Last updated: September 1, 2019

Project "Ultimate 1983 Rabbit GTI"


Index of Project web pages

Project overview, goals & initial design specs
Items for Sale
Project car initial condition
Chassis development
Bodywork & paint
Suspension, wheels, tires & braking system
Engine & transmission

Electrical & fuel system
Performance validation
Final street trim conversion
VW Vortex thread on this project
My original 1983 Rabbit GTI (owned 1983-1987)


I am documenting my whole project on video here, beginning to end:


Part 1 (intro) - February 1, 2013



Part 2 (building a frame to flip the car) - February 8, 2013



Part 3 (engine development at Mark's VW Service, Amity, Oregon) - February 15, 2013



Part 4 (a review of the exterior seam sealer removal process/rust inspection) - February 22, 2013



Part 5 (a review of the interior seam sealer removal process/rust inspection) - March 14, 2013


Part 6 (showing the rolling chassis stand, the test mounting of the aftermarket inner & outter fenders, and the initial engine bay smoothing process) - April 6, 2013


Part 7 (showing the process to clean up the original OEM fenders, given that the aftermarket ones were poor fitting and could not be used) - April 10, 2013


Part 8 (showing the process of welding in the upper/inner fenders and relating metalwork in the front engine bay area, as well as the initiation of the engine bay smoothing task) - May 4, 2013


Part 9 (Completing the metalwork in the front engine bay area, the completion of the engine bay smoothing task, and the initiation of the front-to-rear frame connector welding process) - May 19, 2013



Part 10 (Completing the welding of the front-to-rear frame connectors, floor pans, additional OEM floor pan bracing, and new 'lift points') - June 9, 2013


Part 11 (Having a look at the beautiful and extremely light weight carbon fibre body panels and bumpers made by LWS Design for this project. I am super impressed with their customer service as they hand delivered everything to me at the London Heathrow airport before 7am at no charge! The full set of scratch resistance polycarbonate windows will ship separately later this summer) - June 19, 2013 ...


Part 12 (Any time you try and MIG weld thin sheet metal you risk 'blow-thru' and this is especially true with older vehicle sheet metal where there has been some rust. I wanted to try my hand at MIG 'brazing' using the same modern European techniques that are required when working with thin boron doped high strength steel panels and/or zinc plated panels - in either case MIG welding puts too much heat into the base metal and both weakens it and vaporizes the protective Zinc coating. So I managed to source some 0.035" diameter MIG brazing wire and adjusted the settings on my welder to lower the wire feed speed but keep the voltage/temperature setting the same as for my 0.023" dia mild steel wire. It worked! The bronze flowed into the gaps and in between the overlapped metal on the lower rear quarter panel patch and I did not once blow-thru the base metal. Highly recommended for sheet metal restoration work) - June 24, 2013 ...



Part 13 (After doing quite a bit of MIG brazing I am more impressed with its capabilities and versatility than ever.  This video covers some of that brazing work plus it covers the fabrication and installation of the remaining interior chassis stiffening components) - July 10, 2013 ...


Part 14 (Finally! Chassis welding is completed and I managed to get the under carriage epoxy primed today) - August 10, 2013 ...



Part 15 (Since August 10th (above) I applied body filler to all of the under carriage welding seams, sanded it down, and then applied more 2 part epoxy primer, then applied seam sealer only to the areas where there were actual gaps in the seams/metalwork (seam sealer can promote rusting if water can get behind it so it is better to avoid over doing it), then I applied rubberized undercoating in the rear wheel wells and the very back corners of the under carriage where the wheels will throw up rocks and dirt, which will eventually be painted silver aka OEM look, but again, I won't apply under coating anywhere else (I will use some interior sound deadening material under the carpets to control road noise rather than mess up a lot of nice clean sheet metal). I will now work on the rest of the chassis and then when everywhere else is up to this level I will re-apply epoxy, then 2K high build primer, then block sand where appropriate, then epoxy as a sealer, then silver base coat and then clear coats, in that order) - August 18, 2013 ...


Part 16 (I have managed to get 2 coats of epoxy primer on the front end with final body filler/smoothing applied/sanded between coats. This is a huge milestone for me as I can now clearly see the car coming together. It is rewarding to see how well the engine bay smoothing turned out too) - August 29, 2013 ...


Part 17 (And now the first coat of epoxy primer is applied to the interior sheet metal with body filler on the welded seems coming next) - September 1, 2013 ..


Part 18 (The interior sheet metal areas were treated to some body filler on the welded seems and then it was shot with some reduced grey color epoxy primer acting as a sealer and then some base and clear coats to complete the interior) - September 14, 2013 ..


Part 19 (With the interior done I carefully masked off the whole car, including all interior to exterior holes and got ready to start the bodywork on the exterior panels, starting with the lower sills which were pretty badly abused by the prior owners, so I had to start by using a block of wood and a hammer to straighten out the underside area running beside my 1.5x1" subframe, and then block sanding and filling until everything was straight [still a work in progress]) - September 22, 2013 ...


Part 20 (Well, I finished the drivers side lower sills and flipped the car around and started working on the passenger side sills. After 4-6 hours of work they are almost straight now and getting close to the finishing putty stage. I have a full week of travel in front of me starting Wednesday so won't get this finished for another 2 weeks though - October 14, 2013 ...

After a few more passes of putty I sprayed on some high build primer and found that pretty much everything was straight and clean except for a small area at the back of the door edge that I had over sanded along the crease, hence the additional putty in that spot. I have also managed to get 4 passes of filler and putty on the rear passenger lower corner where I had braised in a new panel) - October 29, 2013 ...


Part 21 (I have made good progress on the welded area in and around the fuel filler cap, the rear passenger fender lip, smoothing out and correcting a curvature issue around the side signal light, finishing the lower rear passenger corner where I had previously braised in a new panel, and cleaning up the area around the rear license plate lights) - November 5, 2013 ...


Part 22 (I have now completed the bodywork on the passenger side and have block sanded a number of times, sprayed epoxy twice with touch-up putty applications in-between and now it is ready for 2K high build primer) - November 20, 2013 ..


Part 23 (I put in about 15 hours this weekend doing a final epoxy primer sanding to the passenger side, then applying 2 coats of 2K high build primer (but I got some nasty runs in the paint because I put on too much - but it sanded out easily later ...), then I waited overnight to block and detail sand out the high build primer (which turned out great - really smooth and flat), and then I dropped the car down onto the roller frame, unbolted the rear bumper, sanded down the old paint on the rear, and then got the first coat of filler and block sanding done on the rear before dinner time) - November 24, 2013 ..

Part 24 (I have spent quite a bit of time on the rear drivers side getting the panel absolutely correct. There was a soft dent in the area and after a lot of careful layer by layer buildup of filler I found that I had to go wider and wider to acheive the perfect curvature that was required. It is 90% now and so I decided to epoxy prime it at the same time as I did the initial priming of the rear this weekend so that I can see the reflections on the surface when I complete this task. i am very happy with the way the rear turned out as there is only minor touchup that will be required. I hope to get those minor things addressed tomorrow so that I can finish the weekend with a 2K high build primer application) - November 30, 2013 ...

Part 25 (I got the 2K high build primer applied to the rear at the end of the weekend, sanded it down yesterday, did some minor putty touch-up today, shot those areas with a bit more epoxy, and then moved on to the drivers side. I sanded it down today and shot it with an initial coat of epoxy so I can lay on some filler and putty starting tomorrow) - December 3, 2013 ...

Part 26 (Over the past week I managed to get several passes of filler on the drivers side and another coat of epoxy, then more filler and sanding, then some touch-up epoxy on the areas that I cut thru to the base metal, and a lot of work getting the depth and profile on the edges of the molding crease at the back of the car (using a near little metal tool I shaped to create the correct depth and shape), then today managed to get the high build primer on (and after some block sanding once it dries I will move on the engine bay for the final touch up filler, etc and then the roof)) - December 8, 2013 ...

Part 27 (I spent the past week working on the engine bay, completing the final smoothing filling and sanding process, spraying epoxy when I needed to see how close I was getting, and eventually I got to the point of completing the high build primer application and started on the final block sanding of all of the surfaces prior to the base/clear painting process which I will tackle in January. I also got the critical front window frame areas all completed which is very satisfying ... and thanks to Kevin Young, a fellow VW Vortex member, I had access to one of his mint NOS GTI badges to get a correct colour reference to compare both my original faded badges as well as the aftermarket Mk1autohaus replicas - it turns out that the repro rear badge wasn't even close but the front was) - December 18, 2013 ...


Part 28 (The Christmas holiday period was focused on family and nursing a bad cold. It was only in the last few days that I had the time and energy to get back into the GTI project in full force. I put time into dialing in the front, especially the uneven factory spot welding area below the bumper. With the high build primer sanded today it all looks great. I then moved on to the roof and sunroof area and got it DA sanded, etc. and then cleaned up the inside sunroof channel area and sprayed everything with 2 thick coats of epoxy (time for a new epoxy gun as it was not the smoothest application). High build primer will go on later this week after some more sanding of the epoxy) - January 12, 2014 ...


Part 29 (The roof/sun-roof area got a couple of coats of high build primer on it this week and then got block sanded and is now ready for final paint. I then pulled out the fenders and set to work finishing the process of stripping them down to bare metal as well as carefully banging them into the correct shape. It took several attempts with some nasty chemical stripper to get the critical areas looking perfect, then it was on to some final sanding and then water-born cleaner before 2 coats of epoxy primer were applied today. I will now start the process of filling and block sanding to get them straight/correct) - January 17, 2014 ...


Part 30 (I finished the front fenders on Thursday with some more sanding/filling/epoxy and then 3 coats of high build primer and then sanding them out to 600 grit, and then rubberizing the insides - I am really pleased with the results. So Friday it was on to the doors, first stripping them down and then cleaning them out (boy they were filthy inside). Only today did I finally get to the point of prepping them for initial epoxy priming. The biggest challenge I ran into was a frozen passenger side mirror which would not rotate (cast aluminum oxidization) so I could not access the screw heads. In the end it was a long tiring job using a dremel tool to grind down the screws from inside the door and drilling them out. Now I need to weld up the holes and re-tap them. Oh well, no pain, no gain, right?) - January 26, 2014


Part 31 (While I wait for the new door hinge pins from vwheritage, as well as the tools to replace them, I completed the cleaning/prep/sanding of the doors and managed to get them epoxy primed over the past few days. The doors are large and heavy and there is simply no way to paint them end-to-end in one go so the process of completing the painting will be x2 slower than for the fenders - side 1, then wait 24hrs and then side 2, etc.) - January 30, 2014 ...


Part 32 (I got the doors finished a few days ago and I am really pleased about it all - they are straight and clean end to end after putting in a ton of work on them. So it is on to the final 2 body panels: the sunroof and the front spoiler. Other than the somewhat intricate sunroof dissassembly, the sunroof painting is very simple - I will have it completed tomorrow after the application of high build primer and some blocking out. The spoiler is a more complex process that involved removing the metal bracing, and sanding everything down to the original primer and/or bare urethane, and then filling in the dents and holes that were drilled by the former owner with flexible 3M filler, and then more sanding, the application of 'plastic kote', then epoxy, and then high build primer mixed with flex agent - which I will get done tomorrow. I did manage to fabricate an aluminum brace for the lower lip and also used a heat gun to straighten the spoiler to its original shape) - February 9, 2014 ...


Part 33 (Today was the big day: time to mount the primed spoiler to the front of the chassis, align it such that the curve at the lip of the spoiler was perfectly balanced all the way across, and then remove the protective covering of the 3M double sided adhesive/tape that was attached to the aluminum brace I fabricated, and then clamp it into position. I was nervous that I wouldn't get it all aligned correctly but it worked out fine - especially the additional aluminum supports that help attach the lower lip to the body. I then got the high build primer on both the sunroof and the spoiler. This was my first time using Flex Agent and I was really impressed with the results: the normally thick paint which likes to clog up the fine holes in my spray guns flowed super smoothly and went on like melted butter. Wow. It looks so good I almost don't want to sand it - but I will tomorrow after I let everything cure for a full 24 hours) - February 10, 2014 ...


Part 34 (I got the sunroof and spoiler sanded out today. The spoiler was a thing of beauty when I was done as the flex agent seems to enhance the smoothness of the high build paint. The sunroof still had some low spots so I hit it with more high build primer and then blocked it again and finally it was mint.

I then started on prepping the carbon fiber hood for primer and found only a few low spots so I started to get excited about how quick this phase of the project was going to be. Ha! I was badly wrong. I said to myself 'Gee, you haven't test fitted this thing to the body. What if the alignment of the front end is off, or this aftermarket hood is dimensionally different?' Well, good thing I went to all of the effort to re-mount the fenders, install the grill, tune everything until it was 'final' and then I bolted on the hood and found that it had an interference fit to the rain tray lip. Not a huge issue in and of itself - the brace which runs across the back of the hood needs to be cut down by around 3/8" in some areas and re-glassed. Then I said to myself, I never really liked the huge OEM hood gaps and now is the time to do something about that: so I will also extend the sides and back by around 1/8" so that the gaps are the same as for the rest of the body panels on the car. Lots of work but this way I get the alignment and gaps on the front of the car looking really 'high end') - February 11, 2014


Part 35 (The last 2 nights have been carbon fiber hood clearancing (cutting up expensive stuff) and panel gap analysis and preliminary fitting. After filling the garage full of fine carbon dust and getting the hood to sit correctly I was better able to determine next steps with panel gap setting and/or hood width/length/height modifications. In the end I realized that I needed to get everything else to be in its final position before going any further with the hood and that meant hanging the doors and then getting the fenders true to the door gaps. I managed to hang the doors without help from anyone else which was a bit of gymnastics and once done I could see that I was already pretty close on the fitment - it looks like all I will need to do is adjust/blend in the height of the hood against the fenders and then I should be pretty much OK - I decided after hanging the doors that the OEM 1/4" gaps are std everywhere on the car and it wouldn't be smart to setup the hood for a narrower gap fitment (I am very close to 1/4" gaps on the hood on all sides already and only need to adjust the fenders in about 1/16" on each side)) - February 13, 2014 ...


Part 36 (This weekend has been focused on getting the panel gaps perfect everywhere and then starting the process of leveling up the hood. Setting the gaps is an exercise in compromises: first you have to set the fender-to-door gaps such that the doors will just barely clear the fenders when opening/closing, plus the fender height needs to be such that the side moldings and creases all align, and finally, that the hood gaps are equal and approx 1/4" each: the front plastic grill also acts as an absolute reference, determining the left/right position of the fenders at the front (the grill edge and the fender edge should be the same).

My problem is that with everything set correctly the fenders stick out at the front/bottom about 1/16" so when I get 0.020" shim washers I will attempt to reduce the door-to-fender gaps a slight amount, hoping to get the fenders to align a bit closer at the front (even though this misalignment is pretty much hidden/covered by the spoiler, the bumper and the grill which sticks out and blocks the view of it).

I put lots of passes of Evercoat Rage Extreme filler on the hood edges, and then got the first few passes of finishing putty on and all blocked to align the edges precisely with the top of the fenders, and finally, I fabricated an aluminum channel to better support the center-rear area of the hood where I had to cut away the supports to clear the edge of the rain tray - I will fiberglass that channel into place once I finish the edge profiling and absolutely true up the center-rear hood to the body) - February 16, 2014 ...


Part 37 (After getting the hood perfectly level relative to the fenders and cowl I temporarily glued a supporting truss across the back of the hood in order to 'hold' the shape until I could fiberglass in a support next to the rain tray on the underside. I also extended the front lip of the hood down 3/16" with short strand fiberglass and then rounded it nicely to match the OEM hood profile more closely. Finally I finished off the hood with epoxy primer and high build primer/block sanding, etc. I am now ready for the rear hatch which I also test fit to the car this week (and yes, it needs lots of work to fit perfectly - at least I am now an 'expert' with the hood work last week under my belt)) - February 23, 2014 ...


Part 38 (I am now deep into the rear hatch fitting process and it is turning out to be another exercise in almost completely assembling the rear of the car to get everything in alignment - the tail lights themselves have proven to be a challenge on several fronts: first of all it became clear that the driver side rear corner metalwork (all OEM from the factory) isn't the right shape and lacks the dual V taper into the lower edge of the hatch which the passenger side correctly has. It isn't a disaster as we are only talking about 3/16" but it impacts the interface with the hatch and the tail light such that both the hatch and light will have to be re-shaped to follow the metalwork 'as is' (it is simply not a reasonable alternative to try and reshape the body metalwork).

I mounted the hatch first, then realized that I needed to mount the lights, then I further found that I needed to install the hatch seal which pushes the bottom of the hatch lip out a bit, etc. After some grunting and groaning and some careful slotting of holes and a bit of grinding, everything started to come into their final resting positions. I then started to cut, sand and fill the hatch areas as required. This process will take several more days as there is a fair amount of tuning to do - I also need to get the hatch latch installed before I go any further in the tuning process but from this point onwards I think it is a well understood path that is similar to the hood work last week) - February 26, 2014 ...


Part 39 (The rear hatch is now finished and ready for final paint. It took more time than expected to get everything dial in. First there was the tricky and exacting process of taping up and extending the edges to maintain the target 3/16" gaps on the top and sides and 1/4" on the bottom, and then there was incremental work to make both the inside surfaces and edges look OEM (fiberglass and carbon panels are never finished nicely on delivery - there is always fitting and finishing work - the surfaces aren't totally flat and the edges are rough cut, etc). Anyway, I decided to do a nice job as this was the last panel and it is something that I will be staring at inside and out over and over again once the project is complete) - March 5, 2014


Part 40 (The early mk1 style carbon fiber bumpers are the last items to prepare for final paint. It took a week to get them dialed in due to the requirement to fiberglass in the front turn signal openings as I wanted to have the more delicate look of the thinner early mk1 bumpers but with the 1983/84 model look (black, no turn signals). After the fiberglassing there was a lot of fussing to get the surfaces perfectly flat and contoured. And since the bumper material was so thin/flimsy they required a fair amount of filling and block sanding to get nice and flat on the tops and bottoms. Mission complete/major milestone, after I pick up my engine, trans and SS exhaust from Techtonics Tuning/Josh tomorrow I will start to clean out the garage and get it dust free and setup for the critical final panel painting process) - March 11, 2014


Part 41 (I drove from Vancouver, Canada to Techtonics and Josh's engine shop in Sheridan & Amity, Oregon over the past 2 days and picked up the completed 2092cc 9A/ABF engine, 020 transmission, SS exhaust system, 100mm axles/Hubs/spindles, and lots of other parts and drove them back home in the back of my Prius late at night! Josh really pushed to get the engine completed for me and I am very thankful for his late nights and careful work. He did an excellent job of profiling the combustion chambers to match the piston domes and ended up with a compression ratio of 11.8:1 which should run on 94 octane pump gas without octane boost when the weather isn't too hot (the sport cams have enough duration and overlap that they bleed off some of the compression at lower engine rpms). We will dyno it and expect 240hp at 8000rpm with the 288 degree TT solid lifter sport cams with DLC coated lifters. We will also add 60hp with a dry flow progressive nitrous system for a total of 300hp. This should add up to 6lbs/hp in the car if it weighs in at the expected 1800lbs. What a beautiful engine ...) - March 14, 2014


Part 42 (I haven't been snoozing over the past month. The opposite is true:

I have designed and ordered all of the electronics components for the engine management, sensors/senders, a custom serpentine system for the water pump and alternator, a custom Denso style racing alternator, billet pulleys, brackets, and more. There are a lot of things ongoing in regards to sourcing and designing the custom cooling system, hoses and brackets as well that I have been deeply involved in. Photos and videos of all of that cool stuff will be posted soon.

I completely cleaned up/out my garage, loaded up my car and took most of the stuff that wasn't immediately necessary to my expanded storage locker, and started to get ready for final paint. Along the way I got a little carried away and sold my drill press, MIG welder and plasma cutter, and replaced them with a digital TIG welder, a milling machine and a lathe - so I am now ready for aluminum and stainless steel welding, and lots of fabrication of custom brackets to help finish off this project with nice touches everywhere.

I decided to get the seats completed and also get the rear trailing arm suspension unit completed - all before final paint. The main reason is that spring is now here and the painting weather is getting better and better each day and I just don't want to have to fight the cold and the moisture during the critical final paint phase.

I busted my butt scraping, grinding, sanding and acid etching the rear trailing arm suspension over the past week. It was pretty rusty and therefore I took a lot of time to fill all of the pitting and smoothing all of the parts before painting with multiple coats of epoxy. I am waiting for some SPI black epoxy which I will use for the final coats. I will also press in the Delrin bushings soon.

I have a great seat guy that has already cut all of the GTI midnight blue fabric and sewn in the 1/4" foam on the backs of each of the 'panels' while I have been welding up the seat frames where they are weak and tend to flex and crack around the tops of the front seat frames. I also custom cut some extra firm foam for the seat bottoms - a tough, delicate process when shaping the side bolsters. I will finish painting the seat frames when my black SPI epoxy arrives and then my seat guy will finish them off. BTW, I was able to purchase new plastic replacement parts from VW Air Heads and will color match them soon.) - April 14, 2014



Part 43 (I got the 'paint booth' properly setup for final paint with 3M Dust control fabric on the walls of my garage, 3M static dust spray on the concrete floor, and 2 double-filtered fans pulling clean air into the garage (providing a positive pressure environment). I then set about spraying base/clear on the sunroof and the insides of the fenders, and also shot final black epoxy on the bumpers and rear beam axle and completed pressing in the Delrin bushings.

I also picked up the complete ECU system (sourced from Kinsler Injection) - boy there are a lot of wires that will need to be connected. I also picked up the remaining engine sensors and plumbing components from Techtonics) - May 4, 2014


Part 44 (I got Greens Automotive in Richmond, BC to carefully re-straighten, re-weld, re-machine (inside and out) and paint these 14x6 OEM Snowflakes and then mount super sticky Dunlop Direzza ZII track/sport tires. The look I am after is old school - not the current fad of using 8" rims and stretched 195 tires, but never-the-less, with serious performance capabilities) - May 9, 2014


Part 45 (EAA Engineering's Serpentine Belt System, Fluidamper, and Denso Racing Alternator (all put together with clear anodized billet aluminum CNC mounts) - a must use system to clear the ITBs, plus the NOS Wizards Quadranoid, dry flow injectors and small ID plastic tubing. Note, in this video I mis-spoke by saying the stock crank to alternator pulley ratio is 2:1 - I meant 3:1, and therefore changing to a custom 2.5:1 ratio was required due to my higher rpm limit and the 20,000 rpm alternator limit) - May 9, 2014


Part 46 (After successfully completing the final painting of the fenders and rear hatch, the hood turned out to my greatest painting challenge to date: a few spots of dark colored dust contaminated the first clear coat and in the end I had to sand back down and redo the base coats and re-clear but as of tonight it is all looking good. I am especially fond of the carbon fiber underside treatment (with the idea being that the exterior of the car and the interior are totally stock looking but under the hood it is all 'business')) - May 14, 2014


Part 47 (After getting final paint on the front spoiler earlier this week, it was finally time to remove the doors from the chassis and then dive into the process of fabricating brass bushings and shims for the lower door hinges and then hammering the pins into place, test mounting to make sure the hinges are 'good to go' and then getting the final paint on the 1st door. Mission success, now it is on to door #2 tomorrow) - May 19, 2014


Part 48 (I got the hinges done on door #2 with an even better press-fit than door #1 and then got the door based and cleared properly so I was able to flip the chassis on its side and get epoxy sealer, base and clear done on the underside, wheel wells and most of the engine bay area. I will turn the chassis upright tomorrow and finish the engine bay area off and then will move to the rear, top and sides over the next week) - May 25, 2014


Part 49 (Final paint complete. What more can I say? Major project milestone in the can. Yes! When I get back from a trip next weekend I will start wet sanding and polishing the clear (once it is good and firm). And I am already planning out the braking system and fuel system routing under the chassis so that I can use the chassis flipping system one last time before dismantling it and mounting the suspension/wheels) - May 30, 2014


Part 50 (Final paint has now been wet sanded/polished. It took a full month part time to go thru the process of 1500/2000/3000 grit wet sanding of all surfaces and panels, then 3M PerfectIt rubbing compound and then polishing compound using a variable speed Makita orbital polisher. But it is done and the results are A1. I have a some 'craters' in the clear on some of the surfaces that I have filled with additional clear with a tiny paint brush and will finish sanding them out later this week and then I will start to assemble the car) - July 6, 2014


Part 51 (After I pushed the completed chassis out of the garage and into the bright summer sunshine 1 week ago I could see that I had some quite noticeable fine sanding scratches showing thru the basecoat on the roof line edges and I also noticed on the passenger rear quarter panel that the basecoat was not perfectly consistent - a bit of a halo was showing above the fender where I had gone over the area one last time and left a slightly dry edge to the silver basecoat up above that point. So I took a cold shower, swore a few times, and then decided to wet sand the roof, sides and back of the car and re-spray it. And for good measure I sanded down the driver door as the clearcoat was quite thin after all of my sanding and I wanted to have it perfect. BTW, bright silver is considered one of the toughest colors to work with and I have now learned that you need to finish the primer stage with at least 1000 grit, not 600 grit.

All of this re-painting effort got me to thinking how much my paint compressor setup sucks. I have a very small garage and simply can't fit in a 60 gallon 5hp compressor so I have beem trying to make do with a 15 gallon 1.5hp compressor. On smaller panels with my Eastwood HVLP guns I can get by OK, but on bigger jobs like the roof and sides/rear chassis I run down my compressor and have to pause to let it catch up which risks paint drying and losing my wet edges. I also had some problems with moisture in the line, some dirt in the paint, and not enough pressure to the gun so I changed my whole setup: I put a plywood box around my compressor housing with a fan to do a better job of keeping it cool while making less noise pollution; I ran new lines and fittings with less restrictions; I soldered up a 25' copper air cooler/drier; I bought a 30 gallon tank to give me more air reserve; and finally I bought a professional air filter/drier system. And I tested it out this week (still waiting on the 30 gallon tank though) and my guns have all of the air pressure they need, plus the air is totally clean and dry now. Yes!!! With the 30 gallon tank coming, I'll now have 3x total air supply before running low even though my compressor will may need to catch up occasionally.

My rear seats are done now and they look 100% OEM new. Wow. My front seats are 80% done but we ran out of the vinyl that I had dyed Midnight Blue so I had to produce more of it this weekend so we can now get the front seats completed. I managed to get all new plastic parts for the seats too and dye them the correct color so I am really excited about seeing the final results in the next short while.

I am also working on the brake system: I have a combination of SAE double flare and metric bubble flare fittings because of the Wilwood proportioning valve so I have been practicing my flaring technique which is now pretty solid so I will start to bend and flare/assemble the whole brake system soon. I also need to make up a custom bracket to mount the proportioning valve immediately below the master cylinder.

