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1984 VW Golf Cabrio - 01/12 - On the Road


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You asked for it.  No really, some of you actually did.


Tomorrow afternoon I shall be collecting this thing which is the unlikely successor to the BX.  I've had a VW before and it was a superb little thing except for the utterly fubarred engine and me having it in lots of pieces when the brown stuff hit the whirly thing and I have regretted selling it ever since.  I didn't regret selling my old Polo because it was a VW, but because the car had been a part of my life for 12 years and was very personalised to my tastes, so I was apprehensive about getting another VW because of that.


Obviously, I didn't start out looking for a Mk1 Golf cabrio.  What I started looking out for was something sensible and small like Granny Cobbler's Mk3 Fiesta which I was actually all set to buy until I saw a rusty Rover 213 on eBay and then, entirely by chance, my brother mentioned that he'd found this car very locally for a small amount of money.  It's rather telling that I wasn't that interested until he said he'd buy it himself if he weren't moving house very soon.


So, I went to have a look and a sit in it, just to convince myself it really was the wrong car and the asking price was only so low because it was a shed of a thing or something.  It was probably rotten anyway, and broken in a dozen different ways...  Imagine my surprise then when what I was faced with was a tidy enough lightly barried little thing.



It was bought by the current owner with tax and test 3 years ago and has sat on the gravel (the grass above popped up in the course of a week) ever since.  It had a black GTi interior that was oppressive and claustrophobic and some appalling Black Stallion alloys on it that look like this.



I still wasn't thrilled until I had a sit in it and suddenly it felt like being in a slightly bigger version of my old Polo.  It was enough to tip me over the edge because I'm a sentimental old fart and I decided that I'd buy it because I was struggling by this point to find anything wrong with it.


Got talking to the seller, I might reveal the price one day, but not yet.  It was priced astonishingly low but a big part of that was because he wanted to take a few bits off like the apparently very expensive and rare GTi interior that I didn't like.  He also wanted the chrome sill trims which I know are £40 a pair but again I wasn't too fussed about them.  He wasn't too bothered by the appalling alloys so unfortunately I couldn't get him to swap those over.  I gave him a deposit and arranged to pick the car up a week-ish hence to give him time to take the GTi interior out and bolt a driver's seat in so I could get the car home.


Today, my brother and I went back to finalise collection tomorrow and he had some sad news for he had 13 wheels and various car bits stolen including the appalling alloys on my Golf.  Not to worry though, he'd pulled the standard Golf steels that had pretty good tyres on off the estate in the yard and fitted them for me which meant I didn't need to source tyres or try and sell those nasty alloys.  Bonus for me.



The other thing he'd done was gone and fitted the entire interior for me.  Okay, I'll probably take the seats out again for cleaning, but it was nice that he'd gone to the extra trouble.  It's a nice interior too, or will be once I've cleaned the mould and staining off the cloth which shouldn't be too difficult.



At present, I expect it will fail on brake efficiency and maybe some blown bulbs.  I haven't been able to find any rot beyond the odd superficial arch blister in the usual places, the sills look solid and it's clearly had money thrown at it fairly recently in its life.


The goal is to return this to a GL spec cabrio and while I must admit I do like the blue it's been resprayed in, I might return it to the metallic graphite it came from the factory in.  A cream or grey vinyl roof will most likely replace what looks to be the original black vinyl roof which is tatty in the usual places and I may replace the suspension with something a bit more standard.


Bumpers will be refurbished, I'll get the headlight washers - luxury! - working if they don't and be perpetually baffled by the fact this car has an automatic choke and a carburettor.  In fact, this is the first car I've had that has an automatic choke, the BX doesn't count because I had to wait for glow plugs in that one.


Known faults:

> Sticking passenger door handle.

> Valve stem seals ready for replacement

> It's a Golf

> Needs a roof outer

> Needs front discs and possibly pads

> Dash has been badly resprayed

> Bumpers have been badly resprayed

> Might not have a parcel shelf, I haven't checked


When I get it back tomorrow I'll find out exactly what's working and what isn't and give it a jolly good clean.  The cabrios seem more resistant to rust than the hatchbacks for some reason, although not immune, so I'm not expecting any horrors as the key areas are quite solid looking.


For the price I've paid I feel like I'm getting a bit of a bargain but I'm aware it will need quite a bit of cosmetic work.  The guy selling it specialises in Mk1 Golfs and has been surprisingly honest about what to look out for, what faults and good points the car has and has been very open about the vehicle and its history and why he bought it.  It's one of those transactions that feels like we're both winning out of it because he gets the bits he wants and space for another car and I get the bits I want and a lightweight project to put into daily use.


I won't know until I get it back exactly how bad it is, but since you can buy almost everything for the Mk1 Golf brand new at not-too-ridiculous prices - in the main because they were still making them in South Africa until something like 2003 - I doubt I'm going to struggle particularly with it.


