Words & Photos by Henry Phull
Within the car world the Volkswagen Golf has always been one of the most popular cars to modify, from the first generation Mk1 all the way through to the current Mk7, you’re bound to see a diverse selection of these cars at any car show. If you’re looking for a modern-ish car that pretty much does it all, the Mk5 is the all-rounder, especially now they have now become so affordable. For this reason the show scene often feels overrun by these cars and owners can find it quite a task to differentiate their pride and joy from their peers. Jack Waller’s example is quite unique though… For one, it’s the R32 model – the holy grail of Golfs from this era.. packing a 3.2 litre VR6 engine with 247bhp straight out of the factory. For Jack, stock power wasn’t enough – his car boasts a supercharger, pushing it to over 360bhp!
But before we get into details, first let’s take a step back and delve into Jack’s motoring past… Cars have always been a huge part of his life, with his late father having quite the collection; including two Porsche 911’s, an Aston Martin DB4 and a 1960’s Alvis. Jack admits that there was little hope for him! He started off with a Renault Laguna 2.2 diesel as his first car when he turned 17. Fear not, it wasn’t long before he discovered the world of VW’s and Audi’s. At 19, Jack made the move to the VAG world and purchased an Audi 8L A3, which eventfully ended up in a rather large ditch. Next up saw him in a Mk2 Jetta (which is still an ongoing project to this day) which he used whilst searching for another A3. Jack has also had a few shared cars and projects with his friend Will (aka. Wingate) including Mk1 Caddys & Golfs, Mk2 Golfs and a Mk3 GTI. However, after three years and endless sump changes from being stupidly low, Jack decided to sell his A3 and treat himself.
With his mind set on something quick, after several test drives in various R32’s and B8 S4’s, Jack came across ‘The Curse’. The car had already been supercharged and was up for sale at the same cost as a standard R32. He knew he’d found something special. As soon as he fired the car up inside the specialist’s warehouse, Jack was smitten and knew he wasn’t leaving that day without it. Bank account emptied, he was finally the proud owner of a supercharged R32 – with the drive home being one of his favourite drives to this day thanks to the R32’s signature exhaust note.
A month into ownership and things started to go downhill, when a worrying noise emerged from the engine bay one morning. Jack called up Turner Race Developments (TRD) straight away – the company who had previously installed the supercharger and taken care of the car. They collected the car the following day to discover the cam chain tensioners had loosened. A lucky escape, and just a few days later and the R32 was fixed and back on Jack’s driveway. Another few weeks passed and ‘The Curse’ struck again – with the auxiliary belt snapping, thanks to a carrier pulley ceasing. Several months went by problem-free, until Jack was out driving one day when he came to a halt after an all mighty bang followed by a sudden loss of power – plus a noticeable dent to the bonnet! To his and TRD’s great surprise, the supercharger belts had snapped – something they’d never seen happen on one of their kits before. Luckily the guys at TRD sorted it right out and new belts were fitted and realigned with a slightly higher tension. To this day, the engine and charger have been OK. Let’s hope it stays that way!
Once the these issues had been taken care of, it was time for Jack to get down to business, sorting out the essential lowering of course. When he purchased the car it was already sitting on Bilstein coilovers, but after many painful experiences with static cars – combined with living down a mile-long gravel track in the middle of the New Forest, he knew it was time to make the switch to air ride. After some research, he called upon the services of Air-lift.co.uk (Intermotiv) to carry out the install. Jonathan (at Air-lift.co.uk) talked Jack through the whole process and helped work out what was best for the car and what he wanted as an end result. The solution was Air Lift Performance Slam struts with the all important AutoPilot V2 digital management, for optimum control. Finished with a hidden boot build including double tanks, plus custom anti roll bars and the addition of a quick release air line, Jack hasn’t looked back and absolutely loves the way it drives and handles.
With the stance sorted, it was time to give the R32 a new set of shoes. Going back to the popularity aspect of these Mk5’s, wheels are a tough element to get right – or stand out for that matter, with the usual BBS’ done to death. After considerable hunting, Jack finally came across something slightly different, a set of Image DM’s in 18×8.5 and 18×9.5 for sale second hand. After striking a deal and getting them home, he realised that the former owner had built the wheels with the front centres running on one side, and the rears on the other. So, an unexpected tear down and rebuild was required straight away.
See how the car is still continuing to live up to its name… After an initial test fit, Jack realised he had gone a bit wrong with his offset calculations – but a quick chat with a local engineering company and 5mm was shaved from the mating of the centres. 205/35/18 tyres were fitted all round, and finally the wheels were on! After a couple of late nights tweaking the camber and rolling/pulling the front arches, he was happy with the result.
Being the production manager for a signwriters by trade, Jack thought he’d do something about the original Magic Black Pearl (LC9Z) paintwork that had become more than tired. The option to wrap the car seemed obvious and at minimal cost to himself. The first wrap to hit the car back in 2013 was a ‘gunmetal matte metallic’ colour, although recently this was changed again to ‘night blue matte metallic’ as seen here. Both wraps were left until the last minute for Edition38 2013 and 2014 consequently. I wonder if he’ll be in the same situation for 2015’s show…
Let’s take a look at some more figures on that Ruf-Kompressoren / TRD “Stage two supercharger”… with a dyno reading of 362.5bhp and 349.7lbs/ft and a 0-60 time estimated at 5.5 seconds, there’s no comparison to a stock R32. Jack thinks if he was to ever sell the car, he’d struggle to find something that can put such a grin on his face – or any passenger for that matter. He also wants to stress that Jamie and Dan (the guys behind TRD and Series 1 Suspension) have been brilliant and by no means are the unfortunate incidents with the supercharger kit a reflection of their handy work – more so a combination of bad luck and possibly his ‘eager’ driving style. They’ve always done their upmost to sort any issues as quickly as possible and Jack highly recommends them to anyone looking to have work done. It’s awesome to see a company that care about their customers and take care of the aftersales promptly.
With his bad luck striking again at the end of 2014 with a burst radiator the week before Players, then hitting a badger at 4am on route to the show, Jack has stuck with ‘The Curse’ for 3 years now through thick and thin. At the end of the day, it still puts a massive smile on his face every time he takes it out. He’s done the car justice and it certainly stands out from a lot of the other Mk5’s in the country. Plus, the owning the car has been a massive adventure in itself, meeting some brilliant people and some of his closest friends along the way. Despite the odd ‘hater’ here and there, Jack is proud and happy to be a part of the modified car community. Whether you’re trundling along to work in the daily (his Lupo TDI) or cruising to a show in the R32, he says you can’t beat a wave from a fellow VW owner. With a US spec front end in the works, talks of an interior retrim and (naturally) a colour change, I can’t wait to see what Jack has in store for us later on in the year. Although I’m just as intrigued to see what will happen with his other project car – a 1976 Audi 100!