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 |   |  1999 VW Golf 4Motion - Suicidal Tendency
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1999 VW Golf 4Motion - Suicidal Tendency

We check out Thomas Matalla’s utterly unique and super-clean VW Golf 4Motion

Greg Emmerson
Apr 10, 2011

The original Mk4 VW Golf 4Motion is one of those vehicles usually spoken about in hushed tones. As a model that never reached the US market, it’s attained legendary status, much like the Loch Ness monster or pixies. And like those mythical creatures, glimpses are occasionally reported; maybe a front spoiler here, a piece of trim there, yet few believe they really exist.

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The 4Motion was the predecessor of the R32. It possessed a similar Haldex 4WD system and a 2.8L VR6 24v engine boasting 204hp. Prior to the R32, it was the most powerful Golf available, sprinting from 0-60mph in 7.1sec with the factory six-speed manual transmission.

We came across this extraordinary example belonging to 34 year-old Thomas Matalla from Mannheim, Germany to prove they really do exist. He used it as the basis for a radical project with utterly smooth bodywork, a totally transformed interior and piles of audio, plus a squirt of nitrous to keep his right foot entertained.

Inevitably, not every aspect of this VW will appeal to everybody, but the quality of workmanship is exemplary. We were initially drawn to the 4Motion but its baby-smooth bodywork finished in Audi’s Suzuka grey paint, and diamond-stitched leather interior hit us with a sucker punch. We were out for the count; this VW is a TKO.

The owner’s first car was a Mk1 GTI, followed by Opel and Ford projects before he returned to the VW scene with this 4Motion.

Creating such a radical transformation from a relatively rare VW might seem sacrilegious but Thomas isn’t prissy about his car. In fact, he built it in response to the conservative nature of the current OEM+ themes: F&k OEM! was his exact response.

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Although Tom might have been trying to ruffle feathers with his conversion, he stuck to some traditional Euro themes for the build, particularly on the exterior. For example, he shaved most of the body decoration, including the side moldings, taking it the extreme by removing all the door handles from this five-door shell. And with the lock pins removed from inside, all the doors are now operated by solenoids via a second battery in the trunk.

Another popular VW treatment was to add a Jetta front-end, using the hood, fenders, bumper, grille and lights from the sedan to create a new look for his Golf. Both the bumpers are VW R-Line accessory parts, smoothed to the same extent as the tailgate, which has no handle, badges or wiper, etc.

To exaggerate the length of the car, the side skirts were stretched and molded to the rear fenders, which were pulled to allow the gorgeous 19" Lenso wheels to tuck under the body once the button was hit on the German Airride Systems (GAS) air suspension.

The air-ride is all but invisible to the onlooker. However, the 3-gallon air tank is proudly displayed between the rear seats. It’s been painted the same shade of Suzuka grey as the exterior. It also shares the same pinstriping as on the nitrous bottle and the Recaros it sits between.

The nitrous is activated by the horn button on the Maserati steering wheel. It injects a 60-shot of laughing gas into the 24v motor that also benefits from Digi-Tec software, Supersprint headers, a free-flow cat and an Eisenmann muffler.

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As we mentioned, the interior is one of our favorite elements, with the rich brown leather adorning all four seats, extending over the front armrest (that houses a Blackberry mount), into the trunk where it highlights the 15" Audio System sub and Dietz capacitor.

Either side of the subwoofer are a pair of Audio System amps, painted Suzuka grey with actual razor blades and blood graphics. This slightly unnerving reference is to the car’s name Low Suicide Code 10-56. Apparently 10-56 is the police code for a suicide, but the owner is simply making a reference to the suicide rear doors that open backwards. Originally the car also sported Lambo-style front doors, but he mercifully removed them.

Up front, the dash and door cards were covered in resin and painted body color and piano black, with the instrument surrounds in the same gloss black. The gauge faces are also black, and the owner converted the lighting to red and white.

