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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
Goal
I want to end up with a street car that reminds me of my old 84 GTI, but with a pickup bed

Back story:
Finally brought home a Caddy. Had an 84 GTI white/blue sunroof no A/C from 2010 to 2015, when I lost it in a garage fire that my Alfa Milano started. Prices on those went up quite a bit since then, and a friend sent me an ad for this 81 Caddy on Facebook Marketplace, which I don't use since I'm not on Facebook. 30min after the ad went up we had a deal. Seller thought he underpriced the car based on how much interest he had.

The car:
  • 1981 Rabbit pickup
  • 1.7L gas, 4-speed
  • I think it's the base model?
  • Aftermarket vinyl tonneau bed cover
The condition as purchased:
  • 66k miles
  • Sitting in a barn since 1989 - 31 years!
  • Rear drums in-op, so no parking brake
  • Ooold tires
  • Leaking exhaust
  • Leaking radiator
  • Loose engine / trans mounts
  • Cracked windshield
  • Crusty suspension
Rust?
  • Relatively clean!
  • One bubble on each side of the windshield seal
  • No rust at base of windshield
  • One spot on driver door where it was hit on something
  • Pinch welds are mostly clean
  • Jack points clean
  • Floor pans are very sold, small surface rust at driver rear corner
  • Clean strut towers
  • Edges of hood support stamping starting to flake
  • Very clean bed, one spot of surface rust
  • Clean rear window seal
  • Spare tire carrier is crusty
  • Shocks, rear springs not looking good
Plans
  • Address rust
  • New windshield
  • Clean up underbody surface rust and undercoat
  • 4k trans from 84 GTI
  • JH swap or JH/3A swap with mild cam
  • New rear leaf springs, new coils up front
  • All new suspension components
  • New exhaust
  • Headlinder repair

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by
leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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Do as you wish, but a 4k transmission is terrible on the freeway.

I look forward to see what you do to get this back on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Do as you wish, but a 4k transmission is terrible on the freeway.

I look forward to see what you do to get this back on the road.
4k is the stock trans on an 84 GTI though, right? It never really bothered me on my GTI but it was definitely into the revs! Shouldn't be an issue for how I plan to drive the car. Now, I did see a 4k with a taller 5th gear for sale and have contacted the seller. Didn't personally mind the 5th, but it's worth trying.
 

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We're all different with different likes too. So do as you wish. You'll be happier than listening to me.

Yes, a 4k transmission was in the GTI and it does have it's advantages but one of them is a quite cruise down the freeway. Too many RPM's for me. Right now my pickup cruises around 2,400rpm. The wide ratio works fine for me.

Many people have converted the 4k transmission 5th gear to something more palatable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Some updates as I crack into it and wait on some tools to arrive. Boring, but this helps me get ideas down!

Parts:

Found some parts from the nice folks in the MK1 community:
  • JH from running GTI
  • 020 4Y from same running GTI
  • Sachs clutch kit for 16V 210mm
  • Front sway bar
  • Bracing between front A-arm brackets

Near term items I need to source:
  • Shifter linkage parts to convert from 4-speed to 5-speed
  • Driver trans mount bracket for the new trans (2 bolts through side instead of 4 on top)
  • GTI snowflakes and some tires
  • Flywheel to accept 210mm clutch kit
  • Exhaust system


And a few of the less important bits I'll be ordering / sourcing
  • Peloquin 80% kit
  • Street sport camshaft with a nice idle, thinking G-grind to start

Progress

Engine bay:
  • Pulled everything but the axles (had to order triple square sockets) and the speedo cable. Speedo cable is sticking a bit

Engine:
  • Going to install JH in as-is and get a feel for it
  • I have dual outlet manifold on my 1.7, and I'd like to run a front sway bar, so I think I'm going to order a TT dual outlet downpipe. If the later style dual outlet manifolds are a significant improvement on durability, I might pick one from a junkyard instead
  • Will probably save cam and porting for a little bit later to get a good baseline


Trans:
  • Read up on the issues with 80% kit on the 90mm flange 020, but I'll be ordering one to take a look myself. I imagine that there is a way to keep the bolt retained.
  • Will be installing this 4Y as-is. I have a 4K with diesel 5th (.79 or something) coming to me later this summer but I don't want the car to wait while I build a trans so I'll do one on the bench while the car is driving, I think
  • Need to figure out what to order to have a rebuilt 5-speed shift linkage system - read up a little on this


