For as long as I can remember being in the Vancouver VW scene I can remember that Mike always had some of the nicest, most meticulously kept cars around and he was and still is an innovator in the local VW scene. I would also say that Mike is one of the friendliest, most down to earth characters you could meet in the local scene. When I first met Mike he had a rare Oceanic Blue Audi Coupe GT, then he moved onto a Seqouia Green 1995 Jetta GLX VR6 which eventually got a Vortech V1 Supercharger and was definitely one of the cleanest Mk3’s around. After the Jetta, Mike got into a 1977 Rabbit that was a little more on the rat style side of things, and though he didn’t hang on to that car for a very long period of time, the Mk1 fever definitely stayed with him.
While driving a black Mk2 GTI, Mike got his hands on a clean 1982 Westmoreland Rabbit shell and it turned into a full fledge project from there. Mike acquired a 1.8T motor from a wrecked 2003 20th Anniversary Edition GTI and the car was stripped and off for metal work which included shaving the engine bay, sunroof and side markers, welding on an early Rabbit front end, and modifying the rear end to fit early Rabbit tail lights. Most of the early parts Mike gathered for this project were from a 1980 German Rabbit he also had and parted out. The 82′ was then painted Sunbrite Yellow, an original early Rabbit colour, by Paragon Collision in North Vancouver. After the paintbooth the 1.8T was put in along with a Eurojet intake pipe, Mishimoto Front Mounted Intercooler, and an 02J transmission as well as H&R Ultra Low coilovers, Wilwood Brakes, and 16×7 BBS RS003’s on 165/45/16 tyres. The outside of the car was pieced back together with plenty of beautiful polished items, and the interior had a complete makeover. An early uncracked dashboard was sourced and wrapped in green, and the new look you see on the Mk1 Scirocco S Recaro seats, Sea Grass Green carpet, green headliner, door cards, and all the other pieces in this incredible retro interior were artistically, and skillfully created by Tim at Velocity Upholstery.
Mike also had a lot of help from the guys over at Shift Autosport in Burnaby. They were responsible for puling the 1.8T from the 20th AE GTI, mocking the engine up in the 82′ and the final install of the engine. They even rescued us after a mishap on our first photoshoot attempt. Mike and I found a nice sunny evening for photos and I was just about at the location when I got a call from Mike who’s poor bunny became victim to the Highway 1 Improvement Project construction after 30 minutes of driving on a day permit. An odd dip and bump in the road took out his oil pan and just like that the shoot was cancelled for the day. Luckily Mike’s misfortune happened near Shift and we were able to get the car towed to the shop after hours; thank goodness that Rich, the owner, was still around. The next morning the damaged oil pan was replaced, and the car was good to go again. That evening we made our way back to Vancouver, which very typically, after a full morning and afternoon of sun, started raining on us. Not what we wanted as I was hoping to show off the brightness of the yellow with a sunset in the background and the evening glow hitting the car. Instead we shot for the next few hours under an umbrella, and then under a bridge when it started raining even more. Even though it rained a lot, I really loved the opportunity to photograph such a finely crafted retro VW. I can’t wait to get the car in front of my camera again on a sunny Spring day in 2013.
Some of the other crew that came out to help with the shoot and chill. Thanks again Dennis, Cameron, and Bridgette!