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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I just scored this beater for free which, according to the guy that gave it away, is a 1983 Rabbit GTI. The stamped VIN on the edge of the rain tray starts with 1VWZZZ which differs from that on the sticker in the driver's door jamb 1VWDC0. I'm not sure what's up with that - is this normal for these old MK1 cars? Otherwise the VIN checks out as an '83 GTI.

The back story is that this was used as a trainer race car and that the previous owner (now deceased) had been scavenging parts off it. Amongst the many issues the steering is dicked up due to the ignition lock housing being broken off. It has a rear disk brakes conversion but the parking brake cables aren't connected. There is no rear suspension in that the shocks/springs are completely gone and replaced with a bit of square steel tube making it a sort of Hard Tail. I've done some basic research and the engine appears to comprised of an Audi 3A block and 8V head. The timing belt is off which isn't the best thing to find however I haven't cracked it open yet to see what's going on.

The interior is completely gutted so a resto is pretty much out of the question but I'd like to restore the dash and front seats at least. My immediate goal is to sort out the suspension, brakes and steering column so the vehicle can be moved about easily and parked without having to block the rear wheels. As for the drivetrain I'm leaning towards a 1.8T swap if I can pull it off here in California. Here's some pictures to give y'all an idea what I starting with (it's pretty rough):





































 

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I see CA plates. Mad River, like NorCal?

Nice project, in for more.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Unless I can find another parts car/engine with a everything needed to complete this engine I will most likely be going with a 1.8T swap. That being said I would prefer to sell this engine complete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So a small update. As noted at the start the first order of business is to "stabilize" the vehicle. The previous owner had removed the rear shocks/springs and welded in these things:







I picked up a set of rear shocks with springs for $20 and after a little die grinding/dremilling this is where she's at:





I also picked up a set of Scirocco parking brake cables and disc brake backing plates but found the rear passenger side caliper to be frozen (seems typical from my reading). The parking brake lever pawl was rotated out of position so that was fixed as well. I remember having to do that from my aircooled days... seems VW used that design for a long time.
 

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The ZZZ is just the stamped chassis vin, as long as the other digits match you are ok. The 1VWDC is the one that should be on the title.
 
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I honestly have no idea why he did that. I sat there scratching my head for a bit trying to figure it out before I ripped that crap out.
He was either transporting some heavy contraband in the back or some fat chicks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another small but significant update. I kind of jumped the gun and have been on a parts buying binge for all the missing bits. The orignal intent was to just do enough to ascertain the condition of the engine prior to deciding on stock vs swapped. So first up was to time the engine. Only having experience with interference engines I was a bit concerned about the missing timing belt and crank gear. The back story was the previous owner had been scavenging parts for his other Rabbit so I was hoping for the best. After a bit of research I was relieved to find that this engine is non interference and would be fine even if turned over sans belt. About a month ago, with all the parts in hand, I put the engine back in time.

Next up was to get the engine stabilized. As received it was only mounted on the left and right with the front and rear needing to be put back in place. The car had one of those urethane mounts on the rear that had deteriorated and from which the stud for mounting the bracket had pulled out. I was able to get an original style mount from the local Napa in a couple of days so now the engine is properly bolted in to the car albeit with a mix of rubber and urethane mounts.

Next up was a compression test which would decide the fate of this engine and the direction of the project as a whole. Skip forward to today when I had time to get a battery in it and check the compression. From left to right as you look at the engine I got 185, 185, 175, 165 (each cylinder checked several times) so it looks like she's a keeper! Now I don't feel so bad about dumping a crapload of money into all the new parts...:LOL:
 

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There’s a lot of debate of interference or not, on the JH. I realize you have a 3A, and I’d think it’d be more interference, since the compression was higher. I bent valves on a 3A/JH combo, and my piston crowns were modded to be 9.5:1.

I’m thinking the PO just borrowed the parts and did nothing else. Turning the crank by hand won’t do any damage, unless you really tried to do damage. If piston met valve, the engine would lock up and most people would realize something was wrong, and stop.

Ummmm…. we like pics….

-Todd
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Before setting it in time I I turned the crank by hand very slowly testing for any resistance. I had the plugs out and there was no apparent contact. I would do a leak down test but I don’t have the tools.

As for pics I’ll be posting more soon as I’m going to have to sort everything out and will have a lot of questions.
 

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I'd say to bring it back to life with original JH engine. Here in cali it is a pita to get it barred for smog if it isn't all original. Not saying it can't be done cause some on the forum have done it. The title itself is worth money and if you have watched how much the MK1 GTI has exploded in value then its worth getting it road worthy. I guess it all depends on what you want to do with the car. PM if you need parts, I've got stuff laying around.

Best of Luck!
Patrick
 
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