The car is a '87 Golf GL, CIS basic. The car was running prior to the head being removed for a blown head gasket (coolant was slowly leaking into cylinder 1, at about the rate of a cup a week).
The head was removed, cleaned and surfaced. I then replaced all the top end gaskets and seals, timing belt, water pump, thermostat, cap, rotor, spark plugs and changed the oil. It was due for some service...
The engine was properly timed (mechanical and ignition) but will not run. It has spark and fuel, the plugs are always carbon fouled and occasionally will backfire out the intake but it is properly timed. The cam mark, crank marks, distributor marks line up, it's all good. Everything has been double checked and installed properly, I even re-sealed the intake manifold and injector seals for fear of an intake leak... Any suggestions?
It turned out that the issue with mine was that the woodruff key on the intermediate shaft had broke causing the distributor not to spin in time while the engine would crank. After a new intermediate shaft and key the engine ran just fine. Best of luck with yours.