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Phil's '95 VW Golf Sport VR6 (Update: exhaust clip!)

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:01 pm
by pmacutay

I like how my photo quality got worse over time, since I've been spending all my time behind video cameras for work, and well, that whole Instagram thing got invented since I started this thread. Work has a way of sapping your free time; plus, she's kinda camera shy right now after the whole accident thing. (see the P.S. towards the bottom)




So in my never-ending quest to ruin this car, about a month ago my friends and I installed an AirLift/AccuAir suspension system to replace my aging Racelands. Simply got tired of driving through the horrible downtown LA roads and rubbing like crazy, so I figured the logical conclusion would be to go air. Every VW enthusiast is drawn to it at some point.

Found a good deal on an AccuAir SwitchSpeed system on the VWvortex, paired with AirLift Slam Series struts in the front and AirLift Performance Series (with adjustable damping) in the rear.



Mocked up the trunk setup...

But after a few ingenious decisions and measuring the trunk space about a million times, our final setup came out much, much cleaner:


The donut spare had to go to make room for the management, but atop that sits a custom-shaped sub box, sized for proper air volume to the spec of the 12-inch Rockford Fosgate P1. Inverted the sub for looks and to get more airspace in a smaller box. Goddamn it sounds good; got my system tuned with a calibrated microphone and my buddy was rather surprised at how accurate and balanced my friends and I had gotten the bass by just building a proper box & tuning it with our ears and some test tones. Deep, extended bass, punchy midbass so you can feel the tightness of every kick in your chest, all the while still retaining its definition. Bass lines are tight, detailed, and musical, with no notes being louder than the others. Turns out, that $50 sub I picked up was just being choked by that off-the-shelf box I put it in!

The 5-gallon air tank sits fore of the sub box, with the majority of it underneath the false floor. The venerable Kenwood 4-channel amplifier that I've literally been using since I bought the car is propped up on the passenger side on a false wood panel attached to the strut tower.

The result is decently usable trunk space, with room for my small suitcase, and retaining the ability to drop down the rear seats and really have some cargo room. Case in point: I've been able to fit multiple tripods, light stands, sliders, a crane, a quadrocopter, and a couple pelican film gear cases in my car. That, and preventing tire rub with all the extra load weight is just a tap of the switches away.

There's always that joke; "bags are for groceries"-


Of course, the question is: how do they handle?

And of course, the answer is: better than the Racelands, but for upwards of $2000 they damn well better. Unfortunately, my old ride height on the coilovers leaves the air springs with not enough pressure in them to prevent rubbing on fast-rebound-type bumps, but the dampers in the AirLift kit are top notch for handling the medium- and slow-rebound-type bumps. The car lands on all fours and instantly feels planted, with very fast "recovery" and minimal bounce—noticeably less bounce than the Racelands. The car hits the bump, lands back to ride height and just sticks there.

When riding at optimal pressure (about a finger of wheel gap) the ride is smooth, controlled, yet still transmits a lot of road feel to the driver (though much of that is likely due to my 205/40/17's than anything else).

Riding at higher than normal heights gives a very solid feeling suspension while still being controlled and not bouncy, perfect for spirited driving, but opposite of what you'd expect (higher ride height doesn't mean softer suspension, like it does with springs) due to the nature of air springs.

0-115psi in the front, and 0-60psi in the rear, the extent of the suspension travel. Actually, I'm sure the fronts will go higher, but the manual says "don't exceed 125psi" and I don't exactly want to test that any time soon, lol.

Likely one of the best things I've done to the car. There's not much else left on my to-do list besides wheels at this point, but I literally still have yet to find a deal on a set I really like...yup, for 6 years I haven't found any wheels yet. Guess I'm a bit picky, but I'm out of stuff to do now so I think it's time to find her some new shoes...

Till next time!

P.S. Around December 2012, I checked my passenger side blind spot for too long while attempting to do a lane change, and returned to looking forward only to find that my lane of traffic had completely stopped. Despite the best efforts of my tires, I rear-ended someone, my first accident, ever. Luckily, the damage was rather superficial; about $300, a couple favors for a grille, hood, radiator & support, and 8 hours of my time on a weekend later, she was back up and running.

I did upgrade her lighting while I was at it; went with European-spec smoked Jetta headlights along with H4 4300K HID's with a cutoff shield (but looking to go back to halogen as despite the cutoff shield, the beam pattern still disappoints me) but since been too busy to paint the grille, hood, & find a new fender to match.

I think painting all that shit will be my christmas gift to myself; driving around like a ricer with mismatched body panels for a year is the purgatory I had to spend after crashing my own car into someone's BMW :P


T-Minus 11 days to car show

T-Minus 15 days to car show

Tonight was a short night of work. Pulled the clutch off, pulled & cleaned the oil filter housing and replaced the leaking oil pressure sensors, replaced the oil cooler & some hoses, and assembled the new thermostat housing assembly & coolant sensors.

