September 26, 2022

Trimmer by day, highway racer by evening…Chris Smith’s modified Mk1 Golf GTI is way from delicate, however then we don’t suppose it was ever meant to be given its Berg Cup styling and 301bhp 1.8T engine.

Characteristic from Efficiency VW journal. Phrases & pictures: Jon Cass

Chris Smith spends his working days as a automobile upholsterer, specialising in remodeling trendy VW Transporters into extremely fascinating camper vans. But, every evening after work over the course of three years, he turned his consideration to a VW challenge of his personal. It might be missing a sink, mattress, and cooker, however this beautiful Berg Cup impressed modified Mk1 Golf GTI makes up for its lack of tenting home equipment with a 301bhp 1.8T together with an array of effectively thought out mods.

Chris is a self-confessed very long time VW aficionado, although his first automobile was a purple Vauxhall Corsa. “I used to be working as a valeter at a French automobile dealership aged 18 on the time,” Chris recollects, “my supervisor, John was initially from Germany, he simply liked Volkswagens and his countless enthusiasm for the model started to rub off on me too.” Whereas John could have been cursing each time he stepped foot into his showroom stuffed with distinctly French vehicles, he did no less than handle to influence Chris to swap his Corsa for a Mk2 Golf 1.6 Driver. “That’s when all of it kicked off, I’ve had no less than 10 Golfs through the years, a lot of which I’ve modified indirectly naturally,” Chris provides.

The primary Mk1 arrived when Chris was 21, “It ended up turning into a significant challenge and it took me a number of years simply to make it roadworthy,” he remembers, “I solely drove it for one summer time and sadly, as a consequence of monetary difficulties on the time I couldn’t afford to run two vehicles, so the Mk1 needed to go.” This was a regrettable sale on a big scale and Chris at all times promised himself sooner or later he’d personal one other.

Twelve lengthy years elapsed, by this time Chris had undergone quite a few adjustments of jobs and at last an entire change of profession. “I discovered myself in a much better place to buy one other Mk1,” he recollects, “by now values had shot up and I settled on a 1989 Mk1 golf Cabriolet Automated.” The advantages of a canvas roof had been explored all through that summer time, although Chris discovered himself consistently testing different Mk1s available on the market.

“I noticed a tin high GTI challenge on-line and cheekily requested the seller if he’d do a straight swap with my cabriolet,” Chris smiles, “to my shock, he agreed!” As soon as the 1982 Mk1 GTI 1.6 was again house, Chris started to marvel if he’d made the suitable choice, “it was an actual mess and hadn’t been on the highway since 1994,” he explains, “an extended string of householders had tried to rectify any faults, normally with out success.” This left Chris with a Mk1 that not solely hadn’t been pushed for many years, there have been numerous bodges to undo as effectively.


Front portrait shot of Berg Cup-inspired modified mk1 golf GTI with Adidas livery

“I started by stripping the shell again to reveal metallic, in some unspecified time in the future it had been repainted black, however the authentic color was Mars Crimson,” he tells us, “rubbing down the engine bay was an extended course of and never one I notably loved!” In actual fact, Chris ended up rubbing down half the bay and leaving the rest for an extra twelve months. “I spent that point doing one thing that felt extra productive, shifting home and constructing an even bigger storage,” Chris laughs, “as soon as all that was out of the way in which, I returned to the Mk1’s bodywork.”

Initially, Chris deliberate to wrap the outside, however as lockdown 2020 hit and with much more time on his fingers, that plan quickly modified to a full respray. Mars purple was the chosen color, however the usual GTI equipment wouldn’t be going again on. “I’d been to a great deal of exhibits by now and the Berg Cup fashion actually caught my eye,” Chris explains, “I reckoned that very same fashion would go well with my very own challenge.” The extensive Berg cup arches had been minimize and trial fitted earlier than the respray started, Chris correctly selecting so as to add a Vortex rear spoiler, early Sequence 1 bumpers and Kamei bonnet scoop to finish his supposed look.

Filling these extensive arches accurately is an important transfer when becoming a Berg Cup bodykit and Chris was eager to show his consideration to the chassis to make sure the stance could be simply as he’d envisaged. “I opted for BC Racing coilovers with H&R anti roll bars and seam welded backside arms,“ he factors out, “I additionally added OMP higher and decrease strut braces and Powerflex black sequence bushes all spherical so the suspension is fairly stiff.”

Together with his eyes already on a stronger powerplant, Willwood entrance calipers and 280mm discs together with a change to a Mk2 Golf rear disc arrange vastly enhance the stopping energy. “I’d by no means arrange a pedal field in my life in order that stage required asking for some recommendation, “ Chris continues, “when it got here to the wheels, I needed to get it proper and ultimately settled on 15×9 Rota alloys.” Wrapped in 225/45/15 Nankang AR1 rubber, we’d agree he’s made the proper selection.

