- 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 moderationGRANDE DESIGNS Mk5 GTI gets big wheels, big brakes and a big attitude. It’s kind of a big deal.
SATIN YELLOW #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-Mk5 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk5 / #VW-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk5 / #VW-Golf-Mk5 / #Volkswagen / #VW / #VAG / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-GTi-V
Volkswagen Mk5 Golf GTi “I wasn’t going to do much to it, honest.” How many times have we heard that one? Ricky Grande is the latest person to roll out that line in front of our cameras… Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Anna Richardson and Keith Sowden.
“You can write Ricky’s Mk5 feature this month Dave,” said Elliott as we put the plan together for this issue, “it makes sense, you wrote his last one didn’t you?” Yeah, I did, way back in 2008 when I was only a year into my tenure with PVW.
Back then I had no idea I’d still be doing this almost a full decade later, heck, I was surprised Elliott hadn’t seen through my nonsense at that stage and I was still getting away with it. Now, roughly nine full years since Ricky Grande and I first met and almost a decade since I started on the mag, a whole lot is changing for me on a personal level but just looking at Ricky’s ‘5 is turning into something of a trip down memory lane for me. It’s funny, back then we went on far more shoots than we do now (yay, budgets!) but I still remember Ricky’s like it was only last month. Fresh faced, definitely thinner and most likely with a really stupid haircut, I went to Ilford in my Bora (back when we could take our own cars on shoots before the accountants here stopped all that!) and met Ricky and his cousin Harm and we instantly clicked. James Lipman was the photographer on the day, a guy who is now without a doubt one of the most in-demand and popular car photographers in the world, and we had such a fun day shooting the two cars, Ricky’s Mk4 and Harm’s Passat, on the streets of Ilford in the sunshine. I’ll never forget us performing a kind of rolling road block on a random overpass to get the rolling shots Lipman wanted, me driving his old Passat and him hanging out the back tailgate like he used to. Health and safety? Yeah, we've totally got that.
Ricky and I stayed friendly over the years, bumping in to each other at shows and reminiscing about the old days and how much fun the shoot was. He is definitely one of the scene’s nice guys, so it’s pretty cool to be able to write up the feature on this, his really rather cool Mk5 so long after we first met.
But anyway, that’s enough of the misty-eyed introductions, let’s get down to business. “This has been the biggest build I’ve done since the Mk4 days,” Ricky remembered, “I've had a few things in between, coilovers, wheels and a map, but nothing all that interesting,” he continued. “You see, after the Mk4 I’d sworn to myself that I’d never get that stuck into a car again… famous last words, right?”
He is right. ‘I won’t get so involved with the next car’ is up there with ‘ah, it all got out of hand’ and ‘I didn’t mean to go so far’ as the most common sentences uttered to us when we interview a feature car owner. Ricky bought the car from the Edition38.com classifieds (remember them? Facebook has got a lot to answer for, they were the place to find a car back in the day) for the simple reason that he hadn’t owned a fifth-gen Golf yet and simply fancied one – simple as that! “I wanted a DSG rather than a manual but the deal on this one was too good to pass up on, I just wanted a simple, fast and reliable new daily really, nothing more than that,” he explained. “I don’t think I’d even got home from picking it up before my brother Naz and some other friends started sending photos and Instagram links of sorted Mk5s to my phone,” he added laughing, “I didn’t really stand a chance, did I?”
Things started simply enough, like they often do, a good service and going over at GNR Motors, his brother’s garage, was the first port of call. “I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to my cars that I like them to start in the best condition possible, plus doing the boring servicing stuff first saves money in the long run, there’s no point spending all that money doing a car up if it’s going to blow up from something silly later down the line,” he reasoned.
Service book stamped, next came some coilovers and wheels, a set of Audi Speedlines, which kept our man’s modifying itch satisfied for a little while. A season of shows later, including a few trips to Europe and most notably Worthersee, was the catalyst for the next stage, as it so often is.
We’ve often said here on PVW that Worthersee is where trends are born. We can’t quite remember which year it was now, our collective memories definitely are more fuzzy than clear cut these days, but we definitely remember when we first started seeing the first of the ‘super low, static, tucked’ cars around the lake. They wore German plates, they were almost all nu-wave cars at the time and while the UK was still loving poke and aggressive fitments, these lads were running tall, relatively narrow wheels tucked right up under widened arches on Mk5 Golfs and the like and most importantly, they were doing it without a compressor or bag in sight. It certainly made an impression on us, and it certainly made an impression on Ricky and his crew too.
“Our heads were buzzing with ideas on the way home,” Ricky smiled, “and after a few dinners, beers and phone calls back home we had a plan set for the Mk5 to try and get that look we had all fallen in love with out there.”
The shopping list was impressive; RS4 buckets for the interior, wide wings from SRS like the German boys were running, OZ Ultraleggeras, big brakes on the front and the all-important special super-low coilovers. “Sukh of Westside planted the seed to get the extra low coils on it and he sorted out a set of H&R Ultralow 140s which were fantastic,” he remembered.
The colour change also came around this time. “Out in Europe we had seen so many brightly coloured cars and just loved the impact they made,” he remembered. “I wasn’t sure what colour to do the Golf but I knew it had to be lairy,” he smiled. “I then saw a Lamborghini Huracan at my friend’s place and fell in love with its bright yellow paint which settled it. It was hard to wrap my head around the car being yellow for a while but it gets noticed where ever it goes which is cool I guess,” he laughed, “you certainly can’t miss it!”
