- 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.
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End of term Fast Fleet
After six brilliant years of ownership, the time had arrived to say goodbye to my Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v.
I can still remember the day my dad and I drove to view the car in Somerset. The plan was to purchase it and then for me to drive on to south Wales where I was studying at university. Luckily for us the GTI was as described and the deal was done.
Driving over the Severn Bridge I went to move the knob that adjusts the side mirror and it fell off in my hand. I instantly started laughing and thought to myself: what have I just spent my student loan on? The GTI was replacing an Audi A3 Sport as my everyday car…
The simple interior design was new to me, but I instantly fell in love with the Golf’s character and the sound from its 139bhp 1.8-litre 16-valve engine. My girlfriend was waiting in the university halls to see what monstrosity I had just bought, and I was expecting a negative response to the older, no-luxuries GTI, but to my surprise she loved the boxy design just as much as I did.
Over the next three years the GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion, from tackling heavy snow to long weekends away with a boot full of camping equipment. It became part of the family and was the perfect car, demonstrating why hot hatches are so popular. Nevertheless, being an older car – and one that I would take to over 180,000 miles – life wasn’t always easy and many parts had to be replaced along the way, including the gearbox. There was also the odd bit of welding. But somehow I could always forgive its troubles because I just worshipped the way it drove.
After graduating I got my dream job as staff photographer at Drive-My and the GTI was no longer needed as my daily driver. So as the car made its debut in Fast Fleet in mid-2015, I began turning it into my perfect GTI. Without the need for it to be so practical, I slowly transformed it into a more driver-focused Mk2, stripping the interior and adding a carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, uprated suspension and Recaro SPG bucket seats. My Golf was also the first car I had driven on track for any decent amount of time. I remember one lovely summer’s evening – my birthday, in fact – at Rockingham and thinking it was just perfection. Despite its modest power, the car’s light weight and general set-up ensured it was quick enough not to embarrass itself.
Driving a Mk1 Golf GTI to the Wolfsburg factory with Drive-My staff writer Antony Ingram really enlightened me as to just how good the Mk2 was. It had better brakes than its predecessor, was faster and had power steering and more headroom. We made the return trip in the then new Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport Editon 40. This and the further honed Clubsport S are two of my favourite modern hot hatches, so much so that I stole the S’s idea of replacing the rear seats with a boot net for my own car.
So why have I sold my Mk2? Mainly down to a lack of parking space and because I simply wasn’t driving it as much as I used to – my 993 Carrera being partly to blame for both of these. So I advertised the GTI online one evening, and the very next morning I got a call from avid Drive-My reader Simon Murray, who explained that he had been following my Fast Fleet reports and had to own the car.
A few more messages and another phone call later and he had secured the car with a deposit, booked a one-way ticket from Scotland and was ready to collect ‘my’ GTI. It all happened very quickly, but I was very happy it was going to a good home.
I collected Simon from the airport on a Saturday morning and we chatted about our passion for cars. After a drive in the Golf, resulting in a big smile on Simon’s face, the paperwork was signed, a quick photo was taken of the handover, and the car was gone. But it’s left me with so many good memories.
Date acquired April 2012
Duration of test 6 years Total test mileage 11,000
Overall mpg 29.5 Costs £6089 since Drive-MY (July 2015), including carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, paint, seats, suspension, tyres and MOTs Purchase price £3500
Value today £8500
‘The GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion’Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRetro Cool More-door Mk2 featuring 16v on ITBs and centre-lock mag wheels. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Patrick Hille.
Unstoppable VW modder Dominic Timmermeister has somehow squeezed a race car’s soul inside this super-early base-spec Mk2. How? With extreme wiliness. Why? Well, why not?
Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, the DTM, has always been the BTCC’s shoutier, more aggressive cousin. Pumped up silhouettes packing insane horsepower; the very mention of those three iconic letters conjures images of Germany’s finest – caricatures of Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs, Audis, Opels, all kicking ass and taking names across the Fatherland and beyond. But in the late 1980s, the Americans invaded… spectators watched agog as Ford rolled out the most powerful car on the grid, the Mustang GT, ejaculating a filthsome 520bhp all over the startline. Ruch Motorsport led the charge, with Gerd Ruch the main man behind the mighty Mustang’s chunky wheel, desperately trying to hold on as the bucking bronco terrorised the raceways of Western Europe.
