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    Thread: Building the Ultimate 1983 Rabbit GTI (vw mk1)?

    1. Member 8v-of-fury's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 14th, 2008
      Almost the Arctic, Alberta, Canada
      Because MK1
      02-11-2013 11:35 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by vwmk1 View Post
      You could light the tires up just by stabbing the gas in first gear on a roll.
      Swap in a TDI, and you could do this in third gear like I do .

    2. 02-17-2013 04:39 AM #27
      I just came back from Techtonics early this morning (900 miles round trip in a single day ...) and also visited the engine shop where the ABF/9A motor is coming together (Josh Arnold/Mark's VW Service - he also works at TT). I have posted a bunch of photos and a video of all of the progress made by Josh so far on my web site ...

      I am pretty excited about all of of the stuff that I saw and talked about with Josh and his dad Mark (who is a master air and water-cooled VW guru who has been in the engine building business since the 1960s - and who has a ton of race engine experience). Check them out for your engine building needs.

    3. Member
      Join Date
      Jan 22nd, 2012
      Lakewood, CA 90715
      82 1.7 rabbit
      02-18-2013 12:08 AM #28
      Just watching this build thread is giving me motivation to start up on my (comparatively) tiny project. Keep on truckin' and I've also learned that you're in good hands with the guys from TT, as you already know.

    4. 02-23-2013 03:19 PM #29
      I have updated my web site with another video and lots of photos of the seam sealer/undercoating removal process, rust removal/inspection, etc. - I am almost done on this nasty stage - maybe 4-5 more hours to go ...

      Josh and I talked a lot more about the engine specs over the past week and we decided to step up to the 288 cam profile (from the 254 ABF style profile) and aim for 240hp at or slightly above 8000rpm and then use the progressive nitrous controller to fill back in some mid-range torque by just operating the nitrous from 3000-6500rpm, tapering off the nitrous until 'zero' at 6500rpm. Having the nitrous activate at 75% of full throttle, and only adding in 30ft-lbs of torque at 3000rpm means that a 10lbs bottle will last forever and the engine will have the best of both worlds: nice ABF cam profile mid-range torque, and really strong sport cam profile top end power!

      Tell me what you think about this trickery ... (I got the idea from an old turbo project where we used nitrous to spin up the turbo and then cut it out once the boost was up - and it worked nicely, reducing turbo lag by over 50% and adding some lost mid-range power).

    5. 03-01-2013 08:50 PM #30
      A true inspiration to the rest of us, Derek

      I'm currently rebuilding my 16V Caddy, and as I total up the budget for the project- reading a thread from someone who is FAR more financially committed-- very much eases the pain of spending an additional 5 digits on restoration.

      Kudos for choosing Techtonics. Quality people and products.

      I would add one more contact for your "Vintage Guru" list- who may be worth contacting: Lee Houseman (formerly H&H Engineering). He "retired" his business a few years back, but if you Google H&H you can still find his contact info. I bought a replacement bar from him last month, and he remains an active enthusiast. You may even end up rethinking the "Shine Racing" "no front bar" approach...

      Great webpage, keep posting updates!

    6. 03-02-2013 02:14 AM #31
      Thx for this tip.

      I am not sure about losing the front sway bar - I have a Neuspeed bar that I can try but the control arm mount x brace supposedly interferes with it so I may end up fabricating a custom bar like the one I had on my original 83 GTI that mounted in reverse - facing backwards and mounting across the front of the control arms rather than behind the back of them and using ball-joints to connect to the control arms ...

    7. 03-05-2013 01:44 AM #32
      After getting home from my business trip on Friday I logged about 15 hours on finishing the tough job of ridding the car of the remaining seam sealer. As of tonight I am done. Yes! Now I have uncovered all of the trouble spots and have already been prepping each rust area for replacement metal. I will have to change from brute force mode to brain surgeon mode, and carefully plan my attack: measure twice, and hopefully only cut/weld once (with minimal grinding as a lofty goal).

    8. 03-05-2013 01:46 AM #33
      Contact Doug at SMS Auto Fabrics [info@smsautofabrics.com] if you want to get some of this hard to source seat covering material. I also ordered the blue vinyl seat backing material from him ...

    9. 03-05-2013 01:55 AM #34
      I have a decent front grill assembly but it is a bit faded and I am thinking of painting it satin black (with some flex agent added). Is this a bad idea?

      Anyone know the correct pantone color (or factory color code) for the red accent around the edge of the grill and on the GTI badges? It isn't a bright red, but more of a deep red ...

      I have a decent black dash but there were 2 holes drilled that I would rather not look at or try and find another use for. Anyone want to sell me a clean GTI dash?

      I have a slightly molested center console unit that had a stereo mounted in it so the 3 gauge holes have been cut out to a rectangle. I can mount a 3 gauge panel over this cutout and it won't look too bad but the other thing that bugs me is that the back of the console was cut out as well - you can't really see this unless you go looking for it but I know it isn't 'correct' and if anyone has a console I would pay handsomely for it.

      Anyone have an original stereo unit?

      How about the rear side trays that the little 4x6 speakers mount to?

      Or the covers for the rear hatch access holes (to the wiper motor)?

