174bhp 1978 Volkswagen Golf VR6 2.8 Mk1
When the owner of high-end trimmers, Carsdream set out to build his vision of the perfect Mk1, we expected it to be the stuff of dreams. It didn’t disappoint…
Words: Graham Leigh
Photos: Artem Chermous
DREAM MACHINE 1978 Mk1 GOLF VR6
Polish Mk1 Golf goes full show car
Tadek Czaban hails from Luban, Poland. The first car he owned was a Polski Fiat 126p that will be familiar to our Polish readers. The VW story started incredibly early for Tadek though, as a family friend let him drive a Mk1 Golf on his meadow and the young petrolhead was instantly hooked. Tadek explained that as a technical school student, he would find himself daydreaming about Sciroccos and Corrados. The VW dream was finally realised when he bought his Mk3 Golf. The modifying bug took hold and the slammed red beauty had a spec that included a hidden loom, white Hella taillights, 16" Borbet Ts, custom leather upholstery, roll cage, premium audio, a Taid Silberpfeil airbag steering wheel, bad boy bonnet, and US tailgate and bumpers. The handsome Mk3 earnt the now 46-year-old a feature in VW Trends in 2006 and GT Street & Style in 2007.
After working in the energy sector, Tadek decided to turn his love of cars into a business and founded Carsdream in 2009. They specialise in luxurious custom interiors and carbon fibre trim pieces and components. A Mk3 Caddy owns its keep as Tadek’s daily and shop truck.
“Whilst on vacation in Turkey, I was searching the classifieds and I found an advert for this Mk1 back home. I called and paid the advance. The original car had 156,000 km, the interior was like new and the floor was free of holes and rust. There were faint traces of rust on the back of the body, the doors and under the plastic fender flares and the tailgate had a dent. Being an original 1978 Golf GLS with a soft dashboard and bronze tinted windows, I just had to have it.”
Tadek likes a classic approach to Mk1s. Low-slung, subtle and on BBS RS. Taking inspiration from Big Ron’s iconic car, he got to work with gathering some key ingredients including the wheels, chrome bumpers and opening quarter lights. A roll cage and a ABF 2.0 16V engine were sold to fund the VR6 that he bought from friend, Jarek.
With the car stripped down, rust repair was the first job on the list. The car was then sent to be painted by Marek Wiewiór in September 2019. Tadek opted for VW Metallic Grey, a colour he had fallen in love with after seeing it on a 1983 Mk1 Golf GLX. Once the shell was back, Tadek turned his attention to the interior. This has been a gradual process and showcases Carsdream’s amazing attention to detail. The Porsche Burgundy leather complements the exterior hue perfectly and adorns the first generation Recaro A8s, dash, binnacle, door cards, parcel shelf and surrounds and centre console. Tadek reports that glueing the 0:4mm thick leatheronto the air vents was the most challenging part of the interior. We don’t doubt it. That extra-mile approach is evident with the carbon fibre-covered components. There are 166 of them in the interior. The smaller trim pieces tie in with the more prominent A8 seat backs. Tadek fitted an Alcantara headliner with a friend. The luxurious approach is head to foot: “Every visible element has been chrome-plated, covered with carbon, leather or Alcantara. The storage compartment of the glove box, the inside of the door pockets, the back of the rear bench upright and the underside of the parcel shelf have also been trimmed in Alcantara. Only the carpet and a few switches remain original. “It's every Golf fan’s wet dream to own a Porsche. That's why the outside door handles are from a 944 Turbo, the glovebox push from a 924 S, the glovebox light from a 944 and the seats each feature an embossed crest.”
There are so many subtle touches to this cockpit that it takes a few looks to fully absorb the level of work. Red carbon fibre seatbelt and handbrake buttons match the leather and take a second look at the Wolfsburg steering wheel. It's been shortened and now has a 330mm diameter. Of course, it too has received the leather and carbon treatment. A clever use of the Golf back catalogue includes Mk1 Cabriolet door pulls, Mk3 Golf 20 Jahre gear knob and Federal spec Mk1 Rabbit ‘Fasten Seatbelt’ and ‘Handbrake’ illuminated warning scripted lights. A quality audio set-up includes an Alpine PWD-X5 active Bluetooth subwoofer that has been installed under the driver's seat, JBL Club 6420 component speakers, ESX tweeters and MB Quard QM 218.02 CX crossovers that are concealed under the dashboard.
«There are 209 elements covered with carbon fibre on the car: 16 outside, the aforementioned 166 inside the car, 13 in the trunk, and 14 in the engine compartment.
