2001 VW Golf GLS 1.8T
A photo speaks a thousand words and there can be no argument the car pictured here is hot... But it takes an educated enthusiast, versed in the water-cooled Volkswagen scene, to identify the traits that separate this car from the riff-raff of wannabes and cheapskates.
Firstly, it's an '01 Golf GLS 1.8T. Unlike every other GTI, this example sports five doors. The rare Golf was popular among families but it's unusual to spot one on the road or in the tuning scene.
Secondly, the color combination is near flawless - subdued yet striking. Reflex silver is a common color for VWs, but the charismatic contrast with the gold multi-piece wheels gives the Mk4 its seductive stance.
And lastly, the body has skin so smooth the car should model for Jergen's lotion. Every edge is smoothed, the valances molded, distractions shaved and paint perfect. This Golf is the pinnacle of the modern Euro community, and owner Mike Tansey can be proud of his supermodel creation.
Mike's had his share of air- and water-cooled project cars. His obsession began with influences from his father and uncle. "My dad had an air-cooled Beetle and was constantly buying and fixing cars to flip for profit," Mike told us. "While my uncle drag-raced almost every weekend, building hot rods and racecars for years - some of which I was heavily involved with."
The family hobby led Mike to choose a career path in automobiles. Now in his mid-20s, he's a full time VW technician by day, running a side business doing motor swaps, maintenance and installs by night. Called Euro-Werks, the business allows Mike to channel his imagination to more complex projects like his Mk4 Golf.
When Mike picked up the Golf he was still in automotive school and beginning to learn about the 1.8T. "I heard from the dealer they had a five-door. I knew these were hard to come by and knew I'd have kids one day." So Mike drove it home with only 27k miles on the odometer and a handful of modifications such as wheels and suspension.
"Little by little, I started working on it," he explained. "In '07, the car came off the road for 18 months while I picked up a Mk2 daily driver. However, money got tight while planning my wedding and the car kept getting pushed back. But my wife, being the awesome person she is, let me use a hefty amount of money from wedding gifts to finish the car."
The lucky husband didn't waste a dime as he mapped out the blueprint to transform the exterior with close friends Jim and Vinny at FF-Motorwerks. Mike was also a partner in the business, and this is where most of the progress was achieved.
Mike admitted the car went through four previous phases before it reached its current style, from different wheels to gaudy body kits. "At one time it was a nickel 'n dime project. But I decided to take my time to get a real Euro-look - smoothed, shaved, low and with three-piece wheels," he asserted.
Mike's good at turning wrenches, but help was needed with welding and filling the bodywork. So good friend Dave Rutherford began by smoothing the front bumper and European rear. Mike then bought a set of 20th Anniversary GTI valances, which Dave molded to the bumpers.
To give the car its silky smoothness, the moldings, hatch, handle recesses and exhaust cutout were shaved. And in order for the shaved hatch to function properly, Mike modified a New Beetle gas door actuator, fabricating a rod to release the latch.
For the next step, old-school metal 'n hammer worker Joe Bluebello was enlisted to pull the fenders. On the flat surface of each fender, he finessed them 0.75" outward. And then added a bser hood extension.
Final exterior details included 20AE side skirts, E-code headlights, European Stubby mirrors and a badgeless grille.
With the majority of the car in primer, friend Mike Socha resprayed it in Reflex silver, finishing the roof in black for contrast.
One of the final elements was the wheels and having gone from plain-Jane Mille Miglias to conservative Brock B2s, Mike needed a knockout punch to acheive the Euro-class he desired. He finally settled on gold 18" Rial Daytona Race wheels. "I set my heart on gold," he noted. "I always thought gold wheels with polished lips looked good on silver cars." The contrast with the multi-piece and mesh wheel was everything Mike could ask for to complete his Golf. And the staggered 8.5" wide front and more aggressive 9.5" wide rears created the desired effect.
The chassis mods were completed once Mike had upgraded the brakes using RPI's 13.1" rotor kit with Wilwood calipers. A pair of Zimmerman drilled rotors were installed on the rear to match.
The ultra-low stance was obtained with B&G RS Line coilovers that lower the car 3.5" all-round. Neuspeed strut and sway bars help keep the chassis level in the turns.
You wouldn't expect the versatile motor to remain stock and sure enough, "Everything is upgraded except the turbo. I haven't reached that point yet, but future plans definitely entail a big turbo," he revealed.
