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vw golf cabriolet 85 US Spec restore - 3279A

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Hi Everyone,

So after few years away from playing around with VW's, been mod'ing Audi's, porsches and old school MGA I am back into toying around with another mk1 1985 US spec vw golf cabriolet, 1 family owner, low miles, LHD, runs and drives, but needs some love.

I now live in US, so will be looking to get a few parts changed out to make it more to its European look.

My goal is to restore this back to glory but with few mods to make it better. To give you an idea of level I go to, you can view one of my cabs I used to have and recorded on here which I just sold after many years of ownership - Black SOY

Here is cab as is today.





The cab needs a really good clean to start with, so that will be the plan this week and then I will start to go through it front to back on what needs fixing, replacing, upgrading.

I will for sure put coil-overs or air ride on it with nice set of 15" rims - would be good to get peoples input on what best option for wheel size for these cabs?

I have to say with all the cars I get to work on, I enjoy working on mk1 vw's the most.

Last edit: by madone_si


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Well the northwest rain is keeping me from giving the car a good clean inside and out (I don't really have a garage to work in). So I started to check all the electrics inside the car and here is what I found

Open either door and inside light does not come on (does come on if push switch to on position) - need to check door switches and cables
Dashboard cluster - functioning correctly, expect - no lights coming on (will check blubs, fuses and dimmer switch)
Dashboard cluster clock (digi) not coming on - will check cluster, fuses)
Looks like the main lights only come on, I don't see any side light bulbs in my main light units - is this normal for US spec cabs? They come as standard in European models.
wipers work - little slow for my liking (will take out wiper unit and refurb or upgrade)
side indicators working at front and passenger rear, look like the drivers rear not working (discovered the whole light unit is not working) - need to investigate more.
Hazard switch works for 3 corners working
Heater unit works, due to this vw cab has AC installed, I need to read up more on each of the selections, I cannot hear the heater unit as I would from previous vw cabs I've had, but then again none of them had AC installed. Interesting when select #3 on heater knob the radiator fan comes on - not sure if that is normal either.
Original stereo / Radio - working fine, speakers are blown and the Aerial Antenna  needs replacing.
There is an alarm system installed in the car, but it looks like someone disconnected it - there are wires everywhere - that will be a job for weekend to trace it all and take out. (Clifford alarm - I hate these makes, had one in the UK and it used to go off whenever it liked!)
Rear window defroster switch is solid and not working (I pulled this out of the dash and found the following below) - need to trace the cabling back to the main loom and see if any other cables are impacted too.


Well looks like the switch over heated and melted, I need to order a new switch and rear connector as well. switch should be easy to order, but I'm not seeing connector for sale anywhere. Time to widen my search to various online forums :)







When I drove the car back home, the oil pressure light and buzzer was going off when I went over 2k, I know this is one of the oil switches on the oil filter unit, I tested it after it started to happen on the side of the road (Full details on this issue is well documented but for others here are few links)
https://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?2049336
http://www.cabby-info.com/gauges.htm
https://www.reflection…dows.com/cabby/dopws.html

I wonder what else I will find wrong with this cab over the weekend…..?!

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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So bought another mk1 cab today, its actually in good condition. This one is automatic 1983. Not sure what I am going to do with the second one, might strip it and make into a cab racer with 16v or R32 conversion. Let me know what you all think would be a good idea for it?

Think I might like white cars!!

Need a good clean and starts and runs.


interior is in amazing condition - big bonus


Managed to get custom cover made for 85 cab, ideal as its water proof and has soft inside covering, glad as today has been a very rainy Seattle here in US.



So I started to look and find where the alarm system was - well it was not hard, it was glued to the underside of the lower dashboard right next to the main loom and also sensor unit (Broken) inside the center console and wiring to the starter and battery. I have most of it out, just got few pieces of wires to clean up.

Who ever installed it was a cowboy, the wiring is a mess.





I have complete gear shifter kit, so not too worried about this one being rusted out, but it now makes me want to take out all the seats and carpet to make sure there is no further rust anywhere else.

Fuse cover has seen better days!



Also ordered myself mkII throttle body - get better throttle response once I have all the other mods done too (going to keep the 8v engine with CIS.



Also ordered all LEDs to replace interior and exterior lights.

Also created up Facebook page for the car - "Vw cabriolet fixer upper" will update that page more often going forward as well as here on work I do, possible ideas, information.

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Productive few hours today.

1. Finished up removal of the alarm system - Clifford you are done!
2. Removed cluster from dashboard - some switches broken ;(
3. Fix the cluster clock and tested everything
4. Managed to get nice upgrade item - could not stop myself!