      Finally, a gauge cluster? Again, the previous owner made a nice, but not 'correct' silver speedo/tach label and I don't want to look at it. I am thinking of making another label that mimics the original and removing his (there is a tiny chance that I can restore it to the original condition but it would be better to swap in another cluster ...

      I have a set of the snow flake wheels but they will need to be welded up to repair curb damage and the faces will need to be re-machined to crisp up the edges, and then polished/painted, etc. If someone has already gone to the effort of cleaning up a set of wheels I might just buy them as I am looking at an easy $1000 to get these ones perfect ...
      Last edited by Derek Spratt; 03-05-2013 at 01:58 AM.

    10. Junior Member digdugdagyo's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 25th, 2012
      1983 VW Rabbit GTI, 1988 VW Cabriolet
      03-05-2013 12:51 PM #35
      There's an add in the classifieds for a clean red gti dash, as well as other nice interior pieces. I'd link it but I'm on my phone in class.
      Bones heal, chicks dig scars, and The United States of America has the best doctor to daredevil ratio in the world. ~Captain Lance Murdock

    11. 03-07-2013 12:40 AM #36
      I am finished with the underbody seam sealer removal and I am now 1/3rd finished the same with the interior. I have had to use cold spray to freeze some of the glue from the carpets to chip it off. And dry cleaning fluid to remove some of the goo as well.

      I am starting to plan some metal bracing and one of the areas that looks primed for stiffening are the seat mounts but I am suspicious that VW cut all the way thru both sides to allow for some flex on purpose. The only thing I can think of is that there was some resonance that transmitted to the seats and they solved the problem by cutting the seat supports to allow for some flex. I want to weld up those gaps - anyone have an idea here?

    12. 03-15-2013 02:49 AM #37
      With the underside of the car fully stripped of seam sealer I put another week into doing the same for the interior. It is now ready for welding/primer. My last pre-welding task is to finish stripping the engine compartment wires (sorting out what will go/what will stay) as well as prepping that area as well (I have been chipping away at the engine compartment cutting out lots of ugly brackets and clips that will not be used, and planning the smoothing detailing as well).

      There is a new video update and photos posted on the web site ...

      Oh, and really good news on 2 fronts: AT Power shipped my DTH IBs today and TT custom built me a set of stainless steel 1.75" primary race headers for their 2.25" stainless steel exhaust system! How awesome are those guys. Josh, you really are the man.

      And it looks like we will go the route of a custom set of rods as we want to get the max streetable compression out of the motor while still fully unshrouding the valves and matching the shape of the combustion chamber to the cylinder walls (83.5mm). At least we will get the CR bang on 11.5:1 and stick with light-weight forged rods ... we think we can get away with this level of compression because I can still get 94 octane gas in Vancouver, Canada (yes, I will likely have to use some quality octane boost while driving in the US). FYI - With the 288 sport cams we bleed off a bit of compression at lower rpms.

    13. 04-06-2013 02:37 AM #38
      With a 10 day spring break family trip interruption out of the way now I have managed to finish cleaning up the engine bay area, cutting off all of the remaining rusted or otherwise useless metal tabs and brackets that will no longer be required, and have started the process of 'smoothing' the bay area. With all of the seam sealer purged from the car end-to-end (finally!) the project is now shifting to metalwork.

      The biggest issue facing me over all is cutting off the upper inner front fenders where they were rusted out and replacing them. I have elected to cut as little vertical material as possible and will approach this process by re-mounting the doors, hood and grill and then cutting the new inner fender metalwork to size, bolting it to the new fenders, fitting/mounting the fenders when all of the gaps and dimensions are correct, and then spot welding in the inner fenders, then removing everything again, and completing the welding of the inner fenders. This involves the most welding and the most critical welding/positioning/accuracy of all of the welding tasks in front of me but I feel compelled to tackle it now as I am tired of staring day after day at the ****ty rusted fenders. Cutting the rusted metal off last week was very satisfying indeed. I'll get a youtube video posted on this process later this weekend.

      I also received the AT Power curved ITBs and the SMS custom made 'midnight blue' seat fabric. Both are beautiful to hold and stare at hour after hour. See my web site for the photos ...

    14. Member
      Join Date
      Dec 27th, 2005
      Burr Ridge, IL
      81 S, 84 GTI, 86 16V, 92 Cabby
      04-06-2013 10:15 AM #39
      Tell us more about how you got the new seat cloth!

      That's been a real stumbling block for many of us. We'd have to basically rely on SMS to randomly "find some", or we pay through the nose (understandably) to get it from hoarders.

    15. 04-06-2013 03:01 PM #40
      Doug at SMS was responsive to me on email and by phone over the period of time when the cloth was being manufactured. SMS had previously got the pattern programmed so it was just an issue of getting a color sample from me to verify the colors and then he got a production run done. There are other VW Vortex folks who read my post and contacted SMS recently and they are getting in line for more production output. I told SMS that there would be considerable interest in this fabric and also sent an email to the mgmt of VW Vortex suggesting that they put out an announcement about the availability of this material from SMS.

      You may need to be patient with SMS as they are a small firm without a big IT online ordering/tracking system to back them up.

