AUTObiography: snafuracer95’s 1984 VW Rabbit GTI

Want your car featured in a VWvortex AUTObiography? Tell us what it means to be a Volkswagen enthusiast, and show us how you and your car demonstrate those ideals! Send the completed form with pictures to

Next up is VWvortex reader: snafuracer95

How long have you owned this car?

It’s been in the family since day one (1984), but officially in my name since 1990.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

Nothing notable, really, aside from all the changes it’s undergone since 2000.

Why did you choose this car to purchase?

Since I didn’t actually purchase it, I would have to say that it chose me!

What other cars did you consider?

None — all I wanted was to get my Dad’s GTI when he was ready to give it up.

What was your objective with this car?

My objectives have evolved over the years, but the “cumulative” objective would be to turn it into a quick, agile GTI with single round headlights, while keeping it relatively stock-looking.

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

Autocrosser/track car with hybrid Westmoreland/Euro styling.

Who helped you build this car?

I’ve had help from a lot of my friends and family over the years, but most notably Chuck, Chris, and Duy as of late.

What makes your car special?

It’s one of a kind, plus I consider it my “first” car (I don’t count the prior modes of transportation)!

What is your favorite part/feature/function?

While it is by no means the fastest Rabbit around, it’s deceptively quick and very difficult to catch around curves.

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

I’ve always preferred the round headlights over the square, so when I was run off the road and into a wall by an inattentive F-250 driver, the opportunity to convert to rounds presented itself. As for the rest of the modifications, inspiration came in the form of autocrossing, then road racing.

What don’t you like about this car?

All the various rattles that end up being created by a tight suspension and urethane motor mounts.

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car? Primarily money — the guy who ran me off the road got away with it since there were no witnesses, so it sat for three years until I could save up the money.

How did you overcome the issue?

I just couldn’t take my car sitting in the back of the garage anymore, so I blew my annual bonus on getting it back on the road.

What would you change if you could?

I’d like more top-end power, but I shouldn’t complain since it’s substantially faster than stock. A 16v would do the trick, but those engines are more expensive overall and require more modifications to put in a MKI.

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

9.5 — once I get the Audi 5000 throttle body, I’ll call it an even 10.

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

1.8T conversion and lots of time at a body shop to get it as perfect as possible.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project?

I wouldn’t say there are any critics, only bewildered observers. They don’t seem to understand why anyone would bother modifying an old Rabbit.

What do your family and friends say about this car?

My friends have all been very supportive and think it’s a great little car. My family, while still very supportive, tends to think I’m a little obsessive about it. My wife has referred to herself as a “car widow” on more than one occasion!

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

Having the corner workers at a track event/high performance driving school give a passing flag to a late model Porsche Carrera so that obnoxious black Rabbit can get by. I couldn’t get past him on the straights, but I caught right back up at the turns — needless to say, he was not very happy about having to let me by!

Has this car competed in any events? Results?

No car shows (I wouldn’t really consider it a “show car”), but I did get second place in the Street Modified class for our regional SCCA autocross for the 2003 season.

What is your favorite place to drive this car?

Pretty much any road with curves, but it really shines at autocross and track events, since that’s ultimately what it’s been set up for.

What is your ideal day with this car?

A cool, dry day at the track, with new race tires and a full tank of 104.

Who gets to drive this car?

Me, myself, and I. And the occasional sample drive by a few of my close friends. I think everyone else is afraid to drive it, for fear of messing it up!

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

Do not go slowly into that good curve.

If you had to name your car, what would you name it? FrankenBunny — so named because of all the parts from various VW models.

What was your previous project?

Various other VWs belonging to me and/or friends, including an ’86 GTI prepped for SCCA ITB class and a ’99 Jetta that needed a new motor (sold for a profit). I’ve also done some mods to my ’98 VR6 GTI and have ongoing care and feeding of a ’79 Triumph Spitfire.

What is your next project?

I think I’m going to take a break from project cars and enjoy FrankenBunny (and my various other cars) for the time being. Of course, I’m sure I will be helping my friends out with their projects.

What one word best describes your car?


Owner Information:

Name: Andy Thor-Stout

VWvortex Username: snafuracer95

Occupation: Report Analyst

Club Affiliations: NASA

Vehicle Information:

Year: 1984

Make: VW

Model: Rabbit GTI

Mileage: 140,000 miles

Original Color: Black

Current Color: Black

Engine: 2.0

Engine Modifications: 2L ABA conversion, ported/polished hydro head from MKII GTI, 270 cam, adjustable cam gear, ARP fasteners, lightened flywheel, Sachs sport clutch, 9-row oil cooler

Exhaust Modifications: 4-2-1 manifold and downpipe, 2.25” piping to a SuperTrapp

Transmission Modifications: .75 fifth gear, Quaife LSD, short shift kit

Suspension Modifications: Ground Control coilovers, Tokico Illumina 5-way adjustable struts, urethane suspension bushings, Quaife quick ratio steering rack, front upper and lower strut braces, rear upper strut brace

Brake Modifications: Front slotted rotors, PBR MetalMaster pads, rear disc conversion from MKIII GTI, stainless braided lines, ATE SuperBlue fluid

Wheels and Tires: VW snowflakes with 195/55/14 Dunlop SP8000s

Exterior/Body Modifications: Single round headlight conversion with H4 headlamps and amber city lights (wired as parking lights), Euro bumpers, duckbill spoiler

Interior Modifications: Autometer tach with shift light, oil pressure gauge (replaces clock), 5-point harness, battery relocation to trunk

Audio/Video/I.C.E.: Blaupunkt deck, Sony 3-way 8” speakers

Thanks/Props: Many thanks to all that have helped and encouraged me over the years (too many to count), to my wife, Shauna, who doesn’t gripe about my preoccupation with this car, to my Dad for relinquishing it to me, and to Chuck for introducing me to the thrill that is road racing!

For more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums at the left.