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Mike Pitman says he likes to build his cars fast, and he likes to build ‘em custom, too. His VW Jetta here is the latest in a long line of out-the-box builds that has earned the title of a Pitman car. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Viktor Benyi.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Harlequin Right-hand drive VR6 homage to the most colourful Golf… If you thought the Golf Harlequin was an oddball creation then we can’t imagine what you’re going to make of Lee Docherty’s one-off homage. There’s daring to be different and then there’s this… Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: SMC.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTOP BANANA 1.8T-powered euro-look mk3
/ #VW-Golf-III / #VW-Golf-Mk3 / #VW-Golf-Mk-III / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-1.8T-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1.8T-III / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-1.8T-Mk-III / #VW-Golf-1.8T / #VW-Golf-1.8T-Mk3 / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf-Bi-Turbo / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-Bi-Turbo-Mk3
Big-turbo Mk3 runs US-spec bumpers, air-ride, full cage and stripped interior. Words: Daniel Bevis Pics: Patrick Hille For Mitch van Werven, the act of building his dream car has been a life-altering journey of friendship and inspiration. And not just life-altering – this unmissably yellow GTI has some mind-altering properties too…
If we’re to believe the late- 1960s Donovan song Mellow Yellow, it’s possible to get high on bananadine. This is, of course, nonsense – you can no more experience a psychotropic buzz with a banana than you can brush your teeth with it or use it to hammer an IKEA wardrobe together.
A hoax recipe for bananadine was published in the Berkeley Barb, an underground counterculture newsletter in California, in 1967; it detailed how it was possible to extract a psychoactive substance from banana skins, which you could then smoke to achieve LSDlike effects. This gained some credence when William Powell, who thought it was true, reproduced it in The Anarchist Cookbook in 1970. In fact, the original feature in the Barb was a satirical piece questioning the ethics of criminalising psychoactive drugs; smoking banana skins may create a placebo high at best, but there’s no scientific reason why you could actually get stoned on bananas. You can’t.
That said, there must be some manner of mind-altering substance swirling around the city of Lochem that’s enabled the coming-to-life of this trippy little Golf. Lochem’s in the Netherlands, and we’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions there; suffice to say that this is one Mk3 Golf that dabbles in the more colourful fringes of our everyday perceptions of reality.
Still, we’d never suggest that this car’s owner, Mitch van Werven, was under the influence of anything beyond strong coffee and a pocketful of dreams throughout the Golf’s reinvention; indeed, the evidence seems to suggest that he’s singularly focused on automotive mischief rather than anything chemical. “Why spend so much time, money and energy on a car?” he grins. “Because we can, and we enjoy it very much. Some people go to the club, we go to the garage and build our dream cars.”
Stirring sentiments indeed, and the inclusive ‘we’ here refers to a disparate but close cast of characters who feature strongly in Mitch’s own everyday interpretation of garage life; Bernd, Joran, Stevie, Roberto, Thomas, Mike, Martijn, these are the personalities who’ve helped our protagonist mould and shape his vision from questionable base to yellow dream machine. “I bought this car when I was sixteen, back in 2009,” Mitch explains. “Back then I was working at a garage and this Golf arrived in part-exchange – a #1996 GTI 16v. I saw it, and immediately called my dad to say ‘I want this car!’ It had been really well used – 266,000 kms on the clock and plenty of rust, but I think the Mk3 is the best model of Golf. The original Dusty Mauve paint was bad, too, but it was an all-original, three-door GTI 16v, so I just had to have it.”
As tales of first cars go, it’s not a bad one – so often it’s the case that the best first car in people’s minds is ‘any car – literally any car’, but Mitch is clearly a man of principle and ambition. “The car owns me, not the other way around,” he laughs. “It’s taken years to get it to this point, and it’s not finished – project cars never are, are they? And having started the transformation back in 2010, it’s come a long way.” He’s not kidding. You’d certainly never look at the car and think ‘high-mileage rust bucket’ these days. What about that colour, then? Swapping purple for yellow is a proper Art Attack move. “Yeah, I’m not telling you what the paint code is,” Mitch smirks. “I wanted to have a colour that you don't see very often. Most cars nowadays seem to be blue, grey or black, so I chose a bright shade. Also, I just like yellow…”
Naturally there was quite a lot of work involved in shuffling the various skeletons in the Golf’s closet before it was ready for paint. The first job on commencing the project was to totally strip the car down to see what was what, then stalk through the thing with lethal force, like some kind of enraged sniper, mercilessly eradicating corrosion and letting in new metal to cover the tracks. While this was going on, Mitch and his crew also removed everything superfluous from the car, following an over-arching ideal of exploiting power-to-weight ratios once the thing was completed. The Mk3 Golf is by no means a lard arse, but there are always savings to be made. A gram here, a gram there, it makes a difference. And we’re not just talking about the bananadine here.
“I made the choice of which engine I wanted, and once I’d settled on the 20vT I went out looking for one,” Mitch recalls. “With some happiness I found another Mk3 that had already been 20VT-swapped, so I bought that as a donor, stripping it completely and selling everything I didn’t need.” The finished product in that shiny bay wears a Garrett GT28 turbo along with some fairly racy manifolds and a #Kdata #kdFi ECU to keep everything humming. And with the shell prepped and the engine spec’d, that sunglass-baiting paint shade entered the fray. “After the car came back from the paint shop, the fun could really start,” he says. “First we built the engine in the car and made it all work, then took it back out again to clean everything – and let me tell you that was a lot of work! The cleaning alone took over three-hundred hours.” And when he says ‘cleaning’, we’re not talking about a duster and a can of Pledge here – take a look at the fastidiously shaved, smoothed and slippery engine bay.
