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1999 VW Jetta GL MK3 GRM $2011 Challenge build 
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Since I have officially submitted my membership dues to CVO and everyone I met at the CVO autocrosses seemed like good people, I'm going to use this forum to post my build progress on my '99 Jetta:

VW Jetta MKIII Update I
Intro Blog Post 10.23.10
I’m going to use this opportunity to help document my build up of an early 1999 (MK3) VW Jetta with the hopeful goal of building a competitive car for the Grassroots Motorsports Magazine (GRM) $2011 Challenge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grassroots_Motorsports. For those of you who are not familiar with GRM and their annual challenge, the basic rules are that you must build a budget race car to compete in an automotive triathlon including autocross, drag racing, and concours. The allowed budget in 2011 is $2011.00, and the budget goes up by one dollar each year. If you haven’t followed the challenge, you will probably be surprised to learn that the winners of this budget car build are capable of 10 second quarter mile drag runs, autocross better than a moderately prepped Miata, and look good. These winners seem to be built by experienced fabricators who are also able to find deals on parts/materials. Tool costs are not included in the budget, so you have an advantage if you own a welder, mill, CNC machine, blast cabinet, powerdercoater, etc. Anything that is part of the car at the time of the challenge is included in the budget, with the exception of fluids (e.g. gas, coolant, etc.). You can also recoup up to half the total budget from selling unneeded parts from the car. In 2011 this equates to a maximum recoup of $1005.50.
I have been reading the magazine and thinking about this challenge for four years. During that time I have also been telling friends to let me know when they decide to turn their beaters into a racecar  My hint-dropping worked! In early October 2010 a friend of mine texted, “you still want to turn the Jetta into a race car?” It turns out that his ’99 MK3 Jetta had broken down (again) and had been sitting for a month and a half. He had secured new transportation and didn’t want the liability/headache of the VW anymore. We agreed that I would take the car off his hands. If I didn’t want it he was going to give it to his nephew, and if his nephew didn’t want it he was going to have it towed to a junkyard.

The first priority was to take inventory of the state of the car. He had recently replaced the timing belt for the first time at 248k miles(!!!), had replaced the front brake pads & rotors recently, had replaced the wheel bearings in the last year when a rear wheel fell off on the highway(!!!), and had new plugs, cap, wires, and rotor replaced two years ago when it was hard to start.

This is what the car looked like when I first inspected it.
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It is a 1999 MK3 Jetta GL with the 2.0L ABA motor and five-speed 020 manual transmission. The car has non-working AC, base level interior, non-sunroof, power locks, and power windows. The car spent the first part of its life in California and as a result has very little rust. The worst spot is around the weatherseal on the front passenger door, with an additional 8-10 small specks of surface rust bubbling up in random areas on the hood, roof, fenders and doors.
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Other features include 14x6 steel wheels, original (worn) suspension, original exhaust (with both mufflers rusted through), the original clutch (!), a smashed windshield, worn interior, a couple of missing trim pieces, non-working horn, intermittently non-working alarm/door locks/power windows, and random non-functional interior & exterior lights.
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After poking around the car a bit, looking for obvious issues I noticed that the distributor cap was loose. This distributor has two clamps that hold the cap on. One of those clamps was broken, and after loosening the other one we opened it up to find the rotor in several pieces. This seemed like a good place to start!
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Fortunately Rt.14 junkyard was less than a mile away from where the car was parked. I considered it a positive omen  $50 later I had a new (used) distributor, cap, and a couple of rotors. I should have taken the decent spark plug wires while I was at it. When I pulled the first spark plug wire from the old cap, the plug disintegrated, and the junkyard was now closed. I came back the next week after Mobil One gave me a used spark plug wire for $20. I went back and installed it the one spark plug wire and reinstalled the used cap to drive the car home. I didn’t want to take any chances pulling any other plug wires fearing that they would also break.

After getting the car home I started making a list of things needing immediate attention – mostly basic maintenance. I placed orders for:
• New Bosch spark plug wires - not wanting to deal with that issue again and still needing to install the newer cap
• A Peloquin 80% lock kit – traction will be key to drag race this FWD monster
• An F1 Stage II racing clutch – since the current clutch has been in there somewhere between 251 and 190 thousand miles, plus the clutch pedal has a TON of travel before engagement. This clutch is advertised to be good up to 200 hp.
• A new plastic dipstick tube – the original was snapped and I’m paranoid about allowing contaminants into the oil
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Looking forward, I need to figure out and accomplish the following:
• Take care of all basic maintenance and safety items to establish a baseline – fluids, filters, lights, gaskets
• TIRES - and maybe wheels if there is any budget remaining
• Figure out complete suspension – shocks, springs, bushings, swaybars
• Power adders – intake, exhaust, cam(?), turbo(?), nitrous(?)
• Add lightness – strip non-essentials while keeping the interior good looking for a concours. Replace body panels with fiberglass(?)

I’ll try to update this intermittently as time allows. My goal is to be autocrossing and drag racing fairly competitively by the summer of 2011. All kinks to be worked out by October 2011 for the GRM Challenge. Here’s hoping I don’t blow the motor or trans before then….


Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:10 am
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I'll be watching this thread, good luck with the build :thumbup:


Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:03 pm
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Sweet! I love watching small builds like this, ill be watching.

