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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Has that build thread title already been used?

For close to ten years my brother and I have been working on a Rabbit race car. The project started as a $500 shell I thought would be some cheap fun and has spiraled out of control like so many others. We probably should have given up on this many years ago but through stupidity or stubbornness we have soldiered on. Our lives have changed over the years. We bought a business (www.germanautoltd.com). I got married and had kids. The car has moved from shop, to storage, to shop, to garage. We have kept moving forward very, very slowly.

The process had been painstakingly detailed on our local forum michiganvw.org. A few months ago the forum shut down and doesn't seem to be coming back any time soon. I'm a fan of a good old fashioned build thread. Having a reference of mistakes made and a general depository of information is extremely satisfying. The Facebook garbage our local club has migrated to just isn't cutting it. So, I will attempt to re-create our build thread here as vortex has proved to be a enduring source for information if nothing else. I hope you can enjoy it and we can gain inspiration. I have nearly a decade of updates to re-create from scratch so I'll be doing it as time permits.

Here she is when I picked her up all those years ago.

























 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I don't know a lot of the car's history. I purchased it from a guy who had run it in ITB for quite a few years but was getting out of it. Based on the amount of rust (that will come up later) I would assume it was a Midwestern road car at some point.

Here are some pics of what I gather was its Heyday.





It came with fairly up to date documentation

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks Dameon, I'd love to see your build thread re-appear somewhere as well.

So with the $500 race car project secured we set about devising a plan. The original thought was to just drop a junkyard motor in it and have some fun as is. However, that soon turned out to be an unrealistic plan. As I pulled things apart the damage from previous track "incidents" and rust became apparent.

The core support was half rusted off, but that wasn't the worst of it...





These pictures really don't do it justice. The front of the car had a million poorly patched holes and was generally tweaked. We kicked around the idea of hacking it off and building a tube front end but at the time it was more than we were willing to tackle. So, we drove across the state and bought another near death mk1 as a donor and started chopping.





Mind you, we were never intending to do metal work on this car ourselves. We had a body ship lined up that claimed they could splice this new front end on without a problem. So, I built a snazzy little tow dolly and ran it over there.



A few months passed with the car and front clip at the body shop. Eventually they call to tell us the car is ready. We head down there to find they had spliced on only the very front of the clip. This only fixed a small amount of the issues and certainly wasn't what we had discussed. In the end they sourced yet another front clip from a cabby and started splicing. The two halves were joined but the quality was not what we had hoped for.



 

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2021 Ford F-150, 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, 2003 Porsche 911 C4S, 1982 VW Rabbit
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Very cool!!! I never documented my build, but it started under a very similar circumstance.

My '82 was an ITC car, left in a field since 1998 when I purchased it from an estate sale. For $150.

I bought mine while my wife was very pregnant with our older daughter and worked through Saturday/Sunday naps for 2.5 years to finish it. Today mine is no longer a competitive ITC car but rather a track day/cars & coffee ride.

I contemplated giving up on mine numerous times - but these cars have an odd spirit that compels one to get them back on the road. Weird stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks for the interest guys. You are right, they just keep pushing us forward. We really should have given up on this shell years ago and found a cleaner starting point. Somehow it just seemed wrong to put a mk1 out to pasture.

We did experiment with moving on to a different car.

This one looked great on the outside but was just as rusty underneath. It awaits a future father daughter project.



This one was a great buy. We fixed the cage and made some improvements. We've been flogging on it every summer since. Working on a 1.8T swap now.


More updates to come.
 

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I'll add my voice to the chorus of those building a Rabbit track car. I have an 84 GTI shell I bought for $100. It had a rusty windshield frame which has been repaired. It had a light tap in the left front just like yours. I had it pulled well enough that the bumper bolts up nice and level with no gaps, but left it at that. I figured I'll just end up tapping it again. I am curious as to why you'd clip a car because of some track bumps and bruises when you'll just end up bumping and bruising it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll add my voice to the chorus of those building a Rabbit track car. I have an 84 GTI shell I bought for $100. It had a rusty windshield frame which has been repaired. It had a light tap in the left front just like yours. I had it pulled well enough that the bumper bolts up nice and level with no gaps, but left it at that. I figured I'll just end up tapping it again. I am curious as to why you'd clip a car because of some track bumps and bruises when you'll just end up bumping and bruising it.
In retrospect we probably would have been much better off going that route. However, at the time we saw all the rust and botched previous repairs as something we just couldn't tolerate going forward. This car will probably never see full on wheel-to-wheel racing. All along it was intended to be used primarily for open track days and maybe some time attack stuff. I'm praying it remains relatively unscathed when in use. Call it ignorance or perfectionism, we wanted a clean base to start with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
While the whole front clip debacle was taking place I had started on the engine. In the beginning we planned on throwing together a setup on the cheap. I sourced an ABA block, we bought a built 8v head from a friend and Joe had some old side drafts. Like so many other things on this car that plan escalated a bit and the engine wasn't as cheap as we planned. With so much time to ponder the details I tend to go a bit overboard. It should be quick and I do appreciate the fact that it's period correct for the vehicle but considering the effort involved we probably should have went with a 16v at least. In any case, these are the engine specs.