I am also 90% done the design of the fuel system and have almost all of the components in hand. I am in the process of epoxy coating the fuel tank so that I can mount it and start to run the lines, pump, filters, etc.) - July 20, 2014


Part 52 (The front seats are now complete. Sweet indeed! I am also about 30% finished repainting the chassis) - August 5, 2014


Part 53 (With the final painting complete I can now get on with planning and executing the fuel and brake system installation. With the fuel tank temporarily mounted I was able to fabricate a stainless bracket to mount the fuel filters and pump between the rear axle and spare tire well. I also mounted the brake booster and new aluminum 22mm master cylinder with a stainless bracket holding the Wilwood proportioning valve. Now that I have ordered the Davies Craig electric water pump and digital controller it was time to prepare the OEM water pump by cutting off the impeller, aux water return ports (which will be tapped and plugged), and smoothing the interior for its new function as a passive entry way into the block from the outlet of the EWP) - August 17, 2014


Part 54 (I have now setup and started using my Caswell Zinc-Cadnium plating system so I now have a nice looking steering rack again after re-plating the h/w and epoxy painting the housing (but before the installation of the new Quaife close ratio gear set which I am picking up in the UK on Sept 16th).

It was a tight sqeeze but I managed to route the fuel tank breathers together such that I can now install a rollover valve in the fuel filler neck area of the wheel well. I got the pump and filters final-mounted and the hoses routed as well. The Techtonics SS 2.25" exhaust system installation has also started but I was very frustrated with a few things that are only partially resolved at this moment: a serious interference fit with the driver side tank strap which required that I fabricate a bracket to allow the removal of the strap, plus I can't get the resonator to sit in the middle of the tunnel without an interference fit with the front hanger on the side of the tunnel (I think I will end up cutting and rewelding some pipe to solve this). The bottom line is that all of the really hard problems with the fuel system are now behind me and the exhaust system issues are on the way to being solved. I will need to mount the engine and exhaust racing header before making any final decisions on the exhaust system though) - September 1, 2014


Part 55 (Rough positioning of the Techtonics stainless custom 1-3/4" headers and 2-1/4" exhaust system plumbing (note, we are keeping the pipe size at 2-1/4" because this is the size that TT says has proven to produce the most power in normally aspirated cars: 2-1/2" is only suitable for turbo engines, plus a comparison of the old (OEM) and new (Borgeson) steering U joint assemblies, and the new lower steering column bearing and bearing support bracket) - September 8, 2014

After testing out the Borgeson u-joints I found that they did not have enough range of motion for the vw mk1 application. I am now sourcing mk3 u joints (one end has the 11/16" diameter 40 spine u joint so I hope to use them) - October 31, 2014


Part 56 (After a lot of machining and fiddling around I managed to complete the custom front cylinder head coolant outlet flange that is required to clear the ITBs and associated linkage, nitrous and vacuum lines, etc.

After speaking with Techtonics about the exhaust system clearance issues I cut off all of the tunnel flanges and bolts, filled, sanded, primed and painted it all so now there will be nothing hitting the pipes. I also sourced a really nice and small Vibrant stainless resonator that will be welded onto the back of the flex coupling: this way I will havee 2 resonators plus a muffler so that I can make 'quiet power' which is my goal.

The shifter housing has also been cleaned iup and epoxy painted and I have zinc/cad plated all of the hood and hatch brackets, hinges and mounting h/w - plus I now have the ability to chromate as a final step so these parts, plus the steering rack brackets, and many more items are all looking nice (I will post photos and a video of these items and the plating process I am using later on).

I completed the rear axle Delrin bushing/bearing setup/installation with the brass and stainless steel sleaves to take up all excess 'slack' in the system but realized, after speaking with Lella Motorsport who make the bushing,s that I went over-board. I have decided to remove the stainless sleaves I made that are only 0.2mm thick and placed between the 12mm bolt and the Delrin steel bearing insert surfaces so allow for a bit more movement so that the axle will pivot around the 12mm bolt without the potential for binding.

Finally, I have been running the 3/16" (4.75mm) brake lines all over the car this week but I ended up making some crappy looking flares with the manual flaring tool that I had sourced so I have now ordered a MasterCool hydraulic flaring tool to allow me to make OEM quality flares every time. There is nothing more annoying than spending 1/2 an hour making the perfect brake line and then messing it up with a poor flare end - I do not want crappy looking flares and really don't want leaks in my brake lines either) - September 14, 2014


Part 57 (I have been busy using my Caswell Zinc/Copy Cad plating system to rescue all kinds of brackets and bolts since I have not been able to complete my brake lines until the MasterCool flaring tool arrives (ETA tomorrow). I plated the metal objects that were OEM plated and stopped there but for those parts that were originally painted black I first stripped them down, acid etched, plated and chromated them to provide an extra measure of protection before painting) - September 23, 2014


Part 58 (This has been a big week with lots of progress. I completed plating/painting of the headlight housings, the various motor mounts and shift linkages, and the heat shielding applied to the underside of the chassis. My brake line flaring problems were solved with my new Mastercool hydraulic flaring tool and my brake lines are now complete (and wrapped in plastic to protect them from chassis rubbing). I also got the Quaife quick ratio steering rack installed, complete with a new bushing to provide zero play in the system) - September 28, 2014


Part 59 (The rear end is complete and torqued to spec, the steering rack and shifter linkage is now mounted in the front and now I am getting ready to flip the chassis upright for the last time ... and the 020 2Y German Transaxle of America transmission with Quaife LSD is sitting here, waiting for the custom clutch/pressure plate which Josh says will ship to me later this week ...) - October 6, 2014


Part 60 (I got the steering wheel back from Custom Craft today: they re-wrapped the wheel with 1mm of foam and then soft leather. I am very pleased with the end result: a very nice feel to it, not too soft, not too firm, just the right diameter, with the stitching where my fingers want to engage it. I will treat the leather to match the soft gloss of the vinyl center section) - October 8, 2014


Part 61 (With the help of my wife I moved the engine, stand and hoist from my office to my garage last weekend so the GTI is now happily sitting next to the motor and trans. Josh is shipping the clutch tomorrow so I will have everything in hand to install the engine/trans this weekend! I will lift the chassis up using my come-alongs one last time, roll the engine/trans together under it, lower the chassis one last time onto jack stands, use the hoist to lift the engine/trans into place, bolt it up, and then mount the front suspension, brakes, steering, etc. mount the wheels, and then roll the car out of the garage so that I can dis-assemble the lifting frame to make room for the rest of the final assembly. In another week things should start to get pretty exciting.

I also finished machining the new cam hall sensor housing and it is all perfect except for the fact that the hall sensor itself seems to be dead for some reason (a new unit, go figure). So I have ordered another sensor and when I get it later this week hopefully I will be able to test it out and then mount it on the cam/engine ...

There have been so many other small things that I got done over the past week: removing and re-installing a lot of engine accessories, putting the gaskets in place, applying sealant, threat locker, washers, etc into place and torquing things up so that I now am close to being ready to install the engine with all of the accessories already 'final' mounted this weekend)
- October 21, 2014


Part 62 (Major Project Milestone: Today was the big day - getting the clutch setup done, and then assembling the engine and transaxle, rolling it under the chassis and then hoisting it into place. Everything went well except for the fact that I had to remove the rear engine/trans mount to get the side mounts to line up first which is a lesson learned, and I also discovered to my dread that I will have to mandrel bend the intake runners another 20 degrees or so to clear the hood) - October 25, 2014


Part 63 (With the engine/trans installed everything else is coming together quickly now. I got the front suspension, front and rear brakes, CV/axles, test fitted, and sorted out missing h/w and such. I also worked on the exhaust system, starting to weld up a header support bracket and otherwise test fitting everything, and fiddled a lot with the steering system, realizing that the Borgeson u joints will not work so I am in the middle of attempting to fit some mk3 parts into place over the next week or so. If all goes well I should have all of the major mechanical systems completed by mid-Nov. I also got the fuel system lines final installed,which required the fabrication of some stainless brackets, and more -6AN SS lines/fittings. I am still waiting on a few hose ends but otherwise the fuel system is basically complete now. I am building a structural support brace for the race header that connects the lower end of the header back to the base of engine block to keep the stress levels on the flanges to a minimum. I am also in the middle of planning on how to bend my intake runners using some structural epoxy molding equipment and some low melting point metal to act as a 'mandrel' internal tube support when I put the bending forces on the tubes - this process will take most of the month to sort out as I don't want to screw it up and will have to practice a bit ...) - November 2, 2014


Part 64 (The completed structural support brace for the race header was electrocleaned and the header itself was ported and polished and has now been sent out for internal ceramic thermal barrier coating. After accidentally throwing out the old rear drum brake mounting h/w I had to source the hard to find M16x1.0 axle nuts and retaining washers again (from Jim Ellis VW), plus I sourced nicer/stronger class 12.9 mounting bolts so the rear disks are now complete. I will put on the wheels and measure clearance to the fenders, measure camber and toe, and then order custom axle/wheel spacers from Lella AutoSport to get the desired offset, camber and toe settings) - November 11, 2014


Part 65 (When I upgraded to the larger 22mm master cylinder (to provide the additional volume of stroke required for the rear disk brakes) I needed to pair it with a later model brake servo/vacuum unit - the problem is that the later model servo has a different rod end. The original 83 GTI servo rod end is longer and has a fixed clevis. It is nicer to have an adjustable clevis so I am going to cut off the original clevis, thread it M10x1.5 and use a coupling M10 nut to mount it to the later model servo.

I completed the exhaust system this week. The V-band clamping system I have used allows me to quickly swap the cat converter in/out in favour of a high performance resonator that will keep noise levels down to where I want them (a total of 3 'straight-thru' resonators make up the entire system). I polished all of the components, and finally the 2.5" tip now sticks out the back end and says 'we mean business' ) - November 23, 2014


Part 66 (I finished the design of the custom aluminum radiator, drew up the drawings and specs, and sent it off to Ron Davis Custom Radiators in AZ. It will be 11"x30"x2", tucked under the front cross member, with ORB o-ring type bungs that mate to ORB-to-AN fittings and then the lines (-20 for the water pump inlet, -16 and -12 for the cylinder head outlets, -10 for the heater core return, -6 for the expansion tank, plus a temperature sensor bung for the electric water pump) and I will be using 2 SPAL 10" medium performance fans with a puller shroud. I have mounting tabs on the top and ears on the sides of the bottom corners - it should work out nicely and provide lots and lots of cooling. I also have a Mocal inline oil-to-water heat exchanger with -20 water fittings and -8 oil fittings - I could not use the factory setup due to conflicts with the ITBs and this system is higher performance and also included a 200 degree F oil thermostat.

I did get the 1989 cab servo modded to accept the 83 GTI servo clevis by cutting off the GTI clevis end, turning it down on the lathe to 10mm diameter and then threading it. With the coupling nut I can now vary the length of the shaft to get the ideal pedal position. I also worked on assembling the clutch/brake/accel pedal assembly and decided that some nice 0.2mm thick 16mm ID 24mm OD stainless shims would remove the factory slop in the pedal assembly, removing the ability for the pedals to shift side to side. The plastic bushings were fine. I also sourced a brake pedal return spring from an 89 cab, complete with a nice plastic/rubber donut sleeve that slips over the 83 GTI pedal shaft and drilled a few holes for a bolt that allows me to adjust the spring tension to suit my tastes - there was no return spring in my car when I took it apart but the manual shows one and I feel that it is probably a smart idea to have one installed - and I do like the idea of being able to adjust the brake pedal spring ...

I have also been noodling away on solving my problem of the ITB intake runners being too high. This problem was caused by not remembering that the ABA block is a lot taller than the earlier mk1 and mk2 blocks. In fact my second injector fuel rail is close to hitting the hood as well! Anyway, I sourced high strength molding epoxy and built a cardboard mold in the shape of the runner OD to allow me to create upper and lower molds of the runners, which are 45mm ID, 48mm OD. I then mounted the epoxy molds onto steel plates and use threaded rods to allow me to apply bending pressure to increase the bend another 10 degrees or so - but after all that work it failed so I have ordered 48mm T304 tubing mandrel bent at 30 degrees from the UK and new inlet/outlet collars from AT Power that I will glue on after cutting to the right length.

I have also been farting around with the shifter linkage. I sourced adjustable end-link components but realized that the vertical shift lever in the engine bay was mounted in a way that hit the other shifter bracket beside it and the only way to solve that problem was to rebuild the clamp on the bottom (where it was hitting) 90 degrees rotated - so I took it apart, ground and reshaped it, and re-plated it so ... tonight I got the shifter linkage installed and all dialed in using the Techtonics shifter kit plus the 4crawler adjustable steel end links which allowed me to get the 1-2 gate positioned exactly where I wanted it (just to the right of the reverse lockout). I will get the brake system/pedal assembly done this weekend ...) - December 9, 2014


Part 67 (I should have all of the new intake runner components by Jan 1 so in the mean time I have been getting a lot of other things done:

I realized that once I have installed the brake servo I will no longer have access to the drivers side of of the steering rack so I took off the steering rack boots one last time, carefully centered the rack and then adjusted the tie-rods to the factory spec, and double checked that I had equal lock-to-lock distance with the steering wheel, etc. - good thing I check again as I was off by about 5mm on the tie-rod positions.

With the 16x24mm shims in hand I was able to shim out the pedal cluster and get it rock solid. With the 1/2x20 jam nuts I was able to use the brake pedal switch to align the brake pedal with the clutch pedal (which has fixed stops and therefore acts at the reference position). Once the servo was installed with the pedal cluster I used my new brake clevis adjustment coupling nut to maximum advantage and got the clevis to the exact position to not move the brake pedal out of alignment with the clutch pedal - awesome.

I then put in all of the final hardware and torqued down the servo, master cylinder and prop valve, and connected all of the brake lines. Since I had never completed the hard lines to the rear disks I fabricated those, and got the rear brake system completed as well. I will pick up my Castrol SRF Racing brake fluid this week and will then flush the lines and get the brake system completed next weekend ...

I also got shims for the accelerator pedal so that it was rock solid as well, and then measured and cut the new AT Power accelerator cable, and grafted on all of the required OEM parts to make the connection thru the firewall to the pedal (I ditched the foam grommet in the center of the accel pedal in favor of a hole in the top of the pedal with the accelerator cable running directly to it for a more positive feel/responsiveness.

Finally, I got the clutch cable installed. Boy that racing clutch is pretty stout feeling. Manageable, I think. I estimate that it is 30% stiffer than the brake pedal feels without brake fluid in the lines pressing on the servo diaphragm.

So the pedals and the shifter all work now. Pretty cool to be able to press all of the pedals and play with the shifter, moving into all of the gear positions. Vroom, vroom ...
- December 15, 2014


Part 68 (I received my shipment from Any-Exhaust-Part of the UK for the 48mm T304 intake tubes today and so I could not resist cutting them up immediately and test fitting them to the throttle bodies. Success! I now have the right angle and length to avoid hitting the hood, leaving enough room for the radiator/shroud/fans and the proper geometry for an efficient cold air intake box. I will still have to wait for AT Power to ship me the new collars as it is a real bitch to unglue the ones on the existing intake runners (and then I have to machine the collar IDs about 1mm to fit the new tubes once they arrive)) - December 17, 2014


Part 69 (While I patiently wait for the new custom radiator and intake runner collars I have started to rebuild the heater box with a new heater core, blower, foam pads and seals - again, I must wait for the parts to arrive before being able to re-assemble it so I am going to have to find other things to do for the next week) - January 8, 2015


Part 70 (I wire brushed, acid etched and plated the metal h/w for the heater/blower box, and dove into the door assembly/finishing tasks, starting with the reconditioning of the window channel guides which were rotted out on the bottoms and required TIG braising in new metal, filling, sanding and painting, and also got the design for the 2 way component speaker system that will be installed in the doors sorted out (a high end Hertz HSK 165 system with a 6.5" woofer and 1" tweeter - I will also use hertz coax speakers in the stock front/rear locations, plus a Hertz Sub box in the rear that I can remove along with the sub amp when I want less weight for racing, etc). I also got the metal side plates for the front spoiler stripped, acid etched and primed, plus got the mirror bases acid etched and the whole assemblies partially cleaned up prior to painting) - January 12, 2015


Part 71 (I bit the bullet and upgraded from the Holley HP EFI system to the full Holley Dominator EFI system with its endless # of inputs and outputs. In the end I needed to control more things like 2 PWM fan outputs, a PWM water pump output, and more sensor monitoring (e.g. a second water temperature sensor in the radiator allows me to monitor the difference between the rad and block temperatures and adjust pump flow rates and/or put a restrictor plate into the system to avoid 'block shock'). I am also going to use the Racepak UDX LCD console which communicates with the Holley EFI ECU via can-bus.

I got the prep and painting of the front window channels, front spoiler side plates, and mirrors completed this weekend. It all turned out very well but I think I will wet sand and polish the black epoxy paint parts as those parts ended up being a bit too shiny for me - I want a semi-gloss look and when you wet sand and polish black epoxy it comes out pretty much exactly semi-gloss (soft gloss).

With the new ITB intake runner collars now in my hands I was able to get the intake system completed: I previously sourced new 48mm stainless tubing that was pre-bent at a 30 degree angle, cut them to the right length, ordered new collars, machined them to match the tubing exactly, made up the back plate for the air intake box, glued the collars onto the runners, assembled quickly, aligned, and will let sit overnight to cure. Now I can start to fabricate the rest of the air intake box. No more interference with the hood!) - January 18, 2015


Part 72 (I made satisfying progress this week on the fabrication of the intake vacuum plenum, related sensor mounting, and all of the machining and tapping of the various connectors, including the nitrous solenoid. I was missing a 1/16 NPT tap in my tool chest and there was no supplier open today with the part I needed so I have ordered it from Amazon and will finish the tapping of the 4 ITB vacuum lines later this coming week. I also made an important decision to make the air box out of clear Lexan and put 2 of 2.75"x2.6"x12" K&N air filter elements (they provide 50 sq. inches of pleated filter element per unit) between the top of my custom radiator and the cross member, creating a Lexan funnel into the filters in front of the radiator, and then having a straight shot into the air box, rather than trying to create a long indirect 3 or 4" tube to pull in cold air from under the car (I am really excited about this new idea and think it will work out perfectly)) - January 24, 2015


Part 73 (Over the past few days I managed to work on the cooling system after receiving some of the key parts - unfortunately, the Davies Craig electric water pump -20AN fittings weren't properly machined so I will not be able to finish this until new fittings are sourced. I also had another delay with the completion of the custom radiator - in fact we are starting over with a 1" narrower radiator core so that the side tanks are a full 2" wide to allow for the proper mounting of the -20 ORB fitting and other fittings. The new core will be in the hands of the fabricator Tuesday and with any luck I will have the completed rad in my hands in another week ... I also got the 1/16"NPT tap for the ITB vacuum lines so made more progress on the intake system, plus I got the K&N air filters, the speedo electronic speed sensor for the 020 trans, and a few other items. Finally, I ordered all of the components for the nitrous 'push' system which I will cover in a future video: it consists of a 4500psi air tank, a high pressure solenoid controlled by an adjustable pressure switch, and a normal nitrous tank: the pressure switch is set to 950psi and opens when-ever the nitrous pressure drops, allowing high pressure air to 'push' into the nitrous tank and keep a consistent pressure at all times, regardless of nitrous level or temperature. This is a much more involved system than a bottle warmer and obviously reacts instantly to keep the pressure constant as the nitrous is flowing ... stay tuned for more info) - February 1, 2015


Part 74 (After zinc plating the h/w and cleaning out the heater box, I reassembled the unit with a new heater core, new fan/motor, and new gaskets/seals and tested it out. I also finished drilling the intake air box backing plate for the purge solenoid and mounting h/w, wet sanded all of the aluminum parts up to 2000 grit to prep for anodizing. Best news yet is that my custom radiator shipped out to me Fedex on Friday so I should have it Wed latest and can then complete the cooling system and intake system which are all interrelated. I also received the replacement -20AN fittings from Davis Craig by overnight Fedex (they paid the shipping - 2 thumbs up!) from Australia, no less) - February 8, 2015


Part 75 (Fedex delivered my shiny new custom radiator from today. A quick test fit confirmed a proper fit under the hood and so I was able to order all of the remaining hose end fittings and start to plan out the fabrication of some stainless brackets to support the water pump and coolant-to-oil intercooler. Tomorrow I will pick up a lot of goodies including the remaining air box components, nitrous system components, etc.) - February 11, 2015



Part 76 (I got the Hella 20A solid state relays from Summit Racing and connected them to a signal generator, a battery and the radiator fans and tested out the variable speed control that will be managed by the Holley Dominator ECU - it all worked nicely with 30-40Hz being a good frequency choice, and 20% being a reliable starting point for low speed use - anything more than 80% duty cycle made the fans run close to 100% speed so the range is 20-80% that I will program for. I also realized that I needed to rebuild the wiper motor internals before re-mounting the wiper assembly. I was going to also mount the heater box but it will block my ability to put sound dampening material on the firewall so that will have to come first and I need warmer temperatures in the garage for that - otherwise the material won't adhere fully and won't conform easily to the uneven metal surfaces so I'll do it in a month or so.

I am about to head off on a 2 week trip so won't get much done between now and March 1st ...) - February 15, 2015


Part 77 (After a number weeks of business travel I managed to make some GTI project progress this weekend, first installing the re-built wiper motor assembly with new rubber grommets, and then test fitting some new coolant hose-ends in preparation for this week's task of putting together the remainder of the air intake system, fuel system and coolant system. I also got a chance to run some more air flow testing on the low profile SPAL radiator fans (yes, they flow a lot of air when mounted to the rad, more than enough). I also brought back my new Lexan Margard windows from the UK last week. AWC Motorsports Plastics in Bristol made them and they are perfect with nicely beveled edges (unlike the rough cut Lexan windows that LWS Design in the UK made for me in 2013 - that were made from the wrong material and for a mk2). And I finally sourced all of the fittings required to create a 'push' compressed air nitrous system (4500psi carbon air bottle with a 2900psi output regulator, a 3000psi solenoid, a 550-1250psi adjustable nitrous pressure switch, and the tricky NTP to BSPP adapter required to connect the air quick-disconnect fitting)) - March 8, 2015


Part 78 (This last week I got the custom radiator mounted properly, sorted out more of the coolant fittings, discovered a major interference issue with the -16 upper hose running into the vacuum plenum, built a number of Lexan air boxes (a few fails and then a successful one), and ended the weekend feeling pretty happy that things were coming together as (almost) planned. I also got my nitrous bottles filled and played around with the system a bit more: I will be doing PWM calibration testing on it this coming week) - March 15, 2015


Part 79 (Over the weekend I setup the nitrous system properly on the bench with the custom high pressure air 'push system' and ran a series of linearity tests while pulse width modulating the trick new Quadranoid solenoid (from NOS Wizards in the UK). I consumed 20lbs of nitrous doing all of the tests and learned a lot about the optimum settings for that solenoid. I don't want to run a lot of nitrous in my car as it could hurt my beautiful engine with its ultra precise tolerances (nitrous rapidly increases the combustion temperatures and in turn causes the pistons to expand, etc.). I only want a range of 15-60hp under computer control, not 100hp+.

When I initially installed the 20hp jets, instead of seeing 20/40/60/80hp at 25/50/75/100% duty cycle, I got a range of 80-110hp using a frequency of 35Hz. It turned out that while the Quadranoid is rated to 50Hz, it needs to have the plunger adjusted (a unique NOS Wizards feature) to a minimum height so the range of motion is dramatically reduced, and then it can be accurately controlled at high frequencies. With the seat height at the stock full open setting the plunger just floats when modulated at anything more than 15-20Hz and that is too low of a frequency for my application (intake valves open and close 60 times a second at 8000rpm). While 35Hz, which is the limit for my Holley Dominator ECU, is below the rate of intake valve opening at max rpm, I am feeding the modulated nitrous into a small chamber in the base of the Quadranoid, and then thru the distribution block/jets and then thru tubing to the intake runners: by the time the PWM controlled nitrous comes out the end of the tubes it is almost flowing smoothy - it has a slight pulsing to it but not a ton.

I found that even with the seat height set fairly low the Quadranoid still flowed a ton of nitrous so I switched to the 15hp jets and set the seat height even lower - almost off. And then I got the #s I was looking for: 15/30/45/60hp at 25/50/75/100% duty cycle. One thing I am really interested in is seeing if the 15hp setting will actually produce more like 25hp due to the cooling effect that nitrous has on the intake charge. Nitrous provides additional O2 but it also cools as it vaporizes so even really small amounts of nitrous can add significant power. I am not interested just in peak hp, I want to use the nitrous at the mid-range to tame the 288 degree cams and add back in some of the mid-range torque that is lost due to excessive cam duration ...) - March 24, 2015


Part 80 (After realizing that the new custom radiator had a nasty interference fit between the upper -16 hose and the intake system vacuum plenum log I got busy and ordered up another -16 ORB bung, cut a hole at the bottom of the tank (too bad, it would have been better to have the hot coolant enter at the top) and got my buddy Danny Beaudry of Pro Gas Engineering to weld it in (I am not up to par on tricky aluminum TIG welding like this when it involves a combination of thick and thin materials plus when it has to be leak proof). I then mounted the radiator coolant recovery tank on the side of the fender and started to make up the coolant hoses (a job I will finish in the next week) ...) - March 24, 2015


Part 81 (I got all of the cooland hoses complete, plus the remaining fuel system hoses, and the bracket fabricated to mount the coolant-oil intercooler - it turns out that there is no need to make up another electric water pump supporting bracket as the -20AN coupler to the radiator plus the -20AN short hose connection to the coolant-oil intercooler supports the EWP extremely well. I had trouble making up the -4AN vacuum lines that run between the vacuum plenum and each throttle body but I ended up ordering a Kool Tools stainless braided line funnel tool and cutting shears that should make the task of threading the cut hose into the hose ends for these really small -4AN hoses less of a torture session, complete with blood all over everything ...) - April 4, 2015

Part 82 (I got the plastic nitrous injector lines cut, heated/shaped and installed, plus a number of other intake system plumbing jobs like finishing the assembly of the -4AN hose ends for the vacuum lines, plus sorted out a new approach to my oil-to-coolant intercooler mounting which was to machine a block of aluminum to allow the lower oil fitting to stick out sideways rather than straight down (designed but not yet machined), and the big job for the week was the installation of the GTMAT 110 sound damping material on the interior of the chassis (to reduce panel vibration from the engine and exhaust areas)) - April 12, 2015


Part 83 (After Joey on YouTube suggested I try a banjo type hose end fitting for the oil line that connects to the bottom of the oil-to-coolant intercooler, I got to thinking that a banjo type fitting wouldn't likely flow as well as another similar idea: machining a block of aluminum to allow a right-angle mounting of the -8AN fitting off the side of the housing. I got to work today in my machine shop and now it is all together and the oil line is now slightly above the bottom lip of the chassis so I no longer risk hitting a critical oil line on a block of concrete or road hazard) - April 13, 2015


Part 84 (The oil-to-coolant intercooler mounted up nicely with its new painted bracket, plus the oil lines were done and routed cleanly without rubbing against any painted surfaces (I did cutoff an unused bracket extension from the side of the starter motor to provide more clearance). With this job complete I have finished making all of the Stainless AN lines so I removed all of them from the engine and washed and blow-dried the lines so I can now install them permanently later this week when I will also install the heater core and air box inside the passenger compartment) - April 20, 2015


Part 85 (After fighting with the old heater valve cable for about 2 hours (trying to lubricate it so that it would slide smoothly and open/close the heater valve) I gave up and found a replacement Gemo p/n 161819837 on ebay that looks like it will work fine in my mk1 application. I then fitted up the remaining cables that were in perfect working condition and mounted the heater/HVAC box in the chassis with its new gaskets. I was then able to hook up and complete the coolant system lines in the engine bay and pressure test the complete system to 15psi - success! I was also able to install many of the engine sensors and started to design a mounting bracket for the Holley Dominator ECU and ignition coils that will be placed in the rain tray on the passenger side (it is all weather proof but won't really see any water where it will be placed)) - April 25, 2015



Part 86 (I am starting to lay out the wiring harnesses and plan my connectors (a combination of metripack and weatherpack connectors). I had to cut away all of the electrical tape on the main ECU wiring harness as Holley had placed the fuel pump & injector relay and fuse in a crappy location for my project, same with the main power fuse.