Meanwhile, somewhere else in Germany and entirely detached from the smoky crucible of DTM, a little old lady, sweetly smiling, was innocently pootling around town in her pride and joy, an early Mk2 Golf in a rather spiffy shade of Irish green. An early adopter, she’d put an order in for one of the very first Mk2s, a boxfresh 1983 three-door in unashamed poverty spec: wind-up windows, brown dash, the full spectrum of beige tones. It was an unusual car splashed on a palette of mundanity; low-spec but deliberately eye-catching in its offbeat colour choice. The car was loved, cherished and looked after. An object of pride; nary a scuff, scrape nor car park ding to spoil the originality.
Fast-forward a generation or so, and we weirdly find these two entirely disparate worlds unexpectedly colliding, thanks to serial #VW perv Dominic Timmermeister. This is a man who knows his way around a rattly old Dub, having owned 40 or so in various states dotted along the awesome>wonky spectrum. Resident of the Lower Saxony municipality of Bad Laer, he’s been the curator and resurrector of a couple of dozen Golfs alone, and one day in 2013, during an idle flick through the online classifieds, he spotted an opportunity that was too good to pass up. “I saw this Irish green car for sale, and I just had to buy it for the colour alone,” he laughs. “I love the Mk2 Golf, especially the early models like this, so I had to make it mine.”
These early Type 19 Golfs are a riot of detail for the truly nerdy minutiae spotter; while the overall form is familiar, they don’t have the central VW badge on the rear panel, they have quarterlights with mirrors set behind them, the indicator stalks are smaller, they don’t have seatbelt adjusters or speakers in the doors… all pernickerty stuff, but this matters to fullyfledged retro obsessives. And so the act of finding a fully original survivor, complete with wind-up windows and the kind of upholstery that’d make a killing in a boho Shoreditch boutique under the banner of ‘shabby chic’, was understandably something rather exciting for Dominic… not that he intended to keep it all original, of course. This isn’t that sort of magazine.
“I guess the overall theme of the car is a sort of undercover retro with race car parts,” he grins, and that’s very much the kind of place we want to be. You can’t exactly call it a sleeper as the wheels are a bit of a giveaway – it’s more an updated survivor with a contemporary twist. Think of it as being the sort of canal boat or ice cream van you’d see on that George Clarke show on TV (you know, the one where he has to refer to every room he ever sets foot in as “an amazing space”, to keep reminding you what the show’s called), whereby an iconic technological relic is repurposed for modern living. What Dominic’s done here is to reboot the earliest Mk2 he
could find for a 2017 audience. And if you think it’s just a case of stop, drop ’n’ roll, perhaps you should start by taking a peep under the bonnet. Now, in the swirling mists of time, story details tend to ebb away until you’re forced to deal with the apocryphal, at least in part. No-one but the very dorkiest keeps fastidious records on base-model runarounds, so we don’t know which engine that little old lady originally spec’d (or, indeed, if there was any little old lady involved in the story at all – but shhh, don’t ruin the imagery), although it’s safe to assume that it was probably a Moulinexspec 1.3 or something. Who cares? Doesn’t matter. For what resides in its place, in a bay now artfully smoothed and pepped up with a fresh coat of Irish green paint, is an ABF. And if that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s the code of the 2.0-litre valver motor you’d usually expect to find inside a
Mk3 GTI 16v, where it’d whistle out something on the amusing side of 150bhp. Dominic’s chosen to augment this with a set of slurping, gargling Jenvey throttle bodies too, with #KMS-management overseeing proceedings, so it’s safe to assume that peak power is somewhat elevated here within these salubrious surroundings. He’s seen fit to stuff in some spikier Cat Cams as well, along with a race-spec exhaust manifold, to feed into that original brief of somehow fusing the DTM with a grocery-spec granny-hatch. It shouldn’t work, but by thunder it does.
Ah yes, and we were talking about the DTM, weren’t we? The relevance of that shall now all become clear – although, to be fair, we imagine you’ve already guessed: it’s staring out at you from beneath the arches. Yep, in a world of fake centre-lock caps on humdrum four-studs, Dominic’s gone all-in here with a quartet of genuine, bona fide, retro centre-lock race wheels. A set of Rennsportmafia adapters work with M72 nuts to ensure that our man’s now a dab hand with that comically large wheel spanner you see lying around pit garages, but that’s not all. This is no ordinary set of race rims, scavenged hungrily from eBay like so many others; no, these have a tale to tell. “These wheels have a real history,” Dominic enthuses. “They originally ran on Gerd Ruch’s DTM Mustang GT.” You see how it’s all tying up into a neat little package?