Rear brakes:
  • Took apart the rear drums, which were seized up
  • Drums seem like they will clean up - I like fresh brakes, but I think I might just clean these up and refinish them since they are VW OEM. Mk3 200mm from VW if available seem like good backup plan
  • Backing plates are pretty rusty but again I'm thinking I might blast them and refinish since they aren't trashed
  • Wheel cylinders same story - these are cheap to replace but if I can rebuild them I avoid throwing parts in the trash
  • Seller cut the brake lines coming out of the master (so that he could make a bypass loop for the rear circuit), so I'll be bending and flaring some new lines for those

Pulled in next to the Verde:


Rear brakes off


Bay progress:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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You are overlooking a huge issue here: the fuel tanks on these rust internally on a massive scale. I see no mention of any attention to even checking this.

I had a diesel version of this in storage for 7 years (with frequent start-and-run sessions), with a tank 3/4 full of diesel.....and it rusted beyond potential usage!

I had an identical-year, identical-engine/transmission (which I bought brand new) pickup which massively rusted the fuel tank when it was three years old.....and I was driving it all the time.

And, NO, I have never had fuel issues on anything else in my life (including lawn mowers!). The metal VW used in these tanks was lacking some component of metallurgy.

You really should pull it and clean it and go with Red-coat or something. It is not going to be a minor undertaking.

Edit: And, I was NEVER able to get my identically equipped (no air) pickup to go any farther than 24 miles to the gallon no matter now I drove or didn't drive it. The 4-speed on these were terrible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You are overlooking a huge issue here: the fuel tanks on these rust internally on a massive scale. I see no mention of any attention to even checking this.
If you notice the lack of fuel filter in the engine bay photo, you could infer that I have seen the unfiltered fuel condition. It's rusty. You might have overlooked that, or perhaps didn't make the connection.
 

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I had a diesel version of this in storage for 7 years (with frequent start-and-run sessions), with a tank 3/4 full of diesel.....and it rusted beyond potential usage!
Diesel has a real issue with collecting water. I'm not disputing that there is not a rust issue, but diesel steel tanks usually rust no matter what manufacturer. Maybe VW uses a thinner gauge but then again, the suppliers for VW in Penn were not really the best either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Got my triple square sockets in and was able to remove the axles and then pull the engine. Dropped through the bottom onto some dollies. Wanted to try it, but I'd probably just use an engine hoist next time.

Ordered some parts from TT and looking forward to installing those.

I've got a pile of parts to sandblast this weekend in preparation for plating and paint. Trying very hard not to turn this into a nut and bolt deal like I usually do - would be happy to just do the brakes and suspension and drop in the 1.8 / 5-speed to drive around this summer, then pull it out this winter to clean up the engine bay and really clean up the underside of the truck.

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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Awesome project, and it’s great to see another MK1 in SE Michigan. There are a small handful of us left. There are two other Caddy’s that I’ve seen at MIVE events. Very cool truck!

I don’t have a ton of MK1 spares, but I have a bunch of ABA leftovers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Awesome project, and it’s great to see another MK1 in SE Michigan. There are a small handful of us left. There are two other Caddy’s that I’ve seen at MIVE events. Very cool truck!

I don’t have a ton of MK1 spares, but I have a bunch of ABA leftovers.
Thanks, and having grown up in PA it's odd to me how rare MK1s are in Michigan - good to hear from a local owner! I work in Ferndale - will have to see your car eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Some quick updates:

Pulled the fuel tank - fuel comes out clear, but I can hear the flecks of rust sloshing around in the bottom. I'm going to take my chances on a recoating service I think. I think an inline filter on the suction side might be enough given how clean my fuel seems to be coming out but we'll see.

Rear brake lines are a bit too crusty to reuse, so I'm going to probably order some of the OEM style line and bend / flare my own. Nothing too complex. I think I'll be replacing all of the lines at this point. Oh well.

Pulled the master and booster. I see that there is a rebuild service on Rock Auto w/ one of the vendors to get a booster rebuilt. Mine doesn't have any issues, as far as I can tell, so I'm tempted to just paint it and reuse it.

Rear axle is off as well, and I didn't manage to save one of the brake lines there as well. Simple one to make up. I'd like to get a quote on blasting / coating the axle but I suspect it's going to exceed what I have in mind, so it might end up a wire wheel / Krylon affair.

Boxes for plating and powder coating are filling up, but not quite time to take them in.

