Out with the old…

20 12 2012

The Audi turned out to be fast, relatively practical, expensive to run and not all that much fun. Sold! To a gentleman in the Dynamics team looking for a present for his father-in-law. That’s how we roll at Microsoft…!

I looked round for a replacement, which as I do the school run most days meant that if I wanted anything fun, it had to be practical for a 40-mile-each-way commute by my wife several days a week. That ruled out the S2000, the Boxster, and all the other ones on my imaginary shortlist.

So: a sensible family diesel. Kind of.


205BHP, 500nM torque, 50mpg+.
AMG 250 CDI Sport in Tenorite gray with Bengal red leather, heated seats and airscarf. Game on.

Unfortunately as it’s on a crazy-cheap lease, no modding possible. Apart from this:


Old Flames

15 06 2011



Fitting a front lip spoiler – slight return

5 05 2011

Parts Department, Seat, Stockport: “Going on a SEAT, is it Son?”

Me: “Do any of them?”

We’ve been here before, haven’t we?


OK, this time let’s do it with the Audi.  Naturally, as everything is more expensive with the Audi I thought this was going to hurt the wallet.

Then I discovered how neatly the Seat Leon Cupra R front splitter matches with the TT’s front end.

If you’ve not come across it before, the LCR splitter has been fitted to pretty much every car you can think of.  It’s the Little Black Dress of front end mods – It’s relatively cheap (£35 from a Seat dealer), it’s made of nice, flexible ABS (hang on, this metaphor’s not really working, is it?) and it goes with anything.

It used to be even cheaper – I guess the Leon’s must be pretty low at the front, as they’re classed as a consumable.  I think someone at Seat noticed they’d sold more splitters than cars and decided to put the price up…


It’s a high quality part, with a nice three dimensional shape to it.  Some of the three dimensional bits need to come off to get it to fit the TT.  You can do this with a sharp knife, or be a little lazier and use one of these:


This is the Dremel plastic cutter.  If you’ve got a Dremel then this it’s probably worth buying one of these disks for this project, as they come in very handy trimming the side parts of the splitter.

I dug into the new splitter in the kitchen, as usual with my mods.  Cut off the bits of the tabs that stick up so that the top surface of the splitter is flat – see below.


Next you need to cut the two central supports down to size.  Measure 15mm from top surface of splitter up each leg and mark it, then cut off with the Dremel:


Once you’ve done this you can neaten it with a craft knife.

Next I used a 3mm drill bit to make a small hole in each plastic tab on the splitter.  These are where you’ll screw it to the car.  I drilled every tab, although when mounted on the car I decided to use less screws in total.  You want it to be a neat fit without necessarily using far too many screws, as there’s some merit in it being able to detach without ripping off your bumper should you hit something with it.

Those of you who read my previous post about fitting a fibreglass chin spoiler to the Eunos might recall that on its first outing I put a crack in the bloody thing parking up to a curb that was higher than I thought it was.  Nice thing about the LCR splitter is it flexes!

Now you’ll need to try fitting it to the car.  You can do this without jacking the car up or removing the front bumper, which is handy.

I marked the center line of the car on some masking tape and stuck it on the lower part of the painted bumper.  I stuck a matching center mark on tape on the top of the splitter, and then propped the splitter up in approximately the correct position using a short piece of railway sleeper.  This allowed me to make matching tape location marks on the corners of the bumper, and also stopped me scratching anything.

Now to screw it to the car – make sure you use stainless self-tappers.  I used 12mm long ones from B&Q.  You could use stainless bolts and nuts, but screws are easier and are more than strong enough.  Trust me, it won’t come off.  Even at very high speeds <cough>.

Start with a corner on one side – pass the screw through the previously-drilled hole in the splitter, and using a stubby screwdriver push upwards at the same time as you screw it in.  It’ll take a bit of doing to start making a hole in your painted bumper so you need a bit of pressure until it bites.  Tighten until the splitter is flush by that screw.

Then do the same on the opposite corner.  At this point you’ll notice that the ends of the splitter are longer than your bumper – you’ll need to cut off the end so that it sits nice and flush with the OEM undertray lips that sit in front of the tyres.  I was going to remove these bits of undertray from under the wheel to make this easier, but as the Torx bolts that hold them in get covered in crud in the wheelarch, they refused to budge.

Out with the Dremel and I cut off the end of the spoiler in sections, testing and refitting until it was the perfect length.


Go round the splitter, adding more screws.  I used eight, evenly spaced.  Make sure the line of the splitter matches the bumper – it flexes so you can get a very OEM+ look.

When the spoiler is attached, you’ll find there’s a little flex in the central section where the two cut-off upright supports are.  Using two longer self-tapping screws, push the screw up and through the center of the V of the support and screw it in.  It’ll fix it very neatly and nicely.


You should have something that looks like the picture above.


Here we go – all fitted.  Unlike my Eunos chin spoiler, which made a radical difference to the front end at speed, I think this is more of a cosmetic mod – I haven’t noticed the car feel any different, really.

However, it looks great, it’s solid at speed, and best of all it doesn’t catch on speed bumps at all so far.  My car’s running the facelift S-Line 20mm drop and I was a little concerned by this but I’ve not had a single scrape on the mean pothole-strewn holes of Manchester.


Colourful day in our Street

4 05 2011

Colourful day in our street!

The Orange TTRS belongs to a mate.  And no, he wouldn’t let me have his wheels.