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Sun Dec 19, 2010 2:46 pm
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Nice to see you post about your build!

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Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:43 pm
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Inventory, cleaning, & maintenance

So first order of business is to clean up years of grossness. Since my daughter loves playing in the car, I needed to decontaminate before letting her run free.
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After basic cleaning I did a compression check, I wanted to take a basic assessment of the engine to make sure I wasn’t going to waste my time with it. The Bentley manual gives the compression readings for a new engine and the normal range for a used engine. All cylinders had the compression of a new engine and were all within 5 psi! With that established I felt much more comfortable continuing down the GRM Challenge path. I talked to Mobil One (the local VW shop) about the excellent compression and was told that he had seen others with great compression that burned a quart of oil every week. Since I’m not burning any oil, I’m just going to ignore this comment and continue as if it is a new motor 

Some basic cleaning continued in the engine bay. I discovered the rubber hose that connects the crankcase vent tube to the PCV valve had an enormous hole in it and had been “patched” with electrical tape. As a result oil was everywhere. I pulled the destroyed hose and attempted to replace it with some rubber hose I had laying around. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good fit and I broke the plastic crankcase vent tube. Add that to the list of parts that need to be fixed  I zip tied some fabric over both ends of the vent as a temporary fix.
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I replaced all the spark plug wires with the new Bosch plugs. I had a CEL when I restarted that went away after restarting the car about five times.

I stripped the trunk and the speakers in the rear parcel shelf. Eventually I’ll strip all the excess wiring and sound deadening in the trunk. I like the looks of the carpeted parcel shelf rather than the metal under it, but I need to fill the holes where the speakers were.
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I also pulled the center console. I was originally thinking I’d leave it out, but after having it out, it is a pain in the butt to have no integrated cup holder and the e-brake assembly looks terrible uncovered. Since it doesn’t weigh much I’ll add the center console back in after it is cleaned up and I get a new shifter boot since the original one is full of holes and discolored.
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I’ve been driving the car around a bit and have issues with the shifter. It is impossible to shift quickly from 1-2, you have to hold the shifter down and kind of force it in 2, and to a lesser extent 4. The internet tells me this is a fairly common issue. Sir Revalot on Chicago VW Club said he was able to fix the same issue on his Golf III pretty easily – I’ll have to investigate the issue further…. With the shifter boot off I can see some play in the relay ball as well as under the hood I can see some play in the assembly. I’ll need to replace/upgrade pieces of the shifter assembly. At this point this will be both a performance and safety upgrade to get between gears more quickly.
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I received the new clutch and will need to order a few ancillary items to do at the same time like pressure plate bolts and a rear main seal. I’ll be able to determine any other needs when I pull the trans. I’ll also add the 80% lock kit at the same time and change the (original?) transmission fluid. I checked the trans fluid level and it was full. I’m guessing it is not that clean and it must have a few chips from the reverse gear floating around somewhere since the trans clicks in reverse.

Speaking of fluids I gave it an oil change and put in some 5W30 M1 High-Mileage, which is what I use in my WRX with no issues. Before this oil change the engine was moist with oil, but never seemed to drip. After the switch to synthetic it is leaving puddles everywhere. I have heard of this happening on high mileage engines but didn’t expect it. I’ll have to switch back to a dino oil and/or replace some gaskets. The engine is also leaking coolant from somewhere around the water pump. The water pump was replaced somewhat recently, perhaps improperly(?).

I pulled the air filter and it is filthy, but left it in until I figure out what I will do for an intake.

I had been keeping a list of parts that were needed to bring the car to its “stock” baseline. I stopped by the junkyard (Victory Autowreckers) and picked up:
• New side indicator lamp housings for both fenders – I broke the clips on the originals when installing new bulbs
• New parking lamp assembly/turn signal housing – the connector was broken making the parking lamp non-functional, plus the assembly was cracked and had been repaired with epoxy.
• New headlight housing – the original had a hole from a stone chip and it was partially filled with water.
• A manual clutch cable – I’d like to manually adjust the clutch to see if I can restore the clutch throw to a somewhat normal level.
• A header! I wasn’t looking for this, but found a Jetta with a header. It appears to be a custom made piece that goes down to a 2.5” pipe. Although I’d like to go to a turbo setup that would make this unnecessary, I may start up initially with an optimized naturally aspirated engine. We’ll see, this is a low priority, but it became available, so I seized it.
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With these pieces I’ll be able to ensure all exterior lighting works. I’ll also be able to see just how worn out the stock clutch is when I install the manual clutch cable. If I can get by without replacing the clutch right now I’ll give it a try.

I still need to get the rubber hose that connects the breather pipe to the PCV valve, a water pump pulley off a VR6 to delete the AC, the light bulb for the HVAC controls (it irritates me to not be able to see these controls at night), a shifter rebuild kit, and some new front seats (the worn out stock seats are uncomfortable and a little distracting since they force you to lean to the side while driving).

The next projects will be about adding lightness and de-cluttering the engine bay – removing the AC components and doing something about an intake! I also need to figure out why the horn doesn’t work with the horn button but works with the key fob.


Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:07 pm
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Work on the Jetta was halted for the Thanksgiving holiday and the fact that everyone in the family got the Norovirus. An intense eight hours of violently removing the contents of my stomach and bowels put me down for a little while. It was kind of like one of those celebrity detox sessions – I lost at least five pounds!