I semi-finished my ECU/ignition system mounting system/plate, ordered and wired up the custom Magnecore KV85 silicon ignition wires and fabricated a wiring loom to hold the wires to the back of the cylinder head. I am pretty happy with how they look.

I sorted out the remaining engine sensors and tested/modified them to suit my project. The cam and crank sensors have given me the most challenges. I had to basically build a custom cam sensor earlier on in the project, and for the crank sensor I adapted a late model Bosch hall effect sensor that didn't quite fit the VW ABA block so I had to grind away at it a lot and also solder up a custom connector that would not hit the block but in the end I was rewarded with a high quality digital output to the ECU. For the cam sensor I got it setup properly to trigger at 180 degrees before Cyl #1 TDC which is what the ECU wants to see. Just prior to firing up the engine for the 1st time I will test all of the ignition timing with the injector harness disconnected.

Here is a list of the main engine sensors (email me if you need the p/ns for the mating connectors):

Bosch KS-R knock sensor, p/n 0 261 231 047 (analog peizo output, ECU set to monitor at 7.2kHz)

Bosch Hall-Effect Speed Sensor HA-P, p/n 0 232 103 037 (requires 1k pullup output resistor)

BBHME2000 Hall- Effect Cam Sensor (requires 1k pullup output resistor)

I sourced some very sticky Hoosier A7 tires in 205/50-15 size (the A7s run 'out of the box' at lower temperatures than the A6s which need quite a bit of heat to work properly. Since I will be drag racing and auto slaloming my GTI the A7s are a better choice for me). THe A7s are mounted on Enkei racing rims (rims weigh 9.9lbs and the total wheel/tire combination weighs 27.3lbs vs 33.5lbs for the VW snowflakes and 185/60-14 tires). The total tire width of the A7s is almost 2" greater than the 185/60-14s and they barely fit with only 1/8" inside clearance to the shocks/springs/struts front/rear. I will use these tires at the track and to test the ultimate performance envelope of the GTI when it is completed. My suspension is a race setup with Bilstein race struts and shocks (p/n V36-0059 & B46-0657-H1) and H&R race springs (400lbs/in front and 285lbs/in rear) and it will be setup with only a moderate ride height drop in comparison to stock as I like 3/4" gaps to the wheel wells - and this will also allow me to fit these wide A7 tires without rubbing too much.

What a heart breaker: After searching endlessly on the internet I finally located NOS VW front windshield glass at VW Parts Place Inc in Michigan ('genuine VW glass' is what they list on their web site) but they would not ship it to me on the west coast - in store pickup only. So I ended up paying them $400 in shipping to get it loaded onto a pallet in a huge box and trucked it out. Buggers! It is Chinese glass and it has a non-stock tint bar across the top which would definitely identify my GTI as a non-stock car (besides the fact that I would hate staring out the window at that tint stripe all day). When I called them they said 'What is the problem? The glass will work fine'. They are a small business and I was the one who pushed them to hard to ship it to me so I will take responsibility for this mistake. So I have now taken the additional step of ordering 3/16" Lexan Margard and will cut it to the same shape and will tint it like all of the other Lexan Margard windows with the super trick 3M CR90 Crystalline film which will give the windows a very OEM look. Who knows if the Margard will stand up to wipers on the surface - I'll have to be very careful not to drive the car in bad weather. I'll keep the chinese glass just in case) - May 12, 2015


Part 87 (I managed to get the intake system 'final assembled' and get all of the fluids into the engine/trans: the coolant, and I tested the system with electrical water pump; the transmission fluid; the engine break-in oil, and I made up an oil pump drive tool to prime and test the system (using a VW p/n 027115027 oil pump drive gear from a 16V ABA motor, machining off the gears, and then TIG welding on a 1/4" socket); and finally the fuel in the tank and testing of the fuel system. And yes, there were lots of false starts, dripping fluids, and some new injector o-rings are now on order) - May 19, 2015


Part 88 (The past 10 days have involved a lot of electrical parts sourcing and planning as I have come to the realization that it is simply not practical to just wire up the engine ECU and fire up the engine without planning and executing the foundational electrical system before hand. Something as simple as routing a wire thru the firewall requires that the location of the wiring harness be pre-determined and also that any gaskets already be in place (and the gaskets are sometimes hard to source). I also made the tough call to bail on using part of the stock wiring harness and instead will completely rewire the GTI end to end so I have made up a nice flip-down wiring panel under the glove compartment that will hold all of the distribution panels/fuses, and relays. I also determined that a 20AH Lithium Pros Battery would be my power source (Lithium batteries have a very flat discharge curve and can be deep discharged making a 20AH capacity battery equal to a 30AH lead-acid battery and it weighs 7.5lbs vs 30lbs) so I ordered one. I plan on running 1/0 flexible welding wire from the trunk to the wiring panel, passing thru a remote/wireless controlled 150amp disconnect switch and a 200amp current shunt (to allow the ECU to monitor the charge/discharge rate of the battery), then controlling the switched +12V via a traditional 150amp continous duty solenoid which will then feed all of the fuse panels and relays. All mechanical switches will be replaced by ECU/Digital display touch panel controlled virtual switches, including things like the emergency flashers, various lights, seat heats (continously variable heat control by computer) etc. Even the old turn signals and driving lights will be controlled via the virtual switches by feeding the dash/stalk switch outputs to the ECU inputs and then the ECU outputs will drive the 50% duty cycle relay controlled turn signal outputs, etc. - all using the Holley Digital Dash unit (by using the Dominator ECU I have tons of assignable I/O pins so I might as well take advantage of the same technologies used in software controlled cars like the Tesla). I also sourced a Kicker IQ1000.5 1200W RMS amp for the audio system which is all software programmable and streamed to by bluetooth) - May 28, 2015


Part 89 (Major score today! I was wandering around the local automotive parts store looking for some electrical supplies and out of the corner of my eye I spotted what looked like a VW mk1 US spec light bulb holder on the rack of GM connectors. On closer examination I located what looked like all of the major bulb holders for my Rabbit GTI and took them home to verify that indeed these were the correct replacement parts. This makes total sense as the US VW engineers would have had to meet US DOT lighting requirements so why not dive into the local Detroit parts bins and borrow a few things? Here are the part #s:

Front turn signal bulb holders: GM 88860442
Rear side turn signal bulb holders: GM6298892
Rear 2 circuit bulb holders (2 required): GM 12003758
Rear 3 circuit bulb holders (6 required): GM 12003759

All of the bulbs for these holders can be sourced in LED format which is what I have done, with an eye on keeping the same level of brightness as the original bulbs (you have to be careful as most LED replacement bulbs are lower brightness) - June 2, 2015


Part 90 (I got all of the fuse blocks, regular and micro relay blocks arranged on the panel that will mount under the glove box and will drill holes and start to mount everything this weekend. I also got the LED lights mounted in the housings with the new GM bulb holders and tested out their brightness (they modestly exceed the brightness of the OEM bulbs but require a dimmer 47 ohm resistor for the dual brightness settings to match the stock look). There are also a few minor clearancing issues with the LED bulbs that require a bit of work with a dremel to allow them to fit in a few of the holders. Here's the info on the bulbs I used which were ordered from

Product ID: 25454
Product Name: S25 27 SMD 5730 10-30V AC-DC
Attributes: Color - Warm White 3000K Base Type - 1156 Single Circuit
Price: $8.61

Product ID: 25454
Product Name: S25 27 SMD 5730 10-30V AC-DC
Attributes: Color - Warm White 3000K Base Type - 1157 Dual Circuit
Price: $8.17

Product ID: 45689
Product Name: T10 Wedge 5 Ultra Bright SMD LED Bulb 1.5W W5W 12 VDC T3 1/4
Attributes: T10 Color - Super White
Price: $3.58

- June 5, 2015


Part 91 (I was tired of smelling raw gas in the garage and did some research on what racers do to safely and properly vent their gas tanks without the loss of fuel vapour and the answer turned out to be a trick invention from a UK company that makes a bi-directional fuel tank vent valve that releases pressure inwardly at 0.05psi (for when the fuel pump is sucking and needs air intake) and outwardly at 0.7psi for when the temperature of the fuel tank as warmed up substantially and excess pressure needs to be released. This keeps the tank vent closed in normal use and nicely eliminates the smell of fuel vapour in the garage. I did also find that the fuel level sender gasket wasn't sealing perfectly so I added some silicon sealant to it and that solved that problem. Finally, I added thin -6AN aircraft crush washers to all of the engine compartment -6AN fuel fittings to ensure that they were absolutely sealed - the problem of sealing AN fuel fittings seems to come from combining fittings from different manufacturers - just a precautionary measure.

I put a ton of time into wiring the ECU harness and installing it into the chassis. I think it will take another 2 weeks to complete all of the chassis/engine/ECU wiring and then it will be time to finally fire up the engine) - June 15, 2015


Part 92 (The fuse/relay panel was finished and installed in the car - now the wiring looms need to be terminated and attached to the relays and fuse blocks. I sourced original AM/FM cassette decks for the car as well: A Blaupunkt Denver SQL26 which looks very close to the OEM cassette deck (does anyone have a hi res photo of the original one?), and a mint condition Concord HPL-130/dBx AM/FM cassette deck (this is the model I installed in my GTI in 1983). I also got more wiring done on the chassis) - June 29, 2015


Part 93 (As part of my engine ECU wiring I had to run the low voltage and high voltage wires next to each other for a short distance so I did a careful job of shielding them fully.

I had been fighting the computer and sensors for the past several days but finally have it running now. Boy, it starts with authority and has a serious exhaust note to it (not really loud at all at idle but when the throttle opens it gets serious in a hurry). With the 288 race cams it will idle roughly at 900rpm but prefers to be closer to 1050rpm for smooth idle. I was expected worse ... seems that the ITBs saved the day.

I had fabricated a hall effect sensor for the crank position 60-2 wheel from a late model mercedes but it turned out to not like the tooth width/depth and would give the computer erratic timing info at anything past 200-300 cranking rpm. I had to go back to the ABA inductive sensor (analog output) that the Holley dominator ECU accepted. Once that was out of the way I got correct timing for the ignition/firing of all plugs, and all other sensors were operational. But then it would fire and immediately die after transitioning from the cranking parameters to the running parameters. Turns out that Holley means zero fuel enrichment when programmed for 100% - I had it set to 'zero' and that means 'kill the fuel injectors'. Go figure. Anyway, I have lots of programming left to do as the AFR learning is limited to modifying the parameters a fixed % beyond the base tables, not learning all of the fuel tables from scratch. My tables aren't close enough yet to allow the engine to run beyond 2000 rpm without leaning out so I will be at it again tomorrow sorting out the tables. It starts nicely now, builds lots of oil pressure, the cooling system programming all seems to work nicely (the electric water pump speeds up and slows down as required, the cooling fans speed up and slow down as well, etc - all really trick/nice to see). 

Boy a new engine smells a lot when it first heats up!

I used the brakes and put the trans into 2nd gear and got up to about 40-50% throttle on it up to a little under 5,000rpm to help quickly seat the piston rings and auto-learn the base fuel tables. All went well and now I am going to take a much needed break from the project for a few weeks and go on a family holiday and will then head into the fall with the idea of completing the car and getting it licensed and on the road ...) - July 22, 2015


Part 94 (Tragedy has (almost) struck the ultimate GTI project. Cylinder #2 high mount 30lbs/hr injector failed (this never happens) in the ‘on’ position, filling the engine with fuel when I was doing ECU fuel table learning under load. Potentially serious issue as fuel is not compressible and could result in bent internals. Freak failure. Never seen or heard of this happening before. Not an electrical issue. Simply an injector that decided to die and let the fuel pour out of it. I took the intake system apart, cleaned up and got the fuel completely out, etc.

Did a compression test: 180psi on all 4 cylinders on a cold engine. This is actually a great result given the 288 solid lifter cam with its large valve overlap specs. Will have a new injector tomorrow. Will change the oil and should be back in the game this weekend) - August 6, 2015


Part 95 (After sourcing a new injector, cleaning up the mess from dumping so much fuel into the engine, lubricating the cylinders with Sea-foam cleaner/lube, cleaning and re-installing the O2 sensor and Denso spark plugs, and bolting everything back together there were no more fuel leaks or sticking injector issues.

I put more time into re-scaling the fuel and ignition tables, expanding the area from 70-102kPa MAP where the engine operates with the 288 race cams, tuning the idle IAC parameters, and also tuning the timing around idle and low-rpm part throttle, enabling idle stabilization via timing variation, programming in the acceleration enrichment tables, and otherwise leaning out the fuel table parameters to compensate for the low volumetric efficiency below 5000rpm, and after all of that the engine starts nicely, settles into idle smoothly, and has a very crisp throttle response, which is to be expected of an ITB setup.

Now that this is all done and a lot of the basic A/F ratio fuel table tuning has been done/learning completed, I won't fire the engine again until the wheels are on the ground and the rest of the interior and wiring is basically completed. It has 180psi cold compression on all 4 cylinders and is broken-in enough for me not to worry about idling it.

Now a few comments on the design decisions re. cam selection and other related engine components: We put these cams in at the last minute after previously deciding to build a set of race-ready heads and intake system with mild cams (a combination that pretty much achieves the best of both worlds) and then Josh (the engine builder) and I mused about first seeing what the potential of this engine was with the 288 cams, and then, if it was too much for the street we would swap in 276 or milder cams later on. I will likely also swap in softer sport H&R springs and have Bilstein re-valve the race struts for the same reason: first to demonstrate the full performance envelope of the project car and then bring it down to earth a bit with some de-tuning.

There is a birdie whispering in my ear saying that the 288 cams might actually be streetable simply because the ITBs allow for fairly smooth idle even with very low vacuum and the car is so light relative to the power output (likely 1800lbs and 250hp w/o nitrous) so the lack of low end torque may not be an issue - and it may help soften the throttle response at low rpms that otherwise might be over-the-top with the ITBs. I also have the option of having the nitrous come on below the torque peak at 2500-5000rpm to compensate and then shut off. We have used this trick with big turbo setups to spin up the turbos and cut lag by 70% or more and then shut off the nitrous. The ITBs are a related issue as the throttle response of this setup at low rpm is tremendous and I can only imagine how crisp and aggressive it will feel above 5500rpm when the cams are in their sweet spot. I like a crisp throttle but the problem I have with this engine is that the ITBs are huge (45mm but shaftless so equivalent to 48mm units) so essentially one throttle body can supply all of the engine air needs on its own and when those 4 blades all open together only a few % there is a dramatic increase in air flow. It reminds me of how my old 83 GTI felt when I swapped in a Weber 'Big Throat' TB - it got tiring after a while with the overly sensitive throttle - and that was with a 100hp/2100lbs car. I can only imagine how much more sensitive this project car's throttle response will be and how tiring it may be to have to be so careful with my right foot all of the time. We'll see soon enough ... fingers crossed.

Something else I was worried about was how the exhaust note would sound. I have used multiple race-type resonators stacked end-to-end in street/track cars in the past with great success (quiet yet no loss of top end power - actually building mid-range torque over less muffled exhaust systems) so I used 3 straight-thru resonators on this project car. I will have to get one of my studio big diaphragm mics out and record the sounds for everyone to hear properly. The exhaust is quite mellow with a deep bass but not a lot of high end - which is what I expected to hear. When the throttle is opened up it is quite aggressive sounding but not like the usual rice-rockets on the road these days. I think it will be perfect but I need to get the car out of the garage to hear it properly) - August 9, 2015


Part 96 (I took the glass windscreen and traced the shape onto paper and then transferred it to a 3/16" (6mm) MR10/Marguard Lexan sheet, then cut it out with a jig saw, profiled the edges with a palm sander, and then sent all 8 windows to the auto glass shop for the application of the 3M CR90 Crystalline film (90% visible light transmission, 50% heat rejection). Note: applying film to Lexan is generally not advisable as Lexan absorbs moisture and therefore can re-release moisture when high levels of heat/sunlight hit it, lifting the film (bubbling). And it is also hard to apply the film as the water required to help position the film sucks into the lexan causing it to grab/set pre-maturely. I found an installer that is very good and is willing to give it a try: we hope that the MR10/Margaurd coating on the Lexan will act as a barrier and will make the film application easier plus will reduce the potential for bubbling. I will also be careful to not get the lexan windows wet and then subject them to strong heat/sunlight ...

Once I get the windows back I can install the front windscreen and then mount the dash permanently (after re-coloring) so I can then complete the dash wiring, etc. I started the process of re-coloring the interior plastic parts by attacking the center console over the last 3 days: the console that came with my car was crudely hacked up by the previous owner so I found another console and set about filling and sanding out the imperfections. I started with a good cleaning, then application of 3M plastic filler, then 220/320/400/600 grit dry sanding, then 600/1000/1500 grit wet sanding. I am ready to re-color it tomorrow. I also ordered the correct BA7 and BA9 instrumentation LED bulbs for the gauges) - August 16, 2015


Part 97 (I gathered up all of my various interior components to compare colors and decided that my initial decision to match the back of the seat vinyl color with the Parasol Varibond re-coloring solution was the best option: it is a bit less 'blue' and a bit more 'grey' than some of the plastic console and door card components but it matches the seat fabric perfectly, plus the carpet and I think it is overall a more pleasing color than the 'in your face' blue of some of the other parts (VW wasn't very fussy about matching colors back in the day - it seems that every component had a slightly different color balance to it and so I have to make a judgement call). I have done 2 coats of painting/sanding of the center console and it is starting to come together - one more process of sanding/painting should do it and then I will start to get a production run going for all of the other interior components including the new deck lid carpet which is currently black.

I am also starting to work up a 'for show only' dummy VW GTI dash gauge cluster to place in front of my Holley Digital Dash when the car is parked or being shown - the idea is to have a thin panel that can be placed in front of the digital dash or removed at will ..). - August 18, 2015


Part 98 (I have been prepping the plastic interior parts for re-coloring, plus planning out the addition of 2 more air vents and the design of the new digital instrument cluster. I will not re-color everything until I receive the SEM plastic repair supplies I ordered which will give me the opportunity to re-texture surfaces that I have filled and sanded. I will have to re-setup my sterile painting environment in my garage to avoid dust contamination) - August 24, 2015


Part 99 (With my 288 race cams the idle manifold vacuum is only 30kPa/8" which is far less than the minimum required amount to operate the brake servo, so I have sourced a GM electric vac pump, an adjustable vac switch (so I can adjust the amount of vac 'assist' I want) and a check valve plus I TIG welded up a Tee connector that mounts into the servo unit and provides connections to the other components. I will weld a bracket to the underside of the front strut tower brace to support the unit.

The 3M window film jobber said 'no way' after attempting to apply the CR90 film to the MR10 Lexan windows (grabs too fast) so I mounted the front window without film and found that it curves to shape nicely and looks fantastic (optic quality is superb). I was a bit concerned that 6mm (3/16") Lexan would not conform to the window frame shape as it is fairly stiff. I am using 4mm for the other windows.

I received my plastic repair kit items from SEM that includes a 2 part plastic filler, a 2 part plastic glazing compound, a flexible sandable high build primer, and a texture coating and went to work refinishing the center console and back seat side panels which needed sanding and re-texturing. Once that work was complete and I was happy with the results I also prepared a few other interior parts and sprayed the final color coats all at once (yes I am really happy with the results). I am now ready to tackle the bigger task of re-coloring the front door cards and dash.

I also ordered a Boyo VTM43TCA auto dimming rear view mirror that has a number of advanced features: an integrated backup camera monitor; a wireless grill mounted temperature sensor and a compass, plus hidden touch screen programming features. It is 2" wider and a bit taller than the OEM mirror so I will have to reshape the visors when I re-cover them along with the installation of the new headliner. For safety reasons I like backup cameras - both to protect the car from hidden objects and to avoid driving into things in my garage that are often on the floor.

Finally, I am designing a panel of switches and potentiometers to be hidden inside the ash tray: ignition 'on' switch, start switch, engine kill switch, nitrous enable switch, nitrous purge switch, A/C on switch, A/C temperature pot, and 2 seat heater pots. All of the mini rocker switches have different color LEDs embedded in them so it should look nice and trick when the ash tray is flipped open) - September 10, 2015


Part 100 (The effort to repair, re-texture and re-color all of the various plastic parts (midnight blue and black) continued with vengeance over the past 10 days, with the biggest successes being the completion of the major dash components. I also got deep into the effort to restore the fender flares which need a lot of work. Finally I also received the Danfoss 400W 12V A/C compressor (which translates into 1500BTUs which is only a small fraction of what a crank driven A/C compressor is capable of putting out but should be sufficient for my needs) and I also started to order a few of the other components that will be necessary to complete the whole A/C system) - September 20, 2015


Part 101 (After gluing in the missing chunks plastic, then using SEM plastic filler to fill the extra holes and deep nicks and scratches, and then SEM plastic fine finishing putty, I sprayed the original GTI fender flares/liners with SEM high build flexible primer and sanded them, repeating this process until the surfaces of all of the fenders were smooth and defect free. Then I applied SEM flexible texture coating and then used 400 grit sandpaper to flatten the texture until the VW OEM texture appearance was achieved. I then shot the fenders in Parasol semi-gloss black plastic paint 3 times - they finally look mint again!

I had 2 sets of the rear hatch side shelves - neither set was perfect, each with their cracks and other damage from 3 decades of hard use, so I chose the 2 best examples and started the process of removing the old carpet, gluing in extra supporting plastic material underneath to re-enforce the units, and then used a heat gun to soften the plastic and bend each unit carefully back into correct shape (they warp over the years). Then the process of prepping, filling, sanding and painting using a combination of the SEM plastic repair products, and finally the careful process of measuring & creating a template for the carpet, and then cutting out the carpet, painting it midnight blue, and then gluing it together (after again masking off the non-glue areas). It all worked out nicely in the end but took a lot more time and effort than I had anticipated) - September 30, 2015


Part 102 (I have made more progress designing and building the 12V air conditioning system using 2 Perma-cool 1.5x7x14" oil coolers, 2 12V waterproof fans, and a bunch of custom fittings.

A problem I had when testing the engine was that I had mounted a small K&N crankcase breather filter on the end of the plastic OEM breather vent on the front of the ABA block which was not adequate to keep oil from splashing into the filter and then dripping all over the engine and garage floor. The not-so-simple solution was to design a 1.25" stainless steel vent tube that winds its way around all of the obstacles at the front of the engine to the side where the K&N filter can sit vertically above the engine block - with a slope in the vent tube that allows the oil that gets into the tube to drain back into the block.

I also put a lot of time into sorting out the mounting of the 6.5" Hertz woofers into the door frames and figuring out how to modify the window regulators to avoid an interference, plus got well underway with the hole punching process to create 'grills' in the door cards - plus I solved a problem with old warped particle board support by wetting/steaming/pressing/drying the door cards, etc. ...) - October 9, 2015


Part 103 (I have both of my door cards drying for a week after wetting the particle board and pressing them flat again so I have taken the time to fire up the motor and start the process of fine tuning the software parameters. It turns out that the canned demo parameters for typical American V8 engines are far too rich for a highly sprung 2.1L 4 cylinder like my highly modified VW ABA engine which seems to need very little fuel at startup or idle ....) - October 15, 2015


Part 104 (Over the past week I spent time researching what others have done to program around the needs of individual throttle bodies (ITBs), comparing their work to my own, and there are a number of different approaches that people use: some folks bail on the idea of trying to use the manifold absolute pressure (MAP) sensor as a primary input control to the fuel table and just rely on the throttle position sensor (TPS) called Alpha-N, some elect to use a hybrid approach of MAP and TPS, cutting over at a specific RPM or TPS set-point, but after a lot of study and review of my data logs from prior engine test sessions I decided that with a few changes to my setup I could stick with a pure MAP/speed density fueling strategy. Here's how I have approached things (keeping in mind that I have matched my ITBs with race cams which also add complexity to the tuning challenges as they kill low end vacuum ...).

The closed-loop control (CLC) system in the Holley ECU is very fast and accurate so when the fuel tables or sensors aren't perfect in a particular situation the CLC will almost always fix the problem ...

I realized that one of the things I was fighting was my idle air control (IAC) valve control circuit - when the IAC was open more than 5% to help increase idle RPM, it reduced the MAP sensor's ability to sense the MAP at the throttle bodies - I have a common vacuum plenum that the IAC attaches to at one end and 4 separate -4AN vacuum sense lines running to each ITB - when the IAC opens up it pulls the plenum MAP close to atmospheric, essentially overwhelming the tiny vacuum signals from the ITBs. So I re-calibrated my idle by manually opening up the ITB blades, forcing the IAC to run at 1-3% opening to control the idle when warm, not the prior 12-15% setting. This dropped my warm idle MAP signal from 70-72kPA to 63-65kPA which improves my ability to control fuel flow in and around idle/part throttle. I now have close to 40kPA of MAP range to program with ...

I was also able to move my closed-loop control (CLC) sensitivity factor to the max '5' setting in the ECU, allowing it to nearly instantly correct for any errors in the air-fuel ratio (AFR) being sensed by the wide-band O2 sensor in the exhaust system - this max sensitively setting does not appear to create any instability which is a risk in setting it too high - but I will keep an eye on things in the data logging tables once I get the GTI on the road to see if there are any conditions where I may need to back off on the closed-loop sensitivity. One worry is that I have long, large diameter race headers with the O2 sensor mounted in the collector so there is a time delay from the injection of fuel to the sensing of the AFR ...

I managed to find several happy settings this week: the right IAC 'return to idle' settings - allowing the engine to gently and consistently return to idle smoothly and quickly without over or under-shooting; the right acceleration enrichment (AE vs TPS rate of change) table entries to keep my AFR stable when blipping the throttle - resulting in incredibly quick and satisfying throttle response; and finally my cranking/startup fueling strategy - again, I have continued to lean out all of my fuel tables and now when the engine is warm I only need a tiny fuel prime 'squirt' before cranking and 2.5lbs/hr of cranking fuel, which is pretty much the same as my warm idle fuel setting (which shows how efficient these engines are). And I also found good IAC 'parked' settings to give the cranking engine just enough air when the engine is cold or warm to kick it over cleanly and start without over-revving too high or stumbling before climbing up to the idle rpm set-point.