“I had a pretty clear vision for how I wanted the car to turn out, right from the moment I got it,” he continues. “I visualised how it should be, Steffen Wiewel of Wiewel Motorsport helped with the engine conversion, and I worked hard over the course of six months to make it happen. That said, a lot of it happened more or less randomly; finding the car in itself was unexpected, then the wheels… a lot of it was down to luck. I’ve always been a fan of Ronal Racing rims, and I love the whole race wheel trend in the #VAG scene right now, so it was great to be able to buy a set of wheels I loved with true pedigree and a story behind them.”
Of course, you can’t just slap on a set of wheels and let that be that, there’s the ever-present spectre of fitment that needs to be respected. In this case, Dominic went for an extraordinarily deep tuck, ramming those old-skool rollers way inside the arches and slathering them in just the merest suggestion of rubber, a simple and almost entirely invisible 165- section smidgeon, to ensure a slender delicacy that complements the purity of the small-bumpered ’83 (check out the sneaky way the wheels are built, too – “they’re 0” outside, 6.5” inside,” Dominic tells us with a wink). And naturally, given the retro vibe of the thing, this car’s rolling static – on H&R’s revered Deep coilovers, which do wonders to accentuate the spiralling kaleidoscope of tuck. And just for good measure, hashtag-because-racecar, Dominic’s hidden a set of G60 brakes in there, to haul up the popping, crackling aggression of that ABF in short order.
This car, then, wears two distinct hats. One is that of a concours retro survivor, showcasing the simplicity of everyday West German motoring back before the Wall came down – it even has beaded seat covers, just like every single Berlin cabbie used to have. The other is a rather more boisterous and colourful hat, deliberately ruining the former’s affectation of ‘concours’ by fundamentally altering the car’s character: like a bodybuilder barely containing his muscles inside an unlikely woollen cardigan, it’s a race car hidden inside a little old lady’s shopping car. And that’s probably one of the coolest kinds of race car there is.
We love the juxtaposition of the old lady-spec interior and screaming ITB’d ABF up front.
This car also gave us a reason to use the word ‘juxtaposition’ too, so that’s nice…
/ #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW / #VW-Golf / #1983-Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-ABF /
Dub Details #1983
ENGINE: Rebuilt 2.0-litre 16v #ABF , #Jenvey throttle bodies, #KMS-ECU , #Cat-Cams, race- spec exhaust manifold
CHASSIS: 6.5x17” #Ronal-Racing centre-locks, #Rennsportmafia adapters and M72 nuts, 165/35 Nankang Noble Sport NS20s, G60 brakes, #H&R Deep coilovers
EXTERIOR: Original Irish green paint, engine bay smoothed and repainted
INTERIOR: All original, beaded seat covers, Raid wood-rim steering wheel
SHOUT: Steffen Wiewel from Wiewel Motorsport – without him the motor wouldn’t have been possible, Daniel Liedtke from OEM Equipped for parts supply, Jörg Ballermann for the supply of lips and screws, Alexander Kiefel from Rennsportmafia for the central locking adapters, Heiko Borchardt for help and tips for the conversion
“love the Mk2 Golf, especially so I had to make it mine the early models”
You know that ‘old’ smell that all early VWs seem to magically have? We bet this car smells amazing inside.
6.5x17” Ronal Racing centre locks are actually from Gerd Ruch’s DTM Mustang GT race car from the late ‘80s. That is super, super cool.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPUNK ROCK Words and photos: Jon Cass
/ #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-Syncro-II / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Syncro-II / #VW-Golf-Syncro / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Syncro-R32-Mk2 / #2016 / #VW / #VW-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf
PE teacher Chris Perry might be in his mid-50s, but he is still very much young at heart as his Fiat Punk grey #VW-Golf-Mk2-Syncro proves. It’s timeless on the outside and bang up to date underneath.
This magazine has been around for two decades now and to those that remember it at the beginning, that’s a scary thought! The target audience has always been varied, but more often than not, the feature car owners tend to be amongst the more youthful generations.
Now, Chris Perry, being a PE teacher by profession is a youthful 56, but he obviously still possesses an eye for a cool car as his awesome R32-engined Mk2 Syncro proves only too well. Also, being in his 50s he’s seen the huge changes in the custom car scene over the last five decades that many of us won’t remember… oh and he has cheaper insurance!
