When Stuart Coull started this Edition 30 project, he was chasing big power with pioneering chassis upgrades. As time wore on, he shifted his affections to the show and shine scene. Now his Candy White Golf offers the best of both worlds…
“The perfection I require doesn’t exist.” It’s a bold mission statement from Stuart Coull. And it goes a long way in explaining the flawless nature of the Candy White Golf he’s proudly standing beside, grinning like a happy loon among the splendid things he’s created. He’s like Willy Wonka, except without the inherent evil or troubling moral values.
There are a lot of bagged Golfs on the scene today, but it’s immediately obvious Stuart’s fastidious build is a cut above the rest. While many cars on the showground follow the simple formula of bags-rims-done, this fella’s paid incredible attention to every single detail of the car, ensuring the performance matches the finish and the handling matches the performance.
What’s most interesting is his evolving focus: having bought the Golf bog-standard with no intention of modifying it, he accidentally found himself going hell-for-leather with the performance upgrades, before then turning his attention to ensuring that it makes for a startling showpiece. This isn’t just any old Golf. This is a work of art. So where did all this VAG enthusiasm stem from?
“My first car – it was rubbish,” he laughs. “A Polo Match. It was completely terrible in almost every way; even when I was trying to sell the cursed thing the window fell inside the door while the guy was walking round it, which had never happened before.”
However, thanks to the influence of his brother’s Mk1 Golf project, Stuart was a Wolfsburg man from the get-go, and his second car – a Lupo GTI – is what really ignited the passion. “It was slammed on KW V3 coilovers and Porsche twists,” he recalls. “I still wish I’d never sold that thing. I adored it. It cornered like no other car I have ever driven in my life. I guess this was where I really fell in love with that GTI feeling.”
Fast forward to 2011 and, with the GTI love growing inside him, Stuart levelled-up at a local dealership in Aberdeenshire. There was a mint-condition and totally standard Mk5 Golf GTI Edition 30 sitting on the forecourt, just calling out to him. The Edition 30 is a particularly alluring variant to GTI aficionados, as it offers such treats as unique seats in Vienna leather and Interlagos tartan, a more pronounced front splitter, colour-coded skirts and rear bumper, tinted taillights and, crucially, an extra 30bhp over the stock GTI – supposedly making it quicker point-to-point than an R32.
With these specs hopping up and down before him like kids on Smarties, the man just couldn’t say no. In the twinkling of an eye, Stuart’s name was on the V5 and Edition 30 number 0020 was his.
“I fully intended to keep it standard,” he says (yep, we’ve heard that one before!). “But I had just started working overseas in a country where walking down the street wasn’t exactly safe, and boredom soon set in. I started buying parts and reading up on forums about what other people had done to their Mk5s. It was around then that I stumbled across JBS Auto Designs online – they’re big turbo specialist based in Chesterfield, England, and basically the gurus of building and tuning crazy engines.”
With his Spidey senses tingling and these new car fwiends squarely in his crosshairs, Stuart started firing emails enquiring about parts, fitting and performance. In no time, he was diving headfirst into the crystal-clear waters of big-power modifying. He didn’t mean to, but the world’s just like that, isn’t it?
“Before I knew it, I was organising for the car to be picked up from my home address and transported down to JBS for a full-on build,” he grins. “The aim was to create something that would pack a punch and still have OEM reliability and build quality. At the time, Loba Motorsport had just finished developing their LO400 hybrid turbo, and I immediately took an interest in it as 400bhp+ from a plug-and-play turbocharger was unheard of at that time. So my #0020 was to be the first car in the UK to have this turbo fitted.”
Naturally there’s a bit more to squeezing over 400 ponies out of a TFSI than bolting on a sodding great snail and watching what happens. Stuart’s next move was to have a chat with Forge about mixing a few choice mods from their stellar catalogue, before basically just buying everything from them and carting it back to the garage in a massive wheelbarrow. We’re looking at the carbon fibre Forge Twintake system, dump valve, oil and water caps, Twintercooler, silicone coolant hoses, catch tank, all sorts, taking care of the belt-and-braces to keep this mental Golf ticking.
