New school builds are just air bags and wheels, right? Well, this Toffee Brown example, with an EA888 engine from a Golf R, is one of the most complete VW Caddy builds we’ve seen in years. There’s certainly plenty of details for the naysayers to chew over…
Feature from Performance VW magazine. Words: Graham Leigh. Photos: Si Gray.
When this issue hit the shelves, it was that time of year again for many where the festive tins of sweets are open and the habitual fortnight of grazing is well underway. Funny with Quality Street how certain chocolatey treats are first to be devoured. In our house, there’s always a race for the strawberry creams and the fudge. By early January, as the decorations come down and the self-loathing inspired new year’s resolutions are made, it’s the poor old toffee pennies that are left skulking in that otherwise empty vessel. Similarly, Chris Lister, the 42-year-old Lake District-based Mechanical Engineer and owner of this Caddy explained that when he viewed the van back in November 2018 despite the low mileage and immaculate condition, he was the first to see it and it had been languishing in the classifieds for a good while. It seems that the autumnal hue wasn’t popular with those wanting a small commercial.
As soon as Chris could pass his test, he was out there modifying cars. Even his automotive starting point, an Austin Mini 1000 was 1275 swapped. Chris explained that he was a BMW technician for 11 years, the early period of which piqued his interest in German metal in general. A part exchange MK2 Golf GTI 16V that came into the dealership was irresistible for the then 18-year-old petrolhead. This was adorned with the oh so nineties combination of big bumpers, alloys, springs, Hella blue lights and ICE. The dub disease had started but crippling running costs for such a young gun saw Chris swap over to a Nova GTE for a period. Various performance cars of the time that are now considered modern classics passed through the Lister stable including an E36 M3 Evo and a Honda Civic Type R. Chris’ current eclectic collection includes a modified Rover Mini Cooper Sport. the 2014 Caddy on these pages and a Honda VTR1000 SP1 for kicks of a two-wheel variety.
The EA888 VW Caddy story actually starts with a different example, a 1.6 TDI in white that was the big project prior to this one and was originally destined to be sprayed in Toffee Brown once the build was complete. Chris brings us up to speed: “The white Caddy build was well underway and featured some nice touches including MK5 Golf GTI front seats and MeisterR front coilovers. I then started to carry out the MK7 Golf R engine conversion but due to the platform difference’s I had an issue where I couldn’t get the ABS and steering modules to code, and therefore the dash was lit up like a Christmas tree. As a result, I drafted in the services of a so-called specialist. This was the first and last time I’d let someone else work on my vehicle. On getting the van home and continuing to work to resolve the ABS issues, I soon discovered the work to be a far cry from my expectations. Subsequently, I was forced to take the van off the road until I could solve the ABS issues and fully rewire the conversion. I needed a daily whilst work continued on the white Caddy and when I saw the Toffee Brown car on Autotrader I just had to have it. A trip to Yorkshire sealed the deal in November 2018 and the fun began. The initial intention was to just swap all the modifications over to the brown Caddy with the exception of the engine conversion.
Chris wasted no time and initially focussed on the interior of the new build. Recaro Wingbacks and Touran rear bench were the chosen pews. These were reupholstered in Nappa leather and GTD tartan along with the door cards and upper dash by Optimus Automotive. A MK7 Golf GTI steering wheel recovered in perforated leather and suede is an in-keeping tiller whilst Touran carpets and centre console add luxury to the once spartan cockpit.
The modernised, factoryesque theme continues to the exterior of the car and the subtle style belies the amount of work that has been undertaken. Mk4 Caddy rear lights and bumper join a rear spoiler that quietly hints at the sporting capabilities of the build. A hybrid Mk7.5 Golf GTI/Caddy front bumper is fitted up front along with an Oettinger spoiler and splitter. Custom Touran/Caddy wing mirrors and Edition 35 style side skirts are clever enhancements to the side profile. All additions were expertly colour coded KJ Bodyworks.
It’s a job to know how Chris has found time to sleep in recent years as alongside perfecting the brown Caddy’s build he was slowly chipping away at the engine conversion on the white van. “At the point I’d finally perfected it, my wife suggested transferring it to the Toffee one. She is very understanding!” The engine used for the conversion is a 3rd generation EA888 (CJX engine code) removed from a 6000 mile Mk7 Golf R. This is coupled to an SQZ code gearbox from a Scirocco with a Forge Motorsport quick shift via an RTS twin-plate clutch. A lot of the issues were of an electronic nature. I’d been working on resolving ABS issues with the Golf R converted White Caddy and with the help of Nikki Dawson from Twinsport and Doc from the Caddy 2k forum, the issues were finally resolved in September 2020, a full 29 months after first starting. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’d rewired the white van or the number of different ECU’s it had, but we got there in the end and now have a fully working EA888 gen 3 CJX engine conversion with zero fault codes and no DTCs deleted/removed from the ECU”. A carefully orchestrated selection of tuning parts was ordered up including an APR Carbon intake, Powervalve 100 cell cat, Darkside Developments intercooler, Creation Motorsport hard pipe kit, a Litt Co L380X turbo with Funk motorsport turbo blanket, RamAir Muffler delete and Turbo elbow, custom CSK Stainless steel exhaust and a hybrid Caddy/TTRS low-pressure fuel pump. Tuning was carried out by Uber Tuning UK, it made 417.5bhp and 545Nm, at 28 degrees and on low octane fuel.
