- Post is under moderationVolkswagen Golf GTI 16v (Mk2) From wondering what he’d just bought to its transformation into trackday perfection, Aston Parrott’s Mk2 GTI has been a car he’ll never forget.
/ #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-ABF / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-Mk2
End of term Fast Fleet
After six brilliant years of ownership, the time had arrived to say goodbye to my Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v.
I can still remember the day my dad and I drove to view the car in Somerset. The plan was to purchase it and then for me to drive on to south Wales where I was studying at university. Luckily for us the GTI was as described and the deal was done.
Driving over the Severn Bridge I went to move the knob that adjusts the side mirror and it fell off in my hand. I instantly started laughing and thought to myself: what have I just spent my student loan on? The GTI was replacing an Audi A3 Sport as my everyday car…
The simple interior design was new to me, but I instantly fell in love with the Golf’s character and the sound from its 139bhp 1.8-litre 16-valve engine. My girlfriend was waiting in the university halls to see what monstrosity I had just bought, and I was expecting a negative response to the older, no-luxuries GTI, but to my surprise she loved the boxy design just as much as I did.
Over the next three years the GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion, from tackling heavy snow to long weekends away with a boot full of camping equipment. It became part of the family and was the perfect car, demonstrating why hot hatches are so popular. Nevertheless, being an older car – and one that I would take to over 180,000 miles – life wasn’t always easy and many parts had to be replaced along the way, including the gearbox. There was also the odd bit of welding. But somehow I could always forgive its troubles because I just worshipped the way it drove.
After graduating I got my dream job as staff photographer at Drive-My and the GTI was no longer needed as my daily driver. So as the car made its debut in Fast Fleet in mid-2015, I began turning it into my perfect GTI. Without the need for it to be so practical, I slowly transformed it into a more driver-focused Mk2, stripping the interior and adding a carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, uprated suspension and Recaro SPG bucket seats. My Golf was also the first car I had driven on track for any decent amount of time. I remember one lovely summer’s evening – my birthday, in fact – at Rockingham and thinking it was just perfection. Despite its modest power, the car’s light weight and general set-up ensured it was quick enough not to embarrass itself.
Driving a Mk1 Golf GTI to the Wolfsburg factory with Drive-My staff writer Antony Ingram really enlightened me as to just how good the Mk2 was. It had better brakes than its predecessor, was faster and had power steering and more headroom. We made the return trip in the then new Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport Editon 40. This and the further honed Clubsport S are two of my favourite modern hot hatches, so much so that I stole the S’s idea of replacing the rear seats with a boot net for my own car.
So why have I sold my Mk2? Mainly down to a lack of parking space and because I simply wasn’t driving it as much as I used to – my 993 Carrera being partly to blame for both of these. So I advertised the GTI online one evening, and the very next morning I got a call from avid Drive-My reader Simon Murray, who explained that he had been following my Fast Fleet reports and had to own the car.
A few more messages and another phone call later and he had secured the car with a deposit, booked a one-way ticket from Scotland and was ready to collect ‘my’ GTI. It all happened very quickly, but I was very happy it was going to a good home.
I collected Simon from the airport on a Saturday morning and we chatted about our passion for cars. After a drive in the Golf, resulting in a big smile on Simon’s face, the paperwork was signed, a quick photo was taken of the handover, and the car was gone. But it’s left me with so many good memories.
Date acquired April 2012
Duration of test 6 years Total test mileage 11,000
Overall mpg 29.5 Costs £6089 since Drive-MY (July 2015), including carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, paint, seats, suspension, tyres and MOTs Purchase price £3500
Value today £8500
‘The GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRetro Cool More-door Mk2 featuring 16v on ITBs and centre-lock mag wheels. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrick Hille.
Unstoppable VW modder Dominic Timmermeister has somehow squeezed a race car’s soul inside this super-early base-spec Mk2. How? With extreme wiliness. Why? Well, why not?
Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, the DTM, has always been the BTCC’s shoutier, more aggressive cousin. Pumped up silhouettes packing insane horsepower; the very mention of those three iconic letters conjures images of Germany’s finest – caricatures of Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, Audis, Opels, all kicking ass and taking names across the Fatherland and beyond. But in the late 1980s, the Americans invaded… spectators watched agog as Ford rolled out the most powerful car on the grid, the Mustang GT, ejaculating a filthsome 520bhp all over the startline. Ruch Motorsport led the charge, with Gerd Ruch the main man behind the mighty Mustang’s chunky wheel, desperately trying to hold on as the bucking bronco terrorised the raceways of Western Europe.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in Germany and entirely detached from the smoky crucible of DTM, a little old lady, sweetly smiling, was innocently pootling around town in her pride and joy, an early Mk2 Golf in a rather spiffy shade of Irish green. An early adopter, she’d put an order in for one of the very first Mk2s, a boxfresh 1983 three-door in unashamed poverty spec: wind-up windows, brown dash, the full spectrum of beige tones. It was an unusual car splashed on a palette of mundanity; low-spec but deliberately eye-catching in its offbeat colour choice. The car was loved, cherished and looked after. An object of pride; nary a scuff, scrape nor car park ding to spoil the originality.
Fast-forward a generation or so, and we weirdly find these two entirely disparate worlds unexpectedly colliding, thanks to serial #VW perv Dominic Timmermeister. This is a man who knows his way around a rattly old Dub, having owned 40 or so in various states dotted along the awesome>wonky spectrum. Resident of the Lower Saxony municipality of Bad Laer, he’s been the curator and resurrector of a couple of dozen Golfs alone, and one day in 2013, during an idle flick through the online classifieds, he spotted an opportunity that was too good to pass up. “I saw this Irish green car for sale, and I just had to buy it for the colour alone,” he laughs. “I love the Mk2 Golf, especially the early models like this, so I had to make it mine.”
These early Type 19 Golfs are a riot of detail for the truly nerdy minutiae spotter; while the overall form is familiar, they don’t have the central VW badge on the rear panel, they have quarterlights with mirrors set behind them, the indicator stalks are smaller, they don’t have seatbelt adjusters or speakers in the doors… all pernickerty stuff, but this matters to fullyfledged retro obsessives. And so the act of finding a fully original survivor, complete with wind-up windows and the kind of upholstery that’d make a killing in a boho Shoreditch boutique under the banner of ‘shabby chic’, was understandably something rather exciting for Dominic… not that he intended to keep it all original, of course. This isn’t that sort of magazine.
“I guess the overall theme of the car is a sort of undercover retro with race car parts,” he grins, and that’s very much the kind of place we want to be. You can’t exactly call it a sleeper as the wheels are a bit of a giveaway – it’s more an updated survivor with a contemporary twist. Think of it as being the sort of canal boat or ice cream van you’d see on that George Clarke show on TV (you know, the one where he has to refer to every room he ever sets foot in as “an amazing space”, to keep reminding you what the show’s called), whereby an iconic technological relic is repurposed for modern living. What Dominic’s done here is to reboot the earliest Mk2 he
could find for a 2017 audience. And if you think it’s just a case of stop, drop ’n’ roll, perhaps you should start by taking a peep under the bonnet. Now, in the swirling mists of time, story details tend to ebb away until you’re forced to deal with the apocryphal, at least in part. No-one but the very dorkiest keeps fastidious records on base-model runarounds, so we don’t know which engine that little old lady originally spec’d (or, indeed, if there was any little old lady involved in the story at all – but shhh, don’t ruin the imagery), although it’s safe to assume that it was probably a Moulinexspec 1.3 or something. Who cares? Doesn’t matter. For what resides in its place, in a bay now artfully smoothed and pepped up with a fresh coat of Irish green paint, is an ABF. And if that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s the code of the 2.0-litre valver motor you’d usually expect to find inside a
Mk3 GTI 16v, where it’d whistle out something on the amusing side of 150bhp. Dominic’s chosen to augment this with a set of slurping, gargling Jenvey throttle bodies too, with #KMS-management overseeing proceedings, so it’s safe to assume that peak power is somewhat elevated here within these salubrious surroundings. He’s seen fit to stuff in some spikier Cat Cams as well, along with a race-spec exhaust manifold, to feed into that original brief of somehow fusing the DTM with a grocery-spec granny-hatch. It shouldn’t work, but by thunder it does.
Ah yes, and we were talking about the DTM, weren’t we? The relevance of that shall now all become clear – although, to be fair, we imagine you’ve already guessed: it’s staring out at you from beneath the arches. Yep, in a world of fake centre-lock caps on humdrum four-studs, Dominic’s gone all-in here with a quartet of genuine, bona fide, retro centre-lock race wheels. A set of Rennsportmafia adapters work with M72 nuts to ensure that our man’s now a dab hand with that comically large wheel spanner you see lying around pit garages, but that’s not all. This is no ordinary set of race rims, scavenged hungrily from eBay like so many others; no, these have a tale to tell. “These wheels have a real history,” Dominic enthuses. “They originally ran on Gerd Ruch’s DTM Mustang GT.” You see how it’s all tying up into a neat little package?
