5×19” ET32 SSR MS1 3-piece wheels – refurbished in matte gold with polished lips, 265/30 Accelera 651 Sport 200TW semi-slicks

Interior:

OEM GR leather/suede interior, CAE shifter, DIY forged carbon gearknob, DIY forged carbon steering wheel trim, JDM air vent cupholders, Armrest-Systems driver’s armrest

Exterior:

Pearlescent White, factory roof wrap removed, exposed forged carbon clear-coated, Spinnywhoosh Realistic Sakura livery, TOM’s front bumper, TOM’s rear bumper ducts, custom sideskirts, custom rear bumper, DIY forged carbon mirror caps

Thanks:

“Thanks to Linzi for turning a blind eye to me converting the house into a workshop/storage facility while I make all my carbon stuff and constantly rotate wheels and parts! Thanks also to Flat Out Performance for helping me with the things I can’t do myself like ECU mapping and servicing and starting to push the limits of the car; Ricky at Luxury Auto House for getting me the parts I needed to get the car on air; Max at Toyota Gatwick for providing me with seemingly enough spare parts to build a second car in the garden; Jordan and team at Pro Bodyshop Coatbridge for all their help with paintwork, tyre fitting and wheel refurbs.”

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Ken Block reveals Hoonipigasus: 1,400 hp, AWD, Pikes Peak race car

Ken Block will race at the 2022 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) in a purpose-built Porsche 911 called “Hoonipigasus.”

Built by BBi Autosport, the latest Hoonigan vehicle is mid-engined, all-wheel drive, and boasts 1,400 hp, according to a press release from Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division. It also features a specially designed transmission tunnel that goes from shoulder height down to the front axle, which helps lower the center of gravity, Hoonigan claims.

A massive rear wing helps compensate for the thin air at Pikes Peak, where racers start at 9,300 feet above sea level and climb to 14,115 feet. Despite its porcine name, the car weighs a fairly svelte 2,204 lb. It also has GPS-actuated height-adjustable suspension that uses telemetry from the previous year’s race.

Porsche 917/20

Porsche 917/20

As for the name, it’s reference to the Porsche 917/20 “Pink Pig” that raced at the 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans. After seeing the car’s engorged bodywork (the result of wind-tunnel testing to improve aerodynamics) the race team gave it a pig-inspired livery complete with marks for the different cuts of meat on an actual swine. The Hoonipigasus gets its own version of that one-off livery.

The 911 will race in the Pikes Peak Open (PPO) class, which includes few restrictions other than those related to safety. Block and BBi Autosport will be gunning for an overall win. The latter already has eight podiums and five class wins at Pikes Peak.

Block previously ran the Pikes Peak course in his “Hoonicorn” Ford Mustang for the 2017 “Climbkhana: Pikes Peak” video. He also entered the PPIHC in 2005 in a Group N rally car.

Ken Block's Hoonipigasus Porsche 911

Ken Block’s Hoonipigasus Porsche 911

 

The Hoonipigasus is one of several projects Block has commissioned since ending his exclusive partnership with Ford in 2021. He’s been clearing garage space by selling some of his Blue Oval rally cars.

Block is also tied in with Porsche’s Volkswagen Group cousin Audi. That partnership focuses on electric cars, and has already produced an all-electric tribute to the Audi Quattro S1 that once dominated Pikes Peak. Dubbed Audi S1 E-Tron Quattro Hoonitron, that car will appear in Block’s upcoming “Elektrikhana” video.

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Modified Golf GTI Mk2 With G60 Conversion

After a spate of unreliable French hot hatches, Adam Gough did the sensible thing and switched to one of Wolfsburg’s finest. All was going well, until he discovered Performance VW magazine and the VW bug bit hard. This is his modified Golf GTI Mk2 with a G60 conversion. 

Feature from Performance VW magazine. Photos: Nick Williams.

