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    ULTIMATE MODIFIED BMW

    Stunning 800whp turbo M10-powered 2002 is like a gift from the gods…

    GREECE LIGHTNING

    With an astonishing 800whp from its turbo’d M10, this wild 2002 is about as quick as any sane person would want to travel. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Christos Karagiorgakis.

    2002: A PACE ODYSSEY

    Think of Greece and you will no doubt think of crisp, white houses sitting before the bluest sea you’ve ever seen, beautiful beaches, and delicious food. Perhaps what you won’t think of is modified BMWs. However, having been to Greece on many previous BMW-based visits, we can tell you that there are some serious machines scattered across the country. And this right here might just be the most serious piece of German modified machinery that Greece has to offer. It belongs to Stavros Panagopoulos, who has owned it for ten years. This was, in fact, his very first #BMW : a humble 1602 that he found for sale near his house. As you can probably tell, it’s changed a bit since then…

    Stavros says he entered into ’02 ownership with plans to make the diminutive classic just a little bit faster. And while he’s certainly achieved his end goal, and then some, he didn’t embark on a journey of turbocharged madness from the off; there were at least two slightly more sensible stages prior to what you see here. Things started off normally enough, with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine enhanced with twin side draft 40 carbs. And that was fine, but not quite enough for Stavros’s liking. So Stage two was a bit more dramatic. The original engine was deemed not quite large enough so it was removed and in its place went a more powerful 2.0, its potency ramped-up considerably with the addition of a 300-degree camshaft, Weber 48 DCOE carbs, MSD Ignition components, and a selection of other sexy engine enhancements. That’s pretty solid and we wager the car (that was now by definition a 2002) must have been a whole load of fun to drive and a massive step up over how it felt originally. And then something happened: Stavros decided that what he really wanted was an 800whp turbo conversion. Because, sometimes, that’s just what you need in your life…

    As you might imagine, making that sort of underbonnet magic happen takes more than a little bit of work and the engine spec list reads like a who’s who of the performance tuning scene. It’s thorough and it’s glorious. It’s the modified BMW enthusiast’s equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey…

    Step one, you’ve got to get your engine choice down. Stavros opted for the sturdy M10, which served as the basis for BMW’s insane turbocharged M12 motorsport engine as well as the S14, so it’s certainly up to the task of coping with a spot of turbocharging.


    But the example nestling under this ’02’s bonnet is very far removed from your common-or-garden M10, as you might have guessed. There’s a lot in the engine bay, so much so that you can barely even see the engine, but if it looks impressive from the outside, there’s plenty to get excited about on the inside, too. 89mm CP forged pistons have been fitted, along with Carrillo forged rods, a custom reprofiled camshaft from Boubis Cams, and #VAC-Motorsports valves, rocker arms, valve guides and valve springs. Somewhere within the engine bay (you’ll have to take our word for it because it’s buried deep beneath seemingly endless pipework) sits the very core of all that power: an absolutely gigantic #Garrett-GTX4202R-turbo . This beast of a snail is rated up to 1150hp so Stavros has plenty of headroom, running as he is at around the 900hp mark, should he ever decide that’s not quite enough. This is useful, actually, as his next goal is to hit 1000hp…

    When it came to getting everything squeezed into the engine bay, custom is most definitely the word of the day: the turbo feeds a HPS custom intake manifold via a suitably massive front-mounted intercooler and sits on a custom exhaust manifold that connects up to a custom exhaust with an external wastegate that exits through the sill just behind the passenger side front wheel.

    The exhaust manifold and the turbo housing itself have both been treated to a Zircotec ceramic coating. Stavros has also had massive Bosch Motorsport 1600cc/min injectors fitted to supply enough fuel to keep the engine happy, along with a custom HPS oil pan. The whole lot is looked after by an Autronic SM4 stand-alone ECU.