And then we hit our first real couple of setbacks during this project.

We were going to do the timing chains tonight and get them out of the way when we found out that MJM Autohaus had neglected to ship me 3 essential parts for the timing chain job, the guide rails for the chains. Really shitty, considering the guide rails are the parts that wear out, not really the chains.

Also, I'm still waiting on the CNC "crack pipe" (Coolant Distribution Pipe) that I ordered, and it's kind of essential to put the cooling system together...

We're gonna see if we can scramble our buddies at local parts shops to see if they'll give us those timing chain parts & a crack pipe that we need, and we can just give them the parts that I get back in the mail whenever they come in. Hopefully that works out and my buddies can get the timing job done while I'm out in LA filming tomorrow night.

We're hoping to put the motor in this Saturday, but as of right now the chances are looking slim...we'll see how it goes.

T-Minus 16 days to car show

Finished all the little things: fixed the rad fan belt, pulled the hydraulic clutch actuator assembly & shift linkage off the donor, and pulled the downpipe/cat that were rusted together. Gauge Cluster MFA (multi-function display) harness came in the mail as well; tossed it into the wiring pile. Prepped the intake manifold for paint...

Here it is, after paint, mocked up with most of the the engine trim around it. I think it looks damn good. Gonna leave the engine cover matte black; was originally going to paint the "VR6-DOHC" lettering red, but I think I'll leave the whole thing matte black. Looks classier.

At this point, the only thing on the donor that remains are the 5-lug hubs. Tomorrow, my shipment of cooling, timing & oil overhaul parts arrives from the warehouse in Texas, and we're gonna do some real work.

T-Minus 17 days to car show

A friend brought over a new engine hoist and engine stand that we could use for the week.

Separated the tranny, and found some good news: the pressure plate & clutch were switched out recently. They weren't even dirty; the pressure plate still had its blue paint color to it, not dusty and black. $300 I don't have to spend.

Ripped the cooling system apart...stripped a couple of the waterpump bolts, but got it out with a torx bit + hammer. I then proceeded to be an idiot and pull the water pump while the engine + stand was still in the garage, not over the driveway. The engine immediately vomited coolant everywhere, and I basically went :shock: "UHH...UHHHHH—" and shoved the water pump back in in an effort to stop the coolant flow. :lol:

Swung by 4SeasonTuning earlier in the day and picked up some spark plugs & wires, serp belt, a new CV boot to replace the busted one, oil pressure/temp sensors since the o-rings were shot on all three and leaking oil everywhere, fan belt, some Mobil1 oil (six f**k quarts jesus this engine uses a lot of oil) & some coolant.

Pretty much just waiting on my big shipment of the rest of the overhaul parts from MJM Autohaus to come in, and we're gonna bang this shit out. Might even throw the engine in this weekend, depends on how our schedules work out.

I cannot be more thankful that I've got a friend who's basically tutoring me through this swap, and letting me use his garage space for pretty much 3 weeks. In fact, this entire project wouldn't be happening, and this inexpensively, without friends from everywhere; parts shops, tire shops, exhaust shops.

One of my friends helping with the swap is even buying the old motor off me; that works out, he's got a 1600lb mk1 Rabbit that he's gonna throw my cammed 2.0L in, that should be pretty damn fun, and I don't have to worry about an engine sitting around forever while I try to sell it.

I'm so excited. I can barely focus on work and day-to-day things, I just keep dreaming of the day I turn the key and that thing fires up for the first time in my car.

T-Minus 19 days till car show

This was fun to deal with. Luckily my buddies knew how to sort it out. Such a learning experience for me, and crazy to watch people that know what they're doing just rip through seemingly-ridiculous tasks like pulling all the wiring out.

Car's nervous system fully pulled. w00t

And finally, what we came here to do today: ripping the motor & tranny out of the donor car.

All in a day's work.

Intake manifold is on its way to get polished & painted, cooling & timing overhaul parts are coming in via UPS, I'm running errands left and right to source all the little parts that we need, and prepping the plastic engine trim pieces for paint.

I saw this photo of another mk3's VR6 and I knew this is what I had to do to the manifold & trim:

This project's halfway there...can't lose steam now!

T-Minus 20 days till car show

Finally got started on the actual physical work. Paperwork's all said and done, the donor car's got its cali plates and fully registered under my name, so we start what we've been waiting for: ripping the thing apart.



With the radiator out of the way, unplugging and re-routing the wires and sensors becomes a billion times easier. As does unbolting the tranny & engine mounts.