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The unique 1600cc GTi engine hadn’t ran in a long time which was of little concern to Chris as he deliberate to switch it anyway. “I’d saved the 1.8T engine from my spouse Laura’s Audi TT when she wrote it off, only for this second,” Chris continues, “the pipes and brackets all want altering to slot in a Mk1 although.” Fortuitously, the conversion course of coincided with one other lockdown and Chris discovered himself locked in his storage most days and nights tackling the wiring loom. “I spent hours making an attempt to get simply the wipers, lights and indicators to work,” Chris recollects, “I needed to unwrap all of the wires to search out the breaks simply to get the fundamentals working.”

1.8T engine from Audi TT in modified Mk1 Golf GTI

As soon as resolved, additional wiring was added for the gauges, gasoline pump and minimize off together with the battery isolator, James E Looms coming to some much-needed help right here. Simply to check Chris’s persistence much more, that first 1.8T lump misplaced oil stress shortly after the conversion was accomplished, “I changed it with one other TT engine utilizing an AGU backside finish mixed with an APX head,” Chris factors out.

The present 1.8T additionally advantages from a hybrid K04 turbo, 550cc injectors and ME7.5 administration whereas customized made increase pipes, a Badger 5 giant inlet pipe and a Trackslag 3.5in downpipe mated to a 2.5in exhaust system ensures this purposeful trying Mk1 is simply as fast as its seems counsel. And let’s not overlook the common intercooler, alloy radiator, RAM air filter and Mocal oil cooler, this definitely isn’t your common finances construct. 301bhp and 440nm torque is the spectacular outcome, greater than a lot in a featherweight Mk1! As you’d anticipate, the transmission has been upgraded to match, Chris choosing a Mk4 Golf 1.8T 5 pace field with a Quaife LSD and TDi fifth gear.

Interior of modified mk1 golf GTI equipped with roll cage and bucket seats

When it got here to the inside of the modified Mk1 Golf GTI, Chris was extra in acquainted environment although a Mk1 cabin is kind of totally different to that of your common VW T5. “I fitted a brand new entrance carpet and a four-way stretch carpet within the rear,” Chris explains, “I managed to discover a second-hand flocked sprint regionally and fitted an Alcantara headlining.” GSM Nottingham provided these ultra-supportive OMP WRC-R bucket seats and TRS harnesses, although Chris discovered them initially to sit down too low.

“I’m not the tallest particular person round, fortunately Fab53 sorted me some customized bases which allow the seats to sit down simply that bit larger,” Chris laughs, “Fab53 additionally modified the Roll Centre roll cage as initially there was no harness bar.” The removable OMP steering wheel, financial institution of AEM gauges and alloy door furnishings all complement the Berg Cup motorsport theme and the way cool does that alloy CAE shifter look too?

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If Chris had saved the outside plain Mars purple, there’s no denying this modified Mk1 Golf GTI would have turned heads, however with the addition of race themed decals it actually does stand out from the pack. “I contacted Lydia at MDC Customs for the vinyl decals,” Chris explains, “I had the concept and measurements for the stripes beforehand, the Adidas branding solely got here to me after pictures of assorted race vehicles on the web and I assumed it will work effectively with the three stripes.”

Regardless of quite a few setbacks, Chris has managed to deal with nearly your complete challenge from begin to end in his storage at house, his spouse Laura additionally serving to out many instances too. A number of specialists have been sought the place vital, however basically Chris can proudly say he’s constructed this creation himself. “It’s turned out even higher than I’d hoped,” Chris smiles, “the one addition I will probably be becoming shortly is energy steering as these extensive tyres make parking arduous work!”

There’s one other Mk1 Golf cabriolet to rebuild which has already been in his possession for 9 years and that could be adopted by a Chevy pickup too. And whereas his VRT campervan inside enterprise continues to go from power to power, it seems like Chris will probably be saved busy for a while to come back.

Rear shot of modified mk1 golf gti

Tech Spec: Modified Mk1 Golf GTI


1.8-litre 20v turbo APX head AGU backside finish, hybrid K04 turbo, Trackslag downpipe and exhaust system, singe mass clutch, Badger 5 giant consumption pipe, Ram Air filter, Mocal oil cooler, Trackslag cost pipe, AEM gasoline pump, 550 injectors, tuned by JWS Developments, common intercooler, alloy radiator, customized increase pipes


9×15″ Rota wheels RKR Nankang AR1 tyres, totally polybushed, welded backside arms, H&R anti-roll bars, BC Racing coilovers, higher and decrease strut braces, Willwood entrance calipers with 280mm discs, Mk2 Golf GTI rear brake discs


GTI Shell Berg Cup physique equipment, Vortex rear spoiler, Kamei bonnet scoop, polycarbonate home windows


Roll Centre cage, CAE Shifter, TRS harnesses, OMP WRC-R seats, detachable OMP steering wheel, Alcantara roof liner, AEM gauges, flocked sprint