Reader Submissions: A Free Barn-Find GTI, a Quarter-Inch Socket, and Determination

A Free Barn-Find GTI, a Quarter-Inch Socket, and Determination

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
October 10, 2014
15 comments

Owner: James Cope

Year, Make, and Model: 1989 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

Photographers: James Cope and Aneysha Wakelin

When I was younger I would build electric and nitro-powered R/C cars to pass my time instead of playing football like all the other kids. Then I guess I wanted to take what I had learned about R/C cars into a real machine. With R/C cars I used to make my own parts and learned a lot about suspension geometry and wheel fitment.

I found the GTI in a neighbour’s barn when I was sixteen, where it had been sitting for the previous six years. The chap who owned it said I could have it as he was just going to send it to scrap. So I took it on, and with little-to-no mechanical knowledge I often found myself breaking more than I was fixing but it was all a learning curve. At 16 I would work weekends at my local pub to fund my project, earning £36 a week. I built most of the car with a 1/4 inch drive socket set I got for Christmas.

The plan was always to do everything myself because I didn’t have a big pile of money! I dread even thinking about the amount of hours, blood, sweat, and tears that have gone into this. I’ve resprayed panels, learned how to weld, and now have good mechanical knowledge. I can’t express enough how much joy I get out of this car, it really has been my life for the past six years. A true labour of love!

It’s still an on-going project but it certainly has come a long way! (See engine photo of it was found, sitting in a barn) the wheels are from some form of old BMW, possibly E21. They are BBS Mahles 15×7 et13, which I imported from Poland. The aim has always been to build the Golf to as standard spec as possible, with a few personal touches.

I love everything about this car! It has 130bhp which may not seem like a lot but it weights 980kg so it really is a whole heap of fun. A lot of modern “hot hatches” really aren’t. Nowadays, it seems like they’re all heavy and turbo-charged, the GTI is just pure and simple. The car handles great, which is one of my favourite things, along with the low down grunt from the 8v engine.

Living in North Yorkshire, a place renowned for beautiful landscapes, I love getting up early on a sunny Sunday morning and blasting down my local country roads with the sunroof open, nothing comes close to the joy that brings!

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Ady Negrean
Ady Negrean

That’s a perfect looking Golf, needs nothing else doing or modifying on it, wouldn’t have it any other way :).

Laker
Laker

Nice Job!!! Hope the original owner doesn’t want it back.
Just look back on all the skills you have since mastered…… again well done!

Rob
Rob

Sorry that was supposed to say that you just remotivated me.
Sorry, my spellcheck did that without me realizing it
Beautiy Golf

Rob
Rob

Just goes to show you that even on a shoestring budget you can still restore a car to a beautiful condition. all you need is determination. I’m restoring a VW Cabrio also and you’ve just demotivated me. Thanks for that.
Great job Petrolicious. You should have more articles on VW Golfs as there is a huge fan base worldwide.
Love those Mark 2 Golf GTi’s.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

Looks like there’s enough fluid in that huge washer bottle to last maybe 10 years!

Stephen Fitzgerald
Stephen Fitzgerald

Beautiful car. Congrats. I just love those thin red lines that wrap all over it, giving it just a hint of something special. Now days you see those red touches everywhere (Nisan Juke Nismo? Ugh) so it’s great to see a car that wears the red with authenticity.

ADOLFO SUAREZ
ADOLFO SUAREZ

ITS SO COOL!!! AND HIS HISTORY TO 😉

Ben France
Ben France

Beautiful job! What a great way to save a cool old VW from the crusher. 🙂

wolfgang
wolfgang

car looks good, unlike most re-constituted golfs.
however i prefer these old mk2s at near stock ride height, not dumped on their bumpstops.

Angel Ruiz
Angel Ruiz

Congratulations for the outstanding work you did! I love those mkII gti, here in spain there are a lot alife yet, but I’ve never seen one in this conditions of yours, enjoy that!!

Raphael Avila
Raphael Avila

Excellent job! My first GTi was a MKII, but it was red. Same 8V motor, though mine never looked as tidy as this.still miss that car, but new DD is a MKV GTI, so it inherited some of that spirit.

Michal
Michal

Working class hero! I would love to read more stories bout projects build with passion and hard work instead of money. Post some pictures of refurbished engine bay. Congratulations from Poland;)

Yusten Motts
Yusten Motts

That build is something else. I’m a fellow VW fan and I wish I had as much grit and determination as you to make my GLI like that. Very good job!

Lindell Serrin
Lindell Serrin

Aside from finding one in a barn, I’m going through the exact same process with the exact same car right now. I absolutely love the design of this car. Really nice job! It looks fantastic.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson

I think a lot of us have been through a first build like that, limited tools and money but lots of determination and brute force. It builds character… The result looks outstanding!