Follow the progress of the 1988 Volkswagen Cabriolet. See how transforms from a chalk covered mess, to a sweet ride.

MK1 VR6 VW Cabriolet

Hey everyone,

I posted a video of the Cabby a few weeks ago. It was pretty weak. So I thought I would post another test drive video. This one really gives a better feel of what it is like to drive this car. Plus the exhaust note is freaking awesome. Oh and be sure to watch until the end 😉

I am working on a guide for this sway. Some of the things that I ran into during the build. The ways that I tackled a few issues. It is still in the early stages but be on the look out for that soon.

Don’t miss Shop Shots tomorrow!

MK1 Vr6 Volkswagen kit

Hi everybody!
It has been almost 3 months since I last did an update on the Cabby. There are a few reasons for that. The main one is, I have not touched the car in that long.

When we last left our hero
I was driving her home from my work on Thanksgiving. I was almost home when a fuel line broke and started pouring fuel. While it is a very simple and cheap fix, I just have not gotten to it. And to be honest, I am not a fan of working on the cold garage floor.

It is a strange thing for me. I am either all in or all out on projects. I spent so many hours last year getting the cabby built. I think I needed a break. Plus driving a convertible in winter is not nearly as fun as in the summer. I am starting to get he bug again.

MK1 Vr6 Volkswagen kit

Until I get the fuel line fixed, this is how she sits. Luckily I am not too concerned about the “paint” 😉 And yeah, I know my Passat needs a bath.

I know that today was a short update. I wanted to fill you all in on what is happening with the cabby. I guess I should have said what is not happening. In the last Cabby update I go into more detail about this years plans.

Call in show
I set up a call in line on Tuesday. Now I have a way for you to call in your questions. I would love to hear from you guys with your questions. I really want to get this segment rocking, but I need your help.

MK1 VR6 Engine swap

wpid-IMG_20131119_132559.jpgHappy Tuesday everyone. Today I wanted to update you guys on the progress of the Cabby. There are a ton of you that have been following the progress of this build from day one. I really appreciate that. It has been a long journey over the last year and a half. If you are a newer reader, you travel back and check out the cabby before we started the build.

Where the project is now.
The Cabby is sitting in the garage as I type this. The car ran and drove great. That is until the last time I drove it. I picked the car up from work on Thanksgiving. She made it almost all the way home. I hit the throttle, and started to smell raw fuel. I pulled over to find that the car was pouring fuel on the ground. It looks like a fuel line swelled and started leaking. It should be a simple repair. I am hoping to get that fixed this weekend.

What is left to finish?
The Vr6 is in and runs really well. It is always stressful rebuilding an engine, then having it sit for 6 months before starting it. So I am happy she runs. There are still a ton of things that need to be finished.

  • Interior
    The interior is coming along, just a little slow. If you remember, I picked up a 1984 Cabby a few months ago. I used most that that interior in the chalk cabby. I still have to install the rear seats, door panels, and small parts of the dash. It is about a days worth of work.
  • Exterior
    I don’t even know where to start. For now, I think she is going to stay the way she is. What do you guys think? Post up any ideas in the comments.
  • Electrical
    So far, everything seems to work well. I have some lights to hook up. I also plan to control the headlights with relays. This will help to brighten up the lights. I have also considered making the inner lights on the front driving lights instead of high beams.
  • Engine
    While the engine runs great, there is still a number of things that need to be finished. Some of the wiring harness needs to be trimmed up and wrapped. I also need to have an Oxygen sensor port welded in the exhaust. I also want to change the radiator. I used a 1991 Passat 16v rad. I think I am going to swap it for a VR6 rad. It seems like it will fit better. I am sure there are other things that need to be cleaned up. We will cross that bridge when we get there.

MK1 VR6 Engine swap

Plans for the future
To be honest, I have not given a ton of thought here. For me, I need to focus on the next hurdle. It is easy to get overwhelmed looking too far ahead. Once the car is back together, that is where things get interesting. Reliability is my main focus. I want to be able to take a 4 hour road trip and not worry about getting there. I hope by spring it will get there. There are also a few random things I am thinking about. What do you guys think about this?

