Going above and beyond in his quest for the ultimate show car, Neil Montgomery’s tuned Mk5 Golf GTI is even rocking custom 3D-printed parts to ensure it now stands out for all the right reasons…
Unless you’re one of the very few out there who are lucky enough to be able to shell out for a brand new, lime green McLaren, it can be much trickier than you think to really set yourself apart on the scene with your four-wheeled companion of choice.
Sure, the beautiful world of aftermarket upgrades that this fine publication revolves around certainly opens up plenty of options to make your motor that little bit more unique and personal to your tastes, but chances are you’ll see at least one other car at the next show you go to that’s boasting some similar modifications to yours, especially if you go for off-the-shelf parts.
Thankfully, though, there is a solution to the problem, as we’ve just been so beautifully reminded after spending some time with electrical engineer Neil here and his next-level Mk5 Golf. His secret to creating something that provides so much more of an impact than most? Plenty of blood, sweat and tears, and the willingness to create entire parts from scratch where necessary to fulfil his vision. Because, as we’re about to find out, being awesome doesn’t come easily…
“Personally, I think the Mk5 is the best-looking Golf,” Eastbourne-based Neil admits, soon on the hunt for a GTI-badged example of this celebrated mid-noughties hatch after owning a string of SEATS that sold him on VAG-group cars and their infamously impressive build quality.
There were a few caveats thrown in as he began to trawl eBay, however: one revolving around some torn ligaments in his knee that resulted after landing at a dodgy angle at work a few years back and meaning an automatic car would be the most suitable option, and the other being one all of us can relate to in the form of a fairly limited budget. “I loved the look of the Edition 30-spec cars, but couldn’t find one in my price range, so decided to look at this DSG-equipped GTI instead,” he recalls.
Before going to view this seemingly tidy Reflex Silver model, though, another hurdle soon sprung up, this time in the form of one of his children dropping a bowling ball on their foot and leaving Neil house-bound for the next couple of days. “The owner kindly offered to drive down to my house so I could look at it… he said he could do with a drive and wasn’t bothered about whether I committed to buying it or not,” he continues, clearly stumbling on another genuine car fella. “It was super-clean so we did a deal. I’d like to once again thank him for his kind gesture if he’s reading this!”
With a sumptuous three-door slice of VW’s 200bhp hot hatch now on his hands, plans were soon afoot to get this very modify-able machine tailored slightly closer to Neil’s needs in the form of some light fettling here and there. It’s how some 19in Bentley rims soon found their way onto the car, swiftly followed by some 25mm lowering springs that ensured a much nicer ride height was offered up. Things were initially meant to end there, but we think you can probably already tell that was actually only just the start of the story…
“I’ve always wanted to have a good go at building a proper show car and installing air ride on one of my vehicles, and had a conversation with my partner about it one day,” Neil tells us – something that can often become a make-or-break moment in any car build. “She turned around and said ‘if that’s what you want, go for it’, although I think she’s regretted it since!”
Less than a week later, then, a range-topping Air Lift Performance kit was on its way to Neil’s abode, with a mental list of other parts slowly-but-surely taking shape in his head to complement the huge drop this new suspension setup would undoubtedly offer up. It began by Neil’s partner very kindly driving the pair from the bottom of the UK all the way to the top – up to Scotland to pick up a set of 20in OZ Racing alloys that matched his exact requirements – Ultraleggera HLT jobbies in matte graphite that promised to look a million dollars up against the bright silver bodywork.
“I’m a firm believer that if you add big wheels, you need big brakes to match,” Neil explains, his clinical attention-to-detail beginning to shine through even at this early stage. Cue some monstrously capable Audi TTRS and RS4 stoppers taking pride of place both front and rear respectively, all finished up in VW’s Tornado Red colour that would play a massive part in the styling elsewhere down the line.
With his fave show – Edition 38 – only weeks away, Neil ramped things up a notch at this stage, snapping up an Edition 30 interior and forming a carbon fibre addiction after discovering the process of carbon skinning – something he applied to a large number of interior panels to great success. With plenty of love for his quickly-forming beauty to be received at this Dub event, it also spurred him on to keep the momentum going upon his return.
“Paul from C6 Carbon took over the carbon fibre duties, while Gary from GDF Steelworks whipped up a half roll-cage that I’d designed on my computer,” Neil modestly reveals, with plenty more of the lightweight weaved material finding its way into the cabin in the form of bespoke parts, and the ‘cage itself being finished off in none other than that bright Tornado Red hue, of course.
It’s at this stage where Neil’s out-and-out dedication to ensure his pride and joy was like nothing anyone had ever seen before really began to shine through, though. “I wanted to add some sounds into the car, so decided to build my own sub-woofer box,” he explains. “It was around the time I had an operation to remove a metal plate from my leg, which left me sofa-bound for three months.” While many would use this time for rest and recovery, Neil could be found finishing up the boot install from his sofa, leaving him with the mother of all installs now that not only sports a killer ICE setup, but also a sumptuous air display complete with carbon fibre tanks and all the trimmings.
