320bhp 1.8T 2OVT APX from Audi TT engined 1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk2
Just around the corner from PVW Towers, this Kentish MK2 has been lovingly nurtured for the past seven years. Having sprouted a luscious array of period parts and a healthy 1.8T conversion, it’s now fully in bloom…
Words: Graham Leigh
Photos: Jason Dodd
THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND
The affectionate referral to Kent as the ‘Garden of England’ was first coined by the Tudor King, Henry VIII after wolfing down a bowl of local cherries. Suitably impressed, he ordered the plantation of more in the fertile South Eastern English county. The forty-seven-year-old owner of this prize-winning Golf, Dan Wright, hails from the county town of Maidstone. Ironically enough, he took time out from renovating his own garden to talk to us about his latest passion project.
Dan started his automotive journey at the tender age of 17 with a 1985 Mk3 Escort that he bought from his sister. “She had a small prang and took the car to the painters to get one side sprayed. As she entered their yard, she managed to clip a wall. This resulted in our Dad having to shell out a fortune to get both sides sorted. I bought it off her shortly afterwards and it was looking great but within a month, in true young driver fashion, I’d written it off.” A Mk1 Fiesta Ghia followed and then a Mk4 Escort Combi Van. The VW bug hit in 1994 when his sister gave him a Mk2 Golf GL. Having got a taste for Dubs, an impressive selection was to occupy drive space at the Wright residence over the next few years.
This included a Mk1 GTI, a Mk2 GTI that got the period 17” TSW Imola treatment, an Oak Green Valver with a Turbo Technics conversion and a Graphite Metallic Rallye that was used as a wedding car when Dan got married to wife, Erika in 2005. When the couple fell pregnant with their first child, Freya who is now 16, the Rallye was sold on. A few years later, Dan was lucky enough to come across a couple of barn finds in the shape of a Nova Sport and a Mk2 Escort. However, the call of Wolfsburg was loud and in 2013 he sold the plucky Vauxhall and rusty but sought-after Ford to fund a Mk2 Golf Project. Cars are the order of the day in Dan’s professional life too, having trained as a mechanic as a young man, he eventually went out on his own and is now the co-owner of Injection Development in Canterbury. His busy garage is a diesel and fuel injection specialist and is a go-to destination for VW van owners.
Dan walks the walk and is carrying out a full camper conversion on his own T5 that he is looking forward to making memories in with his family. With a Mk3 Golf GTI and a Mk3.5 Cabriolet waiting in the wings for his attention, it’s fair to say this isn’t just a phase. “One of the things I love most about the VW scene is the community. I’m a member of South East MK2s, Wolfsburg Edition and Seasiders. It’s so good to chat with like-minded people who share the passion.”
Dan and his best mate, Christian Martin have been into Golfs for years. They had their Rallyes at the same time and now Christian has got in on the van act having bought a T6. Back in 2013, knowing Dan’s plan to build his dream Mk2, Christian sent him a Facebook Marketplace link. The Golf in question was duly inspected. The rear turrets needed replacing but the car had many redeeming features including a G60 engine, front-mounted intercooler, electric Recaros and a set of BBS RS 001s. A deal was done and with the car back home, Dan started the teardown operation. Sadly, the dreaded tin worm was worse than first thought and a tough decision was made to look for another shell. Whilst surfing the classifieds one night in 2015, Dan struck gold in the form of an advert for a Mk2 GTI shell and logbook in nearby Rochester for just 50. Dan made the short journey to inspect it with low expectations. He couldn’t believe his luck when he arrived and duly paid for the incredibly clean body. The rusty shell was scrapped but the wings, wheels and interior were retained. The G60 engine and associated hardware were sold to fund a change in direction. “I’d loved my old 16V Turbo Technics and I seriously considered building up a 16v turbo but it quickly got expensive when I started pricing it all up. The 20v route is a well-trodden path, they’re infi nitely tuneable and, should the worst happen, plentiful.”
That aforementioned local VW community spirit was in full effect when it came to getting the Mk2 painted. Dave Smith (yep, the former Division 1 truck racer) at DS Commercials in Aylesford is building a Mk1 Golf GTI. He wanted to ensure that his pal got a great paint job in exchange for a bit of help in fi tting a 20v into his own car. That’s our kind of mutual back-scratching. “I had a tough job deciding what colour to go for especially with it originally being an Oak Green car. I looked at all the period factory colours and I really like Porsche Fashion Grey. However, when Skoda introduced Meteor Grey and I saw it on a couple of Octavias, the penny dropped. I decided not to go with a darker hue as sometimes you can lose the definition of the black G60 arches and the grey contrasts nicely with the red GTI badging. Of course, I’ve heard all the primer jokes from my mates but I absolutely love it and Dave has done a smashing job.”
