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Project Status

On-going SpitfireEFI Development


Under Construction

Running Gear

Under Construction


The Build

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'87 16v Turbo GTI


This '87 16v GTI started as a daily driver a few years ago after being purchased in completely stock form from the previous owner, who rescued the car from a field. The car was driven around for almost 2 years and served its purpose well enough as a daily driver. Slowly though, the naturally aspirated performance of the 16v became less and less exciting. The GTI was gutted and basic engine modifications were done. However, this only quelled the need for more performance for a short time.

As more and more of the interior and creature comforts were removed, it was obvious the car was quickly becoming less usable as a commuter. When it came time to finally take it off of daily road duty, an engine suitable for a weekend driver had to be built to complement the stripped interior. A 16v turbo was chosen as the new power plant, and work began on sourcing parts and preparing the car. Over the course of the next year the engine was built and installed, and the project finally became road worthy.

After experimentation with factory Volkswagen fuel management proved fruitless, the new motor was rewired for MegaSquirt and Spark with a v2.2 ECU. Due to the car's limited use during cold weather, most of the tuning focused on full throttle high RPM performance and proper timing under boost. Fuel economy and cold starts at or below freezing were not as high on the priority list, as the car rarely leaves the garage during wet Northwest winters.

The list of engine modifications includes a Garrett T3/T4 hybrid turbo, 42# injectors, a muffler-less 3" exhaust from the turbo back, and the intercooler from a Mitsubishi Starion hidden behind the grill. The car weighs in at just below 1-ton wet, 1980lbs to be exact, while still carrying the factory glass and a stock passenger seat. Currently the GTI has factory chassis wiring and a custom harness for the MegaSquirt. However, plans are underway to remove all the wiring currently in the car and integrate the engine and chassis harnesses into one more compact unit. This should complement the stripped interior and help to shed a few more pounds. The 8.2:1 compression ratio can make this car a bit tedious to drive in heavy traffic, though with some improvements in the ignition map the off boost drivability has been increased. Currently the GTI has its stock 16v AGB 5 speed with a basic shim kit, and a Sachs clutch and pressure plate. Surprisingly this combination proved adequate for Autocross use when the car was running only 6 pounds of boost. Nevertheless, the clutch has begun to show its age at 10psi. Because of this, plans are underway to install a more robust clutch and pressure plate, along with a limited slip during a rebuild of the tired stock transmission.

Originally, this GTI was meant to be a fun back road car, a part time Autocrosser, as well as something to travel to Volkswagen meets with. However, the current plan is to shift the car more toward drag racing. This change was caused by a desire to continue turning up the boost, as we quickly realized that the power delivery of the new motor didn't lend itself well to Autocrossing.

With the focus now on quarter mile performance, we hope to test new launch control strategies and continue to tune the engine. Keep checking in for updates as this car gets even lighter and we keep turning up the boost.