Dutch #1977 #VW #Scirocco
16v Mk1 is so clean you could eat your dinner off it!
Our resident ’Rocco guru, Sean Fleetwood, was chomping at the bit to write a feature about this stunning Dutch Mk1 and we can see why. Its owner, Tom Klein, has taken things to a whole new level! Words: Sean Fleetwood. Photos: Oliver Verheij.
To think Tom carried out 99% of the work on this car himself is insane. We’re not worthy.
As the beer flowed at The Phirm’s christmas party Elliott made his move: ‘‘Sean, we’ve got another Scirocco coming up; would you be interested in covering it for us? It’s a really special car and it made quite an impact at Edition.’’ As DRIVE-MY resident ’Rocco nut it was an easy decision to make and straightaway I knew which car he was talking about…
Back in September, while I was once again unable to get to Edition 38’s event, my iPhone buzzed… and then buzzed again… and then again. It was my Facebook page lighting up with shots from the show of yet another stunning Mk1 Type 53 (that’s a Mk1 Scirocco to you and I ~ Ed).
Along with many who were at the event my first thought was that it must be the much anticipated Mk1 being built by UK resident and DRIVE-MY regular Simon Sweetland finally making its debut. The look, the finish and the obligatory Ronals all pointed that way. However, this stunning beast instead proved to be the latest creation from the guy responsible for building a certain white Mk1 Jetta that had made such an impact at Overstone Park a few years previously and that actually belonged to his friend Oliver Verheij (the same guy taking the snaps today). Hailing from Groenlo, a small Dutch town near the German border more famous for being the original home of Grolsch lager, Tom Klein Gunnewiek had already established quite a reputation for himself, building and painting (in his spare time!) a string of highly regarded and widely acclaimed show cars. This included his own VR6-propelled Mk2 Golf as well as a succession of other sweetly modified ’70s and ’80s Veedubs before attention finally turned to his next personal project, assuming he could track down one of the holy grails for us lovers of German metal: a Mk1 Scirocco.
Regular readers and anybody with an interest in early water-cooled VWs will be painfully aware of how few of these pretty and still dynamic little cars remain. While half a million examples of the more shapely precursor to the Golf were built between 1974 and 1981, barely 150 cars survive here in the UK.
Over on mainland Europe, while more do live on, it’s not usually the work of a moment to track down a viable Mk1 down either. Indeed, when Tom first started looking he was faced with the usual selection of rusty basket cases. After one particular two-hour drive across the Netherlands he was about to walk away from yet another bag of bones example when, to his delight, the seller let him know of a fellow resident in his town who might be worth tracking down.
Suitably connected Tom met up with a chap who had imported a 1977-spec, small indicator, chrome bumper, 1.6-carbed GT from Germany back in the mid ’90s. This guy had then begun hoarding a selection of spare parts to enable an eventual restoration that, sadly for him, never quite occurred. Thankfully fully dry stored all those years, on inspection the GT revealed itself to be an almost rot-free basis from which Tom could finally get his ’Rocco project under way – assuming he could extract it from a very reluctant seller.
With an encouraging word and a stern glare or two from his wife the owner finally agreed to let the car go. A deal was struck and Tom picked the car up a week later. From this point in the story, autumn 2013, the Mk1 then sat, happily secure but largely ignored, in the workshop while Tom tended to everyone else’s cars. Come April 2014, however, he had finally created a gap in his busy schedule and the transformation commenced.
The best news was that remarkably little corrosion existed (by Mk1 Scirocco standards) on what had clearly been a very carefully stored car. This meant Tom could focus on perfecting as opposed to repairing.
Engine-wise his original plan had been to go down the 16v turbo route but, after a couple of false starts, he secured a very much breathed upon ABF on throttle bodies courtesy of Van Kronenburg Autosport (VKA). Based out of Geldrop since 1992, VKA has carved out a superb reputation for itself, in the Netherlands and beyond, building and modifying engines for fast-road and track use alike. Mated to a G60 gearbox (itself controlled via a very tasty CAE Ultra Shifter) and a modified Powersprint exhaust, Tom assumes it’s good for 210bhp. This represents a pretty healthy increase on the original factory output for an ABF of 148bhp and, let’s not forget, this is pushing along a car that weighs barely 800kg. Powerful but not ridiculously so.