The headliner, pillars and door sills are covered in grey alcantara, which can also be found under the hood. The artificial suede covers the radiator support and extended Audi S3 covers on either side of the motor. The engine itself has a custom alcantara cover with an aluminum oil cap, Hell’s Finest logo and even a 9" TV screen, which does well to cope with the rigors of Thomas’ daily driving routine. Yes, the owner claims it’s his only car and it gets him to work, which makes the conversion and the condition of the car all the more extraordinary.

We love the purity of this Golf’s lines, devoid of the clutter of moldings, handles and badges, etc. Sat on its 19" wheels with no fender gaps, it’s how we imagine Volkswagen’s designer must have first envisioned the car before the engineers got their hands on it.

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The black B-pillars give the side profile wonderful clarity, extending the glass area and highlighting the sweep of the C-pillar down to the rear wheel.

With its piano black roof, mirrors, grille and rear bumper insert constrasting Audi’s grey paint, Thomas Matalla has created something very special.

ET Tech Spec
1999 VW Golf 4Motion
Thomas Matalla
Location: Mannheim, Germany
Occupation: sausage maker

Engine: 2792cc VR6 24v with Digi-Tec controller, Supersprint headers, sports cat, Eisenmann muffler, NOS nitrous oxide wet system, aluminum oil, water and washer caps, modified Audi S3 covers trimmed in alcantara, trimmed fiberglass engine cover with 9" TFT monitor and Hell’s Finest logo

Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission

Brakes: VW R32 rotors and calipers

Suspension: GAS V1 air suspension kit using Koni dampers, ViAir 460c compressor, 3-gallon air tank, remote controller, Raid HP polished strut brace

Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" Lenso B9 wheels with 215/35 R19 Hankook Ecsta SPT tires

Exterior: side moldings, turn signals, door handles and locks shaved, smoothed R-Line Jetta front bumper, badgeless Jetta grille, Jetta flared front fenders, smoothed R-Line Golf rear bumper, pulled rear fenders, original side skirts lengthened, suicide doors, smoothed rain tray, single wiper, smoothed tailgate and B-pillars, rear wiper deleted with new glass, black angel-eye headlights with Xenon kit, Mk5 Golf-style mirrors with tinted LED indicator lenses, red LED tail lights, car painted Audi LY7F Suzuka grey metallic with piano-black B-pillars, roof and top of tailgate, mirrors, grille and rear bumper insert

Interior: Recaro front seats trimmed in brown leather with diamond stitching, Suzuka grey backrests, matching leather rear seats, steering wheel and floor mats, dashboard and door cards coated in resin, painted Suzuka grey and black, A-, B-, C-pillars, headliner and door sills covered in grey alcantara, illuminated Jetta vents, brown door handle inlays with double stitching, shaved door pins and pockets, Blackberry in armrest, W12 interior light, instrument and controls in piano black with red/white lighting, light switches below steering wheel, air and NOS tanks behind front seats painted Suzuka Gray and pinstriped, servo motors on all doors

Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-W502R head unit, PXA-H100 sound processor, NVE-N099P nav, two Audio System HX-165 speakers systems in front doors, two RX-165 Pro speakers systems in rear doors, 15" sub, Audio System X-ion 15-800, Twister F-2500 and Twister F-4600 amps, custom painted and with razor blades added, Dietz 10F capacitor, second Exide battery hidden in trunk, Dietz wiring, trunk constructed from fiberglass and MDF, covered in leather, two 8" TFT monitors recessed into tailgate, illuminated logo recessed into headliner, painted Sony PS1

Thanks: Streetec, Fascination Colors, Vibes Audio Forum Sinsheim, Recaro, Car upholstery Andreas Herrmann, Unique Car Society Mannheim eV, Sven, Michael, Kosta, Natalie, Sasha, Frank, Alessandro, Simon, Tobi, Martin, Achim, Oliver, Basti, Benny, Bjrn and my family

By Greg Emmerson
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