- Post is under moderationMk1 Caddy R32 Exclusive: the UKʼs hottest Caddy revealed!
/ #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf / #VAG / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32 / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy / #VW-Caddy / #Volkswagen-Caddy-I / #Volkswagen-Caddy-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32-Mk1
WALK THE WALK
With a day job that involves getting other people’s paintwork spot-on it is no surprise that north east Dub nut Paul Walker’s own project is beyond flawless. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Si Gray.
I’ve got to say, it was DRIVE-MY that got me in to modified Veedubs in the first place,” 37-year-old Paul Walker explains. “I’ve always been in to cars and then one day I randomly picked up DRIVE-MY and, well, it all escalated from there really.”
We would like to take this opportunity right now to apologise for inflicting him with his Veedub addiction, something that has no doubt taken huge amounts of money from his bank account as he chases the high that is modified #VW ownership. Maybe copies of DRIVE-MY should have warnings printed on them like they do with cigarette packets these days. ‘Buying this magazine can be damaging to your bank balance!’. Or ‘modified VW ownership harms you and others around you’. That kind of thing.
“I had an Evo 7 that was just emptying my pockets and I decided enough was enough, it was time for a change in direction,” Paul continues. We’re not going to question how a Mk1 Caddy show car, especially one as good as this, could possibly be any cheaper than a Mitsubishi Evo 7… all we can be sure of is we’re very glad that Paul decided to make the switch because if he hadn’t we wouldn’t be looking at one of the finest Mk1 Caddys the UK has ever turned out.
The Caddy you see here wasn’t Paul’s first foray in to modded German metal ownership. Before the little truck he’d built himself a bagged and beautifully trimmed New Beetle which, although a very nice car indeed, must have been a bit of a shock to the system after a hardcore Evo!
“I’ve always been a fan of Mk1 Golfs, though, I mean, who isn’t eh? But good ones come up for sale so rarely that I started looking at Caddys instead,” Paul explains. “I made myself a promise, though; that I would keep it simple – just air and a nice set of wheels. It all went south when I started paying more attention to what some of the Euro Mk1 boys were turning up in…”
It’s probably worth mentioning that Paul earns his nine-to-five money as a dent man, or to give it the proper title, a paintless dent removal technician. This means that he is something of a perfectionist when it comes to cars and in particular, when it comes to the finer details. “I bought the car in 2014,” he remembers.
“I found it on the Edition38 classifieds but there was only one problem, it was in Portsmouth and I live so far north I’m almost in Scotland. This made checking it out in person difficult,” he continues. “Luckily the Kleen Freaks guys are like family and Adam Gough and Natalie Poulton, who live down that way, offered to go check it out for me, which was really nice of them.” With Adam and Natalie giving the truck the once over and confirming it was a good ’un, Paul bought it over the phone. “The guys got it right, it was in really good condition, which is pretty rare for a Caddy these days. I was always going to repaint it anyway so I was more concerned with it being structurally sound, which it was.”
The Caddy didn’t go home to Darlington straight away though; it went straight from the south coast to JH Pro Paint in Sheffield to have the Air Lift Performance air-ride, V2 management, and the custom four-link rear end fitted. “It was so low on its coilvers that I had to bag it immediately otherwise it wouldn’t have gotten onto my driveway, so it was a kind of a necessity as much as it was for looks,” he explains. Regular readers of the mag will need no introduction to the name JH Pro Paint. The Sheffield-based outfit is getting quite a name for itself in the modified VW scene for turning out more than a few awesome show-winning cars, not least owner Jon Hinchcliffe’s amazing everevolving Mk1 R32. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jon’s Mk1, so it’s fair to say his car was the inspiration for mine,” Paul grins. “It wasn’t until later on that Jon would become such an evil influence in my life!”
Two months later Paul had the Caddy resprayed at a local bodyshop, Autospray Darlington. “It was already white but I wanted it to stand out more so I had it painted in a muchbrighter, cleaner white,” he explains. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition it didn’t need too much repair work doing before it was painted.”
Next up was to sort out a pair of seats. “As I’m tall I wanted a pair of seats that would give me the most legroom, which the Vabrics would,” Paul continues. “Then it was a joint decision between me and the Mrs to do them in Harris Tweed, along with the doorcards, too, which I really think works nicely.”
Then Paul set about rebuilding a set of 15” #BBS-RS s, 8” in width and face-mounted before bolting them on the car ready for Ultimate Dubs 2015, where it went down very well. “For the rest of 2015 it pretty much stayed the same, other than a few bits of carbon fibre trim being fitted here and there. Stuff like the mirrors, A-pillar trims, window cranks, and the handbrake cover were all changed,” he recalls. “And then in June it went back to its second home at JH Pro Paint where, well, things got out of hand, I’ll admit.”
The Caddy came with a nicely-built 2.0-litre 16v in it which, while being a nice, dependable lump, didn’t quite tick the boxes for our man Paul here. We’re sure Jon’s show stealing Mk1 R32 had nothing to do with what was to come… “I’ll freely admit that Jon’s Mk1 was one of my main inspirations,” Paul smiles.
“After all, how could you not be inspired by that thing? But on a more personal note, I wanted a more-modern, less-revvy engine than the 16v. Plus, you just can’t beat that R32 soundtrack, can you?”
Over the next few months Paul and Jon spent so much time on the phone to each other that their respective partners though they might be playing away! But the lads had important build details to discuss and hard-to-find parts to track down. While Paul set about finding a suitable donor car, Jon set about pulling the old motor and getting to work on the bay. 74 welded up holes later, not to mention all the custom jobs that are required to squeeze the big six-shooter in to a tiny Mk1 bay, the whole thing was bare metalled ready for the next stage. That doesn’t really do justice to how much work was involved in getting the bay ready for paint, as anyone who has smoothed an engine bay will know. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how good you are at your craft, it’s a difficult, time-consuming and at times downright frustrating job. “It took Jon the best part of a month’s solid work to do the bay as it’s so time-consuming removing all the sealer and making sure every single millimetre is flawless,” Paul tells us. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition in the first place there wasn’t any major extra work to be done other than a few rust areas and the typical battery tray issues.”