“I had a pretty clear vision for how I wanted the car to turn out, right from the moment I got it,” he continues. “I visualised how it should be, Steffen Wiewel of Wiewel Motorsport helped with the engine conversion, and I worked hard over the course of six months to make it happen. That said, a lot of it happened more or less randomly; finding the car in itself was unexpected, then the wheels… a lot of it was down to luck. I’ve always been a fan of Ronal Racing rims, and I love the whole race wheel trend in the #VAG scene right now, so it was great to be able to buy a set of wheels I loved with true pedigree and a story behind them.”
Of course, you can’t just slap on a set of wheels and let that be that, there’s the ever-present spectre of fitment that needs to be respected. In this case, Dominic went for an extraordinarily deep tuck, ramming those old-skool rollers way inside the arches and slathering them in just the merest suggestion of rubber, a simple and almost entirely invisible 165- section smidgeon, to ensure a slender delicacy that complements the purity of the small-bumpered ’83 (check out the sneaky way the wheels are built, too – “they’re 0” outside, 6.5” inside,” Dominic tells us with a wink). And naturally, given the retro vibe of the thing, this car’s rolling static – on H&R’s revered Deep coilovers, which do wonders to accentuate the spiralling kaleidoscope of tuck. And just for good measure, hashtag-because-racecar, Dominic’s hidden a set of G60 brakes in there, to haul up the popping, crackling aggression of that ABF in short order.
This car, then, wears two distinct hats. One is that of a concours retro survivor, showcasing the simplicity of everyday West German motoring back before the Wall came down – it even has beaded seat covers, just like every single Berlin cabbie used to have. The other is a rather more boisterous and colourful hat, deliberately ruining the former’s affectation of ‘concours’ by fundamentally altering the car’s character: like a bodybuilder barely containing his muscles inside an unlikely woollen cardigan, it’s a race car hidden inside a little old lady’s shopping car. And that’s probably one of the coolest kinds of race car there is.
We love the juxtaposition of the old lady-spec interior and screaming ITB’d ABF up front.
This car also gave us a reason to use the word ‘juxtaposition’ too, so that’s nice…
/ #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW / #VW-Golf / #1983-Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-ABF /
Dub Details #1983
ENGINE: Rebuilt 2.0-litre 16v #ABF , #Jenvey throttle bodies, #KMS-ECU , #Cat-Cams, race- spec exhaust manifold
CHASSIS: 6.5x17” #Ronal-Racing centre-locks, #Rennsportmafia adapters and M72 nuts, 165/35 Nankang Noble Sport NS20s, G60 brakes, #H&R Deep coilovers
EXTERIOR: Original Irish green paint, engine bay smoothed and repainted
INTERIOR: All original, beaded seat covers, Raid wood-rim steering wheel
SHOUT: Steffen Wiewel from Wiewel Motorsport – without him the motor wouldn’t have been possible, Daniel Liedtke from OEM Equipped for parts supply, Jörg Ballermann for the supply of lips and screws, Alexander Kiefel from Rennsportmafia for the central locking adapters, Heiko Borchardt for help and tips for the conversion
“love the Mk2 Golf, especially so I had to make it mine the early models”
You know that ‘old’ smell that all early VWs seem to magically have? We bet this car smells amazing inside.
6.5x17” Ronal Racing centre locks are actually from Gerd Ruch’s DTM Mustang GT race car from the late ‘80s. That is super, super cool.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSTUBBY Mk2
From scrapheap to show star: this chopped VW Mk2 GTI rocks air-ride, centre-lock rims and a 16v on carbs.
SHORT, BACK AND SIDES / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf / #VW / #VW-Golf-chopped-II / #VW-Golf-chopped
When creating a quirky car there’s a fine line between what’s cool and what’s not. In our view, Paul Bird’s stubby Mk2, running a 16v on twin-45s, air-ride and centre lock Comps is pretty damn awesome, but we’re sure you’ll all have your own opinion on it… Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: Adam Walker.
“It’s on the second splitter already,” says Paul Bird, creator of one of the most talked about cars to grace these pages in quite some time. “Even with the battery relocated to the boot and the air-ride install in there it’s still a bit front heavy, so the urge to pull BMX-style endos is far too great. The problem is the splitter ends up acting like a roller skate-style stopper, though,” he laughs.
Now at DRIVE-MY we love unique or originally styled cars. That’s always a good start towards securing a feature in the magazine. And while we don’t have a specific criteria, one thing we all hate with a passion are those cut and shut car trailers. You know, the ones where people take a perfectly decent car and chop the front end off to make it into a trailer, usually one that replicates the car towing it? Whether the car they’re chopping is in good condition or heading to the scrapheap, it’s just not a good look and is a sure-fire way of not getting your car in the magazine. By that mentality, you’d probably think we’d be totally against the car sitting in front of us here today, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul’s stubby Mk2 Golf had us hooked from the moment we saw it. It’s just so, well, complete, despite having practically a third of its entire length chopped from its midriff.
On first impressions 35-year-old mechanic Paul comes across as a regular guy. You might expect somebody that gets off on chopping up cars and creating oddball automobiles to be a little bit unconventional or, at the very least, something of an exhibitionist, but he’s not. It’s only when you start on the subject of cars that Paul’s ‘nutty professor’ side starts to show. “I’ve always been into cars, but all makes really. I had a Toyota Celica GT4 at the age of 19 and ended up fitting that with hydraulics,” he tells us, like its no big deal and quite the norm. “After that I had a Mazda RX-7, plus a bunch of kit cars.” He’s also had over ten classic Minis in the past.
“I remember messing about with them and swapping bits around… then chopping them up with an axe in my mum’s back garden when I’d finished with them.” He tries to justify that by telling us Minis were pretty common and cheap and back then, but we’re finally getting to see a different side to Paul, the side that would spend just shy of £20k building a caricature Mk2 GTI, just for fun. “I actually did a shorty Mini first, but I didn’t go to the same lengths as the Mk2. That was just an experiment and nowhere near as well finished as this,” he reveals.
So how did it all come about? Well Paul’s VW obsession started many years ago when he took all the running gear and trim from a rotten Mk1 Campaign he had and put it into a 1.6 GTI. “I just loved being able to save cars and have some fun with them.” The Mk2 actually happened by accident. “I own a pretty nice black Mk2 GTI, but the gearbox had gone so I bought a ropy-looking donor car to give up its gearbox and a few trim parts,” Paul explains. The car, a 1990 8v GTI, looked a right state. It had been Plasti Dip’d bright orange and was absolutely rotten. It was destined for the scrapheap once Paul had taken the few bits he needed. Well, that was until Paul had one of his brainwaves… “I was outside giving the Mini a clean when I clocked the orange Mk2 in the background and I started comparing it to the shorty Mini. The Mk2 shaped just lent itself to being chopped and I knew I could make it work.”
With no further ado, Paul finished up cleaning the Mini and, after making a quick assessment and knocking up a very rough digital sketch, broke out his 9” disc cutter and began hacking at the Mk2. “It may sound a bit hit and hope but the cutter has a laser levelling function to ensure the cuts are precise,” he explains. The render itself was pretty rough to say the least but he was right, it did work. “I’m no good with Photoshop anyway,” he laughs. “I always tell people it’s all chop and no Photoshop!”
As luck would have it, the most rotten part of the car was actually the centre section Paul was chopping out. Apparently the floor, sills and inner arches were all shot, as was the area where the fuel tank mounts to the bottom of the car.
“The wiring was terrible, too, and had to be totally redone,” says Paul. “It had the remains of three old car alarms in there as well.” Indeed, the whole car had been bodged – from a dodgy five-stud conversion so that it could run Audi winter wheels right through to the badly-mounted wooden steering wheel that meant you practically snapped the indicator stalks off every time you turned a corner.
“Believe it or not, I spent a lot of time working out the proportions as, despite the car looking wacky, I still wanted it to look like a Mk2 Golf. I didn’t want it to look like a Noddy car…” Paul laughs. “Okay, I know it still looks a bit like a Noddy car but you get what I mean. Basically I could have made it shorter but then it would have looked really silly, so there’s actually 52” of original front used and 55” of back, which works well in terms of proportions.”
Despite the crazy talk, we could see method in Paul’s madness. I think that’s why we liked the car in the first place. It was clearly more than just a cut and shut jobbie. A lot of thought has gone into the build. For example, one of the biggest hurdles that Paul came across after removing the large section from the middle of the car, which worked out to be practically an entire door’s length, was that the rear part of the car was 25mm wider in total than the front section when the two halves were butted up to one another. “By using a small slice of the front part of the door and mounting it using the original hinge, we managed to lose the small difference,” Paul tells us.
There was another small issue in that the centre swage line dropped off quite drastically going towards the back of the car. This was more obvious with the centre cut out and the parts joined together. “We had to graft in a large section of metal from the door skin to help lose this difference and make it a more gradual drop, which, again, worked perfectly,” Paul says. It took quite a bit of time to get the top of the screen right. “The roof is the original height and angle but we needed to flatten off the leading edge to keep it neat,” he adds.
Some people have asked why he chose to retain the panel gap between the front wings and what is now the rear section of the car. Again, Paul did this to keep the Mk2’s original looks. You’ll get more of an idea of what we’re talking about when you see the build photos.
