Project GTI: TE37s Are Life
The Catch Up

See, I told you this was still a thing.

It’s been a long time since I’ve put together any really substantial updates on Project GTI. The truth is that I’ve been working on the car for nearly three years now, and it’s just about where I’ve always wanted it to be. In fact, the list of things left to do can be counted on one hand. I’m almost right at the end of this project, and I will finish it this summer.

With travel, increased responsibilities with my new role on Speedhunters and just life in general, progress has been sporadic but still consistent over the last few months. Rather than bore you with details of installs – especially of processes previously documented – I’m going to quickly catch you up with just some of the updates that have occurred over the last few months before finally showing you the car on its new RAYS Volk Racing TE37 Saga wheels.

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The first update came about after an e-mail from Elliot at Performance VW magazine, asking if I could put together an install feature with Osram’s Xenarc Mk6-specific headlight upgrade. These plug and play headlights are designed specifically for factory halogen-equipped cars and feature bi-xenons, LED daytime running lights, and sequential LED turn signals. All the details are in May 2018 issue of the magazine, which was the second time that my humble GTI has featured in Performance VW. Nice.

The Osram units look mean, function perfectly, and were an absolute breeze to fit. All in all, a great success and one that has transformed the front of the car considerably.

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The second significant upgrade came about after a visit to Stone Motorsport not all that long ago. The review period for my Tarox Super Sport B360 brake kit was up, so I needed to put together a new package for the front of the car. Having experienced the stopping power of the Tarox kit, I knew that I couldn’t go back to the OEM setup. What I’ve ended up with is an OEM-derived upgrade.

After speaking with Vagbremtechnic in the UK, they helped me piece together an affordable kit which uses parts sourced from different OEM applications. The calipers are actually from an Aston Martin DB9, but painted and rebranded with Brembo decals, as opposed to being black with white Aston Martin decals. The caliper still carries the Aston Martin ‘wings’ and the ‘Brembo’ logo which are both stamped into the caliper.

The cosmetic details aren’t the important part, however. The VBT kit uses a caliper piston to master cylinder ratio that is as near ideal as possible for the budget, which gives a substantial increase in braking power over the stock GTI brakes. It’s an often overlooked area when choosing a brake upgrade. As an example, some kits which use Porsche calipers have pistons which are too large for the GTI’s brake master cylinder, something that results in poor pedal feel. They might look the same from the outside, but they’re very different from a performance point of view. A custom caliper carrier designed by VBT is supplied in order to fit the calipers to the GTI.

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The discs used here are from a Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport S. They’re 340mm in diameter, vented and drilled factory two-piece discs with aluminium bells. They’re also surprisingly affordable and can be purchased over-the-counter from my local VW parts department. They’ve been paired with Pagid pads and stainless lines, and I’ve retained ATE’s Super 2000 fluid (formally ATE Super Blue). The one downside is that they’re single handed (i.e. there’s not a left and right disc).

Interestingly, the same calipers come on the Audi TTRS (8J) and run with a 370mm disc. They’re a popular retrofit within the GTI community, mostly due to the piston size being ideal for the GTI platform, but like the Clubsport S discs they’re also single handed. We’ll come back to that detail shortly.

Caught up? Splendid. Let’s move on.

No Regrets

I had sworn to myself that fitting the TE37 Sagas would be the final action taken on the car; the icing on the proverbial cake. Obviously, I lied.

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One (rare) sunny day not all that long ago, I found myself unusually at a loose end. That in itself is not a dilemma; what was a dilemma was the fact that I had my car, tools and four brand new TE37 Sagas with tyres already mounted all within 20feet of each other. There was only ever going to be one outcome…

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Retrieving the wheels from my parents’ storage felt wrong, but right. I knew that I should wait until the final touches were already on the car, and stick with my original plan. But also, TE37s.

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I set the tyre pressures on my way through the garage, sticking with the VW recommended 38psi cold for general usage.

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While the rear setup remains almost identical, the front is where the majority of the change has occurred. It was purely for this front setup that this change happened in the first place. 245/35 mounted on an 18×9-inch TE37 Saga on the left, 225/40 on an 18-inch ZE40 on the right. It puts an extra 40mm of rubber on the ground at the front.

