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1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI VR6 - New Kids On The Block

Just Three Months After Its Opening, Phantom Autowerke Impacts The VW Scene With This Flawless Mk2 Golf GTI VR6.

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The Best of Waterfest 2009
1991 VW GTI

Walking through the vendor row at Waterfest 15, it's easy to start seeing things with a jaded eye. Many of the cars follow similar trends and soon everything can begin to look the same. That was until we came across Phantom Autowerke's booth. All we could do was stop and stare.

Co-owners of Phantom, Anthony Foster and Chris Carrea, along with lead tech Loucio Davella debuted their bread 'n butter project - this '91 VW GTI. This Mk2 stopped everybody in their tracks with its glorious engine bay and hardcore old-school flavor. To our surprise, the friends-turned-business partners only started Phantom in April '09, just three months before the show.

"We're a startup shop from Westchester County, NY," Anthony stated. "We have a background in autobody and mechanics. So we'll do anything from a full-blown restoration or show car, all the way down to regular maintenance."

"We acquired the car as a running GTI 8v without a sunroof. So we stripped it down and sandblasted it inside and out to repair the rust. In fact, the engine bay has about 175 man hours in it." And after seeing the bay, you can immediately appreciate the time and craftsmanship that went into it.

Phantom began by fabricating plates to cover the chassis rails. Every hole was then welded over and smoothed. The shock towers were also tidied up.

Phantom continued by deleting as much as possible to give the bay its heavenly form. The coolant bottle was thrown out, along with the rain tray, air conditioner, EGR and air pump. The ECU was relocated under the passenger's airbag panel on the Mk3 dash, where it's hooked up to an actuator so the team can easily reach it. Then the alternator was relocated to where the A/C used to be.

Good luck finding any loose wires because everything was run through the rails. "Every wire was cut or extended to reach the ECU and is the perfect length to reach wherever its components are," Anthony explained.

A slightly used 2.8 liter VR6 12v was sourced and built from the ground up. Going all-motor, 10.5:1 JE pistons bumped displacement to 3.0 liters. Crower rods, new crank bearing, heavy-duty valve springs and titanium valve retainers ensured the motor would survive plenty of abuse.

For improved airflow, Schrick 268° cams opened the top-end, while a modified Schrick intake manifold improved the powerband. The cylinder head was port and polished before bigger valves and throttle body were added to the mix.

On the exhaust side, Genie headers were matched to a Techtonics 2.25" stainless cat-back exhaust. A custom MSD ignition setup, Samco coolant hoses and Russell nylon braided fuel lines with welded AN-fittings finished the motor.

For the tranny, a Corrado five-speed was fitted with a Centerforce clutch, Autotech lightweight flywheel and Quaife limited-slip.

Before mounting the rejuvenated motor and tranny into the chassis, Phantom had some show-stopping touches, which included painting the intake manifold, brake booster, alternator and subframe, as well as the trans, head and block. The attention to detail can even be seen in the bolts, where everything was changed to polished steel.

The intake manifold and valve cover also showcase custom airbrushing, which Phantom executed in-house. "We just tried to do something different. Bring it back to the old school," explained Anthony.

The all-motor VR6 is estimated to put down 235whp and is arguably the most extravagant element of the car, but the exterior is equally outlandish. As previously mentioned, rust had damaged the body and there was some rear-end damage that couldn't be fixed. So the team took several months to lock down brand new bumpers, fenders, doors, hatch and moldings.

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