If there is one bit of advice that I could impart to anyone who is considering a project involving a full restoration and modification of a 20-plus year old car, it would be that such a project requires a ton of planning, preparation, and patience. Being realistic with your budget, your resources and your time constraints will save you many headaches as you begin your project. Also, being able to alter your path to suit your timeframe and budget is just as important – I have looked at my car as a constantly evolving project that has gone far longer in terms of time and money than I originally intended. However, the end result has been great so far.
As I have found in the past three years of development, such an enedeavour will end up requiring more time, more money, and more parts than you ever could have originally anticipated. Just remember to enjoy the process and to realize that the car that emerges from your garage is the sum and total of your efforts.
Another point to make is to consult every possible resource that you can in order to make your project more affordable and easier. I would have to credit one particular resource with much of the inspiration for my car as well as the ways of finding decent used parts, and that would be the fine group of people at the Scirocco.org website.
Scirocco.org is a specialized website and mailing list that revolves around the maintenance and performance aspects of all of the Mk1 and MkII cars and is an invaluable resource. There are approximately 250 users on that mailing lists and their classifieds alone are worth scanning once or twice a week for deals. Much of the Mk1 parts for the body and interior are no longer available and like others who use the site, I have spent many hours finding good used parts that will serve as templates when all the originals are transformed into dust.
When deciding upon a styling direction for my particular car I took a long time searching the web, going through literally ten years of magazines as well as going to car shows to determine how I would approach the impression that my car would make. My final goal became to make it as clean and simple as possible.
Not much exists in the aftermarket world in the ways of aerodynamic kits and add-ons for the Mk1 Scirocco unless you happen upon a Zender Z400 or a Seidl kit and those were, in my opinion, not the direction I wished to take. I finally settled upon a Zender front spoiler for its simplicity.
With the car going into the paint shop, I decided to have them remove the rear marker lights and rear wiper, as well as smooth the area around the rear hatch lock to make things a bit more finished back there.
Part of the challenge of a car like the Scirocco is finding or maintaining original door and hatch gaskets and the window seals. Only the windshield and hatch glass seals are still being manufactured and the rest need to be located in places like parts yards or online on websites like Ebay. My seals are a result of three good parts cars and some digging on EBay.
After getting the car back from the body and paint session I replaced and re-glued all of the seals between the two doors and hatch with fresh seals that hadn’t been ruined due to dry-rotting. The windshield, which was cloudy in several of the corners was replaced with a Libby Owens Ford unit, including a fresh gasket, while the rear equivalent I purchased off of a gentleman from the scirocco.org mailing list. The front triangular window glass pieces were pulled from a similar 1980 parts car and the front and rear sides came from the original shell.
While I had the doors apart I cleaned all of the lock mechanisms, window tracks and support hardware in a parts washer and took all of the pieces that were bare metal and coated them with a good spray clearcoat so that they wouldn’t rust.
The window glass and rear side glass received a good razorblade scraping and thorough cleaning before reassembly. I got lucky in this regard – the glass that I had in place was all pretty decent with very few scratches and none of the foggy spots in the glass that are normally a result of separation of glass from the plastic breakage barrier.
The holy grail of the Scirocco world are the rear side glass gaskets that hold the glass into the window frame; these have been off Volkswagen’s production schedule for nearly a decade and good used ones are nearly impossible to find. After doing some extensive searches on the web including the European Ebay, I enlisted the help of a friend in the parts and accessories department at Volkswagen corporate who offered to help, but I really didn’t think that there was much hope.
Three long months later he called me to let me know that one pair of seals showed up in a shop in Brighton, England that had been off of the dealer inventory for nearly 6 years sitting and collecting dust. These cost me a small fortune, but to have fresh gaskets in place is a small joy that I see every time I get into the car. Fortunately, Scirocco enthusiasts like Mike Potter (of www.Parts4VWs.com fame) have stepped up to the plate with the idea of producing replacements for those pieces so future restorers have a greater hope to find these pieces when they finish their cars.
One of the biggest changes that I made to the exterior of the car was to source out some European specification bumpers for the Mk1 Scirocco. These bumpers weigh about 20-pounds each and when mounted offer about a 40-pound difference between the pair of US bumpers and our new European market versions. Mine were nice originals that I sourced through a contact in Europe who had them shipped to England and then the nice people at R&A Designs shipped them to New German Performance in Aberdeen, Maryland. All told, these bumpers with shipping were about $500 to my door. That may seem high, but once received and I realized how nice they were, I was quite pleased. Only a scuffing with a clean, soapy scotchbrite pad and some rinsing was all that was needed to have them ready to prep and paint. I decided to paint them with a trimbrite semi-gloss black paint and apply the factory narrow tomato red S stripe, and then a coat of clear to make them look factory new. The visual appearance of these bumpers is very close to the stock American versions, aside from the bumper itself being about an inch closer to the body. This is fine with me, as they now appear leaner and diminish the impact of the bumpers to the bodyline. Granted, there is some protective loss to the front and rear with the changing of these bumpers, but that just makes me more careful when I drive the car in heavy traffic.
