1 2 3
infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/25/21 12:00 p.m.

So in my search for a cheap daily driver to take to work that also has a back seat, I looked at Audis, BMWs, Volvos, pretty much everything. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to find something for 3-4 thousand, which was my target price. Then out of left field came this little car!

It's a 1989 VW Jetta GL Wolfsburg edition. 1.8 SOHC, 5 speed. 108k miles, runs solid. Picked it up for $1300. At that price, it does have some issues - the power steering is currently out, and the radiator fan didn't turn on, among other things. A $15 fan relay fixed the second part, although installing a new rack and pinion will have to happen down the road.  The previous owner, a guy around the age of 20, bought it just to learn how to drive a manual and then sold it. He also did his share of ricing it up during that time!  He installed coilovers, had a new exhaust system put on without a muffler, and of course spray painted the car flat black because the clear coat was starting to peel. Here's a glamour shot of that fine black spray painted exterior:


 

The ride is a bit bumpy due to the coilovers, so I'm going to raise it a little bit to hopefully help that. I'm going to start wet sanding it to get back to the blue paint underneath. Today I installed new spark plugs and new fan relay. The idiot light on the temperature gauge is gone so that's a plus. 

first up is better seatbelts. These factory ones are straight garbage. The previous owner said the rear speakers are blown but I want to check the wiring first - I'd like to have some tunes on my morning commute.  
 

My plans for this are to get it back in better shape, drive it to work of course, and once things open a bit then I'd like to autocross it - not competitively or anything, just for fun. I'd also like to try some rallycross while I'm at it. Probably some form of harness just to hold me in the seat. The tires are new so I might as well beat on them!  Here's an interior shot:

1SlowVW
1SlowVW HalfDork
4/25/21 12:23 p.m.

Those look like Helios blue sport seats. Kind of rare. If it's a solid car that's well bought. 
Get yourself a mild cam and that will wake the motor up quite a bit. Install is very straight forward.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/25/21 1:48 p.m.

In reply to 1SlowVW :

The seats/interior are probably my favorite part of the car. I'm hoping it'll clean up nicely with a little bit of elbow grease. The sunroof needs a new gasket - previous owner just put some duct tape on top to keep it from leaking. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. 
 

I've read the cam is a great mod for this engine, along with a header or dual downpipe manifold. All these things are getting added to my watch list on eBay. 

Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter)
Dusterbd13-michael (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/25/21 2:16 p.m.

Try lacquer thinner and goo gone on the spray paint first. Should take it right off.

But, well bought!

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/25/21 2:55 p.m.

Thanks for the tip!

1SlowVW
1SlowVW HalfDork
4/25/21 6:44 p.m.

In reply to infinitenexus :

Cams the easiest and cheapest of those upgrades. 
I wouldn't mess with those old dual downpipe manifolds. I know the mk4(99-05) 2.0l exhaust manifold was always a nice upgrade on the later cross flow motors but I'm unsure if that works on the earlier ones. Otherwise get a cheap header and go to town. 
 

Also a few bucks on new shifter bushings is always money we'll spent on these cars if it hasn't already been done. 

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/25/21 6:46 p.m.

Very cool, I almost bought one years ago but the guy selling it hacked it a lot.

 

Like.....he modified his cam with grinder freehand. Engine was locked up ..." Probably because of cheap parts".

 

Cheap parts.....suuuuuuurreeeee

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/25/21 8:28 p.m.

I cringe at the thought of taking a grinder to anything under the hood. 
 

Thanks for all the good tips. One question - if I'm driving and let off the gas and push in the clutch, the RPM will drop down low and bounce right back up to idle speed. It never dies, just kinda "bounces" once. What would cause that?  My old civic did that as well, but that car had 2.5 times the miles as this Jetta. 

Rocambolesque
Rocambolesque Reader
4/25/21 9:03 p.m.

Wow, my first car was a 1989 Jetta Wolfsburg edition just like this one. Star blue metallic paint. Same seats. I loved that paint color, I remember I think it was my favorite part of the car.

The desirable seats were the power Recaros with that same fabric found in the 1989 WE Jetta GLI 16V. The regular seats are kinda cool, but don't have any value compared to the "helios recaros".

Best mod for your money would be to put that cylinder head under a 2.0l ABA bottom end. You get a nice torque bump that way. Dual downpipe or header is the next logical step, after that is 2.25 exhaust and cam (I think the Techtonics 268 is still beign made...).

