Textures Gained From 10 Years As A Track Car

Call it what you like – patina, wear and tear, or character – I think the texture that comes with use is something that should be savoured. It tells a much more interesting story than a car gleaming like a shiny new penny. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with an immaculate car, it’s just not quite within my price range. Perhaps this story is me just trying to convince myself that all these lumps and bumps are beautiful; it’s hard to tell sometimes.

The car you see here is a pretty humble 1990 Mk2 Volkswagen Golf. It’s nothing too much to write home about, but it is an Alpine White non-sunroof car – exactly the same variant as my first Mk2 Golf around 15 years ago.


I’m not sure where that car is now, but I did all sorts of unspeakable things to it. Originally a 1.3L Golf C, I put twin DCOE Weber carbs on it. That engine didn’t last too long with an exuberant RPM expectation of a young enthusiast, and I’d found a Polish Westmoreland Mk2 in a scrap yard to distract me.

Everything was swapped into the white car, including the 1.6L diesel engine. Naturally that didn’t last long either, and I embarked on a winding journey of IDI VW diesel tuning. It culminated in a lot of smoke, a T3 turbo and around 150bhp.


Thankfully this car is slightly better stocked in the engine department with a 2.0L 16V ABF engine from a Mk3 GTI, plus all the wide-track axle parts and LSD-equipped gearbox. It all sounds quite impressive, until you realise this car has lived 10 straight years at the track.

It’s been all over the country and Europe in that time, putting in solid performances at every stop. You can see it pop up in old forum threads now and then, and also in Nürburgring compilation videos. It is like ‘Where’s Wally’ but with a white box on wheels. It’s certainly been around the block.


Now this car isn’t strictly ‘as bought'; I jumped the gun a little bit and began to tidy it up before showing you. Luckily I have a bit of an eagle eye for vintage Recaro seats and had this Pro-HANS seat ready to drop straight in. I’ve got another Kevlar Recaro Profi seat to go in the passenger side.


In fact, this car is starting to take on a life of its own as it seems to attract vintage period correct parts like a (rusty) magnet. A Kamei rear spoiler and VW Motorsport four-branch exhaust manifold popped up on eBay and I snapped them up.


As did a pair of ‘M3′ rear clusters. You can just about get any colour of rear light you like for a Mk2 Golf, and I’d love to find a set of black Treser lights with matching heckblende, like I used to have on my first Mk2. It probably wouldn’t work with the track look, but I can’t resist the lure of rare stuff. There’s a guy on Instagram who has one of every colour; I can’t lie, I am impressed.


Inside there’s a lot of water and a lifetime of ill treatment. There’s a lot on the ‘to-do’ list in here, but I’m keen to tidy it up without completely deleting too much of its story.


One aspect that I’d like to completely overhaul is the engine compartment. Traces of orange show that it was loved at some point, and I can imagine that the original builder would be quite pleased to learn that the installation has lasted this long. It even put down a really respectable 162bhp when dyno tested – not bad for a car that has been stood for a few years.


I’m sure many people will look at these images and wince, but I think that you’ve got to embrace the flaws and look past the now to the what could be. Allow yourself to dream a little. This is a solid shell with a healthy engine, and I can see the track car it could be just lurking in there amongst the poor wiring and questionable cage mountings.


First on the list is to go right through the car and make sure it’s safe and at least comfortable to drive. A new steering wheel, new wheels and tyres, and the tying down of some loose components is a good starting point.

An even better place to begin is perhaps to ensure the car at least starts. This generation of VW engine has a separate immobiliser box that was placed right in the path of water ingress into the cabin. One of the reasons this car came up for sale is because it had an intermittent starting problem, tracked to the immobiliser.


Luckily, technology has moved on in the time that this thing has been sleeping and I was able to completely remove the external immobiliser circuit. You can see here just how corroded it had become.


But to me that’s just another chapter in a long and colourful life story. At 31 years old I feel like this Mk2 Golf is only just getting into its prime. I was there for the teenage years, so let’s see what mid-life has to offer to the both of us.

For the record, I’ve gained some ‘texture’ too.

Ryan Stewart
Instagram: 7.nth 



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

It's stories like this that make me feel happier about my crashed twice, imperfect R53 Mini daily that has seen, and hopefully sees more tracktime. I've been thinking about trying to get a video edit together, a more realistic view on a car feature than the typical pampered show car as that's more relatable ahah

I have a soft spot for a proper function > form track car like this! Looks like a lot of fun


I'm glad you got the vibe I was going for there. Felt like a risk to put this car out there warts and all.


Love this Ry. Mainly because it makes my 106 Rallye look like its concours ready.


It's not pretty but this should be effective. It's a good antidote to chasing an impossible dream, sort of an achievable nightmare I guess, lol!


I'd much rather see something like this in the Silverstone paddock than yet another pristine 911 GT3RS owned by some 23yr old YouTuber. Regardless of the car, if it's wearing it's stone-chips on it's bonnet and rubber pick up flung across it's flanks, I'm in.


I think it'll be surprisingly capable when it's all finished up. Tough to not get carried away adding too many flashy parts to it and keep the tuning sympathetic and appropriate.


I know the feeling! It's kinda like a drawing or painting, it's easy to get to a point and be like "oh I'll just add this here and here" and before you know it, you're way passed what would have been perfect three of four brush strokes ago.


Funny isn’t it, our T5 day van is rough and ready and I feel that leaving as is shows the life it has with us. For me provided it’s mechanically sound I’m happy for it to be a little ugly!


