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1989 VW Golf Rallye - Stevie's Wonder

We Check Out Steve Brown's Wonderful 330whp Rallye VR6 Turbo.

Alex Rogan
Jul 1, 2007
Photographer: Josh Brown

If you ask 20 enthusiasts to name the ultimate VW, you'll get a range of answers. A few might mention the Corrado SLC with its VR6 engine, while others may choose the R32 with it's all-wheel drive, but the most popular car would likely be the Golf Rallye.

The venerable Golf Rallye was a classic. It had a high-tech and powerful (for the time) G60 engine with an aggressive yet restrained widebody and, of course, the Syncro all-wheel drive system. As far as Golf's go, it had a much higher level of handling, performance and refinement than anything else at the time. Its reinforced chassis was made for racing, and because it was never imported into the USA we could only dream about this ultimate VW.

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A few enterprising souls, however, have gone through the somewhat complicated and frustrating process of importing a Golf Rallye Stateside. You may recall Ed Sheets (former co-owner of NGP Racing) had his Rallye featured in et 2/06. It was an extreme project, with a VR6 turbo making over 600 horsepower.

One of NGP's oldest customers, Steve Brown, happened to stop by the shop one day and went for a ride in the Rallye with Ed. That quick blast was all he needed to get on the phone to his bank manager. Luckily for Steve, a recently imported Rallye turned up at the shop, and he was happy to scoop it up and set his dream in motion.

"I always wanted a Rallye. Who doesn't? It's one of the rarest cars, so when Ed showed me his, I knew I had to get one," Steve said. "It was stock and had about 70k miles on it."

The engine may have had relatively low miles, but after owning a series of highly modified cars, ranging from a Mk1 16v to a built-motor Mk3 8v turbo, the standard 160hp G60 wouldn't satisfy Steve for long. So a round of upgrades were installed at NGP to get the power to an acceptable level, including a Kompressor Kanada rebuilt stage 3 supercharger, cam, chip and a smaller pulley. Yet the power of the VR6 lingered in the back of Steve's mind, and the G60 lacked the punch he had been hoping for.

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"We re-did the G60 engine and made it look real nice, but it wasn't enough power and the car didn't have the prestige of the VR6 sound. So that's why we swapped it," he mentioned. After discussing the details with Dave Graf (NGP's service manager and co-owner), a 2.9 VR6 was sourced from eCodeparts.com and the little G60 was removed.

"It was just going to be the VR6 2.9 striaght from Europe, but as the project progressed we wanted a turbo, then a bigger turbo and intercooler, and it snowballed," Steve relayed.

The bottom end was checked and the head freshened before being reinstalled with a set of Techtonics 264/260 cams and a C2 Motorsports 8.5:1 head gasket spacer. An Innovative Turbo T04E hybrid turbo was bolted into place with a Kinetic Motorsport exhaust manifold and a Tial wastegate to regulate boost.

NGP's head technician and fabricator, Ron Weaver, handled the tuning on Steve's car. Having worked his magic on Ed's Rallye, he was familiar with the challenges and able to complete Steve's.

Although it's a very tight fit, a full 3" turbo-back exhaust was constructed from stainless steel to ensure plenty of flow from the boosted 12v motor. A high-flow cat helps scrub the spent fuel of toxins, while a Borla muffler keeps the exhaust note sporty, without it being too aggressive. A Spearco intercooler core was selected for the task of chilling the pressurized charge, and Ron finished the job by fabricating the rest of the system with mandrel-bent piping. All the plumbing and the intake manifold were then powdercoated matte black, and look pure business under the hood.

A Forge Motorsport 007P diverter valve was used rather than a blowoff valve to minimize lag between shifts, and a C2 Motorsports 36# injector, software and fueling package was used for tuning. Normally this package is fool-proof, but the European ECU caused some unexpected quirks in the fuel delivery, so a house-call was made to smooth out the wrinkles.

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"Chris and Jeff from C2 took care of it. They did a custom map on the dyno and now the car's running mint," Steve mentioned.

Once everything was smoothed out, the black Rallye spun NGP's Dynojet to the tune of 330whp and 356wtq at 15psi of boost. This was done while the rear driveshaft was disconnected, effectively making it a front-wheel drive run.

Knowing the standard Syncro transmission would never stand up to over twice the power of the stock engine, a Peloquin 02C torque-biasing front differential was installed, along with eCodeparts billet aluminum Gebo adapters. A Spec stage 3 clutch and NGP flywheel rounded out the drivetrain upgrades.