ABA OBD1 bottom end
Stock pistons and rods
ARP hardware
Fully balanced
Ported big valve head
300 degree cam
Weber 45 side drafts
Other little stuff

Here it is coming together





Port matching the manifold





The head got re-surfaced and valves lapped



Pretty much done



 

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In retrospect we probably would have been much better off going that route. However, at the time we saw all the rust and botched previous repairs as something we just couldn't tolerate going forward. This car will probably never see full on wheel-to-wheel racing. All along it was intended to be used primarily for open track days and maybe some time attack stuff. I'm praying it remains relatively unscathed when in use. Call it ignorance or perfectionism, we wanted a clean base to start with.


Rubbin's racin' as they say. You could go off, hit a tire wall, go off, and so on. ;) I wouldnt hold the expectation that the car will survive 100% after your racing career is ended, even more so if youre a noob at it like I will be!

I've always enjoyed the sounds of a carb'd 8v on the track, I wouldnt sweat for a minute over your engine choice. I am running an OBD2 ABA in mine. Its a good stout motor to use to get the ball rolling. You can always go for more power as skills allow, no need to build a car thats a handful right out of the gate!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Rubbin's racin' as they say. You could go off, hit a tire wall, go off, and so on. ;) I wouldnt hold the expectation that the car will survive 100% after your racing career is ended, even more so if youre a noob at it like I will be!

I've always enjoyed the sounds of a carb'd 8v on the track, I wouldnt sweat for a minute over your engine choice. I am running an OBD2 ABA in mine. Its a good stout motor to use to get the ball rolling. You can always go for more power as skills allow, no need to build a car thats a handful right out of the gate!
That's a good point. This will be a fine motor while we get used to the car and work out the bugs. Upgrading later would be a small project in the grand scheme.

I like how your pacing the posts. The rabbit is has had a fair amount of work done to it. Anyone know the reason MIVE went down or if there is a Motorstadt this year?
MIVE went down due to hackers. The powers that be are in the process of getting it back up and running but it's taking a while. Don't loose hope.

Motorstadt is going down from what I understand https://www.facebook.com/Motorstadt...4157.198982700139260/1041526149218240/?type=3
 

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Hi Mk1 folks! I am the other half of this project. I'll try and get you up to speed on what I have been up to on my end.

We knew that the clip job was garbage, and that there was some rust issues. But before I started chopping sections of car out I figured I should first do some repairs to the cage to sort of hold it all together.

The old cage was cut to make room for the new clip so to start I needed to re-connect it. Here are some mock-ups of what needed to be done.



What I found is that the Cabby front clip had extra support in this area which interfered with the shape of the cage. So that had to be drilled/ground out and removed.




We also figured this would be a good opportunity to tie the cage into the front strut towers both to generally add rigidity and to simply hold this hodge podge car together.

So first I raised and boxed the towers themselves. Waiting on welding the top until we know for sure what style camber plates we will be running.




Working on fitting the new tubing. The sections that were spliced in I added an inner sleeve. Then they were welded at the joint as well as rosette plug welds further back.







All welded up...



more on the fancy bias box later...







Hey almost time to racing!


Eh, not quite...
 

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So let's strip back some of this bondo and have a look at the work that the body shop did for us...



eehh


Oh gawd!


It was some sort of overlapping, pop-riveted, wood screwed, and poop weld nightmare!

Time to get this thing on it's side and truly assess the damage...



Right side beam mount and rocker area looked bad


RR tail/fender area... gross


So we were looking at floors, rockers, beam mounts, inner and outer fender sections, part of the rear apron. And that was just the stuff we knew about. We had a team meeting. Ben was about to welcome his first child into the world and would not be along for much of the ride. That was my out if I wanted to throw in the towel. I decided it would be a good "learning experience" and got to work.

So you just drill out the spot welds and pop these puppies on right?...little did I know



That brings us to Jan 2015. I'm still working on it today :D

Stay tuned and I'll show you all the fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
So, with the shell in Joe's hands and me with only lunch breaks to work on the car I decided to tackle all the bits that bolt onto it.

I started with the rear beam. I did the design and fab work. Joe did the welding.

First we added some toe supports





Then I sourced a shine rear sway bar. I heard some horror stories about beams cracking at the mounting point so we re-enforced that area along with stitch welding some other spots on the beam.



The whole thing got powder coated and I installed some aluminum mk4 calipers with discs.







 
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