- Post is under moderationGREAT WHITE #Volkswagen-Corrado-G60 / #Volkswagen-Corrado / #Volkswagen / #VW-Corrado-G60 / #VW-Corrado / #VW / #2017 / #1992 / #Autostrada / #Volkswagen-Corrado-Supercharged / #Volkswagen-Corrado-G60-Supercharged
Modified Corrados are hard to come by at the best of times and tastefully tuned ones even more so. Thankfully, Declan Bowyer’s G60 is a good egg! Words & Photos: Jon Cass
It was only around five or six years back that VW’s striking Corrado seemed to be making a major comeback with an array of modified examples suddenly breaking on to the show scene. There was much whooping and high-fiving from Corrado fans all round, yet disappointingly, this trend has slowed down more recently. Thankfully it looks like at least a few are waiting in the wings. The vast number of stunning, fresh VAG builds at 2016’s Elsecar At The Races was truly mind blowing, yet it hadn’t gone unnoticed that there were barely any non-standard Corrados present still. There was one though, and boy did it stand out… as the two trophies from that day will testify.
Declan Bowyer may only be 27-years-old, but his passion for VW’s timeless coupe stems back to 2007 when he was just 17. “I went to my first Dub meet that year and there was a blue Corrado VR6 running Schmidt Modernlines with Porsche seats. From that moment on I knew this was the car to have,” Declan smiled. Yet, like so many of us, his driving career actually began with a classic Mini. “I learnt a lot from that car in the time I had it, even though it was eventually stripped and never fully rebuilt, “ Declan confesses, “I met my girlfriend, Carly at a VW show soon after and bought a Mk1 Golf GX.” The Mk1 was never going to be a show winner as Declan’s budget was very limited at the time. It was, however, lowered to the max and consequently more was spent replacing sumps than tyres!
“While I had the Mk1, I started looking around at Corrados, but I was still only 19 at the time,” Declan remembers. “I noticed new ones pop up on eBay and this white, ’92 G60 appeared for sale only two hours away from me, so I went over to have a look.” When a vendor is genuinely into his cars, especially the model you’re buying, that’s always a good sign and fortunately this was the case here. “He had other interesting projects on the go including a Mk1 Caddy with a V6 Audi lump in the back. Thankfully the Corrado seemed genuine, so I went for it.” Apparently it was also completely standard, still wearing its factory BBS RZs, complete with matching spare wheel and cloth seats, though this wasn’t in the best condition and the bodywork had began to show signs of rust; “I didn’t think it needed much work despite this, but I’m sure as anyone else with a G60 Corrado will know that they can soon turn into a money pit,” Declan laughs.
Initially things went well and Declan drove his new purchase around for around two years with no serious problems; “I didn’t plan on heavily modifying the car to start with,” Declan explains, “I just added a set of coilovers, a new exhaust and painted the wheels.” The Corrado was even driven to the Nurburgring where it performed pretty well, but shortly after things started to go wrong. “The head gasket let go on a trip back from Cornwall, but at least this gave me the excuse to remove the head and opt for a Stage 2 upgrade with gas-flowed, ported and polished head,” Declan smiles.
Attention then turned to the worn cloth interior, which would arguably have been a little downmarket even when the car was new. Luckily Declan’s partner, Carly had decided to remove some of the mods from her Lupo before putting it up for sale and amongst these were a pair of Porsche 964 half-leather seats, which really suit the Corrado. Declan managed to source a set of leather door cards, a rear bench and also added a black carpet with fresh Alcantara headlining to match. “Soon, after all the interior had been completed, I was driving along and suddenly the front subframe snapped,” Declan recalls, “I had to buy a new subframe, which I strengthened, but there had been a lot of suspension damage caused, too, so I bought a set of KW Variant 1 coilovers, a poly bush kit and wishbones. I then had everything powder coated and sealed to eliminate anything like this happening again.”