For your idle problem, I encountered that same issue back in the days. To solve, I would remove the idle valve, fill it with WD40 and let it sit for a bit. Dry it and re-install. I had to do that every 2-3 months or so. Keep in mind, I was 18 when I found this, it might damage the valve too... I just found a trick that seemed to work.

Man, reading this thread brings back so much VW memories... Feel free to message me if you need help.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/25/21 9:06 p.m.

Sounds like low vacuum, check around the intake. Does the brake pedal feel soft when the idle is acting up? 

 

Techtonics tuning (GRM advertiser) out of the pnw is your source for cam, exhaust and eprom goodies. 

Blauplaunt makes some headunits with modern features that still look right at home in a mk2. 

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/25/21 9:08 p.m.

In reply to infinitenexus :

A lot of his mods included the words " I did it with a grinder"

It included cutting the seat rails, which lit the interior on fire. Taking the paint off the hood, which came out terrible and him grinding off "excess weight" off everything.

 

Oddly I passed on that gem

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/26/21 11:54 a.m.

This car is what looks to be star blue metallic underneath the spray paint. I took some 400 grit and water to it today and made some progress:

I hate that the previous owner sprayed over this gorgeous color with flat black just because the clear coat was peeling. For the same amount of effort he could have sanded it smooth and hit it with some rustoleum clear and it would have looked a million times better. Ugh. I'm going to pick up some lacquer thinner and see if that helps remove this awful spray paint. Sanding with 400 grit works but it's going to take a while. I also removed this sign of class from the rear window:

There is something rattling in the front suspension when I go over bumps, but not when I turn side to side. I need to get in there and check for anything loose, it's just hard in an apartment parking lot. I'm also going to raise the car a bit, especially in the rear since it's lower than the front. These cheap coilovers feel like they have 600lb springs on them. Hopefully raising a touch will help the shocks handle them a touch better, since they won't be so squished. If nothing else, it'll look a little better. Since he also spray painted these ugly rims white, I also want to hit them with some sandpaper and paint them (probably)black and the lip silver. For $10 it'll look a lot better. 
 

Lots of work to go on this little thing, but it's getting there. I also want to clean up under the hood - the cruise control doesn't work so I'd like to remove that. I know that's a lot of hoses and stuff. I just need to learn more. 

noddaz
noddaz UberDork
4/26/21 3:31 p.m.

The front strut mounts are toast.

Years ago with my 1986 GTi I bought new upper strut mounts and found a pair of bowls that were the diameter of the mounts.  Then I filled the void in the mount with polyurethane.  Those mounts are still on the car and have not sagged at all.  (My son drives the beans out of that car now.)

 

BTW, Spic n Span cleaner is good for removing spray paint off of old models and slot cars.  It might work on your car too.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/26/21 6:13 p.m.

I will look into the strut mounts next time I work on the car. 
 

I tried the lacquer thinner and it worked pretty well, although I was using paper towels instead of a rag, which was not optimal.  Here is where I'm at currently:

i need to get a cheap rag or three to continue this. The clear coat on the hood, roof, and trunk lid are pretty shot so I'll have to figure out what to do there. I could lightly spray it with some touch up paint and clear or maybe I'll leave them black. I don't know. I'll cross that road when I get there. 
 

I ordered some proper 3 point seat belts, and I'm going to order new blinkers tonight as well, and some sun visors if I can find any black ones for cheap. Do visors from different generations fit?  Will a mk3 or mk4 sun visor fit?  There aren't any mk2s in junkyards around here and things get pricey on eBay. 

1SlowVW
1SlowVW HalfDork
4/26/21 6:53 p.m.

I think mk3 visors should work. Or passats if you can find an early 90s one. 
You're making me miss my mk2, keep up the good work. 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/26/21 7:42 p.m.

There is rattle can 2k clear available on amazon and tutorials on wet sanding around the edges of the failing clear coat then laying down the rattle can stuff. 

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/26/21 7:48 p.m.
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) said:

There is rattle can 2k clear available on amazon and tutorials on wet sanding around the edges of the failing clear coat then laying down the rattle can stuff. 

I need to do this to my zx2 one day

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/27/21 7:35 a.m.