You could challenge a passerby to wedge a toothpick in there and they’d be confounded for hours. You could drop a handful of toothpicks over the motor and every single one of them would make it down to the garage floor.
“Together with my best friend Bernd, we put the car back together,” Mitch continues. “We drove across the whole country for parts; this was almost the best part of build, being with my bro, having fun and getting new stuff for the Golf. After we had collected everything we needed, we started really putting the car together and piece-by-piece it blossomed. Every step brought us closer to the final result, and after years of hard work we could finally do some shows. Last year was the best year for us – the car got a ‘Best in Show’, the offer of a PVW feature and a place on display at the Essen Motor Show. This was the point when we said to each other, ‘Yay, we did it’!”
From the genesis of the idea right to the very end, Mitch’s buddies were deeply ingrained in the process, and it’s this communal all-in-it-togetherness that made the build so memorable. Not that there is an ‘end’ of course, not really – he’s already talking about air-ride, new seats, another yellow repaint, and some serious engine mods too.
“I can’t honestly say I had a clear idea in my head of how this would turn out, back when I was sixteen,” he admits. “Sure, I had a lot of ideas, but I never thought I’d achieve this unique look.” Indeed, the project today sports a variety of disparate styling cues from across the scene; our American cousins lent some inspiration in the form of their bumpers and wings, while the Jetta nose is a nod to the old-school stables that are mirrored in the choice of BBS RS rims.
The fact that it sits this low on coilovers rather than ’bags assures credibility and bravado points, and the interior really is something else: that Wiechers ’cage in particular is a shimmering manifestation of the scaffolders’ art, brutally complex and frighteningly purposeful.
“I was influenced a lot by other Mk3s on the internet, but also just by mine and Bernd’s keenness to try out our own ideas,” says Mitch. “I guess I’d describe it as OEM+ with a race-car influence, but it’s its own thing, really. And the reactions it gets now are crazy; I like to take it out for a drive with my girlfriend over some nice roads, and the feeling of doing that in your dream car is cool, but then when you arrive at a show and people are coming over and saying they love the car – it’s the best feeling. I can honestly say that building this Golf was the best time of my life.” And we can tell by the sparkle in his eye that this isn’t just the bananas talking – this guy’s tripping off his little box on Wolfsburg dreams, and that kind of thing is thoroughly addictive.
With bright yellow paint, side markers and shiny BBS, Mitch's Mk3 has more than a hint of the US scene.
Left: Look closer at the weave and you realise this is indeed the real deal. Below: With 742bhp on tap no wonder Andreas is happy!
HKS Turbo Timer times the turbo and ensures all turbo related things are kept in time. Like the speaking clock.
Hardcore Wiechers Sport roll cage is not messing about is it?
Dub Details / #Garrett / #BBS-RS / #BBS /
ENGINE: #Rebuilt-1.8T 20v with #Garrett-GT28 turbo, rear-mounted exhaust manifold with 3” downpipe, H-profile conrods, kdFi V3 ECU, #Ross-Machine-Racing intake manifold, battery relocated to rear, six-speed manual
CHASSIS: 17” #BBS-RS-320 (front) and 17” #BBS-RS-350 (rear) with 185/35 Nankang NS-2 tyres. #Weitec-Hicon-TX-Plus coilovers and Audi S3 312mm front brakes
EXTERIOR: Secret yellow paintwork, US bumpers and wings, Jetta front conversion, ‘cleaned’ boot, smoked tails, shaved bay
INTERIOR: Stripped and painted, custom Wiechers Sport roll cage, Cobra Monaco Pro seats, Schroth harnesses, #HKS turbo timer
SHOUT: Bernd Nijdam, Joran Meijerink, Stevie van der Vaart, Roberto Polo, Thomas Kevelham, Mike Temminck, Martijn Maat – thanks to these guys, without them the car would never be completed
“I guess I’d describe it as OEM+ with a race-car influence, but it’s its own thing, really. And the reactions it gets now are crazy"
“Most people assume it’s a 3M wrap so it’s always good fun to invite them to take a closer look…”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationROUGH DIAMOND
Purists may argue that the Mk3 GTI wasn’t exactly the Golf’s finest hour, but Kyle Wilinsky begs to differ. He’s a ‘never say never’ kinda guy… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jonathan DeHate.
The concept of the ‘difficult second album’ is something muchdocumented in the music press.
Bands that come in strong with their first long-players can find themselves mired in their own hype, their early work becoming an impossible act to follow – look at The Stone Roses’ Second Coming, The Strokes’ Room on Fire, or The Clash’s Give ’Em Enough Rope; following the success of such strong debuts, these LPs were always doomed to be sidelined. And it can be true of third albums too – a band may manage to hurdle Difficult Second Album Syndrome, only to come crashing headfirst into Questionable Third Album territory. Just ask Oasis about Be Here Now.
This is precisely where Volkswagen’s GTI sub-brand found itself in the early 1990s, with the advent of the Mk3 Golf and all of the peaks and troughs that car entailed. With the Mk1 GTI having woven itself firmly and celestially into the firmament of all-time greats, the Mk2 carrying on the good work with forthright decisiveness, and then ramping up the levels of excellence with casual aplomb in the sublime 16v evolution, the third-generation hot hatch came as something of a damp squib. 150bhp-odd was handy enough, but the thing suffered from a bit of middle-age spread, it was podgier and less agile. Perfectly okay for some, but not really good enough for others.
