After a spate of unreliable French hot hatches, Adam Gough did the sensible thing and switched to one of Wolfsburg’s finest. All was going well, until he discovered Performance VW magazine and the VW bug bit hard. This is his modified Golf GTI Mk2 with a G60 conversion.
Feature from Performance VW magazine. Photos: Nick Williams.
Adam Gough reckons Performance VW, plus a certain Golf we featured previously in our Mk2 Madness edition (back in 2006), has a lot to answer for when it comes to his obsession with the Mk2 Golf GTI and how his own project spiralled out of control. We’re not taking all the rap, though. Clearly attending his then local car meet, No Rice, and mixing with other like-minded water-cooled VW fanatics clearly didn’t help his condition, either…
Despite appearing like it just rolled straight off of a 1990’s German show field, Adam Gough’s Unimog Orange Mk2 was actually created much more recently than that. “I didn’t actually buy the car until the latter part of 2008,” the 37-year-old told us, “but I’ve always loved the Euro-look and cars from mainland Europe, especially since discovering PVW.”
Having something of a chequered past when it comes to previous project cars; think Fiat Uno, Fiat Panda, a Vauxhall Nova and Ford Capri, it was actually a spate of unreliable Peugeot 205 GTIs that eventually caused him to jump ship and switch across to the VW brand. We’ve all been there… sort of!
After driving a white 1.6 Mk2 Driver for a while, the VW bug soon bit hard and Adam found himself searching for a sportier GTI model. “I did the usual thing you did when looking for a car back then, searched Auto Trader, called up a couple of tuners and even flicked through the local free ads. Yes, I’m that old!” The black 1992 Mk2 GTI he stumbled across already sported a G60 conversion, which was the main appeal, but that was about all it had in its favour initially: “I guess the car was cheap at just £1500 and pretty straight if I’m honest, however, it didn’t have an MoT and the wiring loom used from the G60 conversion was terrible,” he admitted. While he did plan to modify the car further, he never intended to get quite as carried away as he did (where have we heard that before – All?).
By the time he’d bought the G60, Adam was already hooked on Performance VW magazine, and he had all manner of crazy ideas flying around inside his head, however, it had been a car we’d featured back in the 12/06 issue ‘Mk2 Madness’ that really stuck in his mind. “Martin van der Woude’s TFI-powered Mk2, painted in a custom shade of orange with gold pearl really inspired me to head in the direction I did.” You ain’t kidding…
At first glance, the two cars could easily be mistaken for twins. As well as being orange, both have G60 arches, de-badged Rallye front-ends, single wipers, and smoothed, body-coloured side mouldings and bumpers. However, it doesn’t take you long to start spotting the differences as you delve a little deeper. Adam is quick to point out that while the Dutch-build car had inspired him, his project was never meant to be an exact copy.
Where Martin’s car featured a TSI in a fully smoothed bay, Adam wanted to retain his G60 and keep some of the original seams and apertures in the bay which his car would had left the factory with. The other obvious differences between the two cars include the door handles (the Dutch car’s were totally shaven while Adam fitted Porsche 944 items), the dashboard (Adam retained the Mk2 unit whereas Martin’s car had a Mk4 item shoehorned in) and the rear number plate recess (Adam opted for a narrow, US-spec set-up as opposed to Martin’s full-width but flush recess). Like we said, the cars maybe similar on first impression, but they’re really quite different when you delves a little deeper.
A spell of unemployment in 2009 meant Adam found himself with quite a bit of extra time on his hands (even if his cash flow wasn’t quite so flush), so he decided to strip the car down ready to send it off for a full repaint. And thankfully, the more he stripped out of the car, the more he realised just how solid the shell was. It wasn’t until the middle of 2010, however, that Adam’s chosen painter (Truxspray) was ready for the car.
“It was Old Bones Fabrications that smoothed the aerial and the second wiper hole (which was no longer going to be needed) in preparation.” Finally, the shell was dropped off at the paintshop so they could work their magic. And, if you’re wondering, Adam actually found this particular shade of Mercedes-Benz Unimog Orange while flicking through colour charts at Truxspray. It’s safe to say the colour certainly pops!