My fuel tables are now dialed in as close as I need to hit the road and do the rest of the tuning in real-world conditions: my MAP vs RPM fuel tables look quite non-linear as my ITBs and race cams require - the fuel needs are almost flat at low rpm and all MAP settings up to 90kPA, then a steep ramp up of fuel flow up to 101kPA/full throttle - at higher RPM when the ITBs and race cams come into their own, everything transitions to a more linear relationship with MAP signals from 60-101kPA building fuel flow at a more linear rate. Since I can't fully load down the engine on engine stands in my garage, completing these tables will have to wait for the street ...

I found that the Holley ECU doesn't like to try and learn/correct the AFR when the fuel tables are too far off the mark - when-ever I tested the fuel table at a new rpm/MAP range I often had to manually correct (usually lean out) that area of the table before the ECU would jump in and start to correct/learn - this occurred even though I had CLC and learn parameters set to +/-100% offset ranges: if the engine revs to a range where the AFR is way-off the engine will not want to stay there and will hesitate/hunt around for an RPM/MAP point that it likes.
) - October 25, 2015


Part 105 (The speaker grills for the door cards were completed successfully, the audio system components are all now together and ready to be installed, the remote mounted Lithium battery was installed and tested with updated battery cables, the final A/C system components arrived and are now ready to be put together and tested out, and most importantly, I got a new Lexan curved cold air intake box made up and tested that looks great under the hood ...) - November 5, 2015


Part 106 (Background: as a young electrical engineer 30 years ago I designed power supplies and battery charging systems for mobile devices ...

I was very excited to be able to use the latest greatest automotive grade Lithium ion ferrous phosphate battery technology from Lithium Pros as they are vasty superior to lead acid batteries in several ways: very flat discharge curve (the battery voltage stays high); high high cranking amps without voltage drop (cranking at 12.8V, not 10-11v); very fast charging (all of the available energy from the alternator is immediately stored); many times greater cycle life; deep discharge capability (you can use all of the capacity without damage); and light weight.

But the negatives are: poor performance in sub-zero temperatures; and a less than ideal match to standard automotive alternators that put out 14.4V when Lithium batteries don't want to be charged at more than 3.4V/cell = 13.6V. On-board battery management systems try to shunt the additional voltage and excess current thru internal discharge resistors and it sort-of works but the ideal situation would be an intelligent computer controlled alternator regulator that can rapidly charge the Lithium battery and then back off ... enter my latest project idea ...

I built a circuit that allows full alternator voltage up to 13.6V and then limits it to 13.8V - it does this under ECU control by monitoring the battery voltage and then spoofing the alternator into thinking that it has reached 14.5V by outputting higher than actual voltage back to the alternator 'sense' wire. It uses a charge pump circuit to get 16v to the op amps, and the PWM output of the ECU to send signals to the circuit to increase or decrease the Vsense line. It works perfectly and now I have a charging system that won't limit the life expectancy of the $1200 battery I have.

And I completed the associated battery charge/discharge ECU monitoring circuit which consists of a 75mV/200A shunt in series with the battery and a bi-directional differential voltage amplifier/monitor that puts out a 0-5V signal to the ECU (2.5V = 0 amps, 0V = 66 amps charging, 5V = 66 amps load) ...

I also received my midnight blue headliner material from SMS - it is a perfect match to the VW OEM fabric and is nicely foam backed ...) - November 17, 2015


Part 107 (I completed the fabrication and installation of the A/C vents in the center of the dash, fabricated the mounts and modified the dash plastic to allow for the Holley digital dash unit, did the re-wiring to install the Lithium battery current monitor and alternator voltage regulation in ECU command, dismantled the car rotisserie, purchased and setup the EZcarlift, took the car out for its first drive down the lane and in the process damaged both the Wilwood brake callipers and VW Snowflake wheels, repaired all of the damage, did a 4 corner weighing of the car (1540lbs, 70/30 weight distribution) and calculated the approx final weight and distribution: 1800lbs and 66/34 distribution). A lot of progress - my back and hands are worn out and need a rest!) - November 28, 2015


Part 108 (I cut the coils to set the correct ride height for the front and rear suspension, plasti-dipped the fresh-cut ends, put in a nylon washer in the top of the front strut bearings under the top nut and washer to take up some slight slack (to avoid the potential for rattling when the suspension is unloaded), confirmed proper ride height after lowering the car onto its wheels, did a basic front wheel alignment, determined that the problem with the steering 'clunk' when changing direction was related to the pinion gear moving up about 0.050" against the pinion gear cover, took apart the steering column, removed the U joints, pulled off the pinion cover, realized that there was really nothing under the cover to positively hold the pinion in place and keep it from moving up and down, machined the pinion cover to accept a friction fit brass shim/bearing surface, machined a matching brass shim of the correct thickness to eliminate the ability for the pinion gear to move vertically (without binding), pressed it into the cover, put the R&P back to together (not easy when the engine and brake servo are in the way), put the steering column back together, adjusted everything, verified that the pinion gear wasn't binding against my new shim but was snug, lowered the car onto its wheels and verified that the direction changing 'clunk' had been successfully eliminated when under load. I am very happy now as the steering is super responsive with the Quaife close-ratio R&P, and that the system has zero play in it and is smooth and very precise now) - December 1, 2015


Part 109 (I had to re-route the rear brake lines to solve an interference fit with the 14" VW Snowflake wheels, plus solve a repeat brake fluid leak from one of the master cylinder to rear proportioning vale lines by making and installing a new metric bubble flare to SAE inverted flare line. After flushing the system again the brakes are solid and there are no more fluid leaks!

I decided to mount the GM brake vacuum servo pump on its rubber vibration isolator mounts to a custom stainless steel bracket that I made up and attached to the rain tray holes that originally held the ignition coil. I ran some tests using an adjustable vacuum switch to prove that the brake pressure could be electronically controlled. I then ordered another GM/Holley MAP sensor so that my engine ECU can be used as a master controller of the brake assist vacuum - using a potentiometer that I can turn as I drive I will be able to adjust the brake pedal pressure at will now.

I also received my digital level and Longacre steering toe measurement plates and did a full front/rear alignment (front: 1/8" toe out, -1.3 degrees camber; rear 1/8" tow in, -1.0 degrees camber) and I installed the 3mm spacers for the front wheels and ordered 15mm spacers for the rear axle/brake assemblies, plus matching 40mm 12.9 grade M10x1.5 Allen bolts. I also ordered new longer wheel lugs (M12x1.5x25 and M12x1.5x30 R13 ball seat) for the VW snowflake wheels and an additional set of matching 60 degree conical seat lugs for my lightweight Enkie Racing RP01 wheels and Hoosier racing slicks) - December 11, 2015


Part 110 (I was hunting down the few remaining fluid leaks and so it was time to investigate why my Mocal Laminova oil to coolant intercooler was leaking oil. I contacted the SEM Laminova engineering firm in Sweden that makes the unit under contract for Mocal and they said 'Where did you get those brackets? They aren't from us and they are mounted incorrectly. The brackets must be positioned outside of the flanges, not on the inside.' Well, Mocal supplied the brackets but they did not fit on the outside as the ID was too small so I assumed that they needed to be sandwiched in-between the flanges and the body. Wrong assumption. So I machined them to fit, and put everything back together, put coolant and oil back into the system, and, fingers crossed, that will solve that leak. So far, so good.

I built a stainless brace/bracket that triangulates the steering column lower mounting point to the brake assembly/vehicle frame and it has removed about 80% of the flex inherent in the OEM design. I also machined a collar for the top of the steering column that keeps it in place and eliminates any up/down movement. I think I am finished 'tuning' the steering system now - I hope that it will be nice and crisp/precise when driving on the road ....

I received my Lella Autosport 15mm rear axle spacers which are very nice indeed. When using them in conjunction with my 3mm wheel spacers it now looks like my front and rear wheel/tire offsets are identical - I still need to drop the vehicle onto the pavement to verify but I am waiting for the proper bolts as the ones which Lella supplied are about 5mm too long (and the nice 40mm long socket head 12.9 grade bolts I sourced were fine thread and unlike the rear rotor mounting bolts which are (m10x1.25mm) fine thread, the axles mount with std pitch (m10x1.5mm thread) bolts. Me bad. New ones on order now ...) - December 25, 2015


Part 111 (For the last few weeks I have been working on the rear wiring and lights, starting by building a new rear wiring harness with all new connectors and LED lights (see prior posts for p/ns), plus I worked on coloring the Hella replacement tail light assemblies to be a hybrid of a US and Euro Spec look to them (I am also building aluminum/carbon fiber bumpers that will be a hybrid of US and Euro Spec look to them - shaped like the US bumpers but scaled a bit smaller and closer to the body). I got the powered radio antenna installed in the back, plus sorted out the backup camera mounting and wiring, although I blew up the camera by connecting it to 12V when it needed 3.3V. I also got the 12.9 grade rear axle mounting bolts installed with the Lella AutoSport 15mm spacers) - January 17, 2015


Part 112 (I finally got to the point where I had all of the parts necessary to assemble and bench test the electrical A/C system. I used low temperature aluminum/copper solder (500 degree F) and I didn't really do a very good job on the receiver/drier connectors as I didn't apply the massive amounts of flux that that particular solder requires - so I had to re-solder a few places and still need to chase down a few remaining leaks (I have ordered Harris Al-Cor brazing wire and will re-do all of the connectors and I may also switch over to flex lines ...). All of the copper compression fittings are leak-free but another set of leaks occurred after 24 hours at the NPT teflon tape fittings as the POE oil in the system actually dissolves teflon tape - so I replaced the white tape with yellow gas spec tape and it seems to hold better (we'll see ...). The system was charged up with R134a refrigerant and it came to life. It will need tuning to bring out its maximum potential: the oil coolers I am currently using as the evaporator and condenser cores aren't very thermally efficient when used in an A/C system and so I will look more into finding small A/C cores that will fit my application, plus I need to determine the ideal R134a charge load - I added too much at one point in my testing and the performance dropped almost to zero (I think the low side pressure should be around 25psi and it was up to 40psi). With a medium-high fan setting I saw about an 8 degree F drop in air temperature coming thru the evaporator and I'd like to see more like 10-15 degrees drop (this compares to commercial systems that are >4x more powerful and can drop the air temperatures from 80+ degrees F to below 50 degrees F).

I thought I should provide some basic automotive A/C background info and relate that to this project: A typical crank/belt driven automotive A/C compressor is capable of 10-20000 BTU/hr output capability. Due to the law of thermodynamics heat/energy removal (a thermal transfer process) isn't a watt for watt 1:1 relationship. e.g 1 watt of energy input into the compressor translates into approx 2 watts of energy removal from the air. For my tiny little Danfoss BD250GH compressor, which draws around 10-15 amps at 12.5V, or up to 200W, it provides up to 400W of energy removal, or around 1300 BTU/hr. I could upgrade my compressor to 2 other available units ( that consume 20-31+ amps of power for between 3000-6000 BTU/hr of cooling capacity in a package that is roughly the same weight and size (7-10lbs) as my Danfoss compressor (with easier to manage automotive A/C fittings pre-installed - but the compressors have less complex electronics that can't speed up and down the compressor as energy demands change - you are limited to turning them on/off). Air weighs 0.04Kg/cu-ft and the fan I am testing with is around 150cfm, which means that the mk1 golf with its approx 80cu-ft of interior volume would have its air exchanged every 30 seconds and in that case my little compressor is removing around 3-4 degrees C of temperature from that volume of air. Dry air has a specific heat factor of 1000J/kg-C (in other words, it takes 1000J to raise the temperature of 1 Kg of air 1 degree C and 1W = 1J/s). My fan is moving 150cfm or 2.5cf/s, or .1Kg/s or 100W per 1 degree C of cooling = 300-400W of cooling, so my system is pretty much running as expected. If I slow the fan speed down 70% to an equivalent to a 'low' blower setting I can then expect the air temperature drop to be around 10 degrees C. And that is with a small Danfoss compressor. You have to remember that the sun radiates a huge amount of energy into the car interior while driving and when a car's interior is hot it requires a huge input of cooling to bring the temperature back down, and that is why 3000+ BTU/hr is a better starting point for a 12V electrically powered A/C system. I think I can make my little 1300 BTU/hr system work effectively but I might end up changing to the larger compressor in the end. This is a big science fair project and so I am learning and experimenting along the way. Fun stuff!

I received my p/n 191501639A rear axle bearing dust shields and they fit) - January 24, 2015


Part 113 (My 33 year old plastic front grill was beaten up and needed to be sanded down with 600/1000/2000/3000 grit wet sandpaper, and then masked off and painted with the red GTI edge stripes, plus the GTI badges needed to be color matched. The grill cleaning and sanding went really well, but my initial attempts at using a hard rubber roller to paint on the Parasol red plastic paint were a near complete failure as the paint dried on the roller very quickly (there is a lot of powerful solvent in the paint that evaporates super fast) plus the solvent in the paint which helps bite into the plastic also tends to dissolve the prior layers of paint when disturbed by a roller or brush - but isn't a problem when spray painting. I ended up destroying 2 rear GTI badges before giving up and finding NOS GTI badges on ebay and then masked off and spray painted the red stripe on the grill. That worked out, but the masking was very tricky/time consuming, plus some of the paint found its way under and around the masking so it took another 4-5 hours of wet sanding and touching up the stripe with a fine model spray gun ... in the end it was all worth it as the grill looks awesome now. Plus I successfully hand painted the front GTI badge with the same red paint and then carefully block sanded it down smooth to match the grill stripe (it was a bit off and now everything matches 100%). I am really happy with the look now.

I then took all of my new parts for the electrical A/C system and put them on the prototype system: new #6 A/C barrier hose and fittings for the drier/filter unit, lots of temperature sensors to bench test the system, and more air boxes to fine tune the performance and help squeeze every last drop of performance and efficiency from this system (given that it is a bit marginal re. cooling capacity). In the end the amount of R134a refrigerant charge that provided the best performance was 35psi on the low side with the compressor running at max speed (4,400rpm at 13.5amps/13.3V). This provided close to 7 degrees C of air cooling across the evaporator at an equivalent to a 'low' blower setting in the car and a little over 4 degrees C of air cooling at an equivalent of a 'medium/high' blower setting (150cfm - enough to change the air in the cabin every 30 seconds). The performance #s are solid: 160W of electrical energy providing approx 400W of cooling (1,400BTU/hr). Since I have a small racing alternator I cannot afford more than about 15amps of continuous current draw at idle, so if this proves to be too little cooling the next step up in compressors is closer to 2x in both current draw and cooling, and is also 2x more expensive ($1,200 vs $600). I'll install this system and if it is not sufficient for my summer needs and I am not at the edge of my alternator capacity I might upgrade to a larger compressor .... we'll see - February 8, 2016


Part 114 (I fabricated an aluminum bracket out of 1/8" material using my new sheet metal brake to mount my Hella air horns (the same ones I had on my old GTI back in the day) - they fit perfectly beside the water pump housing. I then mounted the HID high voltage transformers under the radiator area, and also figured out how best to mount the MAP sensor that I will be using to measure and control the brake servo vacuum. I also finished cleaning up the trunk area where I had ground off the wiring metal tabs (that I won't be needing), filling, sanding, priming, base coating and clear coating it all. finally, I got started on the ash tray which required sanding and filling, then texturing and painting before I can fabricate an aluminum panel for the inside of it to mount 6 rocker switches (Ignition on, engine start, engine kill, A/C on, NO2 enable, NO2 purge) and 5 potentiometers (A/C level, Seat Heater 1/2, Brake Servo Vac, blower speed) - February 17, 2016


Part 115 (I ordered and installed some OEM rear license plate mounting h/w and finally mounted my original GTI license plate on the back of the GTI. A milestone!

I managed to cut/punch/nibble/bend an aluminum bracket to mount the 6 switches and 5 pots in the ash tray, plus design and print to a durable label with all of the panel info. It barely fits but it does fit and looks the part (I am happy about how it turned out). I'll have to wire up a 15 circuit Molex connector to it and then from there to the ECU next ...

I found an excellent electric A/C compressor from Boyard in China that is a 2.5x capacity step-up from my Danfoss compressor that I had bench tested. Here are the differences:

Danfoss BD250GH: 2.5cc cylinder volume, 2500-4400rpm, max 12amps@13.5V (162W) to produce approx 350W of cooling (1200BTU/hr - a COP efficiency of 2.1), 11.6lbs with controller, results in a drop in air temperature of around 5 degrees C at mid-range blower fan settings. Variable speed so current consumption can be reduced.

Boyard JVB075Z12 : 7.5cc cylinder volume, 2500-3700rpm, 25amps@13.5V (340W) to produce approx 850W watts of cooling (2900BTU/hr [higher COP efficiency of 2.5] of cooling at 3300rpm (so at 3700rpm it will produce closer to 3250BTU/hr at 30amps), 16lbs with controller, should result in a temperature drop of closer to 15 degrees C in comparison to the Danfoss unit at 3700rpm.

I am waiting for new A/C connectors as I will switch completely over to #6 and #8 reduced barrier A/C hose and fittings given the larger capacity of this unit. As a variable speed compressor the current draw can also be substantially reduced as required - my ECU will control the compressor speed based on cooling system demands) - March 2, 2016


Part 116 (I got the ash tray control panel wired up, test mounted, and built a wiring harness to connect it to the ECU, then I completed the wiring and installation of all lights in the rear of the car, and then built and installed a front-to-rear wiring harness that runs inside the frame of the car, then I connected the wiring harness into the electrical panel and ECU at the front of the car, and also sorted out all of the dash and stalk wiring components that I will use (a mix of old and new), plus I got fairly far into building the wheel well audio and battery system Lexan mounting solution. Finally, I machined and installed the #6 and #8 A/C fittings onto the new Boyard A/C compressor and then assembled and bench tested the system: was a big improvement over the prior Danfoss compressor, putting out >800W of cooling power (almost 3000BTU/hr), vs. 350W for the Danfoss unit. This translates into an 8-10 degree C temperature drop across the evaporator at a medium to high blower speed setting which will make it an effective A/C solution for outside temperatures of up to 30 degrees C or more, at a typical 15-25amp current draw) - March 27, 2016


Part 117 (The complete audio system was setup and tested (a combination of vintage and state of the art components) - it was a success. The Lithium battery and audio system was then installed in the car while the dash was prepared by fabricating a mounting bracket for the Concord tape deck, plus the ash tray control console stops were fabricated and installed. The A/C system was bench tested for current consumption at different compressor speeds, and another A/C compressor controller was ordered that has a shorter 5s startup delay so I can duty cycle the compressor to achieve even lower cooling capacity. Mounting brackets were fabricated/welded up/painted for the A/C compressor and controller unit and everything was test mounted - again, a success. Finally, the A/C condenser was assembled with water proof fans and was mounted under the car) - April 14, 2016


Part 118 (Major wiring is now complete. Yes, after a lot of work the wiring job is coming to a close. Blame it on my desire for complexity and computer control over all aspects of the car, but it is almost entirely done now - some of the final wiring will have to wait for the rest of the interior to go in, etc.) - May 3, 2016


Part 119 (The final countdown to project completion begins! ... I think I have around 100 hours left to go and a number of those items include things that can be done after road licensing/certification and shakedown testing (putting decals on, finishing my 2/3rd size carbon fiber/aluminum bumpers, some interior trim, etc.).

Over the past 2 weeks I machined up a smaller steering column collar, and installed it along with a new top column bearing assembly and ignition switch, put weatherpack connectors on the seat heaters, sorted out all of the h/w and plastic bits needed t put the seats together (and ordered a few missing parts), got the sunroof sorted out as well by refinishing the parts and ordering several new items (the wind deflector and levers, new cable assemblies), epoxied on quick connect o-ring fittings to all of the A/C components, got the front and rear cameras installed and connected to the rear view mirror, and fabricated a transition air box for the evaporator to blower motor ...) - May 20, 2016


Part 120 (The big day finally arrived today with the completion of the installation, vacuum testing, R134a refrigerant charging, and system performance verification. The system gets nicely cold, frosting up the TXV thermal expansion valve and lines running to the Evaporator, plus the Evaporator itself gets frosty on some of its surfaces. The air temperature drops up to 8 degrees C flowing thru the Evaporator, and I expect that the total air temperature drop will be more than 10 degrees C as the rain tray area gets chilly from all of the cold A/C components there and that has an indirect impact on the air flowing thru that area on its way to the Evaporator. We'll see once the GTI is on the road in June ...) - May 25, 2016


Part 121 (While I was attempting to put the seats together I found out that the recline mechanism on the driver seat was jammed for some reason and it turned out that the upholstery guy (who shall remain unnamed) ruined the mechanism by drilling holes and installing sheet metal screws into the cross tube and shaft inside it - the shaft was jammed/damaged and needed to be replaced. And it turned out after stripping the seats down to see what was going on that the welds from the tube ends to the side frames were broken as well. It was a big job to design and fabricate a full repair but in the end the seat is stronger and straighter than ever and I am very happy with the final result now.

The sunroof system is now installed, complete with new silicon rubber rear drain tubes, new spring retainers, cable/lifters, headliner, and a new wind deflector) - June 7, 2016


Part 122 (Headliner - Wow! This was a much more involved task than I had envisioned. 2 weeks of thrashing and it is finally complete. One of the challenges is getting the foam backed headliner material (from SMS Automotive Fabrics) to be cemented flat, straight, etc. over such a large area, another is all of the sunroof interface issues, and in my particular situation the metal bosses that the sunroof mechanism screws into are lose and require vice-grips to hold from the under side when attaching the mechanism from the top so there is no way to put the sunroof in AFTER the headliner is in, so I had gymnastics getting the headliner flowing correctly into the sunroof opening and then attaching the trim - the video explains it all. In the end it is 100% to my satisfaction - it just took about 20 hours longer than I had budgeted ... The dash is going in starting this weekend ... (I am on a roll now)) - June 24, 2016


Part 123 (The dash is 'in' - minus the speaker wiring and final lower console assembly which will have to wait until the doors and carpet is in - everything fits well and works correctly and I get decent airflow thru my 'custom' centre air vents which is great. I have a small amp remote control dial placed below the ash tray that allows me to quickly adjust things like subwoofer volume and it 'just' fits and looks subtle enough. I now have to rebuild my paint booth this weekend and re-base/clear the front fenders (one of them had a small rust bubble and they both needed more clear coats for final wet sanding), and re-clearing the doors (again, I am not happy with the slight waviness from prior wet sanding so want to get them dead flat), plus I damaged the rear lower valence near the muffler by lowering the car onto my heater which needs fixing ... then I can get the doors assembled and mounted and all of the glass into the car, etc.) - June 29, 2016


Part 124 (I built a temporary paint booth in my garage to re-paint my doors and front fenders as they needed to be 'improved' somewhat - and I am very happy with the results (almost no dust in the air so the painting was clean). I also did some touch-up bodywork/painting on the chassis where there were a few solvent bubbles (thankfully only on the drip rail) plus I repaired the damage to the lower rear valence and fixed one rust blister on the inner lip of one of the rear fenders. While I had the temporary paint booth setup in the garage for the doors and fenders I took advantage of the setup and used it to apply Parasol Varikote vinyl dye to the door cards after masking off the chrome and red striping. Once the doors are polished I can then assemble them ...) - July 4, 2016


Part 125 (The door cards were completed after some bloopers, all the body panels were installed and gapped, fender flairs and spoiler attached, the decal stripes were applied, and the carbon/aluminum custom bumpers were partially completed) - July 17, 2016


Part 126 (I got back from a trip a bit early and managed to complete the front bumper semi-completed - I still want to make custom caps - see video for explanation.) - July 21, 2016


Part 127 (After holidays and such I have managed to get the project somewhat back on the fast track. This last week I finished the carbon/foam/aluminum bumpers, installed all of the lexan panels, mounted and adjusted the gap on the rear hatch/tailgate, mounted the door handles, re-keyed the lock cylinders, rebuilt, painted and mounted the mirrors, and started on the rest of the door assembly work. T minus 40-50 hours max now before licensing it ...) - August 10, 2016


Part 128 (The last 2 weeks were an intense period of battling to put the doors together with the lexan windows and non-OEM windows lifter mechanism, seals, locks, speakers, etc. In the end there was a conflict between the speakers and the lifter mechanism that has caused me to reconsider the design and move towards a mk2 electric lifter mechanism using the hand crank arm as a momentary up/down switch  - the video explains why. I am also going to get a local plastics firm to heat bend some Margard lexan to the correct curved shape as the flat lexan sheets don't take the proper shape and are hard to move in the channels. For now the driver window works but the passenger window is fixed - I have the option of simply putting in the OEM glass and the OEM lifter mechanism but I'll try the above approach. The doors look great overall and the sub-woofer ended up working out really well. The latch for the carbon fiber hood had to be re-worked a bit and is now functioning properly. I am T minus 1 week to project completion now ...) - August 22, 2016


Part 129 (33 years to the month, my GTI sat again in my childhood home’s driveway: I took delivery of my original GTI in May of ’83 but it didn’t get licensed until August ’83 (no job, no money, no license …).

I drove about 3 hours in the car in total today - yes it was driven in the rain and got nice and dirty (I took my family and my dad out for rides), shaking out the initial bugs and gremlins. It will be about 1-2 months to get the car behaving the part (fast, fun, safe and semi-civilized). I discovered lots of things that need addressing already: the brakes are a bit mushy and need professional bleeding, the steering alignment also could use a pro setup alignment, there are some squeaks and rattles, the fuel gauge needs calibration, one of the radiator fans is DOA (I don’t think I will need 2 after all so maybe it will just be disabled), for some reason the engine shuts off at 6,000rpm, just as the fun starts, there was a fuel leak when I topped up the tank, the windows don’t roll up properly, it is a bit harsh and noisy, etc - you get the idea ...

The GTI is spending the night at the mechanics and should be certified road worthy tomorrow so it can be fully licensed. I will then have time to run system diagnostics on the crank and cam triggers - I suspect that the old-school analog inductive crank sensor is crapping out and may have to be replaced with an external digital hall effect crank sensor (which requires that a 60-2 tooth wheel be placed between the crank pulley and the crank itself). There may be something else going on but the computer says 'lost sync' in the RPM readout and the ECU goes a bit nuts for a while so ...

The dash final installation went well but the plastic bits rub and squeak against each other when driving on bumpy roads so I will have to start to place some felt tape around various places to get it to quieten down.

The carpet is from and is 'mass-backed' meaning that it is a heavier and stiffer carpet than stock and is a pain in the ass to cut and get moulded to the body shape - it took the addition of some stiff foam under the carpet in the front to work out. Now it all looks great. 

The seats went in place nicely. The new foam and leather wrapped wheel worked out too.

With fuel in the tank, carpet mats, A/C, stereo, sun-roof, full interior, etc. it scaled in at 1950lbs, with a 66/33 weight distribution. With some of this crap pulled out on race days I'll have an 1800lbs car.

I have 3/4" gaps from the top of the tires to the fenders all-round so ride height is perfect. Suspension is H&R race springs and Bilstein race struts and shocks. A bit stiff but not as bad as I thought it might be. Still, I will also order in some H&R sport springs and try them out)
- September 1, 2016


Part 130 (Even though I took the car to a garage with its own race teams who understand the safety benefits of Lexan windows, they were unable to certify the car for road use simply because all windows must have the DOT stamp on them, no exceptions. Turns out it is a big deal. So ...

