One of my regrets this year was missing Edition 38. Once you get over the well-documented campsite/security/muppetry shenanigans there are few other events during a season that capture everything I love about this thing people call a scene. It’s the last hour on the Saturday before I escape to the hotel that really does it for me; cold lager in hand, the sun just starting to go down, checking out the more real-world ‘top ten’ cars on the stage and then strolling around the ever eclectic motors Elliott Roberts and his merry men have assembled in their usual spot.
So, as a lover of most things Scirocco, I was gutted to see the photos that began appearing during the weekend from PVW’s stand as there, in prime position, was a minter of a Mk1 Type 53 that looked strangely familiar in its stunning ‘what is that colour?’ splendour.
Clocking the Irish plate my well-tuned-for-all-things-Karmann memory went straight back to 2010 when this ace of a car had first appeared at Overstone. What had caught my eye then was the use of an earlier front valance – built-in metal spoiler-style – combined with the later, arguably more elegant, front wings/indicators. Just the look I was going for on my own Mk1 project. It’s the small things (we don’t call him ‘Scirocco Sean’ for nothing ~ All).
Gutted to have missed the car but full of admiration for the owner to have driven it all the way from Ireland again, I then went hunting on all the usual forums for as many shots of the beast as possible. Somehow the owner had managed to improve the look of the car in the intervening years. Little did I know just how much work had been applied to it other than the new set of wheels (more later) that it was boasting in its 2014 incarnation.
And then our beloved editor (love you, too ~ Ed) dropped me a line: “there’s an Irish Mk1 we’re going to feature, Sean. You know your ’Roccos; you fancy doing the write up?, here’s some pictures.’ Boom! It was the same car, fantastic. A chance to get to the heart of the story of yet another Karmann classic and copies of lens-man Gray’s glorious gallery you see accompanying this short story.
Before we go any further let’s sort the colour issue out: this is not a brown car. It’s been repainted (more than once) in a non-UK colour, aptly named Irish green. LC6Y was offered on, amongst other models, Irish market Corrados back in period and the theme of remixing a mid-’70s coupé with some late ’80s factory-inspired upgrades continues beneath the luscious exterior.
Back on project, inspired by visits to Dubshed, the main VW show across the water, the ’Rocco’s owner Padhraic had originally intended to buy a Mk1 Golf and see where it took him. However, he hadn’t anticipated the impact a certain silver Scirocco on display at E38 2008 would have on him. The car in question, a ‘75 TS owned at the time by Doug Shepley, had been a regular at Overstone and Ultimate Dubs since its unveiling during 2006. Essentially standard bar a tasteful drop and an obligatory set of BBS RSs the car was, arguably, one of the benchmark Mk1s in the UK at the time and actually featured in the May 2006 issue of PVW.
Since then there have been no more than a handful of truly ground-breaking modified ’Roccos here in the UK or Eire. Jamie Turner’s blue GLS, Ajay Jones’s fantastic grey car I wrote about here in late 2013, the 2.1 TSR-engined car built by Ant Thomas and the bronze 20v supercharged car that’s been sold on a couple of times all spring to mind. Throw in two or three ongoing builds that get referenced to or hinted at online, that’s about it when it comes to modded Mk1s.
Suitably motivated, Padhraic returned to his native Galway determined to track down a Scirocco, the original intention being to buy one, tidy it up a bit and drive it back to Overstone for the following year. As is so often the case, he had a huge stroke of luck when not one but two Mk1s became available less than 15 miles from his home. Originally from England the two cars – a silver ’79 automatic and an ’80 four-speed – were both GLSs. One was an unfinished (as in never really started) project, the other a parts donor. Result.
Still with the ‘nice rims, a drop and get it running’ theme in mind Padhraic decided to first address a wet carpet issue. Within the space of a few days he was standing on his driveway looking at a fully-stripped Mk1 Scirocco shell and the usual horrors that lie beneath on most ’70s VWs and these Karmann coupés in particular.
What Padhraic had discovered, surprise, surprise, was that his ’79 was going to need a major rebuild with whole panels from the handily secured donor car and a copious supply of fresh sheet metal required to give the project any chance of being realised. Enter the fateful word he used in my chat with him: snowball.
I’ve discovered you get to a certain point in a project when you can go one of three ways: commit, regret or get rid. Padhraic clearly arrived at that point, too, and as more rot revealed itself he knew where he was heading. If the car was going to need the amount of work required to get it anywhere close to his original vision then, well, you might as well go to the next level. And boy has Padhraic gone on and done that.
With the standard 1.6-litre auto setup he was not looking forward to the long slow drive across to Edition or anywhere else with a straight road, let’s face it. Queue another donor car, this time purchased and driven back from England. It was a cherished, one-owner Corrado G60 that, as well as it ran, was sadly a rot-box. Check the spec sheet for the full engine details but as you can imagine any Mk1 Scirocco (approx kerb weight of 800kg) with an engine capable of over 200bhp once mapped is bound to be at the brisk and entertaining end of the spectrum. It’s also arguably the ‘right’ ultimate OEM+++ engine for a Scirocco. Whilst the ever accessible 20vT route or even the gamble of a VR6 have their fan bases there is something quite period-pure about a G-Lader being merged with a Scirocco.
With the ’Rocco stripped down, Padhraic had the opportunity to transform the car cosmetically. Thankfully all the brightwork and trim was in good condition and reusable and, once he’d prepped the shell himself, despatched it to acclaimed local painter, Frank Byrnes of Oranmore, he could then think about the remaining issue of wheels, stance, interior and engine bay – Overstone essentials after all.
