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1. Tell us the story behind your ride. What made you pick this particular one? Where did you find it? Upon finishing my first year of university in Missoula, Montana, I was desperately looking for a car that I could personalize and make my own. Growing up outside of Missoula in rural farmland only exposed me the truck culture, and a few classics that my father had kept in the garage for numerous years. And growing up as such, I never had any ambition regarding the automotive hobby, until I was dropped into college in a much larger town, with a much larger array of modified and performance cars I’d never been around before. Therefore, as soon as the Summer of 2015 rolled in, I traveled to Seattle, Washington to get my first non-economy car. I’d seen the TT online, and couldn’t resist investing in such a uniquely shaped yet exciting car to drive. I’ve loved her more than any car I’ve owned, and that still carries on today. Since the middle of 2015 I’ve been putting together this car one modification at a time, which was all I could really afford to do while attending school. I’d buy one a new part almost every paycheck, and didn’t stop for two years. At numerous times I felt I made the worst decision to buy a car whose aftermarket options were way above my budget, and even more times I felt it was pointless as I had the car apart every month, and it was the only vehicle I had to drive. Thankfully, my ambition to continue what I’d started outweighed the struggle it was causing, and I have absolutely no regrets and instead a great sense of accomplishment every single day I drive. 2. Describe the modifications you have made. Where did you start, what’s the most recent mod and what motivated it? It all began a month or two after I bought the car, and had finally moved out of the dorms and into a house. With the space I needed to start modifying, I immediately dove in by ordering a K&N Cone Filter without even really knowing what I was doing. But as soon as I got into the engine bay and started to wrap my mind around the complexities of what I was messing with, I was hooked. I realized how much potential for creativity, expression, and learning there was to be had within the workings of a car and I’ll never lose those feelings. I’ve modified almost everything in the engine bay to some degree since, but have still yet to deal with any internals. I may never get into the inside of the engine, but after upgrading to a Frankenturbo F21, I’ve been getting the itch to go even farther. 3. Of all the mods you’ve made, which do you think offers the biggest bang for the buck? Having spent over $10,000 on modifications over the last years, I’ve made some amazing purchases, and some equally bad ones. In terms of what I’d recommend to someone beginning their journey modifying the AMU 1.8t I have some advice for each section of the car: Engine: I’ve spent almost all of my money in this category, and by far the biggest improvement I got in terms of performance was through a Frankenturbo F21 Kit W/ the exhaust manifold and Eurodyne Tuning Suite. For horsepower gained per dollar, nothing else has made an impact like this modification has. The car definitely doesn’t spool quickly anymore, but will hold over 20lbs of boost from 3,600 until redline. Interior: I haven’t done much to the inside of the TT, but by far my favorite modification was replacing the cigarette lighter with an Osir Dual Gauge pod, and installing two digital gauges with it. I was extremely happy with how well the part originally made for the A3 of that generation fitted into my car, and it saves you from mounting the gauges into more important locations such as the air vent (which I have done as well). Suspension: I’ve replaced most of the front suspension except for the coils and struts, and don’t plan to ever modify the clearance of the car. Out of the few things I have replaced, the most noticeable difference I found was in replacing the transmission mount with a dog-bone style from ECS Tuning. Immediately after replacement of the OEM part I found shifting to be improved in almost every dynamic, especially while under load. 4. How did you go about selecting the specific parts for this build? Any installation tips to share? While choosing the parts I wanted for the car, I was constantly researching forums, watching youtube videos, and borrowing advice from a local repair shop. I tried to put as much effort into picking the correct modifications for my budget and car as possible, and I’ve definitely found one brand to be on top of the others. This would be Forge Motorsport out of the U.K, and I can officially say everything I’ve ever purchased from them has fit perfectly and looks brand new years later. As far as installation of all the parts, my only recommendation would be to buy a magnetic mechanics rod for picking up all the small parts that will fall into the already cramped engine bay! And of course, have a few 10mm sockets on hand. 5. What’s been the biggest challenge with this build? The absolute biggest challenge with this build was me. I’ve never lived somewhere with a garage that’s readily available to use, and I’ve never had anything but a small handful of tools to work with due to space issues. Renting in small apartments all my college life put an enormous halt on getting any major work done on my car until the weather permitted me to do so outdoors. Not to mention anytime I took the car apart, it had to be back together by the next morning to drive again. Looking back I should’ve invested into a daily beater to use while I took upon the bigger projects with the TT. 6. What are you planning next? I don’t know if I’ll ever find a place where I can stop, and call the car complete, and to this day I’m researching my next modification. I have been putting things off for the last few months, but as Summer is once again coming around I plan to finish stripping the interior of the car, and adding in a small roll-cage and performance seats. The goal at this point is to reduce weight, and increase structural rigidity since I’m making the power I wanted from the engine. With it no longer needing to be my daily as well, I no longer seek to build the car around mild comfort, and have decided to push the limits with it as weekend toy. I hope this is a good testament to what can be accomplished without any money, garage, or even help from local tuning shop. If you have the desire to build your car, don’t let the cost or practicality get in your way, with some dedication and time you’ll get to exactly where you want.
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