That's that then, project de-barry is going to be underway as of tomorrow.

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Fair play that looks ok and your de-chaving exercise is to be applauded. I shall look forward to further posts about this car.

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I just discovered it should have grey plastic bumpers.  This means that the hint of grey plastic I saw under the bad paint on the bumpers will be restored and not blacked so everyone can tell me how I need to get some boiled linseed on them.

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Yeah VWs of the era tended to have quite light plastic trim which makes them look odd if you spray them black or use any blackener.


Wheels look immensely better to start with. Headlight washers are dead good, my Scirocco had them and they were very high pressure, should have a 9L washer bottle to cope.


Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk 4 Beta



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That's nice, VA. Keep an eye on ebay for a roof, as there are usually some being broken on there. Also join the Mk1 Golf forum, as there can be loads of good cheap bits on there. http://vwgolfmk1.org.uk/index.php Also worth advertising any bits that you remove on there too. Could get you a couple of quid back.


The roof can be changed alone, but it's a bit heavy and awkward, so best done with a friend for help. That trim looks like a Clipper, which has the same style of seat as the GTi, but in different cloth. Pleasant place to sit. Also, like others have said, check the fuel filler neck, as they like to rot, and make sure the clutch is fairly free, as the cables can pull through the bulkhead. Don't think there's much you can't get from GSF or Euro Car Parts for these, and it's mostly pretty cheap.Otherwise, they're a simple thing, and very nice. Can only appreciate in value, too.


Keep us posted, VA.

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clutch travel seemed smoother than the BX and lighter than the Princess so I'm guessing that'll be good.  Weird having such a tight gear change, I've grown used to pudding stirrers, so I suspect there's probably a half decent clutch in it.  I'm already on the Mk1 Golf forum and the eagle eyed will notice one of their air fresheners or something hanging from the rear view mirror so I guess it must have been a club member's car at some point.  Fuel filler area seemed okay, but I couldn't check the neck where it is, that will get looked at as I know they rot for fun.


A new outer in vinyl is between £170 and £200 depending where you get it from and I think I'll probably go for vinyl rather than mohair because I think I actually prefer the look of the vinyl over the mohair, even though it's apparently nowhere near as good.  By the looks of things the vinyl that's on is the original and if so, it's lasted 29 years and still holds water out in the most part so I think with care I can get a vinyl outer to give me decent mileage.

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omg not ratluk!!!11111!!!!!111


if the carb is pierburg throw it at a scenesters face asap


conrad - joking right


dont clean it (too much) get it down the road tasting tarmac

 and omg no roofrack :D


needs rabbit badges :D

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Brakes will be utter shite [they always are] you're already a winnah if the clutch cable/bulkhead arrangement is sound.I assume it's a manual roof, and not an electric one. If so, give every joint in the folding mechanism a good go with ye olde WD 40 before attempting to lower it. The steering weight will be vastly improved by steelies and narrow tyres. They hever fitted PAS to these, and they are heavy.

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I just had a quick look on Ebay and Autotrader to see whether those could have first-car potential for daughter #1.

Honestly, I hitherto never realised that unmonged examples are virtually non-existent.

You seem to have found an example with great potential and with your plans with it you have earned my respect, Sir.

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Right, chums and chumettes, it is update time!


Today, my brother, Dad and I went to collect the Golf.  We met up with the vendor and he was superbly helpful with getting the roof down which he'd already applied penetrating oil to the hinges and pivots of.  He'd also replaced a brake line - I checked, he has, he's also freshly waxoyled the floor pan - since one had got damaged when the alloys were nicked.  We all set off back and apart from a little hiccup when Dad's unplanned route change saw the Golf panic and put all its brakes on without any drama, we got back safe and sound to the drive of much chod.


Before any cleaning or anything was done it was picture time.  Look at the state of this, just superb.




 Who needs rear visibility anyway?



Tis a bit mucky, but then it's spent 3 years outside near a workshop.



You could scrape the black paint off the bumper with your thumbnail so I'm going to take a green scourer and hot water to them to persuade them to go back to grey.



The paint has a few areas in need of attention, I'm really divided on my approach to the paint as I love the blue respray colour more than the original VW hue.



Above one of the roof patches water has been running down this window for the past few years.  Terrible.



Roll bar isn't too shabby, I've certainly seen worse foams.



Bringing the car back with the roof down was a good idea, it's freshened up the interior somewhat with no effort involved.



Still got the golf ball, and I have a radio that'll drop into that hole nicely.  Not massively keen on the steering wheel, but it's difficult to find anything I like better.



Nobody in the club has owned up to being a previous owner yet.


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Going to have to update in stages here, lots of pictures from today, we spent pretty much all day out tinkering and prodding and cleaning.


So, roof back up to show you just how bad it is.  I reckon this is the original roof fitted by Karmann 29 years ago, it doesn't look tampered with and while it's tired it does also mean it's complete including the padding and webbing straps that so often disappear when a new roof outer is fitted.



