July 6, 2012 8:13 p.m.

Hi there, all! I am new to the forums, and here I go with my first post. I suppose that I should give a bit of an introduction to familiarize you all with what I am trying to do here. :) I am attempting something completely new and foreign to me: I am turning my once 40hp daily driver into an autocross machine!!! (If you would like to skip lengthy intro, please scroll down to the line, about 5 paragraphs down!)

It started with a 1980 naturally aspirated diesel rabbit. No, not even the 1.6l, I had the lousy lemon of a 1.5.... sighs I love her dearly, and have grown attached to her, almost not minding her slowness.... until... I was introduced to this thing called "racing" ... YES! Racing, you read that right.

There she is, covered in New England leaves, in all of her glory. How adorable. You may also notice something about this rabbit, the lift, the mudflaps... not pictured here but present currently is an awesome fabricated-by-me rear bumper with a spare tire holder, and also a new front bumper with Hella rally lights.

You get the point. She is not a lightweight, fast, machine. This would be a problem for a girl with a speed addiction.

Honestly, I was cool with it for a while. No tickets, enjoying life in the slow lane, taking my time, enjoying the journey... until AutoX came into my life. Only a couple trips around the cones in my friend's CRX, and I knew that I was meant to be on the track. I got the schedule, put all of the races in my area (now, PNW) on my calendar, I read books, learned about how to set up for a corner, feel the car's weight distribution, cool my tires, choose the right tires, all that crap, and then.... my friend traded the CRX for a beetle. A BEETLE!!!

Okay, I mean... awesome, but... not exactly something that I can beat around the track. So, what is a girl to do? Well, she certainly can't rely on other people for a race car, that's for sure. So, I looked at my fleet: 1) 1986 Suzuki Samurai... known for rolling over due to top heaviness and short wheelbase. Erm, nope. 2) Micro Minnie-Winnie.... absolutely not. Good camping vehicle for 2-day events, though! 3) My precious diesel bunny that I have been running on waste veggie oil since 2008 (way before the rest of y'all!)...

hmm.

Well, that decided it. I made up my mind and sold the motor in less than a week, and in another 2, had managed to find myself a nice ABA (VW's mid 90's 2 liter) to swap in.

The donor motor was from a '97... for emissions and simplicity, the wiring harness was from a donor '93. Whoa. Now I am in over my head. Now, I am not your typical clueless public, but I am no wiring genius, either. The harness is spread out like an exploded squid on my shop floor, and the motor is resealed, somewhat rebuilt, and waiting for me to stick the transmission back on it on my shop floor, my rabbit waiting with her empty engine bay with that dead-pan stare, just waiting....



SO! Since the wiring has gotten me into a complete frazzled mess, I have decided to post up about something more fun: suspension! Here is what I currently have, and here is what I want to do:

Currently: Shocks: Bilstein HD's, front and rear. The fronts are mk1, (1st gen. rabbit) the rears are from a mk3 (mid-90's golf) to get a nice all-around 2" lift. The front springs are from a mk2 Jetta gli (total crap) and I can't remember what I have in the rear.

My $10 an hour landscaping job doesn't help much in terms of facilitating my car build/racing addiction, so I am hoping for a fairly cheap, good beginner setup.

Here is what I have to work with:

  • I have a set of original Shine front springs that are good enough quality that I think can be cut down to size without being sketchy

  • hoping to trade some spare shocks to get a set of bilstein HDs for the rear and run a full set of mk1s all around.

I obviously and kind of clueless about this stuff, I am not quite sure what I want, or even what is a "good/decent" setup for a beginning AutoXer, but I figured that this would be the place to post.

Any feedback would be AMAZING!!!

Thanks! Anja

SVreX MegaDork
July 6, 2012 8:39 p.m.

If I wasn't a married man...

Anja, welcome aboard. My current racer is also a Bunny- 16V 2.0 powered '84 GTI. I brought him to the GRM Challenge last year.

You are gonna LOVE that power combo. It's a pretty perfect balance.

I'm gonna hold back a little on suspension, there are people here with much better input than me (I'm a Subie guy at heart). But I will be back soon!

Again, welcome! You are definitely in the right place!!