While Jon was hard at work Paul found a suitable car and engine, shipped off a few odd bits to be colour-coded and got in touch with Andy Outhwaite from ACR to have a custom loom made up for the car and set about lengthening parts of the wiring to ensure it would slot easily into the smooth bay.
There’s no doubting Jon and the JH Pro Paint team know how to put out a top-level paint job and Paul’s bay is absolutely flawless from top to bottom, no matter how close you get or what angle you look at it from.
To break up the white, the sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims and mirrors were all carefully reproduced in carbon fibre. We’re big fans of the carbon fibre strips in the bed, too, and the Volkswagen text has been reproduced on the rear wall of the cab, mirroring the text on the tailgate.
“I think the hardest part about the whole build, or at least the most frustrating anyway, was having to take the engine in and out about ten times to test fit everything and get it all right,” Paul reveals. “My wings are welded and smoothed to the front panel, so getting it all offevery time was a right pain, especially as we had to be so careful.”
Once the engine was in properly and the fuelling issues were ironed out, hearing that classic R32 off-beat burble was more than enough to make Paul forget all about any frustrations he had endured. “Oh, hearing it fireup properly the first time was definitely the best part of the build; you just can’t beat that noise, can you?” he says with a beaming smile. “I’ve had a few people say it’s too heavy an engine for a Mk1 but since when has a Caddy been meant to handle like a race car? They were built to carry sheep and stuff around! Some have also said that the Caddy is pointless as I can’t put stuff in the bed anymore but that’s usually the kind of thing people who don’t quite ‘get it’ would say…”
With people who do ‘get it’ the Caddy has gone down very well indeed. It debuted at Ultimate Dubs back in March (we got this shoot in the bag the day before), and since then Paul has taken it to Elsecar, Early Edition and Letstance over in Belfast, where it’s gone down an absolute treat.
It’s no surprise that Paul’s Caddy has had crowds around it at every event it’s been to so far. It is one of the best Caddys the UK has ever turned out, it’s just such a complete car. The amazingly clean engine bay is the star of the show but you don’t need to look too far to realise that no corners have been cut. It really is an incredibly complete car, not just for a Mk1 Caddy but for a Mk1 in general, and that’s no easy task these days with the level of Mk1s being as high as it is.
And yet perfectionist Paul isn’t finished yet. “Since the shoot I’ve put some Fifteen52 two-piece F40 Tarmacs on it so I can run bigger brakes, and I’m planning to transform it in to what I’m calling ‘the race Caddy’ over next winter too,” he chuckles. “Watch this space…”
Consider it watched Paul, consider it watched!
Dub Details / #VR6 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6 / #BBS / #Air-Lift
ENGINE: Mk4 #R32 engine, VR6 #VW-Racing induction kit, #Time-Attack map, full carbon-skinned VR6 gearbox with #Wavetrac limited-slip diff, custom manifold and exhaust system, custom engine mounts and driveshafts, custom radiator, #Forge-Motorsport coolant pipes, full wire tuck and smooth bay, hidden battery under bed with positive and negative terminals behind driver’s seat.
CHASSIS: 8x15” #BBS-RS043 wheels totally rebuilt and face-mounted, #Air-Lift-V2 management with #Air-Lift Lift rear bags and #GAZ front struts, tank and compressors hidden under the bed, four-link rear axle with drop plates, G60 280mm front brakes with braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in bright white, carbon fibre sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims, door mirrors, strips in the bed and strips on the front bumper, custom front and rear bumpers, Volkswagen script on the rear of the cab.
INTERIOR: Vabric half-back seats trimmed in ‘houndstooth’ Harris Tweed and grey Alcantara, Harris Tweed and Alcantara doorcards, flocked dash, Alcantara headlining and A-pillar trim, carbon handbrake, cover and window winders.
SHOUT: Jon Hinchcliffe at JH Pro Paint, Justin, Pete and Aidy at Autospray Darlington for my paint and detailing, Mike and Vick at Kleen Freaks for their backing, Alex Begley at Fifteen52, my good mates Anthony Warrior and Warwick French, and, most importantly, my wife for putting up with me while I did it!
If ever there was a face that summed up being obsessive about a car being absolutely spot-on, this is it. Paul takes the job of keeping his Caddy spotless very seriously, and who can blame him when the results look this good?!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHOT ROD ’RADO / Exposed: the Hot Rodinspired Corrado that stole SEMA last year!
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT #VW-Corrado-VR6 / #VW-Corrado / #Volkswagen-Corrado / #Volkswagen-Corrado-VR6 / #Volkswagen / #VW / #VW-Corrado-R32 / #Volkswagen-Corrado-R32 /
We love OEM+ as much as the next man but sometimes it’s refreshing to see somebody stepping out of the conformist box. Steve Nodarse is that guy! Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Sam Dobbins.
“I didn’t want it screaming ‘look at me’, I wanted people to actually look and notice the work and time that went into it”
“I’m not really a VW guy,” shrugged Steve Nodarse. “Well, not like those old-skool guys anyway. You know, guys who grew up surrounded by Dubs, who always wanted one since they were kids, learnt to drive in one, followed the scene… that’s not me.” In fact, the 30-something New Jersey truck driver grew up hitting switches and smashing sumps as part of the East Coast minitruck scene. “It was the lowrider life,” he laughed. “Hydros, loud sound systems and scraping frames.” You would think introducing this hardcore switch hitter with chrome and candy running through his veins into the VAG world would have proved to be more than a little interesting, in a bad way. We had visions of metalflaked Dubs on Daytons three wheeling down the high street, complete with velvet interiors and chain-link steering wheels. “I think I did okay though,” smiled Steve, twirling the keys to his spectacularly subtle full custom Corrado. “It’s got switches, too,” he laughed.
Steve reckons the custom pearl-coated coupé is strongly influenced by his lowrider history. The smoothed VR ride may bear little resemblance to a juiced Impala or fully flaked-out minitruck but the car was conceived and created from a mindset fostered by the lowrider culture. “You have to approach the build with an open mind,” he told us. “Forget the formula, just do your own thing. I wanted something different and sometimes that means you have to throw out the rule book and look at things in a completely new way. You learn that lowriding. You are always adapting solutions for riding lower or playing with paint and body ideas to make something unique.” The ‘unique’ nail has been firmly hit on the head with this one. Although the car carries the comfortingly familiar curves of a classic Corrado, the cleverly-thought-out detail work and exceptional execution make this car like no other. This is not your usual paint-bynumbers Euro clone or cookie cutter coupé.