A little while later and it was time for a change in the chassis department. No, Ricky wasn’t abandoning the static life for a set of Air Lift’s finest, it was more of a sideways move. “My good friend Jason Debono started Gepfeffert UK which is the special super-low KW coilover arm here in the UK,” Ricky explained. “The H&Rs were fantastic but I wanted to support a friend’s new business, and the KWs came with fully adjustable top mounts, trick stainless bodies and adjustable damping too which really sold it for me.” The result of the coilover change? The Golf ended up another centimetre closer to the Tarmac and the Ultraleggeras were shoved even further up in to the arch liners, resulting in a happy Ricky.
A number of the super-low static cars in Worthersee back then had cages in, purely for the look, and it was a look our man loved. MAQ Racing provided the show cage which also got treated to a wrap of the same yellow as the car itself and the backs of the leather RS4 buckets. Of course, with a show cage and two rear brace bars in place of where the rear bench used to be, something needed doing to the boot itself so in went a false floor setup in matching carpet. Out back Ricky had already put a Gladen 10” subwoofer in a custom enclosure on one side and a pair of Gladen amps on the opposite one courtesy of another friend of his, Amarjit at BladeIce.
“Then we decided that the rear end didn’t look wide enough so I tracked down a R32 rear bumper and bought a R32-style Milltek system from Ruben at Tuningwerkes to suit it,” Ricky explained. “That, the EVOMS intake, RS4 coilpacks and a stage one map is all it’s got under the bonnet but that’s all it really needs,” he continued. “I’d like to have K04’d it and all that for a big jump in power but being this low does compromise the drivability, of course, and living in London like I do I didn’t think it was worth the extra effort and cost.”
Speaking of expense, the most costly part of the whole car was without a doubt the brakes. “The brakes, no question, were the hardest and most brain-frying thing we did to it,” Ricky winced, “we must have spent £6k on second hand brake kits Naz and I trying to figure out how to make what we wanted to work, work.” The fronts were simple enough, eight-pot Brembos and 370mm discs but it was the rear end were things were complicated. “We wanted to go with R8 rear brakes with the twin calipers but with larger discs, so the rears are 365mm, only 5mm smaller than the fronts,” he added. “The hard thing was because we didn’t want to run spacers it made getting the ridiculous disks and twin calipers to fit properly a real hassle but we found a way… I’m not telling you our secret though!” He added, smiling.”
Final items on the hit list were getting the aluminum-look trim across the dash skimmed in carbon fibre, getting the wheel, gear gaitor, arm rest and handbrake trimmed in Alcantara to smarten things up and a final set of wheels, this time 8.5x20” OZ Superturismos robbed, sorry, borrowed from friend Naz.
So what’s next for Ricky? Well, the Mk5 has already been broken and sold on, its parts living on in numerous other builds while the car itself has gone on to live another life. Ricky himself though, like I was when I was handed this feature to write, has been looking back. “I’ve bought another Mk4 Anniversary Dave,” he smiled, “well, actually we as a group have bought six of them…” Wait, what? “It’s another thing we’ve seen being done in Europe over the years, you’ll see a group of mates all with the same car but in different colours,” he explained. “We already had three Mk4 Anniversarys between us and we’ve all got Mk4s in our blood more than any other car, so we figured if we got three more we would have one each and we could do something like that, all looking kind of the same but different colours, should be cool…”
Knowing Ricky and his group of mates, they’ll knock the idea out of the park. Get in touch when you have mate…
“Then we decided that the rear end didn’t look wide enough, so I tracked down a R32 rear bumper and bought a R32-style MiLltek”
while the UK was loving pokE these lads were running tall, relatively narrow wheels tucked right up under widened arches
He is definitely one of the scene’s nice guys, so it’s cool to be able to write up the feature on his really rather cool Mk5
ENGINE: 2.0 #GTI-AXX-code , #Milltek R32-style de-cat exhaust system, #Evoms-Evolutuion intake, #Revision-D diverter, #Stage-1 map running approx 260bhp, Mk2 Audi TT engine cover, Iridium plugs, RS4 coil packs
CHASSIS: 8.5x20” #OZ / #OZ-Superturismos LM wheels with 225/30 ZR20 tyres all round, #Gepfeffert-KW-Ultralow 120mm V2 coilovers, chassis notched front, eight-pot #Brembo front calipers with 370mm discs, rears R8 rear brake conversion with double calipers
EXTERIOR: Wrapped in Satin yellow, SRS wide wings, R32 front Xenons headlights, rear R32 tail lights with upgraded LEDS, Mk6 rear badge, front US-spec front GTI grille, ‘open air’ front vent grilles, R32 rear bumper, rear wiper deleted, boot button popper
INTERIOR: RS4 front sears with backs wrapped in yellow, MAQ Racing show/roll cage, Gladen 10” sub in custom enclosure, Gladen speaker amp and sub amp enclosure, false floor, carbon fibre dash trims, steering paddles and ashtray, Alcantara steering wheel, arm rest, handbrake lever and MK7 Golf gear knob, Highline instrument cluster and Polar Fiscon, Kenwood DNX521dab headunit, MK6 switches, Candy red hazard button
SHOUT: Massive thanks to my brother Naz and the rest of the team at GNR Motors, without these guys it wouldn’t have happened and I’d probably have a lot more money in the bank. My Dad and family at Grande Auto Spares for all the support and abuse along the way, Dan and Shaun at Dubcustoms for the wrap, Jason for the Gepfeffert Suspension, Ruben at TuningWerkes for endless hours of support and parts, Amarjit at BladeIce for all the Audio, Mario at MAQ Racing for the cage and brakes support, Sunny at SS Autobody for always being up for a challenge, Edge Automotive, Raz at RetroRaz for all the retro fits, Jay at Splash & Vac for keeping the car clean, Umer at Trade4less tyres, Yusuf at ECP, Ted at TPS, Manny, Leroy, Ash, Slim, Avi B, Anna, Keith, Jamie Tall, Jamie Kebab, Danny Allen, Sukh, Raks, Ranvir, Jas, Harvey, Pandy, Sal, Vick S, Hiten, Gary S, RayARD, KamIce, Fet for the bottomless cups of tea, Vick N at Lowpro, Si at StillStatic, our Belgium crew, Gurj, Dalvir and Jaspal and last but not least all the lads at workStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationNEW JACK HUSTLER
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do. Jack Smith is someone who definitely walks the walk though.
