VW Cabriolet Luv-A-Dub Update Engine Build

Volkswagen Cabriolet VR6 engine

Hi folks, I hope that you all had a great weekend. I was doing some digging though the site and realized that I have not updated the Luv-A-Dub project in almost 2 months. I see the car and the parts everyday, so it is always on my mind. I hate that I haven’t updated in so long.

Volkswagen Cabriolet Luv A Dub MK1

This is what the Cabby looked like "pre art"

A quick recap
For those of you that are new to the site, I am redoing a 1988 Volkswagen Cabriolet. I almost want to call it restoring, but it sounds weird to me. I picked up the car from my work. They donated it to a local charity. The charity did an “art” project to the car. As you can see it is a unique looking car.

I started with the interior, trying to strip the decorations on it. All while trying to plan out the build. I needed a break from the interior work. Shockingly, hours of peeling stickers can drive you insane. I decided to focus on the power plant.

I wanted to do a 1.8t swap initially. That would be a 4cyl turbo charged 1988 Cabriolet, pretty sweet in my mind. I stumbled into a 1998 Jetta with a VR6 for really cheap. $460 for the entire car. Unfortunately, the guy I bought it from didn’t know the difference between a manual transmission, and an automatic transmission. I was able to find a better engine and a manual transmission for $400. Now I have plenty of extra parts for the engine. I like having back ups.

Where we are now
As of right now, the car is basically in storage. I have not done much of anything with the car. My main focus has been on the engine. Last week I sent the cylinder head off the the machine shop. It got a good cleaning, the valve seals, and guides replaced, and the mating surface refinished. All that cost me $350. They did a really good job on it.

VR6 timing chain kit

I also just placed a big order from GermanAutoParts.com. They had some of the best pricing I could find. Here is a list of the parts that I just bought.

  • Head gasket kit.
    This will be all the gaskets I need to put the cylinder head back on the engine. I opted for the better metal head gasket instead of the fiber(read paper) one that came on the car.
  • Head bolt set
    The bolts that hold the cylinder head to the block are torque to yield. That means they stretch when you torque them. Due to that, they must be replaced every time.
  • Engine block gasket set
    This is all the gaskets for the lower part of the engine. The oil pan, oil cooler, oil filter housing and rear main seal.
  • Timing chain kit
    The VR6 is a chain, not belt, driven engine. Not replacing the timing chains is about the dumbest thing that I could have done. This is really a no brainer
  • Thermostat housing kit
    This is the most common failing point of the VR6. I got the entire kit. There will be no coolant leaks on this VR

Don’t worry if you are not sure what some of these parts are. I will be doing posts and videos about all of them. I also ordered some brake parts and some suspension bushings. I am not going to lie, I am super excited about getting these parts.

Where we go from here
The engine rebuild will go fast. At some point this fall/winter, I will make the trip out to Charlotte, NC and visit the guys at Eurowise. They are the company that makes the kit to install the VR6 into the Cabby. Plus I can hit some great NC craft breweries.

We still have a lot of work left to do. The install process will take some time for sure. Also making the wiring harness will be a project in itself. I am really looking forward to that part.

If you have any questions about the car, the progress or the parts I am using, please ask. I have nothing to hide with this build. I want you all to see how much time, effort and money it takes to build a car like this. Also, if you have any parts you want to donate, I am totally open to that 😀

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7 replies
  1. Alex Sol
    Alex Sol says:

    That’s really awesome! Gotta love the MK1 VRs… and I know I spend too much time in VW scene when I know about GermanAutoParts, Eurowise and their VR kits for mk1s, hahahah 😉

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      If you want to send it down to NC, I would love to add it to the family. 😉

      I would post it on Craigslist. It is free and pretty easy. There are tons of Cabby fans up that way. You should have no problem finding her a new home.

  2. Cris
    Cris says:

    Hay im cris i have a 1993 cab my self with the 1.8l i want to do a turbo kit on it what would i need and or do u no of a good kit to make that happen thanks

    • Charles
      Charles says:

      Not sure they make a kit for the stock 1.8t. You’d almost be better or cheaper to swap with a 1.8t from a newer generation car.

      You’d be piecing together a kit yourself. That’s not a big deal. And if that’s what you want, go that route.

      But before I would commit to that, looks at an AWP 1.8t swap.


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