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I’ve retained my Garage Midnight hold-fast stud kit, while my dad polished my old extended Monster lug nuts while I was away, somewhere. You can ignore the surface rust on the discs, that was just from washing the car earlier in the day.

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As for my ZE40s, they’re not going anywhere. I have plans for them and they will reappear on the GTI at some stage in the near future.

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With everything mounted up and torqued, I was keen to check the wheel fitment at varying ride heights. I had done the maths and I knew I should be okay, but it’s still a relief when everything clears as expected.

Some might criticise the use of a 20mm front spacer, but it gives me more options in future. For example, if I choose to, I can run a 15mm spacer in conjunction with a 255/35 tyre. Also, having the benefit of a wheel size that’s available directly off the shelf is a huge bonus if one ever gets damaged.

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This is a look that I had waited so long to see. I’d lower the front more if I could, but it would required a frame notch and I’m just not about that life. For me, how the car drives is priority number one, but looking good in the process is an added bonus.

Final Touches

It wasn’t long after I had mounted the wheels that I headed out to Flip’s place to fit some of the last pieces of the puzzle to the car. If you’re wondering why I bounce between Flip’s and Stone’s, it’s purely down to where I am in the country when I need to sort something. I’m pretty lucky to have the choice.

This would be a more straightforward kind of day with two relatively simple objectives to be completed. The first of which involved removing the front bumper. Well, it didn’t have to be removed, but it would make for a better install.

Flip always asks me how I end up with so many scratches on the underside of my front splitter, despite having air ride. Combined with the collection of stones and pebbles lodged behind the front bumper, these are probably a decent indicator of the car’s purpose and use. Let’s just say, I’ve no intentions of winning any show ‘n’ shine awards in the near future.

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On the subject of driving, and along with the earlier mention of utilising OEM braking components, these Audi RS3 brake ducts would be a simple and effective addition to my brake setup.

As mentioned above, the Clubsport S discs are single handed, which means that one has cooling vanes in the right direction with one in the wrong direction, leading to one disc running cooler than the other. These ducts were created by Audi as a simple solution to the problem on the TTRS and RS3 (which also ran single handed discs). Seeing as I already had some ducting in the front bumper, they would pair perfectly with my existing setup and work as a proven preventative measure.

They very simply just bolt to the lower control arm, directing cool air from the aforementioned vents into the centre of the disc and the back of the caliper. A cheap and effective solution.

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While I fitted those – along with some fresh external LED bulbs to match the new headlights and factory tails – Flip was finalising the position of some small aero devices.

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To be quiet honest, I don’t expect any performance gains and the addition of these canards was purely cosmetic.

Again, a pretty straightforward install on a car where things are rarely straightforward.

The significant part is that these were the final aesthetic additions to the car. This is how I’ve always wanted Project GTI to look, more or less.

I asked Flip to drive up and down the street outside his workshop so I could get some moving shots, but also to observe how the car sat and looked on the move. It’s not something you get to see of your own car very often, but I took massive pride in watching roll down the street.

No matter how pleased I was with how it looked, it still needed to drive better or all of this was for nothing.

Gauging The Difference
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A full and fair assessment of the changes made isn’t something that can be carried out overnight. Instead, you need to live with the changes for a considerable period of time really take notice of them.

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You need to experience them under different conditions and circumstances: high speed, low speed, start/stop traffic, highway commuting and backroad blasts. The only place I haven’t had the opportunity to drive it yet is on track, which for now, is fine. My GTI is a street car before it’s a track car, so I know where my priorities lie.

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I’ve taken quite a lot of joy out of the fact that some of the biggest performance upgrades on the car are all practically invisible. The Wavetrac limited slip differential is tucked away neatly inside the gearbox, and the wider TE37 Sagas with 245-section Michelins have added the width to the inside of the wheel arch.

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I did originally plan on running a mega concave front wheel setup to emphasise this reverse stagger, but I’m actually glad now that it didn’t work out. This car has always been relatively subtle, and it’s good to keep it that way for the most part.

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The car sits well on its new rolling stock, and I think the darker colour suits the car more so than the brighter shade that we had painted the ZE40s. Still, maybe contrasting wheel colours will help keep things fresh when they ultimately get swapped around in future.