By now a pattern was emerging where modifications had escalated following disasters and more were yet to come. There was a brief reprieve before disaster number three struck, however, enough to give Declan time to sort the deteriorating bodywork. “I was still driving the Corrado on a daily basis and this was having an adverse effect on the paintwork,” Declan recalls, “rust was starting to appear in a few places and I needed to get it sorted before it got too bad.”
Luckily Declan had a friend that worked at Lexus who was offering to carry out a full respray. All Declan needed was to strip the car first to save time in the paint shop. “I remember it was winter time and I had to drive the car there in the snow with no windows in, which was certainly an experience,” Declan laughs. “I wanted to keep it the original Alpine white as at the time I had no intentions of spraying the engine bay.” The end result was flawless, but this also meant the Corrado was now too nice to remain a daily driver.
As 2012 came around it marked a return to the now familiar disaster zone when the G60 engine packed up whilst returning from Nottingham; “We’d just bought our first Royal Python snake (as you do – All) and were on our way home, so we had a few strange looks from the recovery driver as we tried to conceal the snake in a fabric bag,” Declan smiles.
The failure of the G60 at least meant Declan had an excuse to sort out the engine bay, which was by now letting the side down compared to the rest of the car; “I had to take the engine out anyway, so it was a now or never decision when it came to smoothing the bay itself,” he remembers. This would be the hardest part of the whole build taking loads of time and patience with all of the work carried out by Declan, his family and a few mates in his tiny garage. “I’d not carried out any fabrication work on this scale before, but as I’m a hands-on type of guy, I was ready to give it a go,” Declan tells us. “I’d studied other cars I’d seen at shows along with magazine features which helped a lot, but all the work involved and having to buy parts in from Germany and the USA meant the Corrado was off the road for two years in total.
Once all the fabrication work was complete, the bay could be sprayed by the highly respected, Tim Ansell at True Paintworks; “When it came back it blew my mind, but I then started panicking about how I was going to put an engine and all its ancillaries back inside without causing any damage,” Declan adds.
The damage to the original engine was unrepairable, so a second-hand unit was sourced and rebuilt from a bare block, complete with PG Stage 2 gas-flowed and ported head with Bar-Tek hydraulic lifter kit. It also benefits from 550cc injectors and looks the part with that custom G60 cam cover. The supercharger is a Stage 4 Jabba Sport item with 65mm pulley and Declan has also added a BBM induction kit, with a custom intake pipe, angled to exactly 90 degrees along with custom coolant hoses and a Mocal oil cooler. Some serious smoothing has taken place on the manifold and the custom intercooler set up includes a Rallye U-bend, custom hoses and top-fill radiator, while the exhaust system is now a Milltek Classic item with de-cat connected to a four-branch stainless manifold. “I‘m really happy with the result, especially the colour coding, which went just as planned,” Declan smiles. “The only aspect I’d change is the stock ECU (currently running an SNS Pro Digi-lag custom chip), as I could have omitted a lot of sensors and running issues, though these problems have finally been sorted out,” he said.
With the engine back in, thanks to a cupboard full of bed sheets to protect the bay, Declan then had to reroute the wiring underneath to retain that cleaned look. The ECU is now inside the cabin and the battery and washer bottle are located in the boot, while the ignition coil is mounted on the scuttle panel. “I then had to make my own length HT leads to the coil to keep that hidden and ran the vacuum hose for the ECU through to the inside of the car,” Declan points out, “I could then get rid of the coolant expansion bottle thanks to the top fill radiator I’d made.”
You can understand by Declan’s detailed explanation why the whole engine bay process took two years. In fact, given the amount of thought and money that’s gone into it all, we’re surprised it didn’t take him longer!
The final puzzle to solve was now the wheels… the make or break point of any modified car. “I knew which wheels I wanted all along; a set of dark grey, 16” Autostrada Monzas and it had taken four years to find some,” Declan recalls. “The dishes were refurbed by Ellie at Voodoo Motorsport and Slam Signs managed to reproduce the original logo in gold leaf to make them perfect. I couldn’t wait to get them on, but as ever this didn’t go to plan,” Declan recalls. “I had already upgraded the brakes to Ibiza Cupra R Brembo callipers and discs and had been advised these wheels would just bolt straight up to them. They did on the rear over my Mk4 brake conversion, but not on the front so I had to shave 10mm from the calliper carriers, which did the trick!” The result is tight, but it works perfectly and stops on a penny according to Declan.