We’ll start with some name dropping on a notable scale though: “I lived in Lebanon when I was younger,” Chris recalls, “I went to the same school as Dom Joly and the Bin Ladens in the mountains overlooking Beirut. The streets back then were full of old American cars with fins and rocket ship styling and you couldn’t fail to notice them.”
By his teens, Chris had moved to the UK. This was a time of epic movies such as American Graffiti and California Kid, where the cars are now remembered better than the characters. All this, combined with a plethora of modified model cars, custom car mags and family friends who owned a ’67 Camaro and a GT500 Mustang along with a Yank custom van would set Chris’ lifelong passion for modified cars in stone. “My dad also came from an engineering background so he was always a great source of inspiration and practical advice as he worked on his own cars,” Chris adds.
Before he’d even learnt to drive, Chris had bought his first project: a sit up and beg Ford Pop he used to spy parked up each day he walked home from school. “I bought what is now rare Aquaplane speed equipment to fit to the flathead engine and a Bellamy front end to convert the beam axle to semi independent,” Chris recalls, “but before I had chance to fit it, my friend Steve put up his modified 100E for sale, I had to have it so the Pop became the first of many abandoned projects which for one reason or another I ended up selling.”
A selection of modified Minis followed, then another 100E, this time with a 5.2 V8, a racespec MGB Roadster, a ’59 Impala and a Rover V8-powered Opel T Bucket. Hell, Chris could have held his own credible custom car show had these all been in his collection today!
Fast forward to the hot hatch era when everyone wanted a GTI, and Chris’ attention moved towards Mk2 Golfs, though his first was a lowly 1.3-litre three-door with faded paint and a damp interior: “It made a great cheap runabout while I spent most of my funds on yet another Ford Pop project,” Chris laughs. A Helios blue 1.8GL came next followed by a J-reg big bumper three-door GTI, which actually turned out to be a B-reg in disguise. Yes, those were the days when Golfs were made to look newer than they were. How things have changed!
Despite its dubious history, it served Chris well as did the black Mk2 GTI which came next, bought with various faults from a dodgy dealer, but once sorted turned out to be a decent car!
Meanwhile, the final Pop project with its Dodge V8, Jag rear axle and custom suspension was finally complete, though a house move led to this being sold in the States where Pop prices were at another level.
“The house move and restoration were taking up a lot of my cash and attention, but I still had a hankering for another Mk2 GTI,” Chris remembers, “this next one would be VR6- powered and although slightly nose heavy, the sound and performance made it a great overall package.” By now, Chris had become a selftaught expert in Mk2s, as you may expect after owning and rebuilding so many, but he had begun to notice a significant number of the more capable higher-power cars were of 4WD layout. Before long, a white five-door Syncro with Rallye running gear advertised in a neighbouring village had made it on to his drive, and the VR6 was duly despatched to a grateful new owner in Scotland.
“The Syncro was really good fun to drive, but the colour, the five-door layout and an engine that chewed a piston on the M69 sealed its fate,” Chris remembers. “After a long delay replacing the engine and repairing a rusty floorpan, the white Mk2 found a new home in the North East.” The big bhp Syncro bug had by now bitten, though Chris was adamant its replacement would have three-doors, but not centre around a Rallye shell as he wasn’t so keen on the boxy arches.
No sooner had he located a mint three-door GTI shell with fresh paint that he immediately booked in for it to be surgically enhanced. As luck would have it, a rare three-door G60 Syncro shell came up for grabs in York. “Shells of this spec hardly ever come up for sale, so I put a deposit down straight away and collected it from York,” Chris explains. “It had been imported years ago by a fastidious enthusiast before being sold to the last owner who’d had it laid up for three years minus engine and ’box. He’d planned a similar conversion to myself, but for personal reasons had to sell.”
Initially, Chris planned a relatively simple 20vT conversion with Rallye running gear, he’d even purchased a TT Quattro Sport engine and Rallye rear diff to put inside, but the untidy look of many 20vT installations and his love for a decluttered bay such as those built by the likes of Troy Trepannier and Chris Foose made Chris want to take the project further: “Seeing a beautiful cream Mk2 with R32 transplant and smoothed bay on VWVortex sealed it for me,” Chris recalls. “I knew it had to have a Mk5 R32 and if the bay was being repainted it made sense to repaint the whole car in a colour of my choice.” And if he was to go to this extent, then his preferred small bumper look and a RHD conversion made sense too. Then there was that redundant dash from the TT Quattro Sport which also needed a new home.