Faded, or just filthy?



Snug enough up front, it's not too horrible inside with the roof up thanks to the grey interior it now has.



One of several patches which, by the look of them, are made using parts of the old tonneau cover that's long gone.  Roof doesn't leak here until you open the door and it drips on the door bolster.  It also puts that stain down the passenger window.





Quite a long split in the rear corner here, but the patch is needlessly and comically oversized.  The patch also still has velcro on the back lending credence to it being ex-tonneau cover.



Scruffy.  This arch is starting to go on the rear trailing quarter, but it's not serious yet.  I'll get a repair panel for it.



So, One of my first jobs was to get scrubbing that vinyl to see just how watertight it was and what sort of condition it was in.  Used water and Autoglym shampoo with a plastic bristled floor scrubbing brush.  Brown-grey water came off in droves and the roof came back black very quickly.  After a go over the vinyl with Autoglym Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner I ended up with something that look considerably more respectable if still tatty.  I was frankly astonished about this.








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Both rear arches are a bit on the tatty side and will need repairing eventually but not yet, they'll be okay for MoT.






The chrome sill strips were kept back by the buyer and he was going to fit some black ones as a replacement but this had been forgotten.  I will pop in and find out if I can get a set off him, I don't mind if not in all honesty as I think it looks pretty smart without them.



Stripped out some of the interior and my suspicions of it being resprayed over the original colour were confirmed when I found that the back of certain items are dark brown, as are some of the deeper recesses.  I think I'll be sticking with a grey as my interior colour, but it gives me a quandary about the brown trim as that's not exactly common.



Fluffy black carpets were smelly and mossy and I think they're from a hatchback as they don't fit exactly right in the cabrio.






I haven't shampooed these, just vacuumed them to freshen them up and get the worst of the muck off so they can go back in



Took a snap of the shockingly sound floors hiding under the carpet and seats.  There's nothing to be done here at all as far as I can tell.



One small patch of bubbles under the rear seat bench of no concern that I might go back and patch one day, but it's solid enough for MoT.


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So after assessing what was what it was on to some repairs.  The hood didn't fold properly, the brackets holding the rear screen frame were at least partially seized and we needed to find out why.  So very quickly out with the rear screen.



Plenty of little flakes of rust around the frame, but mostly okay.



Ah, that would be part of the problem.  That and a completely seized pivot on this hinge.  We've tried heat, hammers and tools to try and free it off so we're now trying to soak it in vinegar for a bit.  The screen frame will likely need to be replaced when I put the new hood on, but in the meantime it'll be fine.



Other side is crusty, but solid.



After refitting the rear window and checking it was leak free we checked that the roof could still be put up and down safely, which it can.  So that'll do for now and we know what needs fixing.  The next thing to investigate is why the bodywork didn't clean up after being cleaned.  Turns out everything has grey/white overspray on it.  This is the paint after a bit of T-Cut work.



Wing on the left, T-Cut'd bonnet on the right.



After some more T-Cut and then finer G3 compound we had it looking something like.  The colour is a superb sometimes-blue, sometimes-purple that looks amazing when it's cleaned up which is why I'm so torn about reverting to the original Graphite or keeping this resprayed colour.



Those leaks?  Mainly in two places.  One is because of the strange way the driver's door window sits and the other from the seal at the top of the A pillar, which means only the driver really gets wet.  I'm not sure what's causing both things.





Finally, we popped a front wheel off to find out what was going on with the brakes.  The caliper had become completely seized so after some jiggery pokery that was freed off.  Then... well then it was time to finish.


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But not today.  Princess is back on taxi duty tomorrow as Dad's getting something sorted on his Ohmygod, I'll see how I feel about tinkering with the Golf then.


There are now known problems with the car, as follows:

> Only the speedo and the clock work in the dash.  Lights, temperature gauge, fuel gauge and rev counter all don't work, not sure why yet.

> Sticky brakes.  This is probably due to being laid up for 3 years outside.  The brake pedal doesn't always return.

> Idling issue when cold - could be an issue with the automatic choke, the carburettor or something else entirely.

> It's a Golf

> Looks like I'm missing some air ducting under the bonnet, but not sure what exactly.  Seem to not have an air filter.

> Spotlights aren't wired up properly

> Gear selection is sometimes good, sometimes very vague about what gear has been selected.  No crunching or sensations of a bad box so this might be down to lack of use.  I seem to recall the Polo gearbox improved drastically with use over a few hundred miles.

> Fan stays on for a long time.  This might be a dodgy plug, or the hot weather, or the engine temperature, or a combination of all three.

> Oil smoke out the exhaust.  Much reduced since collecting the car, but we suspect it's likely the valve stem seals.

> Roof needs attention.

> Bit of rear arch rust.

> Filthy.


So... I don't reckon that's too shabby really.

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