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1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper

Purchased new in 1989, this Mk2 Golf is Daniel Breton's first love.

Alex Bernstein
Feb 28, 2013
Photographer: Jordan Donnelly
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Epcp 1302 01 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+tinted tail lights Photo 1/9   |   1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper

Twenty-three years ago, a 29 year-old Montreal native, Daniel Breton, walked into a Vw dealer and purchased what would be his favorite car ever: A 1982 Golf diesel.

"I've always loved the Mk2," said Daniel. "It's my favorite model." And he's not alone because there's something about the Mk2 - something that was missing from each subsequent generation. It's got an attitude. Maybe it's the angular nature of the body, the perfect proportions, the iconic front-end. It just works in metallic harmony.

Epcp 1302 02 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+two tone leather recaro seats Photo 2/9   |   1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper

We generally see Mk2s owned by young kids with pocket change and a love for air-ride, but Daniel's enthusiasm comes from a different time. At 52 years old, he loves the car with every bone in his body, and each aches equally because he's been the only one wrenching on it since day one. He's been in his garage with just hand tools and a floor jack.

He didn't take a slow approach to modifying, though. Actually, the stock Golf only lasted seven days. "One week after driving it home, I built a brand new motor with Weber carburetors," he explained. "I went back to the dealer and the salesman asked me about the warranty but I didn't care about that!" Correct answer.

Fast forward to today and what you see here might be the perfect example of the Mk2. Sure, the tuning world encompasses an enormous variety of styles and tastes, but this car speaks to you. It's highly modified, no doubt, but maintains its original, old school character.

Epcp 1302 06 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+VR6 chin spoiler Photo 3/9   |   1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper

Daniel finally repainted it two years ago. But instead of choosing a color that's impossible to find, or something showy and vibrant, he kept the factory Charcoal Grey as if it was repainted at the VW factory again.

It's not all looks either, this hatch is a goddamn monster. Let's see, it's certainly lighter than its original 2006 lb but now packs its third motor, a 2.1-liter 16v turbo motor with a 25psi uppercut that'll rip the tires to shreds.

"I'm very happy with it," Daniel gloated. "The engine's so strong, it's crazy." Barely breaking into the sweet spot of the Garrett GT30R, the 2.1L makes a generous 400whp on pump gas, and you can bet the skinny 195/45 rubber isn't doing much to aid traction. Thankfully, Daniel didn't skip a beat in his build. Utilizing a G60 casing, he stuffed a VR6 1-4 gear set inside the transmission, along with the long TDI 5th gear for highway cruising. It was topped off with a Quaife limited-slip.

While the power can be frenetic in the lower gears, the car hooks hard in top. But let's face it, this Mk2 turbo isn't for 0-60mph records; it's a toy. A really well-built toy.

Inside is minimalist. Nicely upholstered two-tone Recaros, a bright silver six-point rollcage and deleted rear seat: weight reduction and chassis stiffening at its finest.

"I love curvy roads," Daniel explained. "Every time I see a nice off-ramp, it's my favorite part of the drive."

The car handles exceptionally well thanks to sticky rubber, light BBS RM wheels and Bilstein PSS9 coilovers. It'll probably out-brake a Porsche, too, with its four-piston Wilwood front calipers squeezing 13" rotors.

Epcp 1302 05 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+garrett GT30R Photo 7/9   |   1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper

Despite its obvious performance assets, Daniel still drives it to every show he can, including H2O International in Maryland; a show he's attended every year since it's inception [see p94 for our coverage]. "Everybody knows the car because I've owned it so long," he laughed.

Daniel's a diehard enthusiast. He's the epitome of what the VW scene needs; a true fan of the brand and its culture. His Golf won't be going anywhere, for now, so don't bother lowballing him online. "I'll keep it forever!" he exclaimed. And we're sure you would too if you somehow managed to dump nearly $100,000 in your German econobox over the course of more than two decades.

1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

Daniel Breton
Montreal, Canada

Engine 2.1-liter 16v four-cylinder with JE pistons, Carrillo rods, ported, polished head, Garrett GT30R .63a/r turbo, 38mm TiAL wastegate and Q blow-off valve, custom intake, exhaust manifold and 3" exhaust with Magnaflow muffler, RMR intake manifold and fuel rail, custom front-mount intercooler with Garrett core, SDS engine management

Epcp 1302 03 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+engine Photo 8/9   |   2.1L 16v turbo motor puts out 400whp in sub-2000 lb car

Brakes Wilwood six-piston calipers and 13" rotors f, stock rear

Suspension Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, six-point Autotech rollcage, front and rear sway bars

Wheels & Tires 15x8" BBS RM wheels with 2" lips, 195/45 R15 Marangoni Zeta tires

Exterior Golf Rallye headlamps and badgeless grille, VR6 chin spoiler, single wiper, wider fenders, rubbing strips removed, de-badged rear, tinted tail lights, pop-out rear windows, Sparco fuel cap, Golf CL rear window, rear wiper and spoiler removed

Interior two-tone leather Recaro seats with matching door cards, SDS programmer, Oettinger steering wheel, painted dash pieces, rear-seat delete

Audio Pioneer head unit, MB Quart speakers, 10" Boston Acoustics G2 sub in custom enclosure, Phoenix Gold amps

Epcp 1302 07 o+1989 volkswagen golf diesel+tinted tail light Photo 9/9   |   1989 Volkswagen Golf Diesel - She’s A Keeper
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By Alex Bernstein
151 Articles

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