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Golf GTI Project

My original starter post on the Club GTI Forum

Wow, back in January of 2014 when I decided to replace the 1.8 injected engine in a Mk1 Golf GTI cabrio. I learnt a hell of a lot that year, I’ll dig out some pictures soon and add them.


“Hi all,

This is my build thread, firstly I have to thank all those that have contributed to the 2L conversion thread here (See the Technical, Engines, 8V section of the forum) which got me started on this and then to Danster and Chris Eyre for their help, time and patience in developing this conversion to a cross flow with carbs. Finally to Mr Hillclimber for his regular help, patience and encouragement.

I’ve got a thread running on JMRacing and here, I’ve not been able to keep up all so will update this thread only and when finished write everything up and post on both. Thanks to everyone on all thee forums that have helped so far.

I should make it clear that all of the following is written by a relative novice so please forgive any strange terminology, I know what I mean 😉

Where possible I will try to split things up into the basic facts about the engine -v- the other additional changes I’ve decided to make on the basis of “it would be silly not to” whilst the engine is out and other changes I’ve decided to make which are not really part of the engine build. I’ve included these changes anyway as it’s part of by build not yours 😉

So where possible I will separate things into;

A – The carbs and cross flow build
B – Options for the cross flow build
C – Others options

So the start – My car is an 88 Golf Cabriolet GTI after the clutch went and there was “mayo” in the oil filler cap (emulsified oil – water and oil mixed never a good thing!!) which indicated possible head gasket. So faced with these problems I decided if there’s to be a lot of work done I’d look at the 2L conversion.

TIP – If you see mayo in the oil check the oil cooler, just above the oil filter mine had gone allowing water into the system (quite common I understand) so not the head gasket, an easy fix compared to a head gasket change!!!

A – The carbs and cross flow build

I got an AGG block (GOLF MK 3 GTI 2.0 8V 1995-1999, PASSAT 1995-1996, VENTO 1995-1997) for the conversion from Stevens (VW Breakers | Genuine Used VW Spares & Parts).

Easier if you buy a block / engine for this project with all the ancillaries!! – see page 3 re the alternator!

However I decided I’d like to go down the route of twin carbs. This is not in pursuit of heaps of power but more the desire for simplicity, being in my 50th years I guess I prefer my fuel air mixture to be prepared, mixed and delivered mechanically and without the aid of electronics, I’m not seeking to create an engine that will be king but maybe a prince amongst men 😉 Anyway you’ll go into any such conversion for your own reasons – Good luck!

You can fit carbs with the existing inlet so this is the first decision and one that has a cost attached, the cheapest option is to stick with what you’ve got.

I decided on seeing if a cross flow was possible as the clearance for say twin 45 at back of the engine is tight and the carbs will be drawing air very close to the bulkhead – Technically I don’t know if that makes any difference however hot air with no flow to the trumpets didn’t seem good to me. If someone wants to to have the debate re cold ram air induction please go ahead, however I’m working on the principle of cold air induction at the front of the engine = good.

The other option here is to go throttle bodies, someone else can tell you about that, just thought I’d mention it.

I’m not going to go into detail regarding the changes you need to make for the 2L conversion as it’s all covered in the thread below other than where I may have decided to got down a different route.

So for the cross flow, you’ll need;

AKL head (06B 103 373A) or OBD1 ABA heads imported from the US I believe there may be others, the AKL is from the MK4 1.6 8V. AKL head will require the front left and front right cylinder head bolt holes opened up to 12mm to allow the M11 head bolts to fit

Note – Mr Hillclimber tells me the AKL is a low flow head, blending the ports wasn’t sufficient it was necessary increase the overall port size and reshape the bowls.

New inlet manifold, JMR and possibly Roland in South Africa

Replace fuel pump with a facet or similar electric unit – check what fuel arrangement you have in your car. Mine had the pump, accumulator and filter just in front of the drivers side rear wheel. The original pump is in a foam housing, with some minor cutting you can get a facet pump in there as a direct replacement. You do need to bin the filter, accumulator. Its just fuel tank, facet, (new filter between tank and pump) new line back to the original metal line back to the engine bay, new line, another filter, regulator, carbs. Unless you have a return on yr carbs bin the old return and cap off the line into the tank.