/ #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-I / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-I / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / VW / #VW-Golf / #VW-Rabbit / #Tarmac / #Volkswagen-Golf-US-Spec-Mk1
“As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window”
“It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one”
“It’s something different and I can say that I built it, there’s a sense of pride in that... it's art to me"
Jack Smith’s Mk1 may look like a genuine #US-spec Rabbit… until you notice it’s right-hand-drive. And that’s just the start of the madness…
A lot of people talk about thinking outside the box when it comes to building a car, but few actually do it. Jack Smith is someone who steps right outside of it... Words: Tony Saggu Photos: Si Gray
To say Yorkshireman Jack Smith has eclectic tastes in automotive faire would be something of an understatement, with less than a decade on his driver’s license the twenty something Rotherham based paint sprayer has auditioned more style and makes of motors than most. “Me, I love building cars, the make and model or even the style isn’t as important as actually making the thing,” he told us. “It gets my mind working, thinking of things that not many people have done before, you know, taking something bland and making it something amazing." His latest metal massaging makeover takes the shape of a German born, English market, Americanised runabout with a petrol to diesel swap, newfangled technology and old fashioned looks... if you’re looking for predictable, keep walking.
“I actually started with a Renault 5 1.2 five door before I could drive,” laughed Jack, “My dad bought it for me so I had something to work on. That went matt black on lowering springs with some P slot wheels.” Once the 'L' plates had been discarded French fancies were replaced with a little German flair in the shape of a shiny Red 1.0 Mk3 Polo. The rims and springs added gave the car the right look until Jack introduced the coupe to a spot of unintended custom bodywork, “It ended up in the window of a local computer shop...” we’ll say no more. Sadly the lad’s luck didn’t improve much with the wrecked red Polo’s replacement, “Yeah, I had a white Mk3 1.3 Polo coupe after that, almost identical to the red one but with wider arches on the front,” he recalled. “That had a Corsa go into the side of it.” After the two crumpled coupes Jack tried his luck with a five door, another Polo, another Mk3, and tempting fate another 1.3. Thankfully the blue-hued saloon worked out well and was only given up when Jacks present project came along. “I’ve had a Golf, a Vento and even a bagged Mazda 3 along the way,” he told us, “I currently have a daily Lexus GS300 that is VIP inspired on Weds Kranze LZX and D2 air suspension with a fair bit of camber.”
Switch hitting Japanese gangster rides aside, Jack admits if he’s honest it’s the Dub life that pushes his buttons. “I think it all started from seeing people I used to ride BMX with buying and modifying them,” he recalled. “I found a German modified VW magazine while I was on holiday in Europe years ago, I couldn't understand anything in it but the cars looked pretty cool and I knew I wanted a piece of that, I started getting PVW after that and as soon as I could drive I bought myself the Polo coupe.” The latest Smith built sensation which you see here began like many makeovers with a chance encounter, “I wasn’t really looking to buy a Mk1,” explained Jack, “I had the blue Polo at the time and was pretty happy with it. My mate Ricky had bought it and done a bit of welding and other stuff so he could sell it on,” he continued. “Then it eventually just came up on a local forum that Ricky was selling it soon and at a good price. I didn’t need another car, but who doesn’t want a nice cheap Mk1? I put the Polo up for sale straight away and got on the phone to Ricky.” At seven hundred quid the antique '83 Golf was a steal, it had plenty of issues in all areas but the Yorkshireman wasn’t daunted. “It was pretty tired looking,” he told us, “and it had the typical MK1 rust problems. The paint was very faded paint and honestly it needed a good general tidy up to make it acceptable.” The car ran though, not too bad either according to Jack, the alternator was a bit dodgy but the car came with coilovers. “I had to take it for a MOT and there with a decent list of problems for me to fix,” he recalled.
A couple of hundred quid’s worth of parts and a spit and polish would have been the sensible thing to do, the resulting ratty but reasonable ride would have kept most Dub fanatics satisfied and smiling. A steady diet of Max Power, Revs, Fastcar and Redline magazines growing up had put Jack in a different frame of mind though, not to mention a couple of older cousins who had done nothing to take the edge off the custom car craving. “There wasn’t a chance of it staying standard,” laughed Jack, “ Initially I wanted to make it like every other MK1 you see at shows, it was going to be silver on polished BBS RS's, but when I actually started working on the car all that changed.” Job one, after the coilovers had been wound down to the limit and a set of Minilites from the old Polo had been bolted on, was to give the car a good clean and go over with a polishing mop to restore the righteous retro Pragus Blue. “As soon as the old stock colour started coming up all my ideas about painting it Silver went out of the window,” recalled Jack, “The blue is just perfect, it suits the car so well.” The next few months saw the car more often than not in pieces on the Jack’s driveway, the Mk1 was a sweet little motor but it was teaching young senior Smith a valuable if hard lesson... it was old, and old things break down and stop working a lot. “One of the biggest reasons the car looks and drives the way it does now is that basically everything needed to be repaired or replaced,” explained Jack, “if I was going to fix something anyway I thought I may as well make it better.”
