While VW really seems to have got its act together these days with its new-wave hot hatches, there are some – like Melis Julevic and his VR6-swapped Mk2 Golf GTI – who believe you still can’t beat the old-skool way. We tend to agree.

Back in the early days of old school hip hop there was a man by the name of Melly Mel who was and still is a legend and a pioneer in the music genre. Fast forward many years to today and we have a different man, but one of the same stature as a pioneer and a legend on the VW scene, with the same name as the hip hop pillar. He goes by the nickname of Melly Mel! Enter Mr. Melis Julevic, a 39-year-old Building Engineer from Hamilton, New Jersey, with a passion for VWs that we can all appreciate! I’ve got to say that I am feeling a bit of period correctness with the golden age of hip hop mentioned with Mel’s 1992 Mk2 Golf GTI you see here! Let’s dig in to the modifications.

engine bay on vr6-swapped Mk2 Golf gti

VW love affair

Mel’s love affair with VWs started when his older brother had a Mk2 Jetta GLi back in 1996. He, like most Mk2 folks, have a soft spot for the boxy sharp lines of these cars and admittedly, he’s stated that one of the reasons he’d chosen the Mk2 Golf as his project was, “I’ve always loved the boxy square hatch, it was my dream car!”

This wasn’t Mel’s first soiree into Mk2’s though. The way he got this beautiful example was from a trade he’d made with a friend who was also a VW head with a Montana Green GTI and this car. Mel had built another GTI that ran a 2.0 turbo, and this motor was the sparkle in his friend’s eye. An even trade deal was made and as they say, the rest was history.

front on shot of vr6-swapped Mk2 Golf gti

The 1992 Mk2 Golf GTI project

The car was a 1 owner 1992 GTI 16v, which is something all of us probably are searching for! Although Mel states that he loved the car as it sat stock, being that he had no worries for it being out and about but, as he and the car aged like fine wine, he “wanted to build something different with a bit of twist and uniqueness”. This black blank canvas was the launchpad for the phenomenal machine you see on these pages.

wheels on vr6-swapped Mk2 Golf gti

Initial modifications

In 2006, the first modifications Mel made were what’s on the on the very first pages of the tuner playbook. Bring it closer to the planet with suspension modifications and make it sound better with a custom exhaust. The car then had a snail fitted to the 16v motor that put down amazing horsepower numbers of somewhere between 500 and 600 hp at the wheels. As most of us would sell a body part for these numbers, Mel found that this “wasn’t practical for something I wanted to enjoy on the weekends.”, and that’s understandable.

That much horsepower can be punishing. That’s where he threw the playbook out of the window and began the “Melly Mel” touch on the car. He then did what he calls a “simple swap” where under the hood sits a glorious 3.2 litre VR6. He had the pleasure of getting 100% hands on with the install of the original one (this is a second motor: 2004 3.2l BJS engine). Some don’t have the ability or the time to do so, but Mel can proudly say that it was his work.

The motor sported modifications such as, larger duration camshafts, higher flow valves with titanium springs, Becker headers and a custom 3 inch stainless exhaust. The need for a second motor came up and what currently is in the car was an installation by MMI Concepts Inc, in Bangor Pennsylvania, but has all the trimmings of the first, along with the smooth/clean engine bay. This along with a custom wiring harness from the genius we all know and love, Matt of Eurokraft in Landisville New Jersey, completes version two of the swap.

R32 VR6 engine

VR6-swapped Mk2 Golf GTI paint

This car has such a brilliant presence that when it pulls up you can do nothing but stop and try to see all that has been done. Firstly, due to Mel’s meticulousness, and it has been painted twice and proclaims, “Nothing is better than a shiny fresh black car!” This is a fact because the paint is so spectacularly done that it looks wet. Like you could dip your hand in it and come back coated in black paint.

Mel wishes that he would have kept the original paint as he says that it was in really good condition, but we don’t see an issue at all! As the car rolls toward you, you see the Rallye grille and lights, European red striped Golf early small bumpers complete with smoked marker lights, and Kamei hood vent cover. There are not many that are brave enough to try to pull off a Rallye Golf grille and light set up with small bumpers. This is a prime example of one who did it and did it right. Mel shines here with OEM+ feel by opting to keep the grille VW roundel, whereas others went badgeless.

Kamei badge

Kamei bodykit

With the combination of the bumpers and the full Kamei body kit and fenders, the total package award is achieved. Sitting inside the fenders are an astounding set of 8.5×16” inch Autostrada Modena wheels wrapped in 195/40 Yokohama tyres. Inside the Modenas are Audi 5000 dual piston calipers as the front-end anchors, with Mk2 rear calipers slowing the back end.

As stated before, the car is closer to the planet using Koni adjustable coilovers, Powerflex bushings, AutoTech sway bars on the front and rear, and an OG Eibach flatbar holding the shock towers firm. Let’s keep looking…. Moving up the side of the car you will find more details, like Hella smoked fender markers. The entry way is adorned with Porsche 944 Turbo S2 “script” door handles. Mel even gets to vent in fresh air when it’s raining with the Kamei in-channel rain guards.

Interior shot of vr6-swapped Mk2 Golf gti

Interior modifications on the VR6-swapped Mk2 Golf GTI

Open up the doors to perfect Recaro Trophy front seats which have since been retrimmed in new leather. The door cards are genuine Rallye Golf trim pieces. The dash is OEM and perfect! These days a perfect Mk2 dashboard is a pot of gold! The Momo steering wheel sits ready for piloting, but looking through the top opening, a fully working Digifiz cluster lets Mel know exactly what’s going on along with the DuoStyling gauges in the dash button blanks. He stays entertained with the OEM Gamma cassette radio head unit paired with JBL speakers!

Then, just below the radio, is that… yes, it is. They’re digital climate controls. Wow! Keep panning right and you see the Votex center console with VDO gauges to keep him more informed and an aluminum/leather GTI golf ball shift knob. The Porsche theme is capped with the 944 Turbo S2 glove box lock. The interior is all kept in check with a red powder-coated Auto Power Roll cage. Gotta keep it safe! The Digifiz and Digital climate controls are Mel’s favorite parts of it all!

dials on mk2 golf

Moving further back on the VR6-swapped Mk2 Golf GTI we realize that this is the car is the gift that keeps on giving! Before rounding the back of the car you find Happich pop-out quarter windows! At the back we find the painted illuminated upper hatch spoiler on the “boxy square hatch” with FIFFT all red taillights! The Kamei X1 badge completes the look! When we asked Mel if he’d do it all again, he says “definitely, but more of an OEM+ theme.”

side profile shot of Mk2 golf vw


Mel is very proud of his VR6-swapped Mk2 Golf GTI and so he should be. This car is fantastic and a showstopper in all aspects! He says that it, “gives him the ability to share common interests in the Mk2 community, share/make memories, as well as making new friends/family along the road”. He says that the best comment he’s received on the car is, “Your build has inspired me to finish my car!”. This is where he stands out from the crowd with being humble and a down-to-earth person who is always willing to lend a hand to folks in the VW Mk2 community. Applause to you Melly Mel.

Want more cool VW features? Be sure to check out Performance VW magazine. And if you want to see cars like this in the flesh, get yourself to German Car Festival or TRAX.

Words: Ted Dorset. Photos: Tony Watson & Ryan McKeon.