Area under the fuel tank and spare tire look really good. I am going to just wire wheel the crusty stuff, POR-15, and respray with undercoating once I clean all of the surfaces. Relieved to have a relatively light load ahead of me there.

Got some snowflakes with tires from a fellow Vortexer - looking forward to having a little bit of the GTI look. Kind of considering adding a GTI front spoiler too.

Techtonics is making me a dual downpipes for my dual outlet manifold, but I am 0/6 on removing the broken studs, so I might be off to Ebay for one in better shape. Also have a G-grind coming in from them. Scientific Rabbit "stage 1" manifold is on the shelf as well. Got OEM rear leafs from PartsPlace locally (they are 10min from work) to replace the scaly ones that I don't like looking at. Lots of maintenance / replacement parts on the shelf now.

And now for some photos!

Car doesn't have any real rot, but these shocks had seen better days. Replacing with some KYBs from BFI:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Spare tire carrier might not clean up as well as I am hoping. Tempted to make my own from some stock. I do like having a spare.
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

View of the underside with the tank and beam removed:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

And another view:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

And the snowflakes (a common site for most of you, but I am really happy to have a set after being without my MK1 GTI for 5 years now:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And a quick engine update - I've got a few things going on.

First, I think the short term plan is to reseal the JH that I have, put a new water pump, timing belt, and tensioner on it, and run it with the FK trans that I have.

In the background, I'll be converting money into a disappointing amount of power in the form of a JH/3A build. The 3A I found ended up being jam packed with a rat's nest and not stored properly, so after the seller cut me a deal, I am still $150 into a 3A that is really in sad shape. Bores have rust, crank has light surface rust on main/rod journals, and the deck and oil pump surfaces have some decent rust.

Option 1 is to bore the 3A to 83.5, run new pistons, and grind the crankshaft to run with larger bearings. As I understand, the only 3A-specific components that I have are the pistons and the intermediate shaft? Pistons are nearly perfect with the exception of light scuffing on two of the skirts, but they are going to measure fine and be ok.

Option 2 is to find some parts from a 9A, which I think will prove to fairly reasonable. Front there, I can swap in the 3A pistons and IM shaft and be on my way, if I'm not mistaken. Need to check before I buy anything, but I think that the crank / blocks are the same between 3A/9A.

Option 3 would be to clean up the current block / crank without grinding or boring over, but I just can't see how that would be a possibility given all of the rust

3A block etc:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

3A apart:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr

Rusty 3A bore:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr


One of the rod journals:
Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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I would not use that crank. From my understanding, the ABA crank would work.

I would ask a machine shop what they thought about boring the block. That is a significant amount of rust in the bottom on that block. I would assume that block was sitting in water at some point. How are the oil ports? I suspect those are full of rust too. Lots to think about before I would use that block.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I would not use that crank. From my understanding, the ABA crank would work.

I would ask a machine shop what they thought about boring the block. That is a significant amount of rust in the bottom on that block. I would assume that block was sitting in water at some point. How are the oil ports? I suspect those are full of rust too. Lots to think about before I would use that block.
Yeah, I believe ABA crank just has a timing wheel in addition?

I believe the 3A/9A are the same outside of pistons, IM shaft, oil pump, and a lip on the secondary oil return. Thinking I will want to get whatever I buy over to the machine shop before I rebuild in any case, so I might as well see if the shop can clean this lump up. Hate seeing things go to waste, especially the 'rare' but not particularly special 3A. Could probably get away with a grind to the next bearing size on the crank, but not holding my breath. And I couldn't tell you how deep that rust in the bores goes, but with a 1mm overbore it might be a nonissue. Cleaning out the oil passages will be there real problem on both the crank and the block. Not so sure that will be worth the effort.

I wouldn't have bought this engine if I had known it was in this shape (trusted a well-liked VWVortexer to not send me junk) and when I showed him the photos he kindly refunded me. We were both under the assumption that it would be a lot less rusted on the inside. It arrived with a mouse nest:

Untitled by leetlebeeg, on Flickr
 

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A refund is nice, but that whole ordeal was a waste of time/money for everyone involved. We all would do things differently, but a quick removal of the oil pan would find Mickey or Minnie was once living there.

I think you are on the right track.

There is nothing wrong with a turned crank. I just would never use one unless that was the only option.
 

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Geez.... what part of the block was open, allowing the nest?

If the crank is trash, I think the early TDI crank was used to build the 2.1 strokers... if I’m not mistaken, the oil gallies in the block can be cleaned out. It’ll need to be drilled, tapped, then plugged.

-Todd
 
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