All the parts I removed from the car relating to the alarm - took hour to rip it all out, didn't even have to remove anything - that is how bad this installation was!


Before taking out cluster in dashboard


sadly few of the switches broke as taking out - they just come apart with backs coming off - its happens no big deal, will order new ones. The worst one was main light and cluster light adjustor (this could be why my cluster lights not work - but will validate that with testing cluster and each bulb.


I don't think this cluster has ever been taken out.. (which is good)


Super clean cluster, so happy no damage.


cluster taken apart and you can see broken switches at the top left and I got spare replacement clock unit too, as my original was dead. Also tested each cluster bulb and they all worked, so I think the main light switch is the main cause.


Testing the new clock unit - it works!


and all back together again, I also installed superbrightleds - bulbs - so I can see the cluster in dash!


and here is my little upgrade item - vw mk2 recaro seats - I will be having them completely rebuilt (part of whole interior being done) - I will do most of the work but get an amazing local upholstery company redo cloth for me - think I will do a video on these in near future.

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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and the cluster with new LEDs - lit up on my desk!


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Well with the crappy rain and high winds not done much the last 2 weekends. New years was fun trip to Napa.

This week hope to get cluster back in the car, new switches and sort out rear drivers lights that are not working. Parts on order for adding relays for main front lights.

Managed to pick up set of 14x6.5 4x100 ET30 BBS RM wheels, need to sort out new center caps. With dropping the car on coilovers and these wheels should get a really nice low look but very functional.





Anyone got advice on coilovers? Been looking at Kontrol PRo dampers and D2 racing (36 way dampening) - thought about air ride, but I have Audi Avant that has that already, plus I want this car to be little more OEM+, so coilovers it is.

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Good work on removing the alarm… I have a 93 Cabriolet with alarm issues so its coming out!

I like your new dash clock display….  is that a new off the shelf item ? As mine is suffering the dreaded screen corrosion effect. If its a new replacement there's a lot of cabriolet owners who need replacement ones  :thumbs:

In regard to the new dashboard LEDs. Are they Green tint or have you left the factory tint in place to create the green effect?

New refurbished  LS/LX Recaros'…. Great idea! Can you use the factory bases to retro fit the seats or will you have to heavily modify the bases?

As you can see a rebuild/refurb of my cabrio is planned, so I'll be following this rebuild with great interest!

I also followed your Black Soy project and that was a lovely car!

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ConvictGTI-No.1983EW said


Good work on removing the alarm… I have a 93 Cabriolet with alarm issues so its coming out!

I like your new dash clock display….  is that a new off the shelf item ? As mine is suffering the dreaded screen corrosion effect. If its a new replacement there's a lot of cabriolet owners who need replacement ones  :thumbs:

In regard to the new dashboard LEDs. Are they Green tint or have you left the factory tint in place to create the green effect?

New refurbished  LS/LX Recaros'…. Great idea! Can you use the factory bases to retro fit the seats or will you have to heavily modify the bases?

As you can see a rebuild/refurb of my cabrio is planned, so I'll be following this rebuild with great interest!

I also followed your Black Soy project and that was a lovely car!



The new clock in the dash/cluster is brand new, there is a few companies selling these now. Its LED Clock new, but I also bought a spare dash/cluster and that clock was working too, so have a spare. I plan on doing a short video of how to replace clock and check dash/cluster out of the car (done this a few times now over the years)

the dash LED lights are white from superbrightleds-dot-com, I left the green tint in the dash as I want to keep it OEM looking.

Recaro's I will fab up new bases to fit the cab, as these have the electrics to them.

great news to hear on your own rebuild/refurb. Its always good to work on vw's

Yeah Black SOY was great cab and car to work on, but it had to go to fund other vw projects :)

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Well the weather managed to stay dry for most of the day for me to do some electrical work on cabriolet.



Start out with replacing the rear window defrost connector. Compare new and old, cut the wires ready for soldering wires so everything is done right and protecting the soldering of wires.

The issue;


new connector


wires ready


loom wires ready


tools of choice to solder and heat up protection sleeves over soldering


key to make sure wires are intertwined and then add solder and after minute, put protection sleeve over and heat up for perfect finish.


all done on defrost wiring. I did add electrical tape just in front of the protection sleeves to make sure all wires are together just like OEM finish before.


Now moved onto the starter motor power cable in the engine bay. When I removed the alarm system they cut into that cable and well it was not done well so I wanted to repair it right. Here is cable pulled out and showing what was in place.


