Heavy Metal Affliction -- The Vorsche
When you have built something that is so unassuming that even obsessive car freaks walk right by your ride at a car show, you have done your job well. Such was the case when I attended the return of Oktobugfest in the fall of 2013. Sure, there were lots of great cars there, many flavors of VW’s, air-cooled and water-cooled, but if not for the nearby hot-dog stand, I may have missed something very special. I’m talking about the car Heavy Metal Affliction has the pleasure of featuring this week: “The Vorsche.”
At a glance, this 1985 Volkswagen Mk2 four-door Golf presents itself as a very clean ride with a nice stance. A look inside will reveal it has no back seat. Still nothing you haven’t seen before. Give it a second, however, and the name might get you thinking. Vorsche? Why did they name it that? Take a look under the hood and things begin to become clear. Inside the immaculate shaved engine bay is the heart of a Porsche 944. Don’t walk away yet, because it’s not your average swap. If you know anything about 944s, you would realize they are rear-wheel-drive; a Golf is, of course, FWD. Did they? They couldn’t have!
Yes, they did. The Vorsche is a full Porsche 944 drivetrain swap, which makes this the only RWD VW Golf I have ever seen, outside of what you can do in Forza games. Stick your head under the rear-end to verify what you are seeing and follow the exhaust, you will also find a rear-mounted turbo as well. By now, the Vorsche probably has your attention.
If your curiosity has now gotten the better of you, the charismatic and uber-friendly owners – father and son team David and Seth, of Monroe, WA – are happy to tell you about the build. Drivetrain swap aside, a walk-around the Vorsche with an attention to the details of the car will certainly have you doffing your cap or congratulating the owners on a fine build. Seth is also a Forza fan and you can find him on the leaderboards under his GT S Bomb007.
And to think I almost walked right by this car. Having been to many VW shows, and seen many Mk2 Golfs, it almost slipped past me. Needless to say, I’m glad it didn’t. At the show, I asked Seth a few questions about the build and got his contact information. Then he told me about the other rides he and his father were showing that day. These included Seth’s daily driver, a 1980 VW Vanagon with a Vortec V6 swap, as well as a pimped out 1974 Super Beetle with a Type 4 (Porsche 914) motor with Suzuki GSX-R throttle bodies.
By now you may have realized that Seth and his father have a taste for taking the conventional and turning them into anything but conventional. Months later when I had the chance to shoot the Vorsche and hang out with Seth and David, I learned the Vortec in the Vanagon had blown up; plans are now underway to install an LS-2 motor into the Vanny. Talk about a sleeper! But that is another story to be told at a later date.
Back to the Vorsche, because there is much more story to tell. Seth and David chose the return of Oktobugfest to show the Vorsche. This was the Vorsche’s debut or, closer to the truth, it’s re-debut.
The Vorsche build idea came to Seth’s father David after a day watching import drag racing at nearby Pacific Raceways. Upon seeing a VW Jetta race against a Porsche 944, David thought, “What if we put a 944 motor into the Golf and made it rear-wheel-drive?” They already had an Mk2 Golf sitting around that they had traded a turbo adapter plate for. The car was stripped to a shell and waiting for a new life.
In Seth’s words, previous to the trade deal for the Golf, the car “had been spray-painted flat black with purple flames on the roof and hood, the engine was blown, the majority of the interior was missing, the floors had been painted blue, the coil springs cut, and an assortment of products you’d find at Home Depot had been screwed to the car to act like spoilers.” There was also a 944 motor and transaxle sitting in the shop from a parts car David had purchased earlier. The next day they started taking measurements and realized mating the two just might work.
While waiting for the few parts that were missing, namely the rear-suspension and the torque-tube, David and Seth went about fitting the motor in. “With a little trimming of the firewall, the motor looked like it belonged there,” Seth said. Mounts were fabricated and the sub-frame was stiffened to support the larger engine before dropping it in to its unlikely new home.
Seth has been working on car projects with his dad since he was 14 and the pair make an excellent team. Once the parts arrived, the rear-suspension was mocked up and installed in four hours. For a proper fit the torque-tube needed to be lengthened slightly, and since the Mk2 was FWD with no “hump” to accommodate a drive-shaft, the center section of the car’s floor was cut out and replaced with the center section from a 944. The steering was also modified with the rack and pinion of a 944. The Vorsche was now a rolling chassis. This was in the summer of 2003.
This was to be the first coming of the Vorsche and, while the concept was to keep it a sleeper, the style was not to be as subtle as the Vorsche you see in this HMA. The car was painted white after many details were shaved, including the hatchback. They tucked in a set of Porsche Fuchs, and later the car was painted two-tone. Along the way, the Vorsche went to many shows and was always well-received with a crowd around it most of the day. David and Seth won several awards including “Best Engineered.” The Vorsche was also featured in a story in PVW magazine. If you search for “Vorsche” you will find many photos, like this one.
The project took 12 weeks of nights and weekends to finish. Back then the car was naturally-aspirated, and put out about 150 horsepower. But according to Seth with the 944 motor “it feels like more.” As you might imagine, the car also handles quite differently, “It doesn’t drive like a Golf any more, it feels more like a sports car.” Seth said.
In 2005 they stopped showing the Vorsche and it became a daily driver for Seth. David had recently undergone heart surgery and was doing well, although dealing with a long period of recovery. At some point after being daily-driven for a while, the fuse-block caught fire, and the Vorsche sat for a few years while other projects took priority and David got back to full health.
In 2010 David and Seth wanted to get the Vorsche back on the road and give it a new identity. “We decided to repaint the car, upgrade the front-brakes, change the interior and exterior, redo the wiring, and add a remote-mount turbo along with Microsquirt engine management,” Seth said. Seth always wanted to paint the car Audi Nimbus Grey, so that was the color they chose. The front-brakes were upgraded with the pistons and calipers off of an Audi Turbo, they pulled the big bumpers, grill and shaved hatch and replaced them with an aero front end, smaller Euro bumpers and a stock hatch. The rear seat came out and a false floor went in, and the 944 front seats were swapped for a set of racing seats. After much trial and error and fine tuning, the remote-mount turbo and Microsquirt system were functioning as they should. “Running 12 psi of boost, it pulls extremely hard,” Seth said. What you see in the photos in this HMA is the final product.
David and Seth are still upgrading the Vorsche; at the time we shot these photos and burnout video, they were planning to install a blow-off valve and were putting the finishing touches on the Vorsche’s audio system.
The two have other projects they are working on in parallel. The Vorsche is one of more than a hundred cars that David has built or restored. The cars David has built – many with Seth’s help -- is like a bucket-list for any hot-rod enthusiast, times ten. His resume of cars includes numerous VW’s -- the first car David worked on was a 1962 Beetle he turned into a Baja -- Triumphs, Toyotas, Hondas, Pontiacs, Chevys, both cars, and trucks and too many more to list. Right now they are restoring a numbers-matching ’74 Cuda with a 360 four-speed. This is all just a hobby, but as David puts it, “It’s more like an obsession.”
Check out the Vorsche Spec Sheet and photos below.
I’d love to hear your comments about the Vorsche HMA, what you thought of the photos I shot, and the donut video we put together. Post about it in the HMA thread.
Thanks to Evergreen Speedway for letting us shoot the Vorsche on their historic track. Evergreen Speedway is host to Round 5 of the Formula Drift series as well as weekly showcase oval racing events and home to grassroots drifting, racing and karting. Look for an upcoming edition of HMA covering the 60th anniversary of Evergreen Speedway.
If you have a car that is special to you and would like to share it with the Forza community, post a photo and brief details in the Request for Community Rides thread.