“I gotta credit my cousin Ramon for getting me into the whole VW thing,” Steve told us. “He can take the blame for that. He’s been in the game forever and used to pick me up whenever he went to any VAG event. It became kind of a joke between us; I got the nickname ‘passenger’ which has stuck. He would always be busting my balls on why I was a passenger in his car all the time. ‘Why don’t you get your own or build one?’ he would always ask.”
This unrelenting peer pressure eventually had our man scouring the classifieds for a suitable candidate to silence the critics. “I remember telling people, if I build something, get ready to have your mind blown,” Steve said. “Every show or meet I went to I always saw the Jettas, GTIs, and Golfs. I rarely ever saw Corrados, but when I did see one it always caught my eye and piqued my interest. I just liked the look of them and always thought that if I ever built something the ’Rado would be the car to do.”
A rough and ready G60 bought from a mate got the ball rolling but something wasn’t quite right and it took a while for the newbie Dubber to put his finger on the problem. “While tearing it apart and deciding what to do with it, I kept looking at pictures of other Corrados and wondering why they all looked wider than mine,” he told us. “After doing some research I learned that the VR6 actually had a wider front end than the G60, so I decided I needed one.”
An exhaustive Craigslist search led to a little farm hidden away in the depths of the Pennsylvanian countryside. “I contacted the owner and set up a meet ASAP,” recalled Steve. “I wanted to jump on it before it was sold.” Cousin Ramon was enlisted to cast an expert eye over the prospective purchase as the two set off PA bound with a trailer in tow. “I got out of my truck and the owner started opening the door to a barn that didn’t look too stable,” related Steve. “While pulling the door up it was all over the place. I thought the door was going to fall on the car and crush it.
Thankfully it didn’t. The seller told us the car had been parked up for over five years after some mystery problem had beset it. The poor sap had no idea why it wouldn’t start. My cousin looked over it and we both had an idea what the starting issue could be so we weren’t too worried. It had flat tyres and the calipers were frozen so moving it was a bit of a mission. Finally we tied a rope to the back of my truck and dragged her out of barn.”
Steve reckons as soon as the daylight hit the coupé he knew he’d found his next car. “I had to have it!” he said. “It was in pretty decent condition. The original colour was red and one of the many previous owners had painted it blue. There was barely any rust, which I was shocked about, although we did find some minor damage to the rear quarter after stripping the paint off. The interior was complete. It was the stock black leather interior, too, with no cracks or damage.
The whole thing just needed a lot of TLC.” The mystery starting problem was solved in minutes courtesy of a little switcheroo of ignition barrels from the G60. Once the motor was ready to fire up after its five-year slumber Steve was sure to observe all the time-honoured safety protocols for starting a long dormant motor.
“Err, no so much,” he laughed. “I really didn’t care about nursing the engine because I already had another one sitting at home waiting to be put in! After getting her started I ripped the car around the block a few times with the pedal to the floor. The tyres were rotten and the calipers were frozen but that didn’t stop me winding it up to see if the spoiler worked!”
After a good deal of sideways shenanigans and a few well-executed burnouts the serious business of tearing down the shell got underway. “Before too long I figured I needed help with the build,” admitted Steve. “Not having the proper equipment or knowledge was going to be an issue if I was going to build a serious car. It was my first VW build and I knew my limitations.” Steve put the word out that he was looking for an able accomplice to do some real damage to his coupé’s OEM status. As expected, the local VW community stepped up to the challenge. “I came across Cory Sterling. He was a Corrado owner himself and really knew his stuff,” recalled Steve. “I talked it over with him and told him what I was planning. A few days later Cory called me and told me of a shop that did ridiculous body and paint work down the road from him.”
The shop turned out to be Legacy Innovations and the rest, as they say, is history. “Steve came to us with a general vision of what he wanted from the build,” explained Troy Spackman of Legacy, taking up the story. “It was our job to translate his ideas and emotions into custom metalwork.” Turning cars into rolling works of art is just another day at the office for the Legacy crew, and the company has over a decade of experience transforming ordinary cars into awesome kinetic sculptures, to much acclaim. Legacy’s wealth of experience, working with a host of varied customs and exotics, brought an even broader perspective to the build. This was going to be one special Dub.
“The hardest part was figuring out what to do to be original,” recalled Steve. “And how to do it in a subtle, understated way. I didn’t want it screaming ‘look at me’, I wanted people to actually look and notice the work and time that went into it.”
Legacy took the ‘subdued sledgehammer’ approach and ran with it. And indeed the wide array of painstaking details make a package that keeps you coming back for another look. The tougher than Tyson exterior treatment starts with oversized bespoke metal arches blended into custom shaved bumpers. Audi handles and a good deal of shaved body trim are age-old Dub standbys, but modified Mattig mirrors and cleverly stretched tail-lights are unique touches. “The shell as it came to us was not too bad,” explained Troy, “but we did invest a fair amount of time reworking and tweaking the panels to get tighter and crisper bodylines.”
Coating the custom creation in colour also took a lot of thought, not to mention skill. “The colour of the car is a custom BASF colour that hasn’t been released yet,” said Steve. “The company is allowing us to name it but we haven’t come up with one yet. It’s like a sandy grey pearl that changes colours depending on the light.” Our man was rather partial to the gunmetal hue on the new GT-Rs but needed to add his twist to the Nissan blend. “I searched for a similar colour looking through the samples at the shop and doing numerous sprayouts.” Fortunately for all concerned the German paint supplier stepped in with just the right solution.
