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 |   |  1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible
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1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

Street Sleeper

Greg Emmerson
Apr 20, 2011
Photographer: Daniel Berenson

It’s not often we come across a Mk2 Golf street sleeper these days. Most are modified externally to some extent, but with the exception of slightly wider G60 fenders and some tinted lights, this ’91 GTI is a pristine example of how they left the factory.

Eurp 1105 01 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+driver side view Photo 2/11   |   1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

I’m a big fan of the classic styling, explained Ivan Novillo, echoing countless Mk2 aficionados before him. I didn’t want anything too flashy not even single, round headlights I just like how they look stock.

Both Ivan and his GTI have an exciting history. The car is on its third engine swap, while Ivan and his brother David left the VAG dealerships they were working for to establish Novitech Tuning in Miami back in 2007. We got tired of the way dealerships work, so we set up our own shop for servicing, repairs and performance tuning, explained the 28 year-old Miami resident.

Originally a 2.0 8v, the car received a 2.0 16v swap from the previous owner. It was bought by Ivan five years ago as a back-burner project and sat for three years, getting minor upgrades. He then decided to drive it around for a year: That was around the time I fell in with the wrong crowd, he laughed. We were very competitive and more power was never enough.

Eurp 1105 02 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+g60 fenders tinted lights Photo 3/11   |   Owner wanted to keep GTI exterior stock but for G60 fenders and tinted lights

It was in this atmosphere Ivan decided to swap in the 1.8T motor. I had a 20th Anniversary car with over 400whp and was going to build that some more until I realized there were so many around our group alone had four Mk4s. So that’s when I decided to do something different.

I was originally aiming for 400whp and looked at either a VR6 swap or the 1.8T but figured the four-cylinder would make the power easily and be lighter, Ivan continued.

The transplant was relatively straightforward, requiring just a (solid) Corrado G60 front mount and (stage 2) Mk2 Golf tranny mounts to fit the engine. It was the transmission that took the time, he revealed. So many things catch you by surprise and I hadn’t realized we’d need to modify the firewall, change the pedal assembly and fabricate a bracket for the brake booster simply to use the later 02J transmission.

Eurp 1105 03 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+ivan novillo Photo 4/11   |   He’s not so terrible really…

Retaining the stock AWP head, he rebuilt the 1.8T block with stock rods and pistons. He then added a Garrett T3/T4 57 trim .48 a/r turbo and Haltech E6X engine management. The standalone ECU was included partially to give more scope for tuning but also because the wiring was in such a mess. The previous transplant had left lots of mismatched and cut wires, so it was going to be a headache whatever control unit was fitted.

His goal was realized when the car turned the dyno to 400whp at 29psi. But his friends continued to egg him on, so Ivan relented and decided to remove the engine again. This time it would be rebuilt with the AEB head complete with a Supertech valvetrain and Eurospec cams to encourage the motor to spin past 8500rpm. He also fitted 9.3:1 Wiseco pistons and Scat rods to further reinforce the motor.

Eurp 1105 04 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+four cylinder 20v Photo 5/11   |   Rebuilt 1.8T revs to 8700rpm, develops 537whp at 7000rpm from Precision SC61 turbo at 28ps

Up top, a Precision SC61 turbocharger was mounted on a custom equal-length tubular manifold, pulling through a Novitech front-mount intercooler and custom intake manifold into a 3" turbo-back exhaust system, fed by large 830cc injectors fitted in the stock 1.8T fuel rail.

With a GReddy PRofec B-Spec 2 holding the boost at 28psi, the set-up made 537whp at 7000rpm and 380 lb-ft at 5500rpm.

Eurp 1105 05 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+interior Photo 6/11   |   Interior admirably clean considering age and use

Running at 24psi, it translated into a rather disappointing best quarter-mile of 11.59sec at 125mph the performance blunted by some technical issues that are being resolved with another engine build using a larger Precision 6262 ball-bearing billet-wheel turbo running at 35psi. The new goal is 650whp and to break into the 9sec bracket.