It was a lot of work. The heater cover alone took me over 80 hours. I sanded most of the carbon parts with members of the team working their magic with the varnishing.” The fastidious approach to the restoration continues with the brightwork. Door handles, all exterior door trim, grille, wing mirrors, fuel cap, wipers, locks, seat belt loops, selected screws, bonnet and boot latches, wiper mechanism and the Porsche crested glove compartment lock were all itemised on Tadek’s substantial bill from the chrome platers. The results speak for themselves. Michał Kilta from Batalion is responsible for most of the mechanical work. The engine stood as a parts donor for 17 years in a friend's garage. The block and pistons remained in good condition so it felt like a good starting place. Michal rebuilt the engine including new timing gear. It was then fitted with a 3-2-1 manifold, custom intake with a K&N cone filter and an R32 sump and oil pump. A 2.5” exhaust system ensures that all 174 horses are heard. The transmission was rebuilt and a hydraulic clutch fitted. KW Variant 1 coilovers achieve that purposeful stance over those stunning staggered BBS RS 16x8” and 16x8.5” wheels that are wrapped in 195/40/16 Continental Sport Contact 2 tyres. An Audi S3 8L brake conversion both front and rear ensures that the Mk1 stops as hard as it pulls. “Michał is the best specialist I know and probably no one knows VR6 engines so well.”
The Golf has taken 10 years to build but the wait has been worth it. Stunning attention to detail throughout, an interior to embarrass many a supercar and a six-cylinder symphony. It’s a keeper and nine-year-old daughter, Nela is very attached to the car and enjoys spending time with Tadek showing it off. With a baby brother on the way imminently, more memories are sure to be made while enjoying the classic. This family are living the Mk1 dream.
»The heater cover alone took me over 80 hours. I sanded most of the carbon parts with members of the team working their magic with the varnishing”
«There are 209 elements covered with carbon: 16 outside, 166 inside, 13 in the trunk and 14 under the hood”
- ENGINE: VR6 2.8-litre AAA 174ps, completely rebuilt, custom intake, custom cooling, clean look beam, Mk1 Golf Cabriolet power steering, polished engine manifold with Batalion inscription, R32 sump and oil pump, custom polished inlet with flow meter mount, K&N RC-4180 cone filter, carbon heater cover, carbon support tank, carbon oil cap, Porsche 996 carbon radiator cap, transmission: rebuilt VR6 gearbox with gear selector from Mk4 Golf, custom half-shafts, hydraulic clutch
- CHASSIS: polished BBS RS 308 8x16” (front), 8x16” (rear), chrome valve caps with Porsche emblems, 195/40/16 Continental Sport Contact 2 tyres, (front) Audi S3 8L brakes with 316mm Zimmermann ventilated drilled discs, rear Audi S3 8L brakes with 256mm Zimmermann ventilated discs, Mk1 Golf Cabriolet brake servo, Sharan brake fluid reservoir, Benson front strut brace, carbon coated rear Wiechers strut brace, front and rear MK1 Golf GTI anti-roll bars, fully poly bushed, extended shock towers by Batalion
- EXTERIOR: 1978 Mk1 Golf GLS sprayed in 1983 GLX Metalic Grey, chrome bumpers, carbon-coated bumper corners, bumper rubbers, wheel arch covers, front spoiler lip and number plate mounts, chrome-plated side strips, sill strips, front grille, window trims, mirrors, locks, wipers, fuel cap, Porsche door handles, bronze tint glass, opening quarter lights, Mk1 Golf Cabriolet tinted rear light Clusters
- INTERIOR: Alcantara headlining, 220kmh Golf GTI speedometer, Porsche Burgundy leather retrim, all plastic trim covered with carbon fibre, all metal parts chrome plated, custom Mk1 Golf steering wheel with reduced 330mm diameter, Mk3 Golf 20 Jahre Edition gear knob, Porsche 924 S glove box handle (carbon coated with chrome plated crest), custom burgundy seatbelts, bespoke low seat frames, first-generation Recaro A8 front seats with carbon back covers, STP soundproofing, custom floor mats, JBL Club 6420 component speakers, MB Quart crossovers, QM 218.02 CX, SX tweeters hidden in dashboard vents, Alpine PWD-X5 sound processor fitted under passenger seat, professionally built 1/18 scale model by FB/AP Models displayed on parcel shelf for shows
- SHOUT: My Carsdream.com team for a cool interior and carbon parts, Michał Klita (Clinton) insta: @ batalionpl from Batalion for half a year of hard work, repairing the engine, gearbox and putting the puzzle together, Remigiusz Woźniczak (Bestia) insta: @Custom_Detailing.com.pl for polishing ceramics and protection of paintwork, carbon parts and interior, Marek Wiewiór for a great paint job