Adam Gough reckons Performance VW, plus a certain Golf we featured previously in our Mk2 Madness edition (back in 2006), has a lot to answer for when it comes to his obsession with the Mk2 Golf GTI and how his own project spiralled out of control. We’re not taking all the rap, though. Clearly attending his then local car meet, No Rice, and mixing with other like-minded water-cooled VW fanatics clearly didn’t help his condition, either…

Despite appearing like it just rolled straight off of a 1990’s German show field, Adam Gough’s Unimog Orange Mk2 was actually created much more recently than that. “I didn’t actually buy the car until the latter part of 2008,” the 37-year-old told us, “but I’ve always loved the Euro-look and cars from mainland Europe, especially since discovering PVW.

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

Having something of a chequered past when it comes to previous project cars; think Fiat Uno, Fiat Panda, a Vauxhall Nova and Ford Capri, it was actually a spate of unreliable Peugeot 205 GTIs that eventually caused him to jump ship and switch across to the VW brand. We’ve all been there… sort of!

After driving a white 1.6 Mk2 Driver for a while, the VW bug soon bit hard and Adam found himself searching for a sportier GTI model. “I did the usual thing you did when looking for a car back then, searched Auto Trader, called up a couple of tuners and even flicked through the local free ads. Yes, I’m that old!” The black 1992 Mk2 GTI he stumbled across already sported a G60 conversion, which was the main appeal, but that was about all it had in its favour initially: “I guess the car was cheap at just £1500 and pretty straight if I’m honest, however, it didn’t have an MoT and the wiring loom used from the G60 conversion was terrible,” he admitted. While he did plan to modify the car further, he never intended to get quite as carried away as he did (where have we heard that before – All?).

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

By the time he’d bought the G60, Adam was already hooked on Performance VW magazine, and he had all manner of crazy ideas flying around inside his head, however, it had been a car we’d featured back in the 12/06 issue ‘Mk2 Madness’ that really stuck in his mind. “Martin van der Woude’s TFI-powered Mk2, painted in a custom shade of orange with gold pearl really inspired me to head in the direction I did.” You ain’t kidding…

At first glance, the two cars could easily be mistaken for twins. As well as being orange, both have G60 arches, de-badged Rallye front-ends, single wipers, and smoothed, body-coloured side mouldings and bumpers. However, it doesn’t take you long to start spotting the differences as you delve a little deeper. Adam is quick to point out that while the Dutch-build car had inspired him, his project was never meant to be an exact copy.

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

Where Martin’s car featured a TSI in a fully smoothed bay, Adam wanted to retain his G60 and keep some of the original seams and apertures in the bay which his car would had left the factory with. The other obvious differences between the two cars include the door handles (the Dutch car’s were totally shaven while Adam fitted Porsche 944 items), the dashboard (Adam retained the Mk2 unit whereas Martin’s car had a Mk4 item shoehorned in) and the rear number plate recess (Adam opted for a narrow, US-spec set-up as opposed to Martin’s full-width but flush recess). Like we said, the cars maybe similar on first impression, but they’re really quite different when you delves a little deeper.

A spell of unemployment in 2009 meant Adam found himself with quite a bit of extra time on his hands (even if his cash flow wasn’t quite so flush), so he decided to strip the car down ready to send it off for a full repaint. And thankfully, the more he stripped out of the car, the more he realised just how solid the shell was. It wasn’t until the middle of 2010, however, that Adam’s chosen painter (Truxspray) was ready for the car.

“It was Old Bones Fabrications that smoothed the aerial and the second wiper hole (which was no longer going to be needed) in preparation.” Finally, the shell was dropped off at the paintshop so they could work their magic. And, if you’re wondering, Adam actually found this particular shade of Mercedes-Benz Unimog Orange while flicking through colour charts at Truxspray. It’s safe to say the colour certainly pops!

