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    Jon Cass
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      Posted on Wednesday, 17 April 2019

    I have just purchased a 1977 Series 2 XJ6 4.2. When test driving the car, the oil pressure gauge was recording the recommended pressure of 40psi at 3,000rpm, but on the journey home the oil pressure dropped alarmingly to around 15psi before climbing ...

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    GREAT WHITE #Volkswagen-Corrado-G60 / #Volkswagen-Corrado / #Volkswagen / #VW-Corrado-G60 / #VW-Corrado / #VW / #2017 / #1992 / #Autostrada / #Volkswagen-Corrado-Supercharged / #Volkswagen-Corrado-G60-Supercharged

    Modified Corrados are hard to come by at the best of times and tastefully tuned ones even more so. Thankfully, Declan Bowyer’s G60 is a good egg! Words & Photos: Jon Cass

    It was only around five or six years back that VW’s striking Corrado seemed to be making a major comeback with an array of modified examples suddenly breaking on to the show scene. There was much whooping and high-fiving from Corrado fans all round, yet disappointingly, this trend has slowed down more recently. Thankfully it looks like at least a few are waiting in the wings. The vast number of stunning, fresh VAG builds at 2016’s Elsecar At The Races was truly mind blowing, yet it hadn’t gone unnoticed that there were barely any non-standard Corrados present still. There was one though, and boy did it stand out… as the two trophies from that day will testify.

    Declan Bowyer may only be 27-years-old, but his passion for VW’s timeless coupe stems back to 2007 when he was just 17. “I went to my first Dub meet that year and there was a blue Corrado VR6 running Schmidt Modernlines with Porsche seats. From that moment on I knew this was the car to have,” Declan smiled. Yet, like so many of us, his driving career actually began with a classic Mini. “I learnt a lot from that car in the time I had it, even though it was eventually stripped and never fully rebuilt, “ Declan confesses, “I met my girlfriend, Carly at a VW show soon after and bought a Mk1 Golf GX.” The Mk1 was never going to be a show winner as Declan’s budget was very limited at the time. It was, however, lowered to the max and consequently more was spent replacing sumps than tyres!

    “While I had the Mk1, I started looking around at Corrados, but I was still only 19 at the time,” Declan remembers. “I noticed new ones pop up on eBay and this white, ’92 G60 appeared for sale only two hours away from me, so I went over to have a look.” When a vendor is genuinely into his cars, especially the model you’re buying, that’s always a good sign and fortunately this was the case here. “He had other interesting projects on the go including a Mk1 Caddy with a V6 Audi lump in the back. Thankfully the Corrado seemed genuine, so I went for it.” Apparently it was also completely standard, still wearing its factory BBS RZs, complete with matching spare wheel and cloth seats, though this wasn’t in the best condition and the bodywork had began to show signs of rust; “I didn’t think it needed much work despite this, but I’m sure as anyone else with a G60 Corrado will know that they can soon turn into a money pit,” Declan laughs.

    Initially things went well and Declan drove his new purchase around for around two years with no serious problems; “I didn’t plan on heavily modifying the car to start with,” Declan explains, “I just added a set of coilovers, a new exhaust and painted the wheels.” The Corrado was even driven to the Nurburgring where it performed pretty well, but shortly after things started to go wrong. “The head gasket let go on a trip back from Cornwall, but at least this gave me the excuse to remove the head and opt for a Stage 2 upgrade with gas-flowed, ported and polished head,” Declan smiles.

    Attention then turned to the worn cloth interior, which would arguably have been a little downmarket even when the car was new. Luckily Declan’s partner, Carly had decided to remove some of the mods from her Lupo before putting it up for sale and amongst these were a pair of Porsche 964 half-leather seats, which really suit the Corrado. Declan managed to source a set of leather door cards, a rear bench and also added a black carpet with fresh Alcantara headlining to match. “Soon, after all the interior had been completed, I was driving along and suddenly the front subframe snapped,” Declan recalls, “I had to buy a new subframe, which I strengthened, but there had been a lot of suspension damage caused, too, so I bought a set of KW Variant 1 coilovers, a poly bush kit and wishbones. I then had everything powder coated and sealed to eliminate anything like this happening again.”