Surprisingly, traction wasn’t the problem. The standalone engine management has an output for a two-step launch control. With slicks, I’m running a 1.7sec 60ft time, which is generally what most of the AWD cars are doing! Ivan proudly told us.

The staggered 15" Work wheels run 24.5" Mickey Thompson slicks, or Kumhos on the street. Combined with D2 Racing coilovers and Corrado G60 front brakes, the GTI is sitting pretty.

Eurp 1105 06 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+work equip wheels Photo 7/11   |   Staggered Japanese Work Equip wheels wear MT slicks at the weekends!

Inside, it’s stock but for Sparco seats and harnesses for racing, extra gauges and a Momo wheel. However, a custom rollcage is being fabricated to prepare it for the next round of engine mods.

As a hint of its former life, the car also boasts full Dynamat insulation and a stereo system with a 10" sub. It goes back to before we opened the shop and the car was just for fun. I hadn’t decided what direction to go in but the Dynamat got rid of all those annoying rattles, Ivan said.

As it sits, the Novitech Mk2 is a very clean example of the breed. Yet it packs a killer turbo punch that guarantees you won’t want to mess with this old girl on any of the streets around Miami. You’ve been warned!

Eurp 1105 07 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+sparco torino seats Photo 8/11   |   1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

1991 VW Golf GTI

Owner: Ivan Novillo

Location: Miami, FL

Occupation: Novitech Tuning

Engine: 1.8L four-cylinder 20v with balanced Wiseco pistons and Scat rods, AEB head with Supertech valvetrain, Eurospec cams, Novitech custom intake manifold with VR6 throttle body, Precision SC61 turbo, Novitech front-mount intercooler and 3" turbo-back exhaust, solid and stage 2 engine/tranny mounts, 830cc USRT injectors, AEM wideband, Haltech E6X standalone, GReddy PRofec B-Spec 2 boost controller

Eurp 1105 08 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+garage Photo 9/11   |   1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

Drivetrain: O2J five-speed manual with Clutch Masters FX400 clutch kit and lightweight flywheel, upgraded shifter bushings, Peloquin LSD, two-step launch control Brakes: Corrado G60 calipers with drilled discs, stainless steel lines

Suspension: D2 Racing coilovers, upgraded bushings and mounts

Wheels & Tires: 15x8" front, 15x8.5" rear Work Equip wheels with 225/50 R15 Kumho Ecsta V700 tires or 24.5" Mickey Thompson ET Drag slicks

Eurp 1105 09 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+passenger side front fender Photo 10/11   |   1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

Exterior: G60 fenders, rear wiper deleted, shorty antenna, 6500k HIDs, Hella tail lights, smoked markers and front indicators, yellow fogs

Interior: Sparco Torino 2 seats, Auto Meter boost and oil pressure gauges, Momo steering wheel and shifter, Sparco pedals, battery in trunk

Audio/Visual: Panasonic CQ-DFX983-U head unit with Sony speakers and 10" sub, Boss R635 amp, Dynamat

Thanks: David, Mandy, Perla, Marcelo, Eddie and many others (

Novitech R32
Among the projects under construction at Novitech Tuning is this R32 belong to David Novillo. The team is shooting for 700awhp, so it has a balanced bottom-end with forged pistons and rods, a built head with Supertech valvetrain and Schrick cams, custom short-runner intake manifold, Precision 6765 billet-wheel turbo, Novitech 3" turbo-back exhaust, Precision intercooler, 830cc injectors and Unitronic software. The car sits on Koni coilovers and 18x8" OZ Superleggera wheels.

Eurp 1105 10 o+1991 volkswagen golf gti+novitech r32 Photo 11/11   |   1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Ivan The Terrible

We’ll try to bring you updates as the build proceeds, as well as a 600whp VW Golf Cabrio VR6T they’re working on.

By Greg Emmerson
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