330bhp 1.8-litre BAM engined 1991 Volkswagen Golf Mk2
Taking a blow torch and paint stripper to your mint, corrosion-free shell sounds pretty mental to most people, but when Simon Andrzejewski set out to build his perfect VW show car, it somehow made perfect sense…
Words & photos: Dan Sherwood
RAT 2 RICHES
For some people, toeing the line and going along with the crowd just isn’t part of their DNA. They prefer to forge their own path, and stick two fingers up to anyone that might question their unique vision. The truth is, they don’t really care what anyone else thinks, and live their lives on their own terms, even if that means going completely against the accepted grain. To some it might sound like madness, but to others, forgoing the norm can be the perfect way to not only liberate your life, but also stand out from the crowd.
One man well versed in the art of not giving a f*ck is Simon Andrzejewski. Simon is the operations manager for detailing gurus Auto Finesse. This means his very livelihood revolves around promoting products to people who are fastidious about cleaning their cars to a show-ready shine. With this in mind, you’d think he would have the cleanest, most perfectly polished project car going, except you’d be wrong. Very wrong. You see, Simon is the owner of the grotty-looking Golf Mk2 you see on these pages. Purposely patina’d to look as though its just rolled out of the scrap yard, it’s a car that has never even seen a polishing cloth, let alone had one buff it to a mirror-like finish. But then that’s all part of the plan, because, look a little closer and you’ll see that the unkempt appearance of the exterior is only skin deep, and underneath the deliberately derelict surface lies a flawlessly executed show-stopper. It might not be the route that most people would take to create their vision of VW nirvana, but for Simon it’s bang on the money.
“I’ve always had a thing for Mk2 Golfs,” Simon says. “Ever since I saw one at a VW show my parents took me to in Poland, back in 2000. It was an Oak Green big bumper model with a VR6 turbo engine and Borbet A wheels. Needless to say it left an impression on me.” Countless cars have come and gone from the Andrzejewski driveway over the years, with the majority of them hailing from Wolfburg, but none that have had quite the same effect on Simon as his current radical ride. “I’ve owned loads of Golfs over the years, but this one is definitely a keeper,” states the unconventional petrolhead. “In fact, I plan to pass it on to my son when he’s old enough to drive, and keep it in the family.”
This special connection with the car was something Simon felt from the first minute he saw it.
“I’d been to look at another Mk2 Golf that I was considering buying as a parts car, but it turned out to be a bit of a dog,” he recalls. “But then the owner presented me with a further nine Mk2s that he happened to have lying around, and that’s when I saw it.”
Originally a 1.3 CL, it was little more than a rolling shell with windows, devoid of an interior and encased in a living coating of moss and dirt. The remarkable upside was that it was completely free of corrosion. This nugget of info sparked an idea in Simon’s head, and when he found out that the Golf’s date of manufacture was January 1991, the same month and year he was born, he knew it was fate.
“I actually liked the look of the car when it was covered in moss,” he laughs. “So I planned to keep it that way and modify it with an immaculate engine bay, interior and wheels. Unfortunately, the first time I drove it in the rain, all the moss and grime washed off, so I hatched a plan to regain the rundown look I was so fond off.”
For starters, the car was stripped to a bare shell before Simon could live out his torturous tendencies on the Golf’s bodywork. “To get the beaten up look I was after the shell was burned, sprayed, sanded, and then clear coated before having dust, oil and metal filings thrown at it, paint stripper poured over it long with some additional air brushing done to complete the effect,” Simon reveals with a demonic grin. “It was then left outside for the good old British weather to do its thing and age it even more.”
Once the exterior had achieved peak patina, Simon put away his implements of automotive agony and revealed his caring side, stripping and restoring the whole underside of the car including blasting and powder coating all of the subframes and suspension components gloss black and zinc plating every nut, bolt and fastener.
“You wouldn’t guess from the exterior, but underneath it’s spotless,” reveals Simon proudly, which is a theme that is continued into the smoothed and wire-tucked engine bay. Framed perfectly by a flawless coat of Candy Red, is a fully forged 1.8-litre 20v turbo engine. Encrusted in carbon-fibre with lashing of polished parts, this jewel-like motor has been tuned to 330bhp by virtue of a Borg Warner turbo, an uprated exhaust manifold, a BMC CDA carbon air intake, a Mercedes Vito intercooler and a thunderous TrackSlag 2.5in stainless steel exhaust system.