Once Paul had the car joined in the correct place and roughly welded up, it was wheeled off to his local specialist fabricator and trimmer, Waboo, where it had custom floorpans made and the doors seamed in. “The guys there are fantastic. They also took care of welding the boot on and creating the top caps that clean the whole rear end up. I simply didn’t have the time to take on the job and they did the work far quicker than I ever could have.” Austin there used to work for Morgan, so is an excellent trimmer, and Tom is an amazing welder.
Between the two of them, they did a great job. After the guys had finished with the car it was then sent off to be blasted, before a local bodyshop painted the engine bay and the inside. It then headed back to Paul’s place for more prebodyshop prep. “By having it blasted I could then see how much additional welding I needed to do to the inner wings and around the fuel tank mounting,” Paul says. He then painted the shell in primer, which gave him the first real glimpse of how the completed car may look. It also highlighted how bad the original bonnet was.
“It was just a sea of waves, so we had to replace that.” Finally, the car could be sent back to the bodyshop for a coating of Tornado red. “It just had to be that colour; it’s iconic and the shade I envisage when I think of an original Golf GTI.”
As we mentioned, Waboo was also responsible for making up the rear end of the car, again an area that took lots of planning to get right. “The boot itself doesn’t open, all the air-ride and battery is accessible behind the seat under a cover, though, which itself is pretty neat,” Paul elaborates. “I did look at trying to use an Mk1 Cabrio roof mechanism to operate the rear hatch but it would have been overcomplicated and too bulky. I wanted the car to still look as original as possible, you see.”
The chaps at Waboo later stepped in to create the custom bench seat from scratch, which itself is a work of art and uses fabric from the original bench. “The time they must have spent climbing in and out of the car without scratching the paint to fine-tune the fit is insane,” Paul grins.
Ironically, Paul even ended up robbing a few parts from his own black GTI along the way. Yes, from the car that was the whole reason he bought this donor car in the first place! What had originally started off as a bit of fun had turned into a rather expensive exercise. “I was originally going to keep the car looking totally original. I even managed to find a set of 14” GTI steels as I was conscious of the car being over-wheeled,” he recalls. Then, Paul being Paul, he decided the car would look better with a 16v rather than an 8v, so he bought a Corrado 16v to give up its engine and gearbox. “The 16v is a much neater looking engine, but before I knew it I had the urge to fit twin-45 carbs to make the bay even more minimal.” Well, as you can imagine, after that things totally spiralled. The engine bay was shaved, the battery relocated, a four-branch manifold fitted (the passenger footwell needed slightly modifying to allow this to happen) and then Air Lift air suspension was ordered up from Radioworld. It soon came together though…
So, once complete, the big question on everybody’s lips was: what is it like to drive? “It drives really nicely,” Paul answers. “Like I said, there is a slight tendency to rock forwards but I’ve set the front shocks to firm now and with two people sitting in what effectively is the back, it’s much better.”
Paul claims the best bit about the car, though, is the reaction it gets. “People just love it!” he grins. And so they should after all the hard work that has gone into it. “As the car stands, other than the front crossmember that holds the rad in, the dashboard and the rear beam, practically everything is brand-new and I bought most of the parts from the team at VW Heritage,” Paul declares. We actually introduced Paul to Andy Gregory from VW Heritage at Ultimate Dubs earlier in the year and the team decided to use Paul’s car in their latest ad campaign. As if starring in their ad campaign and getting a feature in DRIVE-MY aren’t big enough highlights, even the official Volkswagen Facebook page has picked up on Paul’s work.
As a result, the traffic and shares on Paul’s page have gone crazy. “The guys at VW replied early on about the Mk2 and told me to keep them up-to-date, but since starting my New Beetle TDI Cabriolet project they’ve been all over it…”
In terms of the legality side of things, Paul runs his own garage and MoT test centre where he employs a team of seven people, so it’s safe to say that between him and his staff, they know a thing or two about what’s legal and what is not. He even went to the trouble of contacting the DVSA to get the car signed off.
“I bought a house last year, too, which was quite small but had a huge plot of land, so I moved into a mobile home and built a huge garage on the land so I would have somewhere to work on my cars at home,” he tells us. “I can get around five cars in there comfortably and still have plenty of room around each one to work on them.” Paul went on to tell us that he’s only just begun work on the actual house itself, although with his New Beetle project on the go we’re not too sure how far he’ll get with the grand designs he no doubt has planned.
When he’s not being a father to his young son, building crazy cars or working on his house, Paul can be found creating some pretty ingenious apps. His MoT/tax reminder app ‘motdate.co.uk’ is brilliant. And we love the sound of the latest ‘Pre-edits’ app he’s come up with, which allows you to take a photo on your phone and have the watermark already visible before you take the image, so you know where it will be in the frame and you don’t have to mess about after taking the shot. All very clever stuff!
So what does the future hold for the Mk2? “I’ve actually got to strip it down and have it fully repainted as there was a problem with the mix of the paint and it’s just not gone off properly,” Paul explains. “I may look at upgrading the air-ride at the same time to a more modern, self-levelling setup to help with the slight weight transfer issues.” Other than that, though, Paul just plans to enjoy the car. He’s also looking forward to maybe taking the Beetle to Wörthersee next year. “I specifically got a TDI so it would be efficient to take to shows on the Continent, and what better one to attend than Wörthersee?”
Knowing what the police are like out there these days we have know idea what they’ll make of the car but then that’s just part of the fun living with a stubby creation like this.
Shout: #RPM-Malvern (rpmmalvern.co.uk) – especially Simon Mason for help sorting parts, MoT Date app (www.motdate.co.uk), Pre-Edits app (www.pre-edits.com), #Waboo-Automotive , Tom at Radioworld for the wheels, Tom Williams Body Shop in Malvern, VW Heritage.
And you thought you took on a lot of work with your own project…
“I spent a lot of time working out the proportions as I still wanted it to look like a Mk2 Golf”
It’s hard to believe how well finished the inside of the car is considering how much of it is custom-made.
“…before I knew it I had the urge to fit twin-45 carbs to make the bay even more minimal”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.
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Mario Verswyvel spent 20 years regretting parting ways with his first car before he had a chance to finish it. But it’s taken less than 12 months to make his teenage wish list a reality. Words: Alex Grant. Photos: Kevve.
We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter whether it was a shed or something more showworthy, there’s something frustrating about modifying your first car. Sure, it’s the machine that gives you a new-found ability to go where you want but turning it into a project is usually a way to watch your wildest ideas get their wings clipped by minimum wages, crippling insurance and the eventual, inevitable lure of moving onto something new. So, what if you had the chance to go back and do it again? Properly this time, with a decent budget behind you, the skills to work on it yourself and the benefit of having spent years fine-tuning that all-important mental spec list.
Going by the inch-deep gloss of Mario Verswyvel’s Mk2 Golf soaking up the lights of snapper Kevve’s flash units, it’s an itch worth scratching. “This all started with a bit of nostalgia for my first car… I guess it got out of hand,” Mario laughs, slotting carefully packed Chemical Guys products back into their carry case. “I had a Mk2 GTI as my first car, and I sold it before I got it anywhere near where I wanted. I never got over that. I spent years wondering how it would’ve looked if I’d finished it… and now I know!”
He’s got every reason to be happy as there’s something about Mario’s car that has the power to stop you in your tracks. Not because it’s making a show of the performance underneath but because it’s subtly ticking all the boxes. Immaculate Oak green paint? Check. Huge power? Check. Killer static stance on one-off wheels? You get the idea. Getting here may have taken more than 20 years but it looks like it was worth the wait. And it’s not a car that disappoints once you get past a first glance.
“I knew exactly what I wanted: a nice OEM GTI, but it had to be very fast, turbocharged and Oak green,” says Mario. “Actually, I wanted this very car. I know the previous owner. I spent ten years trying to persuade him to sell it to me, and I’d almost given up on it. Then he put it up for sale just before I turned 40. The timing was perfect. I had to have it.”
As Mario runs me through the process of turning ideas into expensive reality it looks like his well-cooked plans have been left to run riot. The best example of this is the wheels. If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen a set of splitrim Zender Turbos with a centrelock before it’s because you’re looking at the only ones on the planet! Unable to find the wheels he wanted, he’s had a set specially made, turning to Mario Quets at MAQ Racing to work his magic on them. “I love centrelocks. They were always part of the plan,” Mario explains. “But the plan changed a bit. The original idea was to fit a set of magnesium BBS wheels from a 997 GT3 cup car but we test-fitted them and they were too big. I had an idea for what would work but knew it would take time, so we built the car while it was running 17-inch Compomotive THs, then swapped over to these when it was finished.”
MAQ Racing might not be the first to turn monoblock wheels into splits (Mario’s also had an E30 on upsized bottletop wheels which had been through the same process) but the added complexity of the centrelock conversion really shows off the quality of the work. It’s almost blank canvas stuff, the way the bolts are neatly tucked in between the blades, the invisible joins where the new centres were welded in place, all flawless enough to make you question whether they left the factory that way. It pays not to take ‘no’ for an answer.
“These were 15-inch Turbos originally. We upsized them to 17s with slightly staggered lips, which meant I could get the offset where I wanted it. Then we machined new centres for them,” says Mario. “It took three full days of CNC work, welding, spraying and assembly to get them this way. But I wanted something OEM+ which had never been seen before.
