- Post is under moderationMk1 Caddy R32 Exclusive: the UKʼs hottest Caddy revealed!
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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 moderationON THE LEVEL #VW-Caddy-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Caddy-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk1 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Caddy / #Volkswagen-Rabbit-Pickup / #Volkswagen-Rabbit / #Volkswagen / #VW /
In an age of quick fix builds it’s nice to meet someone who’s been getting stuck in on the same car for years and years like Carl Levy has with his hot rod-inspired Mk1 Caddy. Words: David Kennedy. Photos: Nick Williams.
“I got in to VWs when I started my apprenticeship at a VW dealership,” Carl Levy started off. “It was inevitable after that wasn’t it? I was always in to my cars, I’ve got my dad to thank for that. He’s a real hands-on kind of guy, but it was when I started working at the dealership that my interest really focused you could say.”
You might think spending your nine to five turning wrenches on VW’s latest wares could put you off having anything to do with them at home, but for Carl it only fired him up more. “Four of the guys there had old modified VWs, a pair of Mk1s and a pair of Mk2s, so those lads hold a lot of the responsibility for this car,” he smiled. Carl eventually joined the fraternity with a tidy Mk2 Driver, his second car and the first to wear the VW emblem.
Under the guidance of his old-school loving colleagues, the Driver ended up running a 1.9-litre 8v engine on twin 45 Dellortos and then, when its sills gave up the ghost, that engine found its way in to another Mk2 that continued to serve him well.
“One of the guys from the dealership’s brothers owned a Mk1 Caddy pick-up and he brought it in one day and took me out for a drive one lunch break,” Carl remembered fondly. “I couldn’t even drive at the time and it was certainly no show car, but I pretty much decided right then that one day I would own one.”
Fast forward a while and Carl had sold the Golf and started looking for a Caddy, which, as anyone who has tried to buy a Mk1 Caddy before will agree, isn’t the easiest of things to do. With most of them being work vehicles from the day they rolled off the Wolfsburg production line you won’t find one that’s had an easy life that’s for sure. And of course, it’s a Mk1, so rot, rust and just general wear and tear is usually a bigger issue than is ideal. The third thing any potential Caddy buyer has to deal with is that, for some unknown reason, a load of them get modified by people who, how shall we put it? They like to do things their own way…
“I found it on eBay and it was relatively local down in Portsmouth so I decided to pop down to check it out,” Carl remembered. “The most important thing was I wanted a solid chassis, the rest of it wasn’t as much of a concern,” he added. “This one was solid but with the fiberglass Audi RS-style front bumper it had, the limo tints and some seriously dodgy wheels to name just a few of the tasteful things it had, it wasn’t much of a looker! It also broke down between me buying it and collecting it, so it actually came in to my life on the back of a flatbed,” he laughed.
“I had no real vision for the Caddy when I got it though, I just wanted a cool truck, I’m as surprised as anyone it came this far to be honest,” said Carl. One thing Carl was sure of though was that it would be a rolling project. “I didn’t want to shut it away in a workshop and build it over seven or eight years, never rolling it out until it was finished. There are so many builds that go that route and probably half of them will never see the light of day or the road again,” he reasoned. “Plus my budget wouldn’t have allowed it even if I’d have wanted to!”
After getting the Caddy running and roadworthy again, Carl set about making it his own. And surprisingly, now that it’s all done and dusted, he managed to stick to his plan of it being a rolling build too! We say surprising because we’ve lost count of the amount of people who say they’re going to do keep a build on the road while they work on it… and then five years later the SORN notices are piling up.
First on Carl’s hit list was the bodywork. The truck had been painted black already but it wasn’t a good job by any stretch. Add the holes left from the dodgy front bumper and it was obvious Carl was going to have to start from scratch. With budget in mind, he split the job in to two halves.
After doing as much prep work as he could himself, the truck was sent off to Elite Panel Craft in Wilton to get the front end sorted out, the holes plated up and a nice fresh coat of Diamond black laid down. On the second visit the GTI arch spats were smoothed and colour-coded, the seams between the rear quarters and the tail-lights were worked over and the bare alley bed was painted in bed liner. With a set of 13” Revolution fourspoke wheels, a nod to Carl’s love of all things old-school, he was happy to take in a few shows that year with the Caddy as it sat.