It wasn’t until a little further down the road that Adam had the centres of the wheels painted body colour by friend Ben Wilson, plus he added a couple of other body mods: “I actually bought the US-spec tailgate from Paul Ellis, who used to work at Jtec, which added another custom element to the shell. Then we fitted the new front wing I’d bought that already had a T4 vent grafted into it.”
While the shell was sent off for paint, Adam took this time to send off the full electric Recaro interior (that he bought for just £150) off for a black leather retrim. If you’re worried that sounds a bit too sensible (compared with the lairy orange hue that adorned the outside), don’t worry, Adam instructed the trimmers to add an orange stitching to the seats and door cards, to keep that custom feel running throughout. “The retrim was another bargain,” he continued, “I used an office furniture trimming company that had done a great job on a friend’s car. They only charged £750!”
Once the shell was painted, it was effectively one big jigsaw for Adam to assemble. As the car went back together, a few essential upgrades were added to the mix including, inside, the obligatory Momo 300mm Team steering wheel, three gauges were added to the dashboard where the stereo once lived (the latter being relocated to the glovebox) and a pair of Audioscape door pods. It was at this stage that Adam’s brother, Phil, stepped in to create a simple but effective boot build for the JL Audio upgrades that had been drafted in.
Adam is keen to point out that this was never a big-buck build, nor was it a car that was just shipped off to have all the work carried out, before being collected when it was finished. It’s been a labour of love that evolved over time and has seen Adam learn all manner of new skills on along the way. “The only things I didn’t do were the paint, the retrim and engine build,” he told us.
Now, it’s all well and good having a pretty car, but Adam was only too aware he needed to get his mechanical bits in check, too, before it went back together. So, his next focus was on the chassis upgrades. “I initially got a set of cheap AP coilovers from a friend, but they’ve been so good I’ve never felt the need to upgrade them for more expensive items.” While the car was in bits, it also made sense to poly-bush the suspension components throughout. A 16v anti-roll bar was also used along with G60 top mounts and Adam took the time to order a set of Vibratechnic competition engine mounts for when the G60 was ready to go back in.
When it came to rolling stock, keeping with the bargain theme the rest of the car adopted, Adam found a cheap set of BBS RM 012s for sale, which came with 1.5 and 2” dishes. “I stripped and polished the lips, but soon tired of the upkeep, so then bought a set of 2” and 2.5” stainless dishes from Mk2 guy, Chris Keeton. Not only do they look better, they’re a lot easier to maintain, too,” Adam smiled.
With body-colour centres the wheels screamed ‘Euro-look’, while a pair of camber shims out back helped him dial in the perfect usable stance. It took Adam around a year to get the car back together and it finally went back on the road in late 2011: “I couldn’t wait to get the car insured and head to my first show, which just happened to be GTI Festival at Santa Pod.” It went to a bunch of shows after that, plus Adam did some drag racing in the VWDRC and finally got to display the car on the PVW stand at TRAX 2018.
“After that show I took the car off the road to investigate an engine noise, which it transpires was a cracked exhaust manifold. While I was at it, I decided it was a good time to get my spare engine and supercharger rebuilt as I didn’t know the mileage or history of the original engine fitted in the car, so it would be a good back up to have.”
Long story short, Adam dropped the head off with Jabba Sport for a full rebuild and upgrades in 2018/19, but this quickly escalated to a full engine rebuild and modifications to the 1.9-litre spec he’d wanted since 2008! “By the time the engine was actually built and ready to go in, I’d sort of lost the love for the car and it sat in the garage neglected for quite a while.”
Come January 2020, thankfully Adam got the love back for the car after realising it was the original engine and bay that was letting the car down. “I decided it was time to get the new engine in, have everything else replaced, rebuilt or restored. A lot of hours went into smoothing the engine bay, zinc plating bolts, painting or powered coating parts. Then Covid hit and before we knew it 2021 was here.” By April last year Adam finally managed to get the car up to Jabba Sport so they could add a new set-up map for the fresh motor, which would then allow him to run the engine in safely.
