Although VW enthusiasts around the world have a great deal in common, it’s true they do not always agree on which VW is a great platform for tuning. In the US, for example, the Mk3 Cabrio is often viewed less seriously than most VWs, as “just a chick’s car”.
Across the Atlantic, it’s a different story though. Maybe because the car was officially named Golf Cabriolet (vs North America’s singular Cabrio designation), VW enthusiasts see it as simply another Golf. And since the Golf is universally appreciated as an excellent modding platform, building a Cabriolet creates almost no controversy.
Living in Opglabbeek, Belgium, Giuseppe Reho told us, “I always wanted a Mk3 Golf Convertible ever since I was very young.” Coming from former projects that included an Opel Calibra, the Mk3 was Giuseppe’s first shot at a VW.
Read that sentence again. Take a look at the photos and take a moment to appreciate how well he’s nailed his first effort. Purchased in late 2009, the Golf was treated to a simple suspension upgrade and re-spray. As has been written a thousand times before an et, those early mods satisfied the owner for just a few months.
In 2010, the real modding began. “The first paint job was done very poorly,” said Giuseppe. “So I decided to re-do the whole car. This time, I chose the BMW X1’s metallic brown.” In fact, even the underside was painted, and pretty much any component that didn’t look brand-new either was replaced or powdercoated.
Before the paint was applied, a host of exterior work was needed. “I want it to look clean, so I smoothed the (US-spec) front bumper, side skirts and rear bumper.” He continued. “I then took a set of Hella Mk4-style headlights and blacked them out, converting them to Xenon bulbs. I also located a Japanese-spec trunklid, too.”
The choice of wheels is a huge consideration for any project build, and in this aspect Giuseppe played safe; you simply cannot go wrong with a classic set of Artec S2. Sized 16x8.5” front and 16x9.5” rear, the polished three-piece were wrapped in 215/40 R16 Toyo Proxes rubber. With only a mostly-stock 2.0-liter 8v under the hood, the Cabby is about style. Considering Belgium’s strict emissions laws, low-n-slow is a legitimate goal for any enthusiast in that country.
Giuseppe had the slow part covered, so next was about getting low. And like more and more US VW enthusiasts, he chose air suspension. “Air-ride is great for Golf Cabriolet owners,” Giuseppe explained, “because the low metal aprons on the car mean it’s hard to lower the car on coilovers and still drive it around. They simply scrape all the time. So air-ride was my best option because I can raise it to drive everywhere and lower it for show.”
And drive everywhere he does. In addition to being an eye-catching show car, the Cabby is Giuseppe’s daily driver – he put more than 17000 miles on the car in the past year alone.
If you have plans to build a truly remarkable interior, a convertible makes good sense. Dropping the windows and folding back the roof allows the whole world to see what you’ve got.
The Golf’s interior is what Giuseppe’s most proud of. “Everything in the car was wrapped in leather or alcantara,” he said. This included the plastic US-spec center console in fine leather, Porsche 911 seats and custom-colored carpet that helps create the two-tone theme.
“I’m not done with this build yet,” Giuseppe declared in a statement uttered by countless VW enthusiasts. “Next year I plan different wheels and will pay some attention to the engine.”
Although it will be hard to top how the car looks, we’ve no doubt our Belgian friend will continue to show the world he was right all along for choosing to mod VW’s soft-top.
1993 Mk3 Golf Cabriolet
Location: Opglabbeek, Belgium
2.0-liter four-cylinder 8v with chip and K&N filter
stock manual transmission
GAS air suspension with two Viair compressors and concealed air tank
Wheels & Tires:
16x8.5” f, 16x9” r.5Artec S2 three-piece polished wheels, 215/40 R16 Toyo Proxes tires
smoothed US-spec front bumper, rear bumper and side skirts, Japanese-spec trunk lid, Hella Mk4-style headlights converted to HID, LED tail lights, re-sprayed BMW X1 metallic brown, brown convertible top
Porsche 911 front seats covered in leather/alcantara, all plastic trim covered in leather/alcantara, US-spec center console with air-ride gauges and controls, Isotta steering wheel
Takara head unit, Sony Xplod speakers
IDC for interior work