In addition to the hunt for the right wheels, the Golf’s offbeat spec list was keeping the two Marios busy, and replacing the concours-clean 16-valve engine was the source of months of overtime. Growing up in the Eighties and with the soundtrack of Group B Audi quattros ringing in his brain, the howl of a full-chat fivecylinder turbo was too tempting to ignore. So instead of following the straightforward route and fitting a 1.8T or looting something with an R badge, there’s a line of five cylinders under the bonnet with a monster billet turbocharger bolted just in front of the firewall. And it’s not from the donor car you’d expect. “Most people assume I’ve fitted a TT RS engine but it’s the 2.5-litre in-line five from a Mk5 Rabbit, imported from North America,” Mario says. “I don’t know why there are so few of them being used in Europe; they’re cheap to buy and very easy to find. MAQ Racing had three of them, and this one had never been used. Finding a donor TT would have taken longer, cost more and it wouldn’t be new.”
Satisfying a childhood want turned into a project all on its own. It’s an incredibly tight fit, packed full of bespoke parts and slowed down by the need to source information from the other side of the Atlantic when it threw a spanner in the works. The engine mounts had to be fabricated, the subframe reengineered to clear the oil filter, and the transmission was a parts bin job. Luckily the Mk6 GTI gearbox didn’t need to be persuaded to fit but Mario traded up to stronger driveshafts, a Sachs performance clutch and lightened flywheel to get the engine ready for more power…
A lot more power. The 2.5’s trump card is its compression ratio. At 9.5:1 it’s the same as a 1.8T and low enough to be ideal for boosting without costing a small fortune in forged internals. It meant there was no need to rebuild the box-fresh engine before bolting a turbo to the exhaust manifold. This wasn’t raided from Volkswagen’s parts bin; it’s a Precision Turbo with the potential to make 620bhp without burying all of the engine’s lowend torque under a load of lag. After all, what’s the point of building your dream first car if you can’t drive it anywhere?
Looking through the build pictures on Mario’s phone, it’s almost a shame that it’s so tight under the bonnet. The stainless manifold, barely visible at the back of the bay, is a work of art, as neatly built as the carefully routed boost pipework channeled at protractor-perfect right angles around the engine and into the Integrated Engineering plenum – another part which had to be imported. To give you some idea of how tight it is, fitting an intercooler behind the grille meant cutting the spot lamps back to just the lenses. Mario wasn’t going to be told he couldn’t keep a quad-lamp grille.
Even then, the engine wasn’t ready to be started. Having mocked up the bay, the front end was stripped and laid out on a pallet so the 25-year-old metal underneath could be stripped back, cleaned of unnecessary brackets and holes and repainted to the same gloss as the rest of the body. Mario didn’t get a blast of the turbocharged five-cylinder soundtrack until the KMS management was being setup on a rolling road. The important figures? 440bhp and 335lb ft at 0.9bar of boost. That’s dialled back to keep the engine well within its comfort zone, to be reliable and driveable enough to be used on the road.
Was it worth the effort? “Definitely. The sound of a five-cylinder is beautiful, and the power it makes is incredible,” Mario enthuses. “I’ve always liked to try new things. This was the hardest part of the build but I’d do it the same way if I had to start again. It’s really addictive. My daughter wants me to use it as a daily.”
There’s just as much attention paid to the bits you can’t see. The engine conversion meant swapping to Mk4 GTI front suspension and, in turn, that had meant offsetting 60mm longer shocks than the Mk2 was ever equipped with. Needing another one-off, Mario called on Fabrizio ‘BriaLow’ Berter to build a custom set of H&R-based coilovers to get the Golf sitting where he wanted. Fully adjustable, it’s running a 100mm drop, the wheels tucked under G60 arch trims.
If the engine was inspired by Ingolstadt, the Golf’s stopping power was imported from Stuttgart. A Porsche 964 Brembo brake setup is working harder here than it ever was on the donor car and, proficient with a CNC machine, Mario fabricated his own centrelock hub converters to hold the work-in-progress wheels in place. Unseen details, but so important.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward restoration, helped because Mario started out with a car so clean it could’ve been donated to the Autostadt in Wolfsburg. Stored in a heated garage for 16 years and never driven in the rain, you’d need a flux capacitor to find a cleaner starting point. But the Belgian perfectionist still wasn’t happy.
“It was in excellent condition when I bought it, but I knew it could look even better,” he smirks. “I wanted it to feel like a brand-new car, so I renewed everything – lights, windows, seals, wheels, brakes, engine… everything. Then I had it repainted in Oak green by my friend Carlo Orlando.”
That period-correct, heavily-optioned Mk2 Golf interior feels totally disconnected from the hooligan engine conversion. Anything even slightly worn was replaced with new, and Mario opted to keep the standard fabric seats rather than having them trimmed in leather, finishing the interior off with a 1980s Italvolanti steering wheel. It’s also a factory Digifiz car; the unit still works, though the KMS display next to it gives a fuller picture of what the engine is up to.
“Even with a clear idea of how the car would look in my head I couldn’t imagine how well it would come together in the metal,” Mario tells us. “To me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing… well, I’d be tempted by a Recaro interior. But that’s it. Actually, I think I could get more power out of the engine, too… Other than that, I wouldn’t change it!”
You know, that’s starting to sound like a first car all over again. Mario may have a full deck here – three times its original power, brilliantly engineered and so subtly modernised that it’s lost none of that characteristic late-Eighties feel – but he’s still not finished. We’re just hoping that the lure of something else doesn’t move this one on before the final details make their way onto the car, or it’s another 20-year wait to get here again.
Literally every single area of Mario’s Mk2 is perfect in our eyes. It’s so good it could be one of our favourite Mk2s ever!
ENGINE: 2480cc ( #07K ) five-cylinder, custom engine brackets by MAQ Racing, MAQ Racing turbo conversion with #Precision-Turbo-PTE-5858 billet turbo, Tial wastegate, custom MAQ Racing three-inch exhaust system including manifold and downpipe, Golf Mk6 GTI intercooler, custom MAQ Racing boost pipework, Integrated Engineering valve cover, fuel rail and intake manifold, reinforced head bolts, #Bosch-EV14 550cc injectors, additional fuel pump, #KMS MD35 engine management with traction control, launch control and lambda control, Mk6 GTI gearbox, #Sachs clutch, lightened flywheel, modified Mk6 GTI driveshafts. / #Precision-Turbo /
CHASSIS: 8x17” ET25 (front) and 8x17” ET15 (rear) Zender Turbo wheels, converted to centrelock and upsized with 1.5- and 2.5-inch lips by ##MAQ-Racing, 185/35 Nankang NS-2 tyres, Mk4 GTI (front) and Mk2 GTI (rear) ##BriaLowUltralow H&Rbased coilovers, Mk5 GTI master cylinder, Porsche 964 calipers with custom brackets, 280mm discs (front) 254mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR: Full respray in original Oak green, rear wiper and side repeaters removed, G60 arches.
INTERIOR: Factory 16v cloth interior, KMS display, ##Digifizdashboard, Italvolanti 16v steering wheel.
SHOUT: Carlo Orlando for the paint, ##MAQ-Racing(the best in Belgium!) for the wheels, brakes and engine, Fabrizio Berter for the suspension.
Adjustable top mounts allow the custom-made BriaLow Ultralow ##H&Rcoilovers to be angled just right.
Precision Turbo PTE 5858 billet turbo has been squeezed in between the fivecylinder lump and the firewall on a custommade manifold that’s such a work of art you could display it in your living room as a piece of modern art!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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While some of you won’t get Darren Bates’ naughty ’90s-inspired Mk2 VR6, for those that were there first time around this supercharged terror will be right up your street! Words and photos: Jon Cass.
Ah yes, the ’90s VW show scene. The cars, the people, where are they now? It’s a question that’s been asked many times at shows and meets over the last decade and often results in an entertaining and rewarding conversations as many older show-goers have encyclopedic memories. Go on, ask a dedicated Dub-head about that Mk1 on three-spokes with the purple paint job you last saw in 1998; if they don’t remember it, one of their mates will. Chances are they might even know where it is now, that it’s due to make a return any time soon and that those infamous three-spokes are sat in so-and-so’s loft gathering dust. There’s even a group on social media now to help answer all our ’90s show queries and, to prove our memories aren’t that fuzzy quite yet, it’s got a lot of people reminiscing.
Now, I’m making this sound like these amusing stories and detailed memories are likely to fade away into nothingness if they’re not passed on to the next generation pretty sharpish, almost as though the ’90s show-goers are akin to surviving veterans from the First World War. Thankfully, though, this is far from the truth and more often than not, those same folk who were slaving away in their garage 20 years ago are still coming up with the goods today. The only real difference is there’s Radio 2 on in the background instead of Radio 1.
Proof of this is Darren Bates and his supercharged Mk2 VR6. He’s collecting trophies like there’s no tomorrow and is so full of enthusiasm, you’d think this was his first ever car, let alone show car. Yet, Darren has been modifying VWs since the late ’80s, beginning with a Mk1 cab which set the ball rolling and he’s never really stopped since. “I had to sell that one, but within a month I’d bought another as I missed the first one so much,” he smiles.
