What do you get when you take parts from a GTI, Jetta and Corrado from different generations and mix them together? Well, if you worked in Dave Malesky's garage on his 1988 GTI 1.8 16v, the answer is a huge smile on your face and the ability to turn knuckles white at any moment.
Like a modern day Dr Frankenstein, Malesky has been working for years to transform his formerly Alpine white GTI into a stunning green monster with a serious powerplant beneath the hood.
Dave Malesky is no stranger to the VW game. He picked up the Mk2 after owning a '66 Beetle, '74 Super Beetle and, more recently, a Mk4 GTI. So When Malesky chose another VW it seemed like business as usual, but this build was anything but ordinary.
"I installed fire sprinklers but started to get bad arthritis," he said, "so I took a part-time job at a junkyard, just for a goof." That part-time pocketmoney ended up full-time, and Malesky worked there for three years.
During that time, he was driving an S10 Blazer. "I was looking for something more economical," he said. After a brief spell in a $65 '84 Jetta GLI, he finally picked up his '88 Mk2. With 300,000 miles on the clock "it started out as the wife's car," he told us. It ran fine for a few years but wear and tear started to get the better of it.
"Everything was wearing out and the car seemed to be on its last legs," he laughed. But salvation came in the form of a wrecked '99 Mk3 Jetta Wolfsburg he picked up for $600, and a few words of encouragement from friend Jay Lehrmann.
The mad scientist got to work, swapping anything and everything into his GTI, including the 2.slow ABA motor and trans. "It was something I'd never do again," he said, describing the dash swap after he rewired everything, making sure the Mk3 harness functioned properly. When all was said and done, the dash fitted snugly and everything worked like new, even the AC.
Focusing on the exterior, he bought some rare JDM Stern six-spoke wheels, color-matched to the body. The rear panel was smoothed and the rear wiper deleted, the owner welding the hole closed. Big bumpers were then fitted and all the textured plastic trim pieces were sprayed gloss black. A dual round headlamp grille was later added, along with tinted tails and markers.
"I was gonna repaint it white, but Jay suggested it should be green," he told us. However, Dave's wife Diane vetoed the specific color Jay had suggested: "That's one of the ugliest greens on earth," she told her husband.
After more searching, Malesky found a shade they both liked, Salsa green. Alone in his garage, Dave stripped the car to its shell and began the daunting task of respraying it without a proper booth. The result was a truly unique Mk2, one that can just as easily snap its passengers' necks as other motorists'.
But where the car really shines, where Dave's eyes light up, is under the hood. A mechanic for six years, and an employee at Nothing Leaves Stock in Coopersburg, PA, Malesky eventually grew weary of the 2.0 8v motor and yearned for more power. So he pieced together a turbo kit using parts from all over the Internet.
When it came time to build the engine, Dave ditched a T3 turbo he'd found in favor of a Turbonetics T3/TO4B "S" trim unit. At the same time, he threw in a 268° Techtonics cam, which was later replaced by an Autotech Sport 270° cam to restore some low-end response.
As a precaution he installed a Corrado tranny and Spec stage 3 clutch. The car ran hard at 18psi boost, but Malesky noticed torque steer was becoming a problem. "It wanted to steer all over the place," he told us. But it didn't last long because the transmission exploded. "Third gear literally disintegrated," he laughed.
After sourcing another O2A transmission from a Passat 16v, fate was finally on his side. Autotech released its Wavetrac differential and Dave became one of the first people to run it in his Mk2. "It solved all the torque steer and traction problems," he confirmed.
Mk3 dash, racing seats and color-matched Bride steering wheel update interior nicely
Beneath the hood, turbocharged 2.0 8v puts down 320whp
With one problem resolved, another appeared. "I bought an 034EFI standalone online but it didn't seem to work," he lamented. Fortunately, he was able to understand the problems and get the engine switched over to the standalone engine management. "It ran well for a while," he reported, until he burnt the bridge in the head between cylinders three and four. Undeterred, he got another head, bolted it together and was again ready to hit the road.
And hit the road he did. Malesky's passion for power resulted in 320whp and 329 lb-ft of torque at 25psi - fast enough to toy with most cars on the road. "Acceleration? It's got plenty!" he told us. "It'll spin the tires in third gear at any speed." Malesky even has his rear defrost switch connected to his boost controller to take it from 10 to 24psi. "You can be driving it hard, hit the fun switch and the tires immediately start spinning."
Always looking to feed the need for speed, Dave has more plans for the car. "Better suspension is needed; something that's fully adjustable," he told us. "I'd like to take some driving lessons as well so I can use it on track days. I don't have a lot of free time but you never know..." Who knows what else the next phase of this build will bring, but if it's anything like what we've seen so far, people will stand up and take note.
1988 VW GTI
Owner: David Malesky
Location: Coopersburg, PA
Occupation: owner - Summit Signs, consultant - Nothing Leaves Stock
Engine: 1999 OBD2 ABA 2.0 four-cylinder with Turbonetics T3/TO4B "S" trim turbo with a stage 2 exhaust wheel in .63 five-bolt exhaust housing, PSI cast exhaust manifold with external wastegate flange, TiAL 38mm wastegate with 12psi spring, air-pressure regulator used as boost controller, custom Mk4 2.0 short-runner intake manifold, OBD1 Autotech 270° cam with Techtonics adjustable cam gear, underdrive pulley, 034EFI stage 1C management, 034Motorsport coil, Delphi 85# low-impedance injectors, stacked Victor Reinz head gaskets, ARP non-undercut head studs, 3'' stainless downpipe into 3''exhaust with cat welded around it, 18'' Magnaflow center resonator, Magnaflow muffler with dual tips, 2.5'' stainless front-mount intercooler, Mk3 radiator, cooling system, fuel tank and hoses, painted G60 valve cover,
Drivetrain: 02A transmission with Autotech Wavetrac diff, Spec stage 3 clutch, 11 lb flywheel, BFI stage 5 rear engine mount, custom solid front mount, G60 trans mount
Brakes: 10.1'' front rotors and spindles, Corrado master cylinder
Suspension: Weitec 40/40 Cup kit, ABD billet lowering spring caps, Eibach strut brace, Autotech HollowTech sway bar
Wheels & Tires: 16x6.5'' Stern wheels, 215/40 R16 Kumho Ecsta tires
Exterior: smoothed rear panel seams, rear wiper and trunk release delete, dual-round headlamp grille, tinted tail lights and markers, textured plastic parts sprayed gloss black, car painted DuPont Salsa green
Interior: Mk3 Jetta Wolfsburg dash, steering column, heater box, wiring harness and AC, Corrado pedals, color-matched Bride steering wheel, CUC Racing seats on Scirocco sliders, chrome Volvo sunroof handle, Mk3 electric trunk release and switch, upper and lower gloveboxes, rear window defrost switch wired to boost regulator
Audio/Visual: Kenwood CD/MP3 head unit, 2.5'' Kicker dash speakers, 5.5'' Polk door speakers, 12'' sub, two amps THANKS: Diane, Jay and Nicole, Josh at NLS, Jeff and Chris at C2 Motorsports, Autotech Sport Tuning