Published June 24th, 2020
Words and Photography: Michal Fidowicz
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first Showroom feature on the website. I’m going to assume that majority of you reading this right now have come across this article through Candy’s Instagram page. You may have noticed in the recent uploads I’ve been elaborating more on my thoughts about the cars I post, and doing small deep dives into certain features of said cars. I find this generally pretty fun, obviously – otherwise I wouldn’t do it. However I’m starting to get more and more bothered by Instagram’s 10 photo per post limit on top of the limited word count. I’ve been thinking about a work around for a little while before reminding myself that I literally have a whole website to utilise. I’m not sure why I’ve not done this sooner really, but we’re here now.
Now I must clarify, I don’t particularly enjoy writing as such. I like talking – I talk a lot, and enjoy conversations. I feel there is a lot to gain from bouncing dialogue across a few parties in comparison to just talking to someone (as I feel I’m doing now.) Unfortunately I can’t quite figure out how we can all have a conversation together, so until I find a way to jump over that hurdle I’ll get my chatty energy out through my keyboard. For context, the purpose of these Showroom features isn’t for me to write 3,000 words on each car. That would get real boring real soon, and I’d find myself repeating myself over and over again. The purpose of these features is for me to share all my photos from each shoot as I tend to take around 45 photos per car, and to add in my own 2p on the car itself. Most importantly though, I want to share with you the spec lists from each car. We’ve all been there, we find an interesting car on the Internet, and attached to the photos is a depressing lack of information about it. Half the time the photos are from the early 2010s and there are no links to social media pages or an owner. And that is a real shame to me, as cars are a hobby I want to share with everyone. There’s also importance in preserving information about modifying cars and how we do it – it’s something we’ll look back on with nostalgia whilst the young kids look at it with awe, the same way I look back at photo albums from car shows in the 80s and 90s.
So now that you understand what I’m trying to achieve here, I think it’s only right to start off with a Lupo/Arosa platform as the first feature. Not only am I friends with a handful of people who swear by these cars, I also know that my audience is obsessed with them. Let’s get one thing clear first to make sure we’re on the same page – I think these are really good cars. I do also think though that these are the cars you have when you’ve just passed your test. They tick all the boxes, right – with cheap to buy and run being the most obvious ones. But in reality, these are really boring things that I actually don’t want to write about. A more exciting thing about these, and specifically the Mk1 Arosa, is that they are styled really bloody well. They have that sporty, late 90s energy to them. Think S-chassis, think E36s… you following me here or am I making stuff up?
For that reason, the Arosa would be my weapon of choice when it comes to the Lupo/Arosa topic. Josh agrees with me here, so when looking for a dirt cheap new daily he decided to revisit his old stomping ground of the Lupo platform to have another crack at something he knows a lot about already. You know, just like the famous old Japanese proverb that says: “you last Lupo is never as good as your next one” or something or rather. So after a few messages with a nearby Facebook seller, Josh was on his way home £300 poorer in his splendid 1.0 Mk1 Seat Arosa in bright red, the fastest colour of the lot. The plan for it was simple: low, static and well styled.
And here is where taste starts to progress the build onward – where first time car kids get carried away and do all sorts of terrible mistakes, Josh keeps it real simple and focuses on styling above all. This means cutting out all the junk that usually distracts someone who hasn’t built a car before, not that Josh would do this anyway. 75 different stickers, some Hawaiian flowery shit hanging from the wing mirror, 2% tints on anything that is see through or has a bulb behind it, tow hook straps. God, it’s painful even thinking about it. Sure, when you’re 17 you have no idea what you’re doing and probably can’t declare your mods so you use these little tacky things as a means to get your energy out – I was a culprit of it too. I had a Supreme sticker on rear window of my first car and spray painted my alloy wheels a disgusting grey Ford colour.
