anjaloveshervw New Reader
Aug. 31, 2012 8:03 p.m.

So, she started out life as a normal 4-door VW rabbit. She was plain white with a sky-blue interior, stock wheels with hubcaps, rust in all of the right places, and... oh yeah... a naturally aspirated, 1.5 liter diesel, 40hp (at best), TIRED motor. Sure, I was 3,000 miles from home, but for some reason I felt the urge, at this point in my XC road trip, to sell my perfectly reliable, fast, fun, eggplant purple VR6 GTI and buy this... erm... rabbit. ... That had been sitting in a barn. ... For the last 8 years.

So, tell me again.... why was this a good idea, exactly?

Well....

Because this.

Photobucket

And this.

And this.

Photobucket

And this.

And all of those other, "DARN!, my rabbit: isn't running right/stranded me [insert horrible middle-of-nowhere place here] /won't run/stopped running/won't stop/won't shift/won't start/won't stop starting/is leaking fluid/is overheating/hates me today" moments that caused me to stop my entire life and figure out how to fix my car... as cheaply as possible... which meant me doing the work...

... which brings me to where I am today: a full set of tools, several manuals, and experience enough to give me the audacity to undertake any sort of maintenance or performance modification with my own, two, 25-year-old girly hands. BRING IT ON!!!!

So. My list of all-time-favorite-must-have-VWs consist of 5, 3 of which being ruled out as unreliable daily drivers, leaving only the mk1 rabbit and the Golf Country... so you see where my taste tends to lie (Yeah, I am a lemon magnet...).

I decided that the rabbit would be a cheaper option, and I could modify her heavily to come up with my own interpretation of what a mk1 "Rabbit Country" would look like. Enter the first stage of my Rabbit. (Oh, her name is "Gaia" by the way...)

GaiaRallyX

... Modified grill (fabricated by moi), modified rear bumper, rally light bar, 2" lift, Bilstein HDs and Mk3 struts (for height), a million different paint schemes, and engine modifications up the wazoo...

Okay, you get the idea. She is special. And different.

And now...................................

No longer diesel. No longer lifted.

What?

Just wait, be patient, and I will feed you all of the juicy details. It starts with my first AutoX in an 8V GTI, and a few Hillclimb events that I attended as merely a volunteer....

:) Stay posted!

DaveEstey Dork
Aug. 31, 2012 9:57 p.m.

Awesome. Looking forward to seeing this thing.

EvanB UberDork
Aug. 31, 2012 10:59 p.m.

You should try rallycross with it as well.

DoctorBlade SuperDork
Aug. 31, 2012 11:02 p.m.

This should be fun.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 1, 2012 11:11 a.m.
EvanB wrote: You should try rallycross with it as well.

GaiaRalllyX2

Indeed. :-)

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 1, 2012 3:52 p.m.

So, time to get down to business. It was only a week after my first PNW AutoX in my friend's Honda CRX and I was hooked. It was my second time racing on pavement, ever, and yet by the end of the day, my time was only a second behind my friend's... and he's been racing longer than I've had my license. It felt natural to be speeding around cones.... weirdly enough. I had to do this more often!

I decided to sit down with my rabbit and have a heart-to-heart. It was a tough conversation, but she is a good listener, so a good 45 minutes later, and I had pretty much convinced her that a heart transplant would be a good idea... for her health, and for her speed. Now, if only to convince me. The 1.5l na diesel motor had a special meaning to me. Not only is it the first motor that I ever rebuilt fully by myself, but I had it tattooed on my arm! I knew it inside and out, touched every single bolt, bearing, seal, and machined surface with my own hands.... how do I sell this to someone? How do I let go? How do I find someone good enough for it? How much do I ask for it? How.... How?

I decided to ask for help. Not just in selling it, but convincing me that selling this motor was a good idea. I get a little attached to things, you see.

Photobucket

Photobucket

LopRacer Reader
Sept. 3, 2012 10:50 a.m.

What you need is two Rabbits, or three... they tend to mulitpy if left unattended. I think I only have two in the yard at present but my extended family has six or seven. If you were closer I might even have a donor body for that lovely engine. Good luck with the transformation.

J308 Reader
Sept. 3, 2012 4:26 p.m.