Seven years of hard graft and a last minute fitment of an OMP steering wheel eventually saw the Corrado make a return to the road where it soon picked up a healthy stack of trophies, a reward for Declan’s efforts. “I’m really proud at what I’ve achieved along with some help along the way and what seemed like an endless string of disasters has resulted in a positive outcome,” Declan smiles. The Corrado may often be overlooked these days, but when you see creations like this spring out of the woodwork, it’s sometimes hard to work out why.
Porsche 964 seats always look at home in a 'Rado, don't they? Royal Python snakes (just out of shot), not so much...
"I’m sure as anyone else with a G60 Corrado will know that they can soon turn into a money pit”
"I had to take the engine out, so it was A now or never decision when it came to smoothing the bay"
Dub Details #Volkswagen
ENGINE: 1.8-litre four-cylinder G60 in smoothed engine bay with Stage 2 head, #Stage-4-supercharger with Rallye U-bend – painted in Toyota Demeca grey. #BBM fuel rail, pressure regulator, 550cc injectors, custom coolant pipes, custom intercooler set-up, BBM modified induction kit, smoothed inlet manifold – painted in Toyota Demeca grey, #Supersprint four-branch stainless exhaust manifold, #Milltek exhaust system with decat. Expansion tank deleted, battery relocation to boot, washer relocation to boot, custom wire tuck, #SNS 5.5 Digi-Lag ECU chip, custom silicone induction hoses, custom top-fill radiator, custom G60 cam cover, braided fuel lines, braided oil cooler lines, Mocal oil cooler with thermostat, MSD Blaster coil with Magnacor HT leads, Stage 2 carbon Kevlar clutch kit, #Walbro 226 fuel pump
CHASSIS: 7x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ” #Autostrada-Monza wheels painted metallic grey with polished lips and black barrels with Nankang NS2 tyres and 30mm 4x100 to 5x114.3 custom adapters. #KW-Variant-1 coilovers, poly-bushed front subframe, poly-bushed steering rack, poly-bushed wishbones, Mk4 Golf top suspension mounts, #Eibach anti-roll bars with poly-bushed mounts, Ibiza Cupra R Brembo front callipers (modified), 305mm drilled and grooved front and rear discs, Mintex front brake pads, custom front braided brake hoses, Mk4 Golf alloy rear callipers, #EBC Ultimax rear brake pads, custom braided brake lines, Porsche 944 brake fluid reservoir
EXTERIOR: Full respray in VW Alpine white, side strips deleted, badgeless grille, tinted headlights, carbon number plate light plate, 50mm front VR6 splitter, rear wiper deleted
INTERIOR: Porsche 964 half-leather Alcantara front seats, Corrado black leather rear bench and door cards, OMP 330mm steering wheel, black Alcantara roof and sunroof lining, black VR6 sun visors, leather handbrake lever
SHOUT: This has been a family and friends build and I couldn’t have done it without them. Huge thanks to Tom Justice, my brother Sean Bowyer, my mum and dad, Les Bowyer and Barbara Bowyer, my friend Joe Whitmore who apparently helped in some way, my fiancée Carly Dolman, Tim Ansell at True Paintworks and my friend Paul Cross, Ellie at Voodoo Motorsport and everyone who has supported me along the way, plus Chris Perry for helping to find the photo shoot locationStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMODERN ROMANCE / #Volkswagen-Corrado-G60 / #Volkswagen-Corrado / #Volkswagen / #VW-Corrado-G60 / #VW-Corrado / #VW / #2016 / #1991 /
Volkswagen Corrado G60 barn find Some say they don’t still exist but they do… How would you define a modern classic? Well let us save you the trouble; just take a look at Tony Saunders’ stunning Corrado G60 ‘barn find’. Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: James Thomas Ford.