I am not against putting glass in as it will only add 20lbs or so to the weight of the car, make it quieter, allow me to use 3M CR90 film to keep it cooler without tinting the windows darker, will be much more durable, etc. but there doesn't seem to be any sources of clear replacement mk1 glass in North America available (let me know if you have a source ... or I will be forced to order in from Europe and risk breakage).

I also need to get an externally mounted digital hall effect crank sensor fabricated so that I can rev the engine above 6,000rpm. And since I have 'down time' in front of me, I can get the mk2 electric window lift mechanism sorted out (hope I can make it work), and can also swap in a larger A/C thermal expansion valve as the current one seems to be undersized.

I asked the mechanics to look into why the Quaife R&P steering was a bit stiff when turning to the right and it looks like something inside the unit is binding - maybe I have the pinion set screw too tight? Anyway, with only 3 hours of driving on this R&P I am already starting to hate it: way too much low speed effort, making parking and low speed driving almost dangerous. The mechanics said 'only use that kind of R&P on the track, not on a street car' and I agree now. I'll likely swap in a stock unit.

I am not super happy with the ride quality using the H&R race springs either - the car bounces around, being such a short wheel base car and I think that for general road use and enjoyment I will need to go to the H&R sport springs and maybe also increase ride height 0.25" or so to give this car more suspension travel as it is minimal at the moment.

Such is the path of debugging a completely new and fully custom car ... stay tuned and thank you everyone for your support along the way) - September 3, 2016


Part 131 (I had the GTI in at Weissach ( who have had an intimate relationship with several of my cars over the years (e.g. they completely re-built my BMW 540i into a Dinan supercharged monster (plus cams, diff, suspension, brakes), they do 911 Ruf conversions, etc.). They pulled my steering Rack & Pinion unit in and out several times and adjusted the pinion pre-load and other tolerances until the steering with the Quaife ratios felt 'just right', flushed and adjusted the brakes so that the car stops NOW, and otherwise double-checked things for me. I put a the 10K resistor in series with the inductive crank sensor, added more shielding and got my full 8,200rpm limit on my motor, plus I changed around some of the electric water pump and radiator fan cooling programming so that the motor temperature was more even, and then set about road testing it. Yes, I still need to put in DOT stamped glass for my final road inspection certificate but that is only a matter of time now.

What was exciting was standing on the throttle and brakes and sawing on the steering wheel and having this car do its thing: and what a performance envelope is emerging now: 115-120% volumetric efficiency above 7,000rpm, an estimated 250hp from 7,500-8,000rpm based on a 0.42 BSFC estimate for this very finely tuned ITB based 16V motor (with full race 288 solid lifter cams, large valves, exhaust, 12:1 CR, no crank accessories to drive, etc.). What is mind blowing is that the motor pulls strongly without burping or farting from 1,500rpm onwards - I can short shift from 1st to 3rd and it will happily pull away without complaining. Oh, I still have to test that 150hp progressive nitrous system ...

I know I initially complained about the Quaife rack & pinion close ratio manual steering box as being 'too tiring' but now that it is adjusted it is beautiful to use and with a bit of planning and finesse low speed operation is fine. And the Bilstein race struts/shocks and H&R race springs, with the hollow rear sway bar (and no front bar) is an excellent combination - no body roll but still compliant. And I think I got the right compromises with the rubber HD strut mounts, the rubber HD side and rear motor mounts, the soft poly front motor mount, the OEM R&P rubber mounts, the poly A-arm bushings, and the Delrin rear trailing arm bushings and custom bearings - rubber is where the harshness can transmit and the poly and Delrin is where it won't and will provide improved precision. Yes, more poly and Delrin would provide an even greater degree of precision but will also create noise and harshness. I think I may have lucked out and found the right balance off the mark ...

I now have at least a month to get the glass in from Europe - maybe I'll find some clear glass in the US but maybe not ...) - September 12, 2016


Part 132 (I sourced a new green tinted front windshield that matches the OEM green tint of the original GTI windows (I have all of the windows from the old car except the windshield) ... but the new one is a glue-in which has 1cm larger dimensions and a black-out mask so it cannot be mounted using the rubber surround that I was using for the Lexan windshield. I have sourced the glue, primer and rubber trim moulding and will install it next week. I am going to use cerium oxide powder and felt disks to polish the old glass side windows to remove the usual wear and tear marks and then will finish installing all of this glass so I can get my final inspection completed and the car licensed.

The Davies Craig electric water pump controller uses a thermistor that they recommend be installed in the return line to the engine block. Wrong move. This resulted in wildly fluctuating cylinder head temperatures as my radiator does an excellent job of cooling the hot fluid before the thermistor reads it so I ripped up the nasty coolant return line plumbing and replaced everything with a clean -20AN stainless line from the oil cooler to the block and then machined the coolant flange on the side of the cylinder head to accept the thermistor - now the cylinder head temperature is stable at 190F +/- 2 degrees at all times and my oil temperature is also lower.

I ran full audio system frequency analysis on all drivers and got the system's frequency response to be flat from 20-20,000Hz and also got the time delays programmed for each driver. The system is almost 1300 watts RMS and is both crisp, clean and crazy loud if required (and the sub-woofer can be turned up to shake the car to death). Frankly, when the engine is running the audio system seems somewhat of a lessor interest, but when the engine is off the audio system is a joy to have - bluetooth streaming, hands-free cellular calls, plus the old-school Concord cassette deck with both Dolby B/C and dBx noise reduction (the tape system with high end metal tapes is pretty much CD quality - but 30+ years old).

Yes, the VW mk2 electric window mechanisms can be successfully adapted to the mk1 - I just did it. You will need p/n VW: 191837402C or 191837462A for the right side, and p/n VW: 191837401C or 191837461A for the left side and I recommend sourcing the mk2 lift channels as well ( p/n VW 867898571) but I did not want to wait so modified the mk1 channels to work) - September 12, 2016


Part 133 (Well, I ended up in the hospital last week with pneumonia after fighting a losing battle with a chest injection/cough for the past 2 months. I am on 'the good drugs' now and they are really helping me get back on my feet. I did low key things on the GTI during this period: I used Cerium Oxide to polish the old set of glass side windows to bring them back to life, and I got my youngest son, Evan, who is 18, to help me glue-in the new front windshield ...) - October 10, 2016


Part 134 (I completed the installation of all of the glass, including the VW mk2 electric window mechanisms and the mk2 lift channels as well, plus I made up some trick custom bi-directional window lift switches that use the old crank arm.

I also swapped out the 1kW A/C TXV for a 2kW unit and the system now pumps more R134a thru the Evaporator at peak compressor speeds, achieving higher cooling efficiency/performance.

I then got the car inspected, certified road worthy, and licensed this week and then went out and drove it around for more than 3 hours - what a joy!

I confirmed a number of basic performance parameters via a series of full throttle acceleration runs and some hard cornering and slaloming dynamic tests: There is practically zero body roll with this suspension system and there is tons of grip but the car is not overly stiff/harsh except on rough concrete expansion joints where the car bounces around with its short wheel base. The estimated 0-60mph time seems around 4s but the tires can't hold the power in 1st gear at any RPM >3,500 so I won't know the true potential until I bolt the slicks on at the track. The computer has provided fuel data which allows me to estimate power and torque #s by using BSFC (for a street engine 0.5lbs/hp-hr of fuel consumption is reasonable but highly tuned race engines such as mine are more efficient at around 0.42lbs/hp-hr). At 0.42 BSFC my engine is putting out 260hp @ 7,250rpm and 200 ft-lbs of torque from 4,500-7,000rpm which is quite something. Obviously this needs to be backed up with dyno pulls, g-meter acceleration data, and track 1/4 mile racing results. I'll have the g-meter acceleration data in a few weeks.

The engine exhaust smells more than I think it should and the oily black soot in the exhaust pipe indicates that the rings have not fully seated yet. I took out the spark plugs and they are absolutely clean looking on the electrical contacts but the metal base rings are a bit oily. I also used a computer/USB microscope to look into the combustion chambers and inspect the pistons, block cylinder walls, and valves - I saw cross-hatching marks still on the cylinder walls which look evenly shiny 360 degrees around, but the edges of the combustion chambers were a little oily looking, with one cylinder actually showing a small drop of oil on the wall, plus the piston crowns looked a little fouled in spots and also a bit wet in spots from oil. The question I now have for engine builders is: how long should it take for my rings to seal (I only have about 4-5 hours of real engine running time where I have been driving the car and less than 10 full throttle acceleration runs to attempt to fully seat these racing rings)? Is there a problem with my rings not seating? I have been using Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil 00106 BR 15W-50 Break-In Motor Oil.

After my 3hr drive I realized that my new mini Denso alternator was burned out/DOA. It could have been my ECU control circuit which tricks the alternator into limiting its output voltage to 13.8V (for my LiFePO4 battery) by providing 14.6V into the Vsense input when the output reaches 13.8V. Anyway, I have ordered a PowerMaster 8188 XS Volt 75 Amp mini Denso alternator from Summit Racing with expedited shipping - this unit has fully adjustable output voltage capabilities plus an input that when grounded will reduce the output voltage 1.25V to cut the power draw from the engine by over 50% - saving a few hp during WOT acceleration runs) - October 30, 2016


Part 135 (It is now late fall/early winter in the Pacific North West and the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and the rain is falling almost every day – it is cold, wet, and the roads are dirty. Driving my GTI in these conditions creates a full hour of post-ride detailing clean-up so it is not worth it to drive unless I really need to. I will likely have to wait a few months before getting a proper chance to complete performance tests …

That said, I was going to use my new G-tech RR performance analyzer to initially bench-mark the power and acceleration of my GTI but it won’t even sync to the GPS satellites in this cloudy weather …

That said I managed to complete a series of hill climbs, completing around 10,000’ of vertical and put in almost 200 miles of aggressive driving on the GTI to help break-in the piston rings/cylinder walls – the exhaust now smells cleaner.

My original alternator had burned out so I purchased the new PowerMaster XS Volt mini denso alternator model 8188 (75amps) but it produced too little idle charging current with my 2:1 pulley ratio, even at 1100rpm engine speed, so I ended up switching to the model 8168 and changed to 2.5:1 ratio pulleys and ended up with over 30amp of charging at idle so that problem is solved. The XS Volt alternators have adjustable output voltage to keep my LiFePO4 battery at a max of 13.8V – it also has an input that allows ECU control over the voltage so I get the best of both worlds – fast charging at idle and a 13.8V limit.

I have been chasing down a few minor oil leaks that are coming from the oil pan seal and possibly the aluminum cover above the pan on the passenger side, plus a very minor leak either from the head gasket at the back next to cyl #4 or ??? plus there has been a minor exhaust header leak around the side of cyl #4 – I have tightened the header up and it is sealing better now but isn’t perfect so I am thinking of trying some Permatex exhaust sealant on the header gasket. I have also ordered some Toyota gasket sealant for the oil pan – to put a thin layer on each side before installing the rubber gasket again …

I cut and installed new window seals for the driver and passenger roll-up windows as I had previously cut them too short and the seals had slight gaps – this time I cut a bit too long which is actually perfect as there is now pressure between the seals and yet they still sit flush.

I think I may have damaged my outer CV joints from my engine testing using the brakes before the car was on the road - having them at an angle during testing ... there is some free play in them now which isn't great so I have ordered some competition axles ...

I cleaned up a pair of mk1 midnight blue visors with dry cleaning fluid and re-painted the edge material and now they are ready for installation.

Finally, I have been trying to resolve an issue of brake pedal ‘feel’ where the first 1-2” of travel are quite a bit softer than the rest of the travel when the pedal firms up nicely. I think I have found the problem: I mixed up the servo from a mk1 16V and the master cylinder from a mk3 non-ABS model. So I have now ordered a new mk3 non-ABS servo and will modify/thread the rod to fit my custom brake pedal assembly. Fingers crossed that the pedal feel will be better after the swap. Oh, the 16V servo was leaking vacuum too which was a bit of a pain …) - November 20, 2016


Part 136 (The new 8168 Powermaster XsVolt alternator is working perfectly - my LiFePO4 battery appreciates it.

I ordered a VW mk3 non-ABS brake servo/booster because I had been using a leaky mk1 servo unit. I experimented with some shims between it and the master cylinder (which is a 22.2mm unit, also a mk3) and initially took up too much of the slack and had the car self braking! But with a single 12mm stainless washer as a shim it reduced pedal travel and now the brakes are feeling pretty good. I have the ability to electronically set the amount of vacuum assist so I have been trying out various settings.

One problem I still have with these much improved brakes (using Wilwood 4 piston calipers and 10.1" disks up front and mk3 disks on the back with a Wilwood proportioning valve) is that even with the valve on full minimum I still get rear lockup first. I am ordering fixed in-line pressure reduction valves to try out (I will leave the adjustable valve in the circuit) plus I am going to order a 25.4mm master cylinder which will reduce pedal travel another 30% (but also increase effort by the same ratio) - ideally I would like to heal and toe with minimal pedal travel and I can simply crank up the vacuum assist if I want a softer effort ....

My old fuel tank level sender unit was crapping out so I ordered a new VDO plastic replacement unit which worked out well but I had to modify the connector to create a right-angle version and now all is well.

It is full-on winter here now with snow and ice on the roads (and salt!) but I managed to get a full sunny dry afternoon this last weekend to do some performance testing. I had acquired a Gtech RR performance analyzer to measure 0-60, 60-0, power, cornering, etc. so I was excited to see what this GTI could do. Well, the Gtech unit had limited measurement accuracy as it seems to have a broken GPS antenna and couldn't get a fix on more than 6 satellites but it did give me basic 0-60mph info: with no off-the-line traction and short shifting into 2nd gear I saw repeated 6.0s times - this is with street tires, dirty conditions and almost freezing temperatures. With good conditions (the track!) I should be able to launch at a high enough RPM to get on the cams (I need 4,000rpm min) to get a high 4s time. The engine is pulling like crazy, putting out 0.6gs of acceleration at 60mph in 2nd gear (my old mustang with its 300hp engine only managed 0.42gs in 2nd gear at 45mph).

I also swapped out my Spal radiator fans for new units as I think I damaged them by running them at a 30% PWM duty cycle which seemed to have fried the brushes - current pulse arcing) - the fans were rattling and sounding horrible. I have now set the minimum duty cycle to 50% which is what Spal's own controller starts at) - December 6, 2016


Part 137 (An important part of any project is the relationship with your vendors who supply all of the components and much of the technical support. In this video I review the key vendors who I relied on:

Ebay and Amazon ...
Josh Arnold (US) - engine builder
Techtonics Turning (US) - major project supporter, providing a ton of components and support
VW Heritage (UK) - specialty VW parts
ESC Tuning (US) - specialty VW parts
Bolt Action (NL) - specialty VW parts
Summit Racing (US) - racing auto parts
SMS Automotive Fabrics (US) - interior fabrics
EAA Engineering (US) - custom fabricated VW parts
ACW Motorsports Plastics (UK) - Lexan windows
BS&S Radiators (Canada) - custom radiators
Bolt Depot (US) - all things fasteners
Mecatechnic (France) - NOS VW parts
Parasol Inc (Canada) - plastic/vinyl paints & dyes
Black Forest Industries (US) - specialty VW parts
Metal Supermarkets (US & Canada) - cut to order metal
Wizards of NOS (UK) - high-end Nitrous components
Bus Depot (US) - aircooled VW parts (that often cross-ref to mk1 parts)
Airhead Parts (US) - same as above
Kinsler Fuel Injection (US) - all things fuel related
) - January 2, 2017


Part 138 (I have been fooling around with my braking system, trying to set my rear brake line pressure to the correct level to avoid rear-first lockup conditions without success, and it didn't make any sense to me as I have a Wilwood adjustable proportioning valve in the system. I also wanted to explore ways to continue to improve the responsiveness of the brake pedal - to have it activate as quickly as possible with the minimum brake pedal travel, so I also sourced a 25.4mm master cylinder to swap in replacement of my current 22.2mm MC. This would have the net effect of reducing pedal travel 30% while increasing pedal effort by the same ratio, and since I already prefer running my brake servo vacuum at 50-70% of maximum available vac I can do the swap and maintain the same pedal effort by simply turning up the vacuum (I have an electric vac pump under ECU software control so this is easy to adjust on the fly in the car - I have a panel dial that I can simply turn).

Anyway, I sourced a 3,000psi line pressure gauge with the appropriate adapter fittings to screw into the blanked-off MC ports front/rear and also the bleeder valve ports on the front and rear disk callipers. I first tested the MC and both circuits showed 750psi without servo vac and 1500-1600psi with max vac. Note, I have a custom brake line setup with 1 circuit to the front and another to the rear to accommodate my proportioning valve - similar to many US spec cars.

Next I tested the line pressures at the front callipers and again saw the same 750-1,500psi range. Finally on the rears I saw 500psi at minimum prop valve setting and 1,500psi at full prop valve setting - the surprise was that I realized I had been turning the prop valve in the wrong direction when doing panic brake stop tests.

By reference the factory test settings for VW mk1-mk4 cars is around 1,500psi max for the fronts and 470-510psi for drum rears and closer to 550-700psi for rear disks, depending on the car. The front/rear bias ratio will depend on a lot of factors - the weight bias of the car front/rear, most importantly while under panic braking, and then the type of front and rear callipers or drums - how much fluid volume is required to move the pistons - the piston area x # of pistons will determine the total force applied to the rotors.

In my case I have upgraded to Wilwood 4 piston callipers so the volume of fluid that needs to be moved to get to maximum braking pressure is much higher than for a stock single piston calliper. I didn't do all of the calculations but I think that the 22.2mm MC is a bit small for the Wilwoods and also that the rear bias needs to be fairly low, in the 550psi range.

I'll wait for the ice and snow to melt (Hopefully later in January) and will get back out for some more panic stops with the current 22.2mm MC before swapping it out for the 25.4mm MC) - January 2, 2017


Part 139 (I designed a custom 3-axis accelerometer circuit that plugs into my Holley ECU using the analog 0-5V inputs. It uses a smartphone type chip and I implemented some op-amp circuits to modify and scale the output voltage swings to maximize the digitizing resolution of the Holley ECU which seems to use 12 bit A/D converters. I wanted to get to a +/- 2hp power measurement accuracy which is hard to do. First I changed the output from +/-0.3V/g, to +/-1.0V/g for all axis and then implemented an acceleration only output which is positive 2V/g which I will use specifically for engine power measurements. I will also use the Holley ECU input sensor config settings to further calibrate this unit and finally will have access to the diagnostics 'math channels' to allow me to calculate torque and hp from the raw acceleration and rpm data sets.

I also designed a LiFePO4 battery charging management circuit that sits in-between the standard LiFePO4 14.6V charger and my battery - it was needed to cut off the charging voltage once 14.6V was reached rather than let the battery float at that level which would quickly kill it (you need to get the battery up to 14.6V and then let the internal BMS computer to balance the internal cells and then reduce the voltage back to 13.4V). The circuit I designed also has a continuous use setting which will keep the battery within a 13.4-13.8V operating range when I want to use the battery but not over charge or discharge it. The design uses an Arduino CPU - lots of fun and easy to program.

I am in the middle of designing a new A/C evaporator system using about 1/3 of a Ford F150 evaporator core that now has been plumbed with -8 o-ring fittings and fits nicely on top of my ECU, ultimately feeding into the ventilation fan via a plastic shroud that I will fabricate next.

Josh had proudly sourced some OEM German axle assemblies for me but I found that they had some free-play in them which resulted in a bit of 'slap' when going on/off the throttle as that slack was taken up. Rotating the wheels about 1/4" was the total amount of movement but it was enough to make driving a bit annoying at times when feathering the throttle in city traffic. One theory is that I was using the brakes to load the engine when it was initially fired up on jack stands and the axles weren't totally level, causing the power to be transmitted thru the CV joints at an angle - that may have stressed them and worn them? Anyway, I ordered some expensive 500hp rated racing axle assemblies from The Driveshaft Shop in NC and they are superb quality, using CVs that are 40% larger with all components upgraded end to end. There is no free-play in these assemblies so I look forward to installing them soon.

After doing some more reading about the Wilwood proportioning valves I now understand that when they state 100-1000psi adjustment range they are not telling the whole story - their valves can only reduce the rear brake pressure to 57% of the fronts so if the fronts are 1000psi the rears will be 570psi. I did measure around 500-550psi at the rears during the testing above with the line pressure gauges installed but with the extreme front weight bias of my FWD GTI and my grippy rear disks/pads I may need to go lower still - as low as 400psi, so I have sourced a really tiny and cool little prop valve that can lower the pressure all the way to zero if needed and I will put it inline with the rear circuit so I can reduce the pressure even more if I need to. Once I go to the effort of swapping in the 25.4mm master cylinder I don't want to have to re-bleed the brakes yet again if I still experience rear lock-up ... better to take this additional step now while everything is apart) - February 7, 2017


Part 140 (I finished the installation of the 3-axis accelerometer in the car and then did a fine tuning of the calibration in software on the ECU such that the sensors now read accurately to less than +/-0.005g for acceleration, and around +/-0.01-0.02g for braking and corning. I still need to confirm that vibration and electrical noise from the ignition system won't reducing the accuracy, but if noise is added to the signal I can always run a smoothing function in the ECU diagnostics and effectively cut out the noise.

I installed the 25.4mm master cylinder and adjusted the brake pedal linkage, adding back one spacer (for a total of 2) between the servo and MC, and setting the pedal position such that the MC engages immediately within the first 1/10" of foot pedal travel. I also installed the mini proportioning valve in series with the existing Wilwood prop valve and then ran system brake pressure tests. It turns out that I had originally installed and set the Wilwood prop valve correctly as re-testing this weekend proved that even when set at the minimum setting, about 550-600psi of rear pressure is still present when the front pressure is 1000-1500psi (which explains why I was experiencing rear lockup).

With the 25.4mm MC replacing the 22.2mm MC, the brake pedal travel is indeed 30% shorter and the force required to stop at a given rate is also 30% higher as expected. The reason for swapping MCs was done mainly to avoid having the pedal travel too far, making heal-and-toe braking into corners for downshifting purposes almost impossible - too much pedal travel puts the right foot at a sharp angle to the throttle making it way too easy to excessively rev the engine. Having 4 piston callipers up front takes more fluid volume to operate, causing the MC piston to travel further, etc., hence the preference for the new 25.4mm MC. And since I had previously decided that I liked less servo vacuum for a firmer pedal feel, all I needed to do to get back to the same pedal feel was to turn up the servo vac 30% and all is well.

The new mini prop valve (Deltrol p/n 10120-40, Speedway p/n 910-31357) allows the rear pressure to be reduced all the way to zero if desired (for RWD burnout competitions this is what people want) so I was sure it would help me with my problem and it did work as expected. With the valve 80% turn off I got to a max pressure of 500psi and it ramps to that pressure over approx 1s so it has a damping effect on the rear pressure when the pedal is pressed which is actually not a terrible thing - if the prop valve is adjusted to the threshold of rear lockup this will soften the effect and reduce the tendency for a sudden change in direction (i.e. the rear of the car swinging wildly around to the front).

I also installed Wilwood E type pads on the front which have about 20% higher coefficient of friction than the previous BP10 type pads - so once they are warmed up to around 250-300 degrees F the fronts will have more braking sensitively than before which may allow me to adjust the rear pressure up higher. When I am doing lots of track laps I will switch to BP20 pads which have the greatest coefficient of friction at temperatures above 800-1000 degrees F and again, I may be able to dial up the rear pressure more again. The idea is to have the rear brakes do as much work as possible to off-load the work the fronts have to do.

I will be switching to the new front racing axles soon which require extended length racing type studs so I went ahead and installed extended length studs in the rear allong with the new Gorilla open backed 'tuner' nuts which are required when running extended length studs - I also had to use conical to ball seat adapters as the 'tuner' nuts are not generally available with conical seats - and I already have to run conical h/w for my Enkie/Hoosier racing wheels and slicks. I think they look decent enough on the OEM VW Snowflakes and they sure are a lot easier to mount/dismount than the OEM bolt system too.

The snow and salt should be washed away by rain over the next week and I may then have a chance to do some road testing to confirm that I didn't add too many spacers between the servo and MC (last time I had 3 spacers and after a few minutes of driving the car started to self brake - likely caused by the brake system warming up and expanding a bit (my tolerances were too tight/aggressive) - February 13, 2017


Part 141 (I got the OEM axles pulled out and installed the new 500hp rated axles but it was a ton of work: first the spindles/hubs needed to be pulled apart so the new hubs (larger splines and shaft, 32mm nuts, etc.) could be pressed in with fresh bearings, then I over-extended the axle angles when installing them and had to re-build the inner CV joint on one side as the ball bearings had fallen out, then the inner cer-clip on one side was binding against the axle so it all had to pulled out yet again, and finally it all went back together successfully.

After driving around with the new axles I can say that they definitely have tighter tolerances so all I am now left with is a bit of that on-off-on throttle free play from the limited slip diferential that I will simply have to live with - it is only noticeable during slow city driving in heavy traffic. That diff also whines a bit in comparison to the OEM unit - but I don't really notice the increase in mechanical noise much.

The new 25.4mm master cylinder setup feels great - more pedal effort required but the pedal travel is now minimal so heel-and-toe downshifting will be much easier to do - and I simply like a stiffer brake pedal anyways. I just crank up the electric ECU controlled servo vacuum when I want an easier braking effort. The 2nd in-line proportioning valve has indeed solved my front-rear brake balance problem. Panic stops result in straight line skids now. I will wait for warmer weather with cleaner streets before fine tuning the balance setting (too much salt and sand dust still on the roads).

I did have to back off somewhat on my brake pedal preload - I have a custom linkage that allows me to set the servo/MC preload to reduce pedal travel but I was at the point where there was a bit of self braking once the system was fully warmed up - backing off the brake pedal 1/4" solved that problem and now there is a softer initial brake response for the first 1/4-1/2" of travel which is actually a good thing. I am very happy with the end result

I changed the oil (another fill of the break-in oil) at 300kms and will finally switch over to full synthetic oil at the 600-800kms point. It is likely just in my head but I think the engine runs better with the fresh oil in it.

I did a total of 6 acceleration runs with my new accelerometer and consistently saw over 0.5g of raw acceleration from 5,000-8,000rpm in 2nd gear which is quite something considering that I have the longer final drive ratio gearing installed in the transmission (I can reach almost 120kph/70mph in 2nd gear), so that means I am pulling with about 25% more Gs at 70mph than my old '87 Mustang did with its 340hp engine at 40mph. The GTI feels very alive above 5,000rpm and in fact it feels a little dangerous/unstable - you simply don't want to put your foot all the way into it unless the road is straight and smooth as the car will start to dance around and head into the rubarb if you aren't totally in control of things - you need to hold on to that steering wheel and keep things heading in the right direction. Heaven knows how I am going to handle another 100hp of nitrous on top of this.