Jaynen Reader
July 6, 2012 9:57 p.m.

Fun project, you will of course end up spending way more to build YOUR rabbit than just buying a group 2 rally prepped car off specialstage.com the rabbits/golfs are quite popular for rallying

vwcorvette HalfDork
July 6, 2012 10:00 p.m.

Find either Greg Raven's book or Per's book on hot rodding VWs. Don't cut the shine springs. Use then with the bilsteins. Find a matching set for the rear. You should get the springs checked to see what lbs per sq inch they are if you can not figure it out from the part numbers. Replace all the bushings with new. No front sway bar. Fat rear bar and/ or weld plate onto forward edge of rear axle to stiffen it. Many brain damaged VW owners on this board including myself. 1983 gti ITB (in process).

SVreX MegaDork
July 6, 2012 10:16 p.m.

Per wrote a book on hot rodding VW's??

Tell more!

fornetti14 HalfDork
July 6, 2012 10:47 p.m.

I think the OBDI '95 ABA might have been easier. The vwvortex.com might have more answers there.
Are you changing out the gas tank and fuel system as well? Autozone had cheap reliable tanks without any rubber bits (which I prefer) so they last longer.
Pic of my old race Rabbit. 83 hp at the wheels! Stockish 1.8L CIS Photobucket

ScottRA21 Reader
July 6, 2012 10:49 p.m.

Welcome to GRM, hope you enjoy your stay.

Just like to say: The Sami is absolutely NOT roll-over prone. Consumer Reports used false data, fake re-enactments, etc.

rallymech
rallymech New Reader
July 6, 2012 11:39 p.m.

I agree with vwcorvette. I would also say that the Rabbit needs all the chassis braces installed. I particularly like the X type sub frame brace.

The ABA block with a CIS solid lifter head is a great hybrid engine.

I would also strongly recommend a rear disc brake conversion.

chandlerGTi HalfDork
July 7, 2012 6:44 a.m.

I auto crossed my old rabbit for years with drums, discs are overkill. Your shine front springs are going to work great with some bilstein hd front struts, look on vw vortex for a good set of rears with either Eurosport or neuspeed race springs. They match the shines pretty well, and people are willing to split up sets since pickup guys will always buy fronts. As others have said; the rabbit responds well to no front sway and a thick rear sway. You can get the front lower xbrace and upper strut bar used from vortex also for a good price, the rabbits really flex so keeping the front in line is important.

The 2.0 you bought will be a little more work than a 95 but is still doable. My current 78 has a 95 2.0 swap and I love the power on demand aspect that is difficult to get without a lot of money on the 1.8 and smaller engines. There is an instruction guide in the MKI forums on vortex for every iteration of the rabbit 2.0 swap, he is condescending but really knows what he is talking about.

Ask your questions here since we will try to help you, good luck and good times ahead!

mad_machine MegaDork
July 7, 2012 8:31 a.m.

the biggest problem you face with a rabbit.. lack of suspension. From what I remember, it only has about 4 inches of travel from the factory

Vigo SuperDork
July 7, 2012 12:21 p.m.

With enough spring rate you dont need travel. nyuck nyuck.

What a fantastic first post! Sounds like you are already an accomplished enthusiast and your low-dollar project is pretty interesting, so rock on.

inertiaticism
inertiaticism New Reader
July 7, 2012 1:02 p.m.

You've got the basics of a cheap, fun Rabbit. I'd get a JH solid lifter head from an A1 GTI or a 1.8l CIS cabriolet (easier to find in JY). A used (or new, $225) Techtonics 280°/276° or 274°/270° cam, A2 dual outlet exhaust manifold, dual downpipe (has to longer to fit tall block 2.0 in A1 chassis), and Techtonics 2.25 exhaust is a great combo.
The wiring may be easier if you ran it on Digifant, and just swapped harnesses. Good torque, reliable, and lots of fun in a Rabbit. The 4k trans from the same GTI is a good trans for this combo, and it bolts in. Same for the 2y and AGB 16v trannies, but they will need axle flanges and mounts/linkage changed.
One way I saved money on my last A1 was to forgo getting the rear sway and just buy a 2nd JY rear beam and weld it. Worked like a charm after a bit of screwing around with it.

anjaloveshervw New Reader
July 11, 2012 3:09 p.m.