However, in the USA that fabled GTI badge could also be found glued next to one that read ‘VR6’ (rather than being separate entities like in Europe), and the addition of a couple of cylinders and a further 20bhp or so helped to liven things up a bit. And that’s where the story begins for the Golf we’re looking at today…
The story of its owner, Kyle Wilinsky, starts rather earlier: “My love for Volkswagens began when I was 15 years old,” the smiley Pennsylvanian explains. “I was introduced to the VWVortex forum, and that was that; when the time came to purchase my first vehicle, it had to be a #VW – in the end, it was a Mk2 Jetta.” You can see the seeds being sown here, can’t you?
An all-consuming online community, a fledgling first-hand introduction to the Golf platform, there was only one way this was destined to go. And it wasn’t long before those seeds grew up and bore fleshy Teutonic fruit. “After a couple more years and a couple more cars, a friend had this Mk3 Golf for sale; we came to a deal on the price and it was mine for $1800. It wasn’t in the best condition, quite neglected, but I only bought it as a cheap second car so I wasn’t too worried. I just gave it some basic maintenance and cleaned it up a bit.”
As you’ll have deduced from the photos (or if you’ve cheated and have already read the spec box), however, this wasn’t where the project stalled. As we hear so often from feature car owners, there was one sole spark of inspiration that crystallised into the kernel of an idea, and went on to dictate the ethos of the project from that date forth. In Kyle’s case, this spark showed itself during a joyride in a buddy’s car.
“I was offered a ride in a friend’s VR6 turbo, and from that moment I was completely hooked on the idea of fitting a turbo to my car,” he laughs. “I started ordering parts, and after a couple of months I had everything I needed to start the project. I guess I must mention that I had no real mechanical experience, and basically had to learn everything as I went, along with the help of some friends.” Kyle seems to be a man who enjoys a steep learning curve though, as it was only a matter of weeks before the newly force-induced motor was back together and offering an eye-watering 411bhp, which is certainly enough to quieten the Mk3 naysayers. “It was an absolute blast to drive,” he enthuses, as you might expect from someone who’s way more than doubled his car’s factory output using little more than a set of spanners and some well-placed advice. The sense of achievement must have been nearimmeasurable.
And naturally, with things going so well under the bonnet, Kyle’s eye began to turn to the rest of the car – after all, once you’ve started putting the effort in, you need to make it an object of personal pride, don’t you?
“The stock interior was pretty neglected, so I decided to pay it some attention,” he says. “I got it professionally detailed and the factory black really came to life; I was shocked at the result, and that’s when I started to gather parts for the exterior. I’d always loved the look of the Euro-spec GTI, so I knew that was the direction I was headed: I started purchasing everything I could get hold of for the full Euro makeover!”
Piece by piece the aesthetic transformation came together, with the ’98 GTI receiving bona fide texture-top bumpers, mouldings and arch flares, along with a shaved CL tailgate with its Euro-sized numberplate recess. Kyle hasn’t gone full OEM though; in fact, he’s cannonballed square-on into the choppy waters of obscure parts-hunting that define the builds of so many of you out there – when was the last time, for instance, that you saw a Henri Lloyd Yachting edition front lip? These appeared on an obscure Italian version of the Mk3 estate, and watercooled obsessives pay through the nose for them, if and when they can track them down.
“Eventually I started to get used to the power and decided to turn the boost up,” he recalls, slightly uneasily. “About 30 miles after I’d cranked it up to 22psi, the gearbox decided it wasn’t going to hold and shattered third gear! After doing some research I found that if I kept the power levels where they were, I was either going to deal with breaking and replacing gears regularly or I was going to have to build a stronger gearbox. I opted to park the car and save my money for some hardened straight-cut gears to ensure I would no longer have issues.”
By this point Kyle was around two years into ownership, and over the course of the next two years the car saw a number of changes to complement the evolving powertrain, with the Golf being reworked during the cold winter months to emerge from its chrysalis anew in the springtime – seats, wheels, they were changing all the time. “I’m never satisfied!” he laughs. “I’m always looking for fresh things to do with the car. I embarked upon a full engine bay shave and wire-tuck which, with the help of some friends, was a three-month marathon of grinding and welding… the bay and the motor are what I’m most proud of with this car, I spent countless hours and nights in the garage with friends and cheap beer to get the car ready.”
‘Ready’? Ah yes, Kyle had a target in mind to showcase the fruits of his labours – a Pennsylvania show entitled Cult Classic. With the date drawing ever nearer, our man was in the garage at all hours trying to get the thing tip-top, and his tireless endeavours paid off with gusto.
“I ended up winning ‘Best In Show’, out of around 500 cars,” he says, still flabbergasted. “Without a doubt it was the best feeling knowing that all my hard work was worth it and people were really enjoying the car.”
This was all going off in 2014, and the car has changed a fair bit since then. Well, as you might expect, really. People like Kyle aren’t prone to kicking their heels or watching the grass grow. Indeed, for this feature alone the car had to be reshot twice because Kyle kept changing things. “I really do have a problem,” he says, but it’s a pretty good problem to have.
“As I’m talking to you about it now, I’m only just realising that I’ve owned the car for seven years,” he continues, evidently slightly shellshocked by the telescoping effect of time’s relentless pendulum. “I can’t express how grateful I am for all the people that have helped me turn wrenches, given advice, or simply kept me company during this journey – it’s really what the car community is all about for me. The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built. The Golf has won multiple awards, was invited into Top Dawg class at H2Oi, and now this feature. Wow, what a feeling!” All of which serves to prove that you don’t need to be a scene darling or an Instagram celebrity to nail this VW lark. You can set out with an unloved example of a maligned model and, starting with a knowledge base and skillset close to zero, still manage to totally kill it on the showground time and time again.