It is very easy to convert acceleration data into torque and hp - you just need to know the actual weight of the car and the rpm and wheel diameter and you have a direct measurement of the power being produced at the wheels. You need to perform a coast-down test to determine the losses due to wind resistance and rolling losses and that is all. I have confirmed 200hp at the wheels at 7,500-8,000rpm and 150ft-lbs of torque at 6,000rpm. Using the commonly accepted 20% drivetrain loss estimate for manual transmission cars that is 240hp and 178ft-lbs of torque for a 2.1L normally aspirated engine which actually idles like a stock engine at 1000rpm - that is a rare experience (for cars without computer adjustable cam profiles). I realize now that the above hp calcs from October 2016 were based on the Holley ECU fuel flow tables at 101MPa of vacuum were over-estimating the hp simply because my MAP signal is actually only 99MPa at full throttle, not 101MPa so I never get to the absolute top of the fuel tables in practise ...

Oh, and I just ordered some Sparco EVO racing seats and 4 point racing belts to keep me safe and secure while being tossed around at the track - the stock GTI seats are a bit wobbly and don't really have the aggressive racing-type side bolsters to keep me firmly locked in place and in total control of this wild hare. I'll use the stock seat belt mounting points to fabricate and install a mini roll-bar and seat/seat-belt brace structure, plus I have ordered a pair of GTI seat frames to allow me to fabricate mounts for these Sparco seats that will simply attach to the stock seat h/w in the floor.

I have included the wheel hp/torque measurements for a similar 2 litre ABF motor with the same Techtonics 288 race cams and similar heads and compression, but with the OEM log-style intake system below. It achieved the same torque at the same rpm but ran out of high-end breathing due to the intake manifold, where-as my ITBs allow power to keep building past 8,000rpm. ITBs and careful ECU programming also allow my engine to idle and have excellent part throttle/low rpm drive-ability where-as this other car barely idles and has terrible sounding part throttle response:

288 cam, 11.5cr 2L ABF motor with common intake plenum on the rollers at NGP

288 cam, 11.5cr 2L ABF motor with common intake plenum at startup and idle

- February 27, 2017


Part 142 (After further thought I have decided to purchase the unique Tech-53 callipers (made specifically for Tech-53 by Wilwood) and replace my standard-issue Wilwood Powerlites as the Tech-53s have 68% larger piston area, which will vasty increase my stopping power relative to brake pedal force, and more importantly will improve my front/rear circuit bias such that I can run without the 2nd proportioning valve.

After a long discussion with Fred, the owner of Tech-53, about my brake bias issues, pedal pressure requirements for a panic stop, etc. it became very clear that my Wilwood PowerLite 4x1.25" piston callipers were undersized relative to the task at hand - in fact they are only 15% larger in total area than the stock single piston callipers so they don't effectively shift enough of the brake bias forward to avoid premature rear wheel lockup. 

Fred is an aerospace engineer who has put in a lot of time into thinking about the lack of properly spec'd 4 piston callipers that are available for mk1 and mk2 cars so he went about negotiating a deal with Wilwood to have some large piston callipers custom made to his specs. They use 1.625" diameter pistons vs the 1.25" diameter pistons in my Wilwood Powerlite callipers, thereby providing 68% more clamping pressure (and therefore braking torque) - and that means that for a given brake pedal pressure the car will stop 68% faster - up to the limit of the tires, with minimal increase in pedal travel. Since I have a huge, race oriented 25.4mm master cylinder, pedal travel and feel will not be negatively impacted. Fred says the 23.8mm MCs are an ideal street match to his callipers and that 25.4mm MCs are awesome on the track - since I like a stiff brake pedal I am pretty sure I'll like the feel on the street as well, given that I am already pretty happy with the way my existing system feels.

Fred also pointed out that the G4 rear aluminum callipers are 2mm larger than the steel G1-3 callipers (38 vs 36mm) so that aggravates the premature rear lockup issue. I am confident that I will be able to eliminate my 2nd proportioning valve now and also be able to dial back the Wilwood valve to reduce the time delay effect in rear circuit pressure build-up.

I have completed a brake conversion table with all of the common after market setups (brake torque, front-rear bias, etc.).

My excel spreadsheet analysis can be found here:

- March 7, 2017


Part 143 (We still have winter conditions in the Pacific Northwest for the most part, but there are the occasional days when the sun is out and temperatures are up enough to do some driving/testing. The roads still have a lot of sand on them so traction is limited and the sand gets into the brake system as well ...

My first attempt at driving around the block with the new big piston Tech-53 callipers was cut short by some nasty sounds coming from the front wheel area. I had obviously checked the clearances so I was puzzled about what the sounds were. My inspection found that the control arm ball joints were lose - the 'grade 8.8' bolts were actually stripped and so the ball-joints were barely being held in place. Yikes! It turns out that the crap bolts were imported junk and are now being replaced with OEM/German grade 10.9 h/w. Double-check the h/w on any aftermarket control arm/ball joint combination products that you may purchase ...

Another area where cornering noise was coming from was due to the new CV boots sticking/rubbing each of the folds against each other - by 'lubricating' them with rubber care treatment they became quiet as well. Finally, sand was getting into the brakes causing some intermittent scraping sounds (I don't use OEM dust shields to help cool the rotors on the track).

With all of those gremlins out of the way I was able to do some braking tests: the Tech-53s take about 1" more travel, which makes sense, as the volume of fluid required to push those big pistons is greater, but the force required is a lot less, making the brakes feel very responsive and powerful, which is what I was hoping for. I will look into adjusting the brake pedal linkage again, putting a bit of pre-load on the system - and double-checking that I am not over doing it as in prior attempts to reduce pedal travel. With the large 25.4mm master cylinder paired to these Tech-53 callipers the pedal feel and travel are close to ideal now. The biggest area of improvement comes from re-balancing the front/rear braking bias - I have now fully opened up the 2nd proportioning valve and panic stops in the rain did not cause pre-mature rear wheel lockup so all is well. I will start to back off the reduction setting in the main Wilwood proportioning valve next ...

I need more time to drive in dry conditions, which I should be getting by the end of the weekend so stay tuned for more commentary on this new braking system. I am all smiles for now) - March 13, 2017


Part 144 (After tracking down the grinding noises from the front end while testing the system I noticed that the clearance from the outside edge of the rotor to the inside surface of the calliper was minimal on the driver side and there was evidence of some minor contact. I was able to loosen and move the calliper to gain more clearance but decided that for racing thermal expansion purposes that I would increase the gap from 0.020" to 0.070" by milling the rotor down from 10.1" to 10.0" - this still left enough surface area for 100% brake pad contact so there will be no reduction in braking performance. I also had some minor contact between the outside edges of the callipers and the inside surfaces of the 14x6" OEM Snowflake wheels so I have swapped out the 3mm spacers for 5mm spacers.

After bedding the new pads the brake feel from this new Tech-53 big 4 piston calliper system is incredible. I did some brake pedal linkage adjustments such that the pads contact the rotors when there is less than 1/4" of pedal travel so the brakes are now very responsive. I believe that these callipers are a huge advance in mk1/mk2 brake performance/feel and certainly address the prior issue of front/rear system bias - I have not backed off the proportioning valve but will do so later today and do some more testing. Even with the valve at its current setting the car stops urgently with only moderate brake pedal pressure. I also think that the 25.4mm master cylinder is an ideal match to these Tech-53 callipers.

Additional post-video testing results: With the prop valve backed off 2 full turns I was able to get all 4 tires to enter a skid condition together at the same time. Max braking deceleration was almost 1.1g with the street R-compound Bridgestone Direzza-II 185/60-14 tires (when the air and road temperatures were only 50 degrees F) so this little bunny is stopping with the best of them now!

I made the decision to be safe on the race track with Italian Sparco racing seats that will hold me securely in place for improved driving accuracy, equipped with 5 point harnesses to keep me safe if something bad happens (note, I am going to attempt to use a Simpson single anti-submarine lower belt rather than the dual belt Sparco design as I think they are cross-compatible with both cam-lock systems). I received my new racing Sparco EVO seats which are really nice and started the process of cutting up some OEM seat bases to use as a foundation for a 1x1" square tube mounting base for the seats - the idea is to have the convenience of the stock mounting locations and fore-aft adjustability. I am also fabricating a cross-tube to mount the shoulder belts to that will attach to the upper and lower frame bosses for the OEM seat belts. I will likely race with just the driver seat installed - no passenger or rear seats for weight reduction purposes (unless I am showing off and having a passenger on the track which will happen from time to time). I am also fabricating a horizontal extension plate for the shifter as it is too far forward to reach comfortably when held in place by a 5 point harness) - March 20, 2017


Part 145 (I had been struggling with poor shifter feel/engagement into 1st gear and so I set about disassembling the shift linkage in order to step-by-step find out where the problem area was. The transmission selector lever itself had a nice positive feel and clean engagement of each gear but I found that something in the linkage was resisting full movement into the 1/3/5 gear positions. It turned out that the rubber ball lever end wasn't moving smoothly and upon closer inspection I could see that the metal rod portion of the rubber ball lever was binding on the metal bracket that it is inserted into - and this was caused by the shifter rod being at the wrong angle as it entered the positioning bushing/bracket. So I pulled the shifter rod out of the car and bent it about 7 degrees about 8" back from the end and it was then perfectly parallel to the black mounting bracket assembly and positioned the metal bracket right in the middle of the rubber lever arm. I was worried that my 0.040" metal shim inside the metal bracket was causing binding with the rubber ball but once everything was aligned properly and greased up, the rubber ball rotated smoothly and didn't bind at all. With a 1/2" lengthening of the upper ball-joint arms to re-align with the new setup, everything was tested and then re-torqued into place. The result is 100% improved shifter feel and perfectly positive engagement in every gear. I am in shifter heaven now) - March 21, 2017


Part 146 (I finished the fabrication of the seat mounts for the new Sparco EVO racing seats using the mounting flanges and legs from a junker set of OEM seats - they worked out very well - a little lower position than the stock seats and full adjustability of fore/aft position using the OEM mechanism and slope using some bolting options with the Sparco mounting flanges. Should be sweet!

I don't have a tube bender so Ted at JetFab in Richmond, BC will be fabricating the bolt-in roll hoop which will use the stock seat belt mounting points to secure it to the body of the car. The hoop will have the cross-bar for the shoulder harness mounting points plus a central camera mount. When it is complete I will send the seats and hoop out for powder coating.

I am also fabricating a rear shock tower cross-brace that also connects into the rear bumper mounts which will be needed as a mounting location for the nitrous and air tanks (the 4500psi air tank pressurizes the nitrous bottle to 925psi and holds it exactly at 925psi using a regulator rather than relying on a heater which doesn't keep the nitrous pressure constant while it discharges). I don't think the brace will actually have much effect on stiffening the chassis further as it is already welded up with a sub-frame, cross-bracing and will soon have the roll-bar ...

I was complaining about the Walbro 393 fuel pump making a nasty noise so I talked with Kinsler Injection which supplied me the whole fuel injection system and most of the engine sensors, wiring harnesses, etc. and they said 'check your 25 micron intake and 10 micron output filters' so I did and found the intake filter completely plugged up with a nasty black sludge which looked like jello! The intake filter is a steel mesh so I cleaned it while I replaced the 10 micron paper filter and also replaced the pump as it had been damaged from the stress of pumping against such a massive restriction. The black sludge could simply be from old gas sitting in the tank for months at a time (if that is true it is actually from bacteria which is always present in fuel, more in ethanol enhanced fuels which also are hydroscopic and suck up water). There is also the possibility that my dumb attempts to seal-up my old fuel tank level sender with silicon sealant (since replaced with a new sender and o-ring) may have caused this as the silicon dissolved in the fuel. Anyway, I will keep an eye on this issue and service the fuel system filters more often. Next time I will do this when the tank is almost empty, rather than completely full! It would have been smart to have installed a fuel tank line valve too - I rely on hose-end plugs to service the fuel system.

Finally, I have put 1100kms of mountain driving on the GTI so far with 700kms of that this last week alone - 3 days of driving to Whistler, with 25,000' of total vertical climbing. I switched out the Joe Gibbs break-in oil now for their 10-30W hotrod conventional oil which contains lots of ZDDP zinc to protect my solid lifter cams/tappets which are under extreme pressure from 8,000rpm and high lift racing cams and springs. I will switch again to their 20-50W oil when I get to the track in May. I may eventually switch to their synthetic oil with ZDDP added to it after 5,000kms.When decelerating from 5,000rpm the MAP signal drops to 17MPa which is the equivalent of 25" of mercury vacuum so the rings on the pistons have sealed nicely
) - April 2, 2017


Part 147 (For over 30 years now I have been measuring vehicle performance using accelerometers and then using either my own programming or off-the-shelf software programs to further analyze and predict performance, helping to choose rpm shift points, gear ratios, wheel and tire combinations, etc.

For this project I again used accelerometer measurements, along with fuel flow data from the Holley ECU to confirm the engine torque and hp curves and I loaded that data into Excel and added nitrous in varying amounts to see what kinds of torque/hp curves could result and then fed that data into a drag racing simulator, Drag Racing Pro v2.0, and adjusted all of the vehicle and driving info to produce realistic 0-60mph and 1/4 mile charts and graphs, using my newly acquired Hoosier 225/50-15 DR2 drag radials on 15x8" rims, using my excel data. The results are as follow:

Engine only (no nitrous): 0-60mph 4.1s, 1/4 mile: 12.3s @ 112mph

Variable nitrous to produce a flat 200 ft-lbs torque curve: 0-60mph 3.8s, 1/4 mile: 11.8s @ 117mph

60hp nitrous at all times: 0-60mph 3.5s, 1/4 mile: 11.5s @ 120mph

80hp nitrous at all times: 0-60mph 3.4s, 1/4 mile: 11.3s @ 123mph

The simulator shows that a FWD car like the mk1 golf is severely traction limited due to the weight on the driving wheels being only 50% during acceleration, vs a RWD car that would have 80+%. So even with slicks and a solid trans mount and stiff springs the best I can hope for is a 1.9s 60' time and a little over 0.81g of acceleration in 1st gear. 

I already know that 1st gear on the motor alone with sticky street tires is a 50-60% throttle gear, but with nitrous even 2nd gear with slicks becomes a problem. It will be fun to get the car on the track soon and find out (May 12th is the 1st local track 'test and tune' day that I will be ready for).

Ted/Jetfab has the roll-bar finished now so it is out for powder coating. Seat mounts are done too so all safety gear that I want to have for track days is now 'good to go'
) - April 12, 2017


Part 148 (I sourced Hoosier 225/50-15 DR2 slicks and mounted them on Enkei 15x8 RP1 racing rims and used 10mm spacers to clearance the struts - if I hadn't lowered the car so much they would have fit perfectly but in my case I have also sourced 1" rubber spring spacers to lift up the front end and provide more of a fender gap. 

I also sourced a solid rear transmission mount which is something a lot of VW mk1 drag racers have recommended - it keeps the engine from rocking back and forth, improving traction on the track.

I have sourced the required components to get a brake cooling/ducting system put together - something I will get done before heading out for a road course track day ...

On the electronics side of things I have put together a full video recording system using the 'Harry's Lap timer' App on my iPhone, plus a high frequency bluetooth GPS, a bluetooth OBD/Canbus transmitter, and a Hero4 GoPro - mounted to the middle of my new rollbar - this will allow me to record HD racing videos complete with embedded track location/performance data.

I got my shifter extension built and love it ...

My rollbar was powder painted and installed, and I also mounted one of the Sparco EVO seats to my new seat frames and installed the harnesses - it all looks so 'trick' now with the other seats removed.

I fabricated an aluminum 'X' brace for the rear of the car which holds everything in position for road racing and also works nicely as an angled mount for the nitrous and air bottles - it still needs to be painted though.

This Friday is the local Mission RaceWay 'test and tune' day but the weather does not look promising. Possibly later in the day the track might dry out but I am not sure it will be worth the cost and effort to go out and sit there watching the rain come down, waiting, waiting for the track to dry out (something I have done many times) - It may be May 26th for the next T&T day :(

Finally, I cleaned out the intake fuel filter again and found some more of the black gunk in it - I still believe it is the remaining crap from the silicon sealant I had previously used to seal up the fuel sender - I will check the filter again in another month. I also purchased a combustable fuel vapour sniffer and used it to confirm that my stainless fuel lines are releasing vapours - and this has been confirmed by the manufacturers of stainless/rubber lines - they don't fully keep the fuel sealed up and cause a slight odor. Strange as I think that is a bad design/material spec. I will likely rip out all of the fuel lines and replace with stainless/teflon lines at some point down the road as I don't like my GTI smelling like gasoline when I go into the garage) - May 9, 2017


Part 149 (I spent a few hours at Blitzkrieg Automotive in Vancouver today with the GTI axle-bolted to their Dynapack dyno today and it was really a fun and worthwhile experience. The traditional roller-type chassis dynos have some potential variables with rolling friction that can vary depending on how tightly the car is held down onto the rollers while the Dynapack unit not only removes this variable (and any tire slip) but also securely holds the car in place without risks. The units are super expensive ($150,000) but their accuracy and repeatability are 1st rate. I was able to look for 1 and 2hp improvements over a range of parameters and slowly find missing power. We did about a dozen pulls covering fuel/air ratios, timing, injector end angle (the point in time when the injectors stop firing relative to the compression stroke), removal of the air box and filter and replacing the long intake trumpets with shorter trumpets. We were also going to test the nitrous system but the nitrous ECU enable line wasn't triggering the system properly so I will have to do this at the track and on the road next week (I found the problem later - Holley has a naming convention bug with the nitrous enable input that I had to work around by creating a touch-screen 'master nitrous enable' and then a ''stage 1 enable' using my dash mounted switch - I am pretty sure it will work now). Here are the test results:

191 hp @ 7200 rpm, 150 ft-lbs @ 6100 rpm - 13.0:1 A/F ratio, 26 degrees of total timing

192 hp / 151 ft-lbs - 13.2:1 A/F

194 hp / 151 ft-lbs - 13.4:1 A/F (13.6 saw a drop in power so this is the ideal A/F)

196 hp / 150 ft-lbs - 28 degrees of timing

197 hp / 150 ft-lbs - 30 degrees of timing

198hp / 150 ft-lbs - 32 degrees of timing (I did not attempt to advance the timing any further)

198hp @ 7200 rpm, / 162 ft-lbs @ 5400 rpm - no air box or filter

204 hp @ 7200 rpm / 164 ft-lbs @ 5400rpm - shorter intake runners/trumpets

Leaving the injector end angle at 0 degrees (start of compression stroke) was the default ECU setting and made the most power.

The big story was the removal of the air box and air filter - it increased the engine torque dramatically over a wide area from 5000-7000rpm and moved the torque peak down 1000 rpm - this will improve the overall acceleration 'area under the curve'. On the street it isn't practical to run unfiltered air into the engine (it will ruin it over the long haul) plus the noise from the ITBs is massive - you can hear the engine accelerating 10 blocks away with the air box removed - it is much louder than the exhaust system.

Dynapack dynos are reliable and conservative power measuring devices - to calculate crankshaft power add back the estimated 15% loss which brings this engine to 240hp which agrees exactly with my accelerometer testing last month so I will simply use my accelerometer testing for the nitrous system benchmarking next week. FYI, my 2L GTI engine produced the most power these guys have ever measured on this dyno of this size and type of motor - no other 2L 16V NA engine has exceeded 200hp before so they told me I have a 'sick' motor ...) - May 19, 2017


[Special thanks to Kevin Young, a fellow vw mk1 enthusiast, for helping me out at the track all day - it would have been very difficult without his assistance]

Part 150 (I drove the GTI out to Mission Raceway last Friday and bolted on the Hoosier DR2 225/50-15 slicks with 10mm spacers and 1" rubber coil spacers to give me barely 1/2" of needed clearance to the wheel wells - and they didn't rub even after lowering to 15psi and doing 5 passes on the strip. Yeah!

The s/w simulator, when loaded with the dyno test results, indicated that when fully dialed in the GTI should get close to 12.3s @ 112mph w/o nitrous, and around 11.5s @ 123mph with 80hp of nitrous. I ran 13.8s @ 104mph. What happened? Lots. I'll be back again on June 16th, weather permitting, which is the next 'test and tune' track date.

Lessons learned from day 1 at the track:

1. I need to increase the rev limiter from 8000 to 8300rpm (I was hitting the rev limiter in each gear for 0.25s before shifting)

2. Install that solid transmission mount to stop the wheels from loading/unloading all the way thru 1st gear

3. Do a bigger ‘proper’ burnout after going thru the water box as the tires were still wet and not gripping properly – drive thru the box and start the burnout on the other side, keep them spinning until there is some smoke

The total damage relative to my software simulated runs...

I ran a 2.3s 60' time rather than a best possible 1.8-1.9s time (0.4s delta) - looking at the ECU datalog it is clear that I wasn't even at 50% throttle for most of 1st gear - and the tires were still spinning like mad, plus the time from throttle off in 1st and back on in 2nd was over 1s ... this kills ET and mph as the car is eating up track distance without any acceleration - I needed only another 30' of track to reach 8000rpm in 3rd which is 111mph with the larger diameter slicks ...

I shifted too slowly each time (0.5s lost total), I hit the rev limiter for about 0.25s in each gear 

I ran 13.8s @ 104mph and it is easy to see that the GTI indeed has the potential for mid 12s 110mph+ time slips on the motor alone ... I need more seat time at the track for sure - this isn't as easy as going to a chassis dyno (it requires skill that I currently lack). Hmm.

And the nitrous wasn't working - I will need to debug the wiring to the solid state nitrous solenoid before heading back to the track. Good thing the nitrous wasn't working though as it would have just made things uglier at the track - I need to dial in the car w/o nitrous first) -
May 30, 2017


Part 151 (After some more static nitrous system testing I determined that the tiny 5mm OD nylon nitrous line from the trunk to the engine was restricting flow so I removed the jets from the NOS Wizards Quadranoid and used the adjustable plunger to set the flow rate. In the process I managed to rip the o-ring seal and also over tighten the plunger and damage the teflon plunger seat so it was leaking badly - so I ordered a new solenoid and continued with my testing ...

With the plunger seat set fairly close to the fully 'off' position (about 1/2 turn) I ended up with around 65hp of nitrous flow to the engine. PWM control testing showed flow from around 25-80% (below that it doesn't operate and above that it flows around 100%) and it was not entirely linear - as in 50% PWM gave around 40hp of nitrous flow.

Street testing was initially done at part throttle at 30/50/100% PWM setting with manual activation - to verify that things were within an acceptable A/F ratio range. This type of testing has limitations as it is hard to hold the throttle steady enough for consistent ECU performance - the 'CL Comp' value (closed loop compensation of A/F ratio) is very sensitive to TPS (throttle position) so it is only a rough measure of how rich/lean the ECU nitrous programming is. Anyway, it showed that I needed to adjust the nitrous fuel tables up to 30% which I did do.

Street testing at full throttle and 100% PWM was quite a handful: there is NO traction in 2nd gear - within 0.5s the RPM jumps from 3,500 to 7,000rpm as the street tires spin. The tires hold in 3rd gear with a dramatic rush from the sudden increase in torque - it is like a turbo with zero lag. Very impressive. 

Post street testing, a look at the ECU datalogs indicated a 0.1s lean condition on initial nitrous flow so I turned off the default 125ms fuel delay setting - the nitrous was getting to the engine before the fuel was and this was causing the ECU to try and add fuel to compensate, resulting in an over-shoot/under-shoot instability in the A/F ratios for about 1.5s until settling down to my target 13:1 ratio. Things should be much more stable now - and I will find out Friday at the drag strip. And hopefully 2nd gear will hold with the drag slicks.

I also installed a solid rear transmission/motor mount - I modified it a bit with some rubber padding - it does cause increased vibration in the chassis but it is liveable for the limited period of time I will need to have it installed while racing.

Ted/Jetfab made me some nice aluminum ramps to allow me to drive on/off my EZ car lift - it will come in handy when I store the GTI in a single car garage on Vancouver Island this summer.

Finally, I installed a brake duct cooling system and switched over to the Hawk DTC-60 race pads - they are now bedding in and the car is therefore ready for the road course testing this weekend. I also installed the passenger Sparco racing seat and harness so I can have the instructor with me ...) -
July 4, 2017


Part 152 (I made the epic journey to both the Mission Raceway and the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit over the past weekend, towing my GTI with the EZ Car Dolly behind our Highlander. The wheel/tire straps were too large and I didn't realize they were adjustable for width and length so I managed to bang up the control arms and rip at the fender flares but no other towing issues were involved. I have new ordered 'fixed' straps for smaller wheels like mine which should help a lot - the adjustable straps are a pain to use and aren't as secure as fixed straps are.

With the nitrous system working properly I was keen to get some nitrous 1/4 mile passes in. The first baseline pass without ntrous was another 13.8s time slip with some wheel slip again off the line. The 2nd pass was with 33% PWM on the nitrous (around 25-30hp) and I ended up with the clutch slipping in all gears. I thought it was tire slip so I put on the stock wheels and tires to see if the slicks were the issue and the car ran without clutch slipping, but I hit redline in 3rd gear before the 1000 foot mark and forgot to shift into 4th until too late and missed the shift - the car ran a 13.4s time slip so it would have hit high 12s if I hadn't shut-off so early and coasted. But the mystery of the clutch slip remains and I'll have to look into it more later (it didn't surface again at the road course). The fact that my street tires had better traction than my slicks seems to be related to the 1.3 degrees of negative camber - the slicks are very wide (about 9.5") and don't sit flat enough on the road surface. I only had 45 minutes of total racing time available as the track opened late and I needed to drive 100kms to the ferry terminal for a 2pm departure ...

I got to my new GTI storage garage at Parksville and setup everything before the end of Friday night. I washed the GTI and prepped it for the 100kms morning drive to the track early Saturday. The Hoosier tire engineer/sales rep was there to show off the new A7 racing slicks and I was proud to say I had brought my own set of A6 tires (a lower temperature compound version) but I had mistakenly brought only 2 A6s and 2 DR2 drag slicks so I could only run on the street tires on Saturday - I planned on returning Sunday to run with the A6s but disaster struck late in the day for me Saturday ...

My first time around the road course in the GTI was thrilling. My line and technique was rusty and far from perfect but I hustled around the track at speeds higher than the other Porsche Cayman S track cars were capable of. By example, I was 150-155km/h at the top of the track long straight vs 140-145km/h for the Porsche Cayman S cars and had a lap time 5s faster. I had higher acceleration, equal braking, and almost equal corning power (estimate only - no g force data logging to back this statement up - TBD in the future). The suspension was quite neutral so when I overpowered the car into and around the corners the car simply drifted sideways. Yes, there was some typical FWD pushing when I tried to accelerate too hard out of the corners but we were all amazed how well mannered and dialled in the suspension system was for a '1st timer'. I don't think I'll change anything about the suspension. Some other folks drove the car and thought the suspension was too stiff but I felt it was perfect and since it is acceptable on the street and it is dead flat at the track I have zero complaints.

The Tech53 brakes with the racing Hawk DTC60 pads were the highlight of the day at the track - those brakes were awesome! They hauled the car down from 160km/h like I was hitting a tire wall each time. No fade, no modulation issues - just pure high octane stopping power. Wow.