Straightening the generally abused and rust riddled bodywork set the direction of the project and gave the car is final character. “When it came to the look I wanted It was mainly the US cars that got my attention,” revealed Jack, “The American lads were doing really low cars, with half the floors cut out and full of exotic custom suspension work. I knew I'd never go that far as it was out of my skill set, but I knew after looking at their cars that I wanted to make my car look like an American style VW.” The internet had taught our man that when it came to true US spec, there was only one direction he could go.
“The Westmoreland Rabbit,” he smiled, “Once I started thinking about it I realised I’d never seen a US spec Rabbit over here. Everyone was making MK2/3/4/5s US spec, but I couldn't understand why no one had imported or made a Mk1 over here. It would have been so much easier to import a full car myself, but with the money I already loaded into the car I thought I’d just build one.” It wasn’t long before Jack realized that giving his German built hatch the American look was going to take more than just slapping a Rabbit badge on the boot. The American built Mk1s have a look all of their own with more than a few US only exterior details and body panels. “Getting the parts was no joke,” lamented Jack, “A lot of the bits like the Hella rear lights, turn signals, side markers and the grill I got from Mexico via dodgy websites and ebay. The front panel was found on VWvortex after months messaging people who were breaking cars for parts,” he continued. “It a big piece to post over so convincing someone to do it took a while, finally someone decided to do it for me. I can’t remember his name but the bloke was a legend. He only charged me about $60 then $60 shipping as I only got the top half of the front panel to save on shipping costs.”
The all important and decidedly unique Hella Projector headlights were apparently liberated from some sort of Jeep and sourced through the Edition38 forums for a reasonable £90. “The front wings were a major headache,” recalled Jack. “The driver’s side came from #VW-Heritage over here and only cost £30 delivered, it was a brand new genuine wing. I couldn't believe my luck when I found that.” The passenger side 'fender' however wouldn’t be such an easy acquisition, “The other side I was really struggling,” he explained, “Everyone wanted $500 for shipping and I couldn't justify spending that much for one wing. It took a lot of hunting but after talking to someone on #VW-Vortex from a place called Old-Skool-VW we worked out a way to get around the postage.” Clued up VW heads will already know that the major difference between the German wing and the Pennsylvania panel is the leading edge around the US spec corner light. “He agreed to cut me a spare wing up and sent me only the front part which wraps around the turn signal,” revealed Jack. “He cut it just big enough to fit in a USPS Fixed Rate shipping box. I think this was also $60 plus $45 shipping. Once it arrived I had to figure out how I was going to graft it into a Euro wing.” A good deal of careful measuring, delicate cutting and skillful welding had the wing looking every part the perfect stock American example. While the welder was out the rear panel needed to be similarly cut and shut to house the long rear lights the Yanks like so much. Unsurprisingly Smith has strapped on a pair of Westmoreland issued bumpers fore and aft to complete his American auto adventure, the heavy girder style steel protrusions are normally the first US styling faux par to be binned by Stateside Dubbers, in favour of the slim and sexy Euro examples.
Toned down with matt black paint and pushed closer to the body with custom crafted brackets however, it seems Jack has made VW of North America’s design department’s bumper blunder a thing of stylish beauty. It’s no surprise, with our man being a painter by trade, that the reapplied Pragus Blue top coat is smooth, silky and to our eyes perfectly refinished, Jack though, ever the perfectionist, reckons he could have done better. “I’d like to go back and redo the bodywork,” he told us, “Since I've gained more experience in the trade over the years, I've got more of a eye for detail now than when I first painted it, I was only in an apprenticeship back then.”
Jack told us the original 1.1 under the bonnet was on its last legs, pumping out more oil than horsepower. “I got offered a 1.8 conversion and tried fitting that, but it would never run and no one could figure out why it wouldn't start,” he told us, “I got so annoyed and decided just to rip it all out and find a cheap engine to chuck into it. I saw a 1.6 #GTD for sale for £150, it had everything including the fuel pump and turbo.” Jack admits his experience with engine conversions is pretty limited, but dropping in the diesel was a doddle, “essentially its four mounts, a custom downpipe and about six wires,” he enthused. “Obviously there's a little more to it than that, I had to get a gearbox and some other stuff, but me and my mate Kyle could take it out in less than two hours.” Although originally the cheap oil burner was just supposed to be a temporary engine to get the car mobile, Jack told us it wasn’t long before the diesel started to grow on him, “I soon fell in love with it,” he smiled, “ turning the fuel and boost up made it really nippy and it was still stupidly economical.
The kinda reason I decided to keep it and refine it,” he continued, “I took it out a couple of years ago to clean it up and smooth the engine bay. It still makes me smile when you look in the rear view mirror and see a cloud of black smoke.”
Despite the nicely detailed diesel swap and skillfully executed body conversion, Jack reckons his favorite part of the build lays elsewhere, “It’s without a doubt the wheels,” he smiled proudly, “The Fifteen52 Tarmac348 wheels, I wanted them the day they got released but I couldn't afford them.” A good deal of overtime and skipping a few nights out with the lads, as well as selling his Fifteen52 Snowflakes had the prized rollers bought though, to up the ante a touch the boys at the legendary California style haus custom made the rims in two piece with brushed centres and polished lips for the Mk1.“The suspension is a Havair strut kit with paddle valve management,” continued Jack, “I think they were the only MK1 struts available at the time when I was wanting to get air for the car. To be fair I've had them a fair few years and it’s all still working fine, which is not bad seeing I used to use this car daily as well.”
