Project GTI: All The Small Things
Truth Care, Truth Brings

Over the course of the last seven days, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I also have a confession to make.

Ever since moving to Dublin, and to the joys of on-street parking, I’ve been letting things slide with Project GTI. It’s half been a case of inability to perform any maintenance for fear of being run over by passing traffic and half due to a completely full calendar. Needless to say, it couldn’t be allowed to continue.

Considering I’m the sort of person that harbours anger when my car is dirty, the accumulation of small issues had reached a point where something had to be done. Now, it’s worth pointing out that none of the issues were in any way serious, just those small things that can worm their way under your skin. If you’re reading this, you’ll likely know the sort.

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So, I put a plan in motion. I started by writing down every current grievance or concern that I had into a to-do list on my phone. I then started the process of parts gathering before booking the car into Stone Motorsport to see just how much we could put right over the course of a day.

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With the car having recently passed 62,000 miles, it was no surprise that the front suspension bushings were getting tired and a small knock had developed from the front driver’s side. A recent track day had taken its toll on the Tarox brakes, which have been fitted to the car for nearly 18 months, so they were overdue some some love too. A vibration under braking had developed, which also needed to be investigated.

These weren’t problems, rather they were opportunities. Brendan Stone had the misfortune of dealing with me for the day; he’s a former IDC champion with vast experience across various motorsport disciplines including rallying and time attack, so I was in good hands. His first actions were to get the discs off and send me to a nearby trusted engineering shop to have them skimmed, after a previous skim with a different shop had only exacerbated the vibration issues.

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With the discs off, Brendan inspected the hubs and discovered a peculiar irregularity that definitely wasn’t helping the braking issue. When I converted the car to a stud setup, I used a lock thread solution to secure them in place, but I must have used too much as it oozed back out of the hub and formed a base around the bottom of each stud. It appears here as a shiny taper, but it’s actually glue that shouldn’t be there. This was preventing the discs from sitting true to the hub face and it appears was the cause of my braking problems at a recent track day and the vibration which developed.

It would also explain why the vibration became exponentially worse after the prior skimming attempt, as it was the first time the discs were removed from the car and when they were refitted, they couldn’t seat properly. It certainly didn’t help matters but it was an easy fix. If you’re interested in the proper procedures for cleaning and preparing the hub surface, Tarox have a great guide you can read.

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As mentioned above, with the car getting on in mileage it was the perfect opportunity to overhaul the front suspension componentry. I’ve been waiting for an excuse to fit SuperPro’s lightweight lower control arm kit to my GTI, and that knock was all the reason I ever needed. I spoke to Regal Autosport about my options and it was advised that I should go all in with this aspect of the car as the benefits are worth the outlay. After a couple of back and forth emails, I was the proud owner of a complete SuperPro LCA kit with roll centre adjustable balljoints and anti-lift. New car parts are the best.

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I didn’t get too much time to fawn over them, as with the discs already off, Brendan sent me on my way to get the discs skimmed properly, once and for all.

Blast From The Past
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Ireland can be a funny country at times. There are certainly plenty of very talented people involved in the motorsport industry, but finding them and sorting the wheat from the chaff, is the real challenge. Located around 45 minutes from Stone Motorsport in Co.Kildare, is Westward Precision Engineering in Co.Meath.

2017 PGTI Martin Treacy Sierra Cosworth EXTRA-1

Despite watching Martin Treacy, owner of Westward, absolutely decimate his rivals on track with his Sierra RS Cosworth in years previous, I’d never actually been to his shop before.

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Martin was practically waiting at the door for me, with Brendan having spoken to him in advance, so he was ready to make a start on the discs straight away. He has a very methodical and deliberate approach to his work, which was fascinating to watch. He was also happy to explain what was happening and why he was doing what he was doing in order to try and get a perfect finish on the discs.

Whatever had happened previously with the prior attempted skim at an another shop, had resulted in a set of poorly discs. There were considerable high spots, but over the course of an hour, Martin slowly but surely removed the absolute precise amount of material to bring the discs back to perfection.

There wasn’t much time for chat, so with Westward in my mirrors, I headed back across country to see how Brendan was getting on.

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What I wasn’t expecting was for him to have already installed the new lower control arms and associated parts, and be waiting for me to bring the discs back.

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The SuperPro alloy arms are 44 percent lighter than the stock arms, along with being corrosion resistant. They also come pre-fitted with polyurethane bushes and a rear alloy bracket which increases caster and provides anti-lift. I also went with their roll centre adjustable ball joints which assist in correcting geometry on a lowered vehicle. Lots of little small upgrades, which should in theory, make a big improvement to the feel of the car.

