Golf MKIV Smyth Ute Project

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
I have been suuuuuuuper lazy in posting updates. She is street legal, but there is a ton of work left to do. Hopefully, I will be able to show my progress over the weekend. In the meantime, here is a short video showing the all-crucial and terrifying initial roof cut:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9ZtQ6AFtWs
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
I finally have some time to kill and figured I would give an update. No pics right now, but I will hit the highlights. Long story short, she is on the road with body panels unpainted, but in place. I needed to get this thing on the road as soon as possible because my other car (2019 Audi TTRS) is not something I like driving around in crappy weather.
Some highlights of my adventure to get there since December:

  • After getting the bed frame and tailgate in place, I started tackling the body panels. First up was getting the rear window fitted to the window frame. This is where the dremel, sanding wheels, sandpaper and cutting discs came into play. It took a lot of time an effort, but eventually I got the window installed and used 3M Windo-Weld to bond the two together. That stuff is messy, so keep a bunch of gloves on hand. I eventually went over the edge with some silicone to make it look clean.
  • Getting the window surround fitted to the car was a bit of a PITA. The most important part is pushing the top, leading edge of the fiberglass between the two pieces of sheet metal that comprise the roof. There are a few interference points, so some grinding, cutting and swearing were in order. Having a friend help was huge. After spreading the sheet metal panels apart and liberal use of a rubber mallet, we got it fitted in.
  • Next up were the two rear quarter panels. Again, this take a lot of time, patience, and trimming, particularly where the taillights attach. The actual fitment of the panels to the body went well - the gaps were easy to get right. I used a couple sheet metal screws into the door frame and the truck bed rails to keep the gaps right while I worked on the wiring and taillights.
  • As mentioned, fitting the taillights to the quarter panels was a pain. You have to grind down a bunch of fiberglass to get the two tabs to fit into the panel. You also have to cut two holes to allow the back of the tail light assemblies to fit and to allow for the wiring to come through.
  • I am incompetent at many things, but none more so than electrical work. I will spare most of the details, but there are few important things to note. The Smyth manual correctly identifies which wires go to which connectors, but having a Bentley manual with wiring diagrams around is a good idea. Second, because you are extending the rear of the car by a fair amount, you need to splice in extensions to any wiring going to the tail lights. I think this is more pronounced on the Golf than on the Jetta. I invested in a really good stripper/crimper for the job and a kit of glue-lined, heat shrink butt connectors. I also soldered some of the more delicate connections.
  • The housings for the running light/brake light and turn signals are pretty standard. I broke one while ham-fistedly getting things to fit and had to order another. Once the connections are in place and secure, it is a best practice to fill the backs of the connectors with dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.
  • The kit comes with two small LED lights with pig tails to be spliced into the reverse light circuit. You have to drill little holes into the turn signal area of the tail light assembly and fit them in.

    A couple issues with these. First, the wires are incredibly small gauge. My stripping tool did a fine job, but a standard one will not. It also almost certainly requires soldering because the wires will slip out of the smallest of butt connectors. Right now, they work, but flicker. I think I will need to do more research on LEDs in general and maybe get new ones that work better.
  • All of the taillight wiring runs down the driver's side. It branches off to run over to the passenger's side from there. I put the wiring into some mesh conduit and am running it inside the rear-most bed frame crossbar.

 
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Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
At some point during the wiring carnage, I discovered that my key fob no longer worked and that I could not roll my windows up or down. Add onto that the fact that my physical door lock no longer works, and I was pretty much stuck with windows down during some of the colder weather we have had this winter. You may recall I removed my headliner for re-lining and, therefore, all interior lights. Well, I eventually traced the problem down to a short somewhere in my interior lighting, which feeds the CCM, which, when it finds a short in one of the related systems, pretty much disables every related system. My adventure is detailed here: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=504733. Long story short, I cut the wires that feed the interior lighting signal into the CCM and will troubleshoot when the weather warms up.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
I needed to get her on the road, but did not want to do a final attachment of body panels until I finished with my headliner work and troubleshooting of the interior lighting/CCM debacle. So, with the panels held in place with my sheet metal screws, I riveted in the window surround to the roof and the quarter panels into the truck bed rails. I also riveted the rear bumper to the quarter panels.