    Seeing as no one involved in the designing and construction of the ’02 family could ever have imagined that someone in the distant future would attempt to pass somewhere in the region of 900hp through the compact runabout, Stavaros has had to go to town on the transmission and chassis to ensure it didn’t tear itself to pieces. The gearbox is a five-speed manual Getrag unit from the E28 535i mated to a custom twin-plate clutch that can handle the immense amount of power and torque being developed by the engine, with an E34 M5 rear axle tasked with transferring everything to the rear tyres. On the suspension front, this 2002 has been fitted with E36 M3 underpinnings, including subframes and wishbones, with #KW coilovers up front and Bilstein dampers at the back. While it doesn’t take much to stop a car as small and light as a 2002, stopping one that’s travelling at close to the speed of sound does require something a little more substantial, and this example certainly doesn’t mess about. Up front sit AP Racing Galfer four-pot calipers clamping 305mm vented discs. The rear setup is no less substantial, with another set of AP Racing four-pot calipers wrapped around slightly smaller 255mm vented discs.


    When it came to the exterior Stavros decided to keep things relatively subtle in as much that a casual observer might not be aware of what’s been changed but, at the same time, it’s clear that this 2002 is far from standard. It’s actually about as aggressive as a 2002 can really get. The biggest difference are those pumped-up arches, complete with sill extensions that fill out the flanks. They give the normally unassuming classic some real road presence. Having the wastegate exiting through the sill certainly doesn’t hurt, and neither does that fat, single-tipped exhaust pipe. Of course, fitting wide arches is one thing, having suitable wheels that are substantial enough to fill them is another matter entirely but Stavros’ choice definitely doesn’t disappoint, though it might raise a few eyebrows. He’s taken the classic cross-spoke look that sits so well with the 2002 and turned it on its head with a set of decidedly modern Work VS-XXs.

    The 17” wheels are positively huge on the compact classic but they look fantastic, really filling out those big arches, especially with the car dropped low over the fat rubber. Even parts of the body that may look stock aren’t. For example, the bonnet and boot might appear to be relatively standard, bar the pins and catches, but they are both carbon fibre items, with twin fuel fillers on the rear deck for the bootmounted alloy fuel cell. The one thing the 2002 isn’t is heavy, so adding carbon panels and reducing the already low weight further still means that, with 800whp on tap, this car is absolutely insane – just in case you hadn’t gathered that already!

    With a build like this the interior could go a number of ways: hardcore, stripped-out; stock and subtle; or, option three, custom, luxurious but still decidedly sporty – which is exactly what Stavros has gone for. The interior is dominated by those gorgeous Recaro A8 seats and both they, the rear seats, the doorcards, the steering wheel centre section, the gear gaiter and the handbrake have all been covered in the same delicious shade of caramel leather.

    Something that’s easier to miss is the custom alloy roll-cage; it’s so well-integrated that, while you can clearly see the rear diagonal support, the sections that penetrate the dashboard (down into the footwell) and the rear parcel shelf are much more discreet.

    Up front, the gauge cluster has been replaced with an AIM MXL digital racing dash while the centre console now resembles the flight deck of an aircraft rather than a car. Where the central air vents would have once been there now sits a quartet of custom-mounted GReddy exhaust temperature gauges and below that another custom panel that houses a Daemon boost gauge, A’Pexi turbo timer and fuel gauge and, finally, down in front of the illuminated gear lever, you’ll find a pair of GReddy pressure gauges.

    We’ve featured some pretty wild 2002s over the years but this example might just ‘take the cake’. It’s an utterly incredible machine and we’re a little bit in love with it. We love how the custom wide-arches give the little 2002 a broad, square stance. We love the interior, with its blend of modern tech, race components and gorgeous leather. And we really love the engine; we doubt you’ll see a more complicated engine bay, there’s just so much stuffed under the bonnet. And to come away with 800whp from such a small engine and to have it at your disposal in such a small, lightweight car is utterly insane and, well, we love that too.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-2002-Turbo / #Garrett-GTX4202 R / #Garrett / #BMW-2002 / #M10-Turbo / #Getrag / #BMW / #BMW-2002-800bhp /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder #M10 / #BMW-M10 / , CP forged pistons, #Carrillo forged rods, #Boubis-Cams custom reprofiled camshaft, #AC-Motorsports valves, rocker arms, valve guides and valve springs, Garrett GTX4202R turbo with Zircotec ceramic-coated housing, #Zircotec ceramiccoated custom exhaust manifold, external wastegate, custom exhaust system, #HPS custom intake manifold, #Bosch-Motorsport 1600cc/min injectors, #HPS custom oil pan, #Autronic #Autronic-SM4 stand-alone ECU, Autronic ignition, #Getrag fivespeed manual E28 535i gearbox, custom twin disc clutch kit