The fact that this Golf is just as fast and agile as it is easy on the eye is solid testament to Kyle’s tenacity. He has put in the hours to make it work, and that’s what makes him a winner. He’s really got a taste for it now too… reckon the car’s looking the same today as it does here in print? No, of course it isn’t. Kyle’s always got plans. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the Mid-Atlantic water-cooled scene – this old-skool rough diamond is only going to keep getting sharper…
“The car has surpassed any of my expectations, and people really seem to love it and appreciate what I’ve built”
Dub Details / #VW-Golf-III / #VW-Golf-Mk3 / #VW-Golf-Mk-III / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-III / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk-III / #VW-Golf-VR6 / #VW-Golf-VR6-Mk3 / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Precision
ENGINE: Shaved and wire-tucked bay, 2.8-litre #VR6 , polished engine covers, #Megasquirt standalone ECU, #Precision-6262-T4 turbo, #ATP exhaust manifold, custom heat shield, #DEI turbo blanket, 3” stainless steel turbo-back exhaust, #Tial wastegate and blow-off valve, Precision 600 intercooler, custom intercooler piping, #Schimmel intake manifold, #Accufab 75mm throttle body with custom manifold adaptor, 034 fuel rail with 630cc injectors, #Walbro 255 fuel pump, #Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, #Mishimoto aluminium radiator, dual slim fans, custom aluminium coolant lines and overflow tank, Eurosport oil cooler, relocated temp sensors, hidden coilpack, custom front crossmember with #Black-Forest motor mounts, O2A gearbox with #APTuning straight-cut gears, #Quaife differential, #ARP hardware, reinforced clutch fork, #SPEC Stage 3 clutch, Euro-spec lightened flywheel, CAE shifter, O2J shift tower and cables
CHASSIS: 8.5x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #CCW-D240 with brushed faces, polished lips, #ARP gold wheel bolts and goldplated lug nuts, Falken tyres, #Air-Lift suspension, #AccuAir-ELevel management, five gallon aluminium air tank, two #Viair-444C 444cc / #Viair compressors, #H&R 25mm front anti-roll bar, Eurosport rear strut brace, Audi TT 312mm front brakes with cross-drilled discs
EXTERIOR: Euro texture-top bumpers, shaved Euro CL tailgate, Euro textured mouldings and arch flares, shaved windscreen squirters, custom shortened mirrors, badgeless grill, Henri Lloyd Yachting front lip, Kamei air ducts, smoked indicators, Hella tail-lights, E-code headlights, #Bonrath mono wiper
INTERIOR: Recaro Sportster CS with suede inserts, suede wrapped A, B, and C pillars, suede headlining, custom rear seat delete with leather-wrapped air tank, Wiechers roll-cage, AEM digital boost controller, AEM air/fuel gauge, AEM oil PSI gauge, GReddy turbo timer, NRG quick release hub, Momo steering wheel, Alpine head unit, Pioneer speakers, JL Audio stealthbox with 10” JL audio subwoofer, JL audio amp
SHOUT: Thanks to my fiancée Lisa for always understanding and supporting my hobby. Borek, Adam, Jacob, Thompson, Jarad, Steve, Bergey, Rick at DEFIV, Jason at 4everkustoms, Andrew at Open Road Tuning, DeHate for the pics, and everyone else who has helped along the wayStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLEGEND / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk3 / #Volkswagen-Golf-III / #Volkswagen
The word ‘legend’ is thrown around all too often in the modified car world, but Marcel Klok and Emiel Kooistra are two Dutch masters who are fully deserving of the title. / Words: Tony Saggu / Photos: Si Gray.
Well meaning geography teachers and clued up Wikipedia contributors will tell you that Holland, or more correctly the Netherlands, is that small plot of land stuck on the west coast of Europe, just east of Great Yarmouth. But while map-makers, geo-scientific types and high flying GPS satellites will all concur, Volkswagen modifiers know the real and obvious truth. Ask any serious Dub tinkerer and they’ll tell you that the Netherlands is actually on another planet.
One look into the ridiculously rich heritage of supremely awesome other worldly machinery that’s regularly churned out by the Dutch, and you’ll soon be throwing away your Atlas and downloading the new Garman update. Dutch Dub devotees are undoubtedly inter-planetary beings from another world, beaming down here occasionally Captain Kirk-style to pick up Happich pop-outs, Rallye grilles, BBS splits and the like. There’s no earthly way they can be so consistently good at building mind-blowing cars and still breathe O2, it’s just not possible. Over the last couple of decades or so,
DRIVE-MY.COM retro restyling researchers have been following what is perhaps an advanced exploratory party for the Dutch solar system. Men In Volkswagens (MIVW), the small band of Dutch car builders, have almost seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric of our VW scene; cool characters piloting cars that seem light years ahead of any Earth-bound competition.
MIVW members Marcel Klok and Emiel Kooistra are no strangers to these pages; collectively they’ve probably had their cars snapped and documented more often than anyone else in the Dub game. If rethinks, redos and mad restyles were currency they’d be cash money millionaires. The duo have reigned over the third generation Veedub kingdom for almost as long as the cars have been in existence. Both of their Mk3 three-doors have literally reinvented the game and created very different styles that have become accepted norms for the masses to follow. Raising the bar and pushing the envelope don’t really apply to Klok and Kooistra, they pretty much own the bar and the envelope and raising and reshaping the tried and typical is just business as usual. We were lucky enough to catch the pair recently to quiz them on what it takes to be Dutch masters…
DRIVE-MY.COM: First off congratulations Marcel for winning Best Mk3 Golf at Edition 38 recently, the car has won pretty much every major show in Europe over the last 15 years or so, why do you think that is?