Setting the custom crafted body over the rollers was no point, click and order deal, either. “We originally leaned towards air-ride and bought BagYard Bombers,” explained Steve. “On reflection I wanted a more driveroriented suspension, though, so we ended up going for the JRi Shocks ‘Hydraulic Ride Height’ system, although it had to be modified to fit the car. This setup allows me to still control the height but gives the stability of coils. With the wheels I wanted something that nobody had, so Evod was contacted to make me a set of one-off, three-piece wheels. Each wheel is specifically made due to the directionally pattern and the different widths. The brakes are a full Corvette Wilwood setup – from the individual pedal cluster to the calipers and rotors.” Troy told us that almost all the braking and suspension parts had to be redesigned and modified to fit and work on the Corrado. The pair almost glossed over the fact that the entire underside of the coupé has been prepared and painted a contrasting colour to show standard. Mention of the exquisite cabin makeover and custom RHD conversion again was almost lost in the mountain of modifications the Legacy crew undertook. “It had to be right-hand drive though,” smiled Steve. “I’m so used to sitting on the passenger side in a VW it kinda makes sense!”
The car originally came with the stock and very tired VR6 although, as mentioned before, Steve had acquired a 2008 R32 lump even before the car came along. Now dropping in a big six from a Racing 32 may be fine and dandy for some but for Steve the fully-equipped VR was just the beginning. The underbonnet experience is just that: it’s an experience. All the senses are overwhelmed by the sight and sound of a smoothed, throbbing, silky six-cylinder and you can’t help but run you hands over that perfectlyexecuted, seamless, satin, shaved bay. The smell? That’s leather, baby, courtesy of a hide wrapped engine cover. Then there’s the huge bespoke radiator, the redesigned slam panel, the custom cooling fans, the sublimely subtle wiring tuck… it’s all too much to take in at first glance – although those hand-crafted hood hinges are difficult to miss!
The quality of the build is nothing short of breathtaking, the attention to detail is stunning and the overall package remains faithfully true to its original concept. “It’s got character and attitude,” explained Steve. “It reflects a mood, an emotion… it’s like a lifestyle wrapped up in a car.” And it just goes to show, awesome things can happen when two worlds collide. ‘Still hittin’ them corners in them low lows girl…’
Every time you look at Steve’s Corrado you will spot a different piece of incredible custom work that you didn’t see the time before; it’s a work of art from every single angle. It’s little wonder, then, that it was the most talked about VW at the enormous SEMA event in Las Vegas last year. In fact, we can only assume it’s the most talked about VW most places it goes!
ENGINE: 2008 #R32 engine mated to an #O2A Corrado gearbox with a #Quaiffe diff and #VF-Engineering mounts, #Clutchnet Red 2X pressure plate, Clutchnet carbon fibre disc, 10lb billet steel flywheel, custom-made manifold, full custom 3” exhaust, custom leather wrapped engine cover matching interior, fully shaved bay painted satin with wire tuck, custom engine cooling system with hard lines.
CHASSIS: One-off #EVOD Industries three-piece wheels with Dunlop Direzza ZII Star Spec tyres, 9x17” with 215/40 fronts and 10x17” with 235/40 rears. Modified JRi Shocks Hydraulic Ride Height suspension, modified Wilwood under-mount pedal assembly and big brakes with ‘Corrado’ engraved on calipers, other components and underbody painted.
EXTERIOR: Full 4” wider medal body conversion, one-off shaved bumpers, debadged grille and body, shaved windscreen washers, modified Mattig mirrors, Audi handles, custom #BASF paint, glass sunroof, E-code headlights, tail-lights were widened and painted full red, all panels were tweaked to tighten up body lines.
INTERIOR: RHD conversion, #Recaro Sportster CS seats, deleted vents, Momo Millenium Evo steering wheel, full interior reupholstered in leather and Alcantara suede.
SHOUT: My friends and family for being supportive, my buddy Marko for his help, my brother Jay for his help with the tear down and the use of his garage, the man, the myth, the legend, mi primo, Ramon Period for all his help and managing skills, AutoHaas for parts, Cory Sterling, Sam Dobbins for the shoot, and last but not least, Troy Spackman and the guys at Legacy Innovations for everything they did and still do for me.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPUNK ROCK Words and photos: Jon Cass
/ #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-Syncro-II / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Syncro-II / #VW-Golf-Syncro / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-R32-Mk2 / #2016 / #VW / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf
PE teacher Chris Perry might be in his mid-50s, but he is still very much young at heart as his Fiat Punk grey #VW-Golf-Mk2-Syncro proves. It’s timeless on the outside and bang up to date underneath.
This magazine has been around for two decades now and to those that remember it at the beginning, that’s a scary thought! The target audience has always been varied, but more often than not, the feature car owners tend to be amongst the more youthful generations.
Now, Chris Perry, being a PE teacher by profession is a youthful 56, but he obviously still possesses an eye for a cool car as his awesome R32-engined Mk2 Syncro proves only too well. Also, being in his 50s he’s seen the huge changes in the custom car scene over the last five decades that many of us won’t remember… oh and he has cheaper insurance!
We’ll start with some name dropping on a notable scale though: “I lived in Lebanon when I was younger,” Chris recalls, “I went to the same school as Dom Joly and the Bin Ladens in the mountains overlooking Beirut. The streets back then were full of old American cars with fins and rocket ship styling and you couldn’t fail to notice them.”
By his teens, Chris had moved to the UK. This was a time of epic movies such as American Graffiti and California Kid, where the cars are now remembered better than the characters. All this, combined with a plethora of modified model cars, custom car mags and family friends who owned a ’67 Camaro and a GT500 Mustang along with a Yank custom van would set Chris’ lifelong passion for modified cars in stone. “My dad also came from an engineering background so he was always a great source of inspiration and practical advice as he worked on his own cars,” Chris adds.
Before he’d even learnt to drive, Chris had bought his first project: a sit up and beg Ford Pop he used to spy parked up each day he walked home from school. “I bought what is now rare Aquaplane speed equipment to fit to the flathead engine and a Bellamy front end to convert the beam axle to semi independent,” Chris recalls, “but before I had chance to fit it, my friend Steve put up his modified 100E for sale, I had to have it so the Pop became the first of many abandoned projects which for one reason or another I ended up selling.”
A selection of modified Minis followed, then another 100E, this time with a 5.2 V8, a racespec MGB Roadster, a ’59 Impala and a Rover V8-powered Opel T Bucket. Hell, Chris could have held his own credible custom car show had these all been in his collection today!
