Project: Blue Ridge 3.6 VR6 VW Atlas

It's no secret that there's a growing trend to take a would be suburban hauler and attempt to make it into something it was never really intended to be.  From Subarus to Ford E series, and even a few Porsche 911s as well, this overlanding fad has gained quite a bit of momentum.  While it would be easy to shake our canes at the sky and bemoan the fact that these vehicles are clearly not built from the ground up as true off-road weapons, it's more fun to participate and see just what these oversized Golfs are capable of, and more importantly how cool we can make them look. It's true, we may not be tackling the most complex and skill-challenging obstacles in the wilderness, but we are aiming to add bit of competence to our Atlas, as well as bit of confidence to the driver behind the wheel.


Off the lot the Atlas more that adequately checked every box that Volkswagen set out to check. It's roomy, stylish, packed with features and amenities, and it's reasonably affordable. In the 3.6 VR6 trim, the engine is sufficiently powerful to move the large box down the road, albeit not overwhelming in that category. We chose the VR6 because of nostalgia truth be told, and that powerplant holds a special place in our heart. Nevermind the fact that they can sound downright amazing with just a bit of tweaking.  This work horse replaced our outgoing Ford F-350 work truck and will fill in nicely as a parts hauler and show circuit limo.  Our aim is to make it to as many events as possible, even the smaller ones, and by downsizing our set-up we will be allowing ourselves the flexibility to accomplish that. 

The factory ride-height just did not cut it for us off the dealer lot. With the platform being so new, we set out to develop a simple yet effective solution to gaining more ground clearance and giving  the Atlas a much more imposing stature. In addition, we were looking to gain much needed clearance to fit our desired wheel and tire package to complete our upgrades.  We were able to quickly go from design concept phase to functioning prototype in an afternoon using our in-house HAAS CNC mill.  Fortunately for us we nailed it on the first try and our version 1 prototype fit like a charm. We were able to gain an additional 1.5" in ride height and make some extra space in the wheel arches for those all-terrain tires to live.  All in all this is a great way to add some utility to your Atlas and separate it from the rest of the soccer SUVs. 

From concept to reality, we're able to quickly prototype parts in near real-time for rapid validation

Making modifications on the fly helps us to bring new products to market faster than ever before

Having a full service shop means that we are able to test our new parts right here in-house without needing feedback from test mule customers during the design phase

BFI Parts And Accessories

The best part about the fact that the Atlas is built on the MQB chassis is the fact that a lot of our already existing BFI products directly fit onto the platform already. While there are a few that are specific to the Atlas, such as our shift boots, our shift knob, wheel spacers, prototype paddles and more, are all quick bolt-ons that dramatically improve the look and feel of things. As far as we're concerned these are must-do upgrades that elevate the quality of your Atlas to what it should be from the day you purchase it. 

Prototype complete replacement shift paddles that light up. We've got them working already so look out for a future release coming soon!

Our tried and true wheel spacers allowed us to dial in the exact fit we wanted. Zero vibration with our hubcentric design.

The factory Atlas interior left a lot to be desired, and our BFI shift knob and shift boot were just the thing to take things to the next level. 

Revolve APVD No. 0119 Wheels

Directly from the manufacturer, Revolve says this about their 0119 wheel: "Designed with the enthusiast in mind, APVD No. 0119 brings a fresh perspective to the import, European, and domestic market. This modernized design has plenty of features and finishes along with ample amount of brake clearance for vehicles equipped with an aggressive brake system."  While we currently are not worried about brake clearance, it's nice to know that we have the ability to fit something should we choose. More importantly for us this wheel really fit the look, as well as the dimensions we were seeking and with multiple finish options to choose from and a unique design, we feel that this was a great choice for Project Blue Ridge.  Coming in at 18 x 9.5 ET22 this gave us the aggressive and full look we wanted.  There's obviously a sea of wheels to choose from but we enjoyed the fresh perspective and great service that Revolve offered. 

Air Design Body Kit

In stock form, the Atlas does a great job of standing out from other similarly classed vehicles on the road with its chiseled lines and boxy silhouette. While that's great for around town, it doesn't convey the beefy message of the adventure vehicle that we were looking to build. Enter Air Design and their incredible Rugged Atlas body kit. The quality and construction of these pieces is impressive to say the least. These parts could easily be considered OEM with the level and fit and finish that they exhibit, not to mention the careful attention to design detail that seamlessly incorporates the Atlas's existing body components.  Rather than clumsily tacking on, these parts seem to just naturally flow and expertly enhance the look.  Installation is straight forward and the included instructions are extremely comprehensive.  This was a necessary and integral ingredient to our Atlas build and it wouldn't be the same with this body kit.  Comprised of 4 arches, side cladding, and front and rear fascia, this is a complete kit. Click the link below to see more. 

The self adhesive flares completely transform the look of the vehicle. Even with our black on black scheme, these stand out and give a much more dramatic presence. 

We love the satin silver front and rear cladding that exaggerates the OEM look and gives a much more muscular and elegant look to the Atlas. 

Thule Rack And Thule Omnistar Awning 

No rugged build would be complete without a rack system of some kind. There is no denying that a metal lattice work adds that extra something that says - "Let's do this." There's no bigger name in the roof accessories world than Thule, and they were the obvious go-to choice. With an abundance of options to pick from we were able to find the exact right combination to suit our project. We wanted as much space on top for hauling displays parts, while also being able to bolt on a permanent awning that we could pull out and set up quickly for shows.  Everything we used ended up fitting and functioning perfectly. The Omnistar awning is built incredibly well and receives compliments wherever we go. All in all exactly what we were aiming for. 

The Final Product

Overall we feel that we accomplished exactly what we set out to do from the start. We now have a more capable and more fun Atlas that looks a feels the parts. We're looking forward to testing its limits as well as developing more parts to make what Volkswagen gave us even better. Keep an eye out for future updates and make sure to find us at your local event coming up soon!

Watch The Video Of The Process

The start to finish build process of our project Blue Ridge Atlas. Watch the transformation over the course of 2 days here at Black Forest Industries. Everyone here played a part and contributed and it was an overall awesome and fun experience to watch our design come to life. 

November 14, 2019