Sorry I took a while to respond to all of your thoughtful responses. I don't have the internet at my house, so I only get online maybe once a week for any significant length of time.

SVreX wrote: If I wasn't a married man... Anja, welcome aboard. My current racer is also a Bunny- 16V 2.0 powered '84 GTI. I brought him to the GRM Challenge last year. You are gonna LOVE that power combo. It's a pretty perfect balance. I'm gonna hold back a little on suspension, there are people here with much better input than me (I'm a Subie guy at heart). But I will be back soon! Again, welcome! You are definitely in the right place!!

Thank you! tee hee ;)

Jaynen wrote: Fun project, you will of course end up spending way more to build YOUR rabbit than just buying a group 2 rally prepped car off specialstage.com the rabbits/golfs are quite popular for rallying

Absolutely. I have witnessed this first hand, as one of my friends is building a fully-prepped rally golf. Augh, what an amazing amount of work!

The problem is my current fondness of this rabbit. She is the first car that I have ever “worked on” and I can’t seem to get myself to want to drive anything else. Plus, I am broke, and she is all I have. Hard to argue with a $200 motor swap and the $100 parts car that I have sitting in my driveway ;)

vwcorvette wrote: Find either Greg Raven's book or Per's book on hot rodding VWs. Don't cut the shine springs. Use then with the bilsteins. Find a matching set for the rear. You should get the springs checked to see what lbs per sq inch they are if you can not figure it out from the part numbers. Replace all the bushings with new. No front sway bar. Fat rear bar and/ or weld plate onto forward edge of rear axle to stiffen it. Many brain damaged VW owners on this board including myself. 1983 gti ITB (in process).

Photobucket ;) No markings on the springs. I’ll have to get them checked. Who would know how to do this?

No front sway bar? You are not the first to mention this.

Here I am lusting over all sorts of stiffness (example A: http://store.blackforestindustries.com/mk1crrebar.html) thinking that it’ll help me out…. please do explain.

fornetti14 wrote: I think the OBDI '95 ABA might have been easier. The vwvortex.com might have more answers there. Are you changing out the gas tank and fuel system as well? Autozone had cheap reliable tanks without any rubber bits (which I prefer) so they last longer. Pic of my old race Rabbit. 83 hp at the wheels! Stockish 1.8L CIS Photobucket

BADASS RABBIT!!!!! Thanks for the pic :D What happened to her?

Perhaps, but there is not too much different between the OBDI and OBDII that requires enough effort to make me regret the sweet deal that the motor was. I don’t mind spending the time to figure out the wiring, that gives me a chance to learn about how to read the diagrams and such, which I would like to be able to do anyways. :-)

Also, …. ack. I try to stay away from the Vortex as much as possible. You can get lost in there…. and feel like you aren’t good enough for not following the latest trends. And everyone hated my rabbit because it was lifted, “untastefully” modified…. …

whatever. At least I didn’t do it to fit in with their version of “cool” :P She was all my own creation.

Nope, same tank. Just going to outfit her with the proper fuel pump and high pressure fuel lines. Should work ok I hope !!

ScottRA21 wrote: Welcome to GRM, hope you enjoy your stay. Just like to say: The Sami is absolutely NOT roll-over prone. Consumer Reports used false data, fake re-enactments, etc.

Absolutely agreed. What, were the tests funded by Jeep, right? I suppose that I was using Sammy’s bad rep to punctuate my point of: Sammy is no race car. My only option = rabbit. Sammy WILL however make for a badass off-roader, when/if my rabbit is ever done. I have the wheels and tires in the basement already, now I just need my diesel motor swap and a badass springover ;) teehee.

rallymech wrote: I agree with vwcorvette. I would also say that the Rabbit needs all the chassis braces installed. I particularly like the X type sub frame brace. The ABA block with a CIS solid lifter head is a great hybrid engine. I would also strongly recommend a rear disc brake conversion.