His next purchase was an orange Mk1 Cab which then became a regular sight on the show scene for the best part of the next 11 years – from the ’90s through to the early 2000s. It was bright, it was loud and it was heavily modified. It was certainly of its time and a highly respected show car to boot. Numerous trophies and magazine features proved its worth and Max Power (at the height of its popularity) voted it one of its top 100 cars of all time. Hell, even Mike Brewer had it on his TV show, Revved Up! The OEM fans might be shaking their heads in disbelief right now but back in the ’90s Darren was at the top of his game.
“I sold the Mk1 in 2006 and bought myself a Mk2 Edition 1 G60,” Darren recalls. “I soon bought a Mk1 Caddy and, sure enough, couldn’t resist the temptation to slot the G60 from the Mk2 into the pick-up!” The smiles were short lived as the caddy soon met its fate in a collision which sadly wrote it off. “To cheer myself up, I went out and bought a Pearl white Corrado with a grey leather interior and had a G60 in that one also,” Darren remembers. There’s a theme building here, as you’ve probably spotted, but a Noble M12 was soon to randomly shake that up and Darren then held on to the Brit sports car for five years.
“The call of the VW badge returned and this time, I went for a Mk1 Caddy in black with flames down the side,” Darren laughs. “I slammed it to the deck and got it looking just the way I wanted.” The down side of a slammed Mk1 on coilovers was soon realised after the first few potholes. “It was great fun to drive but my back was suffering with the harsh ride; it confirmed I wasn’t as young as I used to be!” The Caddy was sold before Darren’s spine shattered and he set about looking for a replacement: “It had to be a Mk1 or Mk2 Golf as they’ve always been in my blood. I just had to make sure it would be a little more comfortable to drive than the Caddy!”
Sure enough, his next purchase was this car here: an #1989 Mk2 Golf 1.6CL German import lefthooker which was promptly stripped down. The shell was taken back to bare metal to reveal the rot and a new front valance, inner wheel arches and firewall welded in place. The shell itself was repainted an attractive baby blue shade and new rubbers, bumpers, locks and handles were all fitted to the exterior. Underneath, the shell received new brake pipes and brake lines. In contrast to his extreme Mk1 Cab of the ’90s, Darren’s opted for a more restrained look for his Mk2, inspired by other cars currently on the show scene. Having said that, this is still eyecatching enough! “The small bumpers and lack of side skirts and wheel arch extensions show off the Mk2’s lines better,” Darren reckons. “And the welded metal plate across the tailgate gives a flush effect, which I prefer.” There are subtle details, too, such as the door handles with Volkswagen inserts. The overall finish is flawless and the look could be described as slightly oldskool, although that was Darren’s full intention all along. “I didn’t want to tread the huge bodykit and massive rims path but I liked the idea of dropping a few hints towards the cars that were around when I started on the show scene.”
Perhaps the flush tailgate could be included amongst them, although the smoked rear lights, frosted indicators and black painted front valance are definitely old-skool mods.
After owning a string of supercharged G60s, Darren knew this one also had to have similarly forced induction, though rather than use a familiar four-pot he wanted ‘Baby Blue’ to be a little different. “I liked the idea of a supercharger and a VR6,” Darren smiles, “the combination of instant power, bags of torque and an infectious sound were too hard to resist!” A 2.8 VR6 from a Mk3 was located, stripped down, polished and painted to show standard. Darren added new colour-coded blue Samco hoses, water pipes and HT leads. He also fitted a new chain, pulley and sensors.
A normally aspirated Mk2 VR6 is a hoot to drive anyway and some real bargains can be picked up now as people opt for newer 1.8Ts. Darren wanted his to have an edge over the NA VR6 and a V2 #Vortex-supercharger achieved just that. “I had to upgrade to 300 injectors and adapt the sump to incorporate the supercharger,” Darren points out, “but other than that it was fairly straightforward.” The usual Mk2 exhaust has three boxes but Darren preferred to have a custom exhaust fabricated with just two boxes to improve the output. The exhaust also boasts a quirky upturned tailpipe which always attracts admiring glances. A trip to see VR6 guru, Vince at Stealth Racing in Southam, proved to be very useful with the Mk2 subsequently producing 240bhp on the rollers. “I can’t recommend Vince enough, he couldn’t do enough to get my car running at its best,” Darren adds.
He’s also recently swapped the charger pulley to one ten millimetres smaller than standard and running at 6-8psi and another trip to Stealth saw it running at a highly impressive 291bhp. There are plans too for a Devil’s Own cooling system which should see performance improved even more!
To cope with the increase in power, G60 brakes make a good investment, though these are hidden by the Porsche 928 16” rims with a five-stud pattern. The stretched tyres enhance the classic Porsche design and Darren is well pleased with the result. He’s also happy that he can have the benefit of slamming his Mk2 into the weeds if he wishes, whilst still retaining a comfortable ride. We’re talking air-ride here, an option that wasn’t as readily available or affordable back in the ’90s. The Air Lift V2 airride kit is mounted in the boot and even has a colour-coded tank. It shares its home with a neat sound system containing neon lights: “They shine against the chrome of the compressors. It looks really cool, especially at night.”
Once inside, the Mk2 dash may look familiar, though it’s now been treated to extra VDO gauges and a Momo steering wheel with the addition of an iron cross insert for the horn. To the left of the dash sits a useful boost gauge linked to the supercharger. “I wanted the interior to be crisp and clean,” Darren points out, “that’s why pretty much everything inside is black.” This includes the carpets, doorcards, back seats and even the reclining Sparco race seats which cleverly manage to look both supportive and comfy! “The interior is an ongoing love-affair so this may yet see some changes over the next few years,” he adds. Going by the amount of trophies Darren and his Mk2 have won over the past year, it would seem no changes are necessary, but as we all know you ideally need to make progress to keep those trophies coming in.
“I’m often gobsmacked about the reactions it receives; people just seem to love it,” Darren smiles. “The paint, the stance and especially the supercharger are all regular talking points at shows!” And we’re not just talking small shows here either; how’s ‘Best in Show’ at the GTI Festival at Santa Pod for you?
Okay, he may have had some time off from collecting silverware since his well-known Mk1 was sold in 2006 but his latest Mk2 just goes to demonstrate that Darren hasn’t lost his magic touch. He can still produce a show-stopper; it’s just this one’s headunit might be tuned in to Radio 2 instead of Radio 1!
ENGINE: 2.8 #VR6 fully rebuilt, stripped polished and painted, blue #Samco hoses, blue HT leads, V2 #Vortex supercharger, 300 injectors, 2” custom stainless two-box exhaust system with upturned tailpipe.
CHASSIS: 16” Porsche 928 rims, stretched tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-V2 #Air-ride with colour-coded tank, #G60 brakes, front upper strut brace. / #AirLift-Performance
EXTERIOR: Full respray in baby blue, Frenched tailgate, smoked rear lights, original door handles with chrome Volkswagen inserts, frosted indicators, black front valance, de-locked and de-badged.
INTERIOR: Black carpets, rear bench and doorcards, standard dash with #VDO gauges, Mono steering wheel with iron cross insert for horn, Sparco reclining race seats, baby blue Wolfsburg emblems on mats, #Wolfsburg badged door pins and window winders, ICE install including neon lights in boot, chrome compressors.
SHOUT: My girlfriend Ann for all her hard work, patience and, of course, cleaning!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBOP IT #VW-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf /
Many think there’s nothing you can do to a Mk2 Golf that hasn’t been done a million times before. James ‘Bopper’ Moran, however, disagrees. He likes to look at things a bit differently, as his unique Mk2 demonstrates perfectly… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Sam Dobbins.
Do you ever get the feeling some people out there in the car scene have had an unfair advantage in building the car they have? No, we’re not talking about someone having more money to throw at a project than the next guy, or a job where they can work on their own car after hours, although those people sure are lucky compared to the weekend driveway workshop crews out there. No, what we’re talking about this time is how they were brought up and how their parents influenced them in their younger years, be it intentionally or not. You see, one of the first questions we ask the owner of a car when we’re taking notes for the story, is: what got you in to cars in the first place? The influence of friends already involved in the scene, magazines or the internet are the most common answers but every so often someone will cite their parents as being the reason they’re a self-confessed car guy/girl today.
“My family wasn’t into modifying cars but I was always around motorsports,” James Moran, aka Bopper, explained. “When I was six or seven my father raced hydroplane boats. He took me on one of his road trips across the country racing but he was never into cars really. My stepfather, however, took me to a lot of IMSA road races. At the time all I wanted to do was stay at home and play video games or hockey but now, man I look back at all the experiences I had sitting in GTP cars and asking hundreds of questions and the drivers answering me.” If that wasn’t enough of a cool upbringing, his neighbour was the local backyard hot rod dude and would often show the young Bopper around what he was working on.
Before we get too far in to the story on the amazing Mk2 you see before you – one of the freshest Mk2s (and we don’t just mean the colour) we’ve seen in years – we need to get one thing out of the way. Why Bopper? “Well when I was young between the ages of three and five, I was told that I was a very bad kid. I use to hit my older sister all the time on the head,” he laughed. “My aunt always would say ‘stop bopping her’, and it turned in to Bopper and it stuck. I grew up known as Bopper. All my family and friends have always used that name. It makes me stand out. If you don’t know me by the name Bopper then you don’t know me!” Right, that’s that sorted. Let’s get on to the car, shall we?
