But the Rabbit restoration could not begin without Joe finding The Guy—the one who could really make the restoration shine. The Guy happened to be one Chris Luker, whom they found, after a three-month search, at a local Porsche repair shop. Having maintained and crewed on many VW Rabbit race teams throughout the years, he was intimately familiar with the car. He started by completely disassembling it and washing and painting everything.
All parts are entirely original and period correct as the car last raced in July 1990, except for the windshield and hood. These two items were kept original to preserve the tech inspection stickers and paint and stripes. However, they hardly knew that finding a “survivor” hood and windshield from a 1975 Rabbit would be so difficult. Luker searched locally and checked all 13 Rabbits in his yard (yes, 13 Rabbits). Sourcing parts was also impossible and most components were fabricated as needed or were either repaired or rebuilt. But the vinyl stripes proved to be the most difficult part of all. Hundreds of color swatches were reviewed to find the exact matching colors. Two weeks and many different sets of eyeballs went by before the right material finally arrived.
1975 VW Rabbit
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
1.6-liter I4, sohc, 8-valve. Blueprinted and balanced, 11:1 Mahle pistons, ported head, Schrick cam, ABT intake manifold and custom airbox, dual sidedraft carbs
Five-speed manual with custom ratios, twin-disc unsprung clutch, lightweight flywheel, limited-slip diff
Sachs coilovers, custom lower ball joints, custom antiroll bars and strut braces, rear axle triangulation
Four-piston front calipers, stock front calipers relocated to rear
Wheels and Tires
BBS racing alloys, 8x13
Goodyear slicks, 20x9.5
Custom flares, Zender front airdam
The Passion: 2008 Audi S3
As 2009 approached, GMP began looking for a suitable vehicle for their return to club racing. The VW Group 1.8T engine was still a hot commodity with an established history of performance tuning, so GMP decided it would provide the basis for a new racecar. Having raced a B5 Audi S4, Joe and Claudia’s son Stephen began to search for a suitable S4 1.8T platform. And then by a stroke of good luck, he ran across a real, live Audi S3 that had been secretly tucked away in a local warehouse. The choice for the new race project became blatantly obvious.
The build began with putting on a fresh coat of paint that was color matched to the Rabbit’s. The stripes were laid out in a similar pattern, with softer angles to capture the S3’s curves.
The engine is based on a 1.8-liter block bored 1mm over stock with a set of JE pistons and forged rods capped with an AEB big-bore head. The drivetrain uses a stock six-speed gearbox equipped with a lightened flywheel and unsprung six-puck clutch disc. Induction comes from a Carbonio carbon intake and cooled with an APR Z-shape intercooler with in-house fabricated piping. The factory turbocharger was changed to a ball-bearing Garrett 2871 bolted to an APR Inconel manifold. The downpipe and exhaust were built in-house to fit around the car’s rear driveshaft. The rear wheels are locked into place with a competition Haldex controller.
Said wheels are custom painted two-piece 8.5x18 RH RANs wrapped in BFGoodrich R1 track tires. Behind those are brakes using four-piston Alcon monoblock calipers with Performance Friction PFC01 race pads. The suspension uses coilovers made by Ohlins featuring external reservoirs for easy adjustability.
On the inside, the instrument panel features a host of gauges to keep the vital signs in check. The driver sits in the car securely with a Recaro Profi XL seat and a six-point set of Schroth belts and center net. The Sparco steering wheel is mounted on a Sparco quick-release hub.
2008 Audi S3
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
1.8-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve. Block overbored 1mm, JE pistons, forged rods, AEB big-bore head, Carbonio carbon-fiber intake, APR intercooler and Inconel exhaust manifold, Garrett 2871 ball-bearing turbocharger
Six-speed manual, unsprung six-puck clutch disc, lightweight flywheel, Haldex rear diff controller
Four-piston Alcon monoblock calipers
Wheels and Tires
RH RAN alloys, 8.5x18
BFGoodrich R1, 245/40
Recaro Profi XL bucket seat, Schroth harnesses, Sparco steering wheel, custom instrument cluster