Car’s, like people, evolve over time. Build’s grow, modifications become wilder and reputations soar. To many of us, the internet has become the go-to place to get an overload of forum Build Threads, Instagram posts detailing every nut and bolt or even dedicated online video series’ all allowing the masses to watch on as yet another PetrolHead dumps their own money into a labour of love. The likelihood is that we may only physically see the finished product out of the digital world and in the flesh at a large show or event, but on the flip side there are always the select few local car’s who’s evolution can be tracked in frequent passing glances. This Golf is definitely one of these cars.
Growing up in Cork City through the middle of the recession, the car scene was certainly there, but so too was a distinct sense that every conversation was verging on going down the route of “It used to be soo much busier” or “All the best cars are gone now”. That’s natural, that with time people hanker for what isn’t there anymore, but us new breed continued to do our thing. Toyota’s ruled our lives, with the local Topaz liable to see an influx of up to 15 of the brands finest on a Friday night with everything from my Corolla Gti through Glanza’s, Levin’s and all else. Around the City, cheap affordable JDM goodies ruled the streets, but there was always a mysterious Black Golf roaming.
The car, in it’s first guise, was hard to miss. Personally, I’ll always have my head turned by the MK1 shape as I’m an freak for all things old-skool, and so the sight of those distinctive lines was enough to lure me in. To other’s, the bright red BBS mesh wheels were certainly eye catching. Parked around the City and in other locations, I often passed feeling admiration for the mystery man doing things soo differently to the rest of us, keeping things real and doing so with style. Over time, the car changed. These changes wern’t seen on a screen, but with each passing glance subtle differences became obvious. And then I met the man behind the creation, and became aware of just how potent this machine was, and would ultimately become.
It was the Sunday of Dubshed 2016 when I was introduced to Ronan Hickey. Waking up incredibly hungover and having slept on a hotel room floor, I was asked if I had room for a stragler to take to the show. My little 106 was in full anti social form at the time with little in the way of interior, smelled strongly of fuel and was covering as a make shift van carrying all manner of ex-works Peugeot goodies. Effectively a single seater, a bearded man managed to somehow fit in the passenger seat with the flexibility of a Gymnast, head pinned about 6 inches from the windscreen thanks to a pair of bumpers for a car not much longer than it is wide. This was Ronan MK1, the man behind that Golf I’d seen for soo long and now here we were talking pure shite about cars driving around siuth Belfast headed for the show. Plans were forged to get photo’s taken, but thankfully the 14 month wait allowed the car to hit peak evolution.
Now on a set of Ronal Turbo wheels and sporting a seriously aggressive and uber-rare Foha front splitter, the car really felt more shouty then I had remember from years ago. With very little in the way of body modifications, it made it even clearer just how good a job the boys with the pencils did in Wolfsburg when drawing that now iconic shape. Finished in that sumptuous VW Schwartz black paint, the MK1 just seemed to shout ‘look at me’. After the show, I finally got to see the car I suppose ‘in the wild’, to hear the racious exhaust roar, to smell it’s dumps of un-burnt fuel and to experience the immense task of trying to keep up with it along a back road.. It seemed fitting for a guy who always wanted to stand out from the typical JDM crowd, that one of the best reactions to the car I ever saw was when it gatecrashed a local Japanese Car meet!!
Over last winter, I’d heard that the car was undergoing a change of look, but when I saw the first teaser images, my inner motorsport geek was intrigued. Emulating historic race liveries has become a thing of late among the VW show scene, with countless iconic colour schemes seeing modern twists on all manner of German metal. Here though, this is no spin on a household style, but a complete detailed reproduction of the GTI Engineering Group 2 race car campaigned by Peter Lloyd in 1979. Finished to an incredible standard by Seamus Walsh in Moose Design, this truly was the icing on what was in reality an incredibly executed cake.
A quick meet up in a local car park allowed me to see the end product first, but it just wasn’t enough. A few quick pics blew up online, so reality hit that I really needed to pull the finger out and get a proper shoot done on the VW. Initial thoughts were veering towards using a local Kart Track, but things spiraled. Suddenly, the shoot became my very first feature shoot for a massive Car Magazine in Performance VW simply by a few chancing-my-arm email’s, and before I’d fully processed things, two weeks later I stood in the paddock of Mondello Park, deserted bar our little cohort including the E34 BMW already featured here and the Golf. This was dream material, mainly as my utterly dreadful Alfa Romeo actually made it (and yes it was on an AA truck the next morning), to have all this to ourselves to create automotive art.