The well-executed smoothed ‘bay houses an APX 1.8T that was fitted using G60 mounts. Dan rebuilt the head, fitted 440cc Bosch injectors, and a Grams inlet manifold. The Trackslag catalogue was hit up for their intake pipe, downpipe and 3” exhaust system with AlliSport providing the intercooler, radiator and expansion Tank. A trusty Mocal oil cooler is always a sensible addition and an Emerald ECU ensures that the modifications are capitalised upon. A strong transmission package consists of a G60 02A gearbox, 02J shifter and cables, Quaife ATB LSD, VR6 clutch and a lightened G60 flywheel. Since the photoshoot, Dan has fitted a Coolerworks underfloor shifter which he is delighted with and explained that the height and positive feel are transformative.
The black-centred 8x15” BBS RS 001s contrast nicely with the Meteor Grey and sit handsomely in the NOS G60 arches thanks to the AP coilovers. The underside has been subject to the same fastidious levels of attention to detail as the rest of the car and is home to freshly powder-coated hardware, Powerflex bushes, new brake lines, nuts, bolts and fittings. The meticulous approach runs throughout with new sound deadening, new roof lining and even all the catches and latches were zinc coated. Mk2 nerds will be salivating over the deep bolstered Recaros, electric windows and mirrors, and the piece de resistance, the Digifiz digital instrument cluster with 8k tachometer. A Blaupunkt head unit provides the tunes through a Pioneer amp into Focal speakers and sub but 13-year-old son, Ollie insists that Dad’s 90s tunes are off when he's riding shotgun, preferring to listen to the engine sing. The Renewart badges, Votex rear spoiler, Porsche door handles and NOS Sacex heckblende are the icing on the cake to the distinctive exterior.
The seven-year build was worth all the blood sweat and tears and has already been well received locally. The organisers of the Grill-n-Chill show at the Hop Farm in Tonbridge insisted that the Mk2 was parked in the show area even when perfectionist, Dan explained that it wasn’t quite finished in September 2022. Its first outing as the finished article you see here was for the BHP show at the Kent County Showground in May this year where Dan picked up a well-deserved Best Outside Car trophy. He's now looking forward to enjoying the Golf after all the hard work but, for now, he better get back to finishing off that garden.
«Of course, I’ve heard all the primer jokes from my mates but I absolutely love it „
- ENGINE: 1.8T 2OVT APX from Audi TT, rebuilt head, Grams inlet manifold, 440cc Bosch injectors, Emerald engine ECU, bespoke ECU loom, tucked engine bay harness, Trackslag intake pipe, 3” downpipe and 3” exhaust, AlliSport intercooler, radiator and expansion tanks, Cloude 9 Customs oil catch tank, silicone hoses, Turbosmart blow off valve, stubby brake master cylinder, JAAATT Engineering reservoir, Mocal oil cooler, G60 engine mounts, transmission: G60 02A gearbox, 02J shifter and cables, Quaife ATB LSD, Coolerworx underfloor shifter, VR6 clutch, lightened flywheel, Corrado hydraulic control
- CHASSIS: 1991 Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI, BBS RS 001s, 8x15”, 195/45/15 Toyo tyres, AP coilovers, Powerfl ex bushes, all new genuine bolts, G60 brakes, new brake lines, powder-coated hardware, VR6 fuel pump and tank
- EXTERIOR: Respray in Skoda Meteor Grey, G60 wings, NOS G60 arches, Renewart badges, Votex rear spoiler, NOS Sacex heckblende, all catches and latches zinc coated, sunroof mechanism renovated, Porsche door handles
- INTERIOR: Recaro front seats and matching interior with rear headrests, Digifiz 8k dash binnacle, Digifizmini gauges, Blaupunkt head unit, Focal speakers and sub, Pioneer amp, electric windows, electric mirrors, Porsche glovebox lock, new sound deadening, new roof lining
- THANKS: To all my friends and loved ones for their support with this build that has become part of the family