    POWER 800whp

    CHASSIS 7.5x17” (front and rear) #Work-VS-XX wheels with 205/40 (front) Yokohama AVS Sport and 245/45 (rear) Dunlop SP Sport MAXX tyres, E36 M3 subframe, wishbones etc, #KW coilover kit (front), #Bilstein dampers (rear), E34 M5 rear axle, #AP-Racing Galfer four-pot calipers with 305mm vented discs (front) and AP Racing four-pot calipers with 255mm vented discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Carbon fibre bonnet, carbon fibre boot, custom wide-arch conversion

    INTERIOR Custom alloy roll-cage by Ilias Makropoulos, #Recaro A8 seats, rear seats, doorcards, steering wheel centre section, gear gaiter and handbrake finished in caramel leather, illuminated M gear knob, AIM MXL digital racing dash, custom-mounted #GReddy exhaust temperature gauges, pressure gauges, Daemon boost gauge, A’Pexi turbo timer, alloy fuel cell

    Engine looks monstrously complicated, and it is, with a huge amount of custom work at every turn and a gigantic #Garrett-GTX402R turbo buried deep within.
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    Rally Round / #Saxon-Motorsport The team’s engineers take on a technical challenge. As well as prepping its own race cars for the VLN and a trip to Spa, Saxon Motorsport has been busy fettling a BMW diesel for a Polish rally raid team. #BMW / #2016

    On Cotswold Saxon’s return from round seven of the #VLN-Endurance series at the Nürburgring, the team set about preparing for round eight with its V10 #BMW-150 and #BMW-120d race cars. The 120d was again to be driven by Ellis Hadley, Martin Gibson and Tom Barrow as they completed their qualification process to compete in the #2017 24-Hour race around the infamous Nordschleife circuit. The V10 would once again be driven by team owner Nick Barrow and Miami-based regular driver Jamie Morrow.

    However, before preparation of the race cars could begin Saxon had another project to attend to. As Bosch Motorsport dealers with vast experience of competition diesel powerplants, various competition outfits come into contact with the team and become aware of its expertise. One such company, encouraged by Bosch, is Polish rally raid specialist, Neoraid. Based to the south-east of Krakow, the rally raid racing team competes in cross-country rallies worldwide, completing the Paris Dakar rally in two of its three entries since 2014 in #BMW-X3-CC s. The team had recently taken delivery of a #BMW-X5-CC with a very special early #M57 3.0-litre diesel engine developed in conjunction with #BMW-Motorsport . This is a similar unit to that used by Saxon until it switched to the current #N57 late last year. Being fitted with a Bosch Motorsport competition ECU by the engine’s previous rally raid owners, Neoraid found itself lacking the experience and data to exploit the engine’s potential and was directed towards Saxon to look for assistance. Items of note fitted to the powerplant included a bespoke CNC-machined dry sump installation with associated oil pump, a CNCmachined rocker cover replacing the standard moulded composite item, and bespoke twin-turbos with associated manifolds and actuators.

    The twin-turbo system had been developed to maintain maximum power output despite the fitting of an FIA-spec inlet restrictor, mandatory for Dakartype rally events for turbo vehicles in any fuel class. This meant additional complications for chief engineer Jon Taylor as he needed to synchronise the small VGT (Variable Geometry Turbo) with the larger unit cutting in at higher engine speeds together with the various wastegate and diverter actuators.

    Having agreed to take on the project, an understanding was reached with Neoraid that the engine would be fitted in a test rig and delivered to the team’s Hereford base by the Neoraid team manager and one of its engineers. The engine, ECU, and all components would be fully wired and ready to map. Three days were allowed for the task. However, as is often the case in motor racing, the project was a little behind schedule. Upon arrival, as can be seen from the accompanying photographs, the wiring loom was still a long way from being completed! Undaunted, Jon and the attendant engineer set about sorting out the various connections and inter-connections between components and recording all the wiring pin details so that a more suitable wiring loom could be produced later. During this phase a two-stage intake air cooling feature was discovered; this consisted of an initial air-to-water chargecooler followed by a conventional air-to-air cooler for the secondary stage. A lightweight 180A McLaren TAG alternator was fitted.

