As any automotive enthusiast would, straight out of school I started plotting not so clever schemes on how to get employed with a German car manufacturer. The chance to get er.. intimate with the Beemers and Mercs was all I wanted at that point. Of course, sense prevailed and I realized the only real way to get ‘really’ intimate with the machines were to either be part of the R&D team or end up as an automotive journalist. While doing my research I stumbled across these ‘apprenticeship’ programmes where the manufacturer takes you under its wings, trains you for a couple of years, hands you certificates attesting your abilities and finds you a job! More than just a fantastic idea, as a group of nine Volkswagen apprentices will attest to.
The apprentices were specializing in fields of automotive mechatronics technicians, automotive painters, interior fitters and process mechanics and were among the best in their respective years. This achievement brought the young talents a very special commission from the Board of Management in 2011: They were asked to design and build a Golf GTI that would be unveiled at the Wörthersee GTI meet in Reifnitz, Austria in May.
The two instructors Björn Schallhorn and Detlef Weiner put the team together from a variety of disciplines: Lisa Batke (19) is in the third year of her apprenticeship as a car mechatronics technician, just like her colleagues Richard Neubert (18) and Martin Schmidt (22). Roman Huck (24) is in the second year of his apprenticeship. Tim Köhler (19) is a second-year apprentice training as a process technician for plastics and rubber technology. Laura Krätz (18) and Christian Wolter (23) are in their third year of training as automotive painters. Charleen Pohle (19) and Sarah Unverzagt (20) are second-year apprentice interior fitters.
Working on the theme “sporty driving” the team began customizing a Golf GTI. Black as the night, with a black-and-red interior, 360 PS (265 kW) TSI engine and a lowered sport suspension, the GTI Black Dynamic makes a lasting impression says VW. This GTI is truly unique with its handmade GTI lettering in the doors and hatch. A 1,800 watt sound system with nine loudspeakers installed in the boot is visible through a plexiglas sheet.
Martin Schmidt (22) who specializes in automotive mechatronics, took care of was the stamping the GTI lettering in a deep-drawing process. “For our team, the GTI Black Dynamic is the high point of our training,” he said. “The amount that we have learned is incredible, and we have developed our own ideas and implemented them in ‘our’ car. Where else do you get an opportunity like that?” he added enthusiastically.
The interior of the Golf GTI Black Dynamic boasts sport seats upholstered in black-and-red Alcantara and leather, interior door trim with decorative red seams.
The exterior has also been given the special treatment. A Deep Black Metallic exterior finish underneath flat anthracite film trim makes the car ‘black as night’. The engine has been tuned to make an extra 150 PS, and an oversized exhaust system and the eight-piston brake system complete the list of performance upgrades.
The nine apprentices selected the appropriate parts from the Volkswagen model range, negotiated with suppliers, and performed their own work on the car. The teams says the freedom to experiment with the techniques they have learnt for the very first time is a special experience – particularly as every day brings something new. They found material procurement negotiations a challenge, but as 18-year-old Laura Krätz says: “My knees were shaking during the first phone call with an outside supplier. After that, everything went smoothly.”
“We are proud of the creativity and achievement of our apprentices,” declared Professor Heiko Gintz, who heads vocational training at Wolfsburg. Volkswagen gives its best apprentices an opportunity to extend their knowledge with projects such as the GTI Black Dynamic.
The screwheads were visible under the pane of Plexiglas in the luggage compartment and seemed odd on a car that was brimming with elegance and flair. So the blunt screw heads were unscrewed and polished. When asked why they were paying such great attention to detail, they laughed and said: “Our Golf GTI is a customized business card for Volkswagen, so it has to be 100% perfect!”
The Golf GTI Black Dynamic celebrated its world premiere from 16 to 19 May before roughly 150,000 Volkswagen and custom-car fans at the 31st GTI Festival at Wörthersee in Austria.
The sponsor of the Wörthersee project, Prof. Werner Neubauer, Member of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Board of Management responsible for Components, feels that this kind of project is of key importance during an apprenticeship: “Restyling the Golf GTI means the apprentices have access to all kinds of components from the Volkswagen model range. As a result, the show car symbolizes diversity, innovation and quality ‘made by Volkswagen’.” Volkswagen has been giving its best apprentices the opportunity to expand their technical knowledge by working on special vehicle projects since 2004. Four of these vehicles have been showcased at the Wörthersee meeting. This year’s GTI is the fifth project to be unveiled to tuning fans in Austria.
“This project illustrates how the thorough knowledge, commitment and creativity of our apprentices culminates in a fascinating show car that combines technical extravagance and everyday utility”, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Board of Management responsible for Development, said. And this opinion is shared by Bernd Osterloh, Chairman of the Volkswagen General Works Council: “Young people have a passion for cars and are deeply committed when it comes to realizing their own ideas. Our nine apprentices, who as a team have developed a remarkable project, bear witness to that.”