My wife is travelling so I have both bays of the garage for a few days this week and a few days next week. Time to take advantage by getting dirty. I removed the bumper and the radiator supports to get to the AC condenser and the AC lines. This will free up some weight and improve flow across the radiator, especially after cleaning off all the crap that was wedged between the condenser and radiator.
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So far all the bolts have been coming off surprisingly easy (knock on wood), the screws holding the AC lines in are a different story. I ended up drilling out two rivets that held the AC line to the fan shroud and will need to drill/cut out another bracket that is holding the rest of the AC lines to the right frame rail. I can’t get the Philips screws to budge using a screwdriver or an impact screwdriver.

I also found two horns under the right headlight, I’ll need to test these to see if they are functional and the reason for my non-working horn. I’m not sure if I have a failed horn switch, horns, or wiring. The horn that beeps when the key fob locks the doors is under the drip tray, I’m not sure why I need so many horns. I’m thinking I’ll remove the two horns in the front of the car and their attached brackets to save a few pounds and wire the horn switch from the steering wheel to the horn under the drip tray (if it’s not already activated by the horn switch).

While I’m removing the AC lines I took out the airbox again. It sure is nice to have a clean engine bay. I’ll need to figure out a CAI – maybe something fashioned from parts at Home Depot Racing… 

There is also a surprising number of AC vacuum lines, AC lines, and wiring. This engine bay will be much easier to work in.

I’d also like to take this time to get started on removing the CAI system.


Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:19 pm
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Thanks for the updates. :thumbup:

Have you ever seen my CAI set up on the VR???

I have it set up in the way that the bottom part ot the stock Air Box is still in the car with 3 inch hose running down and exiting thru the front of the bumper. The cone filter sit's nicley in at the bottom of the lower part of the box keeping most of the hotter air out :sneaky:

Let me know if you want me to drop by this week to assist with this set up, I'm free until Friday because my family is staying at out place in Wi for the whole week. So I'm free after 4pm. :yes:

My # is 224 628 0993.

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Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:22 pm
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Hey thanks for the offer, no I never saw under the hood of your VR - I just remember your shift light and O2 sensor :thumbup:

I just got back in town, but if you ever want to come over you are more than welcome. I'm doing most of my work between 7-10 on weeknights. I'm doing too many things at once, but I'm pulling the carpet, I need to install new brake lines, and figure out the CAI still. I also have a VR power steering pulley on its way from some guy on the vortex to eliminate my AC compressor. Lots of little projects and too little time.

If you are ever up for it on a weeknight I can text you.


Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:02 pm
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OK, half of the AC system has been deleted. I had to remove the bumper and the radiator support to get out the AC condenser attached in front of the radiator. Not only will this save weight, but it will also improve air flow across the radiator. I also pulled all the AC lines in the engine bay up to the firewall. According to the Bentley manual I need to drain the coolant and remove the heater core to get at the AC drier mounted inside the heater core box. I’ll wait to remove the internal parts until I address the small coolant leak around the water pump and I can fix both while only draining the coolant once. I also still have the AC compressor in place. I’m looking for a VR6 water pump pulley so I can do the AC delete. The VR6 water pump pulley will allow me to reroute the belts so that I have the water pump running off the serpentine belt that is now running the AC compressor. I will also need a new V-belt to run the power steering pump independently.
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While I was pulling the AC system I also pulled out the airbox. I don’t know if it is better to run a cone filter tucked as far forward as possible, or just cutting up the bottom of the airbox, but it sure looks a hell of a lot better without the airbox in the engine bay. I had to plug a vacuum line on the upper intake manifold that was pulling filtered air from the box. I also pulled off the heat shield on the exhaust manifold and the hose that ran to the bottom of the airbox to provide warm air on cold startup. Since I don’t have a cone filter at the moment, I just took the ram air tube out of the airbox, zip-tied it onto the MAF housing, and zip-tied the whole assembly out of the way of the belts. I’m not driving this car a whole lot and am not particularly worried about sucking water/dirt into the intake, so I just wrapped a piece of cotton t-shirt over the intake and zip-tied it into place to act as a makeshift filter. At least it will keep big chunks out of the engine!
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When I took the bumper off I got a full sense for how much weight I’m carrying ahead of the front tires. I’m guessing the front bumper weighs in the neighborhood of 40 pounds. Since this car will be driven on the street I will be retaining a bumper, but I took out my grease pencil to sketch out areas that can be cut out while keeping the basic structural supports in place. I figure I can remove up to half the metal, while still leaving the mounting tabs to mount the bumper cover, radiator support, and headlights. This will be a project when it gets warmer out, since I’ll want to paint it at the same time.
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Since the point of this project is to make a quick car for less than $2k, I’m really focusing on removing any unnecessary weight. With that said, I removed the high and low horns from under the passenger side headlight. I’ll also remove the wiring and run the horn switch directly to the alarm horn under the drip tray. The GRM rules state that all cars must have a functional horn, so I’ll use the one that is mounted further forward in the car. Another couple of pounds saved. Both horns do work, so I must have a faulty horn switch or a break in the wiring somewhere.