    The Bosch Competition ECU had been installed, calibrated and mapped by Bosch with bespoke Bosch-manufactured, BMW-assembled injectors, for which no data was available…

    After some head scratching – and discovering the astronomical cost of having the injectors dismantled and interrogated by Bosch – Saxon and Neoraid decided that standard BMW injectors should be fitted instead. Saxon’s experience with the M57 engine came into play here as the team’s development of the early engine resulted in it knowing which injector gives the best spray pattern and distribution characteristics for this type of endurance engine. As delivered to Hereford, the engine was also fitted with larger valves – necessitating piston cut-outs – a ported and polished cylinder head and a #Bosch-Motorsport ‘Fuel Hydraulic System’ delivering up to 2100bar of fuel line pressure!

    One problem experienced and effectively managed by Saxon whilst using this engine was a tendency for the crankcase breather to allow oil to escape. The problem has been resolved on the latest standard N57 engine and so the team’s catch tank was no longer required. This engine, however, was fitted with a bespoke oil separator pump to address the problem.

    Despite the slow start to rewire various sections and the time it took to become acquainted with several components new to Saxon, the team of Saxon and Neoraid engineers completed the task in the allotted three days in the team’s tuning bay. By the time the two engineers departed for their base in Poland they had a running engine with all components integrated and working together on a base map.

    The engine will now be removed from its test rig in Poland and installed in Neoraid’s X5-based rally raid car for the necessary wiring and supply systems to be installed around it. As the vehicle is all-wheel drive and Saxon’s rolling road is a single roller installation, Jon Taylor will then fly to Krakow and work at a local twin-roller road to fine-tune his map for the performance required by the team.

    To date, the project has been an interesting variation on the work carried out on the team’s own race cars but on a vehicle being built to a completely different design brief but with significant similarities in the propulsion unit. Saxon was very interested to be part of the development of the powerplant and Neoraid has gained enormous experience with the M57 engine through this collaboration so far.

    Meanwhile, as the Neoraid team returned to Poland, Saxon’s attention returned once again to its own cars. Whilst the 120d was left in a similar setup as used last time out (in order for Martin and Ellis to continue assessment of the Giti tyres), the Chinese company had been unable to produce the next development tyre specifically for the ‘Ring in time for round eight. The drivers therefore continued to collect data and experiment with the setup using the existing rubber. Further improvements to the V10 were, however, planned following the last outing.

    The hoped-for power steering improvement had failed to materialise last time out and so Jon Taylor set about fitting yet another larger capacity hydraulic pump, this time engine-driven rather than the previous electric version. This caused several packaging problems as space is at such a premium under the bonnet with the 5.0-litre engine installed and Jon resorted to purpose-made mounting brackets, belts, tensioners and idler pulleys in order to install the pump. Initial indications, however, suggested that the effort may well have been worthwhile with considerably less effort required on rapid lock-to-lock movements, whereas previously the hydraulic system failed to keep pace.


    Further work will be carried out on the paddlechange software to smooth-out gear synchronisation on up-changes. Another possible reason for this roughness emerged whilst examining the data from the previous race as it became apparent that the engine was failing to lose sufficient rpm for the next ratio to engage smoothly. To try to address this, the team has ordered a lightweight double-plate racing clutch and corresponding flywheel to reduce the energy within the drivetrain; the inertia generated by the standard 15kg flywheel/clutch combination was too high to allow the engine revs to fall fast enough. Hopefully this will improve the situation and transfer less stress to the Drenth gearbox; however, this will not be available until after the car’s next planned outing at Spa on 9-10th October.


    The team’s drivers were still anxious to dial-out some of the power-on understeer that the V10 experiences during the exit stage of a corner. Drivers reported that initial turn-in is good but despite this the car suffers with understeer as power is applied. To attempt to overcome this characteristic, the team fitted new ramps to the Drexler limited-slip diff to alter the limited-slip effect and also rebuild the spare diff with fewer active friction discs as an alternative. Both options were tested in the practice session at the ‘Ring, together with larger front tyres (now the same 285 width as fitted to the rear). In addition, a new more sophisticated traction control map was uploaded with additional feedback to make the most of the modified ramp characteristics.

    The Saxon team was confident that these changes – together with the front tyre options and all the existing setup alterations available – would enable the car to remain neutral throughout all cornering phases. The team left for the Nürburgring on the Wednesday night prior to the next race on Saturday 24 September, hopeful of a class win with the 120d and at least a podium position with the V10 if the modifications were as effective as expected.