“It all started in 1995. I was 17 and driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass and I met my friend Mike Beier. He had a black 16v Scirocco, which I got to take a ride in and a month later I bought my first VW. I was hooked.”
The word ‘hooked’ doesn’t do it justice. Three months in to owning his first VW, an ’84 Mk1, he blew the stock motor and swapped a 2.0-litre 16v in. Since then, well, let’s just say things have only got more impressive with each subsequent build. With a 2.0-litre 16vT Caddy, a twin-G60 Mk2 and a rear-engined 20v Mk2, not to mention he also put together Frank The Biz’s (look him up) hidden turbo setup in ’04, it’s safe to say Bopper likes to put a unique spin on stuff. “I had started building a 24v VRT Haldex’d ’79 Mk1 Rabbit that I wanted to finish before my 40th birthday but it got out of hand (you don’t say? ~ All), so I bought a clean Mk2 to use as a daily and, well, this is what happened to that ‘daily’!
“I wanted something original, something that would represent me and my new company, BackFire Fabrication. I was told there was nothing I could do that hadn't already been done to a Mk2 and that although I was a good fabricator I was irrelevant in the current car scene – so I decided to make my mark.
“I was inspired by all the people that made crazy cars – Dubsport, the Edition 38 guys, Big Ron, Scott Norton, there's many other people in the VW scene that I have a great deal of respect for – but my biggest goal was to strike up conversation in the VW community: love or hate it.”
Bopper found this Mk2 up in New Hampshire, not too far from his Connecticut home. This was back in 2011 but, he didn’t actually start the project until the H20 weekend of 2013. With his friends away at the show, Bopper was able to roll the car into their shop and get to work. “I told them I would have all the metalwork in the bay done before they were back,” he explained. Talk about setting yourself a challenge!
Our man Bopper, though, sure does like a challenge. Starting out at a Porsche restoration shop as an apprentice straight out of high school taught him the ropes in machining, bodywork and engine building. Then he opened a VW/Audi shop in ’99 with a friend which ran to 2004. After moving in to industrial fabrication, he started working for ProMod drag teams which led to a job building Porsche race cars. As far as honing your skills go, backgrounds don’t come much better!
Bopper tells us he spent the first three months of the car’s total build time working on the engine bay and the bodywork. “It’s what I pride myself on, if someone comes to me to work on their car they will have an engine bay that is totally different to anybody else’s. I built this car to show what I can do,” he explained. “I wouldn't call mine a completely shaved bay, I would call it an honest smoothed bay. I got a lot of shit for leaving the heater, not shaving all the holes in the frame rails and making a low profile air intake. I like the look of having all the original body dimples in the frame rails. I was trying to make this a driver: the engine bay looks super clean and shaved but everything is functional.” Makes sense to us.
There’s so much going on in the engine bay that we honestly don’t know where to begin. We love the way the custom intercooler wraps around the radiator and the shaved Euro-spec valve cover with no oil cap or oil cover. Plus the whole front end is attached to the Westmoreland front for easy one-piece removal. Yet, in car with a bay so clean you wouldn’t believe the motor even ran, this car’s got plenty of power. The 1.8T boasts a GT28RS turbo on a beautiful tubular manifold with a custom inlet mounted up front, the whole thing mounted on custom mounts and running off AEM Infinity 6 management. It may be colour-coded perfectly with the right mix of colour and bare metal and clean enough to eat off, but with up to 328bhp and 312lb ft at 27psi, it’s definitely not just a pretty face.
Remember we said earlier that Bopper was told there was nothing he could do to a Mk2 that hadn’t already been done before? Well, one look at the bodywork shows he’s proved them wrong. The colour, a custom mint green shade, is out there enough but we’re also huge fans of the Westy front with bi-Xenon projectors fitted inside, the front arches mounted on the rear to bring them higher on the body than the regular rear arches, the single DTM mirror as well as the selective shaving. “I prepped 85% of it and painted 100% of it,” Bopped said proudly. “I’m no body man but I’ve done bodywork before and I wanted to prove I could do it all.”
But our favourite thing about Bopper’s car, aside from the engine bay, the bodywork and the colour (okay, so we like pretty much everything on Bopper’s car) is the air install. Now over the last few years we’ve seen people display their tanks and compressors in many different ways. In the early days of air-ride, at least in the VW scene, it was all about keeping things stealthy and hiding as much as you could.
Most air installs were mounted under false floors or in the spare tyre well. Then, as people became more creative with them, they started to mount the tank on show, then the compressors, too. Now, in the vast majority of show cars, the air install is a crucial part of the interior’s overall look. Tanks mounted this way and that, compressors tucked in perfectly trimmed hideaways, hardlines everywhere, themed installs, there’s really nothing that people won’t try. Bopper here has pushed things one step further though. “I wanted to design something that meant I could still use the trunk for things but at the same time, show people what you could do with an air setup,” he explained. “People tend to lose their minds when they notice what I’ve done with the cage. I love it.” What Bopper has done, if you hadn’t figured it out yet, is turn the cage in to a 4.5-gallon tank for his air-ride. “One of the most fun times I had building the car was when I got the air-ride working with the cage. To have a concept work and have it look awesome was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
A vintage fire department steamer gauge, a nod to Bopper’s day job as a fire fighter for the City of Meriden where he lives, mounted on the cage just finishes off the back end perfectly. Where are the compressors, though? You won’t see them, no matter how hard you look.
Amazingly, Bopper has mounted the compressor behind the rear driver’s doorcard and the battery behind the other so, with everything else hidden, other than the fire department pressure gauge mounted off the rear cross bar, there is no sign of the car being on air-ride at all. How’s that for ingenuity?
The rest of the interior is just as cool, too. The SPG buckets have had their backs colourcoded and then trimmed in black leather and suede with colour-coded stitching by Love’s Trim. “They really knocked the seats and doorcards out of the park. Their work just brings the whole thing together beautifully,” Bopper smiled. The custom-made race shifter setup looks awesome, too, tying the whole interior’s part show/part go look together perfectly.
Speaking of tying things together, Bopper’s choice of rolling stock might not be the obvious one but, in typical fashion, it just works. “I love these Crenshaw wheels. I was surfing the internet one day and came across them and had to have them,” he explained. “They are twopiece with magnesium centres, super light, and The Shine Lab did an awesome job repolishing them. I wanted to have something different other than BBS RSs or RMs on the car. BBSs on Mk2s look amazing but I just wanted a different look and I think they suit the car perfectly.”
The wheels just about sum Bopper’s car up. Different from the norm but so well-thought-out it’s hard to think why it’s not been done before. We guess that’s the sign of a true innovator: they make doing things differently seem so easy. “I’ve had two stand-out moments with the car being finished: the first was taking my eightyear-old son out in it and seeing his face light up; that is a moment you just don’t forget,” Bopper smiled. “The other is when I debuted it at H20 in last year. I arrived late at night and we were staying with a bunch of guys from other VW shops from all over the US. It felt awesome when I popped the hood for them to be staring at my car using flashlights for like an hour, going over every little detail. I just loved it! “Really, though, it’s the first time since 2005 that I’ve had a VW that was nice to call my own. I was so caught up with working on other people’s cars that I didn’t have time for my own stuff. Now that it’s not my day job I enjoy it so much more.”
What’s next for our man Bopper then? Well, this Mk2 is finished although we predict he’s not a guy to leave anything alone for too long. “I’m working right now on another Mk2 GTI. It's a bright blue metallic car and it’s going to be a big bumper with G60 arches. The motor is going to be just as crazy, except I’m going to do a twin G60 again,” he smiled knowingly. “So get ready…” Bopper, we can hardly wait!
ENGINE: 2004 1.8T engine, Eagle rods, #ARP main studs, Eurospec Sport head bolts, head taper ported to fit a large port intake manifold, custom BackFire Fabrication high-flow intake manifold with centre inlet, tubular stainless steel exhaust manifold, GT28RS turbo, custom stainless 3” downpipe and exhaust with hidden inside exit, #Bosch-EV14 long nozzle 550cc injectors, single line fuel rail feed, Bosch 044 and Bosch four-bar regulator located in the rear of the car, custom BackFire harness, AEM Infinity 6 management, custom underdrive pulleys, Clutch Net four-puck racing clutch and pressure plate, custom fabricated 23x7” intercooler with end tank made to wrap around the radiator. Twin Forge blow-off valves, custom BackFire motor mount spacers, BFI Mk3 green motor mounts, 02J transmission with Phantom grip and bolt kit, custom shift cables with ball joints for motorsports shifter, motor and transmission colour-coded.
CHASSIS: 7.5x16” Crenshaw Classic two-piece wheels with 165/40/16 Federals tyres, Air Lift Slam Series suspension, V1 management, Prothane suspension bushings, G60 11” brakes with Euro-spec four to five bolt hubs, Adaptec 5x100 to 5x120 adapters, Mason Tech Great Plates, 3.5-degree rear camber shims.
EXTERIOR: Custom mint green respray, pulled arches, shaved side markers, shaved rear emblems, front plastic arches on rear, early Golf small-door trim, custom Westmoreland badgeless grille, bi-xenon projectors, 16v lip, removable single wiper, single driver side DTM mirror, passenger mirror delete, shaved rear exhaust cut out, red taillights, European-spec small bumpers, ’85 rear window glass with no third brake light.
