Projects Spotlight: Mk1 VW Caddy V2
Why have just one amazing VW truck when you can have two? Here's the story of the jaw-dropping Caddy V2...
There's been a long and illustrious history of awesome pickup trucks here at Auto Finesse. In fact, many cite our 1954 Chevy Stepside as one of our ultimate builds (and they'd be right), and it's no secret that James - the boss of all things AF - spends many hours thrashing around in his posh Revere X Class Merc. But, what's most important to the story of this particular Porsche Crayon Grey VW truck - dubbed in-house the "Caddy V2' - goes right back to where it all began with our Porsche-powered OG Caddy. This famous burgundy Mk1 (when it's not being shipped around Europe to various events) lives in our Detailing Academy Flagship Store and certainly served up plenty of inspiration, and a little nostalgia, for this new VW build. After all, if there's a V2 - then there had to be a V1, right? And our very first Auto Finesse project from way back in 2014 lays the foundation for this more recent iteration of Volkswagen's finest. A new project that's not only immaculate in every detail, but has even spawned a whole special edition of Performance VW Magazine, and a matching Honda Metruck Scooter. But, we'll get to all that in a bit because, first of all, let's introduce you to the Auto Finesse Caddy V2…
Now, a few of you will have seen the V2 making its debut at Ultimate Stance at the very end of the last season, but the real story is that it was never meant to be a full-on show wagon. Some might say that the project spiralled out of control, but contra to all that, there was always a huge amount control and consideration in the build - even if it ended up going a little further than most of us imagined.
What we can say for sure is that this started out as nothing more than a spare shell knocking around in our yard, until James had the idea of putting together something a little different to the OG Caddy, something that would be supremely practical, even if it wasn't 100% show worthy. But, while this was a mere seedling of an idea, it was shifted straight into high gear when the pandemic hit, we were forced into lockdown and Stuart, a long-time friend of Auto Finesse, said "I'll paint that old truck for you, it'll give me something to do!"
Now, obviously nothing is quite that simple when it comes to modifying cars and it did mean a mad scramble to get the whole project dry built - with everything from the Mk3 Golf 2.0 valver lump in and running, to the air ride and 5-link rear beam test fitted. Of course, once that was complete, and the Caddy could actually be driven around, it all had to be pulled straight out again, setting the whole lot back to a bare shell, and shipping it off to Stuart's barn for the Porsche-inspired paintjob. There it was also treated to a few custom extras too, including the side exit exhaust, smoothed engine bay, scuttle delete, new rear arches and a whole new bed. But, only when the freshly-painted shell was loaded onto our recovery lorry, and returned to the Detailing Academy build bay, could the real fun (for us anyway) begin.
It goes without saying that there's a huge difference to a dry test-build, and the full-on finished article, especially when it comes to the number of details on the truck you see here. And, although there's been quite the comprehensive stash of VW parts built up over the years here at AF, there was still plenty of ordering to do, and some supremely rare parts and finishing touches to source.
Still, it's hardly your average Mk8 Golf this one, eh? It's not like you can just pop down to your local main dealer with a wishlist, some of the bits and pieces for this '80s legend are extremely hard to come by nowadays. Luckily, we had plenty of help from the guys at The Heritage Parts Centre, who seem to magically find just about every bolt, clip and piece of rubber going. Our list of must-have new stuff was long and distinguished, but eventually we sourced everything we needed, and parts that we couldn't replace were thoroughly refurbished, so we could begin the painstaking bolt-by-bolt rebuild. Starting with the chassis…
When we said that everything was new, we meant it - from the 5-link beam and brakes to the arms, hubs, copper brake lines, Air Lift Performance Struts and even the bolts that hold everything together. But, aside from the "not scratching the new paintwork' bit, putting it all together was surprisingly straightforward. But then again, it should have been - we'd already been through this once!
The Mk3 Golf ABF lump and Mk4 Golf 1.8T Gearbox was much the same story, Matt, our resident AF Mechanic, soon had it slotted into place. There was one big difference here of course, far from running the standard injection, a serious upgrade was in order, and this came in the form of Jenvey ITBs. While these special Heritage items may look like old skool carburettors, they're actually modern independent throttle bodies with hidden injectors. So, these not only look the part in this super-clean bay but - with the help of an all-singing, all-dancing Link ECU and a tickle on the map from old skool tuning legend Steve Greenall of Track and Road Performance - they bark with the best of them, too!