It wasn’t until a little further down the road that Adam had the centres of the wheels painted body colour by friend Ben Wilson, plus he added a couple of other body mods: “I actually bought the US-spec tailgate from Paul Ellis, who used to work at Jtec, which added another custom element to the shell. Then we fitted the new front wing I’d bought that already had a T4 vent grafted into it.”

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

While the shell was sent off for paint, Adam took this time to send off the full electric Recaro interior (that he bought for just £150) off for a black leather retrim. If you’re worried that sounds a bit too sensible (compared with the lairy orange hue that adorned the outside), don’t worry, Adam instructed the trimmers to add an orange stitching to the seats and door cards, to keep that custom feel running throughout. “The retrim was another bargain,” he continued, “I used an office furniture trimming company that had done a great job on a friend’s car. They only charged £750!”

Once the shell was painted, it was effectively one big jigsaw for Adam to assemble. As the car went back together, a few essential upgrades were added to the mix including, inside, the obligatory Momo 300mm Team steering wheel, three gauges were added to the dashboard where the stereo once lived (the latter being relocated to the glovebox) and a pair of Audioscape door pods. It was at this stage that Adam’s brother, Phil, stepped in to create a simple but effective boot build for the JL Audio upgrades that had been drafted in.

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

Adam is keen to point out that this was never a big-buck build, nor was it a car that was just shipped off to have all the work carried out, before being collected when it was finished. It’s been a labour of love that evolved over time and has seen Adam learn all manner of new skills on along the way. “The only things I didn’t do were the paint, the retrim and engine build,” he told us.

Now, it’s all well and good having a pretty car, but Adam was only too aware he needed to get his mechanical bits in check, too, before it went back together. So, his next focus was on the chassis upgrades. “I initially got a set of cheap AP coilovers from a friend, but they’ve been so good I’ve never felt the need to upgrade them for more expensive items.” While the car was in bits, it also made sense to poly-bush the suspension components throughout. A 16v anti-roll bar was also used along with G60 top mounts and Adam took the time to order a set of Vibratechnic competition engine mounts for when the G60 was ready to go back in.

When it came to rolling stock, keeping with the bargain theme the rest of the car adopted, Adam found a cheap set of BBS RM 012s for sale, which came with 1.5 and 2” dishes. “I stripped and polished the lips, but soon tired of the upkeep, so then bought a set of 2” and 2.5” stainless dishes from Mk2 guy, Chris Keeton. Not only do they look better, they’re a lot easier to maintain, too,” Adam smiled.

With body-colour centres the wheels screamed ‘Euro-look’, while a pair of camber shims out back helped him dial in the perfect usable stance. It took Adam around a year to get the car back together and it finally went back on the road in late 2011: “I couldn’t wait to get the car insured and head to my first show, which just happened to be GTI Festival at Santa Pod.” It went to a bunch of shows after that, plus Adam did some drag racing in the VWDRC and finally got to display the car on the PVW stand at TRAX 2018.

“After that show I took the car off the road to investigate an engine noise, which it transpires was a cracked exhaust manifold. While I was at it, I decided it was a good time to get my spare engine and supercharger rebuilt as I didn’t know the mileage or history of the original engine fitted in the car, so it would be a good back up to have.”

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

Long story short, Adam dropped the head off with Jabba Sport for a full rebuild and upgrades in 2018/19, but this quickly escalated to a full engine rebuild and modifications to the 1.9-litre spec he’d wanted since 2008! “By the time the engine was actually built and ready to go in, I’d sort of lost the love for the car and it sat in the garage neglected for quite a while.”

Come January 2020, thankfully Adam got the love back for the car after realising it was the original engine and bay that was letting the car down. “I decided it was time to get the new engine in, have everything else replaced, rebuilt or restored. A lot of hours went into smoothing the engine bay, zinc plating bolts, painting or powered coating parts. Then Covid hit and before we knew it 2021 was here.” By April last year Adam finally managed to get the car up to Jabba Sport so they could add a new set-up map for the fresh motor, which would then allow him to run the engine in safely.

