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1997 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 - The Second Noel

Anthony Noel Returns With This Jaw-Dropping, Clean-Shaved Mk3 Golf VR6.

Greg Emmerson
Dec 23, 2010
Photographer: Josh Brown

VW Golf
When we first contacted Anthony Noel to get the background on his killa Golf, he couldn't talk because he was coaching his son's soccer team. They won the match and we talked later, but it was an indication of the importance he puts in his family. In fact, he sold his previous Jetta 2.0 (featured in et 3/06) in order to buy a B5.5 Passat Wagon for his growing family.

Eurp_1101_01_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+front_end Photo 2/10   |   1997 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 - The Second Noel

Of course, the 34 year-old Finance Supervisor from Gilbertsville, PA couldn't stay on the wagon for long. After a year, the addiction returned and he convinced his wife that a long term project wouldn't take up too much of his time. The sale of his Jetta had left an itch unscratched. There were things he had wanted to do that never transpired. So a new car would allow him to realize his dreams and build the car it was always supposed to have been.

A clean Mk3 can be hard to find, so Tony looked west for a rust-free example and found a friend of a friend with a bone-stock Californian Golf. Getting it back to Gilbertsville, PA, the long term build gained momentum not long after when the family decided to move house. With the prospect of no garage for a while, he tore into the car, stripping it to a rolling shell in the four weeks before they moved.

Eurp_1101_03_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+shaved_engine_bay Photo 3/10   |   Sweeney Todd couldn't have shaved this any closer!

This allowed him to dispose of surplus equipment, search for a European Golf CL tailgate and get the car out to Sean Lynch who would do the body- and paintwork.

With everything removed, from the heating box to the dash, carpets and door seals, Anthony paid a visit to his local VW dealer where he ordered a grand's worth of new parts including carpet, seals, new side skirts, door handles and a hood (after the original blew up and smashed the windshield when he was towing it to Sean's).

Without wishing to state the obvious, his goal was "clean 'n simple." Every aspect reflects that philosophy, but none more so than the engine bay. Working from photos as inspiration, the pair removed the heater, A/C and power-steering - replacing it with a manual Mk2 rack. The ECU remained in its stock location but several relays were relocated behind the dash. All the wiring was run down the frame rail by Joe Gaspar to keep it tidy. They even hid the plug wires under the manifold and concealed the coil pack under the lower manifold. They were then able to shave the wire holders from the plastic engine cover to make the disappearance complete.

Eurp_1101_04_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+euro_bumpers_and_moldings Photo 4/10   |   Textured Euro bumpers and moldings, VR6 lip, de-badged grille, smoked indicators; all classic Golf cues

The alternator, intake pipe, trans mount and rear engine mount were sent out to be black wrinkle powdercoated, while the upper and lower manifolds were color-coded to the body for contrast.

With the engine bay cleaned, Sean then removed all the brackets and filled every hole in the firewall except the throttle cable and steering knuckle. The result is as smooth as a strawberry smoothie and the perfect home for the mildly modified VR6 Joe had on the shelf. It had been cancelled by another customer but was fully rebuilt with a machined head, new lifters, gaskets, piston rings, timing chain, water and oil pump, etc.

To this base, Anthony added a C2 chip for the Eurospec 268° cams, OBX header and Techtonics exhaust. And thanks to the stripped ancillaries, he reports the "lightweight" Golf "moves pretty good."

Eurp_1101_05_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+shaved_engine_cover Photo 5/10   |   Note only two holes in firewall, absence of any brackets or wiring, painted trans, shaved engine cover

While in his possession, Sean also deleted the wiper, weld lines and emblem from the rear before pulling the rear fenders. Anthony then added "textured top" Euro bumpers, a de-badged grille, new OEM skirts and a VR6 front lip.

The next stage was paint and, planning a "camel" interior, the owner wanted something to match. Browsing paint swatches, he chose Chrysler's Cool Vanilla to bring an extra touch of class. And contrasted by the black plastic exterior trim, the car looks stunning in person.

The wheel choice was made years earlier when he bought a set of BBS RS for the Jetta. They were never actually fitted, so he sold them, but wouldn't make the same mistake second time around.

Eurp_1101_06_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+anthony_and_andrew Photo 6/10   |   Anthony (right) and Andrew Marsteller from Open Road Tuning

He found some more 16" RS online and stripped them to rebuild. He wanted color-matched centers but Sean had done it once before and "vowed never again". So they remained gold. However, the lips, bolts and center nuts were hand-polished by twins Matt and Justin Ivan, who also did the powdercoating on the engine. "I then re-assembled the wheels, but it's a pain in the ass. I never want to do that again," Anthony recalled.

The suspension started out with Koni coilovers, "but I broke two oil pans and air allowed me to adjust the height," he explained. "I wasn't convinced until I rode in a friend's car and saw how easy it was to raise the car and how well it drove."