This thread is made of win. Thanks for sharing!

N Sperlo PowerDork
Sept. 3, 2012 4:52 p.m.

Juicy details are our nutrients. Feed us.

It reminds me of the 80's Golf GTI I was buying off Craigslist. The guy crashed his truck on the delivery. I've always liked the classic VW styling. Looks fun.

I too am one for taking the cheap and normal and turning it into the not-so-normal, but still rather cheap.

Good luck and feed us.

J308 is right. Full of win. Make sure you're in most the pictures too.

Sept. 4, 2012 12:17 a.m.
LopRacer wrote: What you need is two Rabbits, or three... they tend to mulitpy if left unattended. I think I only have two in the yard at present but my extended family has six or seven. If you were closer I might even have a donor body for that lovely engine. Good luck with the transformation.

Photobucket

They do tend to multiply, don't they... ;)

This is the gasser donor bunny :)(white one on the right) You'll meet her more in my later posts. Lovingly named "Rabbit #2" of course !!

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 4, 2012 12:18 a.m.
J308 wrote: This thread is made of win. Thanks for sharing!

Why thank you, it is certainly my pleasure. :)

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 4, 2012 12:24 a.m.
N Sperlo wrote: Juicy details are our nutrients. Feed us. It reminds me of the 80's Golf GTI I was buying off Craigslist. The guy crashed his truck on the delivery. I've always liked the classic VW styling. Looks fun. I too am one for taking the cheap and normal and turning it into the not-so-normal, but still rather cheap. Good luck and feed us. J308 is right. Full of win. Make sure you're in most the pictures too.

Hahaha! Indeed. Well, I like to write, and hardly do enough of it anymore since I am no longer in school. This seems to be a good outlet for me. :) Plus, I certainly spend more than enough time thinking about this silly project of mine. It would be good to get my thoughts out in the universe and get some feedback (at least convince me that I am not crazy, please!). All of you on this forum have certainly helped out quite a bit with good knowledge and input so far... I will more likely be needing some more advice in the future! Do stay posted, and lol if it helps, here we go:

Photobucket

If this looks familiar, then you may have seen THIS before, (https://www.klutchrepublik.com/gear/mk1-girl)

Every now and then someone's around to snap a picture for me. Most of the time I'm working alone so I don't have that luxury. I'll do my best lol.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 4, 2012 1:14 a.m.

Alright, so where was I?

Oh yes.

The diesel... the poor, poor, diesel. My dear puzzle, and sometimes, seemingly, my only friend. Winters in New England are long and cold, and the roads are full of salt. She must have sat in the backyard for 90% of her life back East... half of the time because I didn't want her in the salt... the other half because her 30 year old glow plugs didn't have the heart or the strength to warm her cylinders anymore.

I remember many a cold morning in Boston, where I would wake up hours early to unthaw myself with a warm cup of tea, and look out the window to see my rabbit, covered in a foot or so of snow. The whole time that I was warming myself, I was thinking of how to warm her enough to get to school, or to work... even with the block heater plugged in since last night. Darn! That advance knob just doesn't pull out far enough, and too bad she doesn't drink tea...

I think of all of these lousy times where I walked to work in the snow, where I blew a head gasket trying to tow a small trailer uphill, and when I just didn't have enough speed to get over into that lane to make the exit, couldn't find a fuel station with diesel... remember all of the times that I resented having the 1.5... but yet, I still couldn't sell that dumb motor.

Time to call in reinforcements.

Thankfully, I have another VW-sensitive friend who understood my predicament who was willing to help out. Hardly a week later, someone who I had only spoken to on the phone twice came to buy my motor. I tried to play it cool, and smile and stuff like I didn't care, and was happy to get the motor off of my hnds... but as soon as she drove off in her tired Chevy pickup with my motor in the bed... I cried. The tears flowed down my face, completely ruining my make up, but I was too upset to notice. I found myself kneeling in my garage, in front of my Rabbit (Gaia, her name is Gaia...) sobbing in front of her (and completely embarrassing myself... jeez, what must she think of me??) and apologizing for selling her heart. "I will find you a better one!" I promised.

IMGP0192 (She looks so empty.....)

Jeez. I hoped that I meant that.... I don't even know what I am looking for, and I didn't know where to start.