Shift-gate fitted

3 05 2011

Finally got around to refitting the retro shift-gate I bought 2nd hand from a TT-Forum.co.uk member.

Whether it’s my car’s gear linkage or something else, I had to modify the back of the gate fairly severely to get it to slot into reverse and sixth gear correctly.


An hour with a Dremel, and I was fairly happy.    The shift-gate came in two parts – the slotted gate and a metal ring that fits beneath it on top of the OEM plastic.  I had to drill a small recess out of this ring in order for it to fit over the plastic locator peg that sticks up from the transmission tunnel.

I’d previously polished the gear shaft using fine-grade wet and dry followed up with some Autosol and a Dremel polishing bit.

I used a similar process on the shiftgate itself to bring it to a mirrored shine, to contrast with the OEM brushed ring of the gear surround.

Once I was happy with the fit, I took a new leather gear gaiter and chopped an inch off the top with a sharp knife, then used hot glue to attach it to the gearshaft.  You have to do this as low as possible in order for the leather not to interfere with the gearchange.

The outside edge of the gaiter is secured by the extended bolts passing through the pre-cut holes on the circumference of the gaiter.

The gearknob itself is a cheap Aluminium Richbrook universal fit one that I think goes pretty well with it.

OK, so a fair amount of hassle.  Was it worth it?  Let’s see…


I’m quite pleased.  Following the example of forum member on the TT-Forum.co.uk, I’m going to add a red LED strip around the underneath the inside edge of the shift-gate, so it glows red through the shift-gate pattern when the sidelights are turned on.  Watch this space…

Adding footwell illumination

3 05 2011

I like the interior of the TT.  It’s one of it’s best features.  I especially like it at night, when you get the contrast between the crisp instruments and the red background lume to the secondary controls.

The new model TTs have an (expensive!) optional interior lighting pack that adds some nice touches like footwell illumination.

After driving mine at night I decided I’d like something similar…

A quick scan of eBay brought up lots of LED flexible strips that looked like they had potential.  I bought two 30cm strips of flexible, red LED strips for around £10.  These are the low-profile ones, and come with peel-off 3M adhesive on the rear – something similar to the pic below:


I test fired them using a bench 12V power supply – they looked great, with nice, even illumination.  Now to wire them to the car…

First off I needed to identify a 12V supply that turns on with the sidelights, and also dims with the dashboard illumination.  I noticed that the light around the cigarette lighter looked suitable and was nearby to the footwells.

Getting to the wiring for this is pretty easy – open the ashtray and remove the single Torx screw in the middle:


You can then pull the ashtray assembly down and forward – on top you’ll see a small, black plastic clip that covers the earth and live feed for the existing light.

I then tried touching the terminals on the SMD strip to the terminals and turned the sidelights on, and was pleased to see them illuminate.  I dimmed the dash lights and the SMD strip dimmed with them.  Yay.

I took some black twin-core cable, and with the ashtray removed taped the end to an opened-out coathanger, then pushed the wire from the ashtray so it appeared in the footwell at the side of the transmission tunnel.  This was surprisingly easy to do without removing any trim and then soldered the SMD strip wire tails on to the twin-core cable.  I repeated this on both sides.

Next, I soldered the left and right hand twin-core cables to the existing light in the center of the removed ashtray.

If you’re not familiar with soldering, then tinning your joints makes this much easer – twist the end of the multi-core cable into a single wire, dip your soldering iron into a little solder, and run it along the twisted wire end to coat it with solder.  When you come to solder it to something else, it’ll be a much easier job.

Once in, I tested the LED strips – turn sidelights on and both illuminate nicely.  So far so good – that’s all the hard part out of the way.

The strips are self-adhesive so I stuck them out of sight just around the corner of each footwell like so:


It’s not a bad idea to give the surface you’re sticking the strips to a wipe with Meths or IPA just in case the previous owner was a fan of silicon dash polish.

At night they look like this from close up – from above there’ll just be a nice, diffuse red glow that illuminates with the sidelights.


It’s difficult to capture on camera what the result looks like, but it’s pretty spectacular.  It looks like Audi fitted them at the factory, and is nice and subtle.  It doesn’t distract at all during night driving.  It looks exactly the same colour and intensity as the existing factory red glow between the knee braces that shines down from below the ashtray.



Job done – total cost, a tenner.  Happy days.

QS Rear Valance

28 04 2011

This is a great, cheap mod.  The standard rear valance on the TT is a body-coloured panel that looks like it’s part of the rear bumper.

The V6 and QuattroSport models came with a nicer black honeycomb version, in matte and gloss respectively.  I popped into http://www.awesome-gti.co.uk on the way home from work last week and had a look at one of the mechanics’ car that had the QS one fitted and ordered one on the spot.

£65 for a geniune VAG part, which I didn’t think was too bad at all.

Fitting it is very easy indeed: head under the rear bumper and on the underside of the valance undo the two T25 screws.  On each side, at the outer edge, there’s a strange fastener – push the center plastic rod upwards with the tip of a screwdriver, then pull the rod out from the other side.  When done you can carefully lever out the rest of the fastener to detach the valance from the bumper.

Once you’ve done this you just need to unclip the valance around the top and sides – it’s a push fit.  The valance is pretty flexible so be careful you don’t crack the paint if you’re going to reuse it.

As the Haynes manual says, “refitting is the reverse of removal”.  Job done.