Your magazine started this!" In a shocking accusation, Mike Herrmann puts the blame on european car for "this damn addiction of mine." A 1996 story showcasing an A2 G60 conversion piqued his interest, and the long-time Volkswagen fan decided, "I want ed my car to look nicer than that one. I took some of those ideas and ran with it until we got to the 300-some horsepower monster I have now.
"Starting in high school, I bought a bunch of $400 to $500, drive-it-'til-it-dies cars," said Herrmann. "The little green one I bought when I was 23. It was the first car I ever started working on, instead of throwing it away. This car had been so good to me, it brought me home so many times, I thought I may as well put it back together, show it some love."
Totaled with just 800 miles on the clock and completely re-skinned, 74K miles later the '92 GTI was "sitting on the bump-stops with the springs chopped out from under it, needing a muffler, brakes all around with the front bumper hanging off," when a friend offered it to Herrmann. "The thing was falling apart," he said. He bought it anyway.
The bonding began as Herrmann "went through the whole list of bolt-on stuff." A set of TSW EVO wheels, purchased from Baltimore DJ Charles Feelgood, dressed up the Montana Green Golf before giving way to first a set of BBS RX wheels, then BBS RCs. A Leistritz exhaust solved the muffler problem before being replaced by an aluminized Autotech system. (There's a 3-in. custom system under there now.) The stock underpinnings were replaced first with a set of Neuspeed shocks and springs and then a Sachs dual-spring coilover kit from Autotech. You get the idea.
About this time, word of mouth was spreading about a new shop recently opened by a couple of young VW nuts. Inspired by the ec article, Herrmann paid New German Performance a visit. A ride in co-owner Ed Sheets' G60-powered Golf sealed the deal. With 178k miles showing on the Golf's odo, "I parked my car at NGP and called them from Miami Beach to order the G60 conversion. Ed and Dave hopped in an old VW bus they used to have and drove to a wrecking yard north of New York City to buy the parts."
What started out as a simple engine conversion soon morphed into a full-blown show circuit project. The Golf sprouted G60 fender arches, a debadged Rallye Golf grille and MkIII light kit. A custom front bumper, ZKW fogs and a Zender front spoiler finished the front end. Herrmann bought a stalled VR6 A2 conversion project, swapping the shaved and flushed hatch and the Audi A4 handle converted doors before reselling it. Pop-out rear quarter windows were sourced from London-based Awesome GTI and the long unavailable Abt rear wing ("It's retro now.") has several people in line hoping Herrmann decides to part with it someday. M3-style mirrors, A4 side-markers, a single wiper conversion and fresh two-tone Montana Green (with a little extra metallic)/Audi Silver paint job rounded out the Golf's new look. "The color of money," Herrmann added with a chuckle.
To bring the interior in line with the exterior, Herrmann ordered a set of Sparco Supersport seats, matching Sparco steering wheel, shift knob and a set of Sparco pedal covers. While he was at it, he also ordered enough matching Alcantara to cover the door panels, sun visors, Corrado rear bench seat and sew up a new shift boot. A slightly darker Alcantara was used for the headliner, which sports an embossed G60 logo just behind the Kirk four-point rollbar's main hoop. A 1990 Jetta donated the silver kneebar, the stock gauge cluster was replaced with one from a Corrado, and VDO boost, oil pressure and water temperature gauges fill the O.E. radio slot.
Audiophiles needn't worry, an Alpine 7842 head unit and DST 3342 digital equalizer live lower in the console just above the AVCR boost controller. Alpine MRV-1000 and MRV-F400 amps (and an Alpine 12-disc changer) are set into the rear seatback and drive 5- and 8-in. MB Quart speakers up front along with an Eclipse sub-woofer in the trunk, installed alongside the rear-mounted battery. "You turn the radio on," said Herrmann, "and it's an acoustical event going on in there."
After the conversion was completed, the little Golf racked up an impressive 30-odd "First Place" and "Best of" awards over the next couple of years at shows like Super Jam, Bug Out and Bug On. We'll never know the exact total-the trophies were lost in a 2001 house fire.
But we do know a "Best Engine" eluded Herrmann. Despite numerous upgrades, including a Group N supercharger and 215 whp, the G60 was overshadowed by supercharged VR6 conversions then starting to appear around the show circuit.