It's fascinating to talk to people about how their project car got started. If you read enough of these pages, you'll discover most either never intended to do anything, but things "kind of got out of control," or they knew what they wanted to do from the start.
Well, 26 year-old Mike Gibney had his plans pretty much mapped out from the start, right down to the color. "I had to wait six months for the car to be delivered," Mike recalled. He didn't want any old Golf off the dealers lot- he wanted Rave green and was prepared to wait for it.
"I bought it new in December 2000. Since I lived with my grandparents all my life, my Grandmother co-signed for it. At first, she thought I was wasting my time, but was pleased when I started to bring home trophies. She passed away recently, but without her I couldn't have done any of this," he told us.
The six-month wait gave Mike time to gather some choice parts. "When the car arrived it had 200 miles on it, and the very next day we fitted Koni coilovers, an ATP downpipe and Techtonics exhaust. They'd been sitting on my floor waiting for the car to appear," he said.
Throughout the project, Mike turned to his friend Kevin Fernandes for help and inspiration. It was Kevin who initially got Mike hooked on Euros and supplied many of the parts through Euro Speed Designs - a company he runs from home. The pair would then fit the parts on Kevin's driveway.
After the first performance parts were fitted, there was a pause as Mike, still in high school at the time, saved up to afford more.
In time, he was able to buy a Rieger lip kit, which ostensibly remains to this day. The only change was to the front end where the front lip went from the stock bumper to a Euro bumper. It was then swapped out for Rieger's full bumper, which was later sculpted to incorporate a front-mount intercooler.
The sculptors were Five Star Collision in Westport, MA who opened the main aperture to accommodate the FMIC. They cut sections from a second bumper and fitted them around the intercooler so it appeared to be a factory-fit.
The bodyshop was also tasked with smoothing the tailgate by removing the plate recess and emblems. They also extended the hood to meet the Rieger grille, and in so doing, filled the hood notch.
Euro Speed, who supplied the Rieger parts, also provided the smoked Hella headlamps and side blinkers.
Following Waterfest, a carbon hood was purchased and fitted. However, Mike forgot to latch it properly one day and it slammed into the roof, causing considerable damage.
The car was repaired, only to have lowlife scum attempt to steal it by breaking in through the sunroof. At some point during all these repairs, the roof was painted Black Magic pearl, along with the Rieger wing and Cup mirrors. "I wanted something different after having the car for so long," Mike explained.
The break-in also damaged the headliner,so a trim shop was enlisted to fit a suede headliner. They also covered the pillars, removing the seatbelts since Sparco race seats and harnesses were fitted.
The headliner repairs were more difficult because Mike had already fitted a rollcage into the rear of the car. Since he wanted a racecar theme, this, combined with Sparco seats and accessories, seemed to fit the bill.
Next on the list was a new set of wheels: "I'd never had expensive wheels before, but I'd put so much into the car, I decided to do it properly and bought the Kinesis on an impulse. The bodyshop wasn't keen to paint my existing wheels black, so I went out and ordered these," Mike explained.
Since he was working on a masterplan, Mike knew he intended to fit big brakes. So, he forwarded a template from StopTech to Kinesis, who built the wheels to fit. When they duly arrived, Mike fitted his $5800 wheels and tires, but had yet to purchase the brakes. After experiencing a squeaking noise on his maiden voyage, he stopped to investigate and discovered the stock brakes had gouged a groove into the wheels. Fortunately, the arrival of the 14" StopTech rotors and four-piston calipers resolved the issue. He was able to fully enjoy extra braking power and the staggered 19" rims.
During the early stages of the project, Mike bolted most available parts to his 1.8T, but this was only while he saved for what he really wanted - an ATP big turbo kit. With enough money in his pocket, he went for broke and bought the ultimate stage 4 kit with GT30 turbo. He also purchased the front-mount and RMR intake at Waterfest prior to fitting the turbo kit.
Armed with all these parts, Mike and Kevin spent about a month piecing it all together on spare evenings. To make matters worse, Mike decided to delete items such as the washer fluid reservoir, coolant reservoir, crank case breather and some emissions equipment. It was fairly straightforward with Kevin's help, but the process took time finding the necessary pipes and clamps to bypass these components.
A couple of months ago, the car was dynoed and put down a very respectable 348hp and 315 lb/ft at the wheels on 24psi. "I was very pleased, but I intend to do new rods in winter '08 because I've heard these are the next weak point," Mike said.
With power comes consequences: Mike has broken one of his uprated axles and the blow-off valve. Fortunately, the axle is being replaced free of charge, but it's taking its toll on the owner's enthusiasm. "I was going to go after more power, but all it's good for is breaking stuff. Right now it just spins through first and second gears, so what's the point?"
So, he's progressed to working on a new project - an '83 Rabbit. It previously belonged to his friend Cliff Moniz, and has a motor built by Kevin for a previous Rabbit project that had been totaled.
Mike also owns an Audi A4 1.8T Avant, which he plans to mildly modify while retaining its daily driver status. Plus, he's dabbling with his girlfriend Tiffany's A6.
Having just walked away from New England Dust Off (see p.86) with first place in the Mk4 class, he's hoping to also win big at this year's Waterfest. If you're there, you can see how well he did.
2001 VW GTI
Owner: Mike Gibney
Location: Fall River, MA
Occupation: Boat Yard
Engine: 1.8 liter 20v i4 with Garrett GT30R turbo, ATP exhaust manifold and 3" downpipe, Techtonics 2.5" cat-less exhaust, RMR intake manifold, Ross Racing fuel rail, RC 550cc injectors, Aeromotive FPR, Walbro 255 lph fuel pump, Tial 35mm wastegate, Eurojet Race FMIC, HKS SSQ BOV, K&N filter, Samco hoses, Mika Tuning fuel software, VW Motorsport motor mounts, GReddy Profec B boost controller
Drivetrain: VR6 five-speed manual transmission with Peloquin differential, Clutchnet six-puck clutch, Autotech lightened flywheel, Axle Shop axlesBrakes: StopTech 14" big brake kit with zinc rotors and four-piston calipers, cross-drilled rear rotors
Suspension: Koni coiloversWheels & Tires: 18x8" front and 18x9.5" rear Kinesis K28R wheels, with 215/40-18 front and 235/40-18 rear Toyo T1R tires
Exterior: Rieger RRX body kit, Rieger rear wing, shaved hatch and wiper, Cup mirrors smoked Hella headlights, mirrors and roof sprayed black
Interior: Sparco Evo seats, harnesses, shift knob, steering wheel and pedals, Wiechers four-point rollcage, AFR, boost, volts, oil pressure gauges, rear seat removed, Clarion head unit
Thanks: Tiffany, Grandmother,Five Star Collision, and Kevin (email@example.com)