Unfortunately, I broke the tab off one of the marker lights on the fenders when I pulled the bumper cover off. Since these lights aren’t necessary I’m thinking I may just delete the wiring and fasten a blacked-out filler piece. This is a pretty low priority at the moment, I just reinstalled the broken marker light housing and it seems to be staying in place even without the metal tab holding it down.
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After I got everything I wanted removed, I buttoned the front end back together. I took the time to install the new headlamp housing I picked up at the junkyard. The old one had a couple of stone chips that were letting the housing fill up with water. This clouded up the headlamp with condensation which probably wasn’t doing much for the lighting optics, plus it was visually unappealing. The bad news is this will hit my budget and I don’t really have room for any expenses that don’t make me any faster.

Although I haven’t installed it yet, I’m having second thoughts about my purchase of a Stage II clutch. It is a lot of money out of a small budget – almost 10%. I put together my budget and didn’t even include any money towards wider wheels and am still over. Sticky tires will be critical and I’ll need the proper wheels to support the tires. I was reading the GRM forums, and there is a guy on there with a screen name of VWGuyBruce who built a MK2 Jetta for last year’s challenge. His impressions for wheels/tires were that he could have gone wider – optimally 8-9”. I figure I can get by with my stock 14x6 steelies, but would be much better with 15x8-9’s with a 225-245 r-compound. I could probably save some rotational weight at the same time by ditching the heavy steel wheels (I think the steelies are 25ish pounds each!).

After figuring out a budget of some sort using guesstimated costs of buying everything I can used, I’m at $2200 for a car with intake, exhaust, cam, chip, nitrous, suspension, used r-comps, and 80% diff kit. I need to sell off stuff that comes out to recoup some costs and find stuff cheaper! I’d love to be able to put on some wider wheels, but haven’t found anything cheaply enough yet. There’s tons of 4x100 Honda wheels out there, but I think I would need to run spacers that would be $$. I may just find a $100 set of 205/xx/14 r-compounds to run on the steelies.

I also took some time to figure out my priorities for work on the car. I’d like to drive the car more regularly on the street, so I want to address the maintenance/safety items first. Here is my current to-do list just for the maintenance and safety items (some of these things aren’t safety/maintenance, but complement the other work being done):
• Manual clutch cable install/Clutch adjustment
• Cold air intake/cone filter – anyone have anything sitting around?
• Fix/rewire horn
• Transmission fluid change
• TraqLoc install
• Flush brake fluid
• Install new brake lines
• Fix coolant leak around water pump
• A/C delete – evaporator core – I need a VR6 water pump pulley!
• A/C delete - compressor/belts
• Shocks & springs – Bilstein or Konis with a coilover conversion and high rate springs
• LCA bushings
• Ball joints
• Alignment – ok now, but will need to be redone after suspension work for max. camber
• Rebuild shifter mechanism
• Install/build engine and trans mounts – hockey puck engine mounts & G60 trans mount?
• Install new seat


Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:13 pm
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Helluva build. Good luck w/the challenge!

kingbeann wrote:
Since I have officially submitted my membership dues to CVO and everyone I met at the CVO autocrosses seemed like good people, I'm going to use this forum to post my build progress on my '99 Jetta


I had changed your status (underneath your screen name) to CVO Member but I forgot to make it the default so it still said "CVO Forums User". I've fixed it now to display properly :thumbup:

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Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:15 pm
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I picked up a tiny lightbulb for the HVAC controls at North Shore VW while I was getting my wife’s Jetta MK5 TDi serviced. It was driving me nuts not being able to see the heater settings while driving the car at night. The lights for the surround around the lighter and the ashtray are also both out, but I’ll leave that as-is. I can’t afford any other fancy luxuries like those lights!!

I was talking to a co-worker who is a member of Midwest Council and races an S4 in their high-speed autocross/time trial events. He used to have a Talon and happened to have an turbo taking up space in his parents basement that he gave me. I haven’t done any research on this yet, but he tells me it is a 14G stock 1st gen Talon turbo. It has one set of lines for coolant and oil. I’d eventually like to turbo the ABA engine and this will be great. I believe it is a standard T3/T4 flange, so I’ll have to figure out how to mount it to an exhaust manifold. I don’t see how I can possibly do this within the GRM budget, but it is still cool!!
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Next priority on the car is to install the manual clutch cable and see if I can adjust out all the slack in pedal travel. If I can’t I think I will move straight to replacing the clutch, along with pressure plate bolts, rear main seal, and any other worn bushings and seals while I am in there.


Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:46 pm
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You have PM....

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Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:50 am
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Another minor update – I took a couple hours in the garage last night to swap out the potentially faulty auto-adjusting clutch cable with a manual cable I picked up at the junkyard. My friend, the previous owner insisted he had never changed the clutch and he bought the car with 62k on the odometer. With a current reading of 251k, that means the clutch has covered at least 189k, if not the total miles on the car. When I told some local VW experts how many miles are on the clutch they couldn’t believe it, stating that these clutches last 100-150k max. Part of the reason for the high mileage is a lot of highway miles, including many cross country trips, so I guess that could explain the high mileage on the clutch.

Anyway, before I drop the trans to replace the clutch, I wanted to be absolutely sure that the long clutch pedal travel was not the result of a bad auto-adjusting cable. The best way to find out was to replace it with a manual clutch cable and see if I could adjust out the excessive pedal travel.

