I thought I would bring you a quick update of the current status of my Mk2 Golf GTI, of which I have posted a couple of pictures here and there, and will outline my general plan for this exciting project to kick off 2018!

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I bought this in the Summer from someone local, who actually dropped it at my house for me to have a nose round.

I took it up the road and back, with my mind already made up, and bought it there and then. I’ve actually only driven this ‘valver’ (that’s retro VW hipster speak for the 16v variant) for about a half a mile in total. It’s now in the garage with everything disconnected ready for its restoration project, whilst I parade up and down the country sourcing replacement or original parts.

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I’ve lusted after one of these for ages, looking at several but never quite committing. Then, one day I just woke up and decided that it was my life’s mission to find one. So I did some asking around locally (I’m fortunate to know several people in the restoration industry, one of which is a Classic Volkswagen specialist) – and before I knew it, I had been told of this one, sat unloved and undriven on a driveway. A few days later, it was tucked away in my garage and with my new V5 in the post.

I love it. I love the iconic look of the quad-light front grill. I love the squareness of the rear quarters. I love the simple boxy interior with the rainbow stripes upholstery. I love the windy windows. I’m a self-confessed 80’s geek; as an 80’s child I seem to only be interested in buying nostalgic things from my decade of birth. This fits the bill nicely, and I like the fact that you rarely see these around nowadays. I’m hoping it will actually be quite rare in a few years!

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So – the important stuff. What is it?

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It’s a 1988 GTI 16v 3-door on an E plate, in what I’m told is Atlas grey but looking around on the Interweb, I think it might a bit darker than even that. Who knew Volkswagen made more than 50 shades of Grey? Or, quite possibly it could just be in need of a massive clean (of which I’m absolutely itching to do, but I’m being patient).

It came with a full MOT and had just had some welding done… so that’s either a brilliant sign for the longevity of its life, or I’m awaiting some terrible news when I strip it down, meaning it may not be economical to go too much further with it.

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My first impressions of it are that:

  1. The brakes are beyond terrible. I’m not sure if that’s just how they are or whether these have got a serious ‘don’t do anything at all’ condition. Either way, I was shocked by how far up the road I had to plan ahead to actually even contemplate stopping in time.
  2. It’s dirty. Very dirty. All over and inside. My OCD levels will restore this to fine fettle but it’s missing a lot of interior parts.
  3. It felt low on power on my short test drive. I will be giving it a full service, replacing all filters and fluids etc. Thankfully, everything engine-wise is out-the-factory standard, great news for a 29-year old machine.
  4. It has some ridiculously bad-quality imitation big bumpers added to it at some point in its life. These horrid additions will be ditched in favour of original small, red-stripe bumpers (I have already purchased the rear bumper for a mere £10 off an owners forum!)
  5. It’s sporting some terrible aftermarket alloy wheels that will be replaced by some originals (I have already purchased some 14” originals – they just need a refurb and tyres)
  6. The list I’m keeping of ‘To-Do’s’ is growing larger every day, as I keep finding bits to replace, repair, clean, tidy, strip, glue, paint or remove!

What have I bought so far? Apart from the original 14” Wheels, some side indicators from an eBay breaker, a small rear bumper from an Owners Forum, an oil filter, and a spare key. I’ve started stripping some plastic panels off and the front grill is off. All is looking good so far… but have I mentioned that I CANNOT wait to start cleaning it? I actually wish I could buy shares in AutoGlym… I suspect it’s going to spruce up really nicely… the original panels and paint are in very good condition.

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I plan on getting it up on the stands, doing a full inspection all over, checking out all the known rust-spots (sills, bootlid, wipers) before spending huge amounts of money starting the restoration.

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If worse comes to worse, I’ll strip it and start using it for track-days. I’ve been asking Santa for a suitable project car to start motorsport for years now!

Look out for future Social Media posts outlining the small wins (and no doubt – large frustrations!) as I restore this awesome retro icon!

Happy New Year and good luck with all of your 2018 project cars from Edford Classic Cars 🙂

One thought on “Project Car Restoration – 1988 Golf GTI 16v

  1. Intrigued to see how you get on. As per yourself, I ‘love’ the 80’s and the ‘squareness’ of the cars from that decade. I formerly owned a 8v Seat Ibiza Cupra Sport, the 16v version (both loosely based on the Mk2 Golf) and later still, the Seat Ibiza 1.8 20v Turbo. The latter was rarer, housed a better interior and sounded better. More to the point; Between the 8v and 16 ‘valver’, I felt the former was more fun. The 16 valver had a lovely blk metallic paint which included some specs within it. I was happy with this given the 8v was burnt orange and missed out on an similarly identical model in blk, weeks earlier at the point of purchase. I was a bit frustrated about this. The 20v Turbo was also blk. Can you sense a pattern is developing here!. I recently rid myself of an Abarth Grande Punto, also in blk. My ownership was circa 6yrs and considered keeping for longer. This is now sorely missed, but now the owner of a modern classic in the shape of an Alpina albeit in Space Gray which admittedly for me is another deviation in colour. Maybe this is a good omen! To finish, the 8v still sticks out as a ‘very good’ memory, but asthetically also very much liked the last of the line Mk2 Golf Gti 16 valvers, which I was not fortunate enough to own, most especially in blk. Good luck with the restoration. Am looking forward to the finished result.

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