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Enthusiasts can argue that the Volkswagen GTI has reached cult status. Since launching in the late 70s (early 80s for the U.S. market), the German hot hatch has earned millions of fans worldwide. Many believe that when the GTI came to America, it spawned the beginning of the tuner movement.

There is a vast aftermarket industry explicitly focused on all eight generations of the Volkswagen GTI hatchback. Because of that aftermarket support, just about any version of the GTI can be easily modified to suit the taste of nearly any gearhead that purchases one. They can be built for street cruising, road racing, even off-road excursions. Volkswagen decided that they wanted to honor the GTI’s history with a one-off concept.

Inspiration of the Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept

The Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept vehicle driving down an empty road.
Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept in motion | Volkswagen

This one-of-one GTI concept car is firmly inspired by the early days of the GTI tuning movement. Specifically, the Mk2 version of the GTI replaced the only U.S.-built generation of the GTI. To this day, the Mk2 Volkswagen GTI is one of the most popular GTIs to modify if someone can find one in decent condition. A particular Mk2 GTI project car seen at an event stood out to Volkswagen.

“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,” said Sean Maynard, Enthusiast and Motorsport Marketing Specialist for Volkswagen. “I had the chance to meet Brock Bickford, from Evansville, IN, 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.”

Creating the GTI BBS Concept with enthusiasts in mind

Front view of the Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept
Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept front view | Volkswagen

Volkswagen partnered with Philadelphia-based VW enthusiast Jamie Orr to guide and execute the GTI BBS Concept. The car is based on the current Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI, and the German brand wanted to stay close to what buyers can currently get from the dealership while paying homage to the GTIs of the 80s.

“We wanted to maintain the soul 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.”

Building the Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept with familiar tuner parts

A close up detail view on the front bumper and headlight of the Volkswagen GTI BBS concept
Volkswagen GTI BBS Concept detail view | Volkswagen

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Considering that Orr and Volkswagen wanted to keep their concept car close to the Mk8 GTI that enthusiasts currently know, they had to make sure they carefully chose the right parts for the goals they had in mind.

Volkswagen chose a set of 19-inch BBS Super RS wheels as they feature the classic “waffle” and hex pattern of classic BBS wheels that were in style back in the 80s. The car was lowered on a set of H&R springs and finished off with a Borla exhaust. Lastly, Orr utilized a unique graphics package to emphasize the throwback style of the concept further. The final result is a modern concept that pays its respects to the tuner movement that came before it.