Fast forward to the hot hatch era when everyone wanted a GTI, and Chris’ attention moved towards Mk2 Golfs, though his first was a lowly 1.3-litre three-door with faded paint and a damp interior: “It made a great cheap runabout while I spent most of my funds on yet another Ford Pop project,” Chris laughs. A Helios blue 1.8GL came next followed by a J-reg big bumper three-door GTI, which actually turned out to be a B-reg in disguise. Yes, those were the days when Golfs were made to look newer than they were. How things have changed!
Despite its dubious history, it served Chris well as did the black Mk2 GTI which came next, bought with various faults from a dodgy dealer, but once sorted turned out to be a decent car!
Meanwhile, the final Pop project with its Dodge V8, Jag rear axle and custom suspension was finally complete, though a house move led to this being sold in the States where Pop prices were at another level.
“The house move and restoration were taking up a lot of my cash and attention, but I still had a hankering for another Mk2 GTI,” Chris remembers, “this next one would be VR6- powered and although slightly nose heavy, the sound and performance made it a great overall package.” By now, Chris had become a selftaught expert in Mk2s, as you may expect after owning and rebuilding so many, but he had begun to notice a significant number of the more capable higher-power cars were of 4WD layout. Before long, a white five-door Syncro with Rallye running gear advertised in a neighbouring village had made it on to his drive, and the VR6 was duly despatched to a grateful new owner in Scotland.
“The Syncro was really good fun to drive, but the colour, the five-door layout and an engine that chewed a piston on the M69 sealed its fate,” Chris remembers. “After a long delay replacing the engine and repairing a rusty floorpan, the white Mk2 found a new home in the North East.” The big bhp Syncro bug had by now bitten, though Chris was adamant its replacement would have three-doors, but not centre around a Rallye shell as he wasn’t so keen on the boxy arches.
No sooner had he located a mint three-door GTI shell with fresh paint that he immediately booked in for it to be surgically enhanced. As luck would have it, a rare three-door G60 Syncro shell came up for grabs in York. “Shells of this spec hardly ever come up for sale, so I put a deposit down straight away and collected it from York,” Chris explains. “It had been imported years ago by a fastidious enthusiast before being sold to the last owner who’d had it laid up for three years minus engine and ’box. He’d planned a similar conversion to myself, but for personal reasons had to sell.”
Initially, Chris planned a relatively simple 20vT conversion with Rallye running gear, he’d even purchased a TT Quattro Sport engine and Rallye rear diff to put inside, but the untidy look of many 20vT installations and his love for a decluttered bay such as those built by the likes of Troy Trepannier and Chris Foose made Chris want to take the project further: “Seeing a beautiful cream Mk2 with R32 transplant and smoothed bay on VWVortex sealed it for me,” Chris recalls. “I knew it had to have a Mk5 R32 and if the bay was being repainted it made sense to repaint the whole car in a colour of my choice.” And if he was to go to this extent, then his preferred small bumper look and a RHD conversion made sense too. Then there was that redundant dash from the TT Quattro Sport which also needed a new home.
Although Chris had been happy to create his previous projects from start to finish himself, a demanding lifestyle, lack of garage and growing family led to the decision to have the necessary major work undertaken by a specialist. “I did a lot of research and read loads of reviews, but I wasn’t overjoyed by the quality of work carried out by the first specialist I used,” Chris remembers. “Some of the work had been done well, but then other areas had been bodged, such as the engine cover rubbing on the underside of the bonnet, remedied by tilting the R32 lump on a stack of washers positioned on top of the rear engine mount, consequently putting unwanted strain on the front mount.” Not ideal then, and its handiwork seemed to be taking an age too. So Chris decided to take the partly completed project to Matt at Dub Unit in Tamworth, where correct Vibra-Technics engine mounts were fitted and other imperfections ironed out. Chris’ chosen colour is a very retro Fiat 500 Punk grey which suits the 80s small bumper Mk2 styling perfectly, all applied including the underside after a full windows-out bare metal prep.
Look closely and you’ll see that all unwanted holes have been welded up, the badges and trim have been removed and Audi 80 door handles have been neatly blended in. The battery and windscreen washer bottle have been relocated to the boot to free up more engine bay space and as much wiring and plumbing as possible is hidden out of sight. The seven-slat grille is both simple and stylish and the rear end has lost its badges, lock and towing eye. The custom rain tray up front made from a combination of LHD and RHD halves plastic welded together is another addition only die-hard Mk2 fans would notice.
The engine itself centres around a lowmileage, hand-painted and detailed R32 unit running OEM management and fitted with a Mk4 engine cover, while the heat-wrapped six-branch exhaust manifold is mounted on to a modified and powdercoated Corrado VR6 subframe. The custom exhaust is now routed properly and finished in the style Chris always wanted thanks to Custom Chrome in Nuneaton.
An abandoned 4WD Mk2 project gave up its rebuilt VR6 Syncro gearbox, which was fitted with a new clutch and a matching VR6 Syncro rear diff that was refurbished and painted. The fuel pump and petrol tank were removed, renovated and all new fuel lines have been run, whilst the tank was refitted with stainless steel straps. All suspension and steering components were then removed, renewed, polybushed and either painted or powdercoated in satin black. To help cope with the extra grunt from the R32, the brakes were then uprated with Audi S2 twinpot calipers on the front and Mk3 calipers on the rear with a matching larger master cylinder, servo and new Zimmerman discs fitted all-round along with stainless flexi hoses.
To improve the handling and ride height, Chris chose a set of KW V1 coilovers, while his wheel choice retains the classic, uncluttered look in keeping with the remainder of the car.
These are none other than Audi A8 winter wheels, similar in design to those fitted to the Golf Country: “I saw a set on a very low white Mk2 and thought they looked just right,” Chris explains. “I located this set in Yorkshire.” Once welded and redrilled to fit their new hubs, the A8 winters were sent off to Rainbow polishing in Birmingham to complete their shiny effect.
Attention then turned to the interior where the cabin and boot floor were fully dynamatted before the TT’s dash with fully working climate control and TT pedals could be installed and all original carpeting and sound deadening refitted.