I'm a big fan of rattle canning cheap cars.  It just feels right.

Since the clear coat on the top is so shot on this car, I'm mentally weighing a few options:

1. removing the spray paint from the rest of the car, sanding the hood/roof/trunk lid and painting them gloss black.

2. removing the spray paint from the rest of the car, sanding the hood/roof/trunk lid and respraying them blue.

3. removing the spray paint from the entire car and just ignoring the awful scratched up peeling clear coat because it's a cheap car.

I'd rather not have a black roof since summer is coming up and the A/C doesn't work on this car (not sure why, I'll have to check it this weekend).  I could probably deal with a black hood and the old paint there is in pretty bad condition so that might happen.

Also, the front suspension pops when you turn the wheel, especially when it's cold, and pulls to whatever direction I just turned.  So the strut mounts and strut bearings are definitely getting replaced as soon as they get here.  

ninja edit: forgot to mention, last night I realized the tires are the wrong size - they're supposed to be 185/60R14 but this guy installed 185/55R14 tires on it.  I guess he wanted it lower.  They're new tires so I don't want to complain too much, but it's kind of an annoyance.  Living in Cleveland, I want all the sidewall I can get.  I would just stay with 14" wheels and go to a 225/50R14 if I could find the tires.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/27/21 8:57 a.m.

I'd remove all the spray paint, wet sand around the failing clear coat to 800-1200ish then reclear with...

 

It's available as single.cam as well

 

The 2k and prep work makes all the difference in the final result. The blue will end up looks as it does when it's currently wet with regards to depth and shine. 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/27/21 9:43 a.m.

I still need to finish removing the spray paint, but I can see what looks to be gouges in the paint through the black spray paint.  That could be places where the clear has flaked/been scraped off, I won't know until I get the spray paint off.  Hopefully today after work I'll have the opportunity to work on it some.  Fingers crossed it's salvageable, but the bit of paint I have seen on the top of the car looked pretty faded as well - much less blue and much more silver.  If I can save it, I'm going to look into that clear you posted.  That looks like good stuff.

 

Just ordered two new strut mounts from fcpeuro, since they seem to have the best prices.  Also got a new exterior door handle for the driver's side, since it works intermittently.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
4/27/21 10:38 a.m.

There are a couple places online where you can order rattle cans of factory color code paint, and then you could clear over the repair work. The repair will obviously be darker than the nearly 30 year old paint, put good clear over top of it will help balance it some and it will likely look better than a rattle can job, especially if you like the factory color. 

 

You probably have some time to decide though as you send and remove the current rattle can stuff. 

 

I'll find a teaser of a 2K clear video repair to share with you it's impressive, enough so that the 323 got 2k clear put over it's DIY paint job. 

 

 

 

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/27/21 11:13 a.m.

That does look really nice!  I'm going to have to keep that in mind; it'll look a lot better than a black hood.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/28/21 7:33 a.m.

No real updates yet as I've been busy with work, but yesterday it got pretty warm here so I decided to try the A/C.  I'll admit I just assumed it didn't work - I asked the previous owner and his reply was "I think it has A/C but I don't know if it works," and judging by how he took care of the rest of the car I assumed that meant it didn't work.  Well, as I left work I slid the selector over and after a few seconds, it blew ice cold air the entire trip home!  I'm going to try to leave work a few minutes early today so I can rush home and try to raise the car a little bit, and rub off some more of this god awful spray paint.

infinitenexus
infinitenexus Dork
4/28/21 5:05 p.m.

On my way home from work I noticed that the car seemed a bit bumpier and noisier than usual. I stopped to get some gas when I was almost home and noticed my car seemed a bit lower and I was running some serious negative camber. Fortunately I was right around the corner to my house. First bump I hit, something broke. I managed to make it into the parking lot - the car really didn't want to turn left, and the tire was grinding against the fender. I parked it and snapped a few photos 

Yeah that wheel isn't happy. You can kinda see the angle from the front 

something definitely broke. I remember the previous owner saying it needed a new rack and pinion. Once I get a chance I'll jack it up and see what broke 

10001110101
10001110101 New Reader
4/28/21 5:28 p.m.

That looks like a bad control arm.

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners
ihS4aSXEWdFnxs4a6NwjAQ1PbIDPj5TJAdlZ37jZCiH0ztLnekolBaYGD74RTW0i