I ended up spending close to an hour under the driver-side dash wrestling protective covers and the fuse block around trying to get to the end of the cable that attaches to the clutch cable. This was way easier when I pulled the cable at the junkyard since I wasn’t worried about breaking anything.
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Removing the cable from the clutch arm was easy. Since I don’t have the compressor that is supposed to come with an auto-adjusting cable, I used some wire to put some slack in the line so I could remove it.
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Here are the auto-adjuster and the manual cable side by side. I don’t think the manual one I found in the junkyard is OEM. The cable sheath says made in Italy and I couldn’t find a brand name stamped anywhere.
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Installing the manual clutch cable was hardest under the dash. I struggled for too long trying to get the end of the cable in the little slot on the clutch pedal. I finally got the cable hooked on to the clutch pedal and adjusted the tension. From what I have seen on line, the manual adjuster likes 20mm of slack. I adjust to about 10 mm and tested it out. STILL long pedal travel! I adjust it down to about 2mm of slack and it still didn’t significantly change the engagement point of the clutch.

So, I guess I have ruled out any issues with the auto-adjusting cable and will plan to install the new “Stage 2” clutch that I bought. I need to pick up all the ancillary clutch items that should be replaced at the same time (pressure plate bolts, rear main seal, etc.) I found a clutch install kit on German Auto Parts for $75 plus shipping that was much cheaper than what the dealership wanted.

As a side note, it has been cold near Chicago.
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With outside temps around 10 degrees at night, I’ve been running this portable propane heater to keep warm. Makes the garage bearable for a few hours. Just have to ventilate the garage, otherwise I get a headache from the propane.
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I may need to check out an infrared heater as a non-toxic way to heat the garage without having to periodically allow fresh (cold) air in.


Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:56 am
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While surfing craigslist I spotted an ad for Honda parts that included this:
“tenzo r seats with the rails the drivers seat is a little messed up kinda ripped and dosent recline and hold but need a bolt to hold the seat down from the rail should fix the problem SHOOT ME AN OFFER”

Sounds like a project that is reasonably priced…

I went and checked out the seats and ended up purchasing two Tenzo R seats, sliders that fit a ’96-’00 Civic, and Mugen (fake?) 4-pt harnesses for $100.
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The Tenzo’s are not light, I haven’t weighed them yet, but I would guess that I won’t save any weight with these seats. They do feel very supportive though, the bolstering is firm and they seem to hold snugly. The fabric is faded and worn, but will work fine in this budget “race” car. With the harnesses, this will be a great autocross setup that is still comfortable on the street.

The driver’s seat is messed up. I took the seat apart and discovered the base of the seat frame is broken in two places. When it broke it also tore some of the foam in the bolster on the base and the fabric is torn in a few spots in the general area of the failure. I’ll need to buy some hog ring pliers and new hog rings to reassemble and either get a welder or have someone weld this back together.
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I will also need to either figure out how to mount these seats in the VW which will likely require some fabrication. The stock VW seats appear to have a 3-pount mounting arrangement with the rear mounts riding in a sliding mechanism in the floor. When I get the Tenzo fixed and back together I’ll remove the stock seats and carpeting to figure out the best way to mount the new seats. I would feel more comfortable if they were mounted at four points rather than three – so I may need to drill new holes in the floorboards. To be continued….


Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:05 am
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Thanks for the updates! I bet you can't wait til it warms up......

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Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:52 pm
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I have a lot of small projects I can do without buying anything else, but I’m kind of excited to figure out how to mount the new seats and have been enjoying cleaning up the car by removing excess weight. To continue down this path, it is now time to remove the carpet to start the process of deleting all unnecessary interior items.

I’m debating whether or not I want to keep carpet in the completed car. On the one hand a nicely carpeted car looks nicer, is quieter, the carpet doesn’t weigh much and it makes the interior more comfortable. On the other hand this is supposed to be a budget racecar that doesn’t need any extra comfort or weight, I need to pull the carpet to figure out wiring and seat mounting, plus this carpet has some holes in it. After 251k miles there are several holes around the pedals, even though the rest of the carpet is pretty clean.
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I do still intend to use this vehicle semi-regularly for daily driver duty so one of my conditions for this build is that the interior needs to retain the rear seat for a child seat and any sharp metal need to be covered. Plus, since this will be subject to a car show, it needs to be clean – any wiring should be tucked away. For these reasons I am going to retain the full dash, headliner, and all the plastic trim. I’ve been going back and forth on the center console – personally I think it is ugly, but the exposed parking brake is even uglier. Ideally I could fabricate a minimalist console to cover the e-brake and the shifter mechanism. For now I’m just leaving the center console out.
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With the carpet out I can remove all the sound deadening. There are several layers, with lightweight soft foam filler directly under the carpet. In the front there are some additional sound deadening pads that are held in with a combination of gravity and trim fasteners. All the heavy sound deadening pads came out after the carpet with the exception of the pad up against the firewall – this may come out when I drop the heater box to get at the AC drier that needs to be removed. The last layer of sound deadening is an adhesive tar mat that is laid out in big sections in the trunk, in each of the footwells, and around the shifter. I prodded by hand with a small chisel to get an idea of how difficult it will be to remove the tar and only got a small chunk up. I have heard of others using dry ice to freeze the tar and then using a scraper or chisel with a hammer to whack it out in bigger slabs, some using grinding wheels (which sounds like an awful mess), using paint thinner (which doesn’t sound any more pleasant), or my favorite – an air chisel to power it out. I’ll be trying the last option after a trip to Harbor Freight to pick up a cheap air chisel and my parents house to borrow my dad’s portable air compressor.