Although Chris had been happy to create his previous projects from start to finish himself, a demanding lifestyle, lack of garage and growing family led to the decision to have the necessary major work undertaken by a specialist. “I did a lot of research and read loads of reviews, but I wasn’t overjoyed by the quality of work carried out by the first specialist I used,” Chris remembers. “Some of the work had been done well, but then other areas had been bodged, such as the engine cover rubbing on the underside of the bonnet, remedied by tilting the R32 lump on a stack of washers positioned on top of the rear engine mount, consequently putting unwanted strain on the front mount.” Not ideal then, and its handiwork seemed to be taking an age too. So Chris decided to take the partly completed project to Matt at Dub Unit in Tamworth, where correct Vibra-Technics engine mounts were fitted and other imperfections ironed out. Chris’ chosen colour is a very retro Fiat 500 Punk grey which suits the 80s small bumper Mk2 styling perfectly, all applied including the underside after a full windows-out bare metal prep.
Look closely and you’ll see that all unwanted holes have been welded up, the badges and trim have been removed and Audi 80 door handles have been neatly blended in. The battery and windscreen washer bottle have been relocated to the boot to free up more engine bay space and as much wiring and plumbing as possible is hidden out of sight. The seven-slat grille is both simple and stylish and the rear end has lost its badges, lock and towing eye. The custom rain tray up front made from a combination of LHD and RHD halves plastic welded together is another addition only die-hard Mk2 fans would notice.
The engine itself centres around a lowmileage, hand-painted and detailed R32 unit running OEM management and fitted with a Mk4 engine cover, while the heat-wrapped six-branch exhaust manifold is mounted on to a modified and powdercoated Corrado VR6 subframe. The custom exhaust is now routed properly and finished in the style Chris always wanted thanks to Custom Chrome in Nuneaton.
An abandoned 4WD Mk2 project gave up its rebuilt VR6 Syncro gearbox, which was fitted with a new clutch and a matching VR6 Syncro rear diff that was refurbished and painted. The fuel pump and petrol tank were removed, renovated and all new fuel lines have been run, whilst the tank was refitted with stainless steel straps. All suspension and steering components were then removed, renewed, polybushed and either painted or powdercoated in satin black. To help cope with the extra grunt from the R32, the brakes were then uprated with Audi S2 twinpot calipers on the front and Mk3 calipers on the rear with a matching larger master cylinder, servo and new Zimmerman discs fitted all-round along with stainless flexi hoses.
To improve the handling and ride height, Chris chose a set of KW V1 coilovers, while his wheel choice retains the classic, uncluttered look in keeping with the remainder of the car.
These are none other than Audi A8 winter wheels, similar in design to those fitted to the Golf Country: “I saw a set on a very low white Mk2 and thought they looked just right,” Chris explains. “I located this set in Yorkshire.” Once welded and redrilled to fit their new hubs, the A8 winters were sent off to Rainbow polishing in Birmingham to complete their shiny effect.
Attention then turned to the interior where the cabin and boot floor were fully dynamatted before the TT’s dash with fully working climate control and TT pedals could be installed and all original carpeting and sound deadening refitted.
Rare plastic Mk2 doorcards have been skilfully shaped to fit around the TT’s dash, while a custom aluminium golf ball gear knob sits on top of the stubby gearstick. With so much power to play with, Chris opted for more supportive seats, the front pair arriving courtesy of a low mileage Carerra that had been inserted into a lamp post.
Meanwhile the standard steering wheel was upgraded to a Momo, offering a sportier feel. Since its completion, Chris has unsurprisingly enjoyed driving his R32 Syncro and loves the attention it receives, especially once the bonnet is opened to reveal all, that’s if they fail to notice the TT dash first! “In hindsight maybe I should have future-proofed the car by fitting a Haldex rear end as the new owner may want to take the forced induction route to have even more fun,” Chris smiles. By mentioning the words ‘new owner’, you’ve probably already guessed Chris’ R32 is up for grabs: “Although I have this one for sale, I fully intend to modify a few more cars yet,” he laughs. “At 56 I’m probably considered too old for the modified VW community but I cannot ever see myself not wanting to drive a modified car as I enjoy driving something different from the norm or, better still, something that is much faster than it looks and would like to own a hot rod again one day.”
