May 21, 2020 update to the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI project car

Project Rabbit GTI: Removing Nonessential Parts Like Broken Lamps and a Rusty Trailer Hitch

Story and Photography by Tim Suddard

Those driving lights had to go. We have nothing against add-on lamps, but these were too big, too close to center.

And they were broken, too. 

After unbolting the lamps from the bumper, we removed the associated wiring and relays. Then we repaired the wiring harness. 

Next, we removed the rusty trailer hitch. This was just a bolt-on hitch, so it didn’t leave any permanent damage other than some easily filled holes. 

We also pulled the ’80s Hella sunroof visor–just two clips held it in place. We may reinstall later but, for now, it’s off. 

Someone had installed a Euro-spec front bumper. We replaced it with the proper stock one–just needed to paint and detail it. We tucked the bumpers, too.

 

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sfisher71
sfisher71 New Reader
6/8/20 8:41 p.m.

I've owned two A1 GTIs -- neither with the Callaway kit (which was, along with the Oettinger 16V head, a favorite bit of automotive porn for me back in the day). 

One caution about the chassis: my second one repeatedly failed on me in the rain, once on Hallowe'en Night in 1987. My wife was pregnant with our first child, who was born six weeks later; the car died on a busy Southern California freeway on our way to an autocross. Pushing the car in the slow lane on the Ventura Freeway (which even then was so busy they cannibalized the breakdown lane to accommodate extra traffic) was, in the words of Tommy Lee Jones, "one of a thousand memories I don't want to have."

I finally determined the failure mode and the cause, and that's why I'm writing to you: the 1984 GTIs (and other Rabbits, presumably) had glue-in windshields, which were apparently a learning experience for the crew at the Westmoreland County, PA manufacturing facility. Specifically, many of these cars had voids in the glue that held the windshield in place, allowing for water to leak in.

In my '84, the water leaked in above the driver's left ankle. Unfortunately, between the ankle and the windshield was the relay box. In particular, water leaking in filled the fuel pump relay, which caused it to short out and fail.

About the third time this happened to me, I had one of those flashes of insight brought on by the inhalation of too many Castrol fumes, or too much Newcastle Brown Ale: What would I do if this were one of my British cars?

Why, old bean (I thought to myself), I'd lay hands on a tube of RTV and seal up the fuel pump relay so water couldn't get in.

Worked a treat, till I sold the car some years later for a 1982 280ZX -- first year with "Nissan" badging and with rack-and-pinion steering. (I sold THAT one to pay for the paint job on my 1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior. As my son once said after giving him a hard-won pearl of paternal wisdom, "Wow, Dad, you really did a lot of things the hard way.")

In your case, I'd recommend testing the windshield gasket for leaks and, if no previous owner has fixed them, consider replacing at LEAST the gasket/glue and possibly the windshield, if it's at all suspect. But the irritation of having a car quit on a rainy day is one thing; the possible effects of intermittent and insufficient fuel supply on a turbo could get expensive quickly.

wabitpooor
wabitpooor New Reader
6/30/20 7:23 a.m.

I've been down the road with "windshields" The last one was correctly done by sychronizing the entire rebuild of the Steering column and non- A/C ventilation with a dash removal. The lower trim at the dash to windshield is fragile, and not available as most interior pieces. This will be a knuckle buster if your car is neglected. Save the grief , do it all at once. 

Now for the Fuel tank issues.. Make friends at Mk1 Autohaus, Techtonics Tuning, The Parts Place

These many issues might explain why Concours condition are driving the values up..

 Help! I can't stopsurprise

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