170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

It’s not the first time this heavenly Caddy has been rebuilt. Disciple ofperfection, Charlie Pearce gave it some divine intervention…

Words: Graham Leigh

Photos: Chuff Media


Since leaving school, 40-year-old Charlie Pearce has worked at his family business, a garage in Bath. This has given him a huge breadth of experience in the motor trade and his daily grind is never the same, carrying out anything from an MOT test to a full engine rebuild. Before he could drive, Charlie was already getting his hands dirty. His automotive journey started when he was just 15 with a Mk1 Astra GTE. Characteristically, rust took its toll on the poor little Vauxhall and it was replaced with a Nova SR which was the first car Charlie drove on the road. A brief foray into Fords was enjoyed in the shape of an Escort GTI before returning to the griffin with an Astra Coupe Turbo.

170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

Charlie explains how he eventually saw the light: “I started to go down the VAG route next with a Seat Leon Cupra, closely followed by an immaculate VW Golf Edition 30 which I really regret selling. With a young family and two dogs, it just wasn’t big enough. My current daily car is a BMW 3 Series Touring which does the job!” Although it took Charlie a while to convert to the church of Volkswagen in ownership terms, he explained that he had an early love affair with the brand: “From a very young age, I can remember going on holiday to Lyme Regis with my Gran and there was always an immaculate sky blue split screen VW Beetle there. I loved it and this is when I became super interested in VWs. I liked Beetles, campers and MK1, 2 and 3 Golfs and the scene in general.”

170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

Charlie recalls attending a track day at Castle Combe back in 2012. A couple of early golfs at the circuit had caught his eye and he took to the classifi eds to explore the possibilities. Whilst the Mk1 Golf was high up the wish list, he was sidetracked by the strangely appealing hard working commercial brother that is the Mk1 Caddy and then made the decision to go with the truck. “I love the look and shape of the MK1 & 2 Golfs but whilst searching for one, I kept getting drawn to the look of the Caddy, they are just that little bit different but still with the iconic MK1 Golf look.”

170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

The Caddy you see before you was discovered in an eBay advert in nearby Taunton. A typical old farm truck, it had been left languishing in the elements and muck. The bed had rotted through, as had the rear sills but with solid and un-dented rear arch tubs, and an otherwise sound body, the one owner, 92,000 miles 1.6D example was loaded onto the trailer after the princely sum of £550 had been handed over.

170bhp 2.0 16V ABF-engined 1992 Volkswagen Caddy Pickup Mk1 Typ 14D

Upon buying the Caddy in 2012, Charlie and his stepfather wasted no time and they soon had a new rear bed and inner sills welded into place. The car was then sent off to be painted (with the exception of the engine bay) in the retrotastic shade of VW Lofoten Green. BBS reps and coilovers completed the makeover and Charlie hit the shows for the next few years and enjoyed it. Working at a garage with a strong local reputation is a good thing in many ways and Charlie was able to call upon his and his stepfather’s skillset, knowledge and facilities. The trouble with having high standards is that you’re often your own worst critic and the odd niggle that the project could be improved upon got increasingly louder until he took it off the road in 2018. Here, the truck was stripped and the second rebuild was to be the full show standard project that Charlie had been hatching the plan for.

Charlie enjoyed the reliability of the trusty 1.6 diesel but it was never going to give him the hot hatch-level kicks he had become accustomed to with the plethora of modified metal that he’d previously owned. He decided to remove the hard-working little oil burner and weld up and smooth the bay whilst it was empty. A terminally rusty but mechanically sound Mk3 Golf GTI 16v was purchased for its ABF heart. The engine was stripped and then sent to DY Engine Services for machine work which included lightening and balancing the crankshaft, lightening the flywheel, reboring the block to accommodate oversized Wossner pistons, and porting and polishing the head. A pair of Weber 45 carbs sing through a four-branch manifold and custom stainless exhaust. This little lot makes for a rev-happy 170bhp. “My favourite modification of the entire build has to be the twin Weber carbs. An ABF engine with a pair of these just goes hand in hand. The sound they make whilst driving makes me smile.” Charlie welded and smoothed the ‘bay before test fitting the freshly rebuilt ABF and mocking up pipework. Once happy, the car was then stripped again and sent to TA Simcox for paint including the underside. Once back from the body shop, all suspension components were powder-coated matt black. BC coilovers were fitted up front which has eradicated the skippy ride of the previous cheaper units. Out back the axle has been flipped and two-inch lowing blocks fitted along with Koni adjustable shocks.