Just like the Ford Pops he was into in the ’70s during his late teens, the Syncro is a 25-year-old body shape fitted with a large engine and more modern suspension, uprated brakes and a custom interior. It just has the advantage of power assisted steering, climate control and four-wheel drive! By that, you could say Chris’ Mk2 is a bit of modern day hot rod then.
ENGINE: Mk5 #R32 engine, OEM management, six-branch exhaust, Mk4 R32 engine cover, cone filter, #Vibra-Technics engine/gearbox mounts, BMW E45 radiator with integral header tank, Spal fan, twin-box stainless steel exhaust, battery and washer bottle relocated to boot VR6 Syncro gearbox, new clutch, VR6 Corrado front subframe, OEM driveshafts, propshaft and rear beam with VR6 Syncro diff.
CHASSIS: #KW / #KW-V1 coilovers, Audi S2 front brakes and master cylinder, Mk3 Golf rear brakes, new OEM handbrake cables, brake and fuel pipes, polished Audi A8 winter wheels redrilled for Mk2 hubs, 195/40/16 Continental tyres.
EXTERIOR: 1990 Mk2 three-door G60 #Syncro shell, Fiat 500 Punk grey paint, new OEM front wings, arches rolled, side repeaters, roof aerial, rubbing strips, rear tow eye, rear wash wipe, rear badges and boot lock deleted, Audi 80 chrome metal door handles, new OEM chrome strip bumpers, single light seven-slat grille with OEM black badge, custom rain tray from plastic welded LHD and RHD spec repainted, new tinted glass, new OEM lights.
INTERIOR: Audi TT dashboard with climate control, Porsche Carrera front seats, TT pedals. Momo steering wheel, Mk2 plastic doorcards shaped around TT dash.
SHOUT: My long suffering wife Melanie, Matt and Dale at the Dub Unit, Greg Howell at Southam Bodyworks, Tim at True Paintworks, Vince at Stealth Racing, Dan at Turner Race Developments, Jason at the Lion Garage in Hinckley.
Small bumpers, Audi A8 winter wheels and six-pot power. Timeless…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationUNFINISHED BUSINESS / #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-07K-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-07K-II / #VW-Typ-1G / #VW-Typ-19E / #Volkswagen-Golf-Typ-19E /
Mario Verswyvel spent 20 years regretting parting ways with his first car before he had a chance to finish it. But it’s taken less than 12 months to make his teenage wish list a reality. Words: Alex Grant. Photos: Kevve.
We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter whether it was a shed or something more showworthy, there’s something frustrating about modifying your first car. Sure, it’s the machine that gives you a new-found ability to go where you want but turning it into a project is usually a way to watch your wildest ideas get their wings clipped by minimum wages, crippling insurance and the eventual, inevitable lure of moving onto something new. So, what if you had the chance to go back and do it again? Properly this time, with a decent budget behind you, the skills to work on it yourself and the benefit of having spent years fine-tuning that all-important mental spec list.
Going by the inch-deep gloss of Mario Verswyvel’s Mk2 Golf soaking up the lights of snapper Kevve’s flash units, it’s an itch worth scratching. “This all started with a bit of nostalgia for my first car… I guess it got out of hand,” Mario laughs, slotting carefully packed Chemical Guys products back into their carry case. “I had a Mk2 GTI as my first car, and I sold it before I got it anywhere near where I wanted. I never got over that. I spent years wondering how it would’ve looked if I’d finished it… and now I know!”
He’s got every reason to be happy as there’s something about Mario’s car that has the power to stop you in your tracks. Not because it’s making a show of the performance underneath but because it’s subtly ticking all the boxes. Immaculate Oak green paint? Check. Huge power? Check. Killer static stance on one-off wheels? You get the idea. Getting here may have taken more than 20 years but it looks like it was worth the wait. And it’s not a car that disappoints once you get past a first glance.
“I knew exactly what I wanted: a nice OEM GTI, but it had to be very fast, turbocharged and Oak green,” says Mario. “Actually, I wanted this very car. I know the previous owner. I spent ten years trying to persuade him to sell it to me, and I’d almost given up on it. Then he put it up for sale just before I turned 40. The timing was perfect. I had to have it.”
