There are ways of building old-school Golfs that’ll please people and win you pats on the back. And there are ways of doing it that will split opinion – most people will be pissed off, while a handful willbe really quite impressed. Simon Andrzejewski doesn’t particularly care either way. He just decided to seize the day and build the car he wanted to build…

rat mk2 vw golf side-profile

There’s nothing wrong with mundanity, if that’s your bag. Some people just don’t want the hassle of thinking about things too much, so they go with the mainstream and move on to the next decision. These are the people who paint the interior walls of their houses in default magnolia to save choosing a colour. Who stick on a Coldplay CD when they’ve got mates round because they just want a generic, anonymous background noise they can ignore. And who pave over their gardens because flowers and shrubs require decisions to be made. Their lives are simple and uncluttered.rat mk2 vw golf upholstery

They’re also not very interesting though, are they? Where’s the satisfaction in living an unremarkable life, never having the imagination to rock the boat? You’ve got to roll the dice a little, do unexpected things, get tongues wagging. Look at the case of Simon Andrzejewski, for example.

rat mk2 vw golf interior seats

His day job involves detailing and polishing other people’s motors to a show finish, so do you think he feels like doing the same with his own cars? I should coco, matey. A ratty ride was way more up his street. Hell, it’d save a lot of time before shows if nothing else. And he certainly wasn’t about to mod a car in accordance with the rule book.

rat mk2 vw golf interior

It was always bound to be a Mk2 Golf as well. For Simon, this was something that stretched all the way back to childhood.“As a nine-year-old kid, my parents took me to VW Mania in Poland, back in 2000,” he recalls. “One of their friends owned an Oak Green big-bumper Mk2 with a VR6 turbo and Borbet As. I remember having the biggest grin on my face. Since then I knew all I wanted was a Mk2 Golf.

rat mk2 vw golf interior wheel

Fast-forward a few years and my first car was a 6N2 Polo that I lowered on some 14-inch BBS RAs, then I had a couple of Mk2s. One was a 1.6 Ryder, another was converted to run an ABF – which was really fun to drive, I still regret selling it. And around five years ago I met James from Auto Finesse, and he’s taken me under his wing and given me a job.”

rat mk2 vw golf engine exposed

You can see all of the pieces of the jigsaw shuffling into place, can’t you? While some people dream of owning Ferraris or Lamborghinis, Simon’s was a more achievable dream. “Don’t get me wrong, the supercars would be nice,” he smirks. “But the Mk2 was more realistic. And when I found out this one was built in January 1991, the same month I was born, that sealed the deal to go a bit mental at it.”

rat mk2 vw golf front-profile

And go mental he did. Before the bleeding-heart purists mount their high horses, however, let’s be clear that Simon hasn’t killed a minter to create this artfully shabby creation. The car, as bought, was basic to say the least. Simon and James had been to check out another Mk2 to use as a parts car, but it had turned out to be a bit of a dog – but then the owner surprised them by presenting a further nine Mk2 Golfs he just happened to have lying around.

This particular one spoke to Simon on some sort of spiritual level. Originally a 1.3 CL, it was sitting there as a rolling shell with windows, but not a lot else. No dash, no seats, no nothing. It was filthy and covered in moss. But the shell had zero rust. None. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.

rat mk2 vw golf engine close-up

“The car was already covered in shit when we picked it up, so we’ve decided to go for this derelict look with mint interior, engine bay and wheels,” Simon explains. “But when I was testing it in the rain, all the moss sort of got washed off, which was unfortunate. Then my mate said he’d help me make it look crap again and paint it! As I was working for Auto Finesse I thought it would be a genius idea to have a dirty- looking car that doesn’t need a lot of attention before shows. And it seems that people like it!”

rat mk2 vw golf road test

It has to be said that the project fought back a little bit. That’s an understatement. It fought Simon every step of the way. When you’re building a bare shell from the ground up, there are all sorts of things you need to source that you initially just wouldn’t think of. Bits of trims, clips, fixings, all the things that go toward turning an empty hulk of steel into a functional car. If the donor itself happens to be 26 years old, these things get slightly harder, so sourcing all of these bits and waiting for them to arrive created an exercise in extreme hair-pulling.