Still not happy to settle, a relatively new technique of parts production soon entered Neil’s life, not only changing his car but his career path for the better. “I started 3D printing parts that I couldn’t buy, which proved such a success that I started to sell them within my newly-formed company, Bespoked Customs.” As well as custom door and bonnet stays, the Golf now rocks a raft of other one-off touches, such as the seat adjusters and air tank valve covers – certainly not lengths you’ll see every owner going to with their car, that’s for sure!
Neil’s story reminds us that, if you really want to do things differently from the rest, you better make sure you’ve got the minerals to dive head-first into the unknown, keeping faith regardless of what life throws your way. It might sound daunting, but it only takes one look at this Mk5 to prove that it’s always worth taking the more challenging route in life.
“My partner asked me the other day what style I thought my car has ended up like, to which I described ‘OEM retro plus’,” Neil ponders – a fitting phrase for what’s on offer here. Keen to ensure parts like his air suspension drove to at least the same high standards as the factory components, as well as now housing a healthy 357bhp motor, it ain’t no show pony, often getting a good blasting on his local Sussex country roads. Because if you’ve created something this special, the last thing you want to do is lock it away all the time…
TECH SPEC: MK5 GOLF GTI
Reflex Silver body; SRS Tec 25mm widened front wings with modified inner arch liners; EM Tuning modified headlights (featuring Morimoto bi-xenon bulbs, Reflex Silver LED Shrouds and frosted indicators, all de-chromed with laser-etched projector lenses); custom LED R32-spec rear lights (with clear lenses, de-chromed with satin black details and Skyline Modon inner tailgate lights); OSIR carbon fibre front grille, rear DTM-style diffuser, Telson rear spoiler and B-pillar panels; LED lights in outer door handles; custom carbon fibre tailgate and bonnet struts with 3D-printed end caps.
2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine; K04 turbocharger upgrade; custom induction kit with enlarged Pipercross cone filter; Forge Motorsport front-mount intercooler; Forge Motorsport diverter valve; Audi RS3 fuel injectors; Audi RS4 fuel rail pressure valve; 136bar uprated high-pressure fuel pump; 200bar fuel rail pressure sensor; 3bar MAP sensor; Audi R8 coil packs; iridium spark plugs; Creation Motorsport PCV delete; full turbo-back BCS Powervalve exhaust system with black ceramic coated twin oval tips; R-Tech ECU re-map.
Six-speed DSG semi-auto dual-clutch gearbox.
8.5x20in OZ Racing Ultraleggera HLT alloy wheels in matte graphite; Wheelworx custom centre-lock caps; Air Lift Performance air suspension system (with Performance front struts, double bellow rear bags, Slam XL rear shocks and 3P management); Hardrace rear camber kit; Audi R8 eight-pot calipers with 370mm Audi TTRS (front); Audi R8 four-pot calipers with 365mm discs and separate handbrake calipers (rear).
Mercedes A45 AMG Recaro front seats in red/black leather with black Alcantara centres and red stitching; 3D-printed adjuster inserts; C6 Carbon full interior dash kit (comprising centre dash, dash end covers, air vents, dash/door inserts and DSG gear surround); Mk6 Golf steering wheel with C6 Carbon carbon fibre finish and Lavish Automotive Alcantara re-trim with red stitching; custom S2T gloss red DSG paddles; all gloss chrome trim replaces with gloss black/red highlights; black Alcantara-trimmed interior components (including sun visors, arm rest, gear gaiter, handbrake cover, roof lining and door car inserts); DPM Auto Body gloss black components (including door tops, dashboard, centre cubby and arm rest); GDF Steelworks rear roll cage; full boot install (comprising custom seat delete with anthracite carpet; twin carbon air tanks, LED-illuminated Alcantara frame with satin black hardlines and 3D-printed valve covers); Kenwood DNX518VDABS GPS navigation system head unit; full Bespoked Customs audio boot build (comprising Kenwood DRV-N520 dashcam, Kenwood KFC-WPS1200F 12” sub-woofer, Kenwood KFC-S6976EX 6×9 speakers, Kenwood KFC-XR18009 two-way speakers, Kenwood X501-1 sub-woofer amplifier and twin Kenwood X301-4 speaker amplifiers).
I’d like to say thank you to all my friends and family for pushing me to do the build and come up with new ideas, also Dave at DPM Autobody, Gary at GDF Steelworks and Paul at C6 Carbon. But mainly my partner, Bex, for putting up with the late nights and the support she has given me to get on and make my dreams come true.
Words Sam Preston Photos