With the carpeting and the easily removable sound deadening pads out I recovered a nickel, some sort of decorative pin, and a small metal ball with a threaded hole. I’ll see if the PO wants the pin and add $0.05 back into my budget 
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This doesn’t include the carpet and all the trim – but you get an idea of how much stuff came out of the car. The plastic, foam, and carpet is light but the sound deadening pads are pretty dense.
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Now that I have the OEM seats out, I grabbed a household scale and weighed each seat. The stock seats were a little lighter than I expected; 40 pounds on the driver side and 33 pounds on the passenger side. The driver’s seat is height adjustable so I’m guessing that the height adjustment mechanism makes up the extra seven pounds.
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I grabbed the Tenzo seat that I hadn’t taken apart and was shocked that it was heavier than the OEM seats at 42.2 pounds! What a heavy bastard! That is a little disappointing. I put the seat down and sat in it again and was reassured that it is still very comfortable, so I’m still planning on using them, but will take the passenger seat out for competition. The weight for the Tenzo seat included the bases and sliders while the weights for the OEM seats do not include the sliding mechanisms welded to the floorpan of the car. Once I compare apples to apples I’m guessing the Tenzo seats with sliders weigh somewhere between the OEM driver’s side and passenger side seats with sliders. All in all the weight should be about the same, while the comfort is exponentially better. Looks are a push, if I can dye or recover the Tenzo’s I think they will get the advantage in the appearance department.
I started eyeballing the mounting mechanisms for the seats and can go in one of two directions: Cut the sliding base off the OEM seats and mount it to the Tenzos, or cut out the OEM sliding brackets on the floor and mount the Tenzo bases to new brackets that I would need to fabricate on the floor of the car.

If anyone has any firsthand experience mounting racing seats in a MK3, let me know any pros and cons of using the OEM 3-point seat brackets vs. aftermarket/fabricated brackets. Unless I think of any other pros or cons I’ll probably go with the Tenzo bases and their four bolt attachment since it seems safer to spread the loads out over four points.


Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:32 am
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With the carpet out I’m really focusing on cleaning out any unnecessary components & wiring from the interior before I start making a mess by chiseling out the sound deadening. I figure I can delete un-needed wiring by tracing it back to wherever it goes, unwinding it from the harness, and unplugging it directly from the source.

Always remember to disconnect your battery before you try this at home!
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To prevent any check lights from illuminating on the dash, I will close any problem circuits at the source. E.g. the parking brake wiring consists of two wires and a switch, when the switch is closed the brake light goes off. When I trace these wires back to the source I should be able to just put a jumper between them to ensure the brake light doesn’t come on for the parking brake. I’m not yet sure how the alarm system is going to react to a loss of sensors, if possible I’m going to completely remove the system, but I haven’t researched this yet.

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My plan at this point is to delete the following wiring/systems:
• Trunk pop switch
• Trunk pop motor and mechanisms
• Door and trunk sensors for alarm
• Seatbelt warning sensor
• Brake warning switch on e-brake
• Stereo wiring (there is a LOT of stereo wiring)
• Speakers
• Head unit
• Antenna
• Power locking system (vacuum lines, wiring, and pump)
• Power window motors in rear doors
• Wiring harness in rear doors
• Wiring running to the dash for rear windows, door locks, ashtray lamp, lighter surround lamp, & A/C switches

The first set of wires I grabbed is for the trunk switch in the center console. I unwrapped the harness and traced it back to the motor that pops the trunk. Inside the trunk lid I found more wiring than I expected. I had forgotten about the alarm system and its related sensors. I took apart most of the harness in the trunk and restarted at the back of the car and worked forward to the fuse panel under the dash. I thought I could remove the wiring as sub-harnesses, which would be a clean process, but the wiring was so interwoven that I had to make cuts along the way just to keep the mess of wiring manageable. I was careful with every cut, ensuring I labeled the destination of each wire so that I could keep it all straight as I worked my way towards the fuse box.

Here is an example of “before”, “during”, and “after” for the wiring to the rear of the car through the trunk:
Before:
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During:
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After:
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I opened up the passenger front door to trace out all the wiring that was going in to the door and see what else I could get rid of. For the time being I am going to keep the front power windows and power mirrors. In my head that would only require about eight wires for power, switches, and grounds. WRONG! There are about eight wires running just to the power window motor! I figure that this goes back to the alarm system and perhaps some safety systems wired into the power window. The only wiring I can remove from the front doors is for the speakers. While I was in there I pulled the speaker, speaker surround, and a metal bracket that held some wires in place. I have removed 2 or 3 of the door cards now and see the evidence that the window regulators have been replaced. Unfortunately, it also appears that a gorilla did the replacement as some of the attachment points are broken showing that somebody didn’t take the time to remove all the bolts before pulling the door card . I also found a few shards of glass from a previous break-in.

So far, the “unwiring” has been the most time consuming part of the build. On the plus side - I do save a couple of pounds and have cleaned up the harnesses which should make any future electrical diagnosis simpler.

