Drift Games – Van Wilder
What began as a cheap diesel van has rapidly evolved into a stanced wide-arch one-off…
Everything has potential, or so the saying goes. There’s a fairly simple formula that can be applied to pretty much any car you care to mention, ensuring success no matter how unlikely the base: rims +drop = win. Throw a set of coilovers and some hot-to-trot wheels on anything from a Fiat Multipla to a Lada Riva and suddenly you’ve created something that morphs from side-eye to double-take.
Now, this might seem like a weird thing to be pointing out when the car we’re looking at here is a Mk7 Golf. After all, water-cooled Dubs are a linchpin of the contemporary stance scene, and Mk7s aren’t exactly a rare sight on the showground. Aha, but this is no ordinary Mk7… it is, in fact, basically the least exciting one you could possibly imagine. Well, that was the case, until Irish tyre-slaying superheroes (and stars of YouTube) Drift Games got hold of it. What began as a decidedly uninspiring Golf van with a plodding 1.6 derv under the bonnet and a general Eeyore vibe has been transmogrified beyond all recognition. The kit, the rims, and of course the all-important stance, every piece of this fashion-forward jigsaw puzzle is in place – and, most impressively of all, the whole car was built in three days for a sub-€10k budget. Killing the show scene without breaking your back? Sounds like a winning formula to us.
Naturally, the Drift Games guys are no strangers to these sorts of shenanigans. They’ve got us on speed-dial too, having previously fitted BC Racing suspension to their various drift cars; their Ford Mustang, Mazda MX-5 and Chevrolet Corvette are all packing BCs, all of which will be competing through 2021, and when they called us to say that they’d just fitted a set of our coilovers to their Golf van project, we just had to get down there for a closer look.
The idea was simple: the van had actually been picked up as a knockabout daily hack, just something to cart tyres around in and generally treat as a workshop dogsbody, although inevitably a few modifications started to find their way in here and there, and the reception was positive so they just kept going. The joke is that Drift Games always gets carried away, they just can’t stop themselves from modding cars to extremes, and it’s evidently just as true of the shop hack as it is the full-bore competition builds.
The team readily admit that the van doesn’t make sense, and doesn’t need to: all it has to do is remain usable, as it’s still going to be a daily driver that has to earn its keep… but, as the old maxim goes, life’s too short to drive boring cars. All it took was a sighting of a Pandem-kitted Golf at a show to get the grey matter fizzing, and what started as a workshop joke soon turned into a glorious reality. The van was stripped down, its stock white paint perfected, and built back up with the wide-arch kit into what is almost certainly the world’s first Pandem-kitted Golf van. Let’s call it a Vandem.
The fellas didn’t just want to limit themselves to bolt-on aftermarket stuff; there’s a keen OEM+ vibe here too, with the van treated to a full Golf R conversion at either end. At the front, this incorporates the R-spec bumper, grille, undertray and jazzy headlights, while at the rear you’ll spot the spoiler, bumper and quad exhausts. Yes, they are functional quads on a stock 1.6 diesel, and no, the guys are not planning on mapping it or going for crazy power, the pipes are just for aesthetics. Sure, they say that, but there’s clear precedent for getting carried away – if the van ends up getting popcorned, we don’t think anyone will be too surprised…
With 20” Radi8 wheels neatly filling those colossal new arches, the BC Racing coilovers ensure that the stance is absolutely on-point, with the ride still being supple enough to accommodate that need for daily-driving duties on Ireland’s famously unforgiving roads. And the clincher with this project is the down-to-earth sensibleness of it. That mightn’t be your key take-out at first glance, given how bonkers it looks, but all of the parts used in this project are readily available and relatively affordable, either on the aftermarket or good old eBay, and the van’s still cheap to insure and cheap to run.
A normal car that happens to look abnormal – that’s as good a way as any to summarise it, because there was never an over-arching point to this, the aim wasn’t to create the ultimate driving machine or the most trophy-hungry show car. It was just to see how cool they could make an unassuming base in a short amount of time. It’s fair to say the Drift Games team have achieved that in style.
Watch the Mk7 Pandem Gold BC Review Video here: