- 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 moderation4.6 V8 1 SERIES Totally transformed 135i
SLAKE THE INTERNET
What started out life as an unassuming 135i is now a fire-breathing, 1M-kitted, 4.6 #V8-powered beast.
It’s an inescapable fact of modern modifying that if your car becomes known online, everyone will have an opinion on it. But this is a good thing – use the love as inspiration, use the hate as fuel, and keep pushing forward… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
“People have very interesting reactions to my car, it sparks a lot of discussion,” says Marco Svizzero, the chap standing proudly beside this rather perky little 1 Series. “It’s an entirely modified bastard, and yet it still seems to appeal to the purists…”
This is a pretty punchy way to set out your stall – after all, that quasi-mythical entity of ‘the purists’ is a notoriously hard bunch to please (although goodness knows why you’d want to try), so to shoo away the perennial spectre of internet hate by appealing to the very people you expect to annoy is something of a fortuitous crapshoot.
Still, objectively – at least, objectively from a PBMW point of view – there’s nothing not to love about this car, given that it’s effectively an M3 stuffed inside a #BMW-1M-Coupé-E82 to create the ballistic #V8-1-Series that BMW didn’t think to experiment with. That’s a great way to get into our good books. “This was really my first big car build, and I never intended for the project to go so far,” Marco ponders with the measured consideration of somebody who’s been on a lengthy adventure and is struggling to come to terms with the notion of being home again. “It just snowballed, and once the project got some traction on the forums and partners like Revozport and Performance Technic got involved, it all went to another level.”
This, of course, is the price of notoriety. Once news of your project starts to spread, and the myriad chattering keyboards of the internet start to throw a few opinions around, there really is only one way forward: go big. The ‘go home’ alternative just isn’t an option at this point; the world is watching, you’ve committed to something, you have to see it through. Your audience insists. You’ve got new fans now, they need to be appeased. And the haters? Oh, there’ll always be haters. They need to be figuratively smacked down with the iron fist of decisive action.
“I chose a 135i as the base for my project as I really like the size of it,” Marco explains, “and I love how tunable the N54 engines are. It’s so easy to get reliable horsepower out of those motors with simple modifications.”
You’ll have spotted, however, that the N54 straight-six is no longer in residence. That’s sort of the point of this car now. So what gives, why did Marco change his mind? “Well, as I was taking the car on track more and more, I started to run into heat issues,” he says, “so I decided to swap a V8 motor and M3 chassis into the car.”
Okay. We’ll just let that sink in for a moment, shall we? It really is a masterstroke of lateral thinking, taking such a decision and following it through, and he’s earned the right to be charmingly self-effacing about it. Most people in this situation would have thought along the lines of ‘alright, we have some cooling issues, let’s look into revising the coolant system, maybe upgrade the radiator and intercooler and open up some more vents,’ but not Marco. Oh no. One suspects that he wanted to shoehorn an M3 inside his #BMW-135i-Coupe all along.
“I wanted the instant throttle response of a naturally aspirated engine, as well as robust cooling and an 8600rpm redline,” he says matter-of-factly. Well, yeah, swapping in an E9x M3 under the skin is the obvious solution, isn’t it? It was foolish of us to even question it. Carry on, Marco…
“The swap is so much more than just the motor,” he elaborates, as if trying to justify it to an irate spouse or suspicious bank manager. “It’s the M3 steering, the complete front and rear subframes including the suspension and axles, the diff, the brakes, and cool features like M Dynamic Mode.”
And there, as the Bard might say, is the rub. If you were skimming through a forum post and looking at photos of Marco’s car, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the story here centred around a non-M 1 Series that had been converted to 1M aesthetics. And to a degree, you’d be right, as that is what has happened – what started as a stock 2008 135i bought from Craigslist soon ballooned into a broad and angry 1M clone, its strong look accentuated by the exemplary body addenda on sale from Revozport, its Raze series offering a lightweight bonnet, bootlid, carbon fibre roof (which neatly deletes the 135i’s sunroof), splitter, diffuser and GTS wing. But the body, as we know, is only half the story.
The fun of building something like this, particularly something that’s so keenly observed online, is that there will always be ill-informed haters to bait. ‘It’s not a proper #BMW-1M ,’ they’ll say. ‘Why spend all that money on making a fake 1M when you could just buy a real one? Why pretend, why lie?’
Marco takes all of this in his stride, with a wry smile and an eye perennially on the next phase of development. “No, it’s not a 1M, and it will never be one,” he says. “The only way to get a real one is to buy one. My car will not bear an M badge on the trunk!
Besides, by crunching numbers for a partout and sale of my car and using those funds toward purchasing a 1M, I would have to add a lot of money on top for a very similar car.” But forget mathematics, that’s not why we build project cars. A car is just a big hole to throw money into, we don’t modify them because it’s sensible. No, the unspoken truth here is that Marco’s car isn’t a 1M because, well, it’s an M3. It just looks like a 1M…
“When we started looking into donor M3s, they were still expensive here in the States so I actually ended up buying a car in the UK, which was dismantled and sent to me in pieces,” Marco recalls. “Once everything was sent over, Performance Technic began the build. The most difficult part was the wiring; Performance Technic has two BMW Master Techs – Matt Medeiros and Wing Phung – who tackled the project, and once the car was built we brought it to Mike Benvo of BPM Sport. Benvo cleaned up, coded and tuned the car – he is another very valuable partner in the entire project. His knowledge in coding is unmatched! These guys were extremely focused on making everything look and operate like a factory car, and I applaud them that they pulled it off.”
