A Sports Car. An SUV. The Atlas GT
Its not every day that as an aftermarket parts manufacturer you get a proposition to work on a factory production concept vehicle. That's why when we received a call from Jamie Orr that he was working on a factory backed concept with VW, we were a bit skeptical. We were even more skeptical as he unfurled his idea for the concept, but intrigued nontheless. His concept was the - GT - an Atlas Cross Sport, with the Heart of a modified Golf R, and the spirit of a Grand Tourer.
On paper, it fits neatly in any American's dream daily driver category - Power to have fun, in the guise of a 390 hp 2.0T, Suspension set up for twisty roads, room for 4 adults in track day gear, and still plenty of space for 4 sets of golf clubs in the back. If ever there was a vehicle designed for guided tours of One Lap of America, this is it.
Of course this project had more humble beginnings; an Atlas Cross Sport SEL in Kingfisher Blue (Eisvogelblau in German markets). This option level was required to get all the features for a true GT, so this car had to be created as an SEL VR6 premium at the Chattanooga Tennessee Plant. Jamie's task, was to take a brand new custom made vehicle, take it apart, and add the right mix of aftermarket parts to create his dream GT. That's were he called on us (amongst others - including Recaro, KW Suspension, ABT Sportsline, Unitronic, Eurokraft) to help take this Cross Sport to true GT Levels.
With its KW ST X 3-way Coil overs and ABT 22x10 et 20 HR AEROWHEEL rollers and Yokohama Advan tires, the GT is just as at home at the track as it is at the country club. In fact its more at home at the track than the grocery store. Honed by testing at the Nürburgring Jamie has helped KW develop a suspension for the Atlas GT that is both forgiving, but also taught when necessary. The GT is so quick that during filming at Button Willow Raceway - the allotted camera car had a difficult time keeping up with Tanner Foust in the GT.
We here at Black Forest Industries were tasked with making the interior design more cohesive. The Recaro seats in this Blue and black Vinyl / Ultrasuede had already been chosen, and Recaro was gracious enough to supply the seat materials; Black Vinyl, Blue Ultrasuede and black perforated Ultrasuede. We added Charcoal Black Alcantara and blue and silver stitch colors to add contrast to both the door cards and shift boot.
With its 4-up bucket seat layout, Recaro Sportster CS seats front and rear - we needed to provide a sporty control to help aide with shifting. We chose to use our GSB-DG to continue that sport luxury theme throughout the vehicle.
Every Shift knob we make starts in the machine room. In a maelstrom of coolant and aluminum chips, we carve our way to the final product from billets of 6061-T651 block. Every detail scrutinized, every measurement down to 5 thousandths of an inch (or in some cases even less).
The process was much the same for the GSB-DG we used for the Atlas GT. Black anodized and wrapped in matching Recaro Ultrasuede, the golf ball knob will both tie to the concept and our collective memory of a simpler time when the golf ball and Volkswagen were synonymous with performance hatchbacks.
Upholstery is something that most customers don't realize is done in-house here at Black Forest Industries. Much like every shift and e-brake boot we sell, the door panel inserts for the Atlas GT were not only designed here, but stitched together and given a "French" double top seam as well.
Hand-wrapped is how every BFI shift knob gets its finishing touch. Each knob cover is carefully patterned and cut, then wrapped, glued, and dimples pressed here at our facility. Using the same blue Ultrasuede provided by Recaro, we gave this GSB-DG a shift feel to match its sporty nature.
We created a special shift pattern insert coin for Jamie, so he could put his signature on the finished Atlas GT product.
The amount of thought, planning, testing, and sheer level of hard work to assemble such a project is difficult to quantify. What seems to be minimal changes to an existing platform, represents countless hours of work, to make everything fit together, work properly, and meet the quality standards of the Volkswagen brand.