Huh... what do I even want?

The diesel was perfect for me in so many ways. It made sense, and I had already spent a small fortune to accumulate all of the specialty tools that I needed to make her happy: the cam locking plate, the special dial indicator for pump timing, ... E36 M3, I even had my very own home-made drill extension for the oil pump hole thingy for pre-lubrication before engine assembly... Oh, WHAT!! Not to mention my hoard of random diesel parts. You know, the ancient, incredibly rusted injectors that COULD DEFINITELY BE CLEANED AND REBUILT AND USED SOME DAY.... ummm... yeah.... right. Maybe as yard art?? And those old glow plugs... and spare oil pan and intake manifold.. and what is that? Oh, the collection of pucks that you stick between your valves and camshaft. I can't even remember what all of those are called.

And the simplicity! The old diesel! No computers, no electronics, nothing complicated! Pump timing set by dial indicator, 13mm wrenches, and a pry bar!! Yes, please. Idle set by flathead screwdriver and my own 2 ears. Fabulous! A wiring harness that consisted of 1 wire to the glow plug fuse, and another to the injection pump... and then to the lights and that's it...!!!! What more could a car enthusiast and beginning hobbyist ask for?

Sigh, it was time to let go. I had given it up. Time to move on, already!!!

But, how could I choose a motor that would do justice to my dear Gaia and fit within my budget?

I decided on a motor from the VW mk3, which left me with 2 choices: the VR6 or the ABA. Now, I had once owned that VR6 GTI, and for about a week, I salivated over my Rabbit making the same gargling, throaty whirrrrrrrrrrrsss that my VR used to purr happily out the tailpipe. Oh, that would be nice, I thought. Yes, that would be nice.

But... handling? I am building an AutoXer, after all. And those motors are heavy. A little chatting with fellow VW enthusiasts, a little research, and a check-in with my budget, and I was quickly backing away from the idea of a heavy 6 cylinder, and decided on the low-maintenance, easy-going ABA. And jeez, what isn't to love about VW's simple 4 cylinder 2 liter? I guess I was going to find out.

A week later, and I ended up on the door step of a guy who was selling the motor out of his '97 Golf. What was wrong with the Golf, you ask? Why part it out? Oh, you know. He carried a truck home on the roof of it. Just the typical everyday mistake.... Yeah. Alright. The motor seemed clean and solid, so I decided to buy it for $200. With it came a bunch of accessories, and the wiring harness and ECU out of his '93 Golf. (Now, you ask, "Why not the wiring harness out of the '97, silly? It's the same motor!!" Yes indeed. "Good point," I tell you, "But OBD1 means simpler for me, and less emissions stuff." More details on this to follow in later updates....)

I took my time removing the wiring harness, labeling every single plug that I pulled apart, even if I didn't know what the thing was called that I was detatching it from. ("Passenger's side weird canister thingy, upper plug" or something to the effect, would help me reinstall it later, I was hoping.) By the time I had it all removed, I stared down at it on the ground. It looked like a couple of mating squids exploding around my feet.... I was confused already. Fabulous. This is more wires than I have ever had to deal with before. I was starting to feel inadequacy creeping in... but I tried not to let it show.

The engine fit nicely in the back of my Samurai tucked in with some couch cushions for a comfy ride, and I was off! Homeward bound for the next chapter in my Rabbit adventure.

2literinSammy

Stay tuned! -Anja

DoctorBlade SuperDork
Sept. 4, 2012 8:43 a.m.

We truly aren't worthy.

N Sperlo PowerDork
Sept. 4, 2012 9:27 a.m.

We all need positive input on our projects, so jump in. It certainly appears you know what you're doing, so don't spend your time just lurking. Pop into our threads and toss some input our ways.

I don't know why you keep thinking you're crazy. Just look at some of our garages and profiles. You're in the right spot. Keep up the hard work and feed our addiction. Looks like you're addicted to the keyboard, so we will feed yours as well.

Its sad to watch the cars suffer and go. After Stop-Stick (P71) started releasing mass amounts of coolant in her heater core, it was time for her to go. I got a little choked up on her way down the road, but the money was needed. The unnamed S13 has been sitting 5 years and I stopped after getting the RB20 wires mated. Wiring just takes time. Sulfura, Jasper, and Bertha are the road worthy ones and The Mighty Cadavalier is the rally car. We all need more projects than we know what to do with and that can drain our wallets.