Raising the turrets and giving the frame a little notching love helps the bags put the little Mk1 in the weeds, “The wishbone mounts and sump sit on the ground now,” he assured us. “The front struts have been drilled out to give me more negative camber and the rear suspension has some camber disks behind the stub axle to do the same at the back.” The dropped and diesel swapped hatch from oop north is certainly unique, not just in the land of dales and moors either, Jack’s built himself something very different from a familiar platform and we reckon you would be hard pressed to find a twin on either side of the Atlantic ,” he smiled, “Its art to me, creating something special out of something ordinary.” We think he nailed it.
1.6-litre Mk2 Golf GTD lump provides plenty of smiles with the 'boost and fueling would up." Looks sweet too!
Air install out back is simple but clean and nicely functional. Well, what more do you need really?
"Heeeeres Jacky!" Jack's plan to chop Si Gray up with an axe thankfully didn’t pan out. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...
Old-skool Cobra buckets work brilliantly up front with rears trimmed to match.
ENGINE: 1.6-litre GTD from a MK2 Golf, ‘fuelling wound up, boost wound up’, Mk1 Series 1 radiator, front mount intercooler, custom solid boost pipes painted gloss black, Mk3 8v GTI rocker cover painted gloss black.
CHASSIS: 8x16” #Fifteen-52 #Tarmac-348 two-piece wheels, ET5 front and ET0 rear with 165/45/16 Nankang NS2 tyres, #Havair #air-suspension struts, paddle valve management with a five gallon tank, #Viair-380 compressor, raised turrets, camber holes extended on front struts and turrets, camber disks on the rear hubs.
EXTERIOR: Full repaint in the original Pragus Blue colour, late Westmoreland Rabbit front end conversion with #Hella Projectors, late Westmoreland Rabbit Long rear lights, Late Westmoreland Rabbit bumpers refinished in matt black, Rabbit rear side markers, GTI plastic arches, GTI A-Piller trims, #Zender three-piece spoiler, flared and cut arches, partially smoothed bay with the scuttle panel removed and hidden wiring.
INTERIOR: Renewed door cards, new carpet, 80's Cobra bucket seats with the original rear bench trimmed to match, boot build fully carpeted with tank and compressor on show with hardlines. Gloss black painted Mountney steering wheel with a chrome centre.
SHOUT: I would like to thank Cayla for putting up with my love for my cars, supporting me and helping me out with them. Big thank you to everyone at Rollhard, they helped me out massively last year, I couldn't have met a nicer bunch of people. Also a big thank you to the guys at Autoperfekt for keeping my cars clean. I would also like to thank Brad for the welding, Kyle and anyone else that's helped me along with the build process.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 moderationThe Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 is popular, thanks to the current classic hype in Europe maybe even more popular than a few years ago. Most people are fine with just a light restoration and a few modifications. Then there's those that build a totally new car out of their project, according to their own imagination and wishes. Let's take Dahmo and his, 76. Einser1, that only sees the sun on the best of days in the year.
/ #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-I / GERMAN STYLE / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-I
When we talk about a, new car' in accordance with Dahmo, we mean it. A top restored interior without losing sight of the old school note. Same goes for the engine bay. Sure, power wise this car has a bit more to offer than it used to, but visually its perfect in every corner. Classic 17“ EtaBeta-Turbo wheels in body colour, combined with air suspension, fit perfectly into Dahmo's overall image.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSomehow it seems Hideo Hirooka has had his fingers in play on all Volkswagen from the far East. The one or other will now think...Hideo Hirooka? Never heard of him. But when you mention his company, Voomeran' it will most likely click. With Voomeran he made himself a name outside of the Asian continent, where he is one of a few Japanese that don't go over the top wide with their kits but much rather discreetly pulling out the original lines. Just like his Mk5 R32 Golf, where all parts come from his shelves, housing the 9,5" wide Rotiforms under the widened wheel arches.
/ #2006 / #VW-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk5 / #VW-Golf-Mk5 / #Volkswagen / #VW / #VAG / #Volkswagen-Golf / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk5 / #Voomeran / #Rotiform MUC 18X9.5 ET15 / Pirelli P-Zero 215/35-18 / #AirLift / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Mk5 / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32 / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Voomeran / #Volkswagen-Golf-Voomeran / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Voomeran-V / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Voomeran-Mk5 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Voomeran-V
Parts like this can be found for the Mk2 up to the current Mk7 in his shop and recently the Audi B8 series was added. With such a „German" portfolio, it's time to show more presence in the motherland, which gives us a nice project for the autumn months.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationVW mk6 GOLF R / Is this tastefully upgraded Golf R the ultimate all-rounder?
HIGH STANDARD / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk6 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VI / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Mk6 / #VW-Golf-VI / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-TFSI / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI-Mk6 / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI-VI /
After cutting his tuning teeth on #JDM metal Stan Kowalski thought he would try a Dub or two. We think he made a wise decision… Words: Sean Matthews. Photos: Neil Sterry.
It’s fair to say that not all journeys that start from A necessarily find their way to B. Even with the best intentions, the route we take in life (whether it’s career, serious life decisions or, in Stan Kowalski’s case, his favoured car scene obsession) can naturally digress and before we know it we’re travelling in the opposite direction. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing, as Stan’s stunning Mk6 clearly demonstrates…
You see, the New York native started out favouring brands from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, having owned a few Mitsubishis. “When I was younger I was a JDM guy,” he admits.
“When I got my license I got my first second-gen Mitsubishi Eclipse. After that I thought I’d try a Subaru out. I actually crashed the Subaru 18 days after having it. I then got myself back into another Eclipse straight after, then onto an Evo. It wasn’t long before I blew up the stock motor.