Carburettors of choice I’ve got twin 45 Dellortos

Distributor – See the section below in page 2 you’ll need to keep to original DX dizzy but put the gear off a 2L dizzy on it and use an adapter ring.

You’re going to need to replace the exhaust manifold as the 2L block is taller and this extra height changes the angle of the downpipes, I’m presently looking at the Ashley 4-1 but it will need some rework

Note – If you’re not going to change the pulley then the AKL being an 06X type engine uses a different style cambelt and belt offset so you can remove the AKL cam pulley, belt tensioner and cam phase sensor, and use the pulley and tensioner form one of your counterflow heads. The belt tensioner stud may need swapped over depending on tensioner type.

Note / Tip – If you’re just doing an engine only build and leaving the loom in place wait until you’ve re installed the new engine it’ll become apparent which connectors are no longer needed as the injection unit etc will be gone! Get the new engine running than systematically remove the old wiring.

B – Options for the cross flow build

This one is highly recommended – With this build you will be changing the compression ratio or more specifically you have the option to optimise the compression ratio to create an engine with a decent power curve. However I DONT have the knowledge however got some help with this, Mr Hillclimber at JM Racing has been my guide and mentor 🙂 the following work was carried out;

Re seat the valves to increase the combustion chamber volume*
Skimmed off the “d” section on the top of the standard piston so the crowns are flat*
Then measure the exact volume of the combustion chamber in the head (using vasoline, a burette and some perspex – see pics below)
Measure the exact volume of the piston crown recess (same process as above)
Average out the TDC depth from the top of the block for the pistons use the rock method
Deck the block based on these calculations**

With this information an expert will be able to calculate what to remove from the block.

* Gosnays in Romford, Essex did the machine work for me including increasing the size of the two bolt holes in the head.

** Mr Hillclimber did the math, had 32 thou taken off the block

Other things to consider, I’m going to do all of these;

Fast road cam & vernier pulley – I’m having a Newman 272 fitted
Port the head – This is being done by JM Racing
Remove the expansion tank – Done
Remove the oil cooler take up and fit an oil rad – Don’t leave the water cooler on if you’re fitting a Mocal cut the pinion down and just have the Mocal take up.
Replace the radiator with an early MK1 top fill rad – I’ve decided to stick with an early MK1 top fill and move it as far over to the right as I can to get better airflow to the carbs. There’s lots of replacement options out there. BMW E30, Honda Civic, Vauxhall Corsa.
Keep the block breather, don’t blank it off use an oil catcher and let the head and block breath This is where I differ from the 2L conversion thread.

I’m adding these as B option items as, IMHO whilst the engine is out it’s worth considering, however I appreciate it’s all about , ;

Poly bush the steering rack, wishbones & ARB

C – Others options

All of the following are things I’ve decided to do with my build which are not specifically relate to the engine. Some / many are pure indulgence and driven by my desire for a nice clean looking engine bay, my choice so don’t judge, it’s going to make me happy albeit poorer 😉

Move the battery and washer bottle to the boot, cut out the battery tray and all the fittings etc for the expansion tanks etc
Rewire the ignition circuit
Remove the servo and brake linkage (what a monstrosity that is)
Fit a brake bias box (from HRCP) with Wilwood master cylinders (260-6087 0.625 for front 260-6088 0.700 for the rear) in the car.
Remove front and rear suspension, clean and paint, poly bushes
New wishbones and track rod ends
Eibach front and rear ARB
Gaz coilovers
Lower front brace (almost put this in B options, the MK1 needs the lower brace)
Replace brake lines
Goodridge braided hoses
Remove scuttle tray
Clean and respray engine bay

I’ll be amending and correcting this as I go and posting below some of the specific problems I’ve found along the way – Hope this helps and again thanks to all that have helped me so far!!


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