  • Having the car wrapped. It would be cheaper and easier than paint
  • Removing the top and a Roadster style ride
  • Add some support to stiffen the car up

Well, that is pretty much where she sits. I am also working on a guide to some of the things I did with the engine swap, that might be a little different. If you are working on this swap, let me know. I will be  more than happy to help if I can.

There have been several folks that have helped me during this build. They have supplied parts, advice, and other cool stuff. This is in no particular order
EURO-WISE ~ VR6 install kit, exhaust, front brace(just ordered that) Everyone there is awesome!
German Auto Parts ~  maintenance parts, I HIGHLY recommend these guys. Tel Justin I sent ya
Black Forest Ind. ~ JOM coil overs.
Anything Auto ~ K&N air filter
42 Draft Design ~ Intake
T-Hoff ~ They did the machine work on the engine
Nothing Leaves Stock

One more thing. I shared this on the Facebook page, but I wanted to post it here. Most of you know that I am a big craft beer fan. There is a new brewery that is opening up in Rural NC. They started a Kickstarter to get the final funding to open the doors. Haw Rives Ales Kickstarter. If you can help them out, that would be awesome. If you do, let me know. I got something extra for you. Just contact me.


MK1 Vr6 Rabbit Cabriolet

MK1 Vr6 Rabbit CabrioletIt is time for a Cabby update. For those of you that may be new to the blog, let me do a little recap about this Cabby. In April 2012 my dealer purchased a 1988 VW Cabriolet. The purchased it and donated it for a local charity event. They painted it with chalk paint, and put stickers all over the interior. After the event, I bought the car. I really wish I could have got the car before the event, but it was for charity.

Once I purchased it, my goal was to get everything back to stock. I started with the interior. Hours of laboring trying to get all the stickers off. It didn’t take long to realize most of those stickers were not coming off. I turned my focus to rust treatment, and sound dampening. At first I had no intention of doing an engine swap. The plan was to get the 1.8 running better and just rock that. Well, I stumbled across a 1998 Jetta with a VR6. The bad part is the engine had a blown head gasket. I stripped the car, sold much of the parts, and send it to the scrap yard. The poor Jetta had a rough life. I actually picked up another VR6 with a manual trans. I rebuilt that engine, and now the MK1 Cabby has a 6 cylinder engine in it.

Where we are now
The cabby is slowly coming back together. Last weekend I spent some time putting the interior back together. I also attempted to crank the engine. It turns out that the wire on the starter was broken. I was able to fix that. So right now I am waiting on the following:

  • Header
    Actually I need a whole exhaust. This is the thing that is preventing me from starting the car.
  • Radiator
    I found mounts that will work great for the radiator. I need to clean them up and paint them. I need the header done before I mount up the radiator
  • Finish wiring
    I need to get the car running to be sure all the wiring is right. Once that is confirmed I can cut the rest of the wiring from the Cabby.
  • Fluids
    I do need to fill all the fluids, oil, coolant, power steering.
  • Suspension
    This is not something I need to start and drive the car. But I will be modifying the suspension.
  • Wheels and Tire
    I was hoping that I could use the factory wheels and tires. The tires are very dry rotted, and not safe. If I have to buy tires, I am getting wheels too. Man wheels are expensive. :/
  • Interior
    This is just a matter of getting everything installed and cleaned. I will be redoing a lot of the interior parts, but I want this car on the road. 🙂

There are some odds and ends that I am sure I need to wrap up. I will cross those bridges when I get there. Here is a quick video so you can see the Luv A Dub process.

I am pretty pleased with the progress. I hope you all have enjoyed watching the build. If you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments. Also, if you are doing a build similar share your progress. If you want to see more, check out the pictures on the Facebook page.

mk1 VR6 Cabriolet VR6
mk1 VR6 Cabriolet VR6

Engine bay before paint

Last week I polled the audience about painting the engine bay of the Cabby to prep it for the VR6. A simple factory Tornado Red! I was able to get a slight discount on some professionally mixed paint and the hardener. Let me just say, automotive paint is freaking expensive.

When I bought my air compressor a few years ago, it came with a paint gun. Like a lot of things that come in a set, I am sure this is the cheapest paint gun ever. I am painting the engine bay so it does not have to be professional grade, but I still wanted it to look nice. I got my paint and gun, and was ready to paint, or so I thought. I was missing the fitting to hook the gun to the air hose. A quick trip to Auto Zone, and I was back in business.