The exterior was by no means finished at this point either. The new paintjob certainly looked the part, but how could it be given even more retro flavour? We brought an old friend back to the academy - master pinstriper, Neil Melliard.
You see, there's absolutely no modern vinyl or graphics on this build, all the signwriting and stripes was done the old fashioned way - with a brush and some supreme skills. Luckily Neil is the man when it comes to old skool paint techniques, and his brush has been put to many of the world's craziest cars - everything from vintage drag racers to modern F1 racers. He also laid down the strokes (along with plenty of gold leaf) on our Chevy and AirStream Trailer, and was the one who hand-painted the OG Caddy signage. So, there was never going to be anyone else for this project, was there? We think you'll agree that he did an amazing job with this '80s inspired theme… and he even had time to complete a custom shift knob. What a legend!
Aside from a huge correction detail, with plenty of wet sanding from our highly-skilled detailers (you can see more on that in our article - Caddy V2 - The Big Detail), There was one crucial addition to finish off the exterior to AF standards - the wheels. Obviously, these had to be seriously special, especially with the latter stages of the build making it obvious that this was going to be a full-on shower. So James went all out, calling in a few favours and sourcing some Magnesium BBS E50 centres and having them built to spec with new lips and hardware. The word rare just doesn't seem to come close here, these Porsche Racing rims are only actually available to Classic Porsche club racers, so even we don't know how he managed to get his hands on a set… we don't ask questions like that.
Anyway, wrapped in Nankang NS-2R tyres, and bolted together as a reverse-face 7x17 on the front and standard face 8x17 on the rear, they really do the rest of the build justice. In fact, we just can't think of anything more suitable. There's nothing out there that would suit this project better.
The final part of the build - after the inside had been thoroughly machine polished of course - was bolting in the new interior. Now, there was much deliberation throughout the entire project as to best finish off the inside. It's true that the idea was always a Singer Porsche-style cabin, with plenty of bare paintwork, no carpets, an amazing CAE short shifter and a couple of leather matts, but as for the colour? Well, it was clearly a bold choice - but it works!
In the end the classic choice of electric Mk2 Golf Recaros - with the headrests deleted and expertly wrapped in perforated orange leather by the guys at DS Trim Shack - along with a Trieri steering wheel and a distinct lack of stereo or speakers, complete a distinct hot-rod-meets-club-racer look.
And that's nearly the end of the story for the Caddy V2, and we've no doubt that you'll be seeing this one at events all over the UK and Europe this season. Except there was one last surprise from James, a surprise that most of the staff didn't even know about. While the build was on, he'd also commissioned a crazy little Honda scooter to be put together by Ruck Style UK to match (read more about this one in our article - Causing a Ruckus) and then arranged to have both featured on the cover of a special edition Performance VW Magazine. Now, if that's not a fitting end to the story of an awesome build, then we don't know what is!
Rebuilt 2.0 16v ABF engine (Mk3 Golf GTi), Jenvey Heritage ITBs, custom tubular manifold, custom stainless-steel exhaust (R-Tec), O2J gearbox (Mk4 Golf 1.8T AUM) with Quaife LSD, custom wiring loom, Link Monsoon ECU, custom map, smoothed and repainted engine bay wire tuck, scuttle removed, battery relocated to passenger rear.
7x17-inch (f) and 8x17-inch (r) Magnesium BBS E50 Classic Porsche Racing wheels, 5x130, custom built with new barrels and lips (reverse face front, standard rear), 185/35x17 Nankang NS2R tyres, Air Lift Performance 3p air-ride kit, front chassis notch, Eurowise 5-link rear beam, Tarox 4-pot calipers and Mk2 Golf GTi discs, Mk4 Golf GTi rear calipers, custom braded hoses, custom copper nickel brake lines throughout, Mk2 Golf GTi stub axles, custom 4x100-5x130 hub adaptors, custom air tank mounts and hidden compressors.
Stock body, modified arches, sliding rear window, new old stock, front wings, bonnet, tailgate and bed, bare shell respray in Porsche Crayon with custom pinstriping and signwriting.
Mk2 Golf G60 Electric Recaro front seats, custom trimmed in burnt orange leather with custom rivets, CAE short shifter, Trieri steering wheel, custom leather mats, stock dashboard, stereo and speakers blanked, Mk1 Golf GTi dials, Momo boss.