    16. 04-06-2013 03:09 PM #41
      Josh came thru yet again with the news that Techtonics has agreed to a one-off fabrication and has completed a SS 1.75" header for my project. It is currently finished only to the collector as we are sorting out how to fit in a small 12" long SS resonator muffler where the cat converter would normally go (we will have the ability to swap in/out the converter and the small muffler). There won't be room for a flex connector which is a bummer because that flex connection keeps the stress on the header down and helps it live longer, plus it keeps the rear 1/2 of the exhaust system from acting like a tuning fork and vibrating at specific rpm ranges. We'll compensate by creating a header brace back to the engine from the collector area to keep the vibrations/motion down. I am still concerned about all of this and will keep pushing to see where/how we can fit in a flex connection somewhere that kills the resonance potential.

      We want the small muffler up front to keep the exhaust sound levels down. I am perhaps unusual in my distaste for loud exhausts on cars. I had a street legal 1300hp Chevelle with 4 mufflers on it and I must say it was a very popular car at the drag strip because it had such a nice mellow exhaust sound. Quiet power is a beautiful thing - it makes the car more enjoyable and less tiring to drive around on the street and it makes the sound of full throttle power more interesting - still aggressive but not too tinny and harsh ...

    17. 04-07-2013 02:18 AM #42
      I built a rolling chassis stand today, and test mounted the inner/outter fenders prior to welding the inners into place. I have posted photos and a video update on my web site/youtube covering this work.

      It was a wonderful day today. I was driving out to Home Depot to get the materials for the chassis stand and spotted a clean, all original white 84 GTI in my rear view mirror. I flagged down the owner and it turned out to be the father of my middle son's friend who had purchased it yesterday. A high miles car but remarkably it was relatively unmolested and with very little rust. It ran well too. Far from perfect but it will make a nice project for the new owner who always wanted one and will fix it up. He got it for a steal, price wise too, as the little old lady that sold it to him had no idea of its value. Maybe we'll see it for sale in a year or two after it is fixed up a bit.

    18. 04-08-2013 03:20 AM #43

      I got the hood re-mounted, doors, etc and then tried to test-mount the new after-market fenders. What pieces of crap!!!

      I could not get the gaps consistent and then realized that I could also not open the doors without hitting the fenders, then did some careful inspection/measurements and found that they were both longer than the OEM fenders, mis-shaped, and were of very poor reproduction quality overall. They weren't even the same length left/right. Go figure.

      Anyway, this got me to re-inspect and re-consider using the original fenders. Some rust and some holes cut by the prior owner for side signals but they were solid enough to re-use so I have been busting my butt to strip them down today and start the process of bringing them back to life ...

    19. Member
      Join Date
      Dec 27th, 2005
      Burr Ridge, IL
      81 S, 84 GTI, 86 16V, 92 Cabby
      04-08-2013 10:01 AM #44
      I've heard there are some fenders out of Italy that fit so poorly most folks discard them. Sounds like you got some .

    20. 04-08-2013 03:41 PM #45
      I don't know the source of the fenders as the prior owner gave them to me with the car. They say they are made in Taiwan. I will cut them up and use some of the metal for the patches I will need on the OEM fenders.

    21. 04-14-2013 02:55 AM #46
      I managed to clean up the original fenders, acid etch them to remove the rust, use a nibbler to create metal hole plugs from aluminum dipped 20 gauge sheet metal, weld up all of the holes, cut out rust on the one rutted fender, butt weld in a patch panel, and then get the body filler over both inside and outside surfaces and sand straight and true. Looks super after a full week of effort. Now I have perfectly fitting fenders to work with and so I can get back to the task of welding in the inner/upper fender lips to replace the rotted lips ...

      Photos and new video covering all of this are being posted tonight on my web site/youtube.

    22. Member standard125r's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 15th, 2004
      Western Ohio
      87 Jetta Coupe
      04-14-2013 08:31 AM #47
      I must say that I love the general idea of going back to the spirit of the original GTI. While the 16v will change the car dramatically from what you remembered, the cars that you have had really dictate this as necessary. I agree with "The Good Doctor" (echassen) though, his GTI is probably the truest representation of the car you described in your intro. I am glad to see someone doing one of these old school style build though.

    23. 05-05-2013 02:01 AM #48
      It has been a couple of very busy weeks working on the project. I think I have successfully tackled the most challenging welding tasks of the entire project with the completion of the upper/inner fender replacements and all of the associated rot replacement in and around the front end of the car. This weekend I managed to complete all of those tasks and then start in on welding up the strut tower seams and making solid progress on the engine bay area smoothing. The web site has a number of new photos (in the chassis area) and a multi-segment video (#8) covers all of the major steps ...

    24. Junior Member iwantwheels's Avatar
      Join Date
      Aug 19th, 2011
      San Jose, CA USA
      MK1 Rabbit, MK5 Jetta
      05-11-2013 02:28 PM #49
      Thank you for taking the time to document this so well. I'm going to start stitch welding my shell here soon, any advice?

    25. 05-11-2013 04:02 PM #50
      Amazing job

      Let us know your project progress


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