I mixed the paint and chemical hardener, and started to paint. I quickly realized that getting the paintspray pattern right is an art. The painting went something like this:

mk1 VR6 Cabriolet VR6

The result of poor spraying skills

  • Spray paint, globs of paint come out of the gun.
  • Adjust the pressure on the compressor
  • Spray paint, slightly less globs, but still too much paint
  • Adjust the pressure on the compressor
  • Spray paint, almost right
  • Adjust the pressure on the compressor
  • Spray paint, FINALLY I got it right
  • Run out of paint. :/

By the time I got the spray right, and the hang of the paint sweep, I ran out of paint. I am pretty sure that paint should have been more than enough to cover the engine bay. The engine bay was now splotchy with red, and missing paint in some spots. Like I had said, it’s the engine bay. It does not need to look perfect, but this looked awful.

After some mulling around(aka being mad about the poor job I did) I decided to head back to the auto parts store and pick up some rattle can spray paint. I was able to even out almost all the paint with the rattle cans. Unlike using an air powered paint gun, I can spray paint pretty well. Overall it came out pretty good. I have a few paint drips that need to be sanded and cleaned up. The red rattle can color is not an exact factory match, but it’s close.

So what is the next step? Well I should be bolting the engine in this weekend. After the engine is bolted in, it’s baby steps to get the car running. I was thinking that it may be fun to do a little contest. The sweet prize will be bragging rights. Post in the comments the date you think will be the first start up of the engine. My guess is August 16th. What do you think?

You can also go back and check out all of the progress we have made over the last year at Luv-A-Dub. Or click the tab at the top of the page.

mk1 VR6 Cabriolet VR6

After the respray

Mk1 VW VR6 Cabriolet

It has basically been forever since I have done a post about the VW Cabby. Today I want to give you all some updates and show ya some pictures of how the Cabby sits right now. I have owned that Cabby for just over a year now. All things considered I am pretty happy with the progress. I am hoping to have her one the road before the end of summer. Should we all take bets on whether that will happen or not? LOL 😀

The VR6 Build
The rebuild of the VR6 engine is almost complete. The long block(engine block and cylinder head) are built. Most of the accessories are installed. The water pump is the only thing that needs to be installed before the engine goes in the Cabby. The transmission is all painted up. I still need to paint the axle flanges, and install new axle flange seals. I am thinking by Saturday the engine and transmission will be bolted together. THAT is exciting.

Stripped MK1 Cabriolet engine bay

Working on getting the engine bay ready

The Cabby Engine Bay
This is what I have been working on the last few nights. Cleaning, sanding, cleaning, cleaning and then more cleaning. There is an amazing amount of dirt and grime that sticks to the engine bay of a car. I have no intention of doing the “shaved bay” thing that many other are doing. I think that is a really cool thing to do. I would just like to drive my car some time this decade.


The Interior
I can sum up the interior of the car in 1 word, DISASTER! The interior is pretty much stripped. I wanted to be sure I could run the new wiring neatly. Plus I wanted to remove the last of the sound dampener from behind the dash.

What is left?
When I start to think about all the things left to do, it gets overwhelming. Here is a quick list of things I still need to do or to get:

  • Have the ECM tuned
  • Get a suspension setup
  • Wheels and tires
  • Pick up a battery box, for the trunk
  • Exhaust including header
  • Spark plugs
  • Radiator and fans
  • Pressure line for the power steering pump
  • Serpentine belt
  • Wiring, wiring, wiring, wiring and probably a little more wiring

I am sure that I have many more things that I am forgetting. I am learning that the key to staying motivated during a build like this is to celebrate the small victories. Getting the engine bolted into the car will be my biggest victory yet!

Well, that is where we stand with the Cabby! You can check out all the Luv-A-Dub progress at MK1 VR6 Cabriolet. Also a big shout out to Justin at and Mike and the boys over at EuroWise!


MK1 VR6 Transmission mount

I thought I would shot a quick review video to follow up the blog post I did about the Mk1 Vr6 conversion kit from Eurowise. You can read that post here. This kit is designed as a bolt in solution for installing a VR6 engine into a Mk1 Volkswagen.

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