Often the joys in life can be enhanced with the help of an addition. Whether it’s something as simple as adding salt to a meal, or finding someone special to share your life with, those bonds serve to improve our experiences. Some relationships can be fleeting, mere moments in time, experienced, then gone forever, but some stand the test of time: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Batman and Robin, fish and chips (what? I’m English!).
While we seem to live in a world that is more throwaway by the day, for any personal relationship to persist, it has to be worked at. Both parties are liable to change but both also have to be willing to adapt. There will be tough times and there will be good days.
It’s something Rakesh Rathod knows only too well. The relationship he enjoys with the Mk2 Golf you see before you stretches back 25 years. Along the way, they’ve grown together, evolved and matured.
He’s been there right since day one, when the car was originally purchased by his father back in 1988.
But the two were brought together properly when Rakesh passed his driving test and his dad handed over the keys. Back then, the car looked quite a bit different than it does now. Originally just a 1.8GL, the changes started not long after they met…Beating heart
After the almost-obligatory addition of big bumpers to make it look like a GTI, the power itch soon began to rear its head. Not happy with a mild bit of tuning though, a 1.8T lump from an Audi TT quickly found its way under the bonnet.
But it wasn’t a case of power alone. Rakesh was keen to smooth the engine bay, after originally having seen the work carried out by hot rodders. Big deal you’re thinking – tucked and smoothed engine bays are nothing new. And you’re right. But this work was all carried out over a decade ago. It’s a trend that’s become de rigeur in the VW world since, but Rakesh was right there at the forefront.
Before I even get onto the specs of the engine though, there’s no getting away from the sheer amount of chrome in the bay. After initially sending a few boxes of bits all the way out to California for triple-plate chroming, thankfully for Rakesh’s wallet, a much more local supplier was found who could still reach his high standards. Pretty much everything that’s feasible to be coated has been – throughout the whole car. That includes the custom rocker cover, the gearbox casing, the subframe, wishbones, driveshafts, hubs and more!
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just a show car with nothing to back that shiny appearance up though. Oh no. From the moment the engine went in, Rakesh was thinking hard about what would be needed to make a true 400hp that could be relied upon.
Forged JE pistons and Pauter rods make up the stronger internals, while the head has been ported and polished by JNL and custom Integrated Engineering race cams help to maximise the power and torque. A Garrett GTX3071 billet ball bearing turbo is mated to a Flowtech Exhausts custom equal length manifold and it feeds air back to the engine through that rather tasty Ross Machine Racing intake. But in order to squeeze those equal length pipes in front of the bulkhead, the turbo had to be mounted on the side of the head with a custom bracket; both jobs were expertly handled by Flowtech.
After doing a bit of research, Rakesh decided to go with a charge cooler. Sourcing a PWR unit, Flowtech again helped with creating all of the custom intake piping, as well as adding a custom screamer pipe and downpipe. The next job was to get the charge cooler working though, so, knowing that the lowest turbo air temperatures needed optimum flow, a push and pull pump were utilised and a trick 4.5-litre tank was added neatly behind the bumper U-section. But instead of just using water, Rakesh decided to add methanol into the mix to provide extra cooling. It’s worked a treat too, the intake temperatures staying cool no matter what.
It’s just one of a host of unique touches added by Rakesh over the years. All in all, the engine makes an impressive 441hp with 360lb/ft torque: nearly dead-on double the original engine’s output and more than four times what the car originally rolled out of the factory with.
Obviously not one to settle for standard, the chromed G60 gearbox casing was at first home to a full set of VR6 internals. The lure of a six-speed did call but after speaking with Rothe Motorsport in Germany, it instead supplied some different internals that would give a taller final drive, negating the need for that sixth cruising gear. Keen to test the changes, a visit to the autobahns saw a sat-nav-confirmed 170mph showing at 5100rpm – pretty amazing going for a boxy-shaped car with 3,000rpm to go before the limiter!Sitting pretty
By now you might be getting a good impression of how often Rakesh settles for ‘good enough’ on his car: never. It’s a theme that continues through to the interior.
The entire space is re-trimmed in silver grey nappa leather, from the obvious candidates such as the front and rear seats, plus door trims…
… to the less obvious ones, such as the entire dashboard and headlining. Note the attention to detail of making sure that even the air vents and corresponding controls are finished to match.
All critical information is imparted by a rare Digifiz digital dash, but perhaps even less common is the RUF Performance steering wheel. Yes, that’s a genuine wheel straight from the German Porsche-based manufacturer!Subtle touches
To the uninitiated, the exterior may seem relatively stock, but there’s actually a host of characteristically subtle modifications going on.
The drop and tuck is provided courtesy of a set of KW V2 coilovers with an HLS system that allows the entire car to raise up to avoid any issues with speed bumps, potholes or other issues commonly experienced on Britain’s aging road system. Stopping power is provided courtesy of the Wilwood calipers and discs which you can see just poking out between the gaps in the wheel. Talking of which…
… the Golf originally rode on classic BBS RS wheels (chromed of course), but nowadays it’s shod with something not so commonly seen on Veedubs. The 16×8 Budnik wheels (again, chromed – let’s not break a trend here) are actually a great fit for the Golf’s styling with the dish at the rear being provided courtesy of the staggered offset.
The fitment of the wheels has also been helped in no small way by what Rakesh calls the ‘super G60′ arches. While the G60 version of the Golf came with wider plastic arches straight from VW, these have been custom fabricated and smoothed into the bodywork.
I remember lusting after Audi door handles back when I owned a VW Polo, so the choice of these A6 numbers is no surprise and a massive aesthetic improvement on the original plastic numbers. It’s another choice modification that helps to add to the overall smooth and subtle approach.
More subtle touches continue with the door trim being removed, the crease line on the rear 3/4 panel being smoothed over, the sunroof being deleted and the tailgate being de-locked and smoothed, as well as having the rear tow eye cover deleted.
Both the front and rear bumpers have been smoothed, with the indicators deleted and moved down to the fog lights.
The smoothing trend even continues underneath the car. Yes, that’s right, even the underneath of the car has been fully prepared and painted! Attention to detail or OCD? Perhaps a bit of both, but paying attention to areas that won’t even be seen smacks of true dedication to the cause. The end result is glorious. Finished in a subtly pleasing, but not over-the-top BMW Red Pearl, the car oozes class.
The attention paid to all of the details is admirable – nothing’s gone untouched here, yet upon first glance, it would be hard for the untrained eye to identify this as anything other than a lowered Golf with some shiny wheels.
The original character of the car has been kept, yet improved upon in every way. Even when you start to take a closer look and notice some of the more flamboyant changes like the interior or the engine, your assumption of it being a pampered trailer queen would be wrong.
The Golf has truly evolved over the years, going through a number of changes before maturing into what you see before you. The quarter-century they’ve spent together have had their fair share of ups and downs, but a lot of work has been invested in this relationship. I’d say this is one pair that will share many more years to come.