For temporary waterproofing, I applied black silicone to the edge where the surround meets the roof and the other open edges where the surround meets the quarter panels. This has worked well and kept the interior dry. Once that was complete, I sprung for a new set of Nokian WGR4s in 195/65/15 for my steelies and got her on the road.

I also put in the aluminum truck bed. This requires tapping holes into the aluminum bed panels and the bed frame cross bars for the 1/4" screws that come with the kit. After breaking the first, cheapo thread tapper I got from Lowes, I splurged on a proper 1/4"-20 tapered thread tap and correct #7 cobalt drill bits. I did not have to trim the bed panels, which was a pleasant surprise.

I have put about 600 miles on her, including in the snow and on substantial highway runs at speed, since getting the panels fitted and sorting out some other minor electrical FUBARs on my part. So far, nothing has fallen off, although I did get pulled over in VA for not having my license plate lights installed yet, which I suspected would happen eventually. The cop was cheerful and we had a fun chat about the car and the work I did on it. He wished me well and didn't give me a citation. Until I get it painted, I figure this thing will be rolling probable cause, so I am keeping speeds sane and generally not driving like an a$$. :D
 
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Fahrvegnugen

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2017
Location
Burlington Vt
TDI
01 golf 1.9 alh gls silver
Oh how I cringed my way through, but now that I see what you’ve done... nice going, I am amazed! You could get awd rear end and go into business manufacturing the best pickup since the old rabbits.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
Oh how I cringed my way through, but now that I see what you’ve done... nice going, I am amazed! You could get awd rear end and go into business manufacturing the best pickup since the old rabbits.
Ha, I assure you I was cringing the entire time, too. I just finished re-upholstering the headliner and A- and B-pillars after magically fixing a lack of interior lighting. Also swapping in black trim (sunvisors and lights, map lights, handles). I will post some pics this week when I have it a little more buttoned up.

There are a ton of things I want/need to do not directly related to the swap (need a new downpipe, have a spare turbo, probably time for new injectors).

The most pressing swap related issue is the suspension. Because the swap effectively sheds ~250 pounds from the rear, there is a noticeable height difference between the front and rear. Not sure how to achieve my goal. but I want to (1) raise the front to match the rear height; and (2) leave the rear at its currently taller stance, but with stiffer springs so it doesn't sag too badly when I am lugging things in the bed.

I have been on Koni FSDs and stock springs for ages. My first instinct is to go with VR6 springs and a 1" lift kit up front to even the height out. No idea what springs to throw in back. I will go with whatever struts can accommodate a lift kit, if that's the route I choose. I am not canyon carving in this thing, so sports handling is not needed. That's what the TTRS is for now.
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
Ha, I assure you I was cringing the entire time, too. I just finished re-upholstering the headliner and A- and B-pillars after magically fixing a lack of interior lighting. Also swapping in black trim (sunvisors and lights, map lights, handles). I will post some pics this week when I have it a little more buttoned up.

There are a ton of things I want/need to do not directly related to the swap (need a new downpipe, have a spare turbo, probably time for new injectors).

The most pressing swap related issue is the suspension. Because the swap effectively sheds ~250 pounds from the rear, there is a noticeable height difference between the front and rear. Not sure how to achieve my goal. but I want to (1) raise the front to match the rear height; and (2) leave the rear at its currently taller stance, but with stiffer springs so it doesn't sag too badly when I am lugging things in the bed.

I have been on Koni FSDs and stock springs for ages. My first instinct is to go with VR6 springs and a 1" lift kit up front to even the height out. No idea what springs to throw in back. I will go with whatever struts can accommodate a lift kit, if that's the route I choose. I am not canyon carving in this thing, so sports handling is not needed. That's what the TTRS is for now.

Airbags are a great option for a working truck for ride height and load leveling.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
Airbags are a great option for a working truck for ride height and load leveling.
Haha, tempting, but my poor electrical luck/skills might destroy me. This truck will not be really used for frequent hauling. But it would be nice to keep the a$$ from hitting the ground those few times a year I will load it with cargo.
 

nicklockard

Torque Dorque
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Location
Arizona
TDI
2010 Touareg Tdi w/factory Tow PCKG
Haha, tempting, but my poor electrical luck/skills might destroy me. This truck will not be really used for frequent hauling. But it would be nice to keep the a$$ from hitting the ground those few times a year I will load it with cargo.
There's not much to set up. All you need is a 12V compressor, some air lines, a ride height magnetic sensor, airbags & mounts, and a controller. You can buy complete duplex (each side independent) kits for reasonable prices, or simpler kits for less. Or just trailer it to an airbag expert installer. They're just not always on the internet.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
It's been a while since I have posted any substantive updates, but progress is being made!