“It’s one of those supercharged versions, isn’t it?” said the unassuming bearded fellow stood outside the watering hole we’d chosen for today’s shoot. How this average-looking chap in his mid-50s sipping a glass of red wine knew anything about Corrados or, more to the point, even what a G60 was, was beyond us. And when he reeled off the fact it was a G Lader type ’charger blowing the 1781cc 8v we all nearly fell over. As it transpires, the guy was a veteran drag racer who, over the years, had run a number of supercharged bikes, hence his interest in the car when it was launched back in the late ’80s. Our point? Well, it never ceases to amaze us on photoshoots the amount of random passers-by that profess to have a soft spot for Volkswagens and often it’s the less obvious models that really bring back memories. These are normal people, too, not totally obsessed ones like you or I, or even Tim Saunders from The Phirm who unearthed this very car a couple of years back.
I remember being at regular #Drive-My haunt The Phirm a few years back and spotting this totally bone-stock Corrado parked up in the yard. Why did the gleaming white coupé look so out of place? Well, other than being a bit odd to see such an original, unmolested Volkswagen at the #VAG tuners – a place synonymous with seriously modified performance-orientated Dubs – I couldn’t get my head around how clean the car was for its age. It was absolutely mint.
As it turns out the car was another of head-honcho Tim Saunders’ ‘barn finds’, the lucky sod! At least that explained why he was looking even more smug than usual on that drab winter’s morning. “I went to look at an RS Turbo with a customer who needed it for spares, but unfortunately the car was absolutely rotten. However, when we got chatting I asked the guy what he was going to replace the car with. He said there was a while Corrado G60 for sale locally that he’d been thinking about,” said Tim.
Being local to The Phirm, Tim had already heard about the car but just not had time to look at it… until now. “We were so close it seemed silly not to go check it out. If I’m honest, it was more to do with the fact the guy said it was on #BBS wheels. I know it’s shameful, but I just had this vision of it being sat there on a set of RSs, so I asked if they had small bolts around the edge and he seemed to think they did.”
Tim wasted no time getting over to the yard where the Alpine white coupé was. “To be honest it was more green than white due to having been parked under a tree, but as we approached it, the fact it was only on stock BBSs didn’t even bother me because I could see inside the arches were perfectly white.” If this was an original car then it was potentially a gem…
After speaking to the chap selling the car, all was revealed. It turns out the 1991 G60 only had one lady owner from new and the guy was selling it on her behalf. “He’d worked at the original dealership that serviced the car and dealt with the women there, so when he left and set up on his own, she’d continued to take the car to him for odd jobs,” said Tim. As we later looked through the service records and history for the car we soon discovered this woman was absolutely meticulous with the car’s upkeep. Seriously, she was obsessed! But we’ll get to that later. According to the guy selling it for her, even when she moved on to Porsches at a later date she still had a soft spot for the Corrado, eventually having a special garage built at her house just for the car.
It had only been at his yard for a short time so he could show people around it. “It was only when we started looking into the car’s service history that we appreciated the extent it had been looked after,” said Tim. The previous owner had been one of the directors of a private jet aviation company based near Heathrow, so although the car had 189k miles on the clock, they had largely all been carried out on the motorway. Looking at the car today it’s hard to believe the thing has cover 10k miles let along nearly 200k.
“I’ve seen enough cars over the years to know a genuine one and although it had been advertised for considerably more on the Corrado forums a while back, I think the owner was more keen for the car to go to a good home than making any money on it,” Tim told us. He thinks the reason it wasn’t snapped up early was that people had been put off by the mileage, which is still hardly high for a car of this age. “It also had the oil warning light on, which the guy hadn’t been able to sort, even after having an auto electrician out,” said Tim. A quick look under the bonnet and he soon spotted the oil pressure switch had been plugged into the oil temp switch; so after swapping them round the problem was resolved.