Newly converted to the air conspiracy, he contacted Open Road Tuning to obtain his BagYard set-up with Bomber front struts and Classics on the rear, with a Viair compressor and five-gallon tank in the trunk.

Eurp_1101_07_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+camel_leather_interior Photo 7/10   |   Camel leather on seats and door cards was always part of the plan

"The drive to H20 was the farthest I'd driven on air but the ride was better than any coilovers I've owned," he said. "I don't have to worry what's in the road, and when I get to a show I can just dump it!"

Because the car wasn't originally built with air, Anthony now wishes he'd notched the frame to let it sit lower because the axles are resting on the rails "but I'm afraid to do it now because it's all painted and smoothed," he explained.

That just left the interior, which was treated to a Camel leather retrim on the seats and door cards, while the headliner was covered in black suede. The '92 dash was swapped from his older Jetta because it was all-black and had the rounder vents he preferred. "When I sold the car I took it out because I knew I wouldn't find another one easily," Anthony explained.

Eurp_1101_08_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+air_tank Photo 8/10   |   Air tank mounted in trunk will soon get custom install

Beside some other Euro upgrades, the interior features a trio of gauges in the redundant heater control panel, as well as the air ride controller.

Looking at this cream-colored Golf five-door with its classic BBS wheels, shaved bay, lowrider stance, "big block" motor and beige leather interior, it almost has the feel of a classic hotrod. It certainly represents the new American VW movement, combining the best of traditional American techniques with the German Engineering we all love and respect. And that's why Anthony's Golf is one of our favorites from H20i 2010.

Tech Spec
1997 VW Golf 2.0

Owner: Anthony Noel
Location: Gilbertsville, PA
Occupation: finance

Eurp_1101_09_o+1997_volkswagen_golf_20+vento_dash Photo 9/10   |   Early Vento dash borrowed from Anthony's previous project

Engine: 2.8-liter VR6 12v with rebuilt head, lifters, rings, gasket kit, timing chains, chain guides, seals, head bolts, water pump, Mk5 oil pan and pump. Modified with Eurospec 268° cams, Schimmell wires, custom intake pipe, C2 chip, OBX header, Techtonics exhaust, OEM cat, shaved bay, shaved engine plastics, color-matched trans and upper/lower manifolds, black wrinkle powdercoated intake tube, trans cover, alternator and CSR filler neck

Transmission: five-speed manual with Sachs clutch

Brakes: stock VR6 calipers and rotors

Suspension: BagYard Bomber front struts, Classic rears, Viair 400c compressor, 5-gallon tank, Accuair e-Level controller, Mk2 manual steering rack, tie rods and ball joints

Wheels & Tires: 16x8.5" BBS RS wheels with polished lips, bolts and center nuts, 25mm front and 35mm rear 5x100-5x130 Porsche hub adapters, 205/40 R16 Falken Ziex ZE-512 tires

Exterior: stubby mirrors, Euro bumpers, Euro radiator support, JOM two-piece badgeless grille, OEM side skirts, clip-on moldings, OEM VR6 lip spoiler with splash guards, shaved rear hatch with Euro Golf CL glass, Cult Society hatch plinth, rolled rear fenders, shaved rear weld lines, shaved hood washers, dual chamber smoked E-codes, Hella red tail lights, Euro smoked turns, dummies and fogs, car painted Chrysler Cool Vanilla, underbody and fender wells undercoated

Interior: seats and door cards re-trimmed in Camel leather, black suede headliner, black Corrado sunroof switch, sprayed upper pillars, black Cabrio visors, black Passat grab handles, Vento/early Jetta dash, Momo Race steering wheel, Premier Performance volts, oil temp and water temp gauges in heater controls, Mk4 shift knob, Euro console, Fischer CD box, Euro switch, Optima Battery in spare wheel well with air

Thanks: wife Melissa, mom, dad, Joe Gaspar, Sean Lynch, Matt & Justin Ivan, Steve at Lux, Andrew at Open Road Tuning, Eddie at Tacoma Spedometer, Jamie at Orchid Euro, Blair at Dresden Autowerks

'98 Jetta 2.0
We featured Anthony Noel's previous '98 Jetta GT in et 3/06. Its 2.0 8v had a Euro Sport Cool-Flo, Neuspeed P-Chip and 260° cam plus Techtonics exhaust driving the stock four-speed auto. The car sat on H&R coilovers, had ECS rotors and 16x8.5/9" WRD Mesh wheels. To accommodate these, he'd pulled and smoothed the fenders, fitting Vento bumpers and a lip spoiler. It also wore a badgeless grille, Hella Vento headlights and had a smoothed rear-end. The interior was all-black with the same "early" '92 dash and black suede headliner. Throw in some audio components and you can clearly see how the current '97 Golf picked up where this Jetta left off.

Eurp_1101_11_o+1998_volkswagen_jetta_20+jetta Photo 10/10   |   1997 Volkswagen Golf 2.0 - The Second Noel
By Greg Emmerson
1078 Articles

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