INTERIOR: SPG seats with colour-coded backs, trimmed in black leather and suede with mint colour stitching by Loves Trim shop, matching trimmed doorcards, #Sparco Camlock seatbelts, BackFire custom motorsports shifter with Durlin shift knob, #Vortex centre console, AEM True Boost gauge and air/fuel meter, Autometer air intake temperature gauge, radio dash delete, custom LED speedometer gauge lights, hidden battery behind rear passenger’s doorcard, hidden #Viair 450c compressor behind rear driver’s doorcard, custom 2.5” aluminium polished roll-cage that functions as a 4.5 gallon air tank, custom stress bar with vintage fire department steamer gauge, ’85 rear pillar covers with no seatbelt holes, power windows, door locks, sunroof and trunk release, Memphis Bluetooth audio adapter directly into Kenwood Excelon X700-5 amplifier, Hertz 6.5” HSK165 components speakers, DXC100 4” dash speakers, Hertz EXC 570 5x7” rear speakers.
SHOUT: First off I want to thank my wife Melissa and my kids James and Caleigh for helping me out and being there while I built this car, BNR Motors in Meriden CT for letting me do the bodywork and paint in their booth, Brian Hall and James Juaire for helping me get my rear quarters straight, Air Lift, Igor at Clutch Net, Jay Bird at The Shine Lab, a super big thank you to Kip Love from Love’s Trim shop, my car would be half of what it is without the interior that he made, my cousin Bobby who stayed up the last week with me almost 24 hours a day to finish it, Scott Norton, Kevin MacDougall, everybody else that helped me get it ready for H2O and Sam Dobbins from More Than More. Check out Bopper_backfirefab on Instagram or www.backfirefab.comStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationModified car 287 bhp 3.2 V6-engined #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-Mk2 V6 appeal! / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-V6-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTI-V6-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf / #VW / #VW-Golf-V6-II /
PEOPLE’S CARS – DARREN KENDALL’S V6-ENGINED MK 2 GTI
Once an avid Ford fan, Darren Kendall shares with us his long history of #VW ownership, culminating in his current 3.2 V6-engined Mk 2 GTI...
My car journey began in #1991 , but had nothing to do with VWs at that time. A silver Mk 3 Escort 1.3L was a good start to the motoring world and I thoroughly enjoyed the freedom it gave me as a youngster. I loved it and my girlfriend (now wife) had a yellow Mk 3 Escort too – she looked such a cool chick in that car!
My love of performance cars began in 1993, with a Peuguot 309 GTI, a truly great car in its own right – the difference in performance was simply breathtaking, it went round corners as if on rails and had a lovely engine note. I absolutely loved that car and it gave me a real appetite and passion for performance cars.
About two years later, a lad called Kelvin Boyle joined our bakery team at Haverhill. He owned a Mk 2 Golf GTI in Helios blue, took me for a ride one day and I loved the way the rev counter whipped round when we were racing up the hill into town. The square boxy styling, the square dashboard and the golf ball gearknob were all just so cool. It even sounded cool when he disarmed the Clifford alarm – not a highpitched chirp but an understated bloop!
I had discovered Mk 2 Golfs and my love for them remains undiminished to this day – there’s just something about the way they look. I knew from that moment I would own one... one day. Unfortunately, they also held their price very well so I ended up buying an Astra GTE 16V and had some fun with it but ultimately ruined it with an overly-firm Bilstein suspension kit. After shattering my spine for about a year I purchased my first Mk 2 Golf, a 4-door 16V.
It felt a tad slow after the Astra GTE 16V, but I was so happy to own the car I’d fallen in love with on that test drive with my mate. The build quality was bulletproof, the doors shut with such a solid clunk, and after putting a high-lift cam in it drove a lot nicer too. I also fitted Borbet C alloys, which look cool even today. I knew I probably should have held out for a 3-door version but it was such a nice example I couldn’t walk away. I went everywhere in that car, holidays were a breeze and it never missed a beat. I always had my car cleaning kit in the boot to keep the dark blue paintwork looking its best and loved going to some VW shows. I really got the bug and I changed the exhaust but resisted doing anything to the suspension as it handled so sweetly it didn’t need it.
I look back now and don’t quite know why, but after two and half years of GTI ownership I went to Cambridge for a haircut and came home with an Astra GSI 16V! I’d always quite liked the look of them, but I soon realised I was missing the sweet chassis of my Mk 2 Golf and so it had to go! And it had to go quickly, after I’d had a test drive in a Corrado VR6 in Midnight blue! If there’s one car I wish I could have kept it’s the VR6 as it combined the Mk 2 handling with a stunning engine noise. I lowered the car on Koni suspension, fitted BBS RC alloys, a Supersprint exhaust and then Nik Saran Racing in London supercharged it – wow, what a stunning result! I had a few ‘squeaky bum’ moments on wet roundabouts, but the car was amazing. This was in 1999 and I wish I could have afforded to keep it.
After a few years flirting with an Impreza RB5 and a Tommi Makkinan EVO 6 in beautiful black with white wheels, I purchased a Mk 4 Golf R32 and it is the love of the Mk 4 R32 and the Corrado VR6 that gave me a lot of the inspiration for the bright blue ‘Mk 2 3.2 V6’ that I own today… I had been keeping a close eye on the upcoming Mk 4 R32 and after seeing it at the motor show I placed my order with the local VW dealer. It had to be in the deep blue pearl colour and most definitely a 3-door. The wait seemed very long and frustrating, as this was my first brand-new car. I truly believe that everyone, at some point in their lives, if possible, should buy a new car. It’s a special experience to be the first person to drive that car and to get the exact spec that you want. Sure, you have to be careful which car you buy and for how long you keep it, due to depreciation, but it’s a memory that stays with you for ever.
The R32 was beautiful, with the blue paint gleaming in the sun on collection day. I slotted myself into the leather seats and had a very careful 25-minute drive home. I was very happy to be back with the VW brand, but the car felt quite slow in comparison – the accelerator was very sensitive and initially felt quick, but out on the open road it made all the noise but lacked the acceleration. Also the boom from the exhaust at 3500 rpm was annoying and tiresome on longer journeys.
A trip to AmD for a Milltek cat-back resonated exhaust and re-map produced a very pleasing 275 bhp and a truly gorgeous exhaust note. The car now had real personality and I loved its multitalented character – the engine was so flexible you could be lazy and cruise around in fifth gear and waft along on the torquey delivery.
I was slightly irritated when it had to go back for an accelerator pedal fault as when it was started up the revs would go to the red line and then come back down – very embarrassing in petrol stations as I looked like a boy racer! Then the glovebox wouldn’t stay shut and the leather seats started to stretch on the bases and I soon regretted ticking that option box. During my ownership of the R32 I purchased my second Mk 2 Golf GTI, as I wanted a little runaround and a car to play with. I travelled down to Fakenham and bought a lovely H-reg GTI 8V, a 3-door in Royal blue. It was so nice to have another Mk 2 – I loved the boxy shape compared to newer cars and the 8-valve was a lot easier to live with around town than the 16V. I must have polished this car so much I’m surprised it had any paint left on it!
I kept it for about three years and was never totally sure I’d done the right thing selling it. I had always wanted a bright blue metallic Mk 2 Golf as I had been to lots of VW shows and I’d always been in love with that colour, so much so that my good friend Kirk was getting fed up of hearing me moaning that I couldn’t find a decent one!
There are cars that you look back on and think ‘Why did I buy that?!’ After owning the R32 for about 15 months I changed it for a Nissan 350Z, a brand-new one at that! I think I was concerned about losing too much money on the Golf and when I was offered just £1500 less than I purchased it for I decided to change. Looking back, with hindsight, I should have kept the R32. Where the Golf was an allround package, the Nissan was a two-seater car that was a love affair for about a year!
After moving house, to free up some funds I down-traded to a Mk 4 Golf GTI 1.8T Anniversary, a 3-door model in silver. It was OK but for a special edition model it didn’t seem to be put together as well as my girlfriend’s standard Indigo blue Mk 4 GTI 1.8T 150. When she decided to change to a Mini, I sold the Anni and bought her Mk 4 GTI. I enjoyed this car as it was solid and comfortable and with an AmD re-map to 195 bhp it went well too.
I was very happy with the GTI but I never fooled myself into thinking it was a true GTI. It just wasn’t and I accepted that until October 2008 when I changed it for a stunning Mk 5 Golf GTI. I had actually been to test drive another Mk 4 R32 as I’d missed that sonorous beautiful engine note, but there was a nagging doubt in my mind about going back to what I’d already had. A case of rose-tinted glasses I think!
KM57 OYO was a 3-door Mk 5 GTI in Shadow blue metallic and it looked amazing. Literally, I walked around the car once and I knew I had done the right thing. It was an ex-demo with only 3,500 miles on the clock. The Mk 5 really was the GTI back to its best. This car was an outstanding all-rounder, you could exploit all of the power on a B-road and the chassis was so playful and fun that it knocked spots off the Mk 4 R32. I still missed the V6 engine note but the GTI was a massive leap forward in terms of dynamics.