“The more I looked at the car the more I knew I had to have it,” explained Tim. “Inside the trim was stitch perfect, and after we struck a deal I drove it back to the workshop for a jet wash.” The rest of the lads couldn’t believe he’d gone to look at an RS Turbo on Saturday and rolled up in a Corrado Monday.
Having a good chance to finally sit down and go through the history in detail revealed more clearly why the car was as clean as it was. “The woman took it back for the smallest of problems. In fact, she didn’t take it back, she had the dealer collect it,” said Tim. There was one letter (among a huge pile) that really tickled him: “At some stage she must have hit a pot hole and there are numerous letters back and forth to the local council regarding the matter. It got to the point where she said if they didn’t pick up the price of the damaged wheel and tyre then she would also demand compensation for having the car collected and all the other bits.” Tim’s favourite part is the fact the cheque she eventually got sent out is still just sat there in the history file. “She never even banked it, it was more just a case of principle for her.”
Our particular favourite is a letter to Mansell (yes, that Mansell) #Madgwick-Motorsport who sourced the car for her, stating she’d read a review on the new Corrado and would like to purchase one in white. That’s right, “either a 16v or G60 would be fine”, so long as it was white! One person’s loss is another’s gain, and in this instance it was Tim’s dad, Tony, that was going to benefit: “I wanted to give my dad something to say thanks for all the help he’d given me over the years with various projects and buying my first car. I knew he’d appreciate the Corrado, even if it wasn’t what he’d usually drive,” said Tim.
It’s safe to say Tony is as big a car nut as Tim and hoards classic cars like some collect stamps. Among the many classics parked in and around his unassuming semi just outside Crowthorne is a fully-resorted ’64 Hillman Super Minx and 1960 100E Popular (both of which have been featured in sister magazine, Retro Cars). Apparently the pair had been chatting about future classics. “Dad said he fancied something retro, but a bit newer than the classics he had at home,” said Tim. When Tim mentioned the Corrado his dad kept asking him questions about it. “I knew at this point that the car was right for dad, he wouldn’t shut up about it,” Tim added.
And it didn’t take the father and son duo long to get it to where it is today. Despite the car being very clean after an initial going over, Tim, being somewhat anally retentive when it comes to details, still wanted to sort a few bits on the car before he let his dad (also a perfectionist) even so much as see it. “Despite buying it relatively cheap I still sunk the best part of £2k into it just replacing worn parts with new genuine items.”
According to Tim it was so clean under the bonnet and the chassis legs came up so well that stuff like the bottles and clips all looked messy, so he bought new ones: “I replaced them all and even sourced genuine Jubilee clips, not the regular ones we use.” At this stage Tony was really keen to see the car, but Tim had the idea of giving it to him as his retirement present. “He’d worked at the same place for 39 years and with just two weeks till his retirement party I had my work cut out to get it finished and MoT’d,” Tim said. And in true The Phirm fashion, Tim ran it right to the wire…
“You know how they say you remember where you were when Michael Jackson died? Well, at three in the morning when that was announced over the radio I was down the paintshop with Chris mopping dad’s car,” Tim said. “In the car’s history the woman had complained about a noise coming from the passenger door. Well, they must’ve have damaged it while trying to sort the noise as it had been repaired, badly, so Chris painted that and the sill.”
The next day it was Tony’s retirement party, so all Tim had to do was fit a new screen, some rubber seals, new genuine badges and then get the car MoT’d. “I was 45 minutes late by the time I’d dropped the car at dad’s and then arrived at the party,” recalled Tim. Once back home from the party Tim remembered the moment he handed his dad the keys: “We’re really close in that we work well together and talk about cars for hours, but that was the first time we had a proper hug in ages. I don’t think I’ve know my dad to be speechless like that.”
Ironically, because father and son had been drinking at the party, neither could actually take the car out for a spin! “We just stood there admiring it, I think we were both close to tears,” Tim admitted. Tim got a call later to say that Tony had eventually persuaded Tim’s mum, Eileen, to drive him round the block. “I don’t think it was that enjoyable with mum grinding the gears, but he got the idea,” Tim grinned.
