Having found one of North America’s best-kept VW Golf Rallyes on his doorstep, Danny Delic has spent a decade tracking down the most obscure parts to create this tuned Mk2 Rallye.

Feature from Performance VW magazine. Words: Alex Grant   Photos: Wesley Schlarb.

It’s hardly surprising in a chaotic modern world, but nostalgia has become big business lately. Whether it’s the surging desirability of obsolete tech, old film franchises returning to cinemas, or the rise of retro automotive showcases like RADwood, the future-gazing optimism of the Eighties and Nineties has re-found its mainstream appeal. But while most of us have been getting used to the scarcity and price hikes that come with being fashionable again, Danny Delic has form when it comes to tracking down its most unusual hardware.

“I remember bringing this VW Golf Mk2 Rally home, back in 2009, and thinking I couldn’t believe I actually owned a Golf Rallye,” he smiles. “Our family has owned Corvettes, we’ve had Porsches, all sorts, but for me this was a big deal. As a Mk1 or Mk2 Golf enthusiast, the Rallye was the pinnacle – well, maybe other than the G60 Limited. It was the car I read about but hadn’t been able to see in real life, and I got super lucky because I found one right beneath my nose.”

side-profile shot of Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

Without understating the effort required to track down a VW Golf Rallye Mk2 in late-2000s Canada, Danny has a natural talent for the obscure, and it’s rooted in childhood immersion in all things four-wheeled. His father, Zarko, fell for chrome and tail fins of Cadillac’s land yachts when he emigrated in 1962, and opened his own workshop in Toronto two years later. Canadian General Auto is still family-owned, now run by Danny and his brother Stephen, but it was Wolfsburg – not Detroit – that left the bigger impression on the new generation. “My brother and cousins started dabbling with Mk1 and Mk2 Golfs when they were in their teens, just as those early cars were gaining popularity in North America,” Danny continues. “I was born in ’81, so when I was a kid there were always Mk1 GTIs and Sciroccos around the house, and I remember thinking I’d love to have one someday. So I guess I’ve just got a nostalgia for those childhood days, and once you get familiar with them it just snowballs.”

front grille on Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

Snowballing gets easier with access to information. European magazines and the growth of VWVortex started highlighting the breadth of rare parts, models and regional differences under the Volkswagen badge, and he’s been ambitious enough to explore them since. Ballpark stuff? He reckons something like 12 pre-Mk3 Golfs and a handful of big-turbo Mk4s have passed through his Toronto lockup, and we’re not talking run-of-the mill stuff. His full-works Mk1 GTI restoration, complete with its Oettinger 16-valve swap, made an appearance in Performance VW mag just over a decade ago (06/11) the result of what would have been mind-bending commitment in Europe, let alone with 3,500 miles of Atlantic Ocean in the way.

For Danny, it’s a way of life: “I love the simplicity of those early cars, and that Mk1 was really cool,” he says. “The motor was unique, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do it – I knew about it, but you never see that stuff, right? This was before Volkswagen had the 16-valve engine, and that pre-production engineering was a little different – it was almost like early hot-rodding for these cars.”

G60 engine in Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

As an enthusiast, Canada put the best of both worlds within a road trip; a growing local scene, which is now home to world-class shows such as Eurocracy, but also the thriving US community south of the border. So while the Oettinger Mk1 was getting shortlisted for best in show at H20i 2010 having been painstakingly documented to wide-eyed VWVortex forum users, his nose for the unusual had already located the next project and local regulations were on his side.

“We have a pretty open policy on imports here in Canada,” he explains. “Anything 15 years or older is basically allowed in, no questions asked, but in America it’s 25 years or older. Manufacturers also released some more specialty stuff here through the 80s, 90s and 2000s – like some of the Audi performance cars which didn’t go to the US. So we had a bit of a head start.”

Clean interior shot on mk2 golf rallye

This tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye lived a luscious life with its previous owner, a Volkswagen technician, who had taken full advantage of that opportunity. The Rallye had been imported from Switzerland almost as soon as it was eligible for a one-way ticket, then enjoyed two years of mechanical pampering and a some carefully selected upgrades before Danny caught sight of it at a local show. Static-dropped over a set of Borbet Type As, he remembers it stopping him in his tracks.

“It was so foreign, seeing anything of that nature in North America. All-wheel drive, those box arches, the G60 ‘charged motor, then options like the digital dash, the Recaros – all the rarities that make a Rallye a Rallye. It’s a car you’d see in a magazine and wonder what it looks like in real life – and when I got talking it turned out he didn’t live far from me. So when it came up for sale in 2009, we struck up a deal,” he remembers.

Wide reach arches on Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

The good luck didn’t stop there. Besides sparing him the pain of importing one himself, the previous owner had done him the favour of finding a very appealing example. Shipped in factory spec with only 109,000km under its box arches, it had been retro-fitted with the Digifiz digital instruments, badgeless grille and FK coilovers as well as a full GTI-spec Recaro interior. It also came with documents including the build sheet, service history and signs that all the urgent jobs had been taken care of. Useful peace of mind for an uncommon car.

Better still, it also changed hands with a box full of original parts, which meant Danny could let his vision for the Rallye evolve how he wanted. At least, he could after a little digging. As is often the case, specialist restorations hit the biggest brick walls when they’re tasked with finding the bits that owners usually strip out early on. Tracking down a missing section of the six-piece protective side trim was no easy task, and when was the last time you saw a Rallye with stone guards on the rear arches? Hardly surprising a lot of that process got queued behind the final stages of finishing the Oettinger Mk1.

Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye interior

There’s no straightforward way to turn a project like this around. For example, none of the interior is factory fit – Danny somehow found not only a full Rallye interior but also took the extra effort to pair it with the best set of Mk2 Recaros Canada could provide, then had those trimmed in OE black and red tartan from VW Heritage. Paired with the Digifiz cluster, it’s gained those final elements that set it apart from the rest of the Mk2 line-up.

Any non-OE parts were carefully selected so as not to lose the character on this tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye. Gauges to monitor air/fuel ratio and boost pressure are vital in a G60, but the latter is a near-OE VDO item. And although the steering wheel is a MOMO item, its Volkswagen Motorsport horn push and gear knob don’t look out of place alongside the 32-year-old cassette player on top of the dashboard. When you’ve got a G60 ‘charger to listen to, what more do you need?

Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye engine shot

“I haven’t really run into any roadblocks, everything I’ve really needed I’ve managed to find,” Danny tells us. “But the engines were available in the Corrado in Canada, and the Passat G60 Syncro was pretty similar mechanically, so with a bit of digging I haven’t run into a situation yet where I needed something specific to the Rallye.”

Filling those box arches was no small undertaking either. After a brief pre-restoration outing in 2009, the Rallye got its first proper showing three years later, wearing a set of dished 16-inch BBS Motorsport E49 wheels. By no means short on visual impact, but also not quite meeting his desire for the unusual. Needless to say, you can’t pick up their replacements off the shelf.

BBS motorsport wheels

“I had always really wanted a set of centrelocks, and I thought if any car of mine would get them then it should be the Rallye,” he continues. “Actually, the E48 was more of a DTM wheel – I took inspiration from the E30 M3 – and these came from a Porsche 935 race car. A guy on Instagram called Europrimitive was selling the bare centres in really nice shape. So I imported some genuine BBS paint from Germany and re-finished them in motorsport silver.”

The not-so-small task of finding genuine Porsche racing wheels put some pressure on getting the fitment right. Danny had adaptors custom made to space the wheels 25mm and 45mm and fill the arches – at 17×7.5 with a zero-lip, they offered a bit more scope to wind the coilovers down a thread or two without risking snagging the Rallye’s unique bodywork. When you’re in this deep, there’s no sense softening your expectations.

Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye and Mk1 Golf

Preservation was also top of the list under the bonnet. The tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye is a full numbers-matching car, enhanced with a selection of simple but effective upgrades rather than chasing massive horsepower. Its ported and polished G60 ‘charger spins up faster thanks to a 68mm pulley, and the engine’s 268° TT cam and Supersprint exhaust are paired with a custom remap and SNS chip. In line with the motorsport hardware, the OE sump was dumped for a baffled aluminium one from Schrick, which keeps the oil doing what it should be if the car is working hard.

And it does work hard. The more Danny talks, the more the car’s enviable balance of usability, scarcity and driver appeal in the Rallye comes through. There’s enough life under its belt for it not to be a trailered museum piece and, with the earliest stages of parenthood now behind him, it gets fitted out with booster seats for weekend adventures with his wife and kids. A good way to lay foundations for a third generation at the shop, perhaps?

digital instrument cluster on Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

“It’s a turn-key-and-go car, I can use it any time,” he says. “We’ll just go up north for the weekend for a spin, and we’ve been a couple of times to Niagara Falls as well. It drives really solidly, even compared to other Mk2s, but it’s light, nimble, the handling is great and there’s minimal road noise. So it’s perfectly set up for our family, and I can’t see myself ever selling it because where would I find another one like this? It’s a nice, clean, original car – and part of the family.”

But he’s also not done exploring what the Golf Rallye platform can do. Having satisfied his curiosity for Eighties engineering, there’s a nagging temptation to find out how that driver appeal might stack up with some modern hardware on board. And that means hoping for another shot of good fortune.

“I’m tempted to get a rougher one – a project shell, with a bit of rust and maybe an R32 all-wheel drive setup or something like that,” he smiles, just thinking about the thrill of that chase. “I wouldn’t be able to do that to this car, but if I can find one that needs a little bit of TLC, I’d be open to building another one…”

rear driving shot of Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye

With regular show-going road trips still on the calendar, there’s a good chance that Danny’s talent for the unknown might put exactly what he’s after at his fingertips. A double dose of that fashionable Eighties character, and an antidote to the chaos of modern life that none of us would struggle to get behind.

Tech Spec: Tuned VW Golf Mk2 Rallye


1763cc, four-cylinder, G60, TT 266 cam, G-lader rebuild with port and polish, 68mm pulley, SNS chip, upgraded ignition wires, full Supersprint exhaust, Shrick baffled aluminium sump


FK coilover suspension, 17×7.5 Porsche 935 BBS E48 wheels with zero-inch lips, custom centrelock adaptors (25mm front, 45mm rear), 185/35 Nankang NS-2 tyres, stainless steel brake lines, calipers painted red


Chinese-spec Jetta door handles, Restored OE side moulding, NOS rock guards, lay-flat rear wiper, OE half-smoked tails, Laminex protection on headlights and fog lights


Recaro front seats retrimmed in OE Rallye material with black leather bolsters, Corrado seat frames, factory leather door cards, Digifiz cluster, VDO boost gauge in custom dash air vent pod, digital air/fuel gauge, MOMO steering wheel, Volkswagen Motorsport horn pad and gear knob, OE cassette player and first aid kit