    By now a pattern was emerging where modifications had escalated following disasters and more were yet to come. There was a brief reprieve before disaster number three struck, however, enough to give Declan time to sort the deteriorating bodywork. “I was still driving the Corrado on a daily basis and this was having an adverse effect on the paintwork,” Declan recalls, “rust was starting to appear in a few places and I needed to get it sorted before it got too bad.”

    Luckily Declan had a friend that worked at Lexus who was offering to carry out a full respray. All Declan needed was to strip the car first to save time in the paint shop. “I remember it was winter time and I had to drive the car there in the snow with no windows in, which was certainly an experience,” Declan laughs. “I wanted to keep it the original Alpine white as at the time I had no intentions of spraying the engine bay.” The end result was flawless, but this also meant the Corrado was now too nice to remain a daily driver.

    As 2012 came around it marked a return to the now familiar disaster zone when the G60 engine packed up whilst returning from Nottingham; “We’d just bought our first Royal Python snake (as you do – All) and were on our way home, so we had a few strange looks from the recovery driver as we tried to conceal the snake in a fabric bag,” Declan smiles.

    The failure of the G60 at least meant Declan had an excuse to sort out the engine bay, which was by now letting the side down compared to the rest of the car; “I had to take the engine out anyway, so it was a now or never decision when it came to smoothing the bay itself,” he remembers. This would be the hardest part of the whole build taking loads of time and patience with all of the work carried out by Declan, his family and a few mates in his tiny garage. “I’d not carried out any fabrication work on this scale before, but as I’m a hands-on type of guy, I was ready to give it a go,” Declan tells us. “I’d studied other cars I’d seen at shows along with magazine features which helped a lot, but all the work involved and having to buy parts in from Germany and the USA meant the Corrado was off the road for two years in total.

    Once all the fabrication work was complete, the bay could be sprayed by the highly respected, Tim Ansell at True Paintworks; “When it came back it blew my mind, but I then started panicking about how I was going to put an engine and all its ancillaries back inside without causing any damage,” Declan adds.

    The damage to the original engine was unrepairable, so a second-hand unit was sourced and rebuilt from a bare block, complete with PG Stage 2 gas-flowed and ported head with Bar-Tek hydraulic lifter kit. It also benefits from 550cc injectors and looks the part with that custom G60 cam cover. The supercharger is a Stage 4 Jabba Sport item with 65mm pulley and Declan has also added a BBM induction kit, with a custom intake pipe, angled to exactly 90 degrees along with custom coolant hoses and a Mocal oil cooler. Some serious smoothing has taken place on the manifold and the custom intercooler set up includes a Rallye U-bend, custom hoses and top-fill radiator, while the exhaust system is now a Milltek Classic item with de-cat connected to a four-branch stainless manifold. “I‘m really happy with the result, especially the colour coding, which went just as planned,” Declan smiles. “The only aspect I’d change is the stock ECU (currently running an SNS Pro Digi-lag custom chip), as I could have omitted a lot of sensors and running issues, though these problems have finally been sorted out,” he said.

    With the engine back in, thanks to a cupboard full of bed sheets to protect the bay, Declan then had to reroute the wiring underneath to retain that cleaned look. The ECU is now inside the cabin and the battery and washer bottle are located in the boot, while the ignition coil is mounted on the scuttle panel. “I then had to make my own length HT leads to the coil to keep that hidden and ran the vacuum hose for the ECU through to the inside of the car,” Declan points out, “I could then get rid of the coolant expansion bottle thanks to the top fill radiator I’d made.”

    You can understand by Declan’s detailed explanation why the whole engine bay process took two years. In fact, given the amount of thought and money that’s gone into it all, we’re surprised it didn’t take him longer!

    The final puzzle to solve was now the wheels… the make or break point of any modified car. “I knew which wheels I wanted all along; a set of dark grey, 16” Autostrada Monzas and it had taken four years to find some,” Declan recalls. “The dishes were refurbed by Ellie at Voodoo Motorsport and Slam Signs managed to reproduce the original logo in gold leaf to make them perfect. I couldn’t wait to get them on, but as ever this didn’t go to plan,” Declan recalls. “I had already upgraded the brakes to Ibiza Cupra R Brembo callipers and discs and had been advised these wheels would just bolt straight up to them. They did on the rear over my Mk4 brake conversion, but not on the front so I had to shave 10mm from the calliper carriers, which did the trick!” The result is tight, but it works perfectly and stops on a penny according to Declan.

