Modified Golf Rallyes are becoming quite thin on the ground these days, so when we caught wind of Dan Gilligan’s stunning example we just had to check it out…

Over the years it’s safe to say we’ve seen some pretty abysmal modified Rallyes. It just seemed to be one of those cars (like the Mk2 Scirocco and Corrado to a degree) that attracted people with, for the best part, questionable taste in styling. Lancia Delta Integrale-style bonnets, M3 mirrors, smooth tailgates, you name it, we’ve seen it all.

Thankfully though, as numbers of the rare machines have continued to dwindle and second-hand prices have started to soar as a result the amount of ‘butchered’ examples have all but disappeared. These days, if you see a car that’s been fettled with then 99% of the time it’s been done so in a tasteful, well-thoughtout fashion that’s not just flattering or complimentary to the original car, but in many cases all mods are reversible, too. Hell, we’ve even seen people (we’ll mention no names) spending a small fortune turning their modified cars back to standard to help with residual values. It goes without saying that anybody brave enough to take on such a rare, sort after car these days needs to do so with caution as there will be a lot of people observing their actions!

Golf RallyeGolf Rallye

Suffolk lad, Dan Gilligan was only too aware of the rising prices and growing rarity when he picked up his 1989 back in 2012. Having previously owned a nice Oak green 16v Mk2, a 2001 Audi S3 and Mk1 16v it’s safe to say Dan likes his sporting Veedubs. “My brother and his mates were all into VWs,” said the 31 year old. Plus he lives just down the road from Brentwaters Park where GTI International was held many moons ago: “All the cars used to queue back to Woodbridge to get into the show, so I always liked checking them out.”

“I had actually been building a two-litre ABF 16v turbo for the Mk1 Golf I previously owned, but soon came to realise it would never get the power down through the front wheels, so when I saw the Rallye pop up for sale at the right price it was a no brainer,” he confessed. It was actually the brother of an old friend who was selling the car so Dan gave him a call and arranged to go see the it. “The car had already been painted and also converted to right-hand drive, but other than that it was in a sorry state,” Dan told us. The fact the car was no longer ‘original’ meant Dan didn’t feel as bad about injecting his own touches and fitting the ABF motor. “The fact it had been converted to right-hand drive was actually quite appealing as it would make driving the car in the UK a lot easier and safer.” Dan went on to tell us how a BAM 1.8T from an Audi TT had originally been fitted, but not to his standard. Far from it, in fact: “The loom was massacred, plugs were melted, there were cable ties everywhere and the fuel pump and lines were almost touching the exhaust.” On top of that the original Rallye carpet had been ‘butchered’ to allow for the sketchy bolt-in roll cage to be fitted, plus it was soaking wet due to the door rubbers having been fitted back to front. “Then the bucket seat frames had been welded to the floor, so there was no adjustment on those, plus there was rust starting to show where the car had previously been welded and it had also melted some of the underseal which had not been replaced,” he continued, “I gained a screw driver which had been rattling around near the inlet manifold for God-knows how long and the car still had the original Pearl green paint in the bay. It was just shoddy workmanship, so I had my work cut out.”

Golf RallyeGolf Rallye

Thankfully the car came with its original Rallye interior which Dan planned to refit so the car was then almost back to its original state (other than the RHD conversion obviously). “Things just escalated from there though as the bay has been painted at least twice and the engine has been tidied several times before I was 100% happy.” Other than the non-factory colour I think it was the engine and standard of finish under the bay that first caught our eye when we first saw the car at Edition 38 2016. Rather than looking like a heavily modified car that had all manor of ideas thrown at it the car appeared like it could have been a special edition authorised by Wolfsburg.

So first things first, as soon as Dan had the car home he reckons he removed the ‘hideous’ roll cage and bucket seats: “I’d actually agreed with the previous owner that he could have them back, so I swiftly sourced a fresh dashboard and carpet which went in, before I installed to original trim.”

Being an electrician by trade, it’s safe to say Dan is pretty good with his hands and he claims to have carried out most of the work himself: “I actually built a double garage at home first so I had somewhere with enough room to spread out all the parts and work on the car.” It’s all in the planning, clearly!

Golf RallyeGolf Rallye

So having driven the car for best part of a year as it was, once the garage was complete he could begin the first major strip down: “I stripped the car completely and built a rotisserie jig so I could turned the car on its side and remove all the underseal from the floor and make any required repairs.” Dan claims this was done with a wire wheel and was probably the most time-consuming part of the project. Next it was time to remove the 1.8T, clean up the bay and then instal his blown ABF. “Originally I was running a G60 ECU and loom which I lengthened and ran through the chassis leg, but I have since swapped to Emerald K6 management and am using a flying loom which i cut to length, routed and terminated myself.” When the ECU was swapped Dan also pulled the engine again for it to be chromed and he fitted a new Borg Warner EFR6258 turbo with polished housing and a Forge wastegate which was modified to fit. “The engine is currently producing 320bhp, but that’s with it limited to 6000rpm and 19psi of boost until I install larger injectors,” he said. Dan says the car is a lot of fun to drive and all-round a nice rigid set-up, however, where it was initially quite scary he’s since become used to the power now, so perhaps it’s time for those uprated injectors, hey?