If you say so ;)

Photobucket

(old photo - from last week - , the discs are on her now!!! ) No proportioning valve, but I hear that race pads on the front (I was thinking hawks, any opinion?) and regular pads on the rear even them out… feel free to correct me.

chandlerGTi wrote: I auto crossed my old rabbit for years with drums, discs are overkill. Your shine front springs are going to work great with some bilstein hd front struts, look on vw vortex for a good set of rears with either Eurosport or neuspeed race springs. They match the shines pretty well, and people are willing to split up sets since pickup guys will always buy fronts. As others have said; the rabbit responds well to no front sway and a thick rear sway. You can get the front lower xbrace and upper strut bar used from vortex also for a good price, the rabbits really flex so keeping the front in line is important. The 2.0 you bought will be a little more work than a 95 but is still doable. My current 78 has a 95 2.0 swap and I love the power on demand aspect that is difficult to get without a lot of money on the 1.8 and smaller engines. There is an instruction guide in the MKI forums on vortex for every iteration of the rabbit 2.0 swap, he is condescending but really knows what he is talking about. Ask your questions here since we will try to help you, good luck and good times ahead!

Would the lower X brace that I had included a link to earlier (from BFI) be a good option? Probably not in the budget for now, but something that I can lust after for future paychecks.

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

The 2.0 swap thread is a permanent open window on my Firefox!! Haha. You’re right, he is arrogant, but there is all the info on there that a girl could possibly want, and it has been really helpful. Thank you!

mad_machine wrote: the biggest problem you face with a rabbit.. lack of suspension. From what I remember, it only has about 4 inches of travel from the factory

For sure! I think that’s why I see so many great AutoX/RallyX pictures of Rabbits with one wheel off the ground!!!!!

Vigo wrote: With enough spring rate you dont need travel. nyuck nyuck. What a fantastic first post! Sounds like you are already an accomplished enthusiast and your low-dollar project is pretty interesting, so rock on.

LOL trying!!! That’s why I was going to cut the springs ;)

Rock on I will, thanks!!! The enthusiast in me is deeply ingrained, and this little rabbit has certainly helped fuel not just my passion, but my know-how also. I owe her quite a bit.

inertiaticism wrote: You've got the basics of a cheap, fun Rabbit. I'd get a JH solid lifter head from an A1 GTI or a 1.8l CIS cabriolet (easier to find in JY). A used (or new, $225) Techtonics 280°/276° or 274°/270° cam, A2 dual outlet exhaust manifold, dual downpipe (has to longer to fit tall block 2.0 in A1 chassis), and Techtonics 2.25 exhaust is a great combo. The wiring may be easier if you ran it on Digifant, and just swapped harnesses. Good torque, reliable, and lots of fun in a Rabbit. The 4k trans from the same GTI is a good trans for this combo, and it bolts in. Same for the 2y and AGB 16v trannies, but they will need axle flanges and mounts/linkage changed. One way I saved money on my last A1 was to forgo getting the rear sway and just buy a 2nd JY rear beam and weld it. Worked like a charm after a bit of screwing around with it.

I was waiting for someone to say that!!!! Not just the solid lifter head, but also the Digifant. I would have been disappointed if you hadn’t made this post ;) While I scoff at the Digifant, I suppose it is mostly because I question the unknown… what exactly, IS Digifant, and what is the advantage over the OBDI harness??

As for my cam, I currently have an Autotech for a G60 on there. She’s a 260/254, and from what I understand, this is the largest duration that I can just slap in her without doing more work to her. Not that I am opposed to more work, but I am kind of itching to just get the motor IN the car if you know what I mean. I haven’t started my motor up yet, so I don’t even know how it feels yet, but we’ll see. I’ll let you know :-)

The 2nd JY beam… what a great idea!! I – thankfully – was able to score a really nice rear sway bar for only $40 off of another enthusiast friend of mine.

I am using my diesel trans for now… since I have it, but I will keep an eye out for the 4k. Thanks!

I will definitely keep you all updated on my build... I have always wanted to write my own build thread, but I only ever used the VWVortex for my forum needs....( big mistake :D ) and I didn't feel like getting laughed off of the internet. Maybe this might be the place... ;)

Anja

spitfirebill UltraDork
July 11, 2012 3:44 p.m.