I finally convinced the lead instructor to drive me around the track but he was babying the car too much so I egged him on to rev past 8000rpm and push deeper into the corners, which he finally started to do. He admitted that the GTI 'has very good acceleration'. Then the engine 'note' suddenly developed a raspy edge and I knew something was failing in the engine bay so I madly waved him to pull off the track and killed the engine. I captured all of this on video and you will see that it took a while to find out what was causing the problem: the adjustable cam sprocket had vibrated apart and was only holding together with 2 partially loosened bolts with the sprocket wobbling wildly. I found out later that the issue was the crank damper/pulley fasteners backing off enough to let the pulley get out of balance and that increase in vibration, plus the solid trans mount, put enough added stress on the sprocket, plus the extended 8300rpm use ...

Timing marks were still in alignment but the question will be whether or not my 12:1cr pistons and 34mm intake valves and 288 race cams would allow for wide variations in cam timing and NOT bend all of my expensive valves. I will do a full inspection next week and find out - fingers crossed. I have INA Engineering machining me a new fluidamper with a custom steel spacer and lip press-fit together with new OEM bolts - the substandard aluminum spacer will go in the garbage. I will also install a better cam sprocket and new ABF timing belt) - July 11, 2017


Part 153 (All good! Pistons and valves did not appear to touch each other. My initial commentary in my videos indicated otherwise because you can see small shiny areas in some of the intake valve reliefs in the pistons. But Josh, my engine builder, says they are simply camera light reflections on the shiny areas that are from the turbulence caused by the valves coming so close to the pistons during normal use - similar to what happens to the squish area of the combustion chamber where the top of the pistons are shiny too.

I used a bore scope to inspect and take photos of the pistons and then conducted leak down and compression tests on all cylinders. With a 90psi input pressure the leak down for all cylinders was in the 4-6psi range. The compression tests ranged from a low of 180psi to 210psi - again, Josh says that the variability is not an indication of valves being bent - if they had been bent compression would be terrible, same with the leak down results.

I was about to start putting the engine back together when I realized that the beautiful, sturdy new Kent cam sprocket didn't have an integrated key so I got on the ferry and left for the week. I contacted the supplier and they pointed out that there is a half-woodruf key supplied in the box which I didn't notice. In any case, Fred/Tech-53 has lost a few motors from these aluminum sprockets failing (aluminum fatigue around the key area when used with aggressive cam profiles and high rpm) and strongly advises people to steer clear of them. He is sending me one of the modified (and heavier) steel OEM units that are setup for adjustability. I am also going to change my rev limiter to 7,600rpm to avoid punishing my nice motor - it produces its peak power closer to 7,200rpm and so revving up to and past 8,000rpm with my heavy 95.5mm stroker crank isn't necessary or good for the longevity of the motor anyway.

Josh says to only use the cam sprocket adjustability to 'zero' the cam in. When he did it the cam was lined up exactly at 'zero' on the scale so I guess I could simply use an OEM steel sprocket which would be highly reliable. I'll order one as they are not expensive and will also get one of Fred/Tech-53's adjustable all steel sprockets. Josh's comments on advancing the cam to lower the power peak is to not bother as it won't typically help - he wants the cams at true 'zero'.

Another thing Josh pointed out is that people tend to set the cam belt tension too high, causing excessive wear on the 1st cam journal bearing and the intermediate shaft bearings - his point is that once an engine heats up it will expand so the 45 degree finger twist test should be slightly lose when cold) - July 19, 2017


Part 154 (Issam at iABED Industries (formerly INA Engineering) made me up a trick custom Fluidamper assembly on a rush basis with many thanks. It consists of a slightly turned out (32mm ID) fluidamper with a press-fit steel 6.2mm spacer that will mount 'hub centic' to the ABA crank sprocket. I will use grade 12.9 allen head bolts, lock washers and locktite 242 and will torque to spec. The aluminum spacer and previous Fluidamper damper will be sold if anyone wants it (it would be fine for a non-race lower rpm motor)) - July 20, 2017


Part 155 (I decided after subscriber feedback that the Kent adjustable Cam Sprocket was strong enough to be used so it is now installed, with Locktite 242 and prep spray, torqued a bit higher than the OEM 45 ft-lbs spec, plus I installed a new timing belt as the other one had been thrashed and potentially stretched with the cam sprocket wobbling as much as it had. I installed the custom INA fluidamper assembly with 8x30mm grade 12.9 allen head bolts, lock washers and the same locktite 424/prep spray as for the cam sprocket and torqued it all properly. I then fabricated a new alternator bracket as the other one had snapped when the damper had shifted, and I was keen to sort out a finely adjustable bracket that was stronger - mission accomplished.

After all of the re-assembly work ,measuring the lash of my solid lifters (all within spec and on the tight side @ 0.008-0.010" intake and 0.012-0.015" exhaust) putting the cam cover back on with some RTV, etc. I cranked over the engine with the starter (ignition off) and there was a nasty clicking sound coming from the bell-housing. This sound was not present 2 weeks earlier when I was testing the engine for potential piston-valve damage when I did leak-down and compression testing, but I realized that I had done that testing without spark plugs installed and this was the 1st time I had the engine fully back together and the cranking while under full compression with 12:1 pistons ....

So I looked carefully at the clutch pressure plate and found that it was slightly lose - I could move it back and forth a few degrees so those critical bolts that hold the pressure plate to the crank had also worked a bit lose when the damper had shifted. Who knows, maybe the pressure plate bolts were the 1st ones to back off and the damper bolts worked lose next, then the cam sprocket assembly? I will never know. But I do know that 8300+rpm and my large 95.5mm stroker crank is not a great combination so that is why I am keeping my max rpm to 7,600rpm from here onwards ...

So the car won't be on the road again for a few more weeks as I need to drop the transmission out of it, remove the clutch assembly and install new racing Techtonics/ARP pressure plate bolts. This requires me to source an engine support bar and a transmission hoist which are now ordered. What a pain ... but I did have some significant clutch slippage at the drag strip and there is a lot of black clutch dust all over the inside of the bell housing so I want to inspect the clutch and decide if I need to change or upgrade it further (it is a custom racing clutch but it may need to be stronger if I want to use nitrous with it).

I went to the VIMC track today and rented a 2017 M3 which has the same wt/pwr ratio as my GTI and it was a lot of fun. The car feels heavier for sure (3600lbs vs. 1900lbs) but it has big brakes and lots of low-end torque so it pulls harder out of the corners and seems to have stronger brakes. I will be back on the track with it later this week and will record the lap times and g forces and when I get the GTI to the track I will have comparison data. The M3 is faster than the Cayman S I drove at VIMC ...) - August 6, 2017


Part 156 (Hmm. I should have been nicer to my shiny new GTI rather than immediately take it to the drag strip for 20 passes at full throttle, with nitrous and slicks, slipping the crap out of the clutch.

Lesson #1: street cars are meant for the street, race cars are (built) and meant for the strip/circuit track. Yes you can take a street car to the track but it won't like it much, putting a lot of stress and premature wear on all of the critical parts. Either you build a race car that has a race clutch, high rpm engine components (and fasteners) and brakes or you take your street car to the track and you don't massively abuse it or try to run it at 10/10th continuously.

After getting the engine support brace and the transmission hoist setup I pulled the trans out and it wasn't too much work for a single person job. I had more trouble getting the axles out than actually pulling the trans out. When the clutch pressure plate wouldn't come off the crank snout I knew I was in trouble. Yes, the fasteners as suspected had backed off, but that caused a violent back and forth friction between the pressure plate that heated the metal up so much that it actually melted and fused the components together. The fused metal had broken back apart but it was internally rutted/scared such that the pressure plate would not rotate more than 5 degrees and would not separate from the crank despite dozens of hammer blows ….

So I did the unthinkable and I took my die grinder with a cutoff wheel and I sliced thru the ¼” thick pressure plate from bolt hole to bolt hole, and yes I could not completely avoid cutting into the crank face in a few places and then I was able to rip it off, then I cut thru the remaining ring at one location and spread it apart and pulled it off. The crank snout was a bit ripped up and so were some spots around the bolt holes but in general it was fixable with the die grinder and a flat file to get the surfaces level and smooth again. True, there are a few uglies but I am quite confident that I don’t need to remove the crank and re-weld and machine it. I’ll put the new pressure plate on and use a run-out dial micrometer to verify that it is true before continuing to assemble the rest of the transmission.

And yes, the high performance clutch friction plate was worn out already so that limited drag strip time was very very hard on the clutch. Josh and I texted about this and it turned out he had a Kennedy clutch assembly on hand that he will ship to me. It has about 20% more holding power than mine so that should be a good upgrade. I won’t be slipping the clutch at the strip if I go back and I will learn proper heal and toeing for the circuit and won’t abuse the clutch any more. And I have already reset the rpm limiter to 7600rpm, down from 8300rpm.

So I think the clutch pressure plate failure caused all the other failures – setting up the engine for extreme vibration, causing the pulleys to back off as well. Ouch!) - August 31, 2017


Part 157 (Josh Arnold, my engine builder, came to my rescue by rush shipping his personal clutch assembly to me. I installed it today, put everything together carefully using ARP pressure plate fasteners and Locktite 262 thread locker, torqued to 60ft-lbs, checked the runout at the outter most edge of the PP (+/- 0.012") and then bolted the transmission and axles back on, plugged in the wiring harnesses, cables, etc. and then started it up and drove it around Parksville/Qualicomm Beach for 2 hours as the sun was setting. It was bliss. I also installed a USRT clutch cable termination assembly and had some fun testing out the new poly steering rack bushings: yes, they eliminate the rubbery feeling of the stock bushings without adding any addition vibration - I am super happy and think they will make track days much more rewarding - especially with slicks mounted.

FYI, the new pressure plate is about 20% stiffer with more clamping force which is important - it feels grabbier - hopefully it will handle a little nitrous - unlike the prior setup. I also went ahead and ordered a 6 puck sprung racing clutch setup from California Clutch today as I want a backup unit that is even stronger than my newest one. I don't really want more pedal pressure but I'd like to be able to use 80hp of nitrous at the drag strip without frying the clutch.

Re the Kennedy clutch assembly: I sent photos of my old and new assemblies to California Clutch and they laughed and said 'that is our friction disk, not Kennedy's and the older PP unit is a modified Sachs unit. They said Josh had custom ordered some friction disks from them with a hybrid organic compound on one surface and metallic on the order side and no springs. I was going by what Josh said to me, and it was all shipped in a Kennedy box and the back of the PP was indeed stamped 'KEP stage 1'. So it looks like the PP is a KEP unit but not the disk.

It will be interesting to see what California Clutch sends to me ... (the 6 puck sprung unit). I am not really keen to pull the trans out any time soon but if I have any more issues with my new clutch I will not hesitate to swap in the 6 puck unit since I have all of the necessary equipment now (engine support, trans hoist, experience, etc).

When I re-installed the transmission I used the USRT clutch cable termination block - a much nicer solution than the OEM h/w.

I also had the chance to check out the HD poly steering rack bushings - they are awesome: no increase in road vibration but all of the rubbery feel is now gone from the steering and that all-important initial turn-in is crisp/precise now) - September 8, 2017


Part 158 (I had a chance to get over to the island and prep the car for the required safety inspection at the local BMW dealership that is owned by the same group that owns the track and, yes, I passed the inspection. It was nice that the service technician was a former VW mk1 racer who really understood what this project is all about. I got to the track and mounted the Hoosier slicks and then took it for a slow lap to see if there were any issues: the 1st corner told me that there was some rubbing of the slicks on the rear fender wells so I am ordering another set of H&R race springs and will not cut them this time - that should give me 1/2" of additional ride height, plus I'll move the rear spring perch up another 1/2" which is where there is the most suspension movement (I'd like to go with rear springs that are 20% stiffer as the car still under-steers a bit at the track but I don't have a source). I drove the car home on the slicks just to get more 'seat time' with them and found that they really transformed the steering response - perhaps too immediate with the short wheel base. At 120kmh a 1" steering change results in a pretty fast lane change. I will just have to get used to it. The street tires will never feel as good now.

Update: I ordered the Ground Control coil-over adapter kit with 430/350lbs/in F/R springs after discussing my needs with them. They could not tell me what the H&R race spring rates are but felt that for a car that will see track days and will be using my 28mm rear bar and no front bar, the 430/350 combination would be a good starting point. They offer springs at 50lbs/in increments so I can make future changes - including going softer in the future when I retire the car to be street use only in a year or two. I like the ability to quickly adjust ride height too. They made an observation re. the H&R race springs which have many 'dead' coils and only a short active spring compression distance: weekend track day H&R race spring users complain of coil binding and the non-linearity that results - the springs can 'bottom out'. The GC springs are linear w/o dead coils so will have more potential range of motion. Finally, I ordered Lella 10mm rear axles spacers to replace my 15mm spacers to give me more room for the slicks - this in combination with some increase in rear stiffness and a slight increase in ride height and all should be well - rubbing wise ...) - September 20, 2017


Part 159 (Rather than playing around more with the H&R race springs I ordered Ground Control Coil-Over Adapters with 7" 430/350 lbs/in front/rear springs which we determined would be a good starting point for more neutral cornering dynamics and fully adjustable ride height at each corner. After installing them it became clear that the 7" front springs were too tall, making the car sit up 1” higher than ideal (I like about a ½” gap at the fenders) so I have ordered another 440 lbs/in 6" set - the rears were fine. The car is now much stiffer in the rear and it makes driving on the street somewhat harsher, but really, it doesn't bother me too much. I'll back off to 300/200 lbs/in when I retire the GTI from the track in a year or so but right now the 430/350 combination along with the Autotech 28mm hollow rear bar is providing very neutral and stable cornering with slicks on the track.

The car is handling superbly now - it is really quite shocking how quickly it goes around the corners without a fuss - just point the car at the apex and the car immediately goes there without tire squeal or understeer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my GTI would handle this well - it is world class now. My best lap time in the new 718 version of the Porsche Cayman S (0-60mph in 3.6s and 1/4 mile in 12.0s @ 120mph) using Continental's best street performance tires was a 1:33s time, while I managed a 1:31s time in the GTI while keeping the rpm well below 7000 for 95% of my shifts (average of only 3400rpm) and coasting around many of the corners, soft braking into the corners, having relatively cold tires (the air temp was around 16 degrees C but the track surface was colder as the overnight temps were only 7 degrees C), etc. I am confident that I'll get the GTI into the 1:25s range in the spring when my ride height is down another 1" and the track and tires will be at optimum temps - and when my driving skills and experience on the track have also improved considerably (like learning how to heal and toe properly with my modified wider and longer gas pedal).

One problem I did have was that after the 3rd set of laps on the track I puked up a lot of oil which came out the PCV breather filter and splattered all over the drivers side of the engine bay making a big mess and likely getting some oil on the track surface as well, which is totally uncool. We inspected the track and couldn't see any oil so didn't shut down the track but I felt bad about it and need to solve this problem (oil sloshing forward under heavy braking with slicks and getting out the PCV port at the front of the ABA block) so I have accepted a generous offer from Mike Fopeano, a fellow VW Vortex member, and Mk2 owner/enthusiast, and purchased his mint condition INA Engineering racing windage tray oil sump and will also rig up a racing oil catch can/breather system with a sump return line that plumbs into the INA sump with a separate fitting - this return line will be controlled with a ball valve to as to not risk water based contaminants returning to the oil system under normal use, but at the track where larger volumes of oil can splash out and risk trouble the oil will be recycled.

I check the ECU data logger and at no time did I loose oil pressure around the track) - October 7, 2017


Part 160 (I finally had the time to travel over to my new GTI guy garage on Vancouver Island and start the process of building a track-ready oiling system that includes an INA oil pan and an external racing oil catch can with return line. It was cold and damp and so I was freezing my ass off but I managed to pull off the OEM oil pan, pump/pickup and windage tray and start the process of fitting the INA pan to the block and clearance the transmission bell housing (which required a lot of work - tisk, tisk, INA, this wasn't even close to fitting out of the box, plus the 2 hard to reach mounting holes next to the transmission were mis-placed and will require slotting). So after a lot of effort I managed to get the INA pan to fit-up to the block and trans and then measured for the custom racing oil catch can.

The idea for the new oiling system is 4 fold: increase the amount of oil from 4.7 to 5.7 quarts, reduce the tendency for oil to slosh away from the oil pump pickup, provide an external catch can that will keep any oil that finds its way out of the PCV port on the front of the block to a 1 quart reservior, and finally, provide a return line to the oil pan via a one-way 'check valve' - so that oil that pumps out of the PCV port can find its way back into the pan - this is a race track system and will not be necessary on the street. I have now ordered the custom catch can and sourced the lines and fittings so once it all arrives I'll be able to assemble it all.

In addition to this oil system track-only upgrade, I sourced a 2 axis accelerometer as my custom 3 axis unit is too noisy and is therefore close to useless, plus I now have my Ground Control 6" 440lbs/in front springs that I will install. After running the car for a while with the 7" springs, the fender gap settled to 1.25" and so I will lower the car all-round to a 0.5" gap - I highly doubt I will have any fender rubbing with the wide Hoosier A7 slicks as the springs are super stiff and there is very little body movement at the moment) - November 17, 2017


Part 161 (It has been a long while since I posted a project update. My spouse was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Breast Cancer in late November and we have been in and out of the hospital and cancer agency 100 times since then having tests run, surgery performed, more testing, and now chemo (followed by radiation and more drugs). She is taking the abuse well enough and we are trying our best to keep soldering on with our daily lives but in reality everything has changed for us and we are trying to find a 'new normal' in the madness of it all. Everyone has been really great - we truly feel blessed even though we realize that this is a life threatening disease.

My spouse wants me to find ways to be happy and reduce my stress so my GTI project is there for me and now that we are into a long period of chemo it is a good time to start to move forward again as the winter starts to change into early spring in the pacific northwest - I want to get back to my Vancouver Island guy garage next month and start to put everything back together and get ready for some track time to debug the new oiling system.

I got a custom fabricated 1 quart can made up by with a 1" NPT intake bung and a -6AN drain that I will mount where my electrical A/C compressor normally sits (I will use the same mounting holes). I need to fabricate the mounting bracket next and then hopefully I can simply get back to the GTI and start to bolt everything up (yes, I'll need to make up some custom length -6AN SS lines to connect the drain thru the 1 way valve and then to the oil pan drain line port).

After some searching and testing I found that I needed to use a very specific type of 1 way 'flapper' valve (Earls P/N 251006ERL) as I needed just the force of gravity to open the valve and let the oil drain back to the pan. Other spring engaged 1 way valves took too much pressure to work in my situation (they are designed for pressurized systems like fuel lines). Lesson learned. I need the 1 way valve to protect the catch can from reverse flow of the oil in case there is any momentary pressure on the oil in the pan from acceleration and/or oil plugging up the PCV port on the front of the block during hard braking - I am not sure I need it but think it is a good precautionary move to make) - January 18, 2018


Part 162 (I finished making the racing oil catch can bracket and sourcing the necessary parts to put my racing oil system into the GTI this past week. The temperatures were still cold here in the Pacific Northwest so after a long day in 6 degree C temperatures under the car I was pretty fozen but the job was completed, along with the installation of the new 6" 440lbs/in front springs and lowering the car all round to a 3/4" fender gaps with the slicks on. I had to clearance the transmission bell housing a bit more to gain access to the oil pan bolts next to the transmission (the next time the trans comes out I will clean up the area a bit more as it is still really hard to get those 2 bolts in). I used Toyota oil pan caulking to first adhere the OEM windage tray to the block with the INA oil pan torqued up to hold everything in place, then I pulled the pan off again, installed the oil pump and pickup, applied the next layer of caulking, and put it all together. The racing oil catch can and plumbing all worked out very well, especially considering that I had to guess a bit when fabricating the mounting bracket and designing the lines (being 100kms away in Vancouver at the time). The only tricky part was ensuring that the oil return line and one-way valve didn't rub against either the tranmission linkage or the CV/axles which are only 1cm away ...

After the oiling system was successfully completed, I pulled out and re-installed the oil dip stick tube which was also leaking a bit at the base - again, I used the Toyota oil pan caulking to ensure a good seal. Then I pulled out the front struts and swapped out the 430lbs/in 7" springs for 440lbs/in 6" springs, and then adjusted the ride height all the way around the car for 3/4" fender gaps (the car will likely settle a bit once it has been driven so I guess that it will end up at around 1/2" which I hope will not rub at the track - if it does, it will be a quick adjustmnt to add back the 1/4" or so). Finally, I attempted to perform a camber alignment but ran into the limitations imposed by the wide rims and slicks which limit the amount of negative camber that I can set without risking the tires contacting the struts under cornering loads at the track. With a 1/4" side gap to the strut body I could only get around -1 degree dialed in (while using 5mm wheel spacers which is the max I want to use) so I have sourced very nice CNC'd adjustable camber plates from Silver Project in Poland that mount to the OEM holes. When I get them I'll go back to the GTI and install them, setting the camber to -2.5 degrees, and will also install a new 2-axis accelerometer and then get the car on the road again for some pre-track testing mid April) - March 30, 2018


Part 163 (I was able to install the Silver Project camber upper strut bearing plates with the Ground Control upper spring perches by using a thick 1/2" ID steel washer to couple the wide OD of the spring perch to the narrow OD of the spherical bearing surface. The assembly is about 5/16" taller overall so my fenders gaps have now been set all round to 1" - I am more comfortable with the 1" gap than my prior 3/4" gap as the slicks are very wide and I don't want to risk rubbing at speed on the track - the car would look better with 3/4" gaps but I'll save that for the street wheels and tires. With the new camber plates I was able to get 2.0 degrees of negative camber on the fronts. The rears are factory 1.1 degrees negative and I don't think that adding rear camber spacers to bring them to 2 degrees will make much differences as the rear doesn't do as much work (the tires show little wear in comparison to the fronts after 6 laps at the track at speed). It is interesting to note that the adjustable range on each side of the car was different - I measured the squareness of the frame before welding it up and it was straight (even though there had been a relatively minor passenger slide fender bender years ago) - the car drives straight and true with the alignment done so I can't complain.

I used toe-plates and tape measures to get the toe-out to 1/8" - it takes about 1/6th of a turn of the tie-rod ends to get a 1/16" change in toe the way I am measuring it. I was able to use the top edges of the toe-plates to sight the alignment of the front wheels relative to the rears and expected that if I got the steering wheel positioned straight and the front wheels aiming at the same positions left/right on the rear tires, the car should drive dead-nuts straight - and yes, it does!

I was also able to swap out my home-made accelerometer with an after-market unit and reprogrammed the ECU for properly calibrated readings. I will now be able to record my track lap g-forces and see how well the car/driver is performing lap to lap - finding what works and what doesn't work to improve my technique.

My 20 minute road driving test proved that the oil pan gasket area is not leaking - there were some oil drops on the underside of the pan and on the lower stress bar after the test drive but I couldn't not see where they originated from. I had previously sprayed oil all over the engine bay and may not have cleaned it up fully so I will put on the street wheels/tires before going to the track and drive it a lot more, looking for any oil leaks.

It was fun driving the car again as I had forgotten how intense the 2nd gear acceleration is from 4-7,000prm - it is almost too much for a FWD car as any road surface changes can pull the car left or right suddenly. Quite the intense experience.

I also started the process of re-gluing the upper door rubber seals but ran out of time and patience. Those rubber parts do not stick well with Impact Adhesive or 3M window gasket seal so I am using Goof-off to slowly remove the old glue and then will try a different product) - April 24, 2018


Part 164 (I installed the Quick Latch hood pins with minimal trouble and I am happy with how they look and function (and most importantly I now have the peace of mind knowing that my expensive carbon fiber hood that I spent 100s of hours on won't blow off at the track if the OEM hood latch pulls out of the carbon hood). I honestly tried to get to the track for the 1st this this year but it was a rain-out, plus I ran out of gas on the highway as I drove towards the track - it seems that either the level sender (which is new) somehow got stuck at the 39% full level, or there is something else wrong - I will pull out the sender next time I am back and if it seems fine and provides full range output to the ECU I will pull out the fuel pump input filter and see if it is partially plugged. Finally, I tried to trace the source for an oil leak at the drivers side rear lip of the new INA oil pan by recording video with a remote camera - the camera did record the oil leak which seems to be coming from a single bolt - I will pull out the bolt and put sealant in the hole and put it back in, plus will look more carefully around the area - it does not look like the gasket itself is leaking - I thought it might be the rear main seal but I see no oil in the area of the transmission bell housing lower lip (I hate oil leaks)) - May 11, 2018


Part 165 (After getting most of the oil leaks addressed (there is still a little hunting to get the engine 100% leak free) I got to the track and tested everything out, shooting some interesting video from a camera mount on the outside of the driver side door. The new INA oil pan did its job and kept oil out of the PCV port and therefore the new catch can had no oil in it at the end of the day - at least it is insurance against oiling down the track. I inspected the underside of the car after the drive back up island to Parksville and found that the racing exhaust header collector brace that I had fabricated had cracked so I will bring my TIG welder over next time and get that repaired and strengthened. Next major task is learning to drive the track quickly and practice my shift points and heal-and-toeing technique (my new gas pedal plate works well for side-to-side brake/acceleration movements with my foot but at times during heavy braking my brake pedal is too low to allow easy access to the gas pedal so I may move the brake pedal up 1/2" more to compensate)...) - May 28, 2018


Part 166 (I brought my 210amp 240V powered TIG welder over to the island and sourced a 4000W voltage up-converter to allow me to power the unit from a 2200W 120V generator - testing showed that I could weld with up to 80amps of current which was more than enough to patch the stainless 16 gauge header tubes and weld on a new stronger bracket - it all worked out well. I also swapped out the cracked transmission shifter bracket assembly and got everything re-calibrated for nice crisp shifts. I also took the opportunity to hunt for minor oil leaks with the exhaust header out of the way - I was quite sure that oil was leaking from either the head gasket or the exhaust ports and low and behold all of the exhaust valve guides were leaking significant amounts of oil and after checking the intake runners I found minor leaking of the intake valve guides so I spoke with Josh, my engine builder, and he told me that the SuperTech valves he had installed came with special valve stem seals that had caused similar problems with other engine builds he had done the year he did my engine and that simply swapping out the seals for OEM seals solved the problem. I have always wanted to drive the car to Josh and Techtonics in Oregon to let them see and drive the car so I will now do that in September and Josh will also perform a solid lifter valve lash adjustment at the same time which will be good to complete (the last time I checked the lash specs were all in range).

My eldest son Perry was in town this week and he is a car guy too so he agreed to come to the track with me, do some driving and garage pit stop wrenching for me so the day at the track was more fun and entertaining than usual. He had the chance to drive a 2 series BMW and when I drove him around he was quick to state that my GTI felt way faster down the straights and in the corners - which is true but it is nice to see someone go back-to-back and experience the differences. I mounted the camera a bit lower down on the outside of the door to try and catch a view of the front tires moving in relation to the track/car direction and it sort of worked. I have now eaten through my rotors with the Hawk DTC-60 race pads which are quite dusty and very agressive/hard on the rotors. They really increase the brake stopping torque on the the rotors at the expense of eating them alive - I probably should have replaced them last time I was at the track as they are way past the normal wear limits after yesterday's track session.

