2/18/09 9:18 a.m.

I am looking to hop up my 1998 VW Golf a little bit for some more performance oriented use. I am up on all current maintinence, so that is not really a concern at the moment. This summer I am planning on doing coilovers, exhaust and tires and was wondering about a few other bits. The goal is to be competent on the street and the occasional road-course track day.

Anti-Roll bars: What would be a good idea of a proper thickness for something that will be pulling double duty as a daily?

Interior: Driver's seat: This car will be my daily driver, but the stock seats are as supportive as a yoga ball, so I was looking at a Corbeau fixed back seat, but didn't know how livable this would be on a day to day basis.

Thanks In Advance, I'll have more questions as I think of them.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
2/18/09 9:23 a.m.

Go to and get an interior from oneof the Recaro cars, there were many different models and colors, they are among the best seats ever. If you have the scratch I REALLY like the R32 seats.

There are a few companies that offer great bars for your car, bars are subjective. I might be faster on a setup with X bar and you might be faster on Y bar. Your weight and driving style as well as the track will change the bar requirement. Get hooked up with someone local who has a bunch of different bars and springs.

Paul_VR6 New Reader
2/18/09 10:39 a.m.

The Recaro seats from earlier models won't fit without modifications. Even the seats from a non base model are a good amount better then what you have. Look for GLX and K2 seats for ones without the flip adjuster. GTI if you don't care if it's there.

There are many different ways to set these cars up but big front spring, small rear spring and a big rear bar is common, sometimes with no front bar. All preference. I run my car with no front bar, stock rear bar and stiff rear springs. I try not to turn though as it may end up the wrong way around.

BattleRabbit New Reader
2/18/09 1:57 p.m.

Thanks guys, I am actually a member on already(same user name actually).

Paul_VR6, anything that says "I try not to turn as it may end up the wrong way round" isn't quite what I am looking for. I am trying to make the car handle as well as possible. I am assuming you drag yours? Those VR6s can really cook in the 1/4

As far as seats go non-base seats look alright, and the R32 seats are fantastic, but they are a known quantity for me which is why I was wondering about fixed back seats, how livable are they on a day to day basis?

poopshovel SuperDork
2/18/09 2:23 p.m.

Welcome to the board! Knowing nothing about VW's, but a little bit about FWD handling, I'd start by JUST removing the front sway, as Paul suggested, as it's free.

You could also try ...shudder... chopping the existing springs to mildly increase the spring rate, while not radically changing the difference in rates between front and rear (I'm guessing ??? the stock front rates are a little higher than the rears.) This would also be free, which is nice.

neckromacr New Reader
2/18/09 4:03 p.m.

Theres a nice trick to the MKIII sport seats to make themmore sporting is bending the thigh and kidney bolsters. Since these seats have refinforcements, unlike the vauge shaping that the low end seats have.

With the seat out of the car put two phone books where your thighs would go. Wrap a ratchet strap around the lower section and start tightening. the pressure of the strap bends he metal shell. Tighten abit and try it out, since its a lot harder to bend out than it is to bend in. Keep doing this untill you're comfy.

Repeat putting the phone books where the small of your back go.

As far as suspensions I've heard good things from the Shine Real Street setup which is similar to the recommendations you've had so far. But it does lower the rear more which can give a goofy reverse rake look which is a turn off to some.

BattleRabbit New Reader
2/18/09 5:51 p.m.

Thanks for the help so far guys!

I was actually looking at VMaxx coilovers, goofy name, good reputation so long as you don't set them at full drop like a lot of Mk.III owners like to. Honestly I think that guys with nice suspensions in their Mk.IIIs are more known for busting oil pans than exercising the cars.

The seats bother me, looking at classifieds I could get 2 new fixed corbeaus for the price of a clean stock interior. I feel like other people might not appreciate the extra support as much as me though.

amg_rx7 Reader
2/18/09 6:08 p.m.

Fixed back seats are a pita to live with on a DD.

For a street driven car, I prefer softer springs and bigger bars. Softer springs helps maintain good ride quality while larger bars decrease body roll and allow you to tune handling balance. That is how I have my RX7 setup after trying stiffer springs. Its also how I drove my old 84 VW.