Anyone want a Passat bumper? Like new condition, slightly drop-kicked & ripped off :lol:


A surprise was waiting for us when, out of curiosity, I cracked open the ECU to make sure the chip socket was the same one as the chip I had ordered from Techtonics.

I saw this and blurted out, "Well, f**k me! Yo, check this out!"

Same exact chip I ordered. Not bad, saves me $100 on the build that can go to other maintenance stuff! Contacted Techtonics to arrange the return of the new chip I ordered.


Engine harness pulled out of raintrays & stock engine bay routing. It's like the engine's nervous system is now exposed. (I know, "wire tuck! wire tuck!" but we don't have time. If only...)


Essential tools for a motor swap.

Time for sleep; waking up bright and early tomorrow to get an engine hoist, and then calling over a bunch of friends to literally throw the donor car's shell onto a trailer so we can send it to the scrapyard and make some money from it.

Bonus pic:

Apparently, this is what happens when you do a 5k rpm launch, carry the wheelspin through 1st and chirp into 2nd...on tires that were already bald to begin with.

5-7-12 Slow but steady progress...

VR6 cluster came in the mail! Test fitted it in the Golf and left it in because it looks too sexy. Tach signal reads wrong, though (expecting 6 cylinders, not 4), but everything else works. :D

Showing my affection for the donor car and the headache of a registration process she's been giving me.

But she's got a heart of gold. The engine cleaned up half-decently, at least. Gonna polish those manifold runners before it goes back into the Golf.

I love the "DOHC" badge, it's like a relic from an era where the number of camshafts your engine had was a bragging right.

T-Minus 24 days to Wuste 2012. The race is on.

04-21-12 - Four Year Necropost!

Four years is a long time. Changed my major a couple times, failed a bunch of shit & got put on academic probation, came back, got accepted to CSULA for Film, started to do video work for Super Street & EuroTuner magazines now...a lot has changed. Learned a bit about life.

...funny enough, my little Golf never got rid of me. Sentimental value, I guess. Been through another 2.0 motor but she's been giving me clutch problems with this one, so I'm doing the logical step in diagnosing the clutch problem:

(buying a passat?!) nope, VR6 swap! Got the donor car, gonna overhaul the cooling system / transmission while they're outta the passat, and gonna slap that into my Golf in time for Wuste 2012! Should've done this project a long time ago, but hey, ya live and ya learn.

Depending on how much I make, I may/may not cam that VR6 before I put it in, but it'll be plenty quick in that light mk3 body.

Excited for things to come. Stay tuned.

09-30-08 (1 pic)
Went to the same place I did my first photoshoot at...but this time with a working engine and a film camera. Titled "She Lives"
Developing was annoying, I forgot how to roll the film onto the reel so I was sitting there in the film loading room freaking out because my film kept crinkling...took about 10 minutes in the pitch black for me to realize I was loading the film the wrong way. Surprisingly it didn't get too mangled up, and it developed just fine.
Then the enlarger decided to give me a hard was real tough getting any sort of midtones out of this picture due to the contrast. Bright day out, I shoulda waited a little longer till the sun settled down a bit.


07-25-08 (3 pics)
Got a bit inspired driving around at night. One of my 3-year-old aftermarket HID ballasts died right after my shoot. Luckily they're like, $25 a pop on eBay so I got one on its way here.
The last shot is another NFS Carbon-styled photoshopping. I think they're fun to do.

You can also see my new euro plate. It's my california plate numbers and letters, but done up euro style. Even has european fake year/month registration stickers. (yes I know the spacing is wrong, I accidentally forgot the space after the 2nd set. I'll get it fixed eventually or something)



07-11-08 (1 pic)
Decided to try and shoot outside my element. A high shot, looking down...I rarely do this and I felt I needed some practice. The framing and angle could be better but I like the way the contrast came out...


05-27-08 (2 pics)
Projector output shots.
I'm thinking of cracking them open and making the cutoff shield an s-curve or a straight line. But for ebay projectors, the light output is surprisingly even, without any ridiculous hotspots, and the cutoff is sharp.
I'm running 4300K aftermarket HIDs in H1 halogen projectors, and yes I know the passenger side one is angled off. :D



05-23-08 (1 pic)

Projectors! (and smoked sidemarkers)
I know, they're offa eBay, and they're halogen projectors...still, cutoff is better than no-cutoff. Plus, now I have a perfect housing to retrofit TSX/Audi/whatever HID projectors in. One step at a time...haha.

05-07-08 (2 pics, 1 vid)

My aftermarket keyless entry system came in the mail today, so I wired it up. Ties into the OEM alarm and all, and the keyfob is pretty much a nice knock-off of the VW switchblade keyfobs (which is what I had been using anyway), so it doesn't even look aftermarket at all.