“It’s a potent setup,” Simon grins. “Combined with the Mk3 16v five-speed manual gearbox and Wavetrack LSD it really shifts when you want it too, and certainly turns heads when you give it some stick!” Transferring that prodigious grunt to the tarmac is a set of 17in OZ Futura gen 1 wheels. Measuring 10x17in at the front and 11.5x17in at the rear, these girthy hoops needed substantial arch modifications to fit, especially once the battered body is dropped to its sills on the custom AirLift suspension system with KW adjustable dampers.
“The rear arches have been cut 2in and tubbed to accommodate the wheels, while the front wings have also been chopped and vented,” Simon says. “Even then, things are still really tight – there’s only a 2mm gap between the wheel and the shock absorber!” The final piece of the puzzle was to give the Golf’s interior the kind of luxury touch that is usually the preserve of the perfect paint brigade.
“When I bought the car it didn’t come with any interior, so I sourced a pair of Recaro seats from an Escort RS turbo for £40 and mounted them on some customized Cobra subframes,” Simon remembers. “As you can imagine from the super-low price, they were in a right state, so I took them down to Lawrence Gray at LG Trimming in Camberley, along with a 60/40 rear bench and some old doorcards I had been given.”
Lawrence re-skinned the wrecked recliners in sumptuous Nappa leather with the centres, door cards and headrests covered in tactile Harris tweed. He also threw in a matching dash topper and gear gaiter to complete the cockpit’s transformation.
“I love how it’s all come together,” says Simon, taking a toke from his herbal cigarette that’s been adding a funkysmelling haze to the pics and has lingered around for the whole of the shoot. “The idea of me working for a detailing company and having a dirty looking car that doesn’t need a lot of attention before shows is exactly that kind of messed up humour that floats my boat. And other people seem to like it too!”
But whether you’re on board with Simon’s concept or you think he’s as mad as a box of frogs, the fact is, he’s not particularly fussed either way. He’s build his car, his way, and not to please anyone else, and if that’s not the very essence of what modifying is about, then we don’t know what is… Maybe he’s not that crazy after all?
“You wouldn’t guess from the exterior, but underneath it’s spotless"
DUB DETAILS330bhp 1.8-litre BAM engined 1991 Volkswagen Golf Mk2
- ENGINE: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, 20v, turb19o, BAM engine, Wossner forged pistons and rods, titanium valves, uprated bearings, standard cams, Borg Warner turbo, Forge Motorsport hoses and diverter valves, BMC CDA carbon air intake, uprated exhaust manifold, TrackSlag stainless steel 2.5in exhaust system, Mercedes Vito intercooler, standard 1.3 top-fill radiator with Mishimoto fan, standard 1.8T coilpacks, carbon air intake pipes, carbon brake servo and cylinder, carbon slam panel, top mount covers, brushed alloy custom air shroud, polished gearbox and alternator, BAM engine mount front, Mishimoto hose clamps, custom full scuttle tray.
- MAX POWER: Estimated to be 330bhp @ 6500
- MAX TORQUE: 298lb ft @ 3900rpm
- TRANSMISSION: Mk3 16v 5-speed manual gearbox with cable clutch and Wavetrack LSD, carbon skinned Mk2 16v driveshafts connected to VR6 hubs, VR6 outer CV joints, 5-stud conversion
- CHASSIS: 10x17in front and 11.5x17in rear OZ Futura gen 1 wheels with 215/40/17 front and 245/45/17 Nankang NS2 tyres, Air Lift air suspension with KW V2 coilover dampers and custom bellow bags, 2x Viair V80C compressors with pancake tank hidden in the spare wheel well, 3P Accuair controller, notch. Brembo Porsche 996 brakes with 4-pot calipers, 302mm discs, Goodrich braided lines with race brake fluid
- EXTERIOR: Patina-style exterior treatment, rear arches cut 2in and tubbed to accommodate the wheels, front wings chopped and vented, custom metal rear louvre, rear golf heckenblende, Zender rear spoiler, Voomeran bolt-on arches, Voomeran front duck bill splitter, underside restored and rust free, all frames blasted and powder coated gloss black, all nuts and bolts freshly zinc plated
- INTERIOR: Ford Escort RS turbo S2 Recaro front seats and 60/40 rear bench trimmed in Harris tweed centres and grey Nappa leather, custom dashboard cover and gear stick gaiter trimmed in Harris tweed, Isotta steering wheel, Hurst gear stick, electric front windows, custom seat runner covers in brushed ally, custom air ride controller holder in the air vent