Good shocks make a huge difference on ride quality as well. For example, I much prefer Konis w/ a Ground Control coil over kit to a Tein coil over kit with the same spring rates. If I wasn't tracking the car as much as I do (1-2 a month, 11 months out of the year), I wouldn't even have coil overs. I'd stick with a set of Eibachs or something and nice comfy rubber bushings.

iceracer Reader
2/18/09 6:10 p.m.

The problem with removing the front bar on a FWD car, particularly with struts that it allows more lean which exacerbates the camber problem. A bigger rear bar and/or stiffer rear springs help tremendously.

btw: you will need to get rid of that roof rack.

BattleRabbit New Reader
2/18/09 6:39 p.m.

To the guy above me, the rack is not a permanent fixture, it is just on now, and it goes on when I take my bikes places. Why get rid of something practical? Plus, anyone foolish enough to be wearing their rack at a track event is foolish, day to day though it comes and goes.

What are some common weight reduction things that won't ruin livability in this car? Keep in mind this is a no-option car, so removing power options was already done by the factory. The spare tire stays for regular driving, my grandfather is a tow truck owner-operator and I have seen a lot of simple roadside tire changes get a lot more expensive when the owner either carries no spare or has a bad spare.

shuttlepilot New Reader
2/18/09 7:42 p.m.

I too have the same gen golf and have made most of these mods you are thinking of. I am not sure if you looked at other seats in this family of cars. The GTI's have decently bolstered seats. They are easy to remove and will drop right in.

I run corner balanced Koni coilovers full soft with drop dictated by the shortened struts. The previous owner changed the antisway bars for me. I have a vr6's for the front and a shine for the rear. It is a very good autocrosser but I am not sure of the choice because the car has oversteer tendencies on surfaces with less than optimal grip. I've been trying to eliminate the oversteer but haven't been totally sucessful. The coilovers helped alot to eliminate it, but i still get caught by suprise every now and then.

Paul_VR6 New Reader
2/19/09 8:26 a.m.

Haha, my current suspension setup is pretty much drag only. I will be adding a big front bar (28mm) once I go up another few hundred pounds for the rear springs. I think that'll be the best all around setup for me. There were a few quick AutoX cars setup close to that way, and the big rear spring rates works well for the other type of racing I do. I'd just like it to handle a little better on the street.

My current coils are the non adjustable Weitecs and they're alright for a DD type car. From what I gather the Vmaxx ones are similar, ok all around but will get killed by a car with more appropriately chosen shocks and springs.

As far as weight, the bumper rebars are pretty heavy, just don't hit anything.

d_jabsd Reader
2/19/09 8:31 a.m.

People have had quite a bit of success with a big front swaybar in VWs. There has been some debate about this in the auto-x forum @ vwvortex. Throw on the biggest front bar you can find, no rear bar, and softer spring in front, firmer in rear (500#/650#). It is basically opposite of what most think should be done, but it seems to work fairly well.

Once the VWVortex forums are back online, search the auto-x forum for BFB vs BRB. Its an interesting read with no real clear winner.

VWguyBruce Reader
2/19/09 8:39 a.m.

Paul, if it's not an industry secret what spring rates are you running in the rear?

Travis_K Reader
2/19/09 11:28 a.m.

Get bilstien dampers and just regular springs. The shine racing stuff is decent. I wouldnt get cheap pre assembled adjustable coilovers, most of them arent very good.

njansenv Reader
2/19/09 7:13 p.m.

The theory behind the big front bar is that the macstrut suspension "loses" camber with body roll. Lost camber = lost grip. The stiff front bar then reduces understeer. This has been seen on Neons and BMW's as well. (I'm sure other cars, but I'm speaking from my own limited experience) Some negative camber can work wonders on the car as well. I maintain that one of the most worthwhile mods I've done to a car was an alignment with -2 degrees camber on my Neon ACR. The difference (stock suspension) was unbelievable for the amount of work done.

96DXCivic Reader
2/19/09 7:45 p.m.

I don't know if I would dump the front bar (if you have one?) but getting something thicker in the rear. I would also look at Ground Controls and Koni's as a good reasonably inexpensive choice.

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