Project Caddy Van USA- Introduction

Hello and welcome to what may well be simply the most ambitious project I have ever attempted. Starting with a literally bare and brand new shell, the plan is to build a fully functioning car, which just so happens to have never been sold here in the USA. And not just simply a working car either, something with a spec-sheet to be proud of, and that wouldn’t look out of place at the biggest car events this side of the Atlantic.

The object and underpinnings of my attention is the Volkswagen Caddy Van Maxi, a common sight in Europe and other foreign markets, but sadly a stranger to North America. Generally they’re a similar faire to the Ford Transit Connect – a utilitarian white van man hauler – but the aftermarket offers some decent options, and there has even been race versions build for specific classes in Europe.


Over the coming months I would like to invite you on this rollercoaster ride of lego-esque assembly, part number searching, model interchangeability hunting and good old fashioned build thread fun. I hope the journey will be at least as rewarding as the end result, if not even more so.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the basics of the vehicle, I’ll take a moment to introduce myself as well. My name is Jamie Orr, and I’m the owner of Orchid Euro, which is a small company based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. We specialise in importing rare and unusual automotive parts and vehicles to the USA, from Europe and around the world. I’ve been a long time member on the VWVortex forums, and have been a moderator here for close to a decade. Some of my previous Vortex endevors include the Greenland Polo build thread, the story of my 1999 Volkswagen Polo diesel wagon, and another thread that details some of the cars that I’ve had to honor of handling the importation process for.


I have long daydreamed of building a ‘new car’ from scratch, using a body-in-white chassis, and have spent several years researching not only the logistics of sourcing and handling one, but also the importation and registration processes involved. I’ll go over those items in more detail in the next update though.


On a normal build diary, I’d probably be talking here about tuning plans and tire choices and paint finishes and what brand seats the car will have, but right now I’m genuinely more concerned about just how many bolts and fasteners actually go into building a car. Just what seems reasonable for how many bolts get installed on each vehicle on Volkswagen’s perfectly developed production line? 12 axle bolts. 16 subframe bolts. 20 wheel bolts. That’s 48 bolts roughly accounted for. I’m going to guess there’s another 1 or 2 or five thousand that I’m forgetting though, and then there’s the diameter and thread pitch of each and every one of them to worry about too.


I’d love to give you details right now on engines, wheels, suspension and all the other choices that are to come, but I’m not exaggerating here when I say this.. this is a blank page. This is literally a brand new chassis, and a brand new vehicle. There is nothing set in stone, only big dreams and loose plans, mixed with some fun and friends, and some deadlines thrown in for good measure.