Written July 2022 for Rollhard
At Rollhard, we’re big fans of long-term projects that consume way too much of our lives, money and cause endless hardship so naturally, Matts Tornado Red MK2 Golf fits right in as it’s been in his ownership for over 7 years when he bought it for a mere 500 quid.
When he got it, the Golf was a bog standard Royal Blue 1.6L Driver which Matt jokes was the cheapest running MK2 on the internet at the time. Wanting a cool retro daily driver that he could tinker at, Matt slowly began to modify the Golf and after a few years of ownership, he took the plunge to engine swap it.
The 2L 16v ABF now found under the bonnet was always the plan as Matt had fallen in love with its plucky responsiveness and power delivery while out for a rip in his friend’s car. So, with an engine and gearbox sourced, he took the car off the road and got stuck into the conversion.
“I started welding up holes in the bay and sort of got carried away with it, taking it down the show car route”, says Matt. “The initial plan was to build a track/fast road car with the ABF in its original fuel injected form, but that soon went out the window.”
He ended up stripping the little MK2 right back to bare metal before fitting a ‘big bumper’ GTI kit and respraying it in a coat of Tornado Red, totally changing the look of the car. With a fitting home for the ABF now complete, Matt rebuilt the engine and spent some time customizing and hiding everything in the bay to achieve the look he was after.
Twin side-draught Mikuni carburetors take pride of place, barking at the front end of the engine and creating a rowdy driving experience behind the wheel. A custom 2.5” stainless steel exhaust mated to a 4 branch manifold compliments the addictive sound the carbs create.
However, it is the MK2s stance that is probably the most impressive feature on the car as it rolls at this insanely low height on coilovers. There’s no denying this MK2 is stupidly low and there’s something about seeing a static car on the move, especially when its rolling on a set of small wheels and in Matts case, those are rare 16” Epsilon Southern Ways which he has fitted for this year’s show season.
These cars don’t come without hardship and heartache and Matt knows all too well about that as just a few weeks before Players Classic a maniac in a Volvo decided to drive out in front of Matt, causing him to swerve off the road and collect a few road signs with the front end of his beloved MK2.
"The car was in a right old state, but I got very lucky not to do any structural or mechanical damage”, Matt says. “I immediately got the grinder and the welder back out to get it on the road for the summer.” Four long weeks of late nights sorting out the damage and Matt finally managed to achieve his personal goal of taking the car to Players Classic, an effort that he thanks the good guys in the VW scene for helping with.
For Matt, this little MK2 is a forever car and he has plenty of plans to add to the beauty of this build. It’s a car he’s built for himself with help from friends, hooning it to the pub and enjoying at the occasional show. It’s rowdy, it puts a smile on your face and it’s absolutely perfect.
Owner: Matt Hagan
Location: Goodwood Motor Circuit