I think GRM magazine has found a future contributor of articles. Not only do we have a woman that loves and knows a lot about cars, she speaks it, uses punctuation (yay) and knowing how to spell.

Welcome. You will like it here more than Vortex.

ST_ZX2 HalfDork
July 11, 2012 3:47 p.m.
spitfirebill wrote: I think GRM magazine has found a future contributor of articles. Not only do we have a woman that loves and knows a lot about cars, she speaks it, uses punctuation (yay) and knowing how to spell. Welcome. You will like it here more than Vortex.

Yes. And Yes! Welcome.

chandlerGTi HalfDork
July 11, 2012 3:58 p.m.

I wouldn't do the BFI crossbrace, I would use a Eurosport or autotech. Both of those can be found regularly used in the vortex forums for $100. I have two hanging in my garage in fact. Looks like you know what you want!

jrw1621 PowerDork
July 11, 2012 10:20 p.m.

In this picture alone, you have earned my respect of not being a "poser" but rather the real grm deal.
Welcome.

octavious New Reader
July 12, 2012 7:25 a.m.

I have no technical help to add, but I really like the looks of that rear mounted spare tire with the mudflaps.

turboswede PowerDork
July 12, 2012 8:08 a.m.

Awesome project!

BTW, here's Per's book:

http://www.amazon.com/Volkswagen-Tuning-Competition-Engineering-Performance/dp/0837601614

SVreX MegaDork
July 12, 2012 11:58 a.m.
octavious wrote: I have no technical help to add, but I really like the looks of that rear mounted spare tire with the mudflaps.

I'm gonna have to agree on this one.

It's the first lifted Bunny I've seen, and I like it.

To heck with the Vortex. Anja, do it YOUR way.

SVreX MegaDork
July 12, 2012 12:01 p.m.

Anja, I have a request...

I fin those REALLY long posts responding to many people at once difficult ot read.

I'd find it easier to follow if the subject in each post was focused (ie: quote and respond to one person, then start a new post to quote and respond to a 2nd person).

I'm not really griping, I'm just trying to follow the inputs in this thread, and get lost in a post that big.

Thanks!

SVreX MegaDork
July 12, 2012 12:11 p.m.

Anja:

You've said low cost.

HOW low? Are you still within Challenge budget?

anjaloveshervw New Reader
July 19, 2012 3:05 p.m.
spitfirebill wrote: I think GRM magazine has found a future contributor of articles. Not only do we have a woman that loves and knows a lot about cars, she speaks it, uses punctuation (yay) and knowing how to spell. Welcome. You will like it here more than Vortex.

I already like it here more than Vortex :) Thank you!!

Actually, I have written a series of technical articles before... maybe I should post a teaser:

I have to admit, though.... I really don't know a TON about cars. I haven't been wrenching that long. I only know what I have done with my own hands I didn't go to school or have a dad that was into cars or anything. I'm kind of a long way out... I have a lot of mistakes to make yet!!

BUTTTTTT that's okay! I am having fun and that is what matters.

I wish I had more time to respond to everyone else, but I will have to leave you with that for now. Thanks, all! Anja :)

anjaloveshervw New Reader
July 19, 2012 3:07 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Anja, I have a request... I fin those REALLY long posts responding to many people at once difficult ot read. I'd find it easier to follow if the subject in each post was focused (ie: quote and respond to one person, then start a new post to quote and respond to a 2nd person). I'm not really griping, I'm just trying to follow the inputs in this thread, and get lost in a post that big. Thanks!

Absolutely ;)

anjaloveshervw New Reader
July 19, 2012 3:11 p.m.
SVreX wrote:
octavious wrote: I have no technical help to add, but I really like the looks of that rear mounted spare tire with the mudflaps.

I'm gonna have to agree on this one.

It's the first lifted Bunny I've seen, and I like it.

To heck with the Vortex. Anja, do it YOUR way.

THANK YOU BOTH!!!

I have to admit, this is the first welding job that I have ever done, and I am SO PROUD of it :) ! Its past life was a spare tire mount from a Kia Sportage. I found it in a junkyard. I think its happier now :)

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