An ABP air ride system is fitted that utilises Bilstein front struts and their in-house bags. The rear features a split-leaf system and, again, uses Bilstein shocks. This hardware is managed by a Grinds G1 system. Whilst the van looks purposefully low when aired out or cruising, retention of factory arch liners to protect the longevity of the daily driven van means that it does not lay frame like some builds we have seen as the decision for air on this Caddy was made as a compromise between looks and practicality. The execution of the system is in keeping with the high-end finish of the rest of the build and the tank, dual compressors, water traps and check valves are all installed under the rear of the van, on a custom mounting plate and enclosure. Genuine 20” Audi A6 wheels provide the OEM+ icing on the cake to the chassis modifications.
The EA888 VW Caddy was largely built in a tent at the top of Chris’ father’s driveway. Chris was keen to point out his Dad, Keith got stuck in despite the cold conditions and being in his eighties and was a huge help. The car is largely finished now but Keith has a couple of small touches he is considering including the fitting of a Caddy Alltrack rear bumper but he just wants to continue enjoying using it daily, transporting his spaniels and bikes to the fells. The Caddy has a dual life as a show car and the reception has been extremely warm with silverware in the trophy cabinet already from Cumbria VAG, Tatton Park, Kultureshock and Cleanfest. There can’t be many dog cars that can claim that!
Has it been worth the headaches and the heartache? “It’s currently one of only two properly executed (not just loom swapped) Caddy EA888 gen 3 conversions in the world. The other belongs to my friend, Doc. This makes me feel very proud. Also, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive and really surprises a lot of people. The noises, the acceleration, how involved it is… it just makes you smile”. We’re certainly glad Chris got his teeth into it.
Tech Spec: VW Caddy with EA888 engine
EA888 Gen 3 engine conversion (CJX engine code from 2015 Golf R), Littco L380X Turbo. Funk Motorsport Turbo Blanket, RamAir Turbo Elbow, RamAir Turbo muffler delete, GFB DVX Blow off valve, BCS Powervalve 100 cell catalytic converter downpipe with V-banded exit, Funk Motorsport Carbon Heat wrap on downpipe and mid-section, CSK Race exhausts custom 3” Stainless steel V-banded cat back exhaust system with titanium pie cut tail pipe, uprated Darkside Developments S3 Intercooler with 70mm inlets, Creation Motorsport hard pipe kit and silicone pipes, Darkside developments Intercooler charge pipes, Genuine Audi RS7 spark plugs, APR red ignition coils, APR Carbon intake pipe, APR open Carbon intake kit with custom made intake duct and mounts, Creation Motorsport relocation radiator hose, Genuine VW petrol Caddy fuel tank with custom hybrid 2017 Caddy/Audi TTRS Low Pressure Fuel pump, Custom Audi S3 Engine cover, Funk Motorsport gold heat shielding and multiple gold and Carbon fibre cable heat sleeves, Racingline Billet Coolant reservoir cap, ECS carbon fibre coolant bottle cover, Racingline Billet Screen wash bottle cap, rolling road tuned by Uber tuning to 417.5BHP /545Nm, transmission: 6 speed SQZ code gearbox (from 2017 Scirocco), RTS Twin plate Clutch, Forge Motorsport adjustable quick shift kit (both throw and side), 48 Draft Designs gear selector cable bushes, HEL braided clutch hose
Grinds G1 air suspension management system with Bluetooth module, fully hidden system with twin Grinds competition compressors housed within enclosure on custom underslung mounting plate, 2 Airlift auto drain water traps, 1 Grind manual drain water trap, 3 gallon MOA seamless tank, 2 SMC AK2000 check valves and stainless steel fittings throughout, ABP air suspension front struts, Whiteline 24mm adjustable front antiroll bar, Whiteline adjustable front antiroll bar drop links, Aluminium subframe with Deadset kit fitted, 034 Motorsport dog bone bush, Full Powerflex anti-lift and bush kit in Passat aluminium lower arms, Superpro adjustable ball joints. ï ABP air suspension bags and split-leaf springs, Bilstein rear shocks, axle flip with Retrofication weld on saddles and ABP hanger kit, rear hanger blocks, relocated antiroll bar, powder-coated rear axle, Whiteline 24mm adjustable rear antiroll bar, Powerflex Black