As Mario runs me through the process of turning ideas into expensive reality it looks like his well-cooked plans have been left to run riot. The best example of this is the wheels. If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen a set of splitrim Zender Turbos with a centrelock before it’s because you’re looking at the only ones on the planet! Unable to find the wheels he wanted, he’s had a set specially made, turning to Mario Quets at MAQ Racing to work his magic on them. “I love centrelocks. They were always part of the plan,” Mario explains. “But the plan changed a bit. The original idea was to fit a set of magnesium BBS wheels from a 997 GT3 cup car but we test-fitted them and they were too big. I had an idea for what would work but knew it would take time, so we built the car while it was running 17-inch Compomotive THs, then swapped over to these when it was finished.”
MAQ Racing might not be the first to turn monoblock wheels into splits (Mario’s also had an E30 on upsized bottletop wheels which had been through the same process) but the added complexity of the centrelock conversion really shows off the quality of the work. It’s almost blank canvas stuff, the way the bolts are neatly tucked in between the blades, the invisible joins where the new centres were welded in place, all flawless enough to make you question whether they left the factory that way. It pays not to take ‘no’ for an answer.
“These were 15-inch Turbos originally. We upsized them to 17s with slightly staggered lips, which meant I could get the offset where I wanted it. Then we machined new centres for them,” says Mario. “It took three full days of CNC work, welding, spraying and assembly to get them this way. But I wanted something OEM+ which had never been seen before.
In addition to the hunt for the right wheels, the Golf’s offbeat spec list was keeping the two Marios busy, and replacing the concours-clean 16-valve engine was the source of months of overtime. Growing up in the Eighties and with the soundtrack of Group B Audi quattros ringing in his brain, the howl of a full-chat fivecylinder turbo was too tempting to ignore. So instead of following the straightforward route and fitting a 1.8T or looting something with an R badge, there’s a line of five cylinders under the bonnet with a monster billet turbocharger bolted just in front of the firewall. And it’s not from the donor car you’d expect. “Most people assume I’ve fitted a TT RS engine but it’s the 2.5-litre in-line five from a Mk5 Rabbit, imported from North America,” Mario says. “I don’t know why there are so few of them being used in Europe; they’re cheap to buy and very easy to find. MAQ Racing had three of them, and this one had never been used. Finding a donor TT would have taken longer, cost more and it wouldn’t be new.”
Satisfying a childhood want turned into a project all on its own. It’s an incredibly tight fit, packed full of bespoke parts and slowed down by the need to source information from the other side of the Atlantic when it threw a spanner in the works. The engine mounts had to be fabricated, the subframe reengineered to clear the oil filter, and the transmission was a parts bin job. Luckily the Mk6 GTI gearbox didn’t need to be persuaded to fit but Mario traded up to stronger driveshafts, a Sachs performance clutch and lightened flywheel to get the engine ready for more power…
A lot more power. The 2.5’s trump card is its compression ratio. At 9.5:1 it’s the same as a 1.8T and low enough to be ideal for boosting without costing a small fortune in forged internals. It meant there was no need to rebuild the box-fresh engine before bolting a turbo to the exhaust manifold. This wasn’t raided from Volkswagen’s parts bin; it’s a Precision Turbo with the potential to make 620bhp without burying all of the engine’s lowend torque under a load of lag. After all, what’s the point of building your dream first car if you can’t drive it anywhere?
Looking through the build pictures on Mario’s phone, it’s almost a shame that it’s so tight under the bonnet. The stainless manifold, barely visible at the back of the bay, is a work of art, as neatly built as the carefully routed boost pipework channeled at protractor-perfect right angles around the engine and into the Integrated Engineering plenum – another part which had to be imported. To give you some idea of how tight it is, fitting an intercooler behind the grille meant cutting the spot lamps back to just the lenses. Mario wasn’t going to be told he couldn’t keep a quad-lamp grille.
Even then, the engine wasn’t ready to be started. Having mocked up the bay, the front end was stripped and laid out on a pallet so the 25-year-old metal underneath could be stripped back, cleaned of unnecessary brackets and holes and repainted to the same gloss as the rest of the body. Mario didn’t get a blast of the turbocharged five-cylinder soundtrack until the KMS management was being setup on a rolling road. The important figures? 440bhp and 335lb ft at 0.9bar of boost. That’s dialled back to keep the engine well within its comfort zone, to be reliable and driveable enough to be used on the road.
Was it worth the effort? “Definitely. The sound of a five-cylinder is beautiful, and the power it makes is incredible,” Mario enthuses. “I’ve always liked to try new things. This was the hardest part of the build but I’d do it the same way if I had to start again. It’s really addictive. My daughter wants me to use it as a daily.”