Truth be told, TE37s are the wheel that I wanted to run on the GTI from day one. To finally have these original, genuine wheels made in-house by RAYS in Japan feels so good. There are plenty of imitators out there, but only one genuine article.

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Much to my delight there have been zero instances of rubbing or the tyres fouling the arches. The rears sit a hair more tucked in the rear (ET39 equivalent versus an ET42) but the fronts only poke 0.4mm more.

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From a driving perspective, there has been no noticeable drawbacks to increasing the amount of rubber on the road at the front. I was expecting a little bit more tram-lining or even aquaplaning in torrential conditions, but I’ve not yet encountered any considerable difference.

I have noticed more traction from a standing start. There’s still some spin in first gear from a launch, but from second gear onwards there’s no shortage of traction and forward momentum. It’s highly amusing for a front-wheel drive car to be able to get off the line so quickly on street tyres.

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The steering isn’t heavier at low speeds when manoeuvring or parking, but it does communicate more through the steering wheel. The front definitely bites harder on turn too.

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I wouldn’t say that the difference is night and day, but it is another small increase in performance in addition to the previous gains made. It’s maybe just another couple of percent better, but when you’ve already exploited so much of the potential of the car, it still feels significant. The Sagas are the perfect wheel for what I wanted to achieve, and one which was designed to work on a modern performance car.

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As it sits now the car is practically in its final form. I don’t envision any more aesthetic changes, although it could do with a comprehensive paint correction at some point in the near future. It’ll still have its stone chips and imperfections, but it’s nice to take the best possible care of it, regardless.

I have just two items remaining on my to-do list for the car. The first is to have a final tuning session for Irish fuel. It currently makes 308hp at mid-boost on our 95RON, but I think 350hp or more should be possible with some fine tuning. The second item is one that I’m still debating; the addition of a fixed back driver’s seat. I’ve recently tried one on for size and pretty much immediately fell in love with it, so that’s looking more likely than it has in previous months. Still, it’s a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’.

Speaking of which, I just broke the cable out of the handle for opening the bonnet while trying to open it. I guess that’s three things on the to-do list and my weekend plans sorted.

The joys of motoring, eh? Still, I can see the finishing line and it looks good.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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Loved this car from start to finish, and I'm a JDM guy! Impeccable work as always on the photos dude. I only wish the TE37's were bronze like the Rays. The car as a whole is just awesome though, dare I say it looks like it might be the perfect GTi?


I TOO wish the TEs were bronze.
I've also been a fan of this car from the start. I am not usually a FWD car guy, but I LOVE what this car has become.

Paddy McGrath

I wasn't a fan of FWD cars either until I drove a modern GTI. Then when we installed the Wavetrac, everything changed again (for the better). Modern FWD cars are remarkable.

Paddy McGrath

I did agonise over the wheel colour choice for longer than I'd like to admit, but felt that already having gold wheels was too close to bronze, and I missed the look of the dark wheels. Still, nice to still be able to swap them around if I want.


What a fantastic car. I really appreciate your style of modification. I guess they call it OEM+ now, but I've always been a fan of cars that aren't clearly modified. Something that looks like it could be sold on the lot as a factory hot rod. The widened arches without ridiculous flares, the headlight upgrade, and all the performance mods that really make a difference without being in your face.

A+, I would not change a thing.

Paddy McGrath

Appreciate that comment, thank you.


YES! But a no also because why you don't try white? Dark colours are so mainstream ugh

Paddy McGrath

Sagas don't come in white! Would have loved white with blue decals either.

Codrin Stefan

Paddy dont get me wrong here, the GTI in general is a really cool car and damn those rims are beautiful but dont you think that is too much money going into a Golf?


mate, if you knew what kind of cash im dumping into my basemodel Civic lmao.
swapping the 90hp engine out for a K series this weekend.
I literally bought a working type r just for that engine haha

Paddy McGrath

Not really. I don't drink or smoke and this car is pretty much my only vice. I might as well build it while I still can before I'm forced to grow up and be a responsible adult.


True that, respect, respect. Im just overwhelmed by the amount of Golfs and E90/E46s I have here in Eastern Europe and kind of bored of seeing them modified. Dont get me wrong, unlike them you have great taste and know what to do with the car! Curiosity: Are you going to buy a track car in the future?