series bush kit in rear springs and chassis mount, chassis fully sealed with Dinitrol Metallic and all components powder coated/repainted, Brembo 18Z front callipers (painted yellow) with PW Motorsport mounting kit, Golf R32 disc backing plates, 350mm drilled and grooved discs with Brembo pads, HEL Braided brake hoses, custom dual rear calliper setup with Brembo 4 pot callipers (service brake) and Golf R32 callipers (handbrake), Both painted yellow with 310mm drilled and grooved discs, HEL braided brake hoses, 20” Genuine Audi A6, original silver (8.5” wide, ET43), Continental Contact Sport 6 tyres (225/30 20), Self-levelling Audi wheel centres, RacingLine Wheel stud conversion, ABS based tyre pressure monitoring
Hybrid MK7.5 Golf GTI front bumper with Genuine Oettinger lower front spoiler and splitter and Genuine LED foglights, Touran front grill, VW Carbon rear bumper protector, Custom Touran/Caddy wing mirrors with puddle lights and dynamic indicators, Edition 30 Side mouldings, Edition 35 style side skirts, Caddy Alltrack lower door trims, smoothed and painted, modified Vanstyle MK4 Caddy arch kit, rear spoiler, painted number plate light handle, side rail cover (with correct rail), black rear VW Badge with painted backing, custom EM Tuning bi-Xenon headlights with twin honeycomb etched projectors, MK4 Caddy side repeaters, MK4 Caddy rear light units with LHD version fit to driver’s side, wind deflectors, painted external B-post trims, MK4 Caddy (16” wheel), rear-wheel arch liners (with spray flap), custom made mud flaps
Fully sound deadened and insulated (front and back), rear fully carpeted in anthracite carpet (with ply panel inserts), coffee ash real wood flooring in rear, armour plates on rear doors, Touran rear seat conversion fully heated and reupholstered in Bridge of Weir Leather with Golf GTD tartan centres and suede trimmed plastics, Touran Carpets (front and Rear), Touran seat bases trimmed in suede, heated Recaro R32 Wingback front seats reupholstered in Bridge of Weir Leather with Golf GTD tartan centres and suede trimmed plastics (wired with stans loom), Touran Dashboard upholstered in Bridge of Weir leather and suede, Premium 3D colour instrument cluster with facelift Scirocco dial foils and custom Scirocco facia surround, Scirocco additional gauge cluster mounted in custom made suede trimmed housing, full Touran Climatronic heater/air conditioning system with late model control unit, Custom heater control surround with MK7 Golf satin chrome button trim, CAN bus controlled PTC heater with original VW loom, Caddy life sliding door interior panel upholstered in Bridge of Weir Leather, Golf GTD Tartan and suede, Custom made drivers side rear panel upholstered in Bridge of Weir Leather, Golf GTD Tartan and suede, Shadow chrome door catch covers, Facelift Touran vents and ESP switch unit (satin chrome trimmed), Touran centre console with custom made sliding tray, trimmed in suede with armrest trimmed in Bridge of Weir leather, handbrake trimmed in Bridge of Weir leather with satin chrome release button, yellow seatbelts (front and rear), MK7 Golf GTI gear knob with shortened lever and Bridge of Weir leather gear lever cover, MK5 Golf GTI foot pedals, MK7 Golf R flat bottom MF steering wheel reupholstered in perforated Leather and Suede with yellow stitching and centreline, XHorse steering wheel module, MK7 Golf hybrid indicator/wiper stalks, Passat W8 interior light, auto headlights, white LED door and floor courtesy lighting (door open), red ambient floor, dash and door pocket lighting (front and back), Touran front door panels reupholstered in Suede with Bridge of Weir leather armrests and top sections with Golf GTD tartan door centres, satin chrome Touran Door handles, Touran Satin Chrome mirror switch, VW Beetle Satin chrome tipped window switches, Audi A8 door handle lighting diffusers (red), genuine VW Bulkhead delete B post trims trimmed in suede, lower B-post and sill trims trimmed in suede, A pillars, roof lining & roof trims all retrimmed in suede, custom rear roof lining trimmed in suede with fibre optic star lighting and additional LED roof lighting (on separate switch), Audison APK165 speakers in front doors and tweeters in dashboard, Alpine 6×9’s installed under front seats, RNS510 DAB (Navigation) head unit with reverse camera, Genuine VW Touran carpet mats (front and rear)