    On arrival at Friday’s practice at the Nürburgring it soon became apparent that the reworked diff with fewer friction plates was definitely not the way to proceed and so the team quickly replaced this unit with the ‘re-ramped’ item. This, combined with the traction control upgrade and wider front tyres, immediately allowed Nick to set the V10’s fastest time around the GP circuit, cutting a full second off the car’s previous best. Meanwhile the three 120d drivers quietly set about improving the setup and doing everything possible to make sure they were in a good position to complete the following day’s race, as this alone would complete their qualification process.

    Saturday qualifying gave Nick and Jamie their first chance to gauge the new setup’s effect on the Nordscheife lap time for the V10. First, however, in order to prepare for the race, new brake discs needed to be bedded-in and so the first opportunity for this fell to Jamie, driving the second qualifying stint. Jamie duly took his chance and set the team’s first ever subnine- minute lap, qualifying in 51st place with an 8:57! The 120d set a fast time in the Alternative Fuels class, giving the three drivers hope of a competitive fourhour race.


    As the race got under way, Jamie started the first stint not knowing that the V10 was carrying an underlying gearbox problem. Having run with the aggressive upshift issue for the previous few outings, the stress had built up in the components and finally caused a failure on only the third lap of the race. As it was difficult to recover the car during the race, it was not possible to get the car back into a competitive race position and so the V10 was retired early, much to the disappointment and frustration of both drivers given the lap times being set. Meanwhile the 120d drivers were in the middle of a battle for class honours between themselves and both the 3.0-litre diesel Audi A4 and methanol/petrol hybrid Porsche Cayman with which the team had battled during the 24-Hour race in the Saxon 135d.

    With half-an-hour to go, the 120d put up a valiant fight and actually led the class… until drama struck. Ellis found himself pushed from behind by an overtaking GT3 car, the resulting ‘off’ leaving him stranded on a raised curb until rescued by marshals, dropping the car from contention. As a car has to pass the chequered flag to classify as a finisher and drivers have to be classified in order to obtain their 24-Hour licence, what had been a fascinating battle for class honours now became a challenge just to finish the race! Ellis cautiously brought the car back to the pits for any damage to be assessed; there was just enough time to patch up the rear of the car and check for safety issues before returning to the track for one final lap to complete the race. There were sighs of relief all-round. Mission accomplished!

    Further to the three drivers qualifying for their 24-Hour licences – and trusting that the V10 would return from Germany intact – Nick had hoped to forego round nine of the VLN Championship and travel to Holland for the 9 October Dutch Supercar round on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Nick and regular endurance driver Richard Corbett were keen to debut the 5.8-litre version of the V10 on the famous historic track. As we have previously stated, the V10 engine is restricted to 500hp at the ‘Ring but there are no such limits in Dutch Supercars so it is hoped to run in full 680hp mode for this two race (one 60-minute and one 90 minute) meeting.

    Fortunately, Jon and his team will be able to fit the replacement Drenth gearbox and reprepare the car in time for an anticipated departure for Spa on Thursday 6 October, as Nick had intended.

    The Cotswold Saxon team looks forward to reporting back on their eagerly anticipated visit to this iconic circuit after unleashing the full potential of the #V10 150 #BMW-1-Series and further developments on the Neoraid project.
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    OWNED #2012 / #2016 / #VAG

    This is how they do things Down Under; get the lowdown on Stuart French’s immaculate home-grown, road/race Mk1.

    It’s refreshing to feature a car 100% built by its owner; and Stuart French is about as hardcore a Mk1 fan as you’re ever going to meet… Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Andrew & Bernard Gueit (Hybrid Imaging).

    Almost everything about owning and modding a Dub, or any other car for that matter, is a learning experience. Even before you press yourself into the driver’s seat and wrap your hot little hands around the wheel for the first time, there’s been an education in researching the specs, tracking down the perfect example, the subtle art of the deal… and the rest of it. There are plenty of mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned; surfing the learning curve, navigating the maze and picking up the pointers is half the hobby. Weird as it may sound, making the mistakes and learning from them is probably one of the most rewarding parts of turning a bucket of bolts into a track terror or classy cruiser. Buy a finished car and you’ve cheated yourself out of the essence of owning it, the journey can be way cooler than the destination.