By May 2021 Adam had changed jobs and relocated to the Isle of Wight. A lot of shows may have been cancelled due to Covid, but that didn’t stop us from organising a photoshoot with Adam.

What a journey it had been. So, was it worth it? Of course it was. Would he do it again? Yes, in a heart beat. And what’s the car like to drive? “In short, loud! Fun, but loud!” The car is clearly no trailer queen. Adam can’t be doing with cruising in the slow lane on motorways. And what does the future hold for the dynamic duo? “I’d like to fit the Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear that I recently bought the just use it! Perhaps I’ll even try to beat my current PB at Santa Pod of 14.1 sec. I’m hoping the car’s got a a mid- to low 13-second pass in it since the new 1.9-litre G60 went in.”

So, any future project cars planned now the Mk2 is sorted? “You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson, but I’m already pretty committed to a Peugeot 205 GTI restoration.”

How do you explain the car thing to friends who aren’t car people? “Stupidity, is one way to look at it. Imagine how much we’d save if we weren’t spending money on cars. At the same time, maybe it’s more about making a car unique, the way want it, enjoying it, the public admiration and the friends we meet through a mutual interest. We all need a hobby, so you might as well make it one you enjoy.” We couldn’t agree more…

Modified Golf GTI Mk2 G60 conversion

Tech Spec: Modified Mk2 Golf GTI with G60 conversion

Engine:

1.8 8v G60 (PG) over-bored to 1.9 with JE forged pistons and 144mm rods, lightened and balanced bottom end including clutch, ported and flowed standard valve P code cylinder head, port-matched inlet manifold, throttle body, Rallye U bend and exhaust manifold, Stage 4 charger with 68mm pulley, Ram Air ProRam filter, 315cc “Red” injectors, 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, 2.5” exhaust system with two silencers, Golf G60 front-mount intercooler and HRT radiator, SWG silicone boost hoses, Venair silicone coolant hoses, O2A gearbox and cable change set up with hydraulic Corrado pedal box, Magnecore leads, H&H rebuilt distributor, all new genuine sensors, fuel pump, oil pump, bearings etc. Complete engine build, running in and mapping by Jabba Sport. Power: 235bhp @ 6400rpm (220lb/ft @4000rpm)

Chassis:

8.5×15” BBS RM 012 split rims with body-coloured centres and 2.5” stainless dishes, AP coilovers, fully poly bushed suspension and cross member, Vibratechnics completion engine mounts,16v anti-roll bar, G60 top mounts, rear camber shims. Powder coated and rebuild Corrado G60 single piston calipers, Mtec dimpled and grooved discs, EBC Green Stuff pads all round, braided hoses, Mk4 Golf rear caliper conversion, EBC rear discs, G60 master cylinder, Mk7 Golf cap (no sensor), re routed cupro nickel brake pipes

Exterior:

Painted in Mercedes Unimog Orange, G60 front and rear arches, Rallye front end with debadged textured grille, smoothed front bumper, US-style boot lid and rear lights, brushed Porsche 944 scripted handles, aerial removed, single wiper with holes smoothed over, semi smooth engine bay, battery relocated to boot, heated electric mirrors, smoked indicators, SWG smooth scuttle panel and headlight eyebrow

Interior:

Electric Recaro Mk2 Golf interior, 60/40 split rear bench with headrests, all retrimmed in black with orange piping, Momo 300mm steering wheel, 3 gauges in the stereo slot, chrome inner handles, 160mph speedo fitted, stereo in glove box, leather gear knob and gaiter, A/C switch panel, headlight adjuster, engine check switch, speaker fade switch, Audioscape door pods

Audio:

Kenwood DAB head unit, JL Audio components C5-650x and amplifier 300/4 v2, JL Audio subwoofer and cross overs, Stinger gel battery, custom boot build

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