As I already mentioned, the car’s exterior is totally original bar the wheel’s and splitter, but step inside and it’s a world apart. Ronan was a former Kart racer, and a quick one at that, so a love of motorsport has fed through into the cabin. A pair of beefy Recaro bucket seat’s grab the headlines straight away, the driver’s one in particular being a full wrap-around piece, but are added to by a Weickers half-cage to add to incredibly chassis stiffness. Ably assisted by a complete set of Poly-bushes all round and BC Racing coil-overs, the car sit’s with purpose, and even at speed remains flat with all the required agility to justify the safety additions. Nestled in place, the other main practicalities are special aswell, with the steering controlled by a small Momo steering wheel, yet it’s between the two occupants that a bit of engineering-porn sits.
Milled from Billet Aluminium, CAE have become famous for producing some of the most eye-catching gear shifters around. Looking like a sequential, this ultra close shifting unit not only cost an eye-watering amount, but is simply beautiful to look at. Mated to a standard 5-speed box, the gears click through with immense speed and are often accompanied with loud bangs of fuel out of the hand built stainless steel exhaust. The driving gloves are a gentle reminder that while this car can strut with the best on the show floor, it is was for simple driving pleasure that it came to be.
For how cool the whole things look externally, pop the bonnet and watch jaw’s drop. Where a humble 8v engine once sat, now resides a G60 Supercharged lump. The blower itself is a G-Werks unit, while the engine has been treated to all manner of goodies including a Large Port Head, Schrick Cam’s and Covers and an all-new ECU. Add launch control into the mix and this little car certainly doesn’t hang about, ever further cementing the need for the safety gear loaded inside. Being a welder by trade, much of the piping is both home-made and exquisite, while the lashing’s of gold insulating foil just finish off the bay to a tee.
For a car that took almost 10 year’s of evolution to get to this point, there was a distinctive sense of closure. Although the old saying is that a project car is never done, to Ronan it was. He had brought the MK1 as far as he wanted, and it was time for a change of scenery. About a month after the shoot, as is the way soo often in the car world, the MK1 had been stripped of many parts and was on it’s way to a new owner. And as for the change of scenery, well that changed aswell, and who can go to OZ these days when there’s and uber-rare MK2 Golf after landing in the shed…..and a 3.2 VR6. Ya, you might want to stay tuned for that build thread!!!
Hi, I’m Marty and I’m the founder and owner of Freshfix. It’s not unknown between my friends and family that I change my cars more than my boxers! Writing this post makes me realize that they may be right about that. Let’s go back to 2007 when I had just turned 17 and passed my driving test and it was time to buy my first car. I had spent years dreaming of my first car being a Jap import or something fast. I was lucky enough to have friends who were older than me and would own these very cars – I just wanted my own. Well, lets just say that didn’t really go to plan. To cut a long story short I was roped into buying a 2003 Ford Fiesta 1.4 TDCI….even typing this has sent shivers down my spine.
That car lasted 3 days, yes 3 days! I absolutely hated it and went straight to the bank and took out a €4,000 loan to go get a car I really wanted, or thought I wanted! A close friend was selling his Glanza non-turbo, but for me it was still €2,500 for insurance. You can see the only picture I have above, I loved the car, it was clean, loud and I felt like one of the LADZ, that was until one morning before school I used the remote start to warm it up before getting out of bed. A massive bang followed by the alarm going off which revealed the car was left in gear the night before and had crashed into the front of the house! I had to replace the bonnet and front bumper and got a massive bollocking off my folks!
At a time when the scene was massive and if it wasn’t a SIR or Type R, well people just didn’t think it was cool or good enough. I always liked the Honda Ek Civic but sadly couldn’t afford a SIR or TYPE R and never mind the insurance. The closest I could get was the 1.5 engined EK3 – a fresh import too! This was the first car I spent a crazy about of money on changing it around and trying to get it up to the EK9 standard without actually changing the engine. I had it for about a year and a half and sold it on to a guy who eventually stuck the Type R heart into it. I came across it recently on the Honda Page on facebook before a track day only to be told it was written off on the way to the track day.