    Seven years of hard graft and a last minute fitment of an OMP steering wheel eventually saw the Corrado make a return to the road where it soon picked up a healthy stack of trophies, a reward for Declan’s efforts. “I’m really proud at what I’ve achieved along with some help along the way and what seemed like an endless string of disasters has resulted in a positive outcome,” Declan smiles. The Corrado may often be overlooked these days, but when you see creations like this spring out of the woodwork, it’s sometimes hard to work out why.
    Porsche 964 seats always look at home in a 'Rado, don't they? Royal Python snakes (just out of shot), not so much...

    "I’m sure as anyone else with a G60 Corrado will know that they can soon turn into a money pit”

    "I had to take the engine out, so it was A now or never decision when it came to smoothing the bay"

    Dub Details #Volkswagen

    ENGINE: 1.8-litre four-cylinder G60 in smoothed engine bay with Stage 2 head, #Stage-4-supercharger with Rallye U-bend – painted in Toyota Demeca grey. #BBM fuel rail, pressure regulator, 550cc injectors, custom coolant pipes, custom intercooler set-up, BBM modified induction kit, smoothed inlet manifold – painted in Toyota Demeca grey, #Supersprint four-branch stainless exhaust manifold, #Milltek exhaust system with decat. Expansion tank deleted, battery relocation to boot, washer relocation to boot, custom wire tuck, #SNS 5.5 Digi-Lag ECU chip, custom silicone induction hoses, custom top-fill radiator, custom G60 cam cover, braided fuel lines, braided oil cooler lines, Mocal oil cooler with thermostat, MSD Blaster coil with Magnacor HT leads, Stage 2 carbon Kevlar clutch kit, #Walbro 226 fuel pump

    CHASSIS: 7x16” (front) and 8.5x16” (rear) ” #Autostrada-Monza wheels painted metallic grey with polished lips and black barrels with Nankang NS2 tyres and 30mm 4x100 to 5x114.3 custom adapters. #KW-Variant-1 coilovers, poly-bushed front subframe, poly-bushed steering rack, poly-bushed wishbones, Mk4 Golf top suspension mounts, #Eibach anti-roll bars with poly-bushed mounts, Ibiza Cupra R Brembo front callipers (modified), 305mm drilled and grooved front and rear discs, Mintex front brake pads, custom front braided brake hoses, Mk4 Golf alloy rear callipers, #EBC Ultimax rear brake pads, custom braided brake lines, Porsche 944 brake fluid reservoir

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in VW Alpine white, side strips deleted, badgeless grille, tinted headlights, carbon number plate light plate, 50mm front VR6 splitter, rear wiper deleted

    INTERIOR: Porsche 964 half-leather Alcantara front seats, Corrado black leather rear bench and door cards, OMP 330mm steering wheel, black Alcantara roof and sunroof lining, black VR6 sun visors, leather handbrake lever

    SHOUT: This has been a family and friends build and I couldn’t have done it without them. Huge thanks to Tom Justice, my brother Sean Bowyer, my mum and dad, Les Bowyer and Barbara Bowyer, my friend Joe Whitmore who apparently helped in some way, my fiancée Carly Dolman, Tim Ansell at True Paintworks and my friend Paul Cross, Ellie at Voodoo Motorsport and everyone who has supported me along the way, plus Chris Perry for helping to find the photo shoot location
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    Jon Cass
    Jon Cass joined the group VW Corrado
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    PUNK 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.

    Dub Details

    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…
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    NAUGHTY #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 #VR6 / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-II / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Golf-VR6-II / #Volkswagen / #VW-Golf-Mk2 / #VW-Golf-II / #VW-Golf / #VW / #VW-Golf-RV6-II / #Volkswagen /


    While some of you won’t get Darren Bates’ naughty ’90s-inspired Mk2 VR6, for those that were there first time around this supercharged terror will be right up your street! Words and photos: Jon Cass.


    Ah yes, the ’90s VW show scene. The cars, the people, where are they now? It’s a question that’s been asked many times at shows and meets over the last decade and often results in an entertaining and rewarding conversations as many older show-goers have encyclopedic memories. Go on, ask a dedicated Dub-head about that Mk1 on three-spokes with the purple paint job you last saw in 1998; if they don’t remember it, one of their mates will. Chances are they might even know where it is now, that it’s due to make a return any time soon and that those infamous three-spokes are sat in so-and-so’s loft gathering dust. There’s even a group on social media now to help answer all our ’90s show queries and, to prove our memories aren’t that fuzzy quite yet, it’s got a lot of people reminiscing.

