More Than Meets The Eye: 3 Crazy Builds From Players Classic

Given that 2023 was the 10th anniversary of Players Classic, it’s no surprise that some wild builds turned up at Goodwood Motor Circuit to mark the special occasion. To follow up on our main event gallery, I chose three of these cars to take a closer look at.

Of all the builds at Players Classic 2023, some appeared with no warning and made a lot of noise, both literally and figuratively. Mantas Šliogeris’s 6.oL LS-powered NB Mazda MX-5 was one of them, so let’s start here.

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-2

I’ve known of Mantas for a couple of years through a mutual friend, and of his other red MX-5 as a result. That car was at Players Classic last year, though I didn’t manage to catch it out on track.

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-5
PC23 Mantas Spotlight-15

My surprise this year came in the form of the all-American V8 stuffed into the little Mazda’s engine bay, which I was certain the car didn’t have in 2022. I was right, and it turns out this is Mantas’s second NB build, designed to be a low, street-able grand tourer that’s able to be thrown around a track should he wish.

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-3

The Corvette-sourced GM Chevrolet LS2 features a mild performance camshaft, and all told produces 450hp and 600Nm of torque. It’s mounted as far back in the Mazda’s engine bay as possible for optimal weight distribution, and transmits power via a BMW GS6 gearbox and BMW differential with a 2.6 final drive.

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-14

A prototype VAZZ Corp MiataEvo body kit transforms the outside of the little roadster, with a polyurethane front lip to ensure it can survive any speed bump or spot of road rash that Mantas subjects it to. A bespoke exhaust mounted as close to the MX-5’s underside as possible joins all of the fabrication work in the engine bay, meaning the lowest points of the car are the custom chassis braces.

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-1

Meister-R coilovers drop the body, whilst my personal favourite touch are the BBS E76 wheels rebuilt to 15×9-inch and 15×11-inch, and wrapped in Toyo Proxes R888R tyres. Behind them you’ll find a Brembo 4-piston mono-block big brake kit at the front with OEM rear ‘big brakes.’

PC23 Mantas Spotlight-19

The thoughtfulness and attention to detail that’s gone into this little Mazda is second-to-none, but what else would you expect from a Gymkhana GRiD and two-time European Formula.G champion?


Whilst Mantas may be relatively new to showing a car at Players Classic, some people have been around since the early days of the show. Vicky and Graham Ellison’s 2001 VW Beetle ‘Cup’ is legendary in the UK ‘Dub’ scene, having been in their ownership since new.

When the new Beetle was announced back at the turn of the century, Vicky and Graham knew they had to get their hands on one. The issue was, UK lead times were not only far too long, but the Ellisons were only being offered the non-performance 2.0L FSI models.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-12

The solution? Order a 1.8L 20V turbo Bug in Germany and drive it home to the UK.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-23

After 22 years of ownership, it’s safe to say that the VW is now a far cry from what came over the Channel all those years ago.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-3

First things first, this is one aggressive looking Beetle. It may not be a factory RSi, but this car does wear a genuine 17-piece VW Motorsport Beetle Cup body kit. And it wears it well.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-4

Underneath those heavily blistered Cup arches lie the visual focal point of the car – a set of 20×9-inch and 20×9.5-inch BBS FI-R forged wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. This is a set of wheels you’d expect to see on an Audi R8 or a Lamborghini Huracán, not a humble Beetle.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-11

And yet they work brilliantly against the deep gloss black paint. Behind the hollow, lightweight spokes lies a ferocious AP Racing big brake kit – 410mm and 342mm 2-piece discs with polished hats, Radi-Cal mono-block front callipers and Ferodo pads.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-15

Suspension is a mix of Bilstein, Eibach and KW Clubsport components to create a bespoke package, whilst StanceParts air cups give the nose of the Beetle 50mm of lift should it ever need it.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-13

The Ellisons’ VW certainly has the power to make the most of the handling and brake upgrades. The highlights of the engine upgrades include an OEM stroker crankshaft from a later 2.0L TFSI mill, uprated internals, ancillaries, cooling and intake/exhaust. A BorgWarner/TTE390 K04-64 turbo and Mallory Performance tune mean this little Bug now produces 388PS and 515Nm of torque.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-22

The interior hasn’t escaped any custom treatment either. In fact, it’s been treated to a comprehensive revamp. Audi RS4 ‘wingback’ Recaro seats and flat-bottom steering wheel elevate the cabin, as does the genuine Beetle RSi aluminium trim. Lashings of perforated leather, Alcantara and carbon fibre leave no surface of the custom interior untouched.

