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1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

We discover this Mk2 VR6T masterpiece in America’s Dairyland

Apr 15, 2011
Photographer: Kris Clewell

We come across pristine Mk2 Volkswagens as often as we hit double-zero on the roulette table. It’s ber rare! With the last Mk2 Golfs sold in ’92, good examples are an endangered species. So when we encountered Emir Kozoglu’s ’86 GTI in Wisconsin, our hearts jumped.

Eurp 1105 01 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+driver side view Photo 2/9   |   1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

Yet Emir’s Golf doesn’t conform to all the styles expected by today’s Euro scene. There’s no air-ride, BBS wheels, shaved bay or smoothed bodywork. But it has its own swagger.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Emir immigrated to the US in ’01. At the age of 16, he made a new home in America’s dairyland, Wisconsin. Like playing baseball, watching TV and eating fast food, it was the American dream to own his own car, especially with the open roads the Midwest has to offer. And since Volkswagens were popular in Turkey, he brought his loyalty to the States.

While in high school, he acquired his driver’s license at 17. He then bought his first Dub a Mk2, of course. He eventually became more accustomed to the North American VW scene and, in due course, came across the vehicle you see here.

The GTI had been stored at Midwest Motorworks and featured some minor mods such as a Rallye front-end plus basic suspension and wheel upgrades. It was collecting dust at the shop. So in ’06 I went there to buy the car, he revealed.

Eurp 1105 02 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+front view Photo 3/9   |   1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

Powered by a rebuilt 2.1-liter motor, Emir drove the car for a month but experienced headaches with mechanical issues. After the GTI left him stranded one night, he towed the car back to his house and started brainstorming solutions for a permanent fix.

Thankfully, help was just around the corner. Chad Erickson from SCI Performance was no stranger to the VW community, responsible for aiding several project cars such as Ben Toskey’s supercharged ’95 GTI (et 4/10).

The broken Mk2 was transported to SCI for an engine overhaul. Emir wanted something more reliable with a little more power. So the four-cylinder was tossed; replaced by a low-mileage 2.8-liter VR6 12v.

Eurp 1105 03 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+vr6 swap Photo 4/9   |   2.8-liter VR6 swap features Kinetic stage 3 turbo, Schimmel intake manifold and German colors in case you thought it was a Honda!

Rated by the factory at 170hp, it would give plenty of juice to the little Mk2. A Techtonics Tuning 2.5" cat-back exhaust added some extra ponies, too.

As Chad completed the final touches, he phoned Emir to collect the car. Happy to bring his baby home, tragedy struck. I rear-ended somebody. I lost everything. It was basically totaled. But I’d just done the swap so told myself I wasn’t going to quit, he admitted.

With not even a full day of driving the car, Emir was determined to salvage what he could and build a better Dub. The next four months were spent locating the parts to rebuild the front-end, which included Rallye headlights and grille, core support, new fenders, windshield and hood. At the same time, he added a rare Nothelle front lip and rear spoiler to the mix.

Once the body was restored, the GTI was sprayed Red Jewel from the General Motors color palette.

Eurp 1105 04 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+front seats Photo 5/9   |   1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

There were a few mechanical items to be replaced but the motor itself was intact. But before he took to the road again, Chad from SCI mentioned a Kinetic Motorsport stage 3 turbo kit was available. With little hesitation, Emir jumped on it he was going big and wasn’t turning back

Kinetic’s kit included a quick-spooling T3/T4 60-trim turbo, cast exhaust manifold, 3" downpipe, 42 lb injectors and a front-mount intercooler. With the compression lowered from 10:1 to 8.5:1, the boosted motor was capable of 350whp on 92-octane fuel.

Good friend Paul Brooker then came into the picture. His gorgeous Scirocco was featured in et 8/09 and with a vast knowledge of VWs, he reconfigured the turbo setup, bumping the compression to 9.5:1 and adjusting the boost for more power. A high-flow Schimmel Performance intake manifold was also added.

With a boosted staggered-six in a lightweight Mk2, Emir had to beef up the transmission with a Peloquin limited-slip differential and Spec stage 2 clutch with lightened flywheel.

Eurp 1105 05 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+rear seat delete Photo 6/9   |   Rear seat delete leaves plenty of room for groceries, dead bodies, etc

No official dyno figures have been recorded because Emir plans to equip the VR6 with a standalone engine management system, but let’s just assume it’s fast...

Next, Emir finished the chassis. Techtonics Tuning supplied 36-way adjustable K-Sport coilovers and G60 brakes were fitted, along with drilled rotors all-round.

For every car enthusiast, changing the wheels is one of the hardest decision. Emir’s original rollers were Porsche Twists, which were switched to BBS until the 17x8.5" Work VS-XX seen here were mounted. I wanted to do something different and noticed the color theme matched the German flag, he noted. So he took it a stage further, painting the valve cover and intake manifold in the same colours.

Keeping the inside OEM+, a set of Mk4 R32 seats were cut and modified to fit the existing seat runners. The dash was left factory except for VDO gauges and a Momo steering wheel.

Eurp 1105 06 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+sub Photo 7/9   |   10

With no intention of transporting passengers, the back seats were removed and a carpeted false floor added. Two 10" subs then finished the rear to provide more sound, along with Image Dynamics component speakers. A Pro Audio amp was hidden in the spare wheel compartment.

Despite the misfortune of crashing immediately after the motor swap, Emir was relentless. We certainly commend his determination with the project and for building one of the nicest VWs in the Cheesehead state.

1986 VW Golf GTI

Eurp 1105 07 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+driver side profile Photo 8/9   |   1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

Owner: Emir Kozoglu

Location: Hudson, WI

Occupation: detail manager

Engine: 2.8-liter OBD2 VR6 12v with 9.5:1 compression head gasket spacer, Garrett T3/T4 60-trim turbo on cast-iron exhaust manifold, 3" downpipe, Techtonics Tuning 2.5" exhaust with Borla muffler, 42 lb Bosch Green Top injectors, Schimmel Performance intake manifold and valve cover, 42 Draft Designs crack pipe, C2 Motorsport software, boost controller, VF-Engineering engine mounts

Drivetrain: five-speed manual transmission with Peloquin limited-slip differential, Spec stage 2+ clutch and flywheel, VF mounts

Brakes: G60 brakes with drilled rotors

Suspension: K-Sport coilovers, Audi TT bushings, Eibach sway bars, strut braces

Eurp 1105 08 o+1986 volkswagen golf gti+driver side rear view Photo 9/9   |   1986 Volkswagen Golf GTI - The Big Cheese

Wheels & Tires: 17x8.5" Work VS-XX wheels with 205/40 R17 Falken Ziex ZE-512 tires

Exterior: Nothelle front lip and rear spoiler, Rallye headlights, core support and grille, single wiper conversion, pop-out rear windows, GM Red Jewel paint

Interior: OE R32 seats, Momo steering wheel, VDO boost, oil temp and amp gauges

Audio/Visual: Alpine CDA-9886 head unit, Image Dynamics component speakers, two 10" SPX subs, Pro Audio amp

Thanks: SCI Performance, Paul Brooker at Good Karma

Sam Du
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