Last updated: April 14, 2014

Project "Ultimate1983 Rabbit GTI"
The initial condition of the car ...

 

Index of Project web pages

Project Overview, Goals & Initial design specs
Project car initial condition
Chassis development
Bodywork & Paint
Suspension & Braking System
Engine & Transmission

Electrical & Fuel System
Interior
Performance validation
VW Vortex Thread on this project
Videos
My original 1983 Rabbit GTI (owned 1983-1987)

 

You can't find a totally clean 1983 Rabbit GTI unless it has been restored already. The VW mk1 chassis was made of non-galvanized 20 gauge mild steel and it just wasn't made to last. There are a number of design flaws that allow small rust holes to form in areas around the upper firewall, leading to water seepage into the floor pans, and on and on ...

Since I am building a retro performance-oriented project car I didn't want to start cutting up a totally perfect GTI example. So I found a well used car from London, Ontario with 150,000 miles on it that had never been in an accident and was straight and was fairly sound - a car that had a pretty clean interior, which was the only thing I was really fussy about as I can manage rust and will be replacing literally all of the mechanical components end to end.

This car indeed shows signs of wear and tear and there is some substantial rust in places, but it is rust free in many important areas so all in all it is an acceptable starting point for the project build-up. As you can see from the photos below you can't spot most of the rust on these cars until they have been almost completely stripped down ...

What is really great is that this car has the same build date as my old one did (November 1982), was a Canadian delivered car with the correct stickers (like mine was), has a sunroof, is A/C delete, and it is in my preferred colour (silver wasn't available in early 1983 from the dealers out on the west coast when I wanted one - only a white GTI was sitting in the showroom - but with the all-important 'midnight blue' GTI interior).

 

Photos

The car just prior to being sold to me:

 

 

 

 

All of the rust discovered after a complete tear-down (providing me with a good excuse to purchase a 175 amp MIG welder and a Plasma cutter and start to cut out the rot while adding in the chassis stiffening metalwork).

This rot will be cut out and carefully replaced with OEM replacement panels that I already have on hand (yes, MIG welding 20 gauge sheet metal and making it look good is my greatest challenge - but I have been practicing and I am getting pretty good so I have the confidence to get this done correctly)

 

 

 

 

Rotted upper inner fenders ...

 

Rotted interface to main body under window ...

 

A set of struts badly in need of replacement ...

 

Hole in rain channel area ...

 

Weakened control arm mounting area ...

 

Damaged left bumper horn under battery ...

 

Damaged subframe and rotted lift points ...

 

Completely rotted driver side floor pan and subframe ...

 

Rot under dash area ...

 

Rot under rear seats and into rear subframes ...

 

Rot under side window rubber ...

 

Rot under rear hatch rubber ...

 

Rot at the passenger rear lower fender interface to the back panel ...

 

 

 

Index of Project web pages

Project Overview, Goals & Initial design specs
Project car initial condition
Chassis development
Bodywork & Paint
Suspension & Braking System
Engine & Transmission

Electrical & Fuel System
Interior
Performance validation
VW Vortex Thread on this project
Videos
My original 1983 Rabbit GTI (owned 1983-1987)

 

 

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