MARCEL KLOK: Thanks, E38 is always a great event and for so many people to like and appreciate the car is always a thrill. I’ve done Wörthersee in Austria, SoGa in Italy, Charly’s in Belgium, VW-Days in France, XS-Carnight in Germany, Blanz Society in Denmark, Edition 38 of course and a lot of Dutch shows over the years. I wish I could tell you why people seem to gravitate to the car. Like a lot of other enthusiasts I wanted to build a special car, something by and for myself, a car that would express my own particular style. I guess a lot of other VW fanatics share what I think looks cool.
DRIVE-MY.COM: Why a Mk3 Golf and why this car?
MK: It just came my way completely by chance. If I had bought an Opel or a Ford, I would be in the Opel or Ford scene now! I buy and sell cars for a living; this car was just another clean threeyear- old ex-lease car that I picked up to sell back in 1999. It was immaculately clean, completely stock and drove really well. That along with the fact that it was one of only 500 ‘Moonlight blue’ Mk3 VR6s built made me hang on to it. Oh, it’s got factory climate control and a stock steel sunroof too… the whole package is pretty rare.
DRIVE-MY.COM: So given the rarity, leaving it stock would have made sense?
MK: Absolutely! That was the plan to begin with, but you know how it is. You think ‘hmm… I’m going to lower my car and put some wheels on it, and that’s all’. After a few weeks you have other thoughts but honestly I never expected to go as far as I have now.
DRIVE-MY.COM: Tell us how things came together.
MK: For the first few years I used the car as my daily. There were a few mods here and there; some 9x16” Keskins and a set of FK coilovers, nothing too drastic. Eventually I built a carport at my house so I would have somewhere to keep and work on the car, and after that things started moving pretty quickly. I went to Wörthersee in 2001 and after seeing Sacha Bleser’s grey Corrado with the silver grey leather I decided to retrim the Mk3’s black interior to light grey Mercedes leather. There have been a few changes over the years, the car now has CS #Recaro-Sportster seats with full carbon scales on the back. In fact there is a lot of carbon detailing and more grey leather all over the interior now. For the 2001/2002 season I picked up some Porsche C2s, had them polished and ran them for a while before buying some 8x15” BBS RSs from Chiel Speets. That was the year I put the Vento front on the car. It’s funny to think that back then I was one of only a few Mk3 guys in the world to try that.
DRIVE-MY.COM: We seem to remember that you were doing some pretty pioneering things with the suspension back then too.
MK: That wasn’t completely by choice… In 2002 I was at the Alles- #VW show in Osnabrück and the German police took my car because I was too low. They ended up keeping the car for two months and getting it back was a major headache. That’s when I started experimenting with air-ride; mixing and matching parts to get the height and ride quality I wanted, and by the end of that year I was one the first cars in Holland on a full air-ride suspension. I ran the setup for ten years without any issues and only removed it in 2012 as part of a total makeover.
DRIVE-MY.COM: The car came with a VR6, have you done much under the bonnet?
MK: Everything is new under the bonnet. In 2001 or 2002 I polished my intake manifold, but forgot to clean it out before reinstalling… after about 500km the engine was ruined. Then I bought another VR from a VW Sharan with 20,000km on it, and that’s the engine thats still in the car today. The internals were all renewed before the engine was installed because I knew there would be some kind of forced induction added some time in the future. In 2008 I did a compressor conversion which pushed the power to 275ps, and in 2012 a Garrett GT-35 turbo conversion which has the car at 500ps now. The gearbox is a six-speed from a Mk4 V6 4Motion, and this winter I swapped out the gears and differential lock. Maximum speed is now a theoretical 330km/h… theoretically…
DRIVE-MY.COM: We think the current wheel choice looks absolutely stunning, what are they?
MK: Thanks, I really love the look, they give the car such character. They are #BBS-Rennsport E26s 7.5x17” with ET36 on the front and 8x17” with ET42 at the back. They are actually from a Ferrari in 5x108. I’m a huge wheel whore and the Mk3 has had plenty of wheels on it over the years; Keskin KT1s, Porsche wheels, RS Cups, BBS RSs in a few varieties… more than I can remember actually!
DRIVE-MY.COM: What have been some of the best reactions to the car since completion?
DRIVE-MY.COM: What else is there left to do? Are you pretty much finished with the car?
MK: It will never be finished; there are always new and different things to try. I’ll step away from the car from time to time. For example in 2005 I parked it for a couple of years and got on with other things, but there will always be a new idea or challenge that will bring me back with renewed interest.
DRIVE-MY.COM: We’ve heard you have one or two other cars too.
MK: Err, yeah, I think I have about eight all together at the moment… I can’t quite remember how many I have exactly! I love cars, I always have, my business and pleasure are all wrapped up in cars, they are my living and my life. My very first car was a green #Volkswagen-Golf five-door Mk3 16V GTI. I bought in 1997 and then I sold it a few years after… but ended up buying it back in 2009 for old time’s sake. I have a Kermit green Polo Mk1 from 1979. It’s lowered on ATS wheels with a 1.3 with carbs which I bought in 2004 or 2005 I think. An old Oval Beetle from 1956 is also standing in my garage. It’s a black one with 17” polished Radar wheels, original paint, rag-top and air-ride. I bought that one in 2011. I also have an old green Golf Mk1 from 1976, which I have lowered and put 17” BBS E50s on. What else…? Oh and there’s the black Porsche 964 C2 from 1992 which I bought in 2014. That’s lowered with H&R Ultradeep coilovers and sitting on 18 inch #BBS E28s. My daily car is a full option Audi A5 Coupé 3.0 TDI Quattro Automatic with H&R deeps and 21” Bentley wheels. The Audi also pulls the trailer when I need to take the Mk3 cross-country or abroad. My current money pit project is a 2008 Audi full option R8. So far I’ve changed the original wheels to 20” BBS E28s and I will also be lowering it in the very near future…
DRIVE-MY.COM: Tell us about yourself Emiel…
EMIEL KOOISTRA: I’m just a normal guy, married with kids but with a very serious VW virus that has no cure! I work in the auto repair field so I’m surrounded by cars all day. A lot of my spare time is devoted to working on my own cars. Most of my friends are car guys too. Cars are simply a lifestyle for me, it’s gone long past being a hobby.