I rebuilt it and then decided to take it on the track. However, I ended up blowing up the rebuilt motor due to a fuel injector failure. I really liked to race cars but after all I was getting older, and thought better about getting into trouble getting caught doing street racing. So I figured I’d try the show scene instead…”
A factor that gave Stan the direction to change the scene he was involved in was actually his mum. “She had always told me that she saw me driving a GTI,” he explains. “With that I decided to go on the hunt for a Mk4 R32.
I sold the Evo with the blown motor, which I ended up getting good money for.” Looking through all the standard avenues, such as Craigslist and cars.com, yielded no clear or promising results for the right Golf so the next step was to hit the ‘wanted’ section on Vortex and post up details of his dream R32. A reply from Massachusetts arrived, with the seller needing his car gone fast. Stan went to see the car in question and fell in love with it instantly.
This may have been assisted by the fact it had a Stage 2 Vortech V9 supercharger! With 333 all-wheel- horsepower and 320lb ft of torque the R32 had more than enough go to see off many cars and keep its new power-obsessed owner happy.
Whilst owning the R32 Stan and some friends started the #VW club ‘VolksNation’, whom you may have seen on Instagram and which has a healthy following across the world. “Me and my friend Joel started the group. We have a whole bunch of different members, some in New York, some in Pennsylvania, and some in New Jersey. We are about 65 strong but we are continuing to grow.” To say he fell into the dub scene hard is clearly an understatement!
However, another reroute was about to occur and it wasn’t long before Stan was already feeling the pull from another über Golf. “I was going to all these shows in the R32 and all it had was the supercharger, wheels and suspension. Everyone else was going crazy with all they do to their cars and I wanted some of the action… but this time I wanted to seriously modify a Golf R. So, even though it was hard to give the R32 up, I put it up for sale for sheets and giggles at $23,000. It was a steep price but I could afford to as I didn’t need to sell it. And what do you know? Someone came and gave me $23,000 for it!”
So by June 2013, with his back pocket full of cash, Stan ventured to his local VW dealer and put a down payment on a Tornado red Mk6 R. Whilst waiting for his ride to turn up, other money was being ploughed into parts waiting to grace the Golf ready to take it to the next level. “I bought a downpipe, a cat-back exhaust, a high pressure fuel pump and an intake – basically everything United Motorsports (UM) suggested I need to get the car to Stage 2+. I haven’t had it on the rolling road yet but I have seen in many places that 330whp and 400lb ft is normal.”
Stan trusted United Motorsports’s guidance already as he had found the guys there to be a great help when he owned his ’charged R32 previously, as it had not been running right when he first bought it. “As I had a lot of trust with Jeff when he worked on the R32, I only wanted him to work on the R,” Stan explains.
Stan’s next plan of action was to work on the chassis of the R, and it was his chance to fulfil a long held ambition to ride on air. Through more recommendations Open Road Tuning in Nashville came up trumps and was contacted to provide Stan’s car with Air-Lift Performance struts and the ubiquitous V2 auto-pilot management. “I went to them for the hook-up because they gave it to me at a pretty good price. Originally, the boot build and the installation I did myself but then a friend of mine from our VolksNation club opened a shop in Astoria, Queens and suggested we do the trunk setup differently, so I took it to him.” The boot received a subtle tweak, the tank being painted in the same shade of red as the R and some vinyl work was added in for good measure.
An Autopower Industries roll-cage, cordially powdercoated body colour, was then bolted-in, and this completes the rear. The forged Watercooled Industries three-piece MT10 wheels add the finishing touches to the look of the car, giving it a real concept sports car-style that wouldn’t look out of place at an international autoshow.
And the best part of the build for Stan? “Ah man, I just love the whole car. I take it to shows and everyone else seems to love it just as much as I do. People come up to me and take pictures of the R and ask how I got so much done in such a short time. It helps to have a garage full of parts whilst you wait for your car to be delivered! I used to go to shows and never win but in the past year I’ve taken first place at Volkswagen Show New Jersey and first place at Waterfest. I went to H2O International and ended up getting nominated for ‘Top Dawg’ which was a great feeling. But when I saw what I was up against, I was like ‘damn…’ as they all had shaved bays and crazy swaps. But it was a real honour to be in the ‘Top Dawg’ competition.”
Most recently Stan was representing Volksnation at Dub Expo in Atlantic City, winning ‘best in category’ and the coveted ‘best of show’. Stan and his fiancée Nicole are planning to get married this summer, so the changes that are still to come will have to be done on a slightly tighter budget. These will include hydrodipping the wheel centres and bumper plastics, shaving the badges and side markers to give it a subtle makeover.
It seems that Stan’s journey from JDM fan to serious Dub player has found its true course, with no end to this route in sight. We have a feeling we will be watching him as he continues to weave his way through the VW tuning scene for a long time to come.
“People come up to me and take pictures of the R and ask how I got so much done in such a short time”
ENGINE: 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI #VW-K04 , #CTS-Turbo intake, #Forge-Motorsport intercooler, coolant hoses, and diverter valve, #Integrated-Engineering valve cover, R8 coil packs, #NGK spark plugs, #BSH engine mounts, #Magnaflow cat-back exhaust, #APR downpipes, #Performance-Haldex controller, #Southbend Stage 3 endurance clutch, #Tyrolsport solid shifter bracket bushing, #ECS-Tuning cross-drilled/slotted discs with Hawk pads, Tyrolsport brake caliper stiffening kit, #Tyrolsport Master Bracket
CHASSIS: 9.5x18” #ET41 10x18” #ET38 WCI MT10 wheels, 205/40/18 and 215/40/18 Nitto Neo Gen tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance Series fronts and Double Bellow Bags rear, #AutoPilot-V2 air management, #H&R anti-roll bars, #Tyrolsport-Deadset subframe collar kit, Tyrolsport Deadset rear subframe kit
EXTERIOR: ECS Tuning carbon fibre front lip and rear diffuser, CS Tuning carbon fibre side skirts, black vinyl wrapped roof, rear wiper delete, carbon fibre side view mirror caps
INTERIOR: Cipher Auto racing seats, Takata racing harnesses, Autopower four-point bolt-in cage, rear seat delete, carbon fibre interior trim work, Forge shift knob, custom suede trunk setup, Rennline door straps, LED lights
SHOUT: Mike and the guys at Tyrolsport, Chris and the guys at #C&M-Performance , Brett and the guys at The Custom Shop, My fiancée Nicole, My Volksnation teamStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMk1 Caddy R32 Exclusive: the UKʼs hottest Caddy revealed!