I noticed the wires was about 4-5 inches short cut to cutting and cleaning up, so add a new section to the wire, clean wires intertwined and soldering and protection sleeves add.


All the bits taken out from that single wire.


Tested the car to make sure starter kicks in and started the car :) - works perfect.

Now onto the rear of the car and why drivers side rear light unit is now working and replace the rear boot strut as it wasn't work.


Well after looking at both sides of the rear lights unit, it was clear the issue was just rust on all the connectors, so took out both, cleaned them up and place back - 20 minutes of work later and lights all working perfectly.. I get a feeling I am going to discover more ground issues on this cab…


Now moved back inside the car and temp installed the dashboard and most of the switches to test out work I did on cluster - happy to say clock is working and everything else works as need but with one issue. The cluster lights and some of the switches lights are not working..


So time to check the fuses and relay and grounds to figure out why cluster and some switches are not lighting up.

Well everything looks ok on fuse/relay box or is it?


Well this is not good…


and the top two relays had a lot of rust too on relays and on the connectors too..


So getting the fuse/relay box out was easy but the star ground connectors are pain to get too, so I remove the lower sub-bar dashboard - that was not fun to do, my back is going to hurt later….


checked all the relays, cleaned up most of the connectors, but two of them are bad, so I think I will need to take them apart see if I can clean them and test them - 26 and 37 are the worst ones.


Relay 37 taken apart.


Cleaned up well and was just the pins that had rust, rest was perfectly clean inside


Relay 26 on the other hand had rust inside and I could not clean it without breaking parts and seeing as I can get a replacement I ordered new one


I took out the star ground x2 connectors they are so bad and had a lot of rust also on the bolt to the metal bracket. I need to order new ones and will need to clean up the bracket too. Will show more on that on next update. I did so a quick test with ground from brown cluster cable to back of the dash metal and the cluster lights came on, so I know I have ground issues - well that is nothing new for a mk1 owner.. :banghead::laugh:

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Waiting on parts to arrive , so moved on to cleaning my spare cabriolet top cover, got it in December. Plan is to clean it up see how it looks afterwards, if good use it, if not I think I will dye it Black.

before


during


after


one area looks to be unclean able :(


So end result is it cleaned up well and everything is good enough to use, but I am going to dye it Black so now looking into how to get that done :laugh:

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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little update - cleaned up the star ground connectors with vinegar - worked a treat.

Just placed into bowl with vinegar


few hours later


and with wipe of cloth - looking like new again.


I have to wire brush the inside yet.

The next challenge is how do I get the rust of the end ground loom cable up inside the dashboard. Been thinking about putting vinegar in bowl and into a clear bag and placing the cables into the bag and bowl and then somehow hold the bag up in place so vinegar can do its thing to the cable end pins. Thoughts?

Next week is going to be exciting and big update… all exterior is coming out and sending off for new look….

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Well I book some time off and what does mother nature give me?!!!!! Snow…….

So not much going on for this cab, but I did have a great weekend with kick off of my other mk1 cab racer project - just started new thread for that one too on here - view at https://vwgolfmk1.org.uk/forum/index.php?page=topicview&id=projects%2Fyour-mk1-golfs_2%2Fvw-golf-cab-racer


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Been on the hunt for a while for a certain set of wheels, so managed to get these yesterday so happy 15x7 Fittipaldi's

Going to do some spacers to push front and rears out to the lip edge.



10" of snow so still no more progress on car :(


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Well the Fittipaldi's didn't come with the center cap tool and its very rare key set so what else do you end up doing but make the tool..

time to measure








I then made up a mock up of tool and then had new tool made on the metal lathe and here is result;





now I get working on cleaning up and painting these wheels to go on the cab. I need to get coil overs installed and finish up with ground wires and then its driving so can get the car over to upholstery guy to finish up the revamp of the interior.


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Finally with some dry weather I reinstalled ground units again and cleaned up the ground cables and plugged all back in. Also added the one fixed relay and new relay.



Relays


and all installed :)


I did a few things to the cluster. I add electrical tape on both sides of the plastic parts where the cluster electrical plugs go, this makes sure the connectors actually have a firm connection. I found that when I moved the cables connected to the cluster the cluster functions would stop and start.

Cluster in and now the lights in cluster are actually working. This I think was two fold. Ground issues and the cables connectors not having firm connections. Happy now.


also all the other dash lights are now working too :) all except one center console dial :( will need to order new light for that one.