Ugly is beautiful in my house. When it comes to everything, clothes, furniture... pets. To love the unloved has a special feeling to it IMO.


just a little cleaning and some adjustments and itll be good to go.Ive always loved Golfs ever since i played Midnight Club LA whereas the Golf GTI was 1 of the 3 options for your starter cars.Pretty cool article btw. :)


I loved this article, and I am enamored by your Golf. A well used car, one with stories and miles and imperfections and downright issues, is far more enticing to read and write about than a pristine example. While I liked the articles from the past couple days about Liberty Walk, I much prefer Speedhunters features on cars like this. My wrenching hobby is only just beginning. I'm in the process of building an NA Miata at the moment, and it's my first time modifying a car. I'm pulling the existing and very tired 200k mile original motor, in favor of a newer, fully forged motor which I'm building myself (save for the machine shop work of boring the cylinders over 0.020", a resurfacing the mating surfaces on the head and the block, I'm doing it all). I'm also adding forced induction in the form of a Garrett 2554, with a power goal of ~220WHP. Before this car, I'd never even changed my own oil.

So while poring over Liberty Walk Lamborghinis isn't a bad thing by any means, these are the articles with which I synergize. Thank you for creating this content. It made my morning a bit brighter, and put a smile on my face as I prepared to start the work day.


You get it 100%


I've had numerous cars for many years, spending so much time and money on them only to make the mistake of looking at them one day and deciding to sell. I still think about them and wish I hadn't sold them. I have an f56 now and I recently looked down and noticed that I'd put 55,000 miles on it. I'm a slow learner and had that thought about selling, but after looking around at my options I came to my senses, now I look out my window at it sitting there and how much it's become a part of me and now think about some changes, new exhaust? Vent the bonnet? Thanks for doing this article, look forward to he next one.


The best a car ever can be is always the week before the for sale advert!


So refreshing to see an old warrior. Of course all the fresh, 1,000hp 2JZ swapped somethingorothers that grace these posts are entertaining, but this GTI likely represents what many of us broke car enthusiasts are out driving around in.


Gotta have the coal to appreciate the diamonds <3


Love this article. I respect you for seeing this through and continuing to track it. Not easy and a lot cooler to me than these features with the wannabe racers who don't knock their rebound settings from their ***hole. lol.

Awesome experience and a cool journey with your car. Thanks for sharing.


Love it.


As a fellow alpine white mk2 owner there is a lot to admire from your article. For years I have strived for perfection to fit in with the mk2 crowd, but fallen short of stepped up BBS and a respray as family life took over. I’ve learned to embrace the common faults of the mk2, the “ginger” spots that have developed and its inability to stay water tight. After several years sat in the garage I now use it daily and it really does bring things to life in what is a mundane lockdown world. Truth be told I’ve not saved the car, it’s saved me.


Love this comment. Alpine white used to be the most unpopular colour.


It was unpopular when I bought it ten years ago. But it was a childhood dream to have a white mk2 on a set of TH-Monos and that’s how it sits. Keep up the good work mate


You made me miss my MK2 :(


LOVE the mid-wing on this one!


I remember the old white mk2 at the Oxford Edition show, seems like a lifetime ago now. Love this project, probably my fave car of yours.


That car taught me a lot of things, really wish I still had that shell to bring it back for real. This car is close enough to relive that time in my life though.


I feel I can relate a lot to this, As amongst friends i've always driven a slightly neglected civic coupe :)


Great article,nice to read there are still people have them what they are for,and that is driving them
Hopefully next year mine will be finished and will be used on the track as well,would love to invite you guys when it’s finished


This looks wicked, keep in touch as this one progresses - my email is ryan@speedhunters.com


Thanks i sure will do that,this one will be with a Skoda S2000 2.0 16v with a sequential gearbox from Kaps


Oh wow this sounds fantastic! That'll make a great sound!


Great article, car, and approach to automotive enthusiasm.

I too have learned that a reliable car (especially one which you've shared many memories with) is always the best track car. It's like a good buddy who will never let you down & is always predictable. Show up at a track and enjoy, no drama or stress. It doesn't have to be the fastest (after all, someone will always have something faster), just enough for you to maximize the experience on the track (and not fixing shit underneath it in the pits!).

I'm in Canada , but had the privilege of driving Nordschleife a few years ago. It was a hell of an experience, one of awe and frankly shock at the potential chaos waiting to happen with all those different vehicles out there. I thought at the time that if I lived in Europe I'd drive that track a ton - but with a car exactly likely like yours. Predictable, fun, reliable, and most importantly a machine you're willing to leave the track without (my golden racing rule: don't go lapping unless you're willing to lose the car there).


You're exactly right. It's a sober thought but every time you enter a circuit you do run the risk of not driving the car home, especially at the Nürburgring, but I think that's what makes it so thrilling.


Love reading your story and relates to me a lot. I had a lot of fun with mine, forgotten the aesthetic part.


I'm feeling this so much, pristine cars are good to look, used cars are good to talk and tell histories. I'm sure getting every part of this was a trip and worth a beverage or two to talk about it and maybe get a laugh of learn of other mistakes. Thank you for the share, it spreads a different type of car travel, that i personally look for.


Great car. Great article. Great images. Nuff said. ;)


I've actually got a set of the black Treser lights and heckblende. The lights are in Ok condition, the heckblende is cracked slightly.
Let me know if you're interested,

Awesome Mk2 as well!