By May 2021 Adam had changed jobs and relocated to the Isle of Wight. A lot of shows may have been cancelled due to Covid, but that didn’t stop us from organising a photoshoot with Adam.
What a journey it had been. So, was it worth it? Of course it was. Would he do it again? Yes, in a heart beat. And what’s the car like to drive? “In short, loud! Fun, but loud!” The car is clearly no trailer queen. Adam can’t be doing with cruising in the slow lane on motorways. And what does the future hold for the dynamic duo? “I’d like to fit the Eibach anti-roll bars front and rear that I recently bought the just use it! Perhaps I’ll even try to beat my current PB at Santa Pod of 14.1 sec. I’m hoping the car’s got a a mid- to low 13-second pass in it since the new 1.9-litre G60 went in.”
So, any future project cars planned now the Mk2 is sorted? “You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson, but I’m already pretty committed to a Peugeot 205 GTI restoration.”
How do you explain the car thing to friends who aren’t car people? “Stupidity, is one way to look at it. Imagine how much we’d save if we weren’t spending money on cars. At the same time, maybe it’s more about making a car unique, the way want it, enjoying it, the public admiration and the friends we meet through a mutual interest. We all need a hobby, so you might as well make it one you enjoy.” We couldn’t agree more…
Tech Spec: Modified Mk2 Golf GTI with G60 conversion
1.8 8v G60 (PG) over-bored to 1.9 with JE forged pistons and 144mm rods, lightened and balanced bottom end including clutch, ported and flowed standard valve P code cylinder head, port-matched inlet manifold, throttle body, Rallye U bend and exhaust manifold, Stage 4 charger with 68mm pulley, Ram Air ProRam filter, 315cc “Red” injectors, 4-2-1 exhaust manifold, 2.5” exhaust system with two silencers, Golf G60 front-mount intercooler and HRT radiator, SWG silicone boost hoses, Venair silicone coolant hoses, O2A gearbox and cable change set up with hydraulic Corrado pedal box, Magnecore leads, H&H rebuilt distributor, all new genuine sensors, fuel pump, oil pump, bearings etc. Complete engine build, running in and mapping by Jabba Sport. Power: 235bhp @ 6400rpm (220lb/ft @4000rpm)
8.5×15” BBS RM 012 split rims with body-coloured centres and 2.5” stainless dishes, AP coilovers, fully poly bushed suspension and cross member, Vibratechnics completion engine mounts,16v anti-roll bar, G60 top mounts, rear camber shims. Powder coated and rebuild Corrado G60 single piston calipers, Mtec dimpled and grooved discs, EBC Green Stuff pads all round, braided hoses, Mk4 Golf rear caliper conversion, EBC rear discs, G60 master cylinder, Mk7 Golf cap (no sensor), re routed cupro nickel brake pipes
Painted in Mercedes Unimog Orange, G60 front and rear arches, Rallye front end with debadged textured grille, smoothed front bumper, US-style boot lid and rear lights, brushed Porsche 944 scripted handles, aerial removed, single wiper with holes smoothed over, semi smooth engine bay, battery relocated to boot, heated electric mirrors, smoked indicators, SWG smooth scuttle panel and headlight eyebrow
Electric Recaro Mk2 Golf interior, 60/40 split rear bench with headrests, all retrimmed in black with orange piping, Momo 300mm steering wheel, 3 gauges in the stereo slot, chrome inner handles, 160mph speedo fitted, stereo in glove box, leather gear knob and gaiter, A/C switch panel, headlight adjuster, engine check switch, speaker fade switch, Audioscape door pods
Kenwood DAB head unit, JL Audio components C5-650x and amplifier 300/4 v2, JL Audio subwoofer and cross overs, Stinger gel battery, custom boot build