This was always the goal.
Later this summer, I will have owned Project GTI for four years. Since day one, there was a plan with the car which we’ve stuck to fanatically: to maximise performance with as little drawback to the car’s abilities as a daily driver.
Every upgrade, improvement and modification made have all been with this ethos in mind. It’s always been a humble project, we’ve not tried to re-invent the wheel or break the internet with it. It was always about building one car that can do everything well, and it’s something which I think we’ve achieved.
It’s a car that is huge fun on a race track, it doesn’t look out of place at shows and a car which I have absolutely no qualms about getting in and driving long distances at a moment’s notice. While it might be just a GTI to some, it’s special to me. I didn’t think I would ever own a car quite this good.
With over 300hp at the wheels, a trick differential, subtle styling modifications, increased braking power, essential track day upgrades and suspended on Air Lift Performance 3H, it’s really capable of anything.
Since the start, there was always a ‘finish line’ moment in mind. For all the years I’ve owned it, I’ve day dreamed countless times about performing one simple task with it: driving the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Further to this, driving the Nordschleife as part of an even larger adventure. One that takes in sights and places that I know and love, along with places that I’ve always wanted to visit.
For the longest time, this was all just a pipe-dream until I sat down one Sunday earlier this year and starting looking at the logistics of it all…
When I previously made the pilgrimage before in 2013 (as a stopover between events) I sailed to Wales, drove across the UK and got the tunnel from Dover to Calais. By the time I reached France, I had a huge amount of mileage under me, along with the expense of two sea crossings. My first destination on that trip was a show in the Netherlands, a scene show called DMPD, before spending a couple of days at the ‘ring and then returning north to shoot my first Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
With all of this in mind, along with information learned from other trips to Germany, I sought out a new route to the Nürburgring. With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit at the time, and the predicted chaos at the ports, I planned to avoid the United Kingdom altogether on this trip.
By the time you read this, I’ll likely be preparing to be loaded onto a ship in Dublin Port, before an 18 hour journey that will take us around the most southerly part of England and into Cherbourg in north-west France.
The advantage here is pretty simple; there’s only one sailing and it’s overnight, so when we arrive in France on Sunday morning, we’ll be well rested for a full day’s drive of 837kms (520 miles) to the Eifel region. It’s the longest single stint we’ll do, but it means that all going to plan, we wake up at the Nürburgring on Monday morning, with a full day’s touristenfahrten before us.
We’ll spend a couple of days there, before heading to Stuttgart and then onto Reims in France as we make our way back to Cherbourg via Caen and the Normandy region.
I do enjoy a good plan, and there are lots of things scheduled on this trip, which of course I will document as best as I possibly can. We’ve allowed one full week for this, and while I would love to make it longer, it’s a long time to be away from the office with limited connectivity.
A trip this long, requires an immense amount of preparation, particularly when it involves derestricted autobahns and of course, the Nordschleife itself.
I’ve steadily been working through a check-list of Project GTI related things to be completed in advance of this trip. While the car feels good, I’d much rather know that it’s good before setting sail…
That’s not to mention the logistics of packing for a week’s worth of speedhunting; figuring out what I need and what I actually need, along with being prepared for any of you that I might meet along the way (for a change).
Yes, I’ve had a Project GTI sticker made to give away on the road, and yes, I know, it’s terribly self-indulgent but I’m not even the slightest bit sorry. I’m that proud. Also, there’s some normal Speedhunters stickers coming with me, along with some of our 10 Year anniversary ones, too. All you have to do is come and say hello…The Preparation
Before setting out for Goodwood and 77MM two weeks ago, I wanted to make a start into this considerable checklist, starting with a simple four-wheel alignment. Well, it should have been simple…
It was going swimmingly until a rear lower control arm bolt snapped, and due to significant time constraints, the only solution was to cut the remaining bolt out and put in an entire new rear lower control arm.
While the bolt snapping was unlucky, everything else was maximum good luck as we were able to source the parts locally and install the new arm very quickly. If even one part of the puzzle wasn’t available until the next day, as is usually the case when you go looking for parts here in the afternoon, I wasn’t going to Goodwood. A close call, for sure.
The trip across to the UK and back for Goodwood was thankfully fine, but I knew that I wanted every nut and bolt checked over on the car before the big one. There’s nothing quite like absolute peace of mind before venturing that far from home.
As always, the good people at Stone Motorsport were able to make time for me and poured over the car, top and bottom, earlier this week.
I’m pretty diligent anyways, but it’s always a good idea to have a second set of eyes check things over, especially with the benefit of having the car up in the air.
Lots of tyre left, lots of brake pad, lots of disc with lovely pad marks on them where they have bedded to perfection. All suspension componentry in good nick, nothing was loose and no leaks or anything suspicious looking either. Ready for road.
I know you only really see the car static in these updates for the most part, but it’s a car that I really enjoy driving. It’s far from a show queen, as the underside of my front splitter will attest to, but I’d rather this than worrying about tiny blemishes, stone chips and never really driving the car properly as a result.
I happily drive this down roads that others wouldn’t even dream of, because I know it’s capable.
This shouldn’t be interpreted for negligence or anything, but at the end of the day, this car was built for driving and there’s a lot of driving to be done this summer.
With approval from John Stone received, I can tick another (significant) item off the list with only superficial ones remaining such as cleaning the car inside and out, and brimming the tank so we can cover as much ground as possible early on Sunday across France.
As mentioned above, I will be documenting the trip in as much detail as possible, along with sharing updates on the Speedhunters’ Instagram Story. If you’ll excuse me, I have some more packing to do.
This journey is being brought to you in association with Air Lift Performance, an official Speedhunters Supplier.Cutting Room Floor