Mike started by contracting Motion 3 to fabricate a custom exhaust after the GHL downpipe. The 3" mandrel-bent system flows into a Magnaflow race muffler, which exits out the hidden exhaust tips behind the smoothed rear valance.
Mike ordered several bolt-on parts to gain as much power as possible. After a Carbonio intake was installed, it was followed by a Eurojet front-mount intercooler as well as a New South Performance gasket (which acts as an insulator between the cylinder head and intake manifold). With Samco Sport hoses replacing the turbo inlet pipe and boost lines, GIAC software completed the mods list.
As you'd expect, this conscientious owner didn't overlook the details, preparing the engine bay to be presentable at car shows. He started by deleting the secondary air pump to clean up the bay. He then polished as much as he could, including the intake manifold, VF mounts and all the caps. He even smoothed the cam cover before polishing it as well.
Moving inside, seats were fitted from a '03 GTI with New Beetle headrests. Not a fan of the factory beige trim, Mike swapped out the headliner, the A-, B- and C-pillars and rearview mirror for black.
A Momo steering wheel was the most aggressive addition to the interior, as well as a Black Forest Industries C-pillar bar in the rear. However, the most unique element was a boost gauge cleverly mounted in the frame of the door where the stock tweeter would normally fit.
Although he disclosed there's more to come. Mike's content with his smooth Golf's styling for now. With his experience as a shop owner and VW tech, plus the support of his close friends and wife, we suspect he'll have no problem taking this five-door 1.8T to even greater heights.
2001 VW Golf GLS 1.8T
Owner: Mike Tansey
Location: Aston, PA
Occupation: VW technician, owner of Euro-Werks
Engine: 1.8 liter 20v turbo with GIAC X+ software, Carbonio CAI, 3" GHL cat-less downpipe to 3" custom exhaust and Magnaflow muffler, hidden exhaust tips, Samco Sport turbo inlet pipe and boost hose, Eurojet Racing FMIC, New South Performance intake manifold gasket, 4-bar FPR, deleted secondary air pump, N-249 and evap components, Integrated Engineering SAI blanking plate, 20squared resistors, Auto Meter fuel pressure gauge, ECS Tuning N75J valve, Forge 004 BOV, polished strut and coolant cap, JCaps polished oil cap, smoothed and polished cam cover, intake manifold and VF mounts, Euro Sport crank pulley
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with ECS stage 2 clutch, lightened flywheel, Neuspeed short shifter
Brakes: 13.1" RPI Equipped front brake kit with Wilwood calipers, Zimmerman drilled rear rotors with Mintex pads, Autotech stainless steel braided lines
Suspension: B&G RS Line coilovers, ECS rear poly mounts, Neuspeed front upper and lower stress bars and rear sway bar, Yarrow Sport rear stress bar, Black Forest C-pillar bar, VF sway bar end-links, Prothane C-arm bushings
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" front, 18x.9.5" rear Rial Daytona Race wheels powdercoated Sunburst metallic gold, polished lips and bolts, 215/35-18 front, 225/35-18 rear Falken ZX-512 tires
Exterior: smoothed and pulled front and Euro rear bumpers with molded 20AE valances, deleted exhaust cut-out, pulled fenders, 20AE side skirts, shaved hatch and door moldings, steel bser hood, filled door handle recesses, Jetta Wagon rear reinforcement bar, deleted rear wiper, resprayed LA7W Reflex silver, painted black roof, E-code glass headlights with 7000K HID bulbs and foglights, Hella smoked tail lights and dual air horns, 42 Draft Designs LEDs, OE Euro stubby mirrors, Bonrath two-bar badgeless grille, stubby antenna
Interior: Momo steering wheel, OE R-Line floor mats, shift knob and boot, GLI aluminum trim kit, Stewart-Warner boost gauge with 42 Draft Designs LEDs, GReddy turbo timer, 20AE rearview mirror, '03 GTI seats with New Beetle headrests, black headliner and A-, B- and C-pillars, Jetta vents, Euro switch
Audio/Visual: Jensen DVD head unit, Kenwood tweeters, fiberglass spare-tire sub box for 12" JL Audio W3v2 sub, JL 250/1 mono amplifier, Monster wiring
Thanks: Diana, Mike Jr, mom and dad, Jim, Vinny, Mike, Dan, Yuk, Adam, Eric, Chris, Dave, Mike Socha, Joe Bluebello, Fred Beans, Motion 3 Fabrication (610/622-2249), Euro-Werks (484/886-1337)