Rare plastic Mk2 doorcards have been skilfully shaped to fit around the TT’s dash, while a custom aluminium golf ball gear knob sits on top of the stubby gearstick. With so much power to play with, Chris opted for more supportive seats, the front pair arriving courtesy of a low mileage Carerra that had been inserted into a lamp post.
Meanwhile the standard steering wheel was upgraded to a Momo, offering a sportier feel. Since its completion, Chris has unsurprisingly enjoyed driving his R32 Syncro and loves the attention it receives, especially once the bonnet is opened to reveal all, that’s if they fail to notice the TT dash first! “In hindsight maybe I should have future-proofed the car by fitting a Haldex rear end as the new owner may want to take the forced induction route to have even more fun,” Chris smiles. By mentioning the words ‘new owner’, you’ve probably already guessed Chris’ R32 is up for grabs: “Although I have this one for sale, I fully intend to modify a few more cars yet,” he laughs. “At 56 I’m probably considered too old for the modified VW community but I cannot ever see myself not wanting to drive a modified car as I enjoy driving something different from the norm or, better still, something that is much faster than it looks and would like to own a hot rod again one day.”
Just like the Ford Pops he was into in the ’70s during his late teens, the Syncro is a 25-year-old body shape fitted with a large engine and more modern suspension, uprated brakes and a custom interior. It just has the advantage of power assisted steering, climate control and four-wheel drive! By that, you could say Chris’ Mk2 is a bit of modern day hot rod then.
ENGINE: Mk5 #R32 engine, OEM management, six-branch exhaust, Mk4 R32 engine cover, cone filter, #Vibra-Technics engine/gearbox mounts, BMW E45 radiator with integral header tank, Spal fan, twin-box stainless steel exhaust, battery and washer bottle relocated to boot VR6 Syncro gearbox, new clutch, VR6 Corrado front subframe, OEM driveshafts, propshaft and rear beam with VR6 Syncro diff.
CHASSIS: #KW / #KW-V1 coilovers, Audi S2 front brakes and master cylinder, Mk3 Golf rear brakes, new OEM handbrake cables, brake and fuel pipes, polished Audi A8 winter wheels redrilled for Mk2 hubs, 195/40/16 Continental tyres.
EXTERIOR: 1990 Mk2 three-door G60 #Syncro shell, Fiat 500 Punk grey paint, new OEM front wings, arches rolled, side repeaters, roof aerial, rubbing strips, rear tow eye, rear wash wipe, rear badges and boot lock deleted, Audi 80 chrome metal door handles, new OEM chrome strip bumpers, single light seven-slat grille with OEM black badge, custom rain tray from plastic welded LHD and RHD spec repainted, new tinted glass, new OEM lights.
INTERIOR: Audi TT dashboard with climate control, Porsche Carrera front seats, TT pedals. Momo steering wheel, Mk2 plastic doorcards shaped around TT dash.
SHOUT: My long suffering wife Melanie, Matt and Dale at the Dub Unit, Greg Howell at Southam Bodyworks, Tim at True Paintworks, Vince at Stealth Racing, Dan at Turner Race Developments, Jason at the Lion Garage in Hinckley.
Small bumpers, Audi A8 winter wheels and six-pot power. Timeless…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFREAK OR UNIX?
Having picked up the coveted PVW COTY, Unix Performance is back with a bang for 2015. Does its R36-powered Golf Rallye have what it takes to win you guys over again? Having picked up the coveted #Volkswagen Car of the Year honours a few months ago, it looks like Unix Performance is back with a bang for #2015 . Does its R36-powered Golf Rallye have what it takes to win you guys over again? We’re certainly sold… Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: More Than More.
At just 32, Remi Marcel Laflamme doesn’t just own one of the best tuning shops in Canada, he’s got one of the finest collections of cool modified VWs, too. Now you might say the two go hand in hand but, as we’ve discovered over the years, it’s only the true enthusiast-run shops that continue to build reworked classics rather than churning out a string of somewhat soulless, nu-wave creations. It’s safe to say Unix Performance is about as enthusiastic as it gets. That’s why Remi and his team of merry men who work out of Quebec City are pretty much a household name on the North American modified #VW scene.
Rather than focusing on simply churning out remapped vehicles and making money that way, Remi and the team specialise in taking the best bits from the nu-wave cars and installing them into older generation VWs in a way that not only complements the older cars but also clearly pays the bills, too. Some say there’s no money in engine conversions nowadays but Remi and the guys have mastered the art and, as a result, have never been busier. The chaps have the ability to not only offer a full roll-in, roll-out onestop conversion service but they also seem to be able to turn customer cars and their own projects around in lightning fast time whilst still retaining quality. While Remi isn’t about to give away where these super powers come from or how he makes things work, he is more than happy to take some time to talk about his latest creation (which debuted at H2O International last year) and how Unix earned the reputation it is now so proud of.
On top of the Car Of The Year acclaim, Unix has been responsible for producing a whole host of other jaw-dropping PVW feature cars recently, whether they have been company demonstrators or customer cars. It’s funny, people are always asking us what we look for in feature cars, as if there’s some specific list of ingredients they can tick off in the hope it will bag them a car worthy of these pages. Sadly there’s not. We always struggle to try and define exactly what it takes but what we should do is just send them in the direction of Unix’s Facebook page.
That’s what separates Remi from most others tuners; he understands what it takes to not only create a complete car but also what it takes to make it stand out from others without turning it into a rolling billboard or ruining it with over-thetop bolt-ons. This is illustrated perfectly by his latest masterpiece, this seriously reworked Golf Rallye that, from the outside, appears to be stock apart from some shiny wheels and a suspension job.
Now modified Golf Rallyes aren’t new and they’re certainly no strangers to these hallowed pages either (I’ve been attempting to finish my own for the last five years!). It’s common knowledge, however, that the stock Golf Rallye was, well, pretty average when it came to performance. It looked incredibly butch and aggressive but sadly its performance stats didn’t match those pumped-up arches. Most Rallye owners are more than happy to admit this fact and 99% of them you’ll meet have chosen to do something about it. The thing is, ten years ago you could pick up a Rallye for a few grand and they were pretty damn common (well, as common as a car which was limited to a production run of just 5000 can be). As a result it didn’t matter that everyone was swapping the original 8v motor for some something more powerful, like a #VR6 or a 1.8T.
