MODIFIED MK1 AUDI TT

There’s a lot more to Pete Matthews’ modified Audi TT than a set of rims and a drop. Although that is a very good place to start…

Audi TT BBS RS

The BBS RS is so revered and sought-after in the modern show scene, it’s attained full-on legend status. While wheel fashions ebb and flow, the RS is a perennial constant; for some it’s nothing short of a way of life. When Baumgartner Brand Schiltach produced their first three-piece wheel for dealer car applications back in 1983, the RS retailed as a £1,500+ option on new cars, which was a shit-ton of money back in the early-’80s.

Audi TT BBS RS

But that option box kept getting ticked, this wheel design was like some kind of drug. It wasn’t just VWs and BMWs that you found them on either: Nissan, Chevrolet, Mazda, buyers of all brands were clamouring for the BBS RS. And now, with thirty-five years of desire under its belt, this unparalleled split-rim is on the wishlist of scene kids and race car builders alike across the globe.

Audi TT BBS RS

Pete Matthews is a man who’s firmly signed up to this retro rim-oriented obsession. “My car history started with a Mk2 Jetta, which was mint green and running a set of BBS RS,” he explains. “Then I had a baby blue MX-5, painted by myself, and again that had BBS RS wheels.” That car was featured in these very pages many moons ago, and Pete’s follow-up act was a Candy Red B5 Audi S4 (again, featured here at some point back in the swirling mists of time), and you’ll never guess which wheels that was rolling on…

Audi TT BBS RS

After a brief dalliance with a Nissan 350GT – you know, that Skyline that’s not actually a Skyline – Pete found himself taking ownership of a Mk1 Audi TT; this very one, in fact – a 3.2 Quattro with DSG, which is a pretty damn good spec right out of the box. It was never destined to remain stock of course, and the decision on wheels will come as no surprise to you! Having imported the car into the UK from Ireland (Pete lives in Northern Ireland), he set about assessing his options for the totally stock TT, and it was a matter of milliseconds before he was on the phone ordering a Slam Series airbag setup from Air Lift.

Audi TT BBS RS

“I had the BBS RS from the previous S4, and I decided they needed to be bigger so ordered 3-inch dishes for them, not thinking these would even fit the car,” says Pete. “As soon as the dishes arrived I bolted one together and, well… they didn’t fit at all! This is why the car ended up being wide-arched…”

Audi TT BBS RS

Yes, you’d probably spotted just how juicy that Audi rump has become, right? And Pete’s execution of the work is really interesting, in the modern context of the scene’s obsession with the likes of Rocket Bunny and Liberty Walk and Clinched and what-have-you. This is no bolt-on wide-arch kit, but something altogether smarter. What’s been done here is to take the stock arches and cut them out, welding in fillet sections before reattaching them, so that the standard arches sit a full two inches further out apiece. Clever, isn’t it?

Audi TT BBS RS

The TT was then painted mint green and the RSs finished in pearl white, which is how Pete ran the car for about a year before changing up the wheel specs with some 24-carat gold centres. At the tail end of last year Pete was getting busy with some louvre fabrication, deleting the rear spoiler and replacing it with some custom slits while also adding a USDM-spec bumper below, and it was at this point that we started talking to Pete about a shoot.

Audi TT BBS RS

However, before we could get the wide-arched, mint green stunner in front of the lens, a few logistical hurdles jumped in the way, and then before we knew it the TT wasn’t green any more! “Shortly after Dubshed I took the head staggers and decided to paint it Candy Red,” he laughs. And we have to say, the idea was a masterstroke – it’s turned the car from something quirky that’s trying to catch your eye like a kid on blue Smarties into something altogether classier, particularly when you also consider what’s going on in the interior.

Audi TT BBS RS

“All the work on the car has been carried out by me and my business, Paintworkz Ltd, apart from the interior retrim,” says Pete. “That was done by Optimus Automotive Trimmers, who I reckon are among the best in the UK.” The insides have enjoyed a full retrim in buttery-soft House of Weir brown nappa leather with white stitching, and you’ll find charcoal suede covering the seat backs, centre console and lower dash. Even the Nardi wheel is fashioned from rich mahogany – this TT has been elevated from perky road-racer to uber-premium supercoupe, and the levels of swank are fully off the charts.

Audi TT BBS RS

Returning to the outside, you’ll find all sorts of unique details that really showcase Pete and Paintworkz’ skills. As if the custom wide-arch conversion and sumptuous paintwork weren’t enough, you’ll also spot that the side repeaters have been deleted and replaced with louvres to echo those on the tailgate, the front bumper has been artfully smoothed, and the overall profile is reminiscent of a TT that’s been drawn by a Manga cartoonist – all the recognisable touchpoints are there, but everything’s been slightly exaggerated. It really is a superbly clever set of decisions that have been made here.

Audi TT BBS RS

“It sits a lot lower than most bagged TTs too,” Pete points out. “It’s got a custom notched subframe which gives an extra inch of drop, and it also has 20mm engine raisers, supplied by Creation Motorsport, which means that it’s extra hard to sumo the car!” The air controller has been tastefully integrated into the roof lining (well, with a posh interior like that you can’t just leave things lying around the place, can you?) and when Pete airs the Audi out, those sparkling wheels sit so perfectly in the custom-fabricated arches it’s almost too good to be true.