DRIVE-MY.COM: Your VW Golf Mk3 has most certainly been one of the best known and most widely respected VWs in the scene for the last 15 plus years, tell us how the legend of the ‘Grey one’ got started.
EK: I’ve had people tell me that some of the mods I’ve done on the car over years have changed the Mk3 scene, and to me that’s the biggest compliment I could possibly get. I got the car back in 1998. It’s a US import ’95 VR6. I wanted a modern car and this one was in my budget back then because it had some damage on it, so it was also perfect for me to learn accident car repair on. I found it at a scrap yard near Amsterdam. Apparently a US serviceman, a sergeant in the army stationed in Germany, had rolled it off a bridge and written it off. I repaired it and have been modifying it ever since.
DRIVE-MY.COM: Rolled it off a bridge!? How badly damaged was it?
EK: Pretty bad, it was more a ball of bent metal than a car, almost every panel needed to be replaced, including the roof, but it was a rare fully-optioned US model VR6. It still had the US paperwork and 4000 Euros for a three-year-old car was cheap back then.
DRIVE-MY.COM: Did you plan to modify it from the outset and if so, did you intend to go quite so far with the build?
EK: Yes, I always like to change things in a better way, not only cars. Modifying things is a learning process with new challenges. I think it’s how we face, deal with and overcome a challenge that makes it interesting and rewarding.
DRIVE-MY.COM: The car has had quite a few makeovers over the years – can you give a brief rundown of the changes?
EK: I’ll try, but honestly I can’t remember everything that’s been done; it’s been a continual evolution over the last 15 years… so much has changed. So, first of all I repaired the damage and changed the car from red to Nagaro blue from the RS2. A couple years after that I pulled the whole car apart again and cleaned the engine bay and changed the colour to Nimbus grey from the Mk1 Audi TT, and the TT dash went in at the same time. About a year later Mk4 Recaro seats were installed and the interior was trimmed in Mocha leather. Little details were consistently changed during this time too; lights, mirrors, engine and interior stuff, and probably half a dozen sets of wheels too. A few months after that I changed the front to a Mk4 Cabrio and the following year an R32 engine and RS4 seats were fitted. A couple of years after that the interior was completely redone again; no rear seats, GT3 style cage and ADT racing shifter. The early Vento front and smooth tailgate also got installed at some time or another.
DRIVE-MY.COM: How much of the work have you done yourself?
DRIVE-MY.COM: Which car, if any, inspired or motivated your build?
EK: I can’t really say it’s been a particular car or even a particular style that’s been behind this car. I always like to do my own thing; I’ll use and integrate parts and ideas from different cars and custom traditions just because I like them. The goal has always been to have a car that is completely different to everything else out there. If there is a common thread that I think runs through this build from the very start, it’s that I always wanted to use OEM parts from the #VAG group and incorporate them with style.
DRIVE-MY.COM: You have become something of a legend for incorporating Audi TT dashes into all sorts of cars, even Elliott’s Greylord Rallye got the Emiel touch…
EK: Yeah, I’ve done one or two over the years. It was such a great looking piece when it first came out – the whole car was – and I was desperate to try out the parts on other VWs. I had a friend in Germany who was able to buy ex- test demo cars from Audi. They couldn’t be sold after they used them for testing so they got broken up for parts. At the time no one else was really doing the TT dash swaps and I had people from all over Europe bringing me their cars to convert. It was a bit of a challenge at first but really once I really studied it installing the dash and making everything work like OEM wasn’t too difficult.
DRIVE-MY.COM: What would you say has been difficult for you on this project?
EK: It would have to be narrowing the rear of the car to fit the current 9.5x18” #BBS-E28 wheels. It took a lot of metalwork to rework the back half of the car especially the inner shock towers to fit the wheels.
DRIVE-MY.COM: What is your next project car and what would you like to do to it?
EK: A 1956 VW Bug, I’m working on it right now, actually. I’m doing… a lot…
R32 lump replaced the VR the car came with from the factory; smoothed ’bay and detailing is all Emiel’s handiwork.
500ps VRT replaces the 275ps supercharged setup that used to live here. Top speed is 330km/h… in theory!
Timeless interior mixes carbon detailing, OE parts and lush leather trimming to create a very nice place to be indeed.
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- Post is under moderationWho said we don’t feature proper performance cars? Certainly not Caste Systems Performance; we have its #VW-Golf Mk3 here and it goes pretty damn well… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Josh Brown.
We’re not too sure when it started, or even what started it, but we’ve become a little bit obsessed with drag racing here in the PVW office of late. When we say obsessed we mean that not a day goes by that one of us doesn’t call everyone else over to watch a video found on YouTube of something ridiculous doing something equally ridiculous up a quarter-mile strip of Tarmac somewhere. Perhaps it’s all to do with the fact that Elliott and I have been really trying to push the performance side of the magazine over the last couple of years. While we appreciate everything the VW scene has to offer, it’s the ‘proper’ cars that have always been our bread and butter over the years, even if our own project cars don’t always reflect that (did I mention my 700bhp Rallye build recently? ~ Ell).
