December 7, 2022

How do you high an immaculate, Florida blue modified VW Golf Mk1? For Richard Stringer, the reply lay on this uber-rare, 1975 Lofoten Inexperienced swallowtail. 

Function from Efficiency VW. Phrases & Images: Jon Cass.

Again within the June 2016 difficulty of PVW, the staff ran a Mk1 Golf double characteristic with Ben Searle’s beautiful Mars Pink instance and Richard Stringer’s Florida Blue collection 1. The pair had taken wildly totally different routes when it got here to mods and it was cool to see each vehicles facet by facet, the combination of pink and blue paintwork including to that already distinct distinction in vehicles.

Quick ahead 6 years and each these vehicles have since discovered new house owners and reassuringly are nonetheless round, Ben taking up one other Mk1 challenge extra just lately. Richard in the meantime has been stored busy with this mega uncommon 1975 manufactured Lofoten Inexperienced swallowtail!

Introduced up on a weight loss program of traditional vehicles and motorbikes for so long as he can keep in mind, it was round 11 years in the past when Richard first stepped into the ever-changing world of Mk1 Golfs and that is his fourth so far. “My dad has at all times had one thing he’s restoring or constructing and I assume that’s rubbed off on me,” Richard smiles, “at the moment my dad is constructing a Porsche 550 reproduction with a 914 engine, the bodywork hand produced from sheet aluminium just like the James Dean unique whereas I’m restoring a 1966 Triumph Bonneville.” The Porsche 550 is a fancy challenge as you possibly can think about, however Richard’s Dad being the perfectionist he’s will give you the products. The truth is, we’re informed he has had so many enquiries in regards to the automotive he may begin his personal 550 manufacturing line!

Its simple to see why Richard has set the bar so excessive in the case of his mk1 builds. The Florida Blue collection 1 which appeared excellent in our eyes was handled to a respray together with extra smoothing within the engine bay whereas the cam covers and carbs have been additionally upgraded after the PVW characteristic! “By that stage I felt I’d carried out all I may with that automotive and it was bought to a collector who purchased it to exchange his personal Florida Blue modified VW Golf Mk1 which had been destroyed in a hearth,” Richard explains.

“Shortly after I’d bought the ‘78 a great mate of mine, Adam Baggott purchased a ’75 swallowtail challenge and I knew immediately I needed to have one,” Richard laughs, “the hunt was on, however discovering a real swallowtail isn’t really easy.” Proper from the off, Adam and Richard expanded their search past the UK to numerous European, Australian and American web sites. “After a couple of weeks one popped up on the market within the Netherlands, I messaged the man immediately, he by no means replied so I discovered him on social media and tried to make contact that manner,” Richard continues, “a number of weeks handed and I’d nonetheless not heard from him till I awoke in the future to seek out he’d replied and that the automotive was nonetheless on the market!”


Modified VW Golf Mk1

The next day Adam and Richard started a highway journey by way of the channel tunnel over to the Netherlands to take a look at the Mk1 rarity, “The man promoting the automotive will need to have thought we have been joking after we stated we’d be driving over from England, I feel he was shocked after we turned up,” Richard laughs. The swallowtail wasn’t to be present in a storage or dealership both, it was being saved inside a barn situated inside a working wooden yard! “It was coated in tree sap and sawdust, however you might inform it was a very clear automotive with no rust,” Richard remembers, “I couldn’t communicate Flemish and the blokes there may barely communicate English so a deal was struck by Google translator.”

It could be an agonising full month earlier than the Dutch Mk1 would attain UK shores, made much more tough as Richard had needed to maintain its arrival a secret. “After I acquired the automotive residence, I gave it a a lot wanted wash and it was apparent the paintwork wasn’t as much as scratch,” Richard recollects, “I phoned Jon at JH Professional Paint and had the automotive booked in for a respray.” Each side and the rear have been quickly repainted within the unique L61H Lofoten Inexperienced, which additionally occurs to be the identical shade as Alpine Inexperienced as discovered on air cooled VWs from the identical period. Jon labored his magic and as soon as a full machine polish and ceramic coating by Detailed by Dale had taken place, the inexperienced paintwork appeared beautiful as soon as once more. “I made a decision to suit a set of rear postie all orange and pink lights, the identical that have been used on early VW postal vans in Germany,” Richard factors out, “instead of the metal wheels I fitted the BBS RS ceramic polished rims I’d had on my Florida Blue Mk1.” Doesn’t get a lot better…

Armed with these minor sympathetic mods, Richard was now prepared for his contemporary into the UK swallowtail to hit the present scene by storm. And that it did, choosing up awards from VW Motion, Dubfreeze, Deva Dubs, Elsecar on the races and Early Version. “I additionally received on the Mk1 Golf OC AGM present and my automotive was chosen to be on their stand on the Traditional automotive present on the NEC,” Richard tells us, “this then led me on to turn into a committee member of the Mk1 Golf OC.”