PC23 Beetle Spotlight-24

The audio install is particularly impressive, packed to the brim with Audison and Alpine components. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’d rather have a big audio build on display over an air tank with some bendy hard lines any day. Call me old school.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-22

Our third car is not only a crazy example of a ‘why not?’ build, but also took home Sunday’s award for Best of Show. I have to say, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Sultan Al-Qassimi’s 997 Porsche 911 was built for no reason other than to have a bit of fun and look good whilst drifting.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-18

Sultan is a Monster Energy pro drifter, and has his own custom shop in the United Arab Emirates called Store17. This is where the Porsche was built over the space of just two months, before being shipped to Poland for Ultrace – the start of Sultan’s 2023 European tour in the car.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-5

The Old & New Japan body kit is eye catching, converting the 997 into a ‘flatnose’ complete with vented wings and bumper-mounted headlights. The 911 has also had a full respray in Rubystone Red, a legendary Porsche colour.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-15

Black-centred and polished-lip SSR SP1s contrast against the paintwork, but behind the wheels is where the majority of the custom work is hidden.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-9

Lowered over Feal suspension, both the front and rear ends of the car have been converted to bespoke geometry components to enable the Porsche to drift effectively. The front steering angle kit is based around WiseFab knuckles, but with custom-fabricated arms and rods.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-8

At the rear end is the original Porsche gearbox and OEM diff, which has been welded and transmits drive through Nissan 370Z axles to re-drilled (now 5×114.3mm) Porsche hubs.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-4

The real USP of Sultan’s Porsche, however, is its least Porsche-like part. The OEM flat-six is long gone, having been replaced by a GM LS3, stroked to 6.8L and running a high performance camshaft as well as Manley connecting rods and forged pistons.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-2

The custom bonnet helps keep the front-mounted radiator as well fed with air as possible, in order to keep that big all-aluminium V8 in the tail of the car cool.

The inside of the 997 is fairly spartan, but what little interior remains is well appointed. A pair of Recaro Pole Position fixed-back seats keep the driver and one lucky (or terrified) passenger secure, whilst the steering wheel and dash top are both trimmed in Alcantara with Rubystone stitching to match the paint.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-3

One of the best details of the build is the reversing camera. Realistically this serves zero actual function on a car this impractical with a bus-like turning circle. The reason for it is that one of Sultan’s friends felt the need to install a reversing camera on his 911 GT3. This is Sultan’s way of having a laugh at Hamdan’s expense.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-19

The sheer presence this car has while drifting is undeniable – it looks insanely cool sideways.

PC23 Sultan Spotlight-21
PC23 Sultan Spotlight-1

I’m a little bit of a Porsche purist at heart, but with this much attitude and fun behind the build, I can’t help but love it.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Great article, awesome cars. I believe you were incorrect on Sultans wheels though. You mixed up SSR SP1’s with Work Meister S1 3P. Those look to be SSR SP1’s for n Sultans Porsche! Keep the players content going!


Thanks for the correction dude, much appreciated! That's the last of my Players coverage for this year sadly, but I can't wait for 2024.


SSR SP1's on the 997.


Thanks for the correction, and thanks for reading!


Was not expecting an LS3 in the 911 damn


Right? It's such a ridiculous build. Absolutely no need to exist but I'm glad that it does.


On the Miata: "A prototype VAZZ Corp MiataEvo body kit"

Will it be a prototype forever? I remember first seeing it 5 years ago.


This is the V2 of the MiataEvo prototype. This V2 has been unveiled with this car just now. And that's the final production design they are planning to launch.


I have to say that Miata build is pretty cool even though it has the unoriginal LS swap (yes because there's too many of them) the bodywork makes up for it
The Beetle and Porsche are so rad too


LS swaps are far from unoriginal in the UK
We only officially got 2 cars over here with them fitted - Vauxhall Monaro VXR (Rebadged Holden Monaro/Pontiac GTO) and the Vauxhall VXR8 (Rebadged Holden HSV Clubsport/GTS).

We can't go into every scrapyard and find a 4x4, Utility van or People carrier with one fitted.
Entry cost for an LS over here starts around £1500, without the transmission behind it.
SO, they are still fairly rare over here.


I can understand that however I don’t think you got my joke
I didn’t meant that it was literally unoriginal it’s just that there are too many cars with LS-swaps such as Miatas, RX-7s, E36s, and even Mustangs
Still I think they’re cool there’s just so many LS-swap builds nowadays so why not do something different?
Just my two cents


My oh my - the brakes on that VW!!!!