rat mk2 vw golf rear-profile

Thankfully some relief was found in the addition of the OZ Futura wheels and the bespoke air-ride system (comprising KW V2 coilovers with custom bellow bags on top), as they came from another of Simon’s cars. It’s all fun and games. “The rear five-stud conversion is easy, but the front is bit more tricky if you don’t want to go the wide-track VR6 route,” he says. “I’ve done a fair bit of the work myself, but without a bunch of little elves helping me from time to time it wouldn’t have been possible.

rat mk2 vw golf driving

“A big surprise came when I cut the rear arches and the f*cking panel split into two, and when I say ‘cut them’, they’re literally flush to accommodate 11-inch-wide wheels – there’s 2mm gap between the wheel and shock absorber!” Well, it wouldn’t be any fun if it was easy, would it? No point being magnolia-Coldplay about it. If you’re going to eat spicy fish you’ve got to expect a few bones.

rat mk2 vw golf logo close-up

Part of the reason Simon’s wearing a Cheshire-cat smile is that he’s got some serious firepower seeping out from under his bonnet. This car may have started life as a 1.3-litre shopping plodder, but that’s very much not the case now. We’re talking about a full-bore 1.8T conversion with a badass K04 turbo and all manner of Forge goodies, shouting boisterously through an appropriately-named Trackslag exhaust. The looks may be deliberately grotty, but the performance is little short of stellar.

rat decal mk2 vw golf

There’s another reason why he’s smiling. See that awesome interior? It wasn’t as lottery-winner pricey as you might imagine – everyone loves a good deal, don’t they? “The seats were only £40 – ba-boom, steal,” he laughs. “OK, they were in a right state and looked like someone had pissed on them, but I took them down to Lawrence at LG Trimming, along with a 60/40 rear bench and some doorcards someone gave me, and he did an amazing job trimming them. He even surprised me with the custom dashboard cover!”

rat mk2 vw golf handle

All the pieces, then, have slid into place rather neatly. The engine, the interior, the wheels, the suspension, it’s all the sort of thing you’d find on a show-winning car – and yet from the outside it looks like the sort of thing your grandma would turn her nose up at, and possibly phone the council to report. Which is pretty much the look Simon was going for.

rat mk2 vw golf wheels close-up

“I’ve got a few more bits planned too,” he says. “The engine bay is being sprayed as we speak, before I send the car to Poland for a few years. I’m bored of English shows – same stuff over and over again, it gets boring. I’d like to take the Mk2 to shows like Raceism in Poland or Grounded in Russia.” Strong words, but the man knows what he likes. And that, in essence, is the point of the car. It’s not magnolia. It’s not Coldplay. It’s got character. It’s intriguing. Sure, it’s polarising too, but what’s the point of living if you can’t shake things up a bit?

rat mk2 vw golf headlights close-up


1.3 CL shell; arches cut and modified to accommodate wheels; chassis notched; G60 arches; new OEM headlights and grille; Hella rear spoiler; new old stock heckblende; engine bay painted Ford Olympic Blue.

1.8T BAM; forged pistons; rods and valves; K04 turbo; Forge silicone hoses and caps; 1.3-litre Mk2 top-fill radiator with Mercedes Sprinter intercooler; 007P Forge recirc valve; cable throttle; 2.5in Trackslag exhaust system; Mk3 16v gearbox with AGU gear tower and Forge quickshift.

9.5x17in (front) and 11x17in (rear) OZ Futura wheels (5×112 refilled to 5×100); KW V2 coilovers with custom bellow bags mounted on top; 2x Viair V80C compressors with pancake tank hidden in spare wheel well; V2 management; Mk2 16v driveshafts with VR6 outer CV joints; Mk2 hubs with VR6 bearings; 5-stud conversion; Porsche 4-pot front brakes; Mk4 GTI rear brakes.

Recaro RS seats with modified Cobra frames; 60/40 rear bench; retrimmed in Harris tweed and nappa leather; Hurst gear lever; Nardi steering wheel; electric windows; custom dashboard cover.

Biggest thanks goes to James from Auto Finesse for making this build possible; Matt Waldoc for all the help; my pals Slawek and Mitchell for slowing my progress; Lawrence Gray (LG Trimming); Kris from Forge; and Luke from VW Heritage.