“In 2012 the interior got a full overhaul, it was time to rip everything out and start again,” he explained. “I had already decided on a black and yellow colour scheme, so all I had to settle on was what seats to go for.” In the end our man settled for a pair of Cobra Classics in black with yellow piping. Retro Retrims, a company who’s name says it all, sorted Carl out with a pair of custom-made doorcards to match the Cobras and while they had the material out, put together a pair of matching B-pillar trims and a complete headlining too. “The roof lining was probably the most challenging part of the interior,” Carl remembered. “All the glass had to come out as the roof lining has to wrap under the seals and be bonded. The roof lining also comes through oversized so had to be trimmed as we went. As the roof lining just sleeves over three metal rods, like an old Beetle or something, the tricky part is getting it even and taught without any sagging.”
When Carl bought the Caddy the engine was like the rest of the car; functional but something of a mess of mis-matched parts. A 2.0-litre 16v was matched to KJET mechanical fuel injection from a KR and a 2.0-litre Passat fuel pump but no lift pump from the tank to the fuel pump housing. This concoction of parts meant that it ran, but under any sort of load it’d misfire due to the lack of fuel getting in to the engine. After trying to sort things out with the fuel system from a 9a 16v and still failing to get it running right, Carl gave up and decided if he wanted to progress, he needed to take a step back towards his beloved carbs. A pair of twin-45s were picked up on eBay and a friend sold on the manifold he had to get them fitted up. Finally, the Caddy’s engine was behaving itself, well, sort of…
“It was pretty tired in general, cylinder three had low compression and the rings were shot,” he remembered. “I did what I could to keep it going for a while as I knew that if I was going to redo the engine it would mean pulling everything out and doing the bay at the same time which is no small job, so there were a lot of shows when the bonnet remained firmly shut,” he smiled.
Eventually though Carl realised that the bay was the last thing on his to-do list that needed ticking off so he couldn’t put it off any longer. At this point there wasn’t much left to do on the rest of the truck and the bay was severely letting the side down. As with everything else, though, Carl had it all planned out before he picked up a single spanner. “With most Mk1 bays, the first thing people do is cut out the scuttle and smooth the whole bay, finishing it in the highest gloss possible with a lot of polished and bling parts. I wanted the total opposite of that,” he explained. “I wanted a stealthy and aggressive look with just a few bright bits to really make it pop, kind of a hot rod thing.”
So rather than lose the scuttle, Carl decided to incorporate it in to the overall look of the bay by fabricating a covering piece for it. Inside the space went the Caddy’s ECU, ignition setup, TCI pack, coil pack, horn and alarm and much of the loom too. “Doing the bay was a complete step into the unknown for me, and a lot of it pushed me out of my comfort zone,” he admitted. “Yes, I’m a mechanic, so people would think it should be easy but unless you work for a very specialist company, you just don’t do this kind of thing day-to- day. I work for a small VAG specialist so the bulk of our work is standard service and maintenance,” he added. “You just don’t get normal customers wanting engine conversions, smooth bays and wire tucks!”
Once the scuttle area was all sorted, the battery tray was cut out and the battery itself relocated behind the passenger seat, the coolant reservoir was junked in favour of a top fill radiator and the washer bottle was also unscrewed and relocated. “I then lost the bulkhead brake linkage and servo by modifying the steering column and pedal box to run a G60 master cylinder off it on the advice of a friend,” Carl explained. “Then my friend Joe came over and helped me weld all the holes up,” he added before laughing, “and he only set fire to it once too.”
Carl stuck to his budget guns when it came to painting the bay and opted for a few cans of Montana graffiti paint. Being paint designed for outdoor use, it proved plenty tough and looks just fine and you would struggle to tell it wasn’t a pro job to our eyes.
“Sorting the wiring out was a nightmare. It was such a mess, me and my other half Becky spent hours and hours labelling everything up, tracing what went where and then extending what needed to be rerouted,” Carl added. “Just to make it harder for us I wanted every wire to be black too, which probably wasn’t the smartest idea in hindsight!”
Finally though, and with their relationship still intact, Carl was ready to put some power back in the Caddy’s bay. The original engine was too far gone so a second was picked up. This, too, was way past its best and uneconomical to repair so the hunt for a third motor was on. Eventually a very low mileage ABF lump was sourced from a friend that had left it sitting unused for close to a decade but with just 15k miles on it. “I took the ABF off him and stripped and rebuilt it, replacing the rings, shells and the oil pump etc even though it probably didn’t need it,” Carl explained. “Then I sent the head off to be skimmed, ported and flowed before getting it back and going over every little bit with 3M matt black texture paint, gold and a few bits in brown to make it pop, painting bits in our spare room and baking them dry in the kitchen!”