The ABF was installed and those gorgeous wheels bolted up. “As much as I like the look of a set of BBS, I wanted something a bit different so I opted for a set of Audi A6 winter wheels. Their simple design looks so good on a MK1. I bought this set from a guy I follow on Instagram which were straight with no kerbing. I sent them off to Rimscarnated, Chippenham to have the PCD redrilled to 4x100 and for ceramic polishing.”

Charlie was keen to keep the styling simple. A small chrome front bumper, new front grille with chrome trim, and non-GTI front lower chin spoiler complete the timeless face. The debumpered rear shows off the flawless paint whilst the black waistline trim breaks up those slab sides nicely. The OEM+ vibe continues inside the cabin with the original seats retrimmed with classic grey check centres and leather outers. New carpets replace the tatty originals and a Golf centre console with VDO gauges allows a watchful eye to be kept on the vitals.

A considered transmission package consists of an 02A gearbox using an 02J gear selector tower, Mk4 golf gear shifter cables and shifter assembly, hydraulic clutch conversion and a T4 TDI .658 fifth gear. A bias brake pedal box and Vauxhall 256mm vented front brake disc upgrade ensure that the lightweight commercial stops as well as it goes.

With the Caddy being stripped for its second rebuild back in 2018 and now gracing Performance VW for a well-deserved feature after years of hard graft, is perfectionist Charlie finally happy? “I knew this time it had to be right. With the fully rebuilt ABF running twin Webers, a fully smoothed ‘bay, fresh paint, new suspension and wheels, I have to say that I’m finally happy with the Caddy.” Amen to that.

«With a smoothed ‘bay, fresh paint and new wheels, I’m finally happy with the Caddy»


  • ENGINE: 2.0 16V ABF, fully rebuilt, smoothed engine bay with full wire tuck, lightened and balanced crank, lightened flywheel, oversized bores and Wossner pistons, cylinder head skimmed, new valves, polished and ported head, twin 45 Weber carbs, Corsa ‘B’ radiator with custom pipe work, four branch manifold with custom stainless steel exhaust system, Oil catch can, battery and washer bottle relocated, 170bhp, transmission: 02A gearbox using 02J gear selector tower, Mk4 Golf gear shifter cables and shifter assembly, hydraulic clutch conversion, T4 TDI .658 fifth gear
  • CHASSIS: 7x16” Audi A6 winter alloys, PCD redrilled to 4x100 and full ceramic polish, 165/45/16 tyres, BC Racing coilovers at the front and 2” axle flip at the rear with Koni adjustable shocks, bias brake pedal box, Vauxhall 256mm vented front brake disc Upgrade
  • EXTERIOR: 1992 Mk1 VW Caddy Pickup, full bare shell paint in L61H Lofoten Green, small chrome front bumper, new chrome trim grille, non-GTI chin spoiler, black waistline trim
  • INTERIOR: Retrimmed original seats, new carpet set and carpeted rear bulkhead, custom gear knob, VDO gauges and centre console
  • SHOUT: TA Simcox Body Repairs for the paintwork, DY Engine Services for the engine machine work, Rimscarnated for the wheels, Well Chuffed Media for the photo shoot, my friend Stuwee for the custom exhaust, family and friends for all the positive comments and most of all, my wife, Rachel for getting the ball rolling to get my Caddy featured in Performance.

“As much as I like the BBS, I wanted something a bit different so I opted for a set of Audi A6 winter wheels"

«My favourite modification of the entire build has to be the twin Weber carbs»

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