Richard Brown

Well done Paddy! Just such a clean build!

Paddy McGrath

Thank you, Richard.


I think you should check the orientation of your front discs as one of them is on the wrong side. They only work rotating in one direction

Anthony Johnson

The orientation of the cross-drilled hole to the caliper don't really matter. It all comes down to the orientation of the vanes, (if angled). If not angled either direction is fine.

Paddy McGrath

Read the post, although technically you're not wrong :)


I wish more people would be this subtle with the work on their cars. I tip my hat to you SIr. Well done. Regards from South Africa (Cape Town)

Paddy McGrath

Cheers, Ryan.


The older i get the more i like european cars, this has to be my favorite gti built. Love how it looks, sits and from what youve said performs nice job man enjoy it. as for the bucket seat, i loved mine wanted one for my wrx but i love my sti seats so i am hard pressed to want to change it out. But honestly the stance, and color combo paired with the small touches youve added made imo a perfect gti.

Paddy McGrath

TBH, my driver seat is a bit grubby so I'd like to remove it and freshen it up. Plus, I can always take the Recaro out and bring it to whatever my next car might be.


I'm surprised for a pair of headlights, that box looks humongous, just for headlights. Unless it's just the perspective making it look big.

Paddy McGrath

You should have seen the look on my face when the courier arrived XD


I do love this project, it's relatable having the fight of a practical but functional daily/track car. Looks amazing!

Those brake cooling plastics are neat, I wonder if they'll fit universally as they just appear to clamp around the lower wishbone..


I'm running SuperPro lightweight control arms which are based on the TT lower arm, but I'm sure those ducts could be easily adapted to fit other applications. Either that, or you could just make your own.


I'm not the biggest fan of the MkVI, but this car is a fantastic example of lots of relatively subtle changes adding up to make a huge difference. You've put together a cracking car, Paddy. Great balance of function and form.


Thank you, it's been a long journey to get to this point.


Absolutely love the purposeful look of this car and the road focused choice of modifications. The TE37s are the icing on the cake!


Thanks, Joe :)

Alexander Boroday

Such a good project! Well done!
The only thing I don't like about it - photos with car dropped to the ground. Your project is not about stance and drop, it's about capable everyday missile. So even on photos it should be always in "ready to rock" state (properly lowered, but not dropped).


It's also my car and I can choose how I like to photograph it. There are several shots of it raised and one fully lifted included if you look closely :)


That is the best looking GTI I've ever seen. Thanks for the great article too! :)


Thanks for reading :)

Ruairidh Sharp

Loving how you've put this together. Superb all-round build.
Was there any reason you swapped out the Tarox setup?


Cheers, reason is detailed above but to save you looking, it's because my review period was up and they need to go back.

Ruairidh Sharp

Cheers, didn't know they were on test


+1 for bolt on spacers +1 for bolt on spacers with hubs and +1 for hub centric rings installed. Tire technician approved. Don't forget to retorque both the spacers and wheel lugs.


I do regular checks on tire pressures and wheel torque, amongst other things.


Not gonna lie. I'm a HUGE Volk/TE37 fan. They look absolutely bitchin' on your GTI at all ride heights and the tire size choice spot on. I'm still perplexed by the following disconnect regarding "imitations":
"To finally have these original, genuine wheels made in-house by RAYS in Japan feels so good. There are plenty of imitators out there, but only one genuine article."

If this sentiment reflects SH's (and your own) feelings towards imitation parts, why the strong endorsement of Renown steering wheels. These are clearly imitations of MOMO, Nardi, etc.


I should elaborate by saying that I believe that there's a difference between something which is 'inspired by' and something which is an outright knock-off. They're two very different things. Appreciate the comment, BTW.


Haha, touche'!
Well crafted, sir. I guess we will consider it the "grey area"...."inspired by" can mean so many things.
The TE's look damn tasty on your car!


Looks like a clubsport but mk6! so cool, tho only but is that I hate red cars. But still so so cool. gread soft mods for a great upgrade. I really like it and I don't use to say it.


I just think it's odd that someone would "hate" a colour, but thank you :)

Omer Carrothers

Two questions for you, are those LED headlights available in the USA and when they were installed, did you have a warning lights going off because you changed to LEDs?

Love the car it's an influence on my GTI.