Audi TT BBS RS

Unsurprisingly, people’s reactions to this dazzling build tend to be universally positive. “Girls loved it when it was mint green,” he says, “and then when they found out a fat ginger bloke drove it they always had this weird look of ‘Why?’! When it went red a few people said I’d made a mistake, but I think it looks better than ever; the green made sense at the time, but I never really loved the car that colour and always regretted selling my red S4 – so basically I just made it again but in smaller form!”

Audi TT BBS RS

As for the future of the TT, Pete reveals that he’s now sold the car on to a mate; he readily admits that he enjoys the process of building a project car more than the actual ownership, and we do meet a lot of people who share this view. However, it is telling that he owned this TT for over three years, which is longer than the average modifying butterfly. So what’s next? “An E46 M3,” he tells us. “I’ve already bagged it, and bolted on a set of rims.” Yeah, and we reckon we can guess which wheels he will have gone for this time…

Audi TT BBS RS

TECH SPEC AUDI TT

Styling:
Candy Red, stock arches widened by 2-inches all round, side repeaters deleted and replaced by custom louvres, front number plate recess smoothed, USDM rear bumper, bootlid spoiler deleted and replaced with custom louvres, chrome peep mirror

Tuning:
3.2-litre VR6, 20mm engine raisers, stainless exhaust system, 6-speed DSG

Chassis:
9.5×18-inch ET0 BBS RS wheels (custom-stepped from 17”), Air Lift Slam Series bags with V2 management, custom notched subframe

Interior:
Full retrim in brown Bridge of Weir nappa leather with white stitching, fixed-back buckets with backs trimmed in charcoal suede, dash bottom and centre console trimmed in charcoal suede, Nardi Deep Corn mahogany steering wheel, air controller custom-fitted into roof lining

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Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 is pushing China’s local EV makers to be more competitive

Within the next few months, Tesla would begin exporting the Model 3 Performance and Long Range Model 3 AWD to the Chinese market. By the end of the year, the electric car maker aims to have the first Model 3 produced in Gigafactory 3, which will be equipped with both battery and electric car assembly lines.

There is a very good reason why the automotive industry is putting a lot of effort into saturating China. The country, after all, is the largest automobile market globally, both in terms of demand and supply. In 2017 alone, the country produced almost 25 million passenger cars and roughly 4 million commercial vehicles. The country is also a large market for electric vehicles, with sales of EVs hitting the 1 million mark in 2018, and estimates indicating that up to 2 million EVs could be sold in China by 2020.

Amidst this competitive car market lies Tesla and the upcoming Gigafactory 3. So far, Tesla’s electric cars — the Model S and Model X — have been competing in the Chinese market as higher-priced, premium alternatives to locally-made EVs. Tesla has been pretty successful in this sense, becoming a brand largely associated with status and quality, similar to other premium products such as the Apple iPhone. With Gigafactory 3, though, Tesla is stepping away from this strategy, as the facility is looking to produce the Model 3 and Model Y — affordable electric cars that can attack the much-larger, lower-end of the market. 

While the presence of Tesla’s massive facility in Shanghai could result in more intense competition, though, some of the country’s local electric car companies have stated that they welcome the arrival of the Silicon Valley-based company nonetheless. In a statement to Xinhua News, Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, noted that the arrival of Gigafactory 3 would likely encourage local carmakers to step up their game. This, of course, benefits consumers. 

“Tesla’s China production will have a ‘catfish effect’ in the country’s auto industry, pushing domestic carmakers to speed up their technological upgrading,” Cui said.

Jin Guoqing, deputy director of Chang’an Automobile, an automotive dynamics research institute, stated that his company would push its efforts even further now that Tesla has arrived in China, particularly as his firm targets a different price bracket and demographic compared to the American carmaker.

“We shall amplify our advantages to the most,” Jin said.

Legacy carmakers that are also attempting to breach the country’s lucrative and growing auto market are raising the stakes for their competition as well. Mercedes-Benz Parts Manufacturing & Service Ltd., for one, also inaugurated its first factory outside Europe last October. Just like Gigafactory 3, Mercedes-Benz’ factory is being built on the Lingang Area. BMW, on the other hand, also announced last October that it would be increasing its stake in BMW Brilliance Automotive, a joint venture located in in the northeastern city of Shenyang.

Ultimately, the arrival of Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 would likely boost the country’s electric car initiatives. Thus, apart from allowing Tesla to tap into what could very well be a lucrative market, Gigafactory 3 could also be the trigger that pushes even more innovation forward in the country. With vehicles such as the Model 3 and the Model Y saturating China, after all, competitors would be wise to come up with vehicles that are just as good or even better than Tesla’s electric cars.

Elon Musk, for his part, has expressed his high hopes for the facility. During an interview after the groundbreaking event, Musk stated that he has been very impressed with the construction capabilities of China so far. In his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony, Musk urged the country’s most driven workers to apply for a post in Gigafactory 3, even noting that maybe, just maybe, someone working in Gigafactory 3 could succeed him someday.

“I do want to emphasize that there’s no limit on the potential. One day, somebody could join us — a junior engineer here at Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory — and ultimately, maybe have my job someday,” Musk said.

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Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 is pushing China’s local EV makers to be more competitive

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