Interior Bits and Baubles
The interior of the Scirocco car was one of the last things that really came together before attending Waterfest this past year. I was fortunate that much of the trim pieces for my car were in relatively good shape for being so elderly and made of plastic and vinyl. The front carpet took a good afternoon of power washing and scrubbing and ultimately came out very clean and shiny. The center console was in mint shape, so that was kept and cleaned. Interior door panels were in excellent shape as well as the corresponding door pulls and trim pieces, so they were cleaned and prepped for re-assembly. I also took an entire weekend to rebuild the lock mechanisms, re-hang the glass channels and install replacement window regulators that made the windows go up and down smoothly. This re-assembly process is a tedious one with much time spent with hands and elbows getting scraped up by errant metal that has not seen the light of day since the door was manufactured and taken down the line.
I decided to start from the very front and found a really nice replacement Scirocco dashboard that was crack-free and didn’t have the traditional waves that happen with years of Armor-alling and Texas sun. That dashboard is stored safely away in a box in my basement in case I ever need it. The original dashboard that came in the car was initially covered with a fitted plastic cover and will soon be modified and covered with something different once I get my stereo project underway. For now it is acceptable and somewhat endearing as it flutters in the wind at highway speeds.
The instrument cluster itself remains the original two-circle unit from the original car but I found a carbon-fiber look-alike overlay from R&A Designs that made it feel a bit more modern without breaking my budget. I also chose a Sparco 320 mm steering wheel and hub adapter whose polished finish fits into the same German hot-rod theme that I was promoting. This is complimented by an R&A billet aluminum golf-ball shift knob that is quite reminiscent of the early plastic golf-ball knobs that came in early Sciroccos.
Finally, I trimmed the factory shift lever down by about two inches to give the car a better, sportier feel along with shorter throws.
The next issue to contend with was in the area of seating. I originally chose to use a pair of Volkswagen Recaros out of a 1990 Jetta GLi that seemed to fit the bill, but after a while I got tired of the seating position being so high (original Scirocco seats sit much lower than most other Volkswagen seats). I wanted the seats to be lightweight and reasonably compact due to the narrow nature of the interior of the car. I also wanted a reasonably low seating position as well as a decent range of adjustability. A big bill to fit but I imagine that I was not alone in my wish list.
I chose to use a set of seats from Corbeau called the Carrera which came with a new, lower seating bracket designed for the Mk1 chassis car. Corbeau has been a long-standing player in the seating arena and they offer a range of seats for various applications from sprint-car racing to off-road vehicles. These seats are designed for both street and track usage and seem to be very well built and very reasonably priced as well. I chose to have them delivered in black cloth with black vinyl edges and then opted to install a pair of red Schroth shoulder harnesses to help keep the driver and passenger in check during various maneuvers.
The one very difficult variable in this interior project turned out to be the headliner and rear hatch area. Early on I opted to install a Kirk Racing four point roll bar and wanted to leave out the rear seat just for simplicity’s sake. Before installing all of this I wanted to have a new headliner installed and have the carpeting taken care of so that I could then install the roll bar after having that done. The issues that I encountered were twofold – one, no one made an OEM headliner kit for the Mk1 Scirocco meaning I was going to have to have someone make one for me by hand and secondly, the side windows were going to have to be out of the car in order to fit it to the interior.
Luckily, I have a great resource available to me not too far away. Craig Gibble has been a long time friend to me and my family and stepped in to help with the project. Craig owns a place called Enterprise Upholstery in Bel Air, Maryland and is used to working with boats, Jeeps, hot rods, and vehicles of all different genres. Despite having a broken leg at the time, Craig (known as Shorty to his friends and admiring fans) came out to NGP where the rolling chassis was kept and constructed a hand-made white pleated vinyl headliner for the car that fits and looks better than OEM. He also took the time to finish the channels that run down beside the windshield and rear side window areas with black vinyl that has a nice, modern appearance. Since the tops of the interior sections of the doors had been so nicely painted, I opted to leave those exposed with the exterior color showing. Craig also created custom rear side panels out of wood and covered them in a matching fabric as well as finishing the trunk and rear hatch area in pile carpeting that moulds to the curves of the surfaces of the area and makes it look very well-integrated to the car. Finally, after all that was finished, in went the Kirk Racing five point roll bar wearing a fresh coat of silver powder-coating that matched various engine parts.
In summary, the car is still evolving in many different ways. What started as being a simple work has taken a ton of time. But like the car, the project itself has evolved along the way to suit the polished nature of the vehicle. Also, each step has taught me that patience, for the end product to emerge the way you intended, is perhaps the most important commodity of all.
Next up will be the all-critical engine and transmission article where I will outline the basic buildup and installation. The car has been up and running for a while now and since it has proven to be reliable and all of the development bugs have been worked out, we will explore the various ways of getting more horsepower out of the combination I have selected.
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