    Now, I’m making this sound like these amusing stories and detailed memories are likely to fade away into nothingness if they’re not passed on to the next generation pretty sharpish, almost as though the ’90s show-goers are akin to surviving veterans from the First World War. Thankfully, though, this is far from the truth and more often than not, those same folk who were slaving away in their garage 20 years ago are still coming up with the goods today. The only real difference is there’s Radio 2 on in the background instead of Radio 1.

    Proof of this is Darren Bates and his supercharged Mk2 VR6. He’s collecting trophies like there’s no tomorrow and is so full of enthusiasm, you’d think this was his first ever car, let alone show car. Yet, Darren has been modifying VWs since the late ’80s, beginning with a Mk1 cab which set the ball rolling and he’s never really stopped since. “I had to sell that one, but within a month I’d bought another as I missed the first one so much,” he smiles.

    His next purchase was an orange Mk1 Cab which then became a regular sight on the show scene for the best part of the next 11 years – from the ’90s through to the early 2000s. It was bright, it was loud and it was heavily modified. It was certainly of its time and a highly respected show car to boot. Numerous trophies and magazine features proved its worth and Max Power (at the height of its popularity) voted it one of its top 100 cars of all time. Hell, even Mike Brewer had it on his TV show, Revved Up! The OEM fans might be shaking their heads in disbelief right now but back in the ’90s Darren was at the top of his game.


    “I sold the Mk1 in 2006 and bought myself a Mk2 Edition 1 G60,” Darren recalls. “I soon bought a Mk1 Caddy and, sure enough, couldn’t resist the temptation to slot the G60 from the Mk2 into the pick-up!” The smiles were short lived as the caddy soon met its fate in a collision which sadly wrote it off. “To cheer myself up, I went out and bought a Pearl white Corrado with a grey leather interior and had a G60 in that one also,” Darren remembers. There’s a theme building here, as you’ve probably spotted, but a Noble M12 was soon to randomly shake that up and Darren then held on to the Brit sports car for five years.
    “The call of the VW badge returned and this time, I went for a Mk1 Caddy in black with flames down the side,” Darren laughs. “I slammed it to the deck and got it looking just the way I wanted.” The down side of a slammed Mk1 on coilovers was soon realised after the first few potholes. “It was great fun to drive but my back was suffering with the harsh ride; it confirmed I wasn’t as young as I used to be!” The Caddy was sold before Darren’s spine shattered and he set about looking for a replacement: “It had to be a Mk1 or Mk2 Golf as they’ve always been in my blood. I just had to make sure it would be a little more comfortable to drive than the Caddy!”


    Sure enough, his next purchase was this car here: an #1989 Mk2 Golf 1.6CL German import lefthooker which was promptly stripped down. The shell was taken back to bare metal to reveal the rot and a new front valance, inner wheel arches and firewall welded in place. The shell itself was repainted an attractive baby blue shade and new rubbers, bumpers, locks and handles were all fitted to the exterior. Underneath, the shell received new brake pipes and brake lines. In contrast to his extreme Mk1 Cab of the ’90s, Darren’s opted for a more restrained look for his Mk2, inspired by other cars currently on the show scene. Having said that, this is still eyecatching enough! “The small bumpers and lack of side skirts and wheel arch extensions show off the Mk2’s lines better,” Darren reckons. “And the welded metal plate across the tailgate gives a flush effect, which I prefer.” There are subtle details, too, such as the door handles with Volkswagen inserts. The overall finish is flawless and the look could be described as slightly oldskool, although that was Darren’s full intention all along. “I didn’t want to tread the huge bodykit and massive rims path but I liked the idea of dropping a few hints towards the cars that were around when I started on the show scene.”

    Perhaps the flush tailgate could be included amongst them, although the smoked rear lights, frosted indicators and black painted front valance are definitely old-skool mods.