It was on one of our daily YouTube hunts for anything new from the likes of the Bitburg event in Germany, the VWDRC here in the UK and the Texas Mile that we stumbled across a Mk3 Golf built by a shop in New Jersey called Caste Systems Performance. The black three-door hatch didn’t look pretty – the best drag cars never do – but the way it went down the track when the lights turned green definitely made up for it. After some more digging around we discovered that it was powered by a 2.5-litre five-cylinder, the engine fitted to the Mk5 Rabbits and Jettas in the US (not to be confused with that fitted to the TTRS), albeit a bargain basement five-pot with an enormous turbo bolted on the side of it! Fast-forward a few months, okay, almost a year as it turned out, and we met up with the Caste Systems Performance team at Waterfest last summer to get up close and personal with what the guys reckon might just be the world’s fastest #VW 2.5T.
“I was actually looking for an older Audi shell first as I wanted to use the quattro four-wheel drive,” Caste Systems Performance’s headhoncho James Castellano said. “But then I thought it would be cooler to do a Mk3 so we would have four-, five- and six-cylinder Mk3s running together in the Lugtronic drag racing team.”
Caste Systems Performance (CSP) has been up and running for a decade now, after James left his day gig at a Porsche performance workshop. Originally an air-cooled guy, it wasn’t until his water-cooled-loving buddy Ben came on-board that James started playing around with the later cars. “My father and grandfather owned a used car lot that we affectionately call Pistol Pete’s Used Car Coral so I’ve always been around cars. When I was six my dad got a #1968 Bug for us to drive around in the lot,” James recalled. “My favourite movies back then were the Herbie films so, of course, we painted it like the car in the film. It always broke down so I had to learn to fix it. I’ve still got it today, too, only now it’s #Alpine white with early-1960s panels. I built a 2.1-litre motor on standalone management and ITBs for it and converted it to RHD, too.”
Back to the present day, however, and Caste Systems Performance, now a successful business doing both maintenance work and big builds of all kinds, was looking for a suitable Mk3 to go racing with. “As it turned out, I rebuilt a customer’s transmission and fitted a diff in exchange for the Mk3 which, just to annoy the purists that little bit more, was a sought-after Highline model,” James stated. “The first job was to remove everything that could be removed and replace items with lighter, lowerspec bits from the Mk3 gene pool. Our apprentice was converting his four-cylinder Mk3 in to a VR6 so I swapped the four-lug parts with him and anything else we could that was off the base model. Of course, out came the power windows, locks, the interior… all that stuff.”
The decision to run the Mk5 Jetta’s 2.5-litre five-cylinder was one that started out as most good ideas do: from the desire to be different. “We didn’t want to do a 1.8T or VRT swap as both are pretty common swaps and Ben and I liked the idea of doing something different, plus the 2.5s are dirt cheap to buy,” James explained. “We also thought that the fivecylinder might be a good swap for people to do but after fitting one first-hand we realised there wasn’t going to be a Mk3/2.5 sub-forum on Vortex any time soon!”
James’s plan was to run a 02A gearbox with custom ratio dog-leg gears – a far stronger setup than anything the Mk3 came out the factory with. Bolting the 02A to the five-cylinder was a relatively simple task, too, with the bellhousing being the only thing that needed a touch of adjustment work doing to it so that it would clear the timing covers. “I used the transmission and engine centre line and transmission mount as a starting point and essentially just slotted it in and out to figure out how much of the right-hand frame rail needed to be removed to clear the motor,” James explained. “Then, once that was cut and boxed in, I had to fabricate custom rear and front engine mounts so we could still use the stock Mk3 mounting points. This was probably the hardest part as it was right at the beginning and it’s such a tedious job taking the engine in and out countless times to measure everything up time and time again so it all sits right.”
Of course, with the car being destined for the quarter-mile, the Rabbit’s 07K motor was not going to be just bolted in as it was. In went 83mm 9.5:1 JE pistons, IE Tuscan rods (now R&R aluminium billet rods), Ferrea intake and exhaust valves, IE springs, retainers, ARP fasteners and a set of prototype camshafts. The next stage of the engine build was to make sure the motor was adequately fed with fuel and air so a Weldon fuel pressure regulator, Injector Dynamics 2200 injectors, an IE fuel rail, a Precision intercooler, duel Bosch fuel pumps and a five-gallon aluminium fuel cell were added. As the saying goes, power is nothing without control, so in an attempt to keep the Mk3 in as straight a line as possible, a custom-shimmed Peloquin diff was chosen. The bit that grabs your eye when you look at the motor, though, is undoubtedly the massive turbo and intricate manifold setup that mounts the turbo off to the side. “The turbo is a Precision 67/66 item, which is basically the smallest turbo you can run in the class we race in,” James explained. “It came up for sale used and I figured I’d buy it and then upgrade later. Two years later the car went into the eights on that turbo, the second car ever to do so as far as I’m aware. Like the four-cylinders, the 2.5 sits angled backwards in the bay so there’s not much space behind the motor. Ben convinced me to make my own side-winder header. It was certainly fun trying to figure out the maths to make a five-into-one collector.
“The car hasn’t been on a dyno, it’s only ever been street and track tuned. According to ET calculations it makes 1050whp. It seems anything over 850whp is difficult to put down on a dyno anyway.”
Of course, drag racing is more than just throwing a load of power at a car and keeping your fingers crossed, not if you want to win or stay in a straight line between the barriers anyway. There’s a whole lot of chassis and aerodynamic work, too, stuff that often gets overlooked. “We have an acronym at CSP: WWMMD. It stands for ‘what would Mark Morris do?’. He’s a good friend who really knows his stuff and he’s always pushed the idea of improving weight and aerodynamics on the build from the start,” James explained. So Mk2 Golf front control arms were drafted in to pull the tyres further in-board while the front bumper was widened and a #Porsche-944 front downforce spoiler was affixed to try and keep the front end planted.
