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    THE GOOD OL’ DAYS! TURBO TECHNICS MKII GOLF

    Chris Sandison’s Turbo Technics Golf GTI puts a modern twist on a well-known retro ride... Words: Nick Turner. Images: Si Gray. #VW-Golf-II

    Looking back through personal history people often reminisce about the “good old days”. Everyone remembers things from their childhood dearly, whether it be a classic fi lm series that they grew up with or the fashion from that era. It’s always remembered as being the best of the best and any attempt at replicating it is usually met with disapproval. That’s not to say using modern technology to improve upon a classic should be dismissed though. However there’s a fi ne line when it comes to tampering with a classic and completely ruining it. It takes a brave man to walk this line, a man like Chris Sandison from Aberdeen, owner of this rare Turbo Technics MKII VW Golf GTI.

    Chris is a true petrolhead at heart with an impressive list of previous projects, including a classic VW Beetle, a Mitsubishi Evo IV running 500bhp, and an Audi RS6, the list goes on. While his latest build might not be the most powerful he’s owned, it’s certainly the rarest! The MKII Golf GTI made its UK debut back in 1984 and quickly became the weapon of choice among young lads. The car was light and nimble thanks to a 1.8-litre engine that produced 112bhp. Trademark “Big Bumpers” were added late in the model’s life in addition to the 16v version arriving in September 1986, which showed the world that this Golf meant business! The car has gone on to achieve cult status and has become a true classic hot-hatch.

    Spotting a mint example these days isn’t easy but finding one that’s had a full Turbo Technics overhaul like Chris’, is even harder! Turbo Technics is a UK based tuning company specialising in re-manufactured and upgraded turbochargers. Founded back in 1981 they have grown their business and established themselves as a well-respected engineering company. Even today Turbo Technics are the guys that car manufactures, race teams and tuners turn to for advice. To say they know a thing or two about turbos would be an understatement. Back in the early-to mid-1980s Turbo Technics identified a gap in the market for a company that could offer full overhauls, and performance upgrades for the popular cars of the era. The company offered packages for everything from Ford’s Orion and XR3i, to the Rover Vitesse, and of course the VW Golf MKII GTI plus many more.


    There were two options available for the MKII GTI, the first of which would take power to 148bhp and the second to 168bhp. Chris’ Golf was thrown in at the deep end by the original owner and booked straight in for the higher powered 168bhp upgrade. They didn’t hang about either with the car being first road register on the 16th of April 1986 and then leaving the Turbo Technics factory on the 11th of August #1986 !

    Back in 1986 an upgrade like this would set you back just shy of £2,000. For this you’d get an extensive tuning package that would turn your GTI into a monster. The turbo used was a #Garrett #AiResearch-T3 that was assembled by Turbo Technics from component parts selected specifically to suit the GTI’s engine. The turbo was then mounted onto a pulse separation exhaust manifold that allowed for excellent low speed performance and minimal turbo lag. In addition the exhaust system itself was also improved with a new downpipe and stainless steel elbows for added flexibility. The rear exhaust section was also enlarged to further improve gas flow.


    Improvements were also made to the charge air thanks to a front mounted intercooler combined with the standard inlet manifold. Of course fuelling also needed to be tweaked to work alongside these modifications. An upgraded injection system was installed that allowed for higher-flow capacity. The tuning didn’t end there either. The team at Turbo Technics worked for years to develop a way of squeezing every last drop of power out of an engine, but at the same time keeping it safe to run daily. To do this the compression ratio was lowered to 9:3 and a new cylinder head gasket was fitted. Lastly an all-important stronger Sachs clutch was added to allow the driver to make full use of the car’s new found power.

    Chis spotted this particular model while trawling through Pistonhead’s classifieds. “I saw the advert and pointed it out to my friend who had been looking for one for a while. After he decided not to go for it, I had already talked myself into it.” Chris admits. A deal was done and Chris broke the car in with a lengthy drive all the way from Heathrow, back to his home town in Aberdeen.