With experience though you learn to swerve these things. Your priorities in building a car change and you learn the dos and don’ts. The dos in Josh’s case were clear – the car is a daily, and has to be comfortable. This does not mean compromising ride height though, let’s get one thing clear. The challenge is dialling in a low ride height whilst ensuring you have the right suspension travel to soak up bumps. Once again, something I’ve been a culprit of overlooking in the past which resulted in shitty consequences – the trick here is to learn from the mistakes and ensure they are prevented in the future.
With comfort sorted it’s time to think about the fun part. The styling – continuing with the clean approach, some one piece dishy wheels fit the bill perfectly here. It’s a classic part of the recipe, but one that is so easily cocked up. Sticking with a wheel brand that’s praised for its authenticity, styling and heritage speaks for itself. This is especially effective when paired with a desirable low ET and good dish – all these details make these Works work. Josh picked the correct rubber size here too, with the bottom of the rim lining up with the sill, making the tyre wall flow perfectly along the bottom sill line and giving the car a low slung look. This gives his Arosa that aggressive and punchy stance that you want from a small hatchback. The conscious styling choices continue throughout the car, with the clear indicators complimenting the rear Cambridge lights, ensuring monochrome consistency in the light department. Front, clear fog light install along the lower valance gives the car a slight hint of poshness, which is nicely paired with the pop out rear windows which were also installed during Josh’s ownership. Continuing the balance of class and originality, the Arosa rocks the famous World Rally Champion rear window dealer sticker. Keeping this is another obvious but conscious styling decision from Josh. Collectively, these small and subtle touches add to the stance provided by the wheels alone, giving this little 90s hatchback an appearance greater than most would be content with.
If anything, the attention to detail in the interior is the real focus point of the whole car. Going back to the original daily comfort brief Josh set himself from the get go, cosiness went straight to the top of his agenda. Firstly, all door cards went in for a little retrim from Josh himself – rightly opting for black suede to do the job. No silly patterns or fabrics here, just clean finishes to please your ergonomic senses. Mk4 recaros (in a rare, red cloth colourway) swiftly replaced the plain, OEM bar-stool like seats of the Seat. Matched with red GTI seatbelts front and back, Josh chucked a third colour into the boiling pan – brown wood grain of the Nardi steering wheel, with polished spokes to match the lips of the wheels and a custom machined metal gear stick. Being the most out there item on the car, I’d personally replace it with a wooden knob to match the steering wheel. However this is where the recipe gets its special touch. When breaking a spare Lupo for parts, Josh laid his hands on a spare Open Air roof. After some swearing and self assurance, Josh marked out the cut lines in the roof and went to town on the Open Air install. The obvious thing to do now was to hit the headliner with the suede treatment to match the door cards, but Josh took this a step further by pulling out the roof again and dying the inside of the Open Air black to match the suede trim. The final touches included a smoked interior light cover, black button trims and colour coded sun visors to match the roof.
Perfecting a car recipe isn’t something you do first time. Josh has had a few of these cars over the years now, and like any good chef (so to say) he trail and error’d along the way to not only perfect his car but to master the platform as a whole. The passion and excitement I saw him give to this car was genuinely super fun and inspiring to spectate. I hope my rambling gives you the impression that a lot of care went into this one, because it really did. If not then perhaps my photos and the spec sheet below finishes the job.
- Work Equip 01 – 15×8.5j ET0
- Nangkang AS1 – 165/45/15 (Josh tells me these come up skinnier than other tyres.)
- Front: Custom coilovers with 8K springs and dampening adjustability (Josh supplies these if you’re interested in purchasing a set)
- Rear: Custom 85mm drop plates with 8K spring and shortened shock set up (Once again, Josh can supply this)
- Chassis notched both sides
- Anti roll bar removed
- Rear camber via 4/3 washer set up
- Cambridge rear lights
- Front fog valance and fog lights
- World Rally Champion dealer sticker!
- Open Air roof from VW Lupo
- Nardi MX5 steering wheel with polished centre
- MK4 Golf Recaro seats
- Suede headliner and door cards
- Lupo GTI seat belts
- Black lupo carpets and plastics
To see more of Josh’s Arosa and his many other projects, head over to his Instagram by clicking here
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