Que the sticker bomb era and yes I did go with it. I picked up my first car with VVTI. This was a fun car with the two stages but trying to feed this car the petrol it required was tough so it didn’t hang around too long.
One of my favorite cars to date was my Mk4 TDi which was remapped and produced roughly 300Ft-lbs of torque, it did everything I needed at the time and had the heated leather Recaro’s from the Anniversary model. I used to contact the guy I sold it to from time to time, asking to buy it back but he never would sell it! When I sold my Mk5 golf in 2016 the buyer actually owned this car and he still wouldn’t sell it!!
This is one of my spur of the moment ‘lets buy this’ cars. It was a 1.6D with a k24 turbo strapped onto it. It ran like a pig but was funny and just turned heads. Again I didn’t keep it for too long. Check out this video of it on the dyno! SMOKE AHOY!
My first ever RWD car and the car which caused me to capture that dam track day virus! I bought this while in college for €5750 I think from Darren Mc Namara (Dmac) in Cork. it had no interior whatsoever and a roll cage and was in good need of some TLC in the engine bay and interior. The good thing about the Ae85 at the time was I could get it under classic insurance. We agreed to do the deal based on the fact it would go through the NCT. Months passed and I had finally got the text to say the car was ready for collection. I didn’t spend much on making it look pretty more just drove it and even learned how to do a few skids with the help of the Dealtwidth crew.
I used this car while in college along with the Ae86. This was the sensible car for roughly two years and brought me around Ireland meeting people while doing work for FreshFix. Nothing fancy at all with this car, a set of JOM coilovers and fake BBS wheels. This ended up getting stolen from the new owner only weeks after getting it from me.
At the point, I started working in the motor trade and had some spare cash built up. I would never have dreamed of owning a French car but this grabbed my attention and was extremely fun to drive. It has really short ratios and stuck to the road like glue. It was so much fun I went left out the gate to Mondello one morning instead of work and just called in sick. It was strange showing up to the track day in a suit and tie.
I loved these so much I bought two! Well, one came up in the trade for very cheap so I couldn’t say no. I later sold both of them to recoup some cash as the Motorsport bug had bitten.
Talk about drinking fuel! My Evo 7 was the first proper performance car. It was remapped to 350bhp and was mighty fun to slide around in the wet. I still see this around coming home from work.
I saw this online for sale and called the insurance to see what the story was. I was able to get insured and bought it that day. The guy actually selling it worked in the same motor group as me funnily enough. This was a mega car and my first real bite at the V-Tec cherry, it ended up going to Spain in the end.
I caught the Motorsport bug and found myself competing in the Mondello Park Fiesta championship in 2015, I bought this car ready to race and spent little or nothing on it all year. I would go on to learn the in’s and out’s of Motorsport pretty quickly but also take home the rookie championship. It was also the start of a serious Motorsport addiction!
Still working in the motor trade at this point I needed something with power but also not drawing too much attention from the po-po. It was a nice car but too many things rattled and bugged me with it. Still, wouldn’t stop me owning one again. The guy who bought this off me owned my Mk4 still.
It was like going back in time with the Ek3. This time I built it from the ground up myself to compete in the Future Classic Racing Series. I had a good start to the season in 2016 but ended up with only doing 5 out of the 10 rounds. I sold this to the guys at Trackdays.ie and bought ……
Yup, another civic but this time with a bit more bhp. This came up after my good friend David Cassidy was borrowing it to finish off his ITCC season. A lot went on with the car so to save me typing it all out you can visit the VLOG to see what went on. I still own this car.
I traveled to Cork twice for this car, I also had IDC driver Mike Fitz check the car out for me before I made the trip down – goes to show how much people will go out of the way to help you – Thanks, Mike! I first went down and agreed on a price, I was left standing at the petrol station with no response or anything from the seller after he had to go “home” for the logbook. Long story short a friend had to buy the car for me. I got a towbar fitted and this brings me and my race car everywhere, it’s also good to sleep two people, the perfect all-rounder in my eyes. I still own this car and decided that when it breaks down majorly I will change it….its just clocked 178k miles and still no signs of that going to happen.
Believe it or not, I left out a good few cars that were more of a run about than something I truly enjoyed….
See you next week doc for the next session?