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white_averson New Reader
1/6/21 2:16 p.m.

So, after reading many build threads here I decided I would finally make my own. I'll probably make myself sound or look like an idiot frequently but, well, I am an idiot.

Anyway, about two years ago I was looking for something a little less boring than my Mazda3. At the time I was thinking a little faster than my Mazda3. Then I came across this.

I got carried away taking pictures of it but you get the idea. It was awesome. And not fast.

It has a 1.6L turbo diesel. I don't know a whole lot about VW's but I believe the engine is from a 1983 Jetta. It's loud and slow and very small and awesome for all those reasons. According to the PO it came from the south which would explain the lack of rust, at least for New England standards. I drove it around for a bit and really enjoyed it but there were a few things that bothered me. Number one was the cracked dash that was covered with a glued down piece of carpet. The windshield leaked and the interior was damp and smelly.

Finally, I got fed up and tore the dash out. That's where the "build" began. I'll try walk through what I've done so far but, with over a year of work, I'll probably miss something. I also hadn't really considered a build thread so I don't have a lot of pictures of the details.

The dash came out and I stripped the foam and vinyl. I had the goal of putting new vinyl on myself but that still hasn't happened and is definitely outside of my current skill set. Then the carpet came out. That's where I discovered this.

Rust. Which really shouldn't be a surprise. The holes had been filled with silicone or something and I just punched through the floor trying to remove sound deadening. And so began my adventure in learning to weld. I don't think this is the best beginner welding project but I went for it anyway. I bought floor pans and inner rocker pieces and started cutting the floor out.

Fitting floor pans and cutting out rusty inner rockers.

I welded in all the panels. It wasn't pretty which might be why I don't have many pictures but in the end I could place my entire weight on the floor without any issues. As a wise man once said, "Grinder and paint for the welder I ain't." I painted the entire floor with POR15 and undercoated the bottom. Then, I put sound mat in with hopes of keeping a little of the tractor noises coming from the engine bay out of the cab.

Those pictures look like they're sideways. I take pictures like everyone else my age apparently. That's where I end it for now. I've got a little more done since then but I need to dig up the pictures.

matthewmcl (Forum Supporter)
matthewmcl (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/6/21 2:30 p.m.

Woo Hoo!

docwyte PowerDork
1/6/21 3:03 p.m.

Caddy's are so cool, I'd love to have one

JoeTR6 Dork
1/6/21 6:02 p.m.

I love these and will be following.

vwcorvette (Forum Supporter)
vwcorvette (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/6/21 8:47 p.m.

I've replaced a bit of Mk1 floors in my time. Keep up the good work.

white_averson New Reader
1/7/21 7:47 a.m.

Thank you all for checking it out!

I'll bring this up to where I'm at now. Still lacking pictures but I can show more of what it looks like if anyone is interested. After the sound mat I put new carpet in.

It's not very clean in the pictures but having carpet back made it feel so much more finished. You can see the red on the passenger side door card. Not sure what happened but that side of the truck has red over spray or something on everything.

I made a headliner, too.

The truck didn't have one when I bought so I guess I'm improving it now. 

In case you missed it, my cousin found a miniature version of the Caddy.

You can also see my addition of a cupholder. I like to have coffee when I drive and the lack of cupholders was something I needed to change. That is where I'm at currently. There's definitely things I missed but hopefully I can show in more detail anything I do from here.

There is plenty to do. The windshield and back window need new gaskets. That's where this whole interior "restoration" began. The dash either needs to be recovered or replaced. The water coming in the windshield conveniently fell right on the fuse box so there are plenty of electrical issues. I got the headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. all working but many other things, like the radiator fan, don't work. I managed to cut a parking brake cable when I replaced the floor. Yup, that wasn't very smart. I did replace the cables and rebuilt the drum brakes but now the parking brake doesn't work at all. The cables seem too long. I've got to figure that out. It also has some trashed coilovers up front that I'd like to change. That's just the things I should do. There's plenty that I'd like to do otherwise but those things should be done first.

