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Volkswagen Golf 1.8 Mk4 - Exklusiv Cult Car

Few Mk4 Golfs Are Sweeter Than This Five-Door 1.8T

Philip Royle
Oct 1, 2004

Few Mk4 Golfs Are Sweeter Than This Five-Door 1.8T

It's ridiculous when you think about it. What was VW thinking? Isn't it obvious that the oddball car is the one that's most desired? Thus VW's decision to discontinue US sales of the five-door Mk4 1.8T after only two years was idiotic. This same theory holds true for the Corrado and B4 Passat -- er, scratch that last remark. Perhaps it's a catch-22. If VW were to have continued sales of the five-door 1.8T on US shores, this car may not have become the cult it now is.

Either way, the five-door is a sweet car, and the 1.8T powering its front wheels makes it even better. Now, if only someone would mod the hell out of one.With that thought in mind, we stumbled upon Wendell Willkom at the NorCal vs. SoCal show in Santa Barbara. His '00 Golf GLS 1.8T was on display in the Exklusiv Tuning booth and was seemingly the centerpiece, overshadowing a BMW and a 996 twin-turbo it was sharing space with.

How does a Golf dwarf a Porsche, you may be wondering, especially one holding the Turbo insignia? To begin with, the Golf was wearing most of what you see in these photos. To be specific, Wendell's daily driver was sporting 19-inch BBS LM rims at each corner. These were emphasized by H&R spacers (8 mm front, 15 mm rear) and H&R coilovers (utilizing Bilstein PSS perches on the rear), which slammed the car to the ground. Behind the wheels sit ECS Tuning Stage 4 Porsche big-brakes, which include 14-inch rotors and four-piston calipers up front and Stage 1R 12-inch, two-piece rotors on the rear.

The exterior mods are an eyeful, and for the most part, they are impossible to list in their entirety. Some key elements were obvious at first glance, like the Rieger Tuning R-RS nose work and R-RX rear additions connected to the Euro bumpers. Running parallel to the European side moldings are Abt side skirts, with a Freedom Designs upper hatch spoiler playing off the swooping good looks that the Hofele hatch blend offers. Other additions are the Hagus M3-style mirrors and DTM Autohaues carbon-fiber boser hood. Topping off the bodywork is an impressive array of lighting upgrades in which nearly every bulb and housing, both inside and out, was replaced with something better and more rare.

Inside the cabin are a slew of mods, many of which are easily spotted, like the twin Infinity 12-inch boxed woofers, Stinger caps, and Alpine monitor, as well as the Wiechers rollcage and Sparco Torino front seats -- but there are even more mods you may overlook. For instance, it's next to impossible to know that the passenger airbag slot was cut open and a Blaupunkt DVD/CD-R player installed in its place. It's also difficult to tell without a discerning eye that the HVAC vents belonged to a Jetta, the dome light came from a Passat W8 (as did the illuminated sunroof switch), there's a flashlight lighter from a Touareg, and a 20vT dash badge from a Seat. Even the Momo Race steering wheel and custom Sparco adapter aren't straight-forward, as they're connected via a Techniq Autosport Race quick-release system.

What makes this five-door so cool, as you well know, is that the motivation comes from the effervescent 1.8T, rather than the insanely underpowered 2.0L. But what good would this Golf be if the turbo was left alone while the rest of the car received so much attention? The answer, my Golf-loving compatriots, is no good at all.

To remedy the potential problem, Wendell upgraded his 150hp K03 with the K03 Sport turbo from a 180hp AWP motor. Additional breath was added via a GIAC Version 4 1.1-bar chip, and from there Wendell can dial in the motor with the GReddy Profec B Spec-1 boost controller that's conveniently mounted to the steering column. Cooling the air from the spooling turbo is an ATP front-mount intercooler. Gases then escape via an ATP exhaust that discards the catalytic converter.

There are other mods, but to be honest, there aren't enough pages in this issue to describe what each and every one does, so I'll defer you to the Tech Spec box to the left. What's more amazing than the number of mods is that Wendell drives his car on a daily basis. "Many times the roads have messed up my car pretty badly because I had to drive it," Wendell says. "I had no choice. At times it would get frustrating, but I'd never give up. For the past four years this car has been more than my hobby -- it's been my life and my obsession. No regrets though. No regrets at all."

I learned early on that quantity doesn't necessarily run hand in hand with quality, but there are exceptions, and Wendell's Golf seems to be one of those. Since every mod was painstakingly chosen with a specific goal in mind, Wendell managed to piece together a VW that's breathtaking to look at, quick enough to keep life in the fast lane, and flashy enough to win a trophy at nearly every show it enters. Wendell tells us the goals he had with this car were "to make it a show winner, to win the New Dimensions Charity Show and get it in a magazine." After three years of building, Wendell managed to pull off a well-deserved first place in the Mk4 Golf/GTI 1.8T/2.0L class at this year's New Dimensions show -- a trophy he added to the shelves which already housed 12 first place, seven second place, and two third place trophies since the car hit the show scene in 2002. Now all that's left is to get that damned elusive magazine feature.

By Philip Royle
70 Articles

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