The point, you ask? Just more proof that you've found your new web home. You've definitely gained some interest quickly. Keep it up.

JThw8 UberDork
Sept. 4, 2012 10:24 a.m.

Following with much interest. I started my autox life with a MK1 rabbit as well and I never had the guts or knowledge at that age (about the age you are now) to get in it as deep as you are so much respect.

Don't let it get overwhelming, step back and take a breather if needed. Electrical is my fear point as well, its not a lack of understanding, heck the stuff is pretty simple but as you've noticed, when it all turns into a pile of spaghetti at your feet it can feel enormous.

Keep at it, and keep posting, looking forward to seeing the results.

mazdeuce HalfDork
Sept. 4, 2012 6:30 p.m.

Looking forward to reading this thread. There is a lot of similarity between my Mazda2 and the mk1 rabbit. You have the cave man to my astronaut. I like your car.

Travis_K SuperDork
Sept. 7, 2012 1:34 p.m.

I believe the easiest way to do this swap would be to get a 90-92 cabriolet wiring harness and fuse box right? They should both be CE2 so all you really have to do with the ABA harness is remove the stuff you dont need and plug it into the fuse box.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 12:40 a.m.
DoctorBlade wrote: We truly aren't worthy.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Don't be silly!!!!!!!!

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 12:43 a.m.
N Sperlo wrote: We all need positive input on our projects, so jump in. It certainly appears you know what you're doing, so don't spend your time just lurking. Pop into our threads and toss some input our ways. I don't know why you keep thinking you're crazy. Just look at some of our garages and profiles. You're in the right spot. Keep up the hard work and feed our addiction. Looks like you're addicted to the keyboard, so we will feed yours as well. Its sad to watch the cars suffer and go. After Stop-Stick (P71) started releasing mass amounts of coolant in her heater core, it was time for her to go. I got a little choked up on her way down the road, but the money was needed. The unnamed S13 has been sitting 5 years and I stopped after getting the RB20 wires mated. Wiring just takes time. Sulfura, Jasper, and Bertha are the road worthy ones and The Mighty Cadavalier is the rally car. We all need more projects than we know what to do with and that can drain our wallets. The point, you ask? Just more proof that you've found your new web home. You've definitely gained some interest quickly. Keep it up.

I thank you for your kindness and encouragement. I may have tricked you with my illusion of knowledge... lurking around and keeping my mouth shut helps me learn from those more experienced than I. :)

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 12:46 a.m.
JThw8 wrote: Following with much interest. I started my autox life with a MK1 rabbit as well and I never had the guts or knowledge at that age (about the age you are now) to get in it as deep as you are so much respect. Don't let it get overwhelming, step back and take a breather if needed. Electrical is my fear point as well, its not a lack of understanding, heck the stuff is pretty simple but as you've noticed, when it all turns into a pile of spaghetti at your feet it can feel enormous. Keep at it, and keep posting, looking forward to seeing the results.

Thank you!

Ha, guts?? Oh dear lord, I am terrified. Terrified of failing, giving up, and handing her off to someone else to finish. If I weren't so stubborn and so attached to the damn thing I would probably stay up nights stressing about it. Right now my biggest worry is just not having her close by.... it makes it hard to work on her, but the distance from the project and next big step has been good for me.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 12:47 a.m.
mazdeuce wrote: Looking forward to reading this thread. There is a lot of similarity between my Mazda2 and the mk1 rabbit. You have the cave man to my astronaut. I like your car.

Why thank you. I like her, too. <3

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 12:49 a.m.
Travis_K wrote: I believe the easiest way to do this swap would be to get a 90-92 cabriolet wiring harness and fuse box right? They should both be CE2 so all you really have to do with the ABA harness is remove the stuff you dont need and plug it into the fuse box.

I have not heard this before, but heck, I have not heard many things.

Please do elaborate! As it is, I haven't a clue what to do with my fuse boxes... I have 2, hardly room under the dash for the first, and it is in a lousy spot... water drips onto it constantly.... no matter how many times I replace, reseal, paint, bondo, etc. the windshield. Ack. !! Problems! Maybe this is just another thing that would be simpler if I only knew more!!