This wasn’t the end of the story, though, as Tony was keen to continue Tim’s good work, as he explains: “Tim had done such a great job with the car that I wanted to continue on the underside too.” Tony was conscious he wanted the car to become as close to showroom condition without reaching that concours level: “I didn’t want to remove the Waxoyl or go that extreme as I intended to keep the car useable so it could be used daily if need be.” When he says ‘daily’, it’s not like the car will get that much hard use, as Tony has something of a collection to choose from at home, but he’s still happy to use it in the rain. He was adamant the car doesn’t get used through winter, though, road salt being Tony’s ultimate pet hate. But when you’ve spent so long perfecting it, why would you? “I think we’ve both tried to get the car to the level where it will last another generation,” said Tim. “The Corrado was never built particularly well to start with, but I think we’ve got a good one here. I still can’t believe they were over £20k new, though. That’s more than the Rallye was.”
However, Tony claims it wasn’t all plain sailing. In fact, one of the first times he drove the car the infamous G Lader let go. As luck would have it, Tim happened to have a spare sat on the shelf (like you do) so it didn’t take much to get the car up and running again.
We must be getting old or something but to see a car of this age looking so clean and original, without being a trailer queen, makes us realise why we love Volkswagens. It’s been said a thousand times before, but had this been a Mk2 Astra or Mk3 Escort then it would probably rotted away years ago. The fact the car is finished in Alpine white just adds to the appeal for us. In any other colour it just wouldn’t have been the same.
Stepping inside really is like a time-warp; from the old-skool VW smell to the factory Blaupunkt stereo with its original key card (who’s old enough to remember those?), the car even has its original circa-1991 issue tax disc. To say Tony has grown fond of this car is an understatement. And while he’s obviously quite particular about where and when he drives the car, the best part is he’s still not afraid to give it a bit of right foot, as he demonstrates exiting one of the roundabouts close to his house – the instant power delivery and that unmistakable G Lader sound puts a smile on all our faces. Tony loves this car, you can tell. We wouldn’t like to call it his favourite, but you know what, we wouldn’t rule it out either. It might not have cost the earth, but he’s enjoyed lightly restoring it to its former glory and now being able to have some fun driving it.
One of the last things to get replaced was the exhaust system that had been blowing for some time and was really spoiling the whole driving experience for Tony. He didn’t really want to replace the original system with another mild-steel unit so after shopping around a bit came up with the perfect compromise: “I didn’t want an aftermarket unit that was too loud or that look out of place and the Jettex system proved to be the perfect allrounder.”
As it happens, Tony was fitting the system on the morning of our shoot (which explains why it was so clean and shiny for the photos) and he’s spot-on. Everything, right down to the back box, is in keeping with the car’s character and once Tony turned the key after fitment that all important sound filtered through to the cabin. “That sounds really nice,” said Tony beaming. Combined with the tailpipe, fit, finish and the way it sits perfectly in the rear bumper’s recess (after a little tweak from Tim) we’d say Jetex has got it pretty much nailed with its OEM+ range.
“I don’t have to worry about birthdays or Christmas any more as there’s now always something to buy dad, from new wishbones to the powdercoated rear beam he got for Father’s day,” Tim smiled. “I could tell you what I’ve got him for Christmas this year but that would ruin the surprise…”
Unlike the other classics cluttering Tony’s driveway, the Corrado offers all the character of a classic, but with mod cons and performance to rival a lot of Nu Wave machinery. Perhaps that’s the benefit of a modern classic, and also why a lot of manufactures are going all retro when it comes to styling and marketing these days. It’s safe to say they don’t make them like they used to and Tony’s supercharged ’90s coupé is all the proof you need.
SHOUT: The Phirm (08454 505760), Jetex Exhausts (01789 298989)
Jetex was the only aftermarket exhaust to fit the bill. Stainless over mild steel was a no-brainer.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.