With its combination of Image F40s, a chassis notch and a self installed BSS air-ride system, Padhraic rolled into Edition 2010 in one of the standout cars of that weekend. Whilst there was no shortage of Mk1s there that year – the French car with it’s ‘vivid’ red interior included – from my own point of view, Padhraic’s car hit the spot in a simpler, less obvious sort of way. You can have too much leather and, for me, his car was the one I kept heading back to for another look.
The trouble was that he’d seen how standards on the showfield were continuing to rise detail-wise. Back home he began a gradual programme of next-level tweaks. Cue another back-to-metal prep (all done by Padhraic himself, as was most of the major works on the car throughout his ownership) prior to a return trip to Frank Byrnes for another coat of Irish green.
Ditto regarding the air-ride install. Whilst as a system it worked perfectly well, for Padhraic the ‘it’s in the boot so nobody will see it approach’ was never going to cut it long-term either. Without detracting from the factory-inspired and simple interior he devised a trick boot air install on a custom rear strut brace with copper lines, hid the compressor and valves in the quarter panels and incorporated the gauges within the ashtray. Very, very neat indeed. During this phase he also upgraded the interior based around some sweet factory electric Recaros from a Mk2 Golf treated to lashings of dead cow and some early Mk1 Golf GTI tartan cloth inserts.
Up at the business end of the car he also attacked the engine bay. It’s been smoothed and detailed, yes, but not to the extent that it stops looking like an engine bay. It’s also been beautifully painted to match the gleaming bodywork. Like the rest of the car it’s just spot-on – completely remixed and refreshed, yes, but not overdone in any over-the-top fashion.
And then the final touch, the one ingredient that can make or break a car: rimmage. As sweet as the F40s were, Padhraic was still looking for the magic set of wheels that he felt properly suited the car in all its fully-refreshed glory. There have been some brilliant updates of earlier classic VW alloys in recent years. The Fifteen52 RML remake of the Avus ‘snowflake’ rim, as seen on Scirocco Scalas and Santanas in period, is a particular favourite of mine. Elsewhere other braver souls have even been creating stunning split-rim setups using early factory alloys including P-slots and early Golf 16V/Scirocco Storm Montreals as a starting point. And it was that back-to-basics-but-with-a-twist look that Padhraic was after. He then realised the solution was staring him in the face. After mocking up one of his spare ET45 5×13 alloys – specific to UK market Mk1 TS/GLS Sciroccos and the earliest Audi 80 GTE – he knew he was onto something.
In a process that deprived him of most of his fingerprints he hand-stripped and prepped the other four and despatched them to an engineering shop for the split-rim transformation with instructions for a satin black finish to be applied to the centres… only for them to be returned in gloss black. Beautifully crafted and now running as staggered 8x16s, yes, but gloss. Not the look he wanted but rather than return them straightaway he took it upon himself to strip them back to bare alloy and reprep them. He’s nothing if not thorough is our Padhraic, but if you’ve made the sacrifices in time and effort to get the rest of such a very personal car to this high a standard why compromise?
After showing the completed car at Dubshed for a couple of years – the car won best Scirocco in 2013 before winning ‘best wheels’, ‘best old-skool Scirocco’ and ‘overall second best in show’ in 2014 – Padhraic headed back to Overstone for 2014. Nicely closing the loop and six long years after he first saw the ex-Shepley TS at the same event, his incredible self-build efforts were rewarded with the ‘Best Scirocco’ trophy at the biggest and best of the UK shows. Who needs fingerprints anyway hey Padhraic? l
ENGINE: Engine from Corrado G60, rebuilt with Wossner 82.5mm pistons, ported and polished head, Schrick cam with vernier pulley. Uprated fuel pump, injectors and regulator. Stage 4 charger with Bartek 60mm toothed belt kit, custom front mount intercooler and stainless steel boost pipes. Flowed throttle body, boost return deleted. Custom alloy radiator, stainless four-branch manifold and custom stainless exhaust system. O2a G60 gearbox and Quaife diff. Rated at 208bhp and 226lb ft at the flywheel
CHASSIS: Original 5×13” GLS wheels – machined locally to make centres fit to barrels and dishes supplied by Image. One-inch front dish rear mounted and 2.5” rear dish face mounted. Now 8×16” (front) and (rear). Staggered offsets, 175/50 Yokohamas. Air-ride suspension supplied by BSS. Boot air install on custom rear strut brace with copper lines. Compressor and valves hidden in the quarter panels. Air gauges in ashtray and switches tucked under dash. SCCH rose-jointed front wishbones and track rod ends. Adjustable top mounts from Still Static. Eibach front and rear ARBs. Other bushings from Powerflex. Rear disc conversion, G60 calipers front and rear. EBC RedStuff pads, grooved front discs
OUTSIDE: Full car back to bare metal with all rust cut out then sealed underneath and painted inside and out in Irish green (a Corrado colour)
INSIDE: Front seats: electric Recaros from Mk2 Golf donor and original rear retrimmed in leather and tartan. Black headliner. New radio since shoot to match the dash colour from early Scirocco TS
SHOUT: Dermot Dooley – bodywork, Kieran Dooley – wiring and inspiration, Daniel Finnerty, Brendan Divilly and Kevin Forde – general help, Frank Byrnes Autobody – paint, Tom Fahy – G60 expertise, Joe – power mapping. Edition 38 – for winning ‘best Scirocco’ at E38 2014 and it’s where my own Scirocco story started back in 2008 and my wife Caroline for patience and food for the troops