    “I can honestly say that the entire car is my own work…” declared Mk1-mad Australian serial Dub modder Stuart French proudly, “…from paint to powertrain and everything in between. I genuinely believe that’s what makes a project ‘special’ on another level. Slaving your ass off over a car every weekend and pouring most of your wages into it is a great way to ensure you respect the final product!” Stuart’s built not bought bad-boy is a lesson in balancing form and function in the perfect package and, as far as “respect” goes, it’s certainly got ours – in spades!

    Stuart’s trip to the top began unassumingly enough, at the controls of a plain Jane four-door Mk3 Golf. The car was basic in every sense of the word; Stuart had attempted to add a few frills, but his teenage student budget didn’t stretch too far, keeping the jam jar barely above beater status. A little too much exuberance with the right foot one evening coupled with relative inexperience behind the wheel, saw the Mk3 pirouette gracefully, all be it out of control, across a slippery street into the arms of a waiting lamp post. “It was a pretty fullon accident,” recalled Stuart, “the car was totally smashed but thankfully no one was hurt.” After such a frightening finale to his daily driver, you might have expected the lad to search for something a touch safer and slower for his replacement transport. The insurance cheque found its way to a safer substitute; but slower? Not so much… “The money went straight into a SEAT Ibiza Cupra Sport 16v – the only car that came with an ABF 16v in Australia; we never got Mk3 GTIs here,” explained Stuart. “I’d always wanted a 16v after reading about them in Drive-My and on forums, and once I got my own, I got a bit carried away. I ended up modifying the ABF pretty heavily, with big cams, ITBs etc. It sounded epic and I was hooked.”


    While the Cupra had the right engine room resident, Stuart was soon searching for something with a little more retro class; a 16v Mk1 Golf seemed the natural choice. “I’ve had two Mk1 16vs before this one,” Stuart told us. “One I built from scratch and the other I bought already built just to thrash on weekends. I’ve had over ten other Mk1s all told, all four-door which got broken up for parts, which is all four-doors are good for anyway, right?”


    The current project is something of a blending of the two prior 16v Golfs to grace Stuart’s driveway and it’s a show ’n’ go machine that will beat the competition at the shows and then blow their doors off on the way back. “I had the race theme in my head for ages,” explained Stuart. “The only thing missing was a good base car to start a new project on. I wanted a completely clean slate to totally scratch-build my dream racer.” The Australian old-skool VW scene may not be huge, but it’s a close-knit community and the word soon spread that Stuart was searching for a shell to start on. “In South Hobart, Tasmania, there’s an old-skool VW guy, Ed Conacher, who was always the go-to guy for VW parts,” Stuart told us. “He had a heap of Mk1 shells at his house and he actually gave me my first Mk1 rolling shell nearly ten years ago. Well prior to picking this first one up all those years ago, I noticed a part-restored two-door shell with a nice roll-cage welded in. I’d asked to buy it off Ed a few times over the years, but he was adamant that he’d finish building it and wouldn’t sell it to me.”

    Stuart’s not-for-sale story has an all too familiar ring to it, we’ve seen the plot played out all too often. “Eventually I heard on the grapevine that Ed had actually sold the shell to an old friend of his and that this guy, too, had given up on the build.” So Stuart swooped in, cash in hand. “I knew I had to buy it and didn’t care how much it cost,” he recalled. “It was, and is, almost impossible to find a good Mk1 two-door in Australia, especially one with a proper roll-cage already installed.”


    Just over 900 quid in Canadian dollars bought what Stuart admits was an undeniable POS. The ’75 vintage two-door had deteriorated quite a lot since Stuart had first spied it over a decade earlier. “The shed the bloke kept it in was damp and dilapidated,” he explained. “The car was covered in dirt, rust and wall-to wall-bird shit. There’d been heavy panels and stuff stored on the roof which had created some nice dents, I knew these would be hard to fix properly.” A peek underneath didn’t reveal any better news: “He’d also dropped it on an axle stand, which had punched a hole clean through the sill. To make matters even worse, though, both captive nuts for the lower control arms had broken free and stripped; anyone who knows their Mk1s will be aware that this is a very fiddly job to repair.” Despite the carnage Stuart wasn’t complaining. He hoisted the heap onto a trailer and headed home.