To bring the car down to the tarmac, FK Konigsport coilovers, featuring Koni adjustable shocks, were installed to keep it solid at high speed and in the turns. The stock brakes were retained, but with Zimmerman cross-drilled rotors and Mintex Red Box pads helping to slow the car without drama.

"It actually stops pretty well. I had a set of Wilwoods on one of my previous cars, but I had to downgrade to G60 brakes with the Girling calipers and it worked out fine with that, too. I'm not drag racing or autocrossing it, so I don't think I need to worry about the heat or anything like that," Steve admitted.

With the Rallye's wide fenders, just any set of wheels wouldn't do. So Steve kept a sharp eye out and managed to score a rare set of three-piece BBS RFs, measuring 16x8.5" front and rear. The wheels are wrapped in 205/40 Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires, which provide just enough stretch to look great and do their best to maintain traction when the pedal is pushed to the floor.

The exterior is one area little improvement was needed. In fact, it's completely stock, right down the to VW emblems. The interior mods were kept basic as well, and since the car came with electric Recaros, there's no way Steve was getting rid of those! You'd be hard pressed to find a more comfortable, supportive and classic-looking seat for the Mk2. However, the hands-on experience is enhanced by a Momo steering wheel and shift-knob.

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The stock VW stereo was removed to make way for a set of VDO gauges, allowing the driver to monitor the oil pressure, and oil and water temp at a glance. A custom panel was also used to mount a VDO boost gauge in the left vent, rather than a bulky A-pillar mount.

The lack of in-car entertainment doesn't bother Steve one bit. "I was happy to take the stereo out because I love hearing the engine. I love knowing what's going on with the car. And there's nothing like the sound of a VR6 turbo on the highway!"

Steve certainly isn't afraid to use his new- found power. "When I first picked the car up from NGP, going home I ran into a new Shelby GT500. I've raced two of those and smoked 'em both. They were kinda surprised," he laughed. "The first guy was really pissed, but the other gave me the thumbs up and wanted to go again. It was pretty cool."

Steve keeps the Rallye safely garaged most days, bringing it out for get-togethers or when he wants a little fun. "I go out driving on the back roads with the local guys in the 757 area. It's a beautiful car for that; it handles awesome, so there's nothing better than being out on a nice sunny day," he said. "The Rallye's a great ride. It's just so smooth."

Now that Steve has his dream VW and dream engine, he plans to enjoy it and not worry about anybody who gives him flak for swapping out the G60. "The body and interior, everything you see, will stay the way it is. The wheels might change... but other than that, it's gonna stay the way Volkswagen should have made it - with a VR6," he laughed. "I do get grief about it from some people, but most know the G60 wasn't the right engine for that car - too many problems and not enough power, and who can argue with the sound of a VRT?!"

Tech spec1989 VW Golf Rallye

Owner: Steve Brown

Location: Chesapeake, VA

Occupation: US Navy

Engine: 2.9 liter VR6 12v with Innovative Turbo T04E hybrid turbo, ARP head studs, Techtonics 264/260 cams, C2 Motorsports 8.5:1 stainless head gasket spacer, Forge 007 DV, C2 Motorsports custom ECU map with 36# injectors, Tial wastegate, custom Spearco intercooler with powdercoated pipes, Samco hoses, custom stainless 3" exhaust with a Borla muffler, NGP 8mm silicone plug wires, Euro Sport oil cooler kit

Drivetrain: stock Syncro transmission with VR6/Syncro bellhousing, Peloquin differential, eCodeparts.com Gebo adapters, Spec stage 3 clutch with 228mm NGP lightened and balanced flywheel

Suspension: FK Konigsport coilovers

Wheels & Tires: 16x8.5" BBS RF wheels with 205/40-16 Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires

Brakes: 280mm Zimmerman drilled and slotted rotors

Exterior: as VW intended

Interior: stock half-leather electric Recaro seats, VDO Cockpit Series oil pressure, coolant and oil temps, and boost gauges, Momo steering wheel and shift knob Audio/Visual: It's a VRT!

Thanks: wife Jess, the NGP crew (www.ngpracing.com), Dave and Ron, Ed from eCodeparts, C2 Motorsports, Frank and Will, the 757 "OG" Dubbers

By Alex Rogan
48 Articles

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