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While I have the interior down to bare basics, the next thing to do is to drop the heater box and pull the AC drier out. Then the removal of sound deadening tar.


Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:32 pm
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Yikes. I totally forgot about you, and that turbo that is sitting in my garage. I see that you have something, but if you have any interest in a Toyota turbo, I can still drop it off at Mobile One.

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Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:13 pm
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FVGNGN 1 wrote:
Yikes. I totally forgot about you, and that turbo that is sitting in my garage. I see that you have something, but if you have any interest in a Toyota turbo, I can still drop it off at Mobile One.


No worries - I would have followed up with you about it eventually, but now I have another one. I'll give you a ring when I figure out my twin-turbo setup :evil:


Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:36 am
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One of my priorities has been to finish cleaning out the A/C system components, including the A/C evaporator that is located in the evaporator case. I have heard this referred to by different names, but I believe the Bentley calls it the “evaporator case”, referring to the giant plastic box with the blower motor, heater core, evaporator, and flappy doors to direct heat/cool to different vents:
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The A/C evaporator itself only weighs a few pounds, but I am working to remove as many pounds as I can, especially from the front half of the car since it is nose heavy. The removal also cleans up the firewall and engine bay for style points.

The removal of the AC evaporator will remove the remaining piping showing on the firewall:
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The condenser and the piping around the engine was pretty easy, the evaporator case is another story….The problem is that this is a hugely time consuming job of removing the dashboard and support structure. However…. I have the interior removed for the (un)wiring project, so we continue with the evaporator case.

There are several write-ups on VWvortex about pulling the evaporator case/heater core that provided a few hits and forewarned me about the amount of labor. You have to disconnect the heater box from the coolant hoses. Bentley says drain the coolant while others on the vortex have simply used various methods to plug/seal the hoses while it is apart. After trying a couple different things, I grabbed a pair of rubber gloves and zip tied the heater hoses to stop the dripping of coolant:
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The worst part about the removal of the rebar was drilling out the bolts that secure the steering column to the rebar. They don’t have a bolt head on them and I understand they are designed to shear in the event of impact. Presumably this allows the steering column to move when your lifeless body collides with the steering wheel in a serious impact. In other words, it is a safety thing! I had to drill these out to remove them and was frustrated with my dull drill bits. I tried a step bit and this cut right through the metal. After I had drilled the heads off the bolts, I was able to turn them from the top side with needle nose pliers and fished these out:
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I have read some write-ups that say you can avoid removing these bolts and instead put some serious leverage on the rebar to allow enough room to get the evaporator casing out. I didn’t trust that I could do this without breaking or bending something, so I opted to just remove the rebar completely. That made the rest of the work under the dash much easier.

Here is the interior without the heater core:
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Separated the evaporator case into the “hot” side and “cold” side:
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….AND A/C removal complete:
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Since the evaporator was removed, there is a hole where the lines fed through the firewall. I don’t want to leave this open since it would invite warm/dirty engine air into the airbox, as well as reducing the effectiveness of the blower motor by allowing blown air to escape into the engine bay. I found some foam and cut it to size to fit the hole. A perfect fit:

I did pull out the heater core to inspect it and make sure there wasn’t an imminent failure waiting for me. Fortunately it looked fine, so I reinstalled it:
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One bonus of pulling out the evaporator case is I can now remove the final piece of heavy sound deadening mat that is fastened to the interior side of the firewall. Previously I couldn’t get to this since the top half of it was inaccessible. Here I am starting to pry out the heavy mat:
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I also noticed that the drain plug in the firewall was dirty/clogged so I cleaned that out and am wiping things down as I reinstall them.

I’ve been looking at pictures of other MK3’s for an idea of what people are doing with their dashboards. Since I pulled the radio I have a hole in the center of the dash. I have also noticed several people have pulled their center vents and used that entire central panel as a place to locate gauges. Since I have the dash removed, I went ahead and pulled the center vents. I’ll follow up later with a piece of flat aluminum (or something) to block off the hole:
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I’ll probably end up doing something like this (taken from EuroTuner online, from an article about a drag racing Golf):
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The dash itself is fairly heavy, I would guess 20-30 pounds, so I looked for anything else I could remove from it before reinstallation. I removed the corresponding ducts that were clipped/plastic welded to the underside of the dash with some quick work with a Dremel tool:
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With the removal of the duct work that feeds all the mid-level vents I still have the ability to blow air at the defrost and foot level. To prevent blowing hot air inside the dash, I needed to block the opening that fed the ducts that were removed. Aluminum foil tape for sealing HVAC ducting (bought at Menards) should work well:
Image

Before I completely re-assemble the dashboard I will remove all the sound deadening and replace the windshield.


Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:50 am
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If you know have to get a windsheild out with out breaking it I have a brand new one Ill let go CHEAP. Other wise I cut it up soon.


Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:46 pm
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All of the easily removable tar/rubber and foam sound deadening pads have been removed, now I’m getting down to the stuck-on tar-like sound deadening that is affixed to the floorboards, trunk, and around the shifter.