Carl’s favourite part of the bay is something that is, well, almost impossible to even spot unless you know it’s there. Deciding that the topmount linkage for the Dellortos was a messy solution, our man set about creating a one-off setup to allow him to run an under-mount linkage instead. Doing this involved creating a one-off reverse mount for the alternator, changing the belt and a whole lot of head-scratching and custom fab work.
“I’ve never seen this done before and people may not notice things like this first time they look, some people may never notice it at all, but when people do notice, it makes it all the more satisfying and worthwhile,” he reasoned.
“Someone once said to me one of the greatest parts of modifying a car is injecting a bit of your personality into it,” he continued. “I completely agree with that and as one of my other greatest passions is American football and I’ve supported the Jaguars since I was a kid and they became a franchise, I feel the little helmet I made in to a catch can is another of my favourite touches.”
Now as we bring Carl’s story to a close, we’ve got to level with you. There is so much to Carl’s build we haven’t covered here, the wheels, the custom bike, the wooden trims on the bumpers, the list goes on. And as much as we hate to leave a story half-finished, we quite honestly can’t fit it all in! You see, when we sent Carl a few questions on his truck we said, like we do to everyone, ‘put as much information in to your answers as possible, it makes for a better feature’. Now, we do this because all too often we’ll get answers back on a feature and we’ve got quite literally one-line responses to work with. Which as you can imagine, makes our lives pretty difficult! Carl though, well Carl went the other way, supplying nearly 7000 words on his truck – possibly under duress, we can’t be sure – typed up by his partner Becky!
“To be honest, a silly goal I set myself a few years back was to get a feature in PVW,” Carl smiled. “I thought it was pretty unrealistic at the time and didn’t see it ever happening, so it’s like a dream that it did and it’s probably my proudest moment with the whole build,” he added. “It’s like reaching the top of the mountain, and as a small fish in a very big pond and means a lot to me.” Carl, it’s been our pleasure!
Custom wooden inset on the front bumper is a nice touch and ties in nicely with the BBS’ centres.
Interior is a lovely place to be thanks to new Cobra Classic buckets and colour-coded Retro Retrims doorcards.
Carl’s other half Becky pulling off the ‘this photoshoot is bloody freezing’ look well…
“I wanted a stealthy and aggressive look with just a few bright bits to really make it pop”
ENGINE: 2.0-litre 16v #ABF , head ported, flowed, skimmed and diamond cut, twin-45 #Dellorto carburetors, custom stainless exhaust manifold going in to custom Torque Technic stainless exhaust system, Mk2 GTI 8v gearbox with 4+E fifth gear, Bugpack rear mount, #Midnight-Garage Stage 1 mount kit.
CHASSIS: 7.5” and 8x15” #BBS-RM wheels in 4x100 fitment, clay brown centres, polished dishes with gold bolts and centre caps, 280mm #G60 brake setup with Goodrich braided hoses, front coilovers, rear axle flipped with 1.5” lowering blocks and custom adjustable bump stops, rear camber shims.
EXTERIOR: Full respray in VW Diamond black, chrome front bumper, mirrors, wiper arms, grille trim and body side trims, tinted cross-hair headlights, crystal indicators, wing repeaters and rear lights, sliding opening rear screen, smoothed and colour-coded MK1 GTI arch mouldings, custom hand-built aluminium bed bike carrier, rear tailgate Pro Net, Flushed rear panel and fold away number plate.
INTERIOR: Retro Retrims black vinyl roof lining, B-pillar trims and doorcards with yellow stitching, deleted rear-view mirror and sun visors, Cobra Classic bucket seats in black with yellow piping, Momo Jaguar wooden steering wheel, Porsche #VDO voltage and oil pressure gauges.
THANKS: Firstly and most importantly my girlfriend Becky Hill. She has been there supporting me every step of the way, she has spent countless hours of her time off helping out and even down to helping me type this write up, Kleenfreaks and everyone involved for all the support, my bosses Martin Thomas and Mike Fealy at M&M Autos for all the support and use of the workshop, Nick Williams for wanting to do this shoot, Joe Mallet for his welding skills, the Bpc_retro gang and the ‘Causing a Scene’ crew, Andrew Monteith for his stainless fabrication skills, Nick Collins and Lewis Simmons for coming and getting their hands dirty and a massive thank you to all the awesome people we have met along the way – you know who you are!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.