The best thing I ever did with the GTI was going to BBR GTI (Morego at the time) in Brackley for a re-map and Milltek cat-back exhaust to take the power to 250 bhp and a lot more torque, transforming the car into a truly wonderful fun fast car to drive. I didn’t ever want for more power as on B-roads you could still fully deploy the power and torque and hang on for an exhilarating drive. The standard suspension was a great blend between comfort and performance and the 18-inch Monzas were both beautiful to look at and easy to clean. I really connected with this car. The tartan interior was great, no more frozen bum moments in winter, or burns in summer! After the leather in the Mk 4 R32 I am not a fan of VW leather seats as the quality seems lacking and durability is not good.
While loving my Mk 5 GTI to bits, I still found myself constantly looking for that elusive bright blue metallic Mk 2 Golf. Patience is a virtue and in September 2011 I saw advertised just what I had always wanted...
I was trawling through the car sales ads on Drive-My, Pistonheads, AutoTrader and Edition 38 websites when one Sunday evening I came across an ad for this lovely bright blue metallic Mk 2 GTI 8V. It was a one-owner car and exactly what I was looking for. It had a small scrape on the rear quarter where it had been scuffed on the owner’s garage but otherwise looked very clean. The car was in Southport and I remember thinking that’s too far to go and that someone was going to get a right nice car there! After stewing for a bit, I thought why can’t it be me…?!
I managed to get someone to drive me up on the Monday morning so I rang and explained that I was travelling from afar and could he give me first refusal on the car, which thankfully he agreed to. I arrived at the seller’s premises and instantly loved the look of the car. OK, so it had the smaller 14-inch alloys and it had the scrape to deal with, but the overall condition was good. The owner put the car up on the ramps for me to view it underneath and it all looked very clean. After a quick test drive a deal was soon agreed and I left a cheque and waited for it to clear before collection, which gave me some time to sort out insurance and a plan of action for the scrape to be taken care of.
Although it was in very good condition, the paintwork had various blemishes and scratches on a few of the panels. I knew I wanted to keep it for a long time, so I decided to drop it off to Greg Howell at Southam Bodies for the necessary repairs and a new coat of paint. I could have done a minor repair on the scrape but with cars this age the new paint can look out of place and I would still be unhappy with the other imperfections. Once the call came through I was down to collect it like a shot. She looked so pretty and, needless to say, it was a nervous drive home with the newly-painted car!
I was so happy to finally have found the car that I’d wanted for such a long time. I enjoyed driving my new pride and joy, listening to my old tapes as it had the original stereo – it all added to the ‘retro’ experience, but I soon found myself disliking the 14-inch wheels and ‘balloon’ tyres. I loved the BBS RZ design, so I set about finding a set of 15-inch wheels in the same style and after many hours on eBay I found a brandnew set for sale at GPC near Luton. It was a funny place, down a dirt track in the countryside, but their hangar was like an Alladin’s cave with all manner of parts, and my new boxed wheels. I was very happy!
The trade-off with owning an older car these days is that you don’t realise how far car technology has moved on in terms of build quality and engine technology. You tend to forget about the interior rattles and creaks, as it all adds to the charm of these cars, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed about how slow it was!
I always like to put my own stamp or personality onto a car and I had Koni suspension and a set of Willwood 4-pot brakes put on. For a while I was very happy with the results but it wasn’t long before I decided to enlarge the engine to a 2.0-litre 8-valve for more bhp and torque. However, as time went on, I soon found myself wanting more…
It became clear that to get the performance I was looking for I’d need to do an engine swap. This is a tough decision to make, as it meant sacrificing some originality but I’d already painted the car and tinkered with various other bits anyway so I decided to go for it. There are always plenty of people offering their views, but it’s down to you as the owner to make your own mind up and not do what you feel others want. I didn’t buy the car as a financial investment, but to enjoy it and smile every time I drove it.
My next big decision was what engine to go for, but there were really only two to choose from, the 3.2 V6 or the K04 2.0 TFSI from the Edition 30 GTI. I already have a lovely white Edition 30 Golf GTI and while I love the car for its all-round ability, the engine noise is a bit dull and uninspiring. The two cars that I’d really fallen in love with were the Corrado VR6 and the Mk 4 R32 so the decision was an obvious one – I wanted to give the Mk 2 some real character and I knew the 3.2 V6 would tick that box, but who should I entrust to complete the work…
I talked to many people and did a lot of research and as a long-time reader of Volkswagen Driver mag I was always impressed with the work coming out of JBS Auto Designs in Chesterfield. After a lengthy chat to James Silverstone the car was booked in as he was very honest about what would need to be done and his passion for their work was obvious.
I was happy to leave the car with JBS for the conversion, so it was a relaxed train journey home from Chesterfield.
When you’re entrusting a company to carry out a project like this it is so important to give them a clear vision of what you want. It sounds obvious, but if you don’t it will cost you dear in the long run – having to change things costs money!
My young daughter Danielle loves the Mk 2 and enjoys trips out and being picked up from school in it. In fact she told me off last week when it was sunny and I wasn’t in the Mk 2 to pick her up (I wouldn’t mind, but she’s only four and a half!), so I didn’t want hard suspension and a car so noisy it makes your ears bleed.
I had a lengthy chat with JBS head engineer Kevin Baston about my vision and we decided to use KW coilovers to help set the car up for the new engine weight and achieve a nice ride height that would be useable every day. At my age I can’t be doing with slammed cars that scrape over manhole covers – utter madness! The 3.2 V6 engine is, without doubt, one of the nicest sounding engines there is, so I wanted to fully enjoy the soundtrack without the car being boomy for longer motorway trips. I also wanted a standard design tailpipe as I hate big backbox designs, so we decided on a custom-made stainless-steel exhaust which is a masterpiece – it looks totally standard but sounds amazing under acceleration.
I was very up front from the start that I’d be happy with the standard 3.2 V6 and had no plans to turbo or supercharge it later on. With this in mind, an induction kit was bolted on which is standard Mk 5 R32 fitment and some Kent cams were fitted as they work very well with the VVT Attack calibration and Custom-Code engine management software. This meant that a very healthy 287 bhp was recorded on the dyno – I was a happy boy!
When I first booked the car in, James said they had a modified 6-speed gearbox that would work very well with the new engine. We spoke at length about the 5-speed gearbox from the Corrado VR6 but they were really only meant to cope with 190 bhp, and they weren’t brilliant back in the day. Also, they are quite old now, so I was happy to be using the 6-speeder. I think one of the hardest things to work out was how to get the Mk 3 rev counter working – quite a few hours were spent scratching heads!
Having since spoken to another owner of a Mk 2 with the 3.2 V6 he confirmed that the car ran out of puff in fifth gear, but with the 6-speeder motorway cruising is an absolute pleasure.
On the day of collection James took me for a spirited test drive, which certainly surprised an Audi S3 owner! The car sounded amazing, but was so civilised just cruising around too. The KW suspension is a revelation – never has the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ seemed more appropriate! My advice to anyone is if you can’t afford a top suspension set-up, then wait and save until you can. If you buy cheap you buy twice, as you’ll end up hating the cheap, harsh feel and then have to buy the more expensive choice anyway, so it works out more costly in the long run.
The engine has such a broad range of torque that I can drive through villages in sixth gear doing 25-30 mph, but press the accelerator and it picks up so quickly. You really can be lazy and just waft around in high gears if you please, but through the gears – wow! Due to the cams and VVT Attack the rev-counter whips round and you’re picking off another gear very quickly. The Mk 4 R32 never felt that quick, it made a lot of noise but didn’t translate that into pull and speed, but the 3.2 V6 engine turns the Mk 2 into a very rapid car indeed!
The joy of this conversion is that all the key elements combine to produce a very useable, pleasurable car to drive, as it grips the road so well. All the negative people that go on about the engine being too heavy need to drive a converted car. The GTI is 25 years old, so still gets used with a lot of respect, but what this car is all about is the character that it now has due to the conversion. It’s understated and subtle and looks just like a clean standard Mk 2.
I love the way the car has turned out and JBS really listened to my wish list and delivered. They understood that I didn’t want loud and brash and have built a stunning car. All I need now is some more sunny days to enjoy driving it!
‘The joy of this conversion is that all the key elements combine to produce a very useable, pleasurable car to drive...’
‘Kent cams, VVT Attack calibration and Custom- Code software meant a very healthy 287 bhp – I was a happy boy!’
The GTI is 25 years old, so still gets used with respect’
‘While loving my Mk 5 GTI to bits, I still found myself constantly looking for that elusive bright blue metallic Mk 2 Golf...’
‘One Sunday evening I came across an ad for this lovely bright blue metallic Mk 2 GTI 8V. It was a oneowner car and exactly what I was looking for. It had a small scrape on the rear quarter but otherwise looked very clean...’
‘The two cars that I’d really fallen in love with were the Corrado VR6 and the Mk 4 R32 so the decision was an obvious one – I wanted to give the Mk 2 some real character and I knew the 3.2 V6 would tick that box...’
‘It is the love of the #VW-Golf-R32-IV and the Corrado #VR6 that gave me a lot of the inspiration for the bright blue ‘Mk 2 3.2 V6’ that I own today…’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE 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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- 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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