Buy This Mid-Engine VW GTI and Go Bully Some Porsches

Buy This Mid-Engine VW GTI and Go Bully Some Porsches photo
Buy This Mid-Engine VW GTI and Go Bully Some Porsches photo

Volkswagen did something truly unhinged back in 2007 when it built the Golf GTI W12-650. Two months before Austria’s annual Wörthersee gathering of Vee-dub faithful, designers widened a Mk5 GTI and stuffed the W12 engine from a Bentley Continental GT in the trunk.

Named for its engine type and power output, the result was incredible—and terrifying. With the front brakes from an Audi RS4, the rear axles and brakes from a Lamborghini Gallardo, and the gearbox from a VW Phaeton, the mid-engined freak accelerated from zero to 60 mph in under four seconds on its way to a theoretical top speed of 201 mph. A period Top Gear segment put its handling characteristics succinctly: “This car will not go around corners.”

As it turns out, making a mid-engined sports car from a front-drive hatchback isn’t easy—even with access to VW’s engineers and parts bin. With a short wheelbase and boatloads of power, the W12-650 easily overwhelmed the limits of its tires and hacked-together chassis. But the owner of this 2012 VW GTI with a 2.0-liter turbo four in its middle claims to have cracked the mid-engined handling code—and now you can buy it.

The bolt-on rear wheel arches, Lexan rear windows, and side NACA ducts are your first clue that this is no ordinary GTI. Under the hood—er, hatch—is where things get interesting. The former trunk area has been transformed into an engine bay to house the GTI’s turbocharged motor and six-speed manual transaxle, which attach to the chassis through solid Delrin mounts. Don’t expect a frunk, though—the original engine compartment has been converted to hold a 12-gallon fuel cell along with the stock radiator, fuse panels, and battery.


Other upgrades and adaptations include the gearshift assembly from a Porsche Cayman S (generation unclear) with an ECS Tuning short-shift kit, strut tower braces with spherical bushings, and a diverter valve for the turbocharger. The 2.0-liter sports a tune via a COBB Tuning flash tuner, though the amount of power gained is not stated. Nevertheless, the setup retains stock emissions equipment and reportedly passes California’s notoriously stringent smog tests, most recently in January 2024.

In addition to the drivetrain, the car’s suspension had to be rethought in the conversion from front- to mid-engined and front- to rear-wheel drive. Modifications include a subframe relocation cit, aluminum rear control arms and bushings, a BC Racing coilover suspension, a custom front spherical tie rod kit, and angle-correcting rear ball joints. The interior looks remarkably stock, save for a firewall where the rear seats used to be and an auxiliary gauge pod atop the steering wheel.

My favorite line in the listing notes that: “Due to the modifications, the ABS, stability control, seat belt, brake, and airbag warning lights are illuminated, and the tire pressure warning is also illuminated.” This poor car is clearly confused.

The Mk6’s owner claims to have “over 2200 hours” and $42,000 invested into the build, and judging by the listing's dozens of build photos, I believe it. He also owns a European repair shop in Tarzana, California, called Precision Motors, but this project was pure passion. “[I] built this car as an homage to the 80s Era Rally cars—the mid-engine hatchbacks in the World Rally Group B Competitions … such as the Renault R5, Peugeot 205, and Lancia Deltas. It is a street-legal track car that is still very DOT and user-friendly to drive,” he commented on Bring a Trailer.

The auction ends on Monday, May 13. If you’re in the market for a mid-engined track day car that isn’t a Porsche or just want to peruse an epic build, you can find it here.

<em>Bring a Trailer.</em>
Bring a Trailer.