    Having picked up and perfected a catalogue of skills grappling with his first Mk1 project, Stuart was determined tackle all the tasks on the new car himself. “I always work with the notion that if anyone else can learn to do something as a professional, I can teach it to myself with patience and practice, and do it just as well,” he explained. The paint and bodywork alone swallowed up over a year’s worth of evenings and weekends, although Stuart admits his perfectionist streak may have added a month or two to the build time. The caged shell would be stripped back to the shiny stuff before any refinish work could start in earnest. The plan was always to finish the whole shell in a simple untinted pure white so a clean unblemished base was essential. “I started in the engine bay as I wanted this to be smooth and clean,” revealed Stuart, “but not with ridiculous panels welded in. I removed the rain and battery tray as well as all the brackets but I was very particular about maintaining the standard lines. I hate those Mk1s where there are sheets of metal welded over the original lines. That just robs the classic character of the car, which is the whole point of building an old car!”


    Next up was the cabin, where countless hours were invested in smoothing the floors. Knowing full well that he’d be dispensing with the carpet, each footwell and the entire rear interior floor was relieved of its dents and lightly skimmed in filler, before being sanded to glassy smooth perfection. “I still don’t like wearing shoes when I drive it,” Stuart laughed, remembering how long it took him to smooth it all out! Thankfully the outer body was quite straight, with the exception of the rear panel; the original swallow-tail rear had been hacked up for bigger late model lights.


    “I really regret not replacing this panel with a new one before painting it,” lamented Stuart. “It took me about 150 hours to repair the cut and beaten rear panel with fibreglass reinforcement and filler; all the while I was cursing the guy who cut it in the first place. Looking at it now, you’d never know the shell is really a 1975 model, but I can’t help thinking it’s a swallow-tail that’s lost its mojo.”

    The underbody and wheel arches didn’t surrender without a fight either; both areas were taken back to bare metal, repaired and treated with anti-rust sealant and resealed in pure white stone-proof coating. The first paint job on the car suffered from dust contamination, and the cold Tasmanian winter played havoc with the air-dry process. “I had to strip it all back down to metal and re-do the entire thing. It’s one of those jobs where you hate life while you’re doing it, but you just have to remember that any problems will always piss you off in the long-term if they’re not fixed in the first place,” explained Stuart.

    Of course, this car is so much more than just perfect panels and a pretty paint job; it’s the screaming 16-valve under the bonnet that completes Stuart’s story. Initially the nearstock ABF engine from his first Mk1 was stripped down and rebuilt into a Bahn Brennerequipped turbo powerhouse. “I went through a lot of hoops to get that setup going: wiring, software… only to find wheelspin and turbo lag weren’t what I wanted in a Mk1,” Stuart told us. “So after months of work I progressively sold off the turbo parts, with the intention of going back to N/A, where I believe the 16v belongs.”

    The torque-laden turbo setup had bags of power but Stuart felt it was almost too civilised, lacking the high-revving raw boots and braces edge his road racer theme demanded. “I remembered reading about a Mk1 in Germany with a serious 2.0 16v installed that revved to 10,000 rpm,” recalled Stuart. “That was precisely what the project needed, but there are no good engine builders in Australia for proper watercooled VW stuff, so I knew I’d have to look in Europe. I spent hours searching for old F2 or similar-spec’d 16vs and eventually came across a strippeddown, full-house Van Kronenburg short motor on the Berg Cup classifieds. After weeks of frigging around with shipping and import problems, I bought all the parts, including the empty block. This was a pretty big gamble, too, as I didn’t know the seller and had to take his word for the condition of the parts.”

    Fortunately the Dutch connection was a man of his word; after months of nail biting the goods arrived and Stuart reports that most of the parts were brand-new and came with receipts for all the machining work. All that had to be done was a quick re-bore job, as our man was intending to run bigger pistons, and a final buttoning up of the block. “The whole lot was assembled on the garage floor and matched with a custom Bosch Motorsport piggy-backed ECU which I sourced through work,” Stuart explained. Working as a corporate suit for Bosch obviously has its perks! “The throttle body kit is specifically designed for the ABF by dBilas, so I’ve had to retain all the standard sensors, as well as source some side-feed injectors to fit the stock ABF rail, also Bosch items,” Stuart continued. “They were originally designed for a JDM Nissan but they work a treat.” The entire powerplant is a mix of some pretty unique parts, including some aggressive solid lifter cams made by dBilas and other rare oneoffs, all produced in Holland at a massive original expense. “One of the big expenses with building an old VW in Australia is the freight cost associated with importing parts from Europe and the USA. Since starting this car, I’ve spent over $10,000 on freight and import taxes alone,” Stuart reveals.