There were plenty of other bits and bobs appearing at this time too, because when Stuart goes shopping for car parts it’s like Imelda Marcos buying shoes. He just has to keep going and going until there’s nothing left for anyone else. A Wavetrac LSD upgrade was a no-brainer, given all of the extra power he was planning to shove through the tortured front rubber, and the transmission was additionally bolstered by JBS’s proprietary seven-disc Stage 2 racing clutches for the DSG ’box. Everything underneath was thoroughly polybushed, the stock suspension was junked for a KW V3 setup in tribute to his old Lupo, the engine received forged rods from Integrated Engineering and a lovely shouty Milltek decat system. And, of course, there was the addition of the water-methanol injection system.
This makes for an excellent pub boast. The science of it is to reduce inlet temperatures by up to a 100˚C, markedly increasing fuel efficiency, eliminating detonation, and ultimately increasing peak power by around 20 percent. Which is all good fun. It basically achieves this by squirting a finely atomised mist of water-methanol into the combustion chambers at just the right time in the fuelling cycle for tiny rabbits to be pulled out of hats and all manner of fireworks to go off.
“We did, however, shear the balancing shafts,” he grimaces. “Twitchy bum moment! But it was fixed in a few days by doing a 1.8T oil pump conversion. And with it all up and running, it felt amazing to drive. The car had been totally transformed, and after they’d fiddled about with the DSG software and added their custom code mapping, the Golf made 417bhp and 451lb.ft on the dyno.” Startling figures. Of course, Stuart was far from finished. His pursuit of perfection had increasingly been drawing his eye to the GTI’s bodywork.
“I’m such a perfectionist, my mates are constantly winding me up about it,” he laughs. “I needed to find someone who could carry out a full respray to my exacting standards. James at JBS knew this and recommended JH PRO Paint. Jon at PRO Paint has a stellar reputation for show-and-shine winning, and never produces anything but the highest quality of paint jobs.”
Stuart’s choice of colour is interesting too. The Edition 30 was available in Black, Tornado Red, Candy White, Reflex Silver, Steel Grey, and Diamond Black Pearl. While Stuart’s car was in such perfect condition when he bought it that he couldn’t pass it up, the original Tornado Red just didn’t flick his switch. So the colour it wears now is another bona fide Edition 30 shade: Candy White.
“In the past few years I’ve drifted away from pushing more power out of the engine, and towards attending show-and-shine competitions to show off that paint,” he continues. “Although the car was painted six years ago, it has become an obsession for me keeping it mint. Again, total perfectionist!”
Getting carried away with that show look, it now sits on a totally custom set of 19-inch forged Radi8 R8CM9 3-piece split wheels from America, the only set in the UK, and the KWs were swapped for Air Lift struts and bags with 3H management.
“And then of course there’s the brakes, the stupid brakes…” Those yellow Lamborghini callipers you see peeping out at the front represent the perfect fusion of Stuart’s project transition, providing the stopping gumption required by the huge horsepower, and the on-point aesthetics of the showground. But they were a total pain in the arse.
“These Brembo 18Z callipers have had the faces machined off, calliper offset, and basically I cannot ever fit new pads again if I want to keep these wheels on and tuck them under the front arches,” he winces. “Thoroughly testing them to make sure they were safe after machining was a total nightmare too. They look good though!”
The final flourish was to revamp the interior, with a half-cage colour-coded to those mercurial callipers, a full boot build, and a set of truly special front seats. They’re fixed Recaro SPA race buckets which have been trimmed in the correct leather and Interlagos tartan, and they look utterly divine. And no, you can’t buy these off the shelf.
“People say I’m crazy all the time, but the car seems to get admired a lot, which makes it all worth it, I guess,” muses Stuart. That’s essentially the point – he’s obsessive about quality and has more than earned the right to soak up the love for his outstanding build. Sure, there are a few bagged Golfs on the scene. But none of them are like this. It’s Stuart’s own particular vision of perfection.