These days, though, well a lot of cars have been crashed, scrapped or modified to the point of no return and with prices of unmolested examples starting to go sky high it takes a brave (some might say slightly deluded) person to strip one down and create a totally one-off, customised example. We can only imagine, though, how excited Remi must have been when he finally got his mitts on what some call the Holy Grail of performance VWs because if you thought they were rare over here in Europe then imagine how few ever made it Stateside – where they were never officially available. Indeed, most of those that are in the US only arrived there in the past few years.
Remi claims he was reading PVW even before he could drive, which makes us feel ever so slightly responsible for his obsession with modified VWs and this Rallye project: “My dad also introduced me to cars at an early age. He ran a bodyshop under our family home, so I was always stealing tools and pretending I knew what I was doing. It was always the European cars that appealed, too.”
It was actually 12 years ago that Remi set up Unix Performance and he hasn’t looked back since. “It makes me feel old to think we’ve been in business that long but then I still feel like I’m a kid, so I guess that’s a good thing,” he smiles. You soon discover Remi does a lot of smiling. Looking at his collection of cars it’s not hard to see why but it’s clear this larger than life guy is just as passionate about his job now as he was way back when he set up shop all those years ago: “I had originally just been working on friends’ cars but when you have a real passion for something and realise you can pay the bills, too, well, you couldn’t ask for more.”
For us over here on the other side of the Pond Unix seemed to totally blow up out of nowhere around five years back, although Remi claims that’s probably down to the internet: “We were in the scene for some time before but the internet and forums helped us build our name globally. That and the fact we also started attending larger shows.”
There have been some major cars to come out of Canada in the past but recently Unix really seems to be flying the flag for the Canadian modified Dub scene. No pressure then. “I’m my own worst enemy,” says the French Canadian. “I push myself to always do better and I’m never happy with what I have. People say I have got some kick-ass cars but when I look at them I just see the small problems or faults in them, so I put pressure on myself.”
Despite his high standards Remi, though, started out like many of us, with some less prestigious metal: “I’ve always owned modified European cars. If I still owned those cars today then sure they’d look crap but I was happy at the time. I owned a GTI with a big metal spoiler on the roof, then a B3 Passat wagon painted in Laguna blue which looked like a big Smurf crap. You’ve got to start somewhere, though!”
Enough about the past though, how the hell did he locate the Rallye over there when they were only ever available in Europe? “Someone gave me the heads-up that there was a guy located around three hours away from me that was selling one. He had imported it from Switzerland with the help of some guys in America but after owning it for some years was now ready to sell it.” The car was topdollar.
According to Remi, Rallyes are actually legal to import into Canada now as they’re over 12 years old. It’s only the US where things get a little grey. “I called this guy maybe twice a year for three years to see if he would consider lowering his price until eventually he did and we agreed on a deal.”
Like a lot of VW geeks, Remi claims he had always wanted a Rallye since he was a kid: “It was always my favourite and the fact they’re so rare over here just added to that. After my last Mk2 I told my friends the only time I will ever own another Mk2 is when I find a Rallye.”
Apparently when Remi eventually got the car back to his shop it wasn’t in a good way: “The previous owner had already begun to do some stuff to the car but nothing was finished and it a bit of a mess from sitting in a garage for three years. He had done some serious damage and the paint wasn’t good either.” According to Remi the engine had already been swapped for a 225bhp 1.8T but that wasn’t complete, and the dash had been changed to a Mk3 item which had resulted in metal being cut out. “I had to buy another car to use to replace these metal areas as I wanted a good, original base to start my own project from,” Remi says.
Remi was always going to put his own spin on the car from the start but he’s a great believer in if you’re going to mess about with what VW originally created then it needs to be done in such a manner that should anybody from VW see the car then they would appreciate what had been done, you know?
So to begin with the motor came out, along with all the other bits the previous owner had added so Remi could inspect the shell for damage: “I always like to do most of the work on my car myself or oversee the stuff one of our guys does. I got a lot of cool friends who are always there to help and owning a onestop- shop helps a lot to be able to do everything on the cars in-house.” One of his friends who they call the Lion (we didn’t ask) helped a lot on the bodywork and Remi’s brother-in-law also helped with a lot of the interior. It’s a real family affair at Unix, whether they’re blood related or not!
When you look under the bonnet, the engine and bay may look like a work of art but Remi is the first to admit fitting the motor in there wasn’t easy: “Fitting a new engine that doesn’t bolt straight to the OE mounts, a transmission that is very different to the original, and later injection technology into a older car is never easy but we love the challenge and damn does it feel good when it’s working and working right!”
Remi reckons he never keeps track of how long these things take because otherwise you can find yourself rushing. “If you ask my wife, she will probably know down to the second and tell you that I put too much time into it,” he smiled. The engine itself was robbed (not literally) from a low-mileage 2011 Passat: “It was practically brand-new, so we just stripped it to powdercoat the block, painted a few parts and removed a few bits that weren’t needed.” They never received the genuine R36 Stateside, just the 3.6 VR6 with Tiptronic gearbox but there was very little difference between the two. “I finally found this one in a junkyard so bought it, swapped the transmission and upgraded it to R36-spec,” said Remi.
When it came to choosing a colour for the car, despite having some lairy colour-changed demos in the past, Remi knew there was only one shade for it: “It’s the factory Graphite metallic. It’s one of my favourite Rallye colours.” Remi claims it was hard to resist the urge not to smooth stuff out and basically show off the skills his shop can offer customers but it would’ve been sacrilege to shave everything. “Sure, I wasn’t able to resist shaving the rear wiper, rolling the arches and doing a mild shaved bay but that’s probably what the plus in OEM+ is for,” he laughed.