In terms of bodywork the aerial, rear wiper and side trims had already been removed, so most of Dan’s focus has been on the chassis and engine bay, which was sensibly cleaned (and painted in the Audi Dolphin grey hue to match the shell). Dan was conscious not to go over board with the smoothing inside the bay in order to keep a certain OEM feel to it: “People often gasp when I life the bonnet which is always enjoyable, as I don’t think they expect to see anything other than a cluttered G60 motor in there.” Dan claims people either love or loathe the fact it’s been converted to right-hand-drive, too: “I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t have considered the car if it had still been left-hand-drive. I was mainly after the four-wheel-drive platform, although I do love the body shape, especially the boxy front wings!”

Golf RallyeGolf Rallye

Having effectively double the car’s original power output Dan has sensibly upgrade the chassis to suit. Trusty KW V1 coilovers were drafted in to lower the ride height and aid cornering, while Porsche 996 front calipers and 305mm SEAT Ibiza Cupra discs combined with a Tilton pedal box take car of stopping power. Dan has also converted to an electric PAS set-up which as well as being mighty effective has also cleaned things up further under the bonnet. Finally a set of timeless 7.5×17” BBS E50s were fitted (with 0.5” and 1” lips) to house the larger discs and give the car a unique look of its own.

Dan was clearly very proud to walk us around the car back at Edition in 2016 and it’s understandable given the work he’s carried out himself: “I’ve done all the welding, plus made mock ups for the downpipe, intake and turbo manifolds before they were sent off to be tig welded. Then there’s the hours spend prepping the bay for paint, not to mention all the time I spend under the car, then rebuilding the engine. Other than the machining work and balancing, plus the chroming, I’ve done most of it myself.”

What does the future hold and would he do it all again? Well, I might look at a stronger ’box and drivetrain as I’ve already stripped the teeth from 5th gear as Rallye gearboxes aren’t that strong, but mainly I just plan to continue enjoying it and driving it more.” Besides, Dan’s already got his hands full with a new project, too, based on an old-school Audi race car. “I can’t really say much about that, other than the project has already begun!” So it’s safe to say modifying is in your blood then Dan? “Well it keeps us off the streets, at least. For me it’s more about the performance mods and engineering than aesthetics, but in general I guess it’s about putting your own style into a car and making it better than it perhaps originally was. Personally I like to see trick engines and bonnets up at shows!” We couldn’t agree more!

Feature taken from Performance VW March 2018 issue. Words: Elliott Roberts. Photos: Matt Woods

Tech Spec: Modified VW Golf Rallye


2.0-litre ABF 16v from a Mk3 Golf with cylinders bored out 0.5mm to 83mm, forged Wossner low-comp pistons (9:1), forged ZRP connecting rods, balanced crankshaft, lightened and balanced flywheel, block painted and cylinder head vapour blasted to original aluminium appearance, modified and chromed plated VW cam cover, custom made inlet manifold which has been chromed plated, Bosch drive-by-wire electric throttle body, chromed and rebuilt alternator, Audi TT 1.8T fuel rail modified and polished, Bosch 440cc Green injectors, VW/Audi coil on plug assembly, custom turbo exhaust manifold, Borg Warner EFR6258 turbo with polished compressor housing, Forge Motorsport waste gate modified to fit, custom stainless downpipes and full stainless exhaust system, external Mocal 13-row oil cooler, original Rallye intercooler, custom aluminium radiator with silicone hose and top fill set-up, Emerald ECU and custom wiring harness routed through chassis leg with new plugs/connectors. Original Rallye gearbox rebuild, Audi TT gearbox shifter tower and counterweight come plated, Libra Technic engine mounts, Audi R8 oil cap, distributor blanked off with custom polished cover, chrome-plated water hose, all bracket powder coated or chrome plated. New Bosch 044 fuel pump and filter, billet aluminium Torques pump and filter with custom fuel accumulator bottle. Custom fuel hoses with AN fittings. Electric PAS system


7.5×17” BBS E50 magnesium wheels with thick, reverse-mounted centres and 0.5” and 1” lips respectively. KW V1 coilovers, powder coated black springs. Factory suspension components all refreshed and powder coated along with driveshafts and propshaft. Powerflex bushes fitted throughout, fuel tank painted body colour, stainless fabricated tank straps. OEM brake servo removed and replaced with Tilton pedal box and Wildwood master cylinders with integrated reservoirs. Porsche 996 callipers painted body colour, SEAT Cupra R 305mm discs (front), replaced OEM brakes (rear) with HEL brake hoses. OEM brake lines replaced and rerouted inside car through chassis legs


Painted Audi (LX7Z) Dolphin grey, Audi TT Xenon headlight conversion, electric wing mirrors, wiper mechanism chrome plated, underside stripped of underseal, repaired and reapplied, then painted body colour. Battery and washer bottle removed from bay and relocated to boot, engine bay stripped, unused holes filled and brackets removed, bare metal repaint in bay to show standard. Wheel arches resealed and painted body colour, sunroof seal renewed and mechanism powder coated, chrome-plated Porsche 944 door handles, front slam panel, bumper, rear spoiler and hinges painted. Chrome bonnet catches


Factory Rallye trim and seats retrimmed with new centre fabric, retrimmed door cards in original material, custom door pods/speakers, custom carpet, Momo Team 300mm steering wheel, headunit relocated in dash under shelf, VDO coil pressure, oil temperature and turbo boost gauges, right-hand-drive conversion


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