My pace is often glacial but I'll try keep this up to date with any progress I make.

karplus2 Reader
1/7/21 7:55 a.m.

This is amazing! One of my earliest memories is my Grandpa picking me up from pre-school in one just like yours but it was a maroon/brownish color. Following along.

10001110101 New Reader
1/7/21 8:30 a.m.

You very well may have rust holes under your windshield seal. My 83 GTI had the exact same issue with the water on the fuse box. My fuse panel was warped from the heat and moisture. Expect to replace relays and fuses. Test your radiator fan motor as they are a failure point. AutohausAZ is a good source for parts. 

dextervw Reader
1/7/21 12:59 p.m.

Looking good !   Where abouts in NE are you?  I've owned many a mk1 vw (at the pinnacle I had one of every color combination of GTI you could have, but that was when a non-running GTI was 50 and a runner 100, those were the days)  

For more power you can do several things:  turn up the boost and fuel, get your hands on a Giles pump, swap in a TDI from a 90's passat or jetta (simple),  swap in a TDI from a later car (harder) or ditch the soot shooter and drop in an ABA from a 93-99 Golf or Jetta coupled with either a 2y or 4k transmission (well documented and stock will make that caddy a weapon on back roads) 

Have fun with her! 

white_averson New Reader
1/7/21 1:36 p.m.

In reply to karplus2 :

That's awesome! One of my favorite things is the weird, at least for today, colors that these old cars had

white_averson New Reader
1/7/21 1:41 p.m.

In reply to 10001110101 :

I'm expecting to find some rust around the windshield. Definitely a bit intimidated about taking the glass out and installing it again. I did replace the fuses but haven't tried replacing the relays. The fan works with power straight from the battery. When I jump the thermoswitch the fan doesn't turn on which, at least to me, indicates something wrong with the wiring itself. There was some terrible wiring when I got the lights working. I've got a lot to learn on the electrical side of things.

white_averson New Reader
1/7/21 1:43 p.m.

In reply to dextervw :

I'm in southern NH. I have considered adding a little power but I want to keep the current engine in it. Its already been a lot of fun and I'm hoping to get it completely ready to drive once the salt and snow is off the roads.

10001110101 New Reader
1/7/21 3:21 p.m.

Do yourself a favor and order a Bentley manual for it. Should be a red cover. I still have mine, and am currently shopping for a car to put it to use with. 

preach (Forum Supporter)
preach (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/7/21 3:45 p.m.

I am in Somersworth, if you are on the seacoast part of S NH.

I knew a guy that had a G60 SCed Caddy, it was pretty cool.

noddaz UltraDork
1/7/21 5:35 p.m.

Very nice!  Glad to see it is being saved!  Enjoy!

BTW, the hard part is not taking the windshield out, it is putting the new one in!  But with a new seal that is not really hard either...  Just take your time with some thin rope and use lots of lube.   

Wait, THAT didn't sound right...

white_averson New Reader
1/26/21 6:51 a.m.

While I am making some progress on the list of things I wanted to get done on the Caddy, I went a little outside the plan yesterday. Since I bought the truck (car?) I have wanted one set of wheels specifically. Well, some Ronal Turbos would be pretty sweet, too... Anyway, I check Facebook Marketplace occasionally to see if any show up. I just can't justify buying them new. Last week, though, these were for sale an hour away.

Enkei92's with almost new Toyo Proxes. I couldn't pass them up. Though not much cheaper than new, I pretty much got the tires for free. At least thats how I'm looking at it. I had to put them on the truck as soon as I got back.

I'm pumped. I think they look awesome. I had concerns about fitment and still have to drive it before I'm confident they don't rub anywhere. I wasn't a huge fan of the VW center caps and I've always liked the Enkei ones so I switched them back. Makes me want to take it out for a drive again. Can't wait for the salt to be off the roads.