Regardless of the automotive remaining comparatively customary that 12 months, its originality and the variations between a ’75 L swallowtail and barely extra commonplace later Mk1s have been certain to draw admirers. The fundamental however extremely enticing cognac trim, bronze glass and tiny 1100cc FA block all stay unique whereas this Golf L additionally benefitted from a clock on the sprint, temperature gauge, chrome door handles, chrome bumpers, chrome inserts across the home windows, a cigarette lighter and glove field lid. Sure, the essential specification of most household vehicles was fairly spartan manner again in 1975!

“I used to be amazed how effectively the automotive had gone down at reveals, “ Richard confesses, “I then started taking a look at modifications I may make for the next 12 months.” As you possibly can think about, Richard was eager to keep away from making any alterations that couldn’t be reversed, nobody desires to see a butchered swallowtail! This restricted any modifications to bolt on mods and we reckon Richard has make the proper decisions. “the engine was missing in pace and torque so I tracked down an unique VW motorsport manifold in Germany which I mounted to a pair of dual 40 Weber carbs, “ he explains, “I fitted an electrical side gas pump too and the engine now feels vigorous and is extra enjoyable to drive.” Discovering appropriate elements for this challenge was removed from simple and it took a while to find a Volkswagen Motorsport cam cowl in mainland Europe, “as soon as I obtained it, I found the match and end wasn’t as much as scratch so I requested an area engineering agency to manufacture one from billet aluminium utilizing a CNC machine,” Richard tells us, “I then had many of the ancillaries within the engine bay powder coated by Rugby Powder Coaters.” Along with the numerous underbonnet elements, the suspension arms and rear beam obtained related remedy whereas the exhaust manifold was additionally powder coated to a excessive temperature. “As soon as every part had come again from powder coating, I had all of the elements despatched to Element by Dale for ceramic coating earlier than placing them again on the automotive.” Richard provides.

Modified VW Golf Mk1

Fortunately modifications to suspension are reversible and to realize a usable however extra aggressive stance, Richard opted for a set of Tremendous Sport coilovers and polybushes all spherical, “they set the experience peak simply how I needed it with the BBS rims, however I’ll ultimately swap to an air experience system from Havair together with a set of BBS E Collection wheels,” Richard smiles.


The ultimate change got here within the form of a interval Scirocco TS steering wheel from Richard skinner which enhances that retro inside completely.

Having rebuilt three Mk1s thus far, Richard was amazed to find the variations between a swallowtail and Mk1s constructed from early 1976, which let’s face it’s just about all the survivors now. “the sprint bolts from beneath as a substitute of the edges like a Collection 1, the heater controls are on sliders as a substitute of a dial, there are small black nipples on the speedo and clock as a substitute of factors and the ash tray has an quaint cigarette lighter with a shift sample,” Richard factors out, “additionally the wiper and indicator stalks are metallic, the door deal with mechanism and hinges are totally different and mine got here with out a radio because it was solely an choice again then!” And we’re positive we don’t must let you know in regards to the delicate variations on the skin! all of it feels like a component sourcing nightmare ought to something determine to interrupt, however that’s all a part of the enjoyable of proudly owning and sustaining one of many rarest Golfs round.

This might not be the wildest modified VW Golf Mk1 we’ve ever seen in PVW, however the rarity and originality of this automotive together with these fastidiously chosen modifications sympathetically added by Richard guarantee it attracts followers wherever it goes. The truth is, Richard intends to boost the bar even increased as he’s looking out for a 74 1.5 Mk1 if anybody occurs to have one sat in a barn or woodyard someplace…

Tech Spec: Modified VW Golf Mk1


1100cc (FA block), Volkswagen Motorsport inlet manifold and cam cowl, twin 40 Weber carbs, electrical side gas pump, ancillaries powder coated and ceramic coated


BBS RS 15” wheels with Nankang 165/50/15 tyres, Supersport coilovers, poly bushes, powder coated suspension arms and rear beam


Lofoten Inexperienced L61h, entrance panel no tow eye, metallic entrance bumpers with row hooks fitted on them, bonnet has no swage line on the entrance lip, Postie pink/ orange back lights, rear panel formed like a swallow’s tail, rear boot lid has contemporary air vents, L-spec with bronze tinted glass, chrome door handles, chrome bumpers, chrome inserts on window surrounds


Cognac L-spec inside trim, Scirocco TS steering wheel, L-spec contains clock on sprint, temperature gauge, cigarette lighter, glove field lid