AUTObiography: 89VWdieselGolf’s 1990 VW Golf

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Next up is VWvortex reader: 89VWdieselGolf

How long have you owned this car?

About two and a half years.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

Not really. I’m the 13th owner and it’s mostly been a company car most of its life.

Why did you choose this car to purchase?

My first car was a MKII Golf, and after about 3 GMs I couldn’t handle not having a VW any longer. I wanted a clean platform to build an autocross/track/daily driver.

What other cars did you consider?

None. I love MKII Golfs.

What was your objective with this car?

To build an autocrosser that I could drive every day and build for very, very cheap.

What tuning style best describes this car (ex. Euro, bling, OEMplus, street racer, auto crosser)?

Autocrosser, not interior… definitely track car.

Who helped you build this car?

My friends helped with fabrication, and staying up until 2 am working on the turbo setup or ABA swap.

What makes your car special?

It looks like a moderately done-up car from the outside, single rounds and lowered. But when you look inside and see no headliner or trim and open the hood and see an ABA with a turbo and close ratio 2Y tranny, you know it’s quick.

What is your favorite part/feature/function?

No one looks at it and thinks it runs 14.7s. When you punch it and it pulls you back in your seat at 11 psi, you’re instantly smiling.

Who or what inspired the direction of modifications on this car?

I’ve autocrossed with my n/a 1.8L and beat every other VW and even a 944. I knew with more power I could have a chance at FTD… so I added the ABA (and beat 944 Turbos) and added a turbo.

What don’t you like about this car?

It’s not much of a comfortable daily any more. Side pipe and no insulation makes a very loud drive to and from work.

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car?

Same thing as everyone else… time and money… mostly money.

How did you overcome the issue?

Built everything myself. Made my own exhaust manifold to fit a Ford T-Bird turbo. And found as many deals as I could through work and friends.

What would you change if you could?

The paint… dents and rust don’t look too attractive.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome of this project?

8 or 9… it’s fast, but better suspension would be nice, and maybe getting rid of the huge dent in the door.

What would you do to the car if money were no object?

Syncro and VR6 turbo… no question.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project?

Myself. I wanted to build it as cheap as possible without looking like a total hack job.

What do your family and friends say about this car?

Family — hates it.

Friends — love it.

What is your most memorable/humorous/embarrassing moment with this car?

Memorable — when a 944 driver came up to me after a run, asking me what I ran, expecting he smoked me. And I beat him by 3 seconds.

Humorous — everyone who is shocked when they see how fast it is.

Embarrassing — it’s a MKII… when it doesn’t start.

Has this car competed in any events? Results?

First in the second highest class at a couple autocrosses.

What is your favorite place to drive this car?

Shannonville race track.

What is your ideal day with this car?

An autocross or track day where I don’t kick the crap out of my front tires.

Who gets to drive this car?

Myself, and my friend who helped me the most drove it… once.

If your car had a motto, what would it be?

“Fix me today and I’ll break something else for you tomorrow.”

If you had to name your car, what would you name it?

I don’t think I can post what I call my car… but if I had to, it would be $&^!@%*.

What was your previous project?

‘89 n/a diesel Golf.

What is your next project?

Hopefully an Audi A4.

What one word best describes your car?


Owner information:

Name: Jeff Watson

VWvortex username: 89VWdieselGolf

Occupation: Parts counter person

Club affiliations: none

Vehicle information:

Year: 1990

Make: Volkswagen

Model: Golf

Mileage: 330,000 kms

Original color: Tornado Red

Current color: Tornado Red

Engine: 2.0L ABA turbo

Engine modifications: ABA swap, IHI turbo off a Thunderbird, chip, SAAB intercooler, solid motor mount

Exhaust modifications: Custom built 2.5” side pipe, with cherry bomb turbo muffler (my attempt to quiet it down)

Transmission modifications: 16V close ratio transmission (2Y)

Suspension modifications: Just chopped springs… yes, they do work

Brake modifications: 22mm MKIII master cylinder, EBC Green Stuff pads, vented rotor upgrade

Wheels and tires: OEM Helios blue snowflakes and Falken 912s; for racing I have 13x8” Goodyear Eagle slicks off a Formula car

Exterior/body modifications: Badgeless grille, single rounds, smoked lights, MKIII style handles

Interior modifications: Gutted interior from the B pillar back, ’87 16V seats, no headliner, GT Grant steering wheel

Audio/video/I.C.E.: Sony deck, 3.5” speakers in front and 4x6” speakers in the rear… this isn’t a sound competition car. The rear speakers only work at half volume anyways.

Thanks/props: Everyone who has given me parts when I needed them in desperate situations (Andyztoy, zeroman), my friends for putting in long hours fabricating and installing even though it’s freezing cold out (Curtis, Kris, Marc), my girlfriend for putting up with all this crap (thanks Alex).

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