Anyway, now I have to get back to the regularly scheduled programming. Might be close to an update on my interior project...

84FSP UltraDork
1/26/21 6:58 a.m.

Looking good sir - tons of good motor upgrades for these out there.  take a look at suspension options as the factory setup is pretty frightening after any power is added.  We have done 2.0's, G60's, 1,8t's, and most recently VR6's into them.  

bonylad Reader
1/26/21 7:03 a.m.

I had a set of Enkei 92s on my 93 Civic Si.  Loved them. My favorite wheel!


white_averson New Reader
1/26/21 9:13 a.m.

In reply to 84FSP :

Suspension is definitely high on the list of things I want to give some attention. I don't have any big power plans beyond playing with the turbo diesel but we'll see. Lots to do just to get where I feel like I can modify instead of just fix it.

white_averson New Reader
1/26/21 9:17 a.m.

In reply to bonylad :

One my favorites for sure. Especially seeing them on the truck in person, I don't think any other wheel would work as well as they do.

frenchyd UltimaDork
1/26/21 6:23 p.m.

In reply to noddaz :

A friend of mine from the Navy worked as the station manager for a truck hub in Bakersfield California.  When it shut down in lue of his final paycheck they let him have one of those and all the fuel he wanted. 
He had no idea how many miles it had but it was a lot. He filled 55 gallon drums up with fuel and took a case of oil. Set out for his new job in Two Rivers Wisconsin.  
Middle of the winter and he got caught in a nasty snow storm  that with the near bald tires forced him to take refuge in an abandoned farm house.  Water in the radiator and it froze solid cracked the block radiator water pump and a couple of hoses. 
Short  version, he never got the job, he took over the farm and had a good life. Still has the Rabbit. 

1SlowVW HalfDork
1/26/21 6:42 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I would watch that movie. 


OP Great looking truck, I sold mine to pay for my wedding which was a good move on the life front. I should work on my rabbit some day. 

white_averson New Reader
2/5/21 9:44 p.m.

I'll start by saying that I would definitely watch the Rabbit roadtrip movie.

Anyway, I finally went for the project I had been avoiding. My fears were mostly confirmed but its done.

That task was finishing the dash. It was cracked and disintegrating as most of them are when I bought it. I tore the old foam and vinyl off out of frustration and without much thought for the consequences. The result looked a little like this.

I bought some sort of marine grade foam. I don't even remember why I chose this one specifically. That gives an idea how long I've been putting this off. I tried cut it to about the same thickness as the original foam and used contact cement to glue it down.

Already, we can see where I've gone wrong. I really should have set up a jig to cut the foam to the same thickness every time. I powered through. I just wanted this out of the way.

I have some supposedly marine grade vinyl that I tried to cut and pattern based of the old dash. I then stitched the seams. I don't have a sewing machine available. Hand stitched, that makes it a luxury car, right?

After a few nights I had this.

A little loose fitting but not terrible. 

From there it was gluing it up. That make all my mistakes apparent but it functions and its better than the old dissolving one.

With the defroster vents cut.

Honestly, I'm a little frustrated with the results but any issues were my own fault. I'm glad its out of the way. If it really bothers me I can have it done professionally or drop the big bucks getting a mint original one.

I really want to put it in and call the interior finished but I'm going to reseal the windshield and try get all of the gauges working first. So, the next update will hopefully be a windshield that doesn't leak! Anyone that has done the "rope-in" windshields, does it pay to use some kind of sealant with the gasket? Or will that just make a mess?

84FSP UltraDork
2/6/21 8:18 a.m.

Typically there are some rubber friendly, not Vaseline but similar, to lube up the rope in.  Hunt your seals carefully or you'll be doing it again sooner than later.  Be mindful there are three different size mk1 windshields and each wants a different seal.

10001110101 New Reader
2/6/21 8:20 a.m.

In reply to white_averson :

Every rope in windshield I've ever seen done in a rabbit was done with dawn dish soap and water. 

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