The main aims of all the bodywork modifications were simple: to reduce drag and weight. Hence the drilled rear bumper and the smoothed and widened front end. “You would be amazed at the difference even relatively small things make,” James explained. “For example, we had previously already built a bumper up. With it on the car was running low 9s. On the first pass with the new aero bumper the car picked up nearly 5mph, which is a massive difference.” The front subframe is a custom item, built in-house with solid mounts. CSP also fabricated a set of traction and weight bars, too. The wheels? No fancy chrome-plated intricate designs here, just a set of 9x13” Weld drag wheels up front and a pair of 3.5x15” skinnies out back.
Inside things look, well, pretty normal actually. “The class we race in has the rule that you need a full interior,” James explained. “So that’s what I have: dashboard, headliner, doorcards, the lot.” In fact, if it wasn’t for the enormous ten-point roll-cage and the pair of Kirkey racing seats it would look almost totally stock. It’s even got a Mk1 GTI steering wheel and stock (albeit Mk3.5- spec) clocks and a 02J shifter. “There’s been a lot of weight reduction work done behind the dash and doorcards, though,” James smiled. So enough of the spec, come on James, how fast does it go? After all, that’s kind of the point here. “The car’s best time is 8.92sec at 172mph. Then, on the next pass, it backed this up with a 8.99sec at 171mph,” he said proudly. “Considering I don’t have any drag racing experience other than driving this car, I think it’s pretty good so far! The car’s not done. I’d like to take another 100lbs out of it if I can and go faster.”
James tells us that he’s also just finished his latest road car project, too: a R36-powered Mk4 R32 with fully functioning FSI: “I was considering buying the Mk7 Golf R estate but when #VW said it wasn’t going to come to the US I figured I’d build the R I wanted: a Mk4 R36. Although I do have a weird desire to put the engine in a Delorean and do all the Back to the Future cosmetics to it one day…”
Bizarre R36-powered Delorean or not, there’s no denying that there is some seriously trick metal coming out of Caste Systems Performance at the moment. If you’re ever on the East Coast of the US and are able to attend an event where the CSP Mk3 is racing, we strongly recommend you do it. Or, if you’re like us, you can always make do with YouTube videos. Just make sure you turn the volume up…
Things might get serious out on the strip but James and the lads at Caste Systems Performance always managed to have a laugh during their weekends at the track.
“The class we race in has the rule that you need a full interior. So that’s what I have: dashboard, headliner, doorcards the lot”
“The car went into the eights on the turbo, the second car ever to do so as far as I’m aware”
Dub Details #VW-Golf-III #Volkswagen
ENGINE: Stock 2007 Jetta 07K block/head, stock 07K forged crankshaft, JE 83mm 9.5:1 pistons, IE Tuscan rods (previously – now R&R aluminum billet rods), Ferrea intake/exhaust valves, IE custom shimmed springs/retainers, IE prototype camshafts, stock main and rod bearings, ARP fasteners all-round, CSP Sidewinder turbo manifold, CSP intake manifold, CSP downpipe with dump tube, A/C delete, custom dual alternator pulley, Precision 6766 BB turbo, Precision 46mm wastegate, Injector Dynamics 2200 injectors, IE fuel rail, Weldon fuel pressure regulator, Precision intercooler, 3” intercooler pipework, CSP catch can mounted in the rain tray, dual #Bosch 044 fuel pumps, five-gallon aluminium fuel cell, custom ratio 02A four-speed dogbox provided by Lugtronic, Peloquin custom shimmed diff, Clutchmasters FX725 twin disc and flywheel, DSS axles, Lugtronic ECU, CSP/Zarpspeed wiring harness.
CHASSIS: Weld 9x13” drag wheels (front) and 3.5x15” skinnies (rear), Mk2 front control arms, polybushed, ALRD camber plates, CSP custom front subframe with solid body mounts, CSP custom traction and weight bars, BFI Stage 2 engine and transmission mounts, stock front 10.1 brakes and pads, CSP rear axle beam with polybushing, stock rear discs with Mk4 calipers, hydraulic staging brake, tunnel plated off.
EXTERIOR: Custom shaved and widened front bumper, Porsche 944 downforce spoiler, cut stock wings, sunroof, tray and motor deleted, rear bumper gutted and drilled.
INTERIOR: All stock interior panels and headliner, Mk1 GTI steering wheel, Kirkey racing seats, tenpoint chrome-alloy roll-cage, stock dash, Mk3.5 cabriolet cluster, 02J shifter.
SHOUT: I have to thank my family foremost. I can’t thank my parents enough for allowing CSP to start out of their home garage and supporting my dreams no matter how unconventional they may have seemed. My grandpa for encouraging me to build my first engine, some days it goes between thanks and cursing. My grandma, Mimi, for her support. CSP also would never exist without Ben Zarpentine (let alone the electrical help he’s provided for this car). Thanks to Cecco Deodino, Kevin Black, Mark Morris, Todd Pavics, Tim Mullen, Frankie Criner, anyone who has helped out at the track, Adam Andersen, Lou Alegria, Chris Alegria, Woozy, Al, John LaFrancois and all of the LHVA, Nyol and Junior Parmanan, Duke, Brian and Skyelight Autobody, Corey for the company name, Pete and Dave at Integrated Engineering, Clutchmasters, Lugtronic, Tony and Northside Imports, and anyone I forgot – thank you!
Lose the slicks, decals and the orange hood, paint the intercooler black and this could be the ultimate sleeper… ever!
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