Pictures of my dirty wiring job:


That black wire hider piece is actually not as noticeable as it is in the pictures, the flash and direct lighting tend to reveal every single difference. I need to do something about the exposed wires from the box, however...I might just find an old black floormat and cut it up to lay on top of the whole thing.

04-30-08 (1 pic)
Got bored, always kinda wanted to do this photo.


04-21-08 (4 pics)
Rear wiper delete, license plate cleaning. Bar Keeper's Friend works wonders.





03-22-08 (1 pic)
My friend took a shot around sunset that I thought looked pretty nice, and reminded me of Need for Speed Most Wanted. Since I've been playing a lot of Carbon lately, I thought I'd photoshop up one of my old night shots to follow Carbon's color palette.

"Carbon Remix"

Inspired by David Liu:

02-20-08 (3 pics)
Re-done interior accent lighting by, instead of wal-mart. Velcro mounted and less messily wired, now, it's closer to a "proper" install. Quite a long exposure for that picture, however (about 4 seconds), so it's a bit more subtle than it looks when driving around at night. And the dome light isn't on when I'm driving around, either, haha. Also got my new shift boot from I should've gotten the e-brake boot to match, too... :P




01-08-08 (2 pics)
Put in some new gauge faces by DDI...friggin loving them. As soon as I get my torx set back I'm gonna install the inverse LCD mod...turns the odo and clock to red on black to match the rest of my interior styling that I'm trying to do :P



11-14-07 (2 pics)
Went and did a night shoot at the mall after hours. (Got some cool shots of other stuff too, check my flickr if ya want =])




11-13-07 (1 pic)
Decided to re-do that shot of my keys, this time paying attention to lighting and aperture. Not really a pic of the car, but I'll keep it in here anyway



09-22-07 (3 pics)
It was raining (finally) so I grabbed my camera and headed out. You know, sometimes I wonder how random it looks to passing cars to see me taking pics of my car from different the rain... :D

"Turned On"




09-18-07 (2 pics)
Snapped about 55 daytime shots of her and only kept two (yeah I'm that picky)...I'll prolly do another daytime photoshoot soon, maybe with a few friends' cars. But for now...




08-20-07 (3 pics)
Decided to head to the top of my town here and snap a few night shots since I wasn't feeling ready to head home yet... :)



Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:03 pm
by jomotopia
nice pics :D

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:05 pm
by Johnf514
Love the pictures - I said to myself "he's got to be in SoCal." And I was right. :)

Great car! Would love to see some daylight shots - or maybe there are some and I just missed them? :P

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 3:08 pm
by pmacutay
I'll do daylight shots after I wash the car :P

(harder to see waterspots when the clean side of the car is facing you and it's at night haha)

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 4:19 pm
by Sypher
pics arent bad, but I would suggest a slower shutter or higher exposure :)

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:37 pm
by pmacutay
Haha, I was using an 8 second exposure on ISO200.

I kinda wanted to go higher (longer exposure) but I didn't want the sky to be glowing that bright, and plus, I liked the darker look =]

Thanks, though. I'll get some daylight pics up soon too.

EDIT: fixed because it sounded more like an IM and less like a forum post.

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:44 pm
by Tinton
I love the top picture, it'd be *perfect* with a little bit more lighting on the car itself. Maybe if you took the picture an hour earlier. Otherwise, good work!

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:51 pm
by pmacutay
Tinton wrote:I love the top picture, it'd be *perfect* with a little bit more lighting on the car itself. Maybe if you took the picture an hour earlier. Otherwise, good work!
There's actually a street lamp a bit behind the car...I debated taking the shot under the street lamp but there were like planted baby trees or whatever with those sticks near the lamp...and I thought it would've ruined the skyline.

I do wish there was more light on the car so you'd could see more lines from the car though.

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:52 pm
by MicroXcorp
Dude...that is a beautiful view. where is that at?

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:55 pm
by pmacutay
The top of Day Creek. It's a major street here in Rancho and if you keep going up it, eventually it turns and ends up going east-west at its highest elevation, so you end up with that view out the passenger window. :)

It actually was pretty clear that night, usually the smog messes up pictures like these.

Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 2:34 am
by pmacutay
Added a couple pics (scroll up)

Daytime for those who requested. =]

Posted: Wed Sep 19, 2007 5:44 pm
by wannabe
you definately have skill with a camera :) good job!

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:06 am
by Leedeth
Your pics are amazing, but I love the one called "Onward". Nice contrasts. Aptly named too. The more I look at it, the more I love it. :o

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:31 am
by Johnf514
Great shots for a great car. :D

Posted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:39 pm
by pmacutay
Added a shot. (bump) :)