After new emission laws and regulations put a halt to the booming muscle car era, Volkswagen gave its compact hatchback a sporty overhaul in 1975, resulting in what many consider the world’s first hot hatch – the Golf GTI.
In celebration of Volkswagen releasing the new 2022 Golf GTI, the German manufacture partnered with Philadelphia-based VW enthusiast Jamie Orr to design a Golf GTI concept that blends the past generations into the present.
Inspired by the enthusiast-built Mk2 version of the GTI, the only U.S.-built GTI generation in 1984, the team set out to design a concept that highlights what has made the GTI special throughout its generations.
“I saw the Mk2, the concept was based on, at a show in 2019 and was drawn to the simplicity and strength of the build,” VW’s motorsport marketing specialist Sean Maynard is quoted in a press release announcing the concept. “I had the chance to meet Brock Bickford, from Evansville, Indiana, and learned that this was a project that he has been building with his daughter since she was seven years old. It’s stories like this that give me a deeper appreciation for the VW enthusiast community.”
At 241 horsepower, the 2022 Golf GTI is the most powerful of all generations and features a handful of new driving technologies and an updated interior.
“We wanted to maintain the souls of the Mk8, so we went with more traditional modifications. But we left the interior, body, and powertrain exactly as it came from the factory,” Orr said. “Take those wingback seats, with this striking red design – they are just phenomenal. Changing any of that would have been a shame.”
“We try to do most of the modifications to the exterior and leave the interiors stock on the enthusiast fleet vehicles,” Maynard notes. “That way someone that might not have any experience with the Brand can still get a true feel for the vehicles.”
The modifications Orr and his team made start with the wheels. They equipped the Mk8 with a set of BBS 19×9 super RS wheels with the famous waffled and hex pattern – giving the Mk8 a classic look.
They also lowered the car. “We started with a set of coil overs the H&R makes for the Mk8,” Orr adds. “The rear fitment is stock, but I re-designed the fronts a little because I wanted to add camber adjustment, so it’s more of a custom mix of H&R components.”
Orr, giving the car a retro look, applied a red and black vintage livery with pin striping around the body.
“Volkswagen used all the elements their customers loved about the first GTI and built upon them,” Orr says about the original Mk2. “The Mk8 has a new body style and more power under the hood, plus a bunch of tweaks that make it the best handling GTI I’ve ever driven.”