Last updated: February 28, 2024

Project Ultimate 83 GTI
Videos # 1 - 49 (Feb 2013 - May 2014)


The timeline story of the whole project in videos from 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



Index of Project web pages:

Project Overview, Goals & Specs

The Ultimate 83 GTI Summary

Project Car Initial Condition
Chassis Development
Bodywork & Paint
Suspension, Steering & Braking Systems
Engine, Oiling, Cooling, Transmission & Exhaust Systems

Electrical, A/C & Fuel Systems
Performance Validation
Final Street Trim Conversion

VW Vortex thread on this project

Videos # 001 - 049 (Feb 2013 - May 2014)
Videos # 050 - 099 (Jul 2014 - Sept 2015)
Videos # 100 - 149 (Sept 2015 - May 2017)
Videos # 150 - 181 (May 2017 - Dec 2019)

My original 1983 Rabbit GTI (owned 1983-1987)

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