Right after I pulled the A/C evaporator I started chipping away with a hammer and a small pry bar. This was somewhat effective, but very time consuming. I think it helps that it is cold out – around 20 degrees in the garage, since the sound deadening breaks away in chunks. I managed to do about half of the passenger side rear floorboard and most of the tunnel around the air bag ECU by hand:
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Hoping to speed this up, I borrowed my dad’s air compressor and purchased a cheap air chisel from Menards. I was AMAZED at how much easier the air chisel removed the sound deadening. With the hammer I got small chunks, with the air chisel I got big chunks and it just ripped right through it in no time. Where it had taken me probably 30 minutes to get the little piece done in the picture above, I was able to do the entire car in less than an hour with the air chisel.

You can tell where the sound deadening was where the sheet metal is whitish/gray:
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I got a little carried away removing the sound deadening and seam sealer in the passenger side footwell up near the firewall and accidentally started chiseling out a metal seam…ooops!
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In addition to this “oops” there are a lot of areas where the chisel broke through the paint to bare metal, I’m going to go back and hit these spots with some paint to prevent any rust from forming.

I scooped and vacuumed up the sound deadening and filled a box. I haven’t weighed it yet, but I would guess 10-15 pounds:

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You can see lots of little pieces in that box, after getting out the air chisel, I was able to get pieces as big as this:
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I really need to get this car buttoned back up and out of the garage. I went back through the wiring and capped any exposed wire ends (don’t want to start an electrical fire or short anything out), reinstalled the instrument cluster, hooked up the battery, and put the key in the ignition. The good news is that the LCD displays on the cluster came to life and all the idiot lights went through their normal sequence. The bad news is that the car wouldn’t start. Turn the key and nothing. I suspect it has to do with the alarm system which is now removed. I’m going to reinstall the dash support, heater box, and re-check all my grounds and connections and slowly work through this wiring to make sure this thing is working the way it is supposed to. The wiring on this is by far the biggest pain in the a$$. I’m getting a good education in reading wiring schematics!


Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:20 am
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Nice progress, looking through this thread makes me wish I had the time and patience to take on a big build like this.


Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:47 am
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First things first – thanks to root beer (on the vortex) and a couple of the links above, it was super easy to jump the alarm box and the car started right up. I tested it first with a paper clip inserted into the terminal ends, once that was confirmed I modified a Radio Shack wire connector I had leftover from a gauge install in a pack of 20. You can see it in the picture below as the blue plastic thing that goes around the wires.
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I wrapped the connector with red electrical tape for extra peace of mind:
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I didn’t get a chance to test any of the accessories such as windows, mirrors, etc. as those things won’t be reconnected until after I reinstall the heater box, the dash support, and reconnect the main ground on the dash support.

There were still a couple of areas of sound deadening on the interior firewall and the sides of the trunk that the air chisel just couldn’t get. Presumably because these are vertical panels subject to gravity, the sound deadening was a different compound, held on with a lot of adhesive. I asked VWguyBruce (on the vortex and GRM forums) what he had done on a similar project he had done a couple of years ago and he provided a lot of great advice. For the remaining sound deadening I took his advice and switched to heat and a putty knife. I failed to take “after” pictures of these two areas, but suffice it to say that they are now free of sound deadening (although there is a lot of sticky adhesive left still…)
Here’s the sides of the trunk before removal (now gone):
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And the firewall after I attempted the air chisel and got frustrated with its ineffectiveness:
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Before I start re-installing everything I want to be totally happy with the condition of the floor. I am finding myself to be possibly over-perfectionist on this “crap-car” build, but the condition of the floorboards really bothered me. There were a couple of areas of what I thought was minor surface rust in the front footwells. I took the time to get out the wire brush and flappy sandpaper attachments for the power tools and went to work to repair this. It ends up that there were holes through the first layer of sheetmetal on both sides:
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There were also three spots where I didn’t even realize I had punched through the sheetmetal with the air chisel, I really should have been more careful in some of the contours of the metal… I pounded the holes from the chisel back into shape and ground off all the loose rust. Probably the best way to make the repair would be to weld in some good metal. I don’t have a welder, but I had a couple of half full tubes of JB Weld! I have no idea if this is an appropriate patch, but I mixed up the JB Weld and applied it like body filler:
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While I let that dry I masked up the parts of the interior that I don’t want to get painted:
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I had to get the wiring out of the way:
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I also hit the surface rust that hadn’t gone through the metal with a “rust converter” spray:
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After the JB Weld cures I’ll sand it smooth, hit the sanded bare metal with a couple coats of primer, rough up all the surfaces that will be painted black, vacuum out all the dust/dirt (again), go over everything with an oil/grease remover for final prep, then spray some black down. I have 6-12 half full cans of primer and paint that I should be able to make work, I just hope I have enough that I don’t need to budget buying a can of paint!

Can anyone say “scope creep”? I didn’t envision going to these lengths with the interior when I went to pull the A/C, but, I’m glad to get it done right and not have to worry about it later. The single color should also look a lot better. Although I love the all white painted interior of a racecar, I’m planning on keeping the floorboards black to better fit the rest of the interior plastics that will still be in place.

Also, thanks to Sir Revalot from the Chicago VW club for stopping by and picking up the center console – I can now add a little bit of $ back to my budget. If anyone wants anything that came off the car, send me a pm with an offer. There are dibs on the carpet already, but I may end up using some or all it depending on how the paint turns out.


Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:49 pm
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I see that you have made more progress since I saw it in person :thumbup:
Let me check my little bin of MK3 items, I might have the right side marker that you cracked laying around.

And if I do then it's yours!

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Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:22 pm
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