    After owning a string of supercharged G60s, Darren knew this one also had to have similarly forced induction, though rather than use a familiar four-pot he wanted ‘Baby Blue’ to be a little different. “I liked the idea of a supercharger and a VR6,” Darren smiles, “the combination of instant power, bags of torque and an infectious sound were too hard to resist!” A 2.8 VR6 from a Mk3 was located, stripped down, polished and painted to show standard. Darren added new colour-coded blue Samco hoses, water pipes and HT leads. He also fitted a new chain, pulley and sensors.

    A normally aspirated Mk2 VR6 is a hoot to drive anyway and some real bargains can be picked up now as people opt for newer 1.8Ts. Darren wanted his to have an edge over the NA VR6 and a V2 #Vortex-supercharger achieved just that. “I had to upgrade to 300 injectors and adapt the sump to incorporate the supercharger,” Darren points out, “but other than that it was fairly straightforward.” The usual Mk2 exhaust has three boxes but Darren preferred to have a custom exhaust fabricated with just two boxes to improve the output. The exhaust also boasts a quirky upturned tailpipe which always attracts admiring glances. A trip to see VR6 guru, Vince at Stealth Racing in Southam, proved to be very useful with the Mk2 subsequently producing 240bhp on the rollers. “I can’t recommend Vince enough, he couldn’t do enough to get my car running at its best,” Darren adds.

    He’s also recently swapped the charger pulley to one ten millimetres smaller than standard and running at 6-8psi and another trip to Stealth saw it running at a highly impressive 291bhp. There are plans too for a Devil’s Own cooling system which should see performance improved even more!


    To cope with the increase in power, G60 brakes make a good investment, though these are hidden by the Porsche 928 16” rims with a five-stud pattern. The stretched tyres enhance the classic Porsche design and Darren is well pleased with the result. He’s also happy that he can have the benefit of slamming his Mk2 into the weeds if he wishes, whilst still retaining a comfortable ride. We’re talking air-ride here, an option that wasn’t as readily available or affordable back in the ’90s. The Air Lift V2 airride kit is mounted in the boot and even has a colour-coded tank. It shares its home with a neat sound system containing neon lights: “They shine against the chrome of the compressors. It looks really cool, especially at night.”

    Once inside, the Mk2 dash may look familiar, though it’s now been treated to extra VDO gauges and a Momo steering wheel with the addition of an iron cross insert for the horn. To the left of the dash sits a useful boost gauge linked to the supercharger. “I wanted the interior to be crisp and clean,” Darren points out, “that’s why pretty much everything inside is black.” This includes the carpets, doorcards, back seats and even the reclining Sparco race seats which cleverly manage to look both supportive and comfy! “The interior is an ongoing love-affair so this may yet see some changes over the next few years,” he adds. Going by the amount of trophies Darren and his Mk2 have won over the past year, it would seem no changes are necessary, but as we all know you ideally need to make progress to keep those trophies coming in.

    “I’m often gobsmacked about the reactions it receives; people just seem to love it,” Darren smiles. “The paint, the stance and especially the supercharger are all regular talking points at shows!” And we’re not just talking small shows here either; how’s ‘Best in Show’ at the GTI Festival at Santa Pod for you?

    Okay, he may have had some time off from collecting silverware since his well-known Mk1 was sold in 2006 but his latest Mk2 just goes to demonstrate that Darren hasn’t lost his magic touch. He can still produce a show-stopper; it’s just this one’s headunit might be tuned in to Radio 2 instead of Radio 1!


    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 2.8 #VR6 fully rebuilt, stripped polished and painted, blue #Samco hoses, blue HT leads, V2 #Vortex supercharger, 300 injectors, 2” custom stainless two-box exhaust system with upturned tailpipe.

    CHASSIS: 16” Porsche 928 rims, stretched tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance-V2 #Air-ride with colour-coded tank, #G60 brakes, front upper strut brace. / #AirLift-Performance


    EXTERIOR: Full respray in baby blue, Frenched tailgate, smoked rear lights, original door handles with chrome Volkswagen inserts, frosted indicators, black front valance, de-locked and de-badged.

    INTERIOR: Black carpets, rear bench and doorcards, standard dash with #VDO gauges, Mono steering wheel with iron cross insert for horn, Sparco reclining race seats, baby blue Wolfsburg emblems on mats, #Wolfsburg badged door pins and window winders, ICE install including neon lights in boot, chrome compressors.

    SHOUT: My girlfriend Ann for all her hard work, patience and, of course, cleaning!
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