You know that feeling of getting carried away – of being swept up in the moment? It's all too common and can happen, say, after a few too many, so going out turns into going out, out, as Micky Flanagan described so hilariously. Or you might end up spending a few quid more than you’d intended on a shopping spree, or £45,000 on resto-modding a Mk1 Golf GTI. That's what happened to Chris, who owns this Mk1 Golf GTI. He knows only too well about getting carried away, as he admitted when I spoke to him about his project car. It all started off with such simple intentions: a few choice improvements to create a track car, but then, well, it kind of spiralled. Massively. Like a huge, cash-sucking tornado.
Chris bought the Golf around four-years ago, after he’d sold his Audi RS4. He was looking for a track car and the Golf appeared to be just the ticket. It was a half-finished project but a runner. The engine had been swapped – to a 1.8-litre, 20-valve AGU from a 2000-era A3 or Golf – and it just needed a bit of fettling for track work. He sent it off to Motion Motorsport to have a limited-slip diff and a new pedal box installed, but, as is often the case, while it was there more and more things began appearing on the ‘to do’ list. Eventually that list was longer than Mr. Tickle’s arm and the Golf was all but in pieces.
I asked him whether he’s really spent £45,000 on it, as the advert says? ‘Oh, at least that, but probably more,’ he replied, with just the hint of resignation in his tone. The problem is Chris is a perfectionist. In fact, to use his own words: ‘I don’t do things half-arsed’. That’s obvious when you read the advert, which, he said, he tried to keep to the point not to bore people. I still recommend making a cuppa and finding a comfy chair before settling down to read it – there’s certainly a lot to take in. Suffice to say the repaint and rewiring alone took the best part of two years to complete, although some of that was because we were smack in the middle of covid at the time.
The engine revs to over 7,000rpm and, according to the dyno, it’s producing peak power of 254hp at 5,800rpm. Torque tops out at 244lb ft at 3,900rpm, but there’s 200lb ft-plus available anywhere between 3,000-6,500rpm. The engine mapping was done by another Chris, Chris Backshell of EFI, who spent a lot of time taming the car’s power delivery. Owner Chris said before being calibrated properly it was ‘quite spikey’. He says you still need a judicious right foot to launch it, but with the LSD and its current set of semi-slick tyres it’s quick. Thanks to the Golf’s 800kg kerb weight, he reckons the 0-62mph time is around five seconds, maybe dropping into the high fours if you hooked it up perfectly.
You may be wondering why, after spending all this time and money, Chris is selling it? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he said his original dream of a simple track car evaporated as the financial heat was turned up. There’s no way he’s going to risk it on a track day now, so the end goal morphed into creating a show car – a drivable one, mind, not one chauffeured everywhere on a trailer. And on that point, he’s taken it to a couple of events. The pictures in the advert are from its appearance at Elsecar at the Races at Doncaster Racecourse.
But the problem with unintentionally creating a show car is it clashes with Chris’s other passion. He plays cricket, you see, and with the cricket season in full swing just when all the top events are held throughout the summer, he says he simply doesn’t have the time to do both.
The strange thing is he’s still adding to it. Only last year he bought the set of gold BBS wheels it’s pictured with. They chime with the Mk1's overtly ‘80’s look, which he said was the theme he was going for. The previous set of ATF Turbo wheels are included in the price, by the way. He also told me that, while the mechanical side is probably too far advanced to reverse, he’s made sure everything regarding the car’s looks can be put back to original, should someone wish to do so in the future.
Now, if you need advice on where to invest your pension pot, maybe don’t go to Chris. He might invest another £45,000 of your money if he gets a second wind. But regardless of the money, you’ve got to admire someone who gets this absorbed by, and this passionate about, a project. Personally, I admire the result, too. I think it looks absolutely stunning.
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