On the wheel front, had to make sure I had the right bolt setup to order my adapters - confirmed 5 x 112. Ordered 4x100 to 5x112. Due to wheels are ET35 been thinking I might do conversion to 5x112 would give me more options for future too.


and could not stop myself to see roughly what they looked like. I think once the car is lowered on coil overs and adapters installed the wheels are going to fill that wheel arch nicely.


Happy weekend everyone!

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Enjoying your updates here, looking forward to seeing it finished and nice choice of wheels.

Will you alternate between the new ones and the BBS you posted earlier as they looked pretty decent too?

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Kingy76 said

Enjoying your updates here, looking forward to seeing it finished and nice choice of wheels.

Will you alternate between the new ones and the BBS you posted earlier as they looked pretty decent too?

thanks

The BBS wheels will be sold in the near future.

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Been checking brakes and suspension setup in preparing for coilover installation. Need to order new front rotors and pads and full brake flush and fuilds, lower arms going to replace too, overall what I thought.

Starting to clean wheel arch areas to see what it would look like under all the years of road usage and looks to be nice clean paint so good news.

Then I noticed something I've not seen on any of my previous mk1's - the wheels bolts are not bolts but nuts with threads. I asked on this forum about that and it looks to be non-standard.

I did  further investigation and looks like someone added threads to front and rear (bolts on the rear drums :(but both front rotor, pads and rear drums and pads are shot so I am replacing them all and will take out the front threads, this will allow me to go OEM setup but get the adapters for the wheels I want.

Appreciate other cab owners insights on my other thread query.




I also had the lovely job of getting the ash tray out of the lower dash as the light and lighter unit was not functioning. The actual light unit itself was a pain to get apart to separate from ash tray unit without braking ash tray unit. Small plastic parts, must not break…. oops!

I ordered a new light unit that can be used as power adapter as well from later VW model. :)near perfect in spec and cheap.

Still needed to take apart the light bulb so can replace that too with LED version.



Also took apart light bulb unit for one of the center dials to replace it and the other two with LEDs.


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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Finally the day when I get to see all the interior lights working and with upgraded LEDs too!

Got new lighter unit in which now will allow me to charge my mobile and other stuff - this is from a later VW model - near perfect match. Just have to adjust the connector on the loom


Install into the unit






Testing out the light


Moved onto the start of replacing all dash bulbs to LEDs - I will show few of them below, most are the same way I did them. Got this down to less than 4 minutes a unit to complete.

Each unit at the top of the pins where meets the bulb, there is little piece of metal push down - this hold the pins inside the bulb unit. you push these up, with tiny flat screwdriver from the ends and same time push pin upwards - this will allow you to remove bulb and pins from unit. Do this part slowly


Give you idea of bad bulb, new OEM bulb and LED bulb


some other units doing at the same time


I usually do all my soldering using my multiple clamps but for the life of me I cannot find them :(so had to revert back to old ways of taping bulb down and using pliers to hold pins while using soldering unit. Worked out very well actually.

Then moved on to preparing LED light and then soldered first pin on (I will always get soldered on and then afterwards clean up weld to make flat)


Both pins soldered welded on


Key to now test bulb (I always test each new bulb before trying to install as well)


Now time to install into unit. Key you do this part gently to start, you need to make sure each pin goes down into the bulb unit slows of each side and then using small screw driver you can push down on top of pins to get it down 30% into unit as you can see below.


To get bulb and pins to sit completely in unit as below, I use two ways. 1. Keep pushing top of pins down with screw driver until the bulb gets in the way, this then allows the pins to show on each side of unit and I then use a pointed screws driver to put into the pin hole and pull pins down - works really well.


Time to test again to make sure LED is ok and working


Now I just repeat this process again to all the interior lights…

This is the unit I used with some electrical wires to test out the bulbs


I tested out one or two of the LEDs in the car.

Compare OEM to LED


LED is on the left the other two are OEM - but both will be replaced to LED.


Then replaced the light switch bulb to LED and can also see much better now the dashboard with LEDs


What dash looks like at night…


Well I for one am happy now I have all the wiring working and lights as I want it, just got to finish up 2 more units to LEDs and then we can put the dashboard all back together.

Another set of jobs done today.

Hope you all are getting your VW fix of fixing or installing new parts.

Last edit: by madone_si


Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 

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At last my collectors plate come in :) can actually use the car on the road…. yeah!

plate and new plate holder



and all installed!



"Hope you all getting your VW fix today of fixing and install new parts!"

Madone with the two Cabs 82 (UK RHD) and 85 (US LHD) (92 sold)

 
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