/ #VW-Golf-I / #VW-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-I / #VW / #VW-Golf / #VAG / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32 / #Volkswagen-Golf-R32-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy / #VW-Caddy / #Volkswagen-Caddy-I / #Volkswagen-Caddy-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-R32-Mk1
WALK THE WALK
With a day job that involves getting other people’s paintwork spot-on it is no surprise that north east Dub nut Paul Walker’s own project is beyond flawless. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Si Gray.
I’ve got to say, it was DRIVE-MY that got me in to modified Veedubs in the first place,” 37-year-old Paul Walker explains. “I’ve always been in to cars and then one day I randomly picked up DRIVE-MY and, well, it all escalated from there really.”
We would like to take this opportunity right now to apologise for inflicting him with his Veedub addiction, something that has no doubt taken huge amounts of money from his bank account as he chases the high that is modified #VW ownership. Maybe copies of DRIVE-MY should have warnings printed on them like they do with cigarette packets these days. ‘Buying this magazine can be damaging to your bank balance!’. Or ‘modified VW ownership harms you and others around you’. That kind of thing.
“I had an Evo 7 that was just emptying my pockets and I decided enough was enough, it was time for a change in direction,” Paul continues. We’re not going to question how a Mk1 Caddy show car, especially one as good as this, could possibly be any cheaper than a Mitsubishi Evo 7… all we can be sure of is we’re very glad that Paul decided to make the switch because if he hadn’t we wouldn’t be looking at one of the finest Mk1 Caddys the UK has ever turned out.
The Caddy you see here wasn’t Paul’s first foray in to modded German metal ownership. Before the little truck he’d built himself a bagged and beautifully trimmed New Beetle which, although a very nice car indeed, must have been a bit of a shock to the system after a hardcore Evo!
“I’ve always been a fan of Mk1 Golfs, though, I mean, who isn’t eh? But good ones come up for sale so rarely that I started looking at Caddys instead,” Paul explains. “I made myself a promise, though; that I would keep it simple – just air and a nice set of wheels. It all went south when I started paying more attention to what some of the Euro Mk1 boys were turning up in…”
It’s probably worth mentioning that Paul earns his nine-to-five money as a dent man, or to give it the proper title, a paintless dent removal technician. This means that he is something of a perfectionist when it comes to cars and in particular, when it comes to the finer details. “I bought the car in 2014,” he remembers.
“I found it on the Edition38 classifieds but there was only one problem, it was in Portsmouth and I live so far north I’m almost in Scotland. This made checking it out in person difficult,” he continues. “Luckily the Kleen Freaks guys are like family and Adam Gough and Natalie Poulton, who live down that way, offered to go check it out for me, which was really nice of them.” With Adam and Natalie giving the truck the once over and confirming it was a good ’un, Paul bought it over the phone. “The guys got it right, it was in really good condition, which is pretty rare for a Caddy these days. I was always going to repaint it anyway so I was more concerned with it being structurally sound, which it was.”
The Caddy didn’t go home to Darlington straight away though; it went straight from the south coast to JH Pro Paint in Sheffield to have the Air Lift Performance air-ride, V2 management, and the custom four-link rear end fitted. “It was so low on its coilvers that I had to bag it immediately otherwise it wouldn’t have gotten onto my driveway, so it was a kind of a necessity as much as it was for looks,” he explains. Regular readers of the mag will need no introduction to the name JH Pro Paint. The Sheffield-based outfit is getting quite a name for itself in the modified VW scene for turning out more than a few awesome show-winning cars, not least owner Jon Hinchcliffe’s amazing everevolving Mk1 R32. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jon’s Mk1, so it’s fair to say his car was the inspiration for mine,” Paul grins. “It wasn’t until later on that Jon would become such an evil influence in my life!”
Two months later Paul had the Caddy resprayed at a local bodyshop, Autospray Darlington. “It was already white but I wanted it to stand out more so I had it painted in a muchbrighter, cleaner white,” he explains. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition it didn’t need too much repair work doing before it was painted.”
Next up was to sort out a pair of seats. “As I’m tall I wanted a pair of seats that would give me the most legroom, which the Vabrics would,” Paul continues. “Then it was a joint decision between me and the Mrs to do them in Harris Tweed, along with the doorcards, too, which I really think works nicely.”
Then Paul set about rebuilding a set of 15” #BBS-RS s, 8” in width and face-mounted before bolting them on the car ready for Ultimate Dubs 2015, where it went down very well. “For the rest of 2015 it pretty much stayed the same, other than a few bits of carbon fibre trim being fitted here and there. Stuff like the mirrors, A-pillar trims, window cranks, and the handbrake cover were all changed,” he recalls. “And then in June it went back to its second home at JH Pro Paint where, well, things got out of hand, I’ll admit.”