I believe they are, but I haven't checked. They can certainly be got in LHD. No warning lights or coding required, although I did code them for some custom functionality.


Good effort, and nice work with what you have done over the years.
However, it's just fairly ordinary and imo you should've gone more track spec/innovative with the build.
Especially with the amount of time you have had this car.
But I guess it it hasn't really cost u anything with the speedhunters backing.


Fairly ordinary is pretty much what I was trying to achieve, so I guess I've succeeded? It's my daily and my only car so it has to do a lot of things, so I've purposely tried to keep it understated. Well, as understated as a bagged, wide arched, ~350hp, reverse staggered, big-braked Golf can be.


i.e. slap a wizards of nos 50 shot minimum on that golf, then yeehaaa.


The TE37s work on this car FAR better than those other wheels because they're far more well-matched to the car's overall shape.

The TE37 has thick, heavy spokes that complement the GTI's short, stubby character.

The other wheels have those spindly little needle spokes, which is a very popular design option these days, probably because a lot of luxury cars have those 20-spoke setups, but which make a car with a lot of visual mass look like a hippo in high heels.

People should really start matching the character of the wheel to the car, and it looks like you've done that pretty well.

Good choice.


I do like both, and I'm hanging onto the ZE40s with the intention of refreshing them and mounting either track or winter tyres (depending what time of year I get around to it). It's nice to have options, but I do think the TE37s just about pip them for the same reasons that you've stated.


TE37s look good on everything. The less JDM the car is the better they look IMO. Would love a Z06 with TE37s on them. Great wheel choice and the colors are cool.


I've no issue with people TE37ing all the things. Seen a 458 in Long Beach with them and it was good, too.


Love the way TE37's look on everything

I wanted to like the ZE40's because it's Volks new flagship wheel but they never quite looked premium like it's price point.


They ZE40 is a cool wheel, and they've lots of nice little details that you can really only appreciate in person.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

Worthersee worthy, Paddy. Worthersee worthy...


Hopefully next year, although there was a strong temptation to just drive straight back down when I got home this year.


Whenever I read these I want to spend money on my daily. This is a good and bad thing I guess.

Car looks fantastic


It's always a good thing!


My garage full of project #1 disagrees.

And my wife probably.


Looks amazing Paddy! The TE37s fit the car perfectly, I love that they're not so deep :)


I had planned on running mega-concave fronts by using Nissan fitment wheels and converting the front of the car to 5x114.3 but it started to get out of hand so just kept it relatively simple in the end.


Car is looking great Paddy! I have a strong urge to get TE37's for my car, it is such a beautiful design.

I'm also sure there must be some kind of award for a 'finished' project car, isn't there? Not many people ever reach that point of a build :)

Declan Sheehan

Stunning car, Couldn't wait for the next update, quick question doe, what front splitter is that? Unreal car.


Said it before, big fan of this car! Also think this is the best look for the Mk6: three door and red.

Paddy McGrath

I wanted to buy a white one, originally. Happy I ended up with the red, although it needs nearly as much wash maintenance as my black E90 did.


I always look forward to your updates the most tbh.
Everything on this car is so well researched, chosen and executed that I hope to emulate a similar process onto whatever car I fall in love with once I can actually decide on one! I currently have a love/dislike relationship with my FN2 so we’ll see.
I loved the ZE40s on the GTI and I love these TE37s even more. Somehow the weather when you took these shots make the dark wheels look so moody or maybe it’s the other way round lol.


well done Paddy, your car is an inspiration! mine is a twin to yours, except being white and manual. I always look forward to the update, and I think I click, saved every pics on there lol- Amazing shots!
Love what you've done with the staggered tires, wider front fenders and K04, being stage one currently it gives me a hope that a k04 Gti can still get good enough traction to have fun.... Again well done!
PS- are your "old" Bixenon for sale?


Thank you, Cyril. The old lights sold in 15 minutes!


project gti is the gayest write up of all time. its essentially a showcase thread sucking the D of all the companies who gave him free stuff. get this outta here


It's 2018 and you're using 'gay' as a derogatory term. It's likely appropriate seeing as you can't spell and seem to be struggling to form a coherent sentence. You can get the fuck out of here, Alex.

Niels Kreischer

This looks so much better...

Super dope! <3