I will look into this. :-) Thanks for the input.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
Sept. 12, 2012 1:19 a.m.

And so, the engine sat on the floor of my shop. Lifeless, dull, dirty, and cold. Not so much like my rabbit at all. Gaia stared at me with her knowing headlight eyes as I circled the thing, figuring out where to start...

...

...

The obvious, of course, all new belts. Timing belts scare the bejeezus out of me. Add belt to order list: check. What else comes with the belt... tensioner, water pump, thermostat... I scribbled onto a piece of paper... This was to become the first German Auto Parts order list: a list which will be written many times over, each with different necessary parts that I had forgotten the last time.

One belt requires another belt. Oh shoot, but this car had AC... I don't have space for AC... well then, the belt will be too big... will it still work? No, of course not, how do I order a belt and jeepers, How will it go around these pulleys. There is no manual for this!!!

Step by step instructions... NO. ABA swap into a mk1 info thread on VW Vortex... YES!! Man, I hate "the Vortex". Everybody nitpicks and judges and certainly hates my car, but there is a gem every now and then, and that gem is THIS.

VR6 water pump pulley and 6 rib 1066 belt on the order list, check! I found someone with the pulley for sale in New England... it came to me with the bolts rusted, impeller from the pump still attached... ACK! So glad I am not in New England anymore....

Oh, yeah, tune up stuff!! Spark plugs, wires, cap, rotor, fuel filter, oil filter, hooray.

What else, what else? Exhaust manifold gaskets, intake manifold gaskets, exhaust studs, crank seals, cam seals, valve cover gasket, oil pan gasket... with the special tray thingy for scraping oil off of the crank or whatever... (thank you to a dear VW friend who gave me the good advice, and his Greg Raven book to borrow!)

And several weeks of running around the shop trying to wrap my head around what was in store for my project.... oh yeah, and working my barely-over-minimum-wage landscaping gig for several more weeks to pay for all of this stuff!!!

Some nights I would get home from work, exhausted and sore, and head into the shop, energy renewed upon seeing my Rabbit, and get to work and have a fantastic productive night. These were rare. Other nights, I would come home from work, tired, sore, almost lifeless, and look at my Rabbit, the clump of metal that, when hooked up properly, is called a... what now? Come again? ... MOTOR?? What the hell is that? SCREW THIS PROJECT! AAAAAAAAAH!!!

...

...

...

Help.

What is next?

Where does this go?

What is this thing??

How does that work???

Who am I????

BREATHE, ANJA!

More to come....

Travis_K SuperDork
Sept. 13, 2012 2:46 a.m.
anjaloveshervw wrote:
Travis_K wrote: I believe the easiest way to do this swap would be to get a 90-92 cabriolet wiring harness and fuse box right? They should both be CE2 so all you really have to do with the ABA harness is remove the stuff you dont need and plug it into the fuse box.

I have not heard this before, but heck, I have not heard many things.

Please do elaborate! As it is, I haven't a clue what to do with my fuse boxes... I have 2, hardly room under the dash for the first, and it is in a lousy spot... water drips onto it constantly.... no matter how many times I replace, reseal, paint, bondo, etc. the windshield. Ack. !! Problems! Maybe this is just another thing that would be simpler if I only knew more!!

I will look into this. :-) Thanks for the input.

So, I am not a VW person but my friend is obsessed with them and has done an ABA swap into an 85 GTI before. The early MK2s have the CE1 electrical system (probably different from your rabbit and also different than the MK3). The MK2s with the big bumpers (I think 1990 and up) have the CE2 wiring, which is the same as what the Mk3s have. So, if what I am thinking is correct, the 90-92 cabriolet is also probably CE2, which means if you use the wiring harness out of that car, you should be able to (after you remove everything you dont really need), plug the ABA engine harness into the new fuse box and have less custom work to do. Part of the first post in this thread talks about the same thing too.

http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?4773933-MK1-ABA-swap-A1-ABA-swap-Rabbit-ABA-swap-Rabbit-2.0-swap-2.0-into-A1-2.0-into-MK1-info-thread

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