As well as being OEM-quality in terms of all the buttons and gizmos, and thus eminently streetable, Marco was certainly having a lot of fun with his transformed 135i, with its 4.0-litre S65 under the bonnet and M3 underpinnings. Let’s not forget that this V8 isn’t a lazy rumbler like those of his domestic heritage; while Detroit thuds, Bavaria howls, and this engine is a proper screamer. “It really was just like a smaller, lighter E9x M3 – the naturally aspirated 1M I wanted to make all along,” Marco grins.
Wait… “was”? “Yeah, I decided to go a bit over-the-top,” he laughs. “The S65 only weighs 15lb more than the N54 so the factory balance was still spot-on, but after a little while I swapped the motor out for a Dinan 4.6-litre stroker motor.” Well, you know what they say about how power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Marco seems to be pretty happy about that.
“It really is my perfect BMW and I couldn’t be happier,” he beams. “I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to the major BMW West Coast events, rallies, and simply staring at it in my garage! It’s a car that when people see it at events, they stop and look at it – often for a long period of time. Even with the old-skool purists; I’ve received a lot of compliments from the older, more traditional BMW crowd.” This makes sense really, as it is a pure BMW at heart: a focused driver’s machine, and with nearenough undiluted factory DNA under the skin. It just happens to be suffering a smidge of body dysmorphia, that’s all.
Again, this can be the price of notoriety. Marco’s car has always enjoyed the internet spotlight, from its early PR tie-in with Revozport to those fledgling days on the show scene before the hungry swarm of smartphone lenses, to Performance Technic’s high-profile endeavours to make the first V8-powered E82 in the USA. Then there was its triumphant Bimmerfest showcase on the Toyo stand, the countless online profiles, the numerous show awards, the online video reviews espousing its virtues as ‘the best BMW you could possibly build at any price’, the Time Attack entries, the world-first stroked S65 conversion… this car lives in a fishbowl, its every move observed and analysed. And every barbed comment that curveballs toward it gets knocked out of the park.
We’ll leave the final thought to Performance Technic founder Joey Gaffey: “This car is a project that we all kinda fell in love with. It’s a project we thought was probably something the engineers at BMW Motorsport thought of themselves…” And that, in essence, is the thinking behind Marco’s original idea for the madcap swap, and also why the purists love this impure creation. It’s a car that #BMW should have built. Thanks to the ingenuity of these fellas, it now actually exists, albeit as a one-off. The internet demanded results, and it got ’em. What a time to be alive.
I enjoy the car at the track, taking it to events and simply staring at it in my garage!
DATA FILE 4.6 #V8 #BMW-135i / #BMW-135i-E82 / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8-E82 / #BMW-135i-V8 / #BMW-135i-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65 / #BMW-135i-Dinan-S65-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-E82-Dinan / #BMW / #CAE-Ultra / #VAC-Motorsports /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION Dinan 4.6-litre stroker #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #S65B46 #V8 / #S65-Dinan / , #BPM-Sport custom tune with 8600rpm redline, #iND custom plenum, Dinan intake, Dinan pulley, VAC-Motorsports baffled sump, #Black-Forest engine mounts, #Akrapovic axle-back exhaust, custom X pipe, #Braille 21lb battery, CAE Ultra shifter, OEM M3 differential
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 10.5x18” (rear) ET25 HRE 43 wheels with 265/35 (front) and 275/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, M3 front and rear subframes including suspension and axles, #PSi-Öhlins Raceline coilovers, #Racing-Dynamics anti-roll bars, #Dinan-Monoball kit for front control arms, #Bimmerworld rear wishbones, Dinan adjustable toe arms, Turner MS transmission bushings, #Turner-MS aluminium subframe and diff bushings, Dinan carbon fibre strut braces, #Stoptech-Trophy-BBK with 380mm (front) and 355mm (rear) discs, OEM GT4 brake ducts
EXTERIOR Full 1M body conversion, Revozport 1M Raze bonnet, boot and lip, carbon fibre roof, splitter with APR splitter supports, diffuser and GTS wing, Macht Schnell tow straps
INTERIOR #BMW-Performance V1 steering wheel, gaiters and carbon fibre trim, #BMW-1M-E82 armrest delete, #Recaro-Profi-SPA seats, #Revozport #BMW-1M Raze doorcards with Alcantara inserts, P3 vent gauge, OEM 1M Anthracite headlining and pillars (for sunroof delete), #TC-Design harness bar, #Schroth six-point harnesses, #VAC hardware and floor mounts, Alumalite rear close-off panel
THANKS Joey Gaffey, Matt Medeiros, Wing Phung and the rest of the team at #Performance-Technic , Charles Wan at Revozport, Mike Benvo at BPM Sport, Stan Chen at ToyoTires, Jason Overell at Targa Trophy, DTM Autobody and Sam at AutoTalentStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.