When I put the exhaust header back on the engine I used Locktite Ultra Copper gasket sealant which has kept the oil from leaking out onto the back side of the engine. My oil leaks are now pretty much killed off and I am now happy about that. Next time I get to the track I will change over to fully synthetic oil now that I have over 2,500kms on the engine with several hours of racing on it as well and I will put new rotors and pads on the front disks. I have been adjusting the brake proportioning valve to slowly increase the rear brake pressures on the track and managed to get the car sideways on the track for a bit yesterday so will back it off a full turn. Finally, now that the car is becoming reliable on the track I will settle into learning how to drive it quickly - the proper line, maximum rpms, deepest/hardest braking efforts, best shifting strategy, improved heal-and-toe technique, etc. I think the GTI is capable of some very quick lap times, much quicker than most high performance street cars that visit the track - but it will take a full season of practice for me to prove that out) - June 14, 2018


Part 167 (The old rotors were down to 18mm (from 20mm) and had at least 1 stress crack out to the edge from one of the drilled holes. I will switch to non-drilled rotors next time but this time I have put in higher quality drilled and slotted rotors and will just keep a close eye on them and swap them out a bit earlier. They look like they are mounted backwards but that is the noted direction of rotation stamped on the hubs ... must relate to the direction of the internal vanes.

My one-off new front upper spring perches worked out as well - no more noises.

I finally switched to synthetic oil at the 2700kms point - the engine now runs smoother/quieter.

I got some track time with an instructor and shaved over a second off my prior best time: 1:31.33 now. On the hunt for a sub 1:30:00 time now. By reference Kees Nierop, a Porsche factory race driver, was able to lap a 718 Cayman S at 1:28 on OEM tires and 1:24 on slicks. I have lots of room for further improvements and hope to see a 1:28 or 1:29 eventually. Kees would be able to shave a few more seconds off of my best time ... ) - July 6, 2018


Part 168 (I brought Kees Nierop, a former Porsche Factory race driver and instructor (winner of 12hrs of Sebring, factory driver at Le Mans), to the Vancouver Island Motorsports Circuit to try his hand at putting down some hot laps in my GTI. The day was hot and sunny with air temperatures of 33 degrees C and track surface temperatures of 45 degrees C, which was not ideal (about 6% down on power, plus the GTI was wearing Hoosier A7s which are cool temperature tires - a better choice would have been R7s which would provide better grip all round on a hot track day). Kees settled into the little GTI and immediately found that the steering wheel on the Mk1 Golf isn't adjustable but went ahead and made the best of the fixed driving position.

After some warm up laps he knocked off 3 back to back 1:26s laps (with one of the laps showing a 1:25.48 on Harry's Lap Timer with an external high frequency GPS unit). My prior best time was a 1:31.35 in cooler temperatures so it shows just how much better Kees is at navigating his way around the track even though this isn't a car that he is used to driving. I had the nitrous bottle ready to go but the temperatures were too high and we felt the tires wouldn't hold the added power so it will have to wait to another day. Kees feels that he can improve another 1-2 seconds without the nitrous.

A major reason for building the little GTI was to prove that simplicity and light weight are lost concepts that need to be re-discovered. I wanted to build a Mk1 Golf that would compete head to head with the best of today's sports cars and certainly beat any of the current model Golf cars available for sale today. Without the nitrous the GTI is already putting to shame various 911 and Cayman performance edition models on the track, and with the nitrous and better traction from R7 tires and cooler temperatures this little car is likely capable of running with track-day oriented Porsche models. I am blown away by how much performance Kees was able to demonstrate - it makes this project so satisfying. Here are Kees' notes after driving the GTI:

Doing three laps within .3 sec. is a good thing as it shows "comfort" and predictability.

Yes, I can go faster. But I like to work on keeping "brain power" available while going fast, so I can explain what the car is doing or not.

I like the little car. Once you settle in it is fine! The one thing it could use is a more proper driving position with the steering wheel. With all the work being done by the front wheels, it is important to have full control and full arm strength while holding on to the wheel. An adjustable steering column would fix that.

The car felt stable enough at full throttle thru Turn 1, I tried shifting before, during and after. The car didn't upset that much when the drive line power was interrupted.

at T2 the brakes would actually help rotate the car a bit and then by immediately getting on the power it would "pull" itself around T2. I was able to get early power on.

T3 - This is a turn I always respect.....I like to go in deep and then hard brakes and have a "low" speed at the curb on the left. That is where I set my attack for the rest of the turns T4-T5 -T6. The car turned in great and never displayed any under steer. Able to short shift between T5-T6 and full throttle out of T6.

T7 is the downhill left. Straight forward 90 degree ...... just needed to be careful with the brakes, but the car felt neutral.

T9-T10 was a little bit of an eye opener......The quick left - straight - brake - right - lose gravity - left - full throttle - was a handful for the car.  This is where the short wheel base made the car "twitchy". Again no real surprises so all good.

T11 is all about wheel spin and again at T12....wheel spin.

T17-18-19 is a bit like T9-T10. Very quick direction change and short wheel base. This is where a very comfortable seating position and steering wheel position become very important.

T19 (onto pit straight) is a drop. The suspension is being used to it's fullest extend and something touches a "stop" (helper springs likely required with the short/stiff ground control springs)


All in all, I feel I got into it a little and am pleased with how it behaved. We can squeeze a high 1.24 or low 1.25 next time?

- August 8, 2018


Part 169 (selling off the race only GTI components) - September, 2018


Part 170 (The long road home - right from the beginning of this project I had always intended to put some track time on the car to help wring out its full performance potential. Yes, extensive track time put stresses on the car and uncovered many small and large issues with the various systems, but it all served to harden up the design and make it much more reliable. And most importantly it showed that a 40 year old Mk1 GTI design, with the help from some tweaks here and there, could produce a car that not only exceeds the performance envelope of a Mk7 GTI or R spec golf, but also exceeds that of a Porsche 718 Cayman S. That is truly incredible stuff, confirming the initial project thesis that yester-year concepts of "small", "light", "simple", and "manual" (no power steering, no ABS, no stability control, etc.) could indeed produce a car of modern world class performance potential.

Kees Nierop, a former Porsche factory race driver, after experiencing the car on the track, said my GTI had strong brakes, excellent turn-in and neutral cornering manners, and a great engine that pulls strongly out of the corners and down the straights. He said the short wheelbase makes the car feel more nervous in the S curves than a modern car, but he feels the GTI offers an overall more immediate, real immersive driving experience, making it much more of a drivers car.

After Kees completed his track testing of the GTI, it was time to get this project properly completed, putting it fully back into a street car form, complete with its original interior and a more suitable street performance suspension and brake setup - performance oriented but liveable as a daily driver, complete with electrical AC and a great audio system and a long 5th gear for comfortable highway cruising speeds.

So far I have pulled out the front suspension, control arms, axles, brakes, cylinder head and pistons, and have cleaned up the heads. I have new piston rings on order along with new valve stem seals for the head which should all arrive by end of January. In the mean time I will pull out the radiator and transmission and start on the 5th gear swap from the 0.91 to 0.76 ratio for improved highway cruising rpms) - January 3, 2019


Part 171 (My apologies for the delay in posting this update. I have actually been very committed to the project over the past 6 weeks and have an unusually long update to share. The cylinder heads and block have been totally rebuilt, the transmission now has a new 5th gear ratio, and new suspension springs have been selected and ordered after testing the Eibach race springs.

This was my first time tearing down and re-building a 16V motor and so I made a fair number of 'newbee' mistakes. Let's start with the cylinder heads: I have 288 solid lifter race cams, VR6 tall HD valve springs and narrow 5.5mm intake valve stems so there are a lot of custom parts and unique things to juggle. The 288 cams are high lift so it is harder than normal to take them in and out as the cam journal cap bolts won't start without careful positioning of the cams - each one needs to be at a different location to minimize the lift so the right technique is to do one at a time and not try to position them both at once to torque the caps down. I didn't realize that 288 race cams are hard on springs and even if they test out OK, pressure wise, they can crack/fail at any time so should be replaced every 2-3 years. I also didn't realize that valve stem protectors need to be used to avoid ripping the delicate edges of new valve stem seals - so the valves need to be installed before the seals go on and then they cannot be removed again. Then I also fought with the valve lash settings, replacing lash caps multiple times to get to the ideal 0.015" exhaust and 0.010" intake specs. And Techtonics saved the day by custom grinding 5.5mm caps for me when I couldn't find them anywhere in stock plus they were able to help me get the VR6 HD springs setup correctly (installed height and pressure). It was more effort and a steeper learning curve by far than I expected but I figured it out. Amazingly I forgot that I once the cams are installed the intake valves start to stick out below the deck height and I almost bent some valves before I got a wood spacer under the head to protect the valves - a seniors moment for me I guess. I filled the intake and exhaust ports with alcohol and checked for leaks - and I am lucky there are none so we are good to go now with the head fully re-assembled and the intake ITB system re-installed as well.

The block was another learning curve as I ran into fastener hell a few times: OEM VW crank main bearing caps are single-use stretch bolts that needed to be ordered, but I have ARP rod bolts which are fine for re-use; the crank sprocket was a custom item that was based on a 16V sprocket (BBM makes them - p/n 027 105 263 B) but needed to be machined to accept the larger 16mm crank bolt required for the late model 95.5mm stroker crank) and a special ARP fastener sourced (Integrated Engineering worked with ARP to design this bolt for the stroker crank, M16x65mm, available from ECS Tuning p/n 2794733 - but I needed to machine off 1-2mm to keep it from bottoming out), plus the highly recommended hardened steel dowel pins needed new holes drilled in precisely the right locations to match up with the crank holes (Integrated Engineering sells a dowel pin installation kit - note, I ended up sourcing 1" long 3/16" dia hardened dowel pins and didn't use the 3/4" long pins as they can back out of the crank holes as they are too short in my view). I had damaged my timing sprocket from high rpm vibration so it was a very tricky operation to drill through the old sprocket dowel pin holes and create identical holes in the new sprocket - in the end I had to open them up about 0.010" to get alignment with the crank holes but the sprocket is perfectly located and secured now with its massive 78 ft/lbs + 1/4 turn torque spec. I used a flex-hone to prepare the cylinder walls - it worked out very nicely. I ordered new Weisco piston rings and installed them with new ring pliers. I had the crank serviced at a local crank shop that made sure the damage from the high rpm vibration on both ends of the crank was addressed with clean-up machining, and the bearing surfaces were also re-polished. The crank, rods and pistons were all re-assembled and torqued, and then a new VW ABA windage tray was installed with the oil pan using Reinzoil gasket sealant (I am tired of leaky oil pans).

I worked with Broke-VW to get a 0.76 5th gear and all of the tools and gaskets and replacement single-use bolts and clips to swap out the shorter 5th gear - it worked out well but the process was challenging for me - lots of learning going on when transmissions are involved - harder than working on a cylinder head in some ways. I was swapping an 8V 5th gear into a 16V transmission so I had to do some machining on the 8V gear to get the securing clip to fit correctly - with help from Broke-VW.

I wanted to test the Eibach race springs that I had originally used on the car before swapping in the coil-over Ground Control springs/adjustable perches for racing purposes - on the track I needed to run 440lbs/in front and 350 lbs/in rear springs to get flat and neutral cornering but those are way too stiff for a daily driver on the street. I found the original Eibach race springs pretty decent on the street but felt that going about 25% softer would be a nice compromise for me - still pretty performance oriented but just a bit less edgy. So I needed to measure those springs as there is no published data on them. I used a weigh-scale platform and a car jack to build a test rig. The results (drum roll please ...): to collapse the front dead coils takes 300lbs, and then the spring is 300lbs/in after that; on the rears it is 250lbs to collapse the dead coils and then 250lbs/in after that. So they are pretty stout. I have now ordered 250lbs/in and 200lbs/in front/rear Eibach coil-over springs to install with my Ground Control adjustable spring perches.

I also machined and welded up a new oil pump priming tool and got my exhaust header re-welded with a much stronger support bracket. In-between waiting for out-sourced machining operations and parts to arrive I also re-epoxy painted many engine and suspension components and continued the task of cleaning up the body, pulling off the fender flares and prepping them for re-plastic painting as they are already a bit worn looking. The project is starting to heat up just as this long winter in the Pacific North-West is finally starting to ease its grip on us - I estimate later in April or early May for 1st drive) - March 13, 2019


Part 172 (Success! The California Clutch stage 5 clutch and pressure plate assembly was balanced and then installed on the engine, the transmission with it’s new 0.76:1 5th gear set was bolted on, and the combined assembly was lifted into place and bolted back into the chassis using slightly modified BlackForest Industries engine/trans mounts. Then the custom radiator was installed, the rebuilt cylinder heads, and finally all of the sensors and lines and exhaust system ... after priming the oiling system with my custom drill mounted oil pump drive I fired it up 3 times, each time increasing the max temp from 120 degrees F, to 140 then to 175 degrees, with a full cool-down between runs. The plugs were pulled and inspected and they were 'as new'/shiny.

Leakdown tests were performed after assembly (5-9%), after the oil priming and starter driven cycling (5-7%), and after all 3 test fires – a total of 10 minutes of run time (3.5-4.5%). So the engine is working really well: no blue smoke, no smell, no fouling, no oil leaks, all good!

I installed a USRT shifter linkage system and test fitted a SCCH shifter (since removed and sent back to Jacob to hopefully get it to feel less stiff). I also got the fender flares repaired and re-painted with plastic paint and then a top coat of plasti-dip satin black which looks really nice. Finally, I machined down the front strut bearing inner sleeves to reduce the slack in the bearing but leaving what I hope is enough tolerance for the control arm movement) - April 8, 2019


Part 173 (After getting the OEM interior back in the car and doing a careful alignment (using strings, tape measures and a digital level - old school, baby) it was time to take the car on the road. 100+kms into breaking this new engine in I can say that it is amazing. Here are my main points:

Not too stiff so the car manages to get over most road bumps with grace and a smooth, comfortable ride (using 250/200 lbs/in front/rear springs and Bilstein race struts and a large hollow rear bar - even though these springs are close to the 300/250 springs I originally had in before racing, going one step softer was a smart decision). It still corners dead flat and has very responsive slalom/lane change manners - go-kart level feel in comparison to most heavier sports cars.

Sticking with the OEM front upper strut mounts and adding rubber sealant to them is another nice addition - no crashing, no harshness. 3/4" wheel to fender gaps all round now that the car has settled in a bit.

The alignment is also sweet: -1.25 degrees camber, 1/16" toe out, 5mm front wheel spacers, 20mm rear axles spacers + 3mm wheel spacers - gives a more aggressive stance, evens out the front/rear wheel width - car steers dead-nuts straight.

Adding some mass loaded vinyl to the trunk area and putting in the carpet, plus adding some material to the door seals at the front edges made the car much quieter.

Add the 0.76 5th gear and this car is now a dream on the highway, turning 2000rpm at 50mph and 2400rpm at 60mph - no more droning.

The seats feel wonderful, the USRT/SCCH shifter is amazing too. I couldn't be happier. After this tank of fuel is gone I will change the oil again and then start to use the full rpm range and do some full power hill climbs to complete the engine break-in) - May 1, 2019


Part 174 (Finally the Ultimate 83 GTI project is complete as a street car/daily driver. No fluid leaks anywhere, a/c system running well with a 12 degree C air temperature drop across the new evaporator (and with the help of a new larger condenser), all final 'fit and finish' tasks completed, and a 500kms 'shakedown drive' in 33 degree C heat to confirm all systems 'go'. I will now repeat my 1984 drive from Vancouver to San Francisco along hwy 1 in the next few weeks in my new GTI. I am arranging for a pro video and online spec sheet/review to be made of the car as the final step in documenting this project) - June 15, 2019


Part 175 (I have been taking people out for rides and part of the fun is doing some full throttle acceleration runs to show off the brutal acceleration potential of this car - when the cams hit their sweet spot between 5000 and 8000rpm things get more than just a little crazy with this 1900lbs FWD short wheel base car. But as I progressively did more acceleration runs I noticed that the transmission was getting harder to shift and there were strange noises coming from it when feathering the throttle - like marbles rolling around inside it or growling. So I drained the trans fluid and saw lots of silver flecks in the oil - a bad sign. I then spoke with Brian of Broke VW fame who has been so helpful to so many people in the VW 020 transmission world, who got me my 5th gear conversion setup and he suggested that it was indeed time to rebuild the transmission.

I called Ken Harvey at German Transaxle of America (in beautiful Bend, OR) where I originally sourced this 020 2Y (16V mk2) transmission from, and he said 'yes, I can rebuild it but I am leaving for vacation at the end of this week - when can you get it here?' so I ran into the garage and spent the next 3 hours pulling the transmission out of the car, throwing it into the back of my Audi A3 Etron and driving thru the night to get to Bend, OR by 8am the next morning. Ken gave me a wonderful tour of GTA which is definitely THE BEST VW transmission shop in America with its huge hard to find parts inventory and extensive rebuilding and testing capabilities. Ken got his team to work tearing it down immediately, getting the parts into the washer, repainting the case, and then completing an inspection of all of the internals. He found a badly damaged ring and pinion gear set and lots of worn synchros plus some worn bearings so all bearings and synchros were replaced, new R&P gearset installed, and some other items as well. It is now on its way back to me via UPS 2nd day air so I can get it re-installed in the car next week and then hopefully get on my way to San Francisco mid month - weather depending.

The bottom line in all of this is that I was using a transmission that was designed for 100ft-lbs of torque and running 200-250ft-lbs thru it at 50% higher rpm than spec on the race track, at the 1/4 mile strip, with slicks, power shifting, etc. - it lasted 4000kms which is actually quite good all considering. From now on it will be babied at lot more ...) - June 27, 2019


Part 176 - (4,000km/2,500mile road trip: I wanted to relive my original summer 1984 GTI trip from Vancouver, BC to San Francisco down the coast, to bookend my Ultimate 83 GTI project after a nearly 7 year journey. Would it survive the trip without mechanical or electrical troubles, and what would it be like to drive it for 40+ hours on a range of roads across the Western US. The short answer is that the only mechanical issue was a disintegrating exhaust system flex pipe which I had replaced on my last day of the trip in Yakama, WA, and there were no electrical issues.

The GTI handled the trip very well, except in the few areas where the pavement was rough - my suspension tune is still very firm - it works wonderfully on smooth roads but later this summer I will be receiving my KW V3 coil-overs and will incorporate my 250/200lbs-in springs into them and achieve more compliance for street-only GTI driving. The GTI has the 16V 3.67 final drive ratio, and I had swapped in an 8V 0.76 5th gear so my cruising rpms were low enough to enjoy 75-80mph speeds for long periods of time. At times the exhaust system noise level was a bit tiring - since coming back from this trip I swapped in the Techtonics high flow catalytic converter - it has maybe cost some power but the exhaust note is much more mellow now and over-all part throttle volume is about 1/2 so hwy cruising is now awesome. Once I have the KWs installed the GTI will be a very street-friendly car indeed.

I visited several project supporters along the route: Josh & Mark Arnold, Collin Gyenes & team at Techtonics, Tim Linerud, Derrick Hoffman, my son Perry who lives in SF, and the team at German Transaxle. Thank you to everyone for their hospitality and support!!!

My trip route was Vancouver to Portland via I-5, then out to the coast on 99-W, and then US-101 all the way to San Francisco, and then back up to Sonoma and then out to US-1 on the coast, then back to SF on US-101 again, then south on I-280 and across I-92, then I-580/I-680/I-80 to I-5 to Mount Shasta, then I-97 to Klamath Falls/Crater Lake, then continuing on US-97 to Yakama, then I-90 back to Seattle and then I-405/I-5 home to Vancouver again in a 6 day period. Peak elevation reached was over 8,000' at Crater Lake and another 4-5 passes in the 4-5,000' elevation levels - lots of varied roads and scenery to enjoy and test out the GTI with.

Catalytic Converter update: before the Cat installation the car always had a rich smelling exhaust even though the WBO2 sensor and ECU were in closed loop mode and regulating to 14.7:1 A/F ratio. After the cat installation but before ECU tuning the exhaust smelled of rotten eggs and the cat was a bit too hot for my liking (at 350 deg F inlet flange, and 650 deg F outlet). I googled around and found out that racing cams with a lot of intake/exhaust valve overlap pull air thru the cylinder head into the exhaust creating an artificially lean signal to the WBO2 sensor and also that the signal is noisy so you can't leave the ECU in closed-loop mode at idle with racing cams, but instead should solely tune based on max intake vacuum and idle quality/stability. When I did this I ended up with an indicated 17:1 A/R signal at idle and no more rotten eggs so my car had indeed been running rich at idle all this time (8,000kms). My plugs were rusty brown looking too so that was the issue after all. The cat outlet temp fell by 75-100 deg F as well which indicates that it is not having to work as hard. I also changed the injectors 'end angle' from 0 to 30 degrees BTC so that less raw fuel is likely to sneak thru the intake to exhaust system before the valves all close and the compression stroke completes. Another ECU programming change I did was to hold the A/F to 14.7:1 until the MAP signal indicates full throttle so the engine doesn't run rich when accelerating at part throttle any longer. Finally, I fully programmed the deceleration fuel curves to lean out the engine when off the throttle during compression braking - this gives an average A/F during decel of 16-20:1 which is OK as there is no lean back-firing or instability indicated . So the GTI is now quiet, smooth, and doesn't smell of a rich exhaust or rotten eggs which is all great news.

Notes: A/F = air fuel ratio; WBO2 - wide band O2 sensor, ECU - engine computing unit, MAP - manifold absolute pressure (vacuum), at 14.7:1 A/F in theory all fuel burns to create nothing but CO2 and water vapour - but in practice also produces CO and unburnt HC (hydrocarbons) which the cat cleans up, rotten egg smell is the result of sulfur in the gasoline combining with hydrogen in the cat to create hydrogen-sulfide (and also typically indicates a rich A/F condition, max cat inlet to outlet temp difference should be under 300 deg F - it is actually burning/converting the pollution and in the process is heating up the exhaust gas significantly so the whole exhaust system post cat will be much hotter the without a cat in the system (you will need to add thermal insulation to keep the heat away from the body of your car as well as any wiring and fuel/brake lines, etc.)
- July 16, 2019


Part 177 - (This is an informal chat about my views and experiences driving both my Mk1 Ultimate 1983 GTI and my 2018 Audi A3 Etron (based on the Mk7 Golf platform) as well as highlighting some of the spec differences with the Mk7 GTI. Summary: I love them both and think they each have their strengths - but there are blissful moments in the Mk1 GTI with its huge performance envelope and immediate/mechanical driving experience that clearly come out on top: when the driving conditions are optimal the Mk1 GTI shines brighter than more modern cars do. But in average conditions a Mk7 would be more comfortable, quiet, smooth, and often quicker given the transmission and suspension designs - and certainly lower stress on average. On the track there is no question that the Ultimate 83 GTI would dominate both the track times and the driving experience in comparison to a Mk7 GTI or R spec car, and it can also exceed that of a Porsche Cayman S or BMW M2/M3 but there aren't often driving conditions that parallel track conditions. Of course, safety is a big features of modern cars and the Mk1 lacks many of the basics there ... something to keep in mind when going 10/10th in an early car) - July 18, 2019


Part 178 - (I used my ECU self-tuned fuel table to calculate the torque and HP curves for both my non-Cat and Cat equipped exhaust systems. Previously I had performed multiple dyno tests on the engine, determining that the best results were obtained without the intake ITB air box or filter, 32 degrees of total timing and a 13.2:1 air/fuel ratio, achieving 205hp at the wheels, which translates to around 240-250hp at the crankshaft. Adding the air box and filter cut about 10hp due to impairment of the ITB trumpet air flow characteristics.

I used 0.42lbs/hp-hr BSFC (brake specific fuel consumption) which agrees with my dyno test results and is inline with what race-prepped normally aspirated engines would see, vs 0.47-0.50 for a garden variety OEM engine.

The results were that the non-cat engine with the air box and filter registered 235hp and 180ft-lbs while the cat-equipped engine registered 218hp and 160ft-lbs of torque, but the real story is in the shape of the torque curves: the cat-equipped engine produces up to 40% more torque below 2000rpm and 11% more on average below 4500rpm where the majority of street driving occurs and only loses 7% on average above 4500rpm, and it has the effect of flattening out the torque curve so that it is almost level from 2500-7500rpm - making the engine feel very smooth and willing to rev over its complete rpm range.

On the track it makes sense to remove the air box and the cat and let the engine rip, but on the street it is far more enjoyable to have a car that is relatively quiet, smooth and tractable at all revs - without a fuel-rich smelly exhaust! I am very happy with the results.

As a background matter, running a cat with 288 race cams required leaning out the idle somewhat as well as backing off the timing at idle, plus reprogramming the fuel map to kill all fuel during deceleration - August 3, 2019


Part 179 - (After a 9 week lead time wait my KW Variant 3 p/n 35280001 dual-adjustable struts and shocks arrived from Germany (these days no-one stocks mk1 KW V3 kits so they are 'made to order' at the factory and drop-shipped). And it was well worth the wait indeed - what beautiful components these are, made of stainless steel and polymer materials. And not only are they compression and rebound adjustable over a wide range, but the compression system is a dual valve design that bypasses the adjustable valve when the car hits a rough bump, letting the strut/shock move to absorb the bump without upsetting the car while using the more restrictive adjustable valve for control over normal road surfaces - making the system much more 'street friendly'.

The V3 kit comes with 342lbs/in front and 285lbs/in rear springs with additional 'tender' springs that are meant to keep the springs under slight compression when the wheels are fully unloaded. The problem with 342/285 springs for a mk1 VW is that they are a bit too soft on the track and a bit too stiff on the street. A great track setup is around 400-500lbs/in front and 300-400lbs/in rear (with a big rear sway bar) for a 2000lbs mk1 VW and a tolerable street setup is around 250/200 - many people run stiffer than that on the street BUT they put up with a lot of crashing over rough pavement - trust me, I have driven almost 10,000kms on 300/250 springs with seriously stiff racing Bilstein struts/shocks and they don't suit themselves to about 50% of the roads out there in the real world.

So I swapped in my newer Eibach 7"/8" 250/200 springs (2.5" ID) for the KW 342/285 springs and dialed back the compression/rebound to 1 click off 'full soft' and the KW V3s became truly transformative. All of the banging and crashing over rough surfaces was gone and in its place is a supple ride that is still quite sporty, limiting body roll to a few degrees when yanking the wheel back and forth (let's call this 'drive with spouse' setting). Steering feels lighter at center, the car feels calmer and more confident, and it still has very good turn-in and dynamic movement control. I next dialed back in more compression/rebound stiffness: +2 clicks is more sporty without harshness (will be my default setting for daily use), +3 clicks starts to get into the harsh mode but still acceptable for general performance use (my boy-racer mode), +4-5 clicks starts to enter into the prior Bilstein zone - very stiif and not very street triendly (track use ...). Now I realize how stiff my Bilstein p/n V36-0059 rally race front struts really were - they are perfect on the track with 440lbs/in springs but are too much for me on the street) - August 26, 2019


Index of Project web pages

Project overview, goals & initial design specs
Items for Sale
Project car initial condition
Chassis development
Bodywork & paint
Suspension, wheels, tires & braking system
Engine & transmission

Electrical & fuel system
Performance validation
Final street trim conversion
VW Vortex thread on this project
My original 1983 Rabbit GTI (owned 1983-1987)



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