Running gear-wise Tom has followed a welltrodden path with trick Wilwood calipers and G60 288mm discs up front with a combination of Mk2/Mk4 Golf hardware at the rear to give a more modern all-round disc brake setup. Maintaining the all important stance, H&R Ultralow coilovers and adjustable top mounts have been deployed and, when the car gets driven in anger proper, a set of Mk2 Scirocco anti-roll bars keep things steady around the wobbly bits.
Externally Tom had originally planned on building a red car but, once cleaned up, there was something quite appealing about the still reasonably crisp factory Diamond silver finish (a classic colour on these cars). Cue a change of plan that retained the metallic look but with a twist: a sumptuous coat of Porsche Polar silver after an all over full-on bare metal restoration. Inside Tom has kept things beautifully simple. Along with the aforementioned CAE gear stick only a few extra dials and a QSP steering wheel detract from a gloriously factory-fresh (in 1977) look and feel. You don’t need to throw a ton of cowhide at these cars to make them stand out and the ’77-spec tartan Tombstones combine perfectly with the gleaming silver exterior.
As stunning as the car is it wasn’t all plain sailing. What project ever is? All the work you see in these shots has been completed by Tom himself and that includes the skin-shredding smoothing exercise carried out on the engine bay before the fully detailed and chrome adorned power unit was fitted.
More problems arose when the ET40 17’’ Ronal Racing wheels mounted on 185/35 rubber were first fitted. Subsequent extra front arch work would be required in order to accommodate them. This, along with some minor rubbing on the coilovers (also since resolved via a bit of spacing) contributed to the car being trailered to its Edition 38 debut a mere 16 months after the build had started. Given Tom has a day job and the level of detail he has applied to the Scirocco, that’s a stunningly quick turnaround. Similarly impressed, the judges at Edition awarded the Scirocco ‘Second Best in Show’. Impressive. Having also squeezed in an appearance at Essen before Christmas, Tom is really looking forward to a full season of trips to shows with the Scirocco, this time under its own power. Let’s hope for those of us who missed it last year that he includes a late summer return trip to Overstone Park for E38.
The balance Tom has achieved between stock and uprated parts is absolutely faultless. Money can’t buy good taste but Tom was clearly born with it!
17” Ronal Racing wheels look stunning but took a fair bit of squeezing under the reworked front arches.
ENGINE: 2.0 16v #ABF
engine. Complete rebuild and painted high gloss black, polished and chromed details and custom made parts. 45mm #Jenvey
DTH ITBs. Lightened and balanced crankshaft, pistons and rods. Flowed head with custom camshafts, valves and adjustable camshaft wheel. Custom sump. Daihatsu dynamo. Sachs clutch. Rebuilt G60 gearbox, painted high gloss black with chromed and polished parts. Quaife limited-slip differential. Complete stainless steel #Powersprint
60mm exhaust with 4-2-1 manifold. Custom radiator. KMS management system. Cleaned wiring loom. Clean engine bay. Front scuttle tray and heater motor removed. Battery relocated to boot
, 7x17 ET40 with 0.5j outer lips. 185/35 R17 Nangkang tyres. 1cm spacer at front and 2cm at the back. #H&R
Ultra low adjustable coilovers. Chromed adjustable top mounts. Mk2 Scirocco anti-roll bars. All axles, suspension parts, steering and other running gear new or rebuilt and painted high gloss black with chrome details. Wilwood brakes with 288mm Brembo discs at front. Golf Mk4 brakes with Golf Mk2 16v discs at rear. Custom-made pedalbox with brake and clutch cylinders under the dashboard
EXTERIOR: Porsche Polar silver. Side trim, rear logos and wiper deleted. Arches pulled. Bumpers, logo, mirrors, door handles, window trim, roof trim all chromed
INTERIOR: Factory 1977 tartan-spec, black Skai leather headliner. Black CAE shifter. Additional VDO gauges. QSP steering wheel
SHOUT: Yoeri Kox, Roy Verbeek, Bas Rozendaal, Joris Visser, Rick Papen, Twan Niemeijer, Oliver Verheij, Ron Huijzer, Michel Massop, Jos Klein Gunnewiek
Builds this insane don’t come along very often and when they do often take decades to complete, not months! Those factory lines are so perfect why would you change them?