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At the same time, we fitted Powerflex anti-roll bar bushes. When I say ‘we’, I obviously mean Brendan.

With the hub surfaces and the rear faces of the discs cleaned to a perfect finish, the brake discs were refitted. The Air Lift Performance 3H height sensors were then attached to the new arms too.

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Things were looking very bright. Prior to the visit at Stones, I had already addressed other small things that I wanted to such as rotating the wheels from front to rear (the joys of a square setup), tidied the air install in the boot and fitted an emergency fill valve, along with having Flip tackle some cosmetic items that had arisen. I also increased the damper stiffness to 20 clicks (front) and 25 clicks (rear).

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With the car off the lift, a quick recalibration of the height sensors was completed and I was ready to hit the road. The car would still need an alignment, but on the short drive home that really nice brake pedal feel that I had come to know and love had returned, the suspension knock had been banished, and I had the biggest damn smile on my face. There was an increase in cabin noise from the new – and much stiffer – bushes, but that faded away as they bedded in. Things were coming up Millhouse.

Never Again
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It took a couple of days to find the time to get the car’s alignment checked, but it was time well spent. Before I headed to WKD Imports and to long-time friend of mine, Wesley Keating, I had the car spend a day with an auto electrician who installed the rear Kenwood speakers (that I never got around to) along with wiring in the factory reversing camera to the badass Kenwood head unit. These were things that I could have done myself, but I had reached the point where I just wanted them done and knew that procrastination was my biggest enemy. With these installed and sorted, I was pretty much at peak automotive nirvana.

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The alignment session on WKD’s Hunter system was pretty straightforward, unlike my front toe settings which were severely out of spec. It was easily remedied, though, and a quick drive afterwards showed a remarkable improvement in the car’s steering feel and cornering characteristics. There’s a little bit more weight to the steering and mid-corner feel has been hugely improved. It also feels much sharper, with the vagueness in feel over centre having been almost completely eliminated.

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Buster approved.

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For the very first time in many moons, there isn’t a single thing out of place on the car. Everything is exactly to my liking and I can’t even begin to express just how happy this makes me. Fair enough, none of them were big issues in the first place and I’d wager that 99.99 percent of people would never have noticed them, but I did. I shouldn’t have let them get to a stage where they bothered me as much as they did, but I did. It won’t happen again.

Having the car in its current state does raise a couple of curious observations though. As it is now, if I never made another single modification to the car, I would be perfectly happy. It really doesn’t need anything, asides from being maintained and fed fuel. It’s plenty fast, it’s superb to drive and it’s easy to live with. What more could I ever want?

Well, maybe a little bit more power…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos
Facebook: Paddy McGrath
paddy@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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53 comments

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1

I spy a Holden Commodore in the second image, parked next to that E7 wagon. Or is it a British Vauxhall variant?

Author2

You're correct, it's a Commodore. Probably the most eye watering car you could run in Ireland!

3

Great to see one there (a Commodore). As an Aussie, I find I love seeing Australian cars overseas, despite the fact I have no interest in them whilst I'm in Australia. I used to live in Thailand for a while, and I'd always be happy to see a Rusty old Holden HQ or Torana and occasionally a XY/W Ford Falcon rotting away in a rural Thai town street. I get the same feeling seeing that picture of the above Holden in Ireland!

4

quiet you, commodores are amazing (proud bogan)

5

Always a great read Paddy, love the way you find the smaller details to pick on. But over all this has to be one of my favorite Golfs of all time, makes me miss my mk5 GTI! I mean its a do everything car for sure... something that i can aspire to again in the future maybe.

Author6

Thanks, Olly. This is definitely an update for the hardcore but it's what cars are really about.

7

Hi Paddy, great owner the car is very happy with you, that I am sure. You take care of it like a human, which should be done on every car by every owner. I've never been a fan of gti or this type of cars, I usually like sr20's but when I first red your project GTI it change my prospective, this GTI changes car heads ^ ^ in a really cool way... I even wanted one, If I wont get a silvia GTI is one of the coolest choice I would make.

Author8

Thanks!

9

Seeing your work really makes me want to start upgrading my Mk5 GLi. Now to find the money for poly bushings after I repaint my wheels.

Author10

Best of luck with your MKV!

Author12

I love Tom. It's not the same anymore.

13

I think the new album with Matt is still good. Ive always loved alkaline trio and heavens and matt skiba and the secrets.

Author14

It just never got better than Enema of the State & TOYPAJ for me. They're the sound of my formative years!

15

Great...now the Blink-182 song's stuck in my head... :)

Love doing small maintenance things that make a big difference. It's incredibly satisfying getting the car just where you want it.