    With the car back on home turf Chris could take a really good look at it. In addition to the tuning packages that Turbo Technics offered they could also supply customers with suspension, brake and exterior upgrades. This particular example still wears its original #BBS-bodykit . The kit is made up of front and rear bumpers, skirts, arch extensions and a fairly lairy boot spoiler. The whole lot has been colour coded Tornado Red to match the bodywork. The suspension had also been changed out for a set of Bilstein shocks with Eibach springs, which along with Eibach antiroll bars has strengthened up the chassis and dropped the ride height.

    Finishing off the exterior are a set of 15 by 7-inch BBS RA wheels that have been treated to a fresh lick of paint and wrapped in Uniroyal 185/60x15 tyres. It was quite clear that Chris had a bit of a gem on his hands, however it needed polishing. The 150,000 odd miles the car had racked up over the years and the inevitable mechanical abuse had taken its toll on the car, it was time for a refresh.

    Chris got in contact with Reading based CFM Engineering. The brief was to re-use as much of the original Turbo Technics parts as possible, while breathing some new life into the 29-year old VW. The old style #Bosch-K-Jetronic injection system had packed up so was replaced with an #Omex-ECU management system. The engine itself remains the original 8-valve 1.8- litre unit but has been fully re-worked once again… The block was cracked beyond repair sox the guys started again with a brand new version. A special cam with a vernier pulley has been fitted and allows for fi ne adjustments to the valve timing. In addition to this, the plan was to retain the originality of keeping the VW pistons and rods, but new OEM pistons these days aren’t made from the same material as the original 1986 versions and so couldn’t cope. Instead it was decided to go for a set of forged G60 pistons.


    To reduce the chance of the block cracking again a custom alloy front rad has been installed to dissipate heat and keep things nice and cool. The original intercooler, manifold and turbo have all been rebuilt or repaired back to top condition. The original exhaust however has been replaced with a full custom stainless-steel system.

    With the new engine in place the lads turned their attention to mapping the car. Having a rolling road on site at CFM made this a much easier task but it didn’t stop them from spending hours fi ne tuning the car. “As it stands it feels more like a bigger capacity engine than a turbocharged one, because we’ve managed to set it up to get the best out of the old turbo power delivery earlier in the rev range. Peak torque is over 233lbs/ft and is coming on, and holding, as early as 3500rpm. The bhp figure registers 212 with a nice high and long curve.” Mark from #CFM-Engineering explains.

    With its new found power, attention then turned to the brakes (never a strong point of performance VWs of the era). Up front the standard calipers have been replaced with a set from an Audi S2, while the rears have been donated from a MkIV Golf, giving Chris much more confidence when bringing the car to a halt. The interior is exactly as Chris wants it, completely original! It’s still got the boxy plastic dash and light grey red striped seats and this is exactly what we love about Chris’s project. It maintains its MkII ‘personality’ with the added benefit of the Turbo Technics upgrade package and a new lease of life given to it thanks to modern day parts. For this we doff our caps to a job well done!

    SPECIFICATION #Volkswagen-Golf-II-GTI-Turbo-Technics / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen / #VW / #Turbo-Technics / #VAG /

    ENGINE: Forged pistons, custom cams, #Omex engine management, original turbo manifold repaired and reused, original turbo rebuilt, original intercooler, custom stainless exhaust.

    CHASSIS: #Bilsten shocks with Eibach springs, #Eibach anti-roll bars, Audi S2 brake calipers front, MKIV Golf calipers rear, welded up wishbones, re-bushed all round.

    WHEELS & TYRES: 15x7-inch #BBS-RA wheels, Uniroyal 185/60x15 tyres.

    EXTERIOR: Full #BBS Body kit.

    INTERIOR: Standard MkII Golf.

    “In addition to tuning packages Turbo Technics could also supply customers with suspension, brake and exterior upgrades.”
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