There’s just as much attention paid to the bits you can’t see. The engine conversion meant swapping to Mk4 GTI front suspension and, in turn, that had meant offsetting 60mm longer shocks than the Mk2 was ever equipped with. Needing another one-off, Mario called on Fabrizio ‘BriaLow’ Berter to build a custom set of H&R-based coilovers to get the Golf sitting where he wanted. Fully adjustable, it’s running a 100mm drop, the wheels tucked under G60 arch trims.
If the engine was inspired by Ingolstadt, the Golf’s stopping power was imported from Stuttgart. A Porsche 964 Brembo brake setup is working harder here than it ever was on the donor car and, proficient with a CNC machine, Mario fabricated his own centrelock hub converters to hold the work-in-progress wheels in place. Unseen details, but so important.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward restoration, helped because Mario started out with a car so clean it could’ve been donated to the Autostadt in Wolfsburg. Stored in a heated garage for 16 years and never driven in the rain, you’d need a flux capacitor to find a cleaner starting point. But the Belgian perfectionist still wasn’t happy.
“It was in excellent condition when I bought it, but I knew it could look even better,” he smirks. “I wanted it to feel like a brand-new car, so I renewed everything – lights, windows, seals, wheels, brakes, engine… everything. Then I had it repainted in Oak green by my friend Carlo Orlando.”
That period-correct, heavily-optioned Mk2 Golf interior feels totally disconnected from the hooligan engine conversion. Anything even slightly worn was replaced with new, and Mario opted to keep the standard fabric seats rather than having them trimmed in leather, finishing the interior off with a 1980s Italvolanti steering wheel. It’s also a factory Digifiz car; the unit still works, though the KMS display next to it gives a fuller picture of what the engine is up to.
“Even with a clear idea of how the car would look in my head I couldn’t imagine how well it would come together in the metal,” Mario tells us. “To me, it’s perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing… well, I’d be tempted by a Recaro interior. But that’s it. Actually, I think I could get more power out of the engine, too… Other than that, I wouldn’t change it!”
You know, that’s starting to sound like a first car all over again. Mario may have a full deck here – three times its original power, brilliantly engineered and so subtly modernised that it’s lost none of that characteristic late-Eighties feel – but he’s still not finished. We’re just hoping that the lure of something else doesn’t move this one on before the final details make their way onto the car, or it’s another 20-year wait to get here again.
Literally every single area of Mario’s Mk2 is perfect in our eyes. It’s so good it could be one of our favourite Mk2s ever!
ENGINE: 2480cc ( #07K ) five-cylinder, custom engine brackets by MAQ Racing, MAQ Racing turbo conversion with #Precision-Turbo-PTE-5858 billet turbo, Tial wastegate, custom MAQ Racing three-inch exhaust system including manifold and downpipe, Golf Mk6 GTI intercooler, custom MAQ Racing boost pipework, Integrated Engineering valve cover, fuel rail and intake manifold, reinforced head bolts, #Bosch-EV14 550cc injectors, additional fuel pump, #KMS MD35 engine management with traction control, launch control and lambda control, Mk6 GTI gearbox, #Sachs clutch, lightened flywheel, modified Mk6 GTI driveshafts. / #Precision-Turbo /
CHASSIS: 8x17” ET25 (front) and 8x17” ET15 (rear) Zender Turbo wheels, converted to centrelock and upsized with 1.5- and 2.5-inch lips by ##MAQ-Racing, 185/35 Nankang NS-2 tyres, Mk4 GTI (front) and Mk2 GTI (rear) ##BriaLowUltralow H&Rbased coilovers, Mk5 GTI master cylinder, Porsche 964 calipers with custom brackets, 280mm discs (front) 254mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR: Full respray in original Oak green, rear wiper and side repeaters removed, G60 arches.
INTERIOR: Factory 16v cloth interior, KMS display, ##Digifizdashboard, Italvolanti 16v steering wheel.
SHOUT: Carlo Orlando for the paint, ##MAQ-Racing(the best in Belgium!) for the wheels, brakes and engine, Fabrizio Berter for the suspension.
Adjustable top mounts allow the custom-made BriaLow Ultralow ##H&Rcoilovers to be angled just right.
Precision Turbo PTE 5858 billet turbo has been squeezed in between the fivecylinder lump and the firewall on a custommade manifold that’s such a work of art you could display it in your living room as a piece of modern art!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.