Will also say that I *love* your GTI. Perfect wheels, color, and overall look. My roommate had a lightly modified Mk 6 that I drove for a bit after hydrolocking my 3000GT (long story) and I'm seriously considering a Mk 6/7 as my next fun/commuter car.

Author16

Appreciate that, Kevin.

I still think that my next car will likely be another Golf, I've just been won over by them.

17

1+up my comment if you were expecting to see Kouki instead of Buster

Author18

Don't tell Kouki I found a new friend, she'll never talk to me again.

19

Hell yea, Paddy. I have had my eye on that same LCA kit for a while now.. just waiting for the stock ones to go out before I can justify it haha. Curious to know if you checked your subframe bolts for stretch? After my first auto x event in my mk6, I noticed a knocking noise from the passenger side as well. I suspected it was a bushing or end link that I had worn down. After a quick inspection, it turns out that the bolts on my subframe had stretched almost 1/8 of an inch. Now I replace the subframe bolts after every auto x event I do for safe measure..

Author20

Mine have been fine so far, but I plan on doing a rigid collar kit in future.

21

Not a bad idea at all. I did that too and it certainly helps. You lose a little bit of alignment adjust ability tho

22

Paddy, I've just got to say, you've got a damn fine car. I'm also extremely jealous of how you've got it dialed-in. I totally understand putting off all the little issues, as my daily is fraught with them. Just wish i had the resources to knock them all out at once like you did. On another note, of course you should chase more power. Always more power.

Author23

Power corrupts.

25

Love your car man... just curious tho how much moolah you have invested on it to it's current state considering nothing but the best goodies to put on it.

Author26

I try not to think about it, although I am well acquainted with the bargain section of my local supermarket.

27
Dino Dalle Carbonare

Damn your car is so damn clean and sits so nice. And I bet those arms would have changed a lot in the feel department! I can't even imagine having a car that I'm 100% satisfied with, I'm probably at 12% with the GT-R at the moment! Mind you that may jump to 75% if I could actually drive the damn thing...and rev it past the 3,800 rpm limiter it's currently got :(

Author28

I think it's V8 time for you, Dino.

29

That sounds harsh, please give us a short update on WHY THE HELL?!

30

Bed in the new turbos? I remember a post a while back about them.

31

Hang in there while I check if I've indeed missed a build post.

32

:) I don't think they were installed last time, just saved up for when all parts are accumulated, maybe he's getting us ready for a new post :D

33

eleventy billion horsepower, like yesterday

Author34

The problem is I'll want eleventy billion and one horsepower the day after.

35

I look forward to Project GTI posts. I absolutely adore the route you're taking with modifying it, and it's very clear that you love the car.

I hope you put many miles on it.

Author36

Thank you!

37

I used to own a MK5 GTI and did a lot of stuff to it... your stories remind me of the good days back then!
Always great to read from you!
Best regards from Ingolstadt/ Germany
Felix

Author38

Thanks, Felix!

39

an hour to machine 2 discs, i hope that guys overheads are tiny

Author40

He's very, very thorough. I'll never get anyone else to do them again.

41

I am loving reading these updates on project GTI. Such a good read and the attention to detail on this car is amazing its so satisfying. Keep them coming pleeassse.

Author42

Thanks, Alex. It might be a little while before the next one as I need to wait for my bank balance to recover. Plus, there's not much to be done.

43

Hi, just curious, what headlights are those on the Mk 7?

Author44

MK7?

45

How much euros have you put on this Golf Paddy?...

Author46

Several.

47

I'm not a VAG guy but I definitely know what that niggling irritation in cars is like. Cool post, I enjoy these staff rides posts, it's a bit more relatable.

48

Another great update, looks like a lovely well balanced track/daily!
the ever hopeful plan I have with my cars.

One question, that looks like a neat front plant mount setup using the tow hook, but no ugly large bracket, could I ask what that is?

Cheers and enjoy!

Author49

Only seeing some of these comments now, it's a US Millworks product.

50

Great read this was. Wondering though, did you have any issues with the SuperPro ball joint kit not being compatible with your BBK? I have heard it doesn't fit if it's anything but the stock brakes.

Author51

No issues whatsoever.

52

Car looks great Paddy! I too have a 3dr mk6 GTI in tornado red so it's great to see all these modifications from inception to realization; you tell a great story and inspire some expensive ideas. Always enjoy reading your posts, keep 'em coming!

53

Have just spent the last 2 days reading every one of your threads in work between calls etc Paddy. Incredible eye for detail and perseverance to get the car to where it is. I'm running a candy white 2 door DSG MK5 GTI myself and have one eye on a MK6 down the road when the time comes to change. If your car is ever for sale, please let me know.

Looking forward to your next update. :)

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