    In an attempt to get the best balance between looks and genuine driveability, Stuart splashed out on two sets of wheels: “The PLSs are mainly for looks, though I did like the challenge of making 9x16s fit under a Mk1. I also have some 8x14s HTN Rennsports with Avon cut slicks that go on the car for track days and hillclimbs.” The ride height is “sensible” according to Stuart.

    Despite attracting a fair few critics for not being set on its sills, our man is sticking to his guns: “Why the hell spend a fortune on high-end suspension components if the car is going to run on its bump stops? As we all know, Mk1s have very limited wheel travel as it is.” The stance brigade may be content rolling low and slow, but with upwards of 260bhp on tap and barely 800kg to move, Stuart isn’t about to ease off the loud pedal of his handmade hot rod: “I built it as street legal race car, and that’s how it gets driven!” Watch the film for proof.


    DUB TECHNICAL DATA FILE DETAILS #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf


    ENGINE: SEAT Ibiza #F2-ABF 2.0 16v base engine, custom #Mahle 83.5mm 12.5:1 forged pistons, total swept volume: 2032cc, custom knife-edged and balanced billet crankshaft, Sauger gated wet sump, Lentz 159mm further lightened con rods, fully balanced assembly, ARP and Raceware hardware throughout, dBilas Dynamic head reworked with Ferrea valves (34.5 and 28.0mm) and ultra-light solid lifter kit with titanium retainers and springs, #dBilas-Dynamic 316in./304ex. deg. solid camshafts, dBilas Dynamic ABF-specific ITB kit with cast alloy air box and cold air feed, K-tech carbon fibre rocker cover, Piggybacked #Bosch-Motorsport & #Siemens ECUs, match-ported Eurosport headers, Schrick Gruppe A 2.5” stainless steel exhaust with single Powersprint s/s muffler, 02A/J gearbox with SQS six-speed gearset and Peloquin LSD, CAE Race Shifter with extra-tall shift lever, AP twin-plate clutch assembly, ultra-light 228mm billet flywheel.

    Power: 267bhp @ 8435rpm (9200rpm hard cut) at the flywheel.

    CHASSIS: Show wheels: PLS Evolution rims: 8x16” #ET22 front and 9x16” ET15 rear with Hankook K107 195/40/16 and 215/35/16 tyres. Race wheels: 14x8” #HTN-Rennsport-ET22 with Avon slicks, 1975 Mk1 Golf LS (Australian-built model, ex swallow-tail), 12- point chromoly integrated roll-cage, KW stainless coilovers with adjustable top mounts, #KW-ARB kit with custom rateadjustable rear outer mounts, solid-bushed rear axle – polybushes at all other points, #PMW ball joint extenders, PMW bump-steer elimination kit with modified spindles, seamwelded control arms with modified rear mounts, Eurosport four-point subframe at front, BFI front crossmember support, Wilwood Ultralite four-pot front brake kit with 256mm discs, Mk3 rear disc conversion, 24mm master cylinder and Cupra servo, rebuilt Autocavan brake linkage, Scirocco 16v handbrake cables, custom Goodridge full-length braided lines with on-the-fly bias adjustment.

    OUTSIDE: Full inside-out bare metal restoration, resprayed in DuPont pure white with clear coat, seam-welded throughout, rolled and pulled wheel arches, de-badged tailgate, smoothed front apron and sills, rear panel modified for big tail lamps, deleted rain tray and smoothed engine bay, carbon rear wheel arch spats, carbon bumpers, carbon GTI splitter, tinted crystal tail lamps and front indicators, crystal crosshair headlamps.

    INSIDE: SEAT Cupra 16v dashboard and instruments, 996 911 GT3 RS carbon seats retrimmed in red leather, carbon door trim, interior handle set and various other carbon details, OMP Corsica steering wheel, smoothed and painted floorpans, VDO white-faced gauges.

    SHOUT: Michael Koordt at K-Tech, Gerjan Stroeve at Stroeve Motorsport, my girlfriend Lauren for letting me work on the car whenever, my mum for donating her garage whenever I needed it, all the team at Autocraft – especially Matty Porter, my late friends, Lo and John Zwollo.
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