The Caddy came with a nicely-built 2.0-litre 16v in it which, while being a nice, dependable lump, didn’t quite tick the boxes for our man Paul here. We’re sure Jon’s show stealing Mk1 R32 had nothing to do with what was to come… “I’ll freely admit that Jon’s Mk1 was one of my main inspirations,” Paul smiles.
“After all, how could you not be inspired by that thing? But on a more personal note, I wanted a more-modern, less-revvy engine than the 16v. Plus, you just can’t beat that R32 soundtrack, can you?”
Over the next few months Paul and Jon spent so much time on the phone to each other that their respective partners though they might be playing away! But the lads had important build details to discuss and hard-to-find parts to track down. While Paul set about finding a suitable donor car, Jon set about pulling the old motor and getting to work on the bay. 74 welded up holes later, not to mention all the custom jobs that are required to squeeze the big six-shooter in to a tiny Mk1 bay, the whole thing was bare metalled ready for the next stage. That doesn’t really do justice to how much work was involved in getting the bay ready for paint, as anyone who has smoothed an engine bay will know. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how good you are at your craft, it’s a difficult, time-consuming and at times downright frustrating job. “It took Jon the best part of a month’s solid work to do the bay as it’s so time-consuming removing all the sealer and making sure every single millimetre is flawless,” Paul tells us. “Thankfully as the Caddy was in such good condition in the first place there wasn’t any major extra work to be done other than a few rust areas and the typical battery tray issues.”
While Jon was hard at work Paul found a suitable car and engine, shipped off a few odd bits to be colour-coded and got in touch with Andy Outhwaite from ACR to have a custom loom made up for the car and set about lengthening parts of the wiring to ensure it would slot easily into the smooth bay.
There’s no doubting Jon and the JH Pro Paint team know how to put out a top-level paint job and Paul’s bay is absolutely flawless from top to bottom, no matter how close you get or what angle you look at it from.
To break up the white, the sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims and mirrors were all carefully reproduced in carbon fibre. We’re big fans of the carbon fibre strips in the bed, too, and the Volkswagen text has been reproduced on the rear wall of the cab, mirroring the text on the tailgate.
“I think the hardest part about the whole build, or at least the most frustrating anyway, was having to take the engine in and out about ten times to test fit everything and get it all right,” Paul reveals. “My wings are welded and smoothed to the front panel, so getting it all offevery time was a right pain, especially as we had to be so careful.”
Once the engine was in properly and the fuelling issues were ironed out, hearing that classic R32 off-beat burble was more than enough to make Paul forget all about any frustrations he had endured. “Oh, hearing it fireup properly the first time was definitely the best part of the build; you just can’t beat that noise, can you?” he says with a beaming smile. “I’ve had a few people say it’s too heavy an engine for a Mk1 but since when has a Caddy been meant to handle like a race car? They were built to carry sheep and stuff around! Some have also said that the Caddy is pointless as I can’t put stuff in the bed anymore but that’s usually the kind of thing people who don’t quite ‘get it’ would say…”
With people who do ‘get it’ the Caddy has gone down very well indeed. It debuted at Ultimate Dubs back in March (we got this shoot in the bag the day before), and since then Paul has taken it to Elsecar, Early Edition and Letstance over in Belfast, where it’s gone down an absolute treat.
It’s no surprise that Paul’s Caddy has had crowds around it at every event it’s been to so far. It is one of the best Caddys the UK has ever turned out, it’s just such a complete car. The amazingly clean engine bay is the star of the show but you don’t need to look too far to realise that no corners have been cut. It really is an incredibly complete car, not just for a Mk1 Caddy but for a Mk1 in general, and that’s no easy task these days with the level of Mk1s being as high as it is.
And yet perfectionist Paul isn’t finished yet. “Since the shoot I’ve put some Fifteen52 two-piece F40 Tarmacs on it so I can run bigger brakes, and I’m planning to transform it in to what I’m calling ‘the race Caddy’ over next winter too,” he chuckles. “Watch this space…”
Consider it watched Paul, consider it watched!
Dub Details / #VR6 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-VR6 / #BBS / #Air-Lift
ENGINE: Mk4 #R32 engine, VR6 #VW-Racing induction kit, #Time-Attack map, full carbon-skinned VR6 gearbox with #Wavetrac limited-slip diff, custom manifold and exhaust system, custom engine mounts and driveshafts, custom radiator, #Forge-Motorsport coolant pipes, full wire tuck and smooth bay, hidden battery under bed with positive and negative terminals behind driver’s seat.
CHASSIS: 8x15” #BBS-RS043 wheels totally rebuilt and face-mounted, #Air-Lift-V2 management with #Air-Lift Lift rear bags and #GAZ front struts, tank and compressors hidden under the bed, four-link rear axle with drop plates, G60 280mm front brakes with braided hoses.
EXTERIOR: Resprayed in bright white, carbon fibre sidestrips, arch spats, A-pillar trims, door mirrors, strips in the bed and strips on the front bumper, custom front and rear bumpers, Volkswagen script on the rear of the cab.
INTERIOR: Vabric half-back seats trimmed in ‘houndstooth’ Harris Tweed and grey Alcantara, Harris Tweed and Alcantara doorcards, flocked dash, Alcantara headlining and A-pillar trim, carbon handbrake, cover and window winders.
SHOUT: Jon Hinchcliffe at JH Pro Paint, Justin, Pete and Aidy at Autospray Darlington for my paint and detailing, Mike and Vick at Kleen Freaks for their backing, Alex Begley at Fifteen52, my good mates Anthony Warrior and Warwick French, and, most importantly, my wife for putting up with me while I did it!
If ever there was a face that summed up being obsessive about a car being absolutely spot-on, this is it. Paul takes the job of keeping his Caddy spotless very seriously, and who can blame him when the results look this good?!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under 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.