As we walk around the car, it soon dawns on us that this is pretty much the ultimate Golf Rallye. It’s how the Rallye should have left the factory all those years ago: as a fast-road track day slag that’s as close to a ‘RS-style’ Golf as you can get. Coincidently the über-rare Recaro R8s were found online by his good friend Russ Thomas (whose Mk2 Jetta was featured back in PVW 10/10): “They were located in Italy and had been previously fitted in an RS Porsche. The guy was actually the original owner of the seats and was super-cool to deal with, although they did take around four months to arrive due to us having them shipped over by boat!” Remi admits that owning a set of A8s was another childhood dream realised. “This was where my brother-in-law, Dan (who heads up the upholstery diving of Unix), stepped in to take care of the trimming.” Dan stripped the seats down in order to achieve Remi’s OEM+ look using all-new materials that give an original period look with a nu-wave twist. The cage, which isn’t just a work of art but also received a coating of Alcantara, was made in-house by Unix, as was the cool aluminium shifter which is hooked up to the 2008 R32 DSG gearbox. “We used the Rallye as a test bed to produce our prototype shifter, which we now offer for all DSGs,” Remi explains. “It’s cool to transform the DSG shifter knob into a more race-inspired item, which is also fun to drive with.”
When it came to the four-wheel drive system Remi wasted no time in whipping out the original Syncro setup in favour of a later Haldex system: “We’ve done the beam conversion for many years at Unix, which involved simply swapping the Syncro beam to a Haldex differential from a 2004 R32, so it was pretty easy. I also modified the Syncro beam to have the camber/caster adjustment, then powdercoated it.”
If that swap was one of the easiest parts Remi claims the wiring side of the engine swap was the hardest: “Fitting the engine was tricky enough but then we had to do the harness: 3.6-litre FSI injection, plus DSG transmission, plus OEM Mk3 door lock, and all the stock Rallye electrical options made the harness a real pain in the ass but after spending some time on it we were able to make a good looking harness.”
Remi claims that his favourite part, though, has got to be the exterior: “The boxed fenders just do it for me and the fact the car is straighter now than when it left the factory. The paint is awesome and the little mods are really tricky to spot at first.”
We reckon another reason Remi loves the exterior has to be down to the way the car sits, which was more than just bolting-on a set of coils and some off-the-shelf wheels: “I carried out a lot of modifications to the chassis because I always planned to take the car on track in 2015. The shocks are KW V3s which were fitted along with uprated roll bars and tie bars. All bushings are from Powerflex. I reinforced the front control arms, added one of our popular ball-joint extender kits, modified the rear Syncro beam to have camber/caster adjustable and then put a set of 12’’ discs on the front and 11’’ on the back with Porsche calipers all-round to stop it.”
When it came to rolling stock, well, let’s just say Remi had a little trick up his sleeve. After taking a closer look we were convinced they were one-offs but Remi soon corrects us: “They’re not one offs, they’re two offs. We made two sets of them; one for me and one for my best friend Pav, who was on the cover of PVW some years ago with his black Mk2 Golf with a red interior. Mine are stepped to 17’’ and Pav’s are flat-lipped in 15”. Both guys knew if they were wanted to up their game then going fully custom was the only way to go: “A lot of my friends work in the machining industry, so we had the idea to make a custom wheel set for many years. Well, the time felt right so we drew them up and finally made it happen. We kind of wanted them to be like ‘unicorn wheels’ – only one set of each! That’s why we won’t make any more of this design.” Remi claims Unix will create some new designs in the future. What better way to finish a customer build than to be able to top it off with a one-off or limited edition set of wheels?
So is Remi now happy with the car or is there more to come? “The choice for Rallye suspension is quite limited and the KWs came brand-new with the car, so they were effectively free,” he replies. “I modified them to achieve the amount of drop I wanted but I will probably change it for Clubsports or maybe fit a set of our Midjet race air struts in the future. We’ll see…”
Remi also says he’s already begun work on an Integrale-style bonnet which might be cooling a supercharged R36 by the end of the year. “We are designing a new supercharger kit for the R32 and R36 right now which will use a hidden Rotrex charger. My wife is already running a blown R36 and it’s awesome, but that’s on her Mk4 and there is far less room for that ’charger on the Mk2,” Remi reveals.
Like we said, these guys don’t mess around when it comes down to turning a project around. “I bought the Rallye just before Christmas 2013 and it was finished in time for H2O back in September 2014,” Remi tells us (that kind of puts my five-year and counting Golf Rallye project to shame! ~ Ed). “We were only working in the evenings and on weekends, which is crazy. I’ve never done a entire project so fast. I must thank my wife for understanding my addiction.”
We ask Remi what’s next for Unix? “I’m completely redoing my Mk1 Golf at the moment. This time I hope it will be the last time. I have also imported one of the few remaining 1974 Audi 100LSs from the US and am thinking of converting it to RWD and putting in a 700hp engine – all this in a stock-looking body.”
Life is certainly never dull at Unix Performance. We’re probably not the only ones who wish they were based a little closer so we could swing by every once in a while to watch the madness unfold and get a get a glimpse at how these guys work in real time.
The Unix Rallye looks equally as mind-blowing in full flight. In typical Unix style, the mods have been carried out in a way that complements the original vehicle.
Dub Details #VW-Golf-II
ENGINE: #2011 #R36 engine, #2008 #R32 #DSG gearbox, R32 #2004 #Haldex conversion, Unitronic #ECU flash, billet pulley, custom cold air intake, twin 2.5 stainless steel downpipe, 3” oval exhaust.
CHASSIS: 9x17” one-off specification Unix Billet Felgen with 195/40 ZR17 tyres. KW Variant 3 coilovers, Powerflex bushing all-round, Autotech sway bars, Unix ball joint extenders, Unix Syncro to Haldex conversion, rear beam with camber/caster adjustment, Unix roll-cage, Unix front pillow ball camber plate, reinforced control arm.
EXTERIOR: Stock Graphite metallic respray, engine bay OEM+ style shave, rear wiper deleted, French Rallye fenders logo, smoked front headlight, clear glass conversion, Happich pop-out rear windows, Audi tilt and slide sunroof.
INTERIOR: #Recaro A8 front seats, #VW-Golf Mk2 CL one-piece rear bench, Unix roll-cage covered in Alcantara, Nakamichi period-correct headunit, Digifiz cluster, Personall Alcantara steering wheel, Unix motorsport DSG shifter, complete interior in a Rallye looking grey Alcantara with black leather.
SHOUT: Unix Performance (unix-performance.com)
The paint is awesome and are really tricky to spot the little mods.
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