After chasing down and fixing (although I am not sure how) non-functioning interior lighting, I am buttoning up the interior. Before this journey began, my headliner was already starting to sag. I took the opportunity to re-cover the headliner, a- and b-pillars in charcoal microsuede.



The discerning eye will also note that I have swapped the stock grey bits (visors, dome/map light, rearview mirror, grab handles, etc.) with black ones, which (in the U.S.) only came with the GLI, R32, and 20th Anniversary GTI.



One major challenge here was the dome/map light above the dash. My car does not have a sunroof and, in the U.S., the GLI, R32, and 20th all had sunroofs. This means that the black map/dome lights for U.S.-spec cars would never fit my non-sunroof model. Non-sunroof models with black interior bits were sold in the EU, however, and the proper map/dome light does exist. I posted a WTB on the 'tex and found one BNIB. ECS tuning also sells them, but they are on a long backorder and I do not know if they will ever actually get them in stock.




Between being a complete upholstery novice and choosing a less-then-ideal fabric, the results of the recovering are not perfect, but I am pretty pleased over all. Everything fit and the hardware all screwed into place properly. Although I used fabric designed for headliners (i.e., it has thin foam backing), microsuede does not have the stretch that standard fabrics do. This means that in concave areas, there will probably be minor wrinkling/bunching. I knew of this issue going into the project, so I was not heartbroken when I was unable to make it perfect. If I had to do it over again, I would go with something more standard and stretchier. At some point, I will get around to reupholstering the door cards as well.

I also installed a brand new OEM shifter and boot.



The discerning eye will also notice the aluminum trim. These pieces also came on only the GLI/R32/20th. Mine have been installed for a long time. The wrinkle here is that in truckifying Josie, I went from a 4-door to a 2-door. The drivers handle, therefore, would have to go. I found someone parting out an R32 and got the proper 2-door driver's side handle.



As far as interior bits go, I now have the two backseat map lights with nowhere to go:



I am thinking of cutting into the headliner a few inches back of the grab handles to relocate them. Happy to hear other ideas, though!
 
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Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
Your relocate idea sounds good to me. They're just mounted on the backing with that rectangular frame, so you can put them anywhere it makes sense. If you put them just back of the OMG handles then it will still look factory, IMO.

Keep posting photos - mine's been stalled for a while, and you are inspiring me to get going.

Cheers!

PH
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
So my first interaction with the machinery of the state has introduced a roadblock....

Took Josie to get emissions done. Normally this is no big deal in CT: they just check for CEL and readiness on diesels. After 5 minutes, the tech calls me into the garage and says he has to abort the test because my car is no longer a 4-door hatchback, but rather a truck. Had me talk to someone in the emissions office for the state who said she would talk to the DMV and call me back. Sigh. To be continued....
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
We'll hope they don't make you change the title...
I don't think I will have to go that far. Worst case scenario, I have to get it re-registered as a "composite vehicle," which is defined as "[a]ny motor vehicle, composed or assembled from several parts of other motor vehicles, or the identification and body contours of which are so altered that the vehicle no longer bears the characteristics of any specific make of motor vehicle." I would argue, however, that the modifications are not such that the car no longer bears the characteristics of a VW. The front end is clearly a VW and the badging is as such. See https://portal.ct.gov/DMV/Inspections/Inspections/Composite-Vehicles.
The big annoyance would be hauling it up to Wethersfiled, CT - the only place in the state where they do composite vehicle inspections - which is over an hour from my home. I wouldn't have to do much to ensure passage, however. https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DMV/20/29/r157pdf.pdf
 
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runonbeer

Maintenance EnthusiastVendor
Joined
Apr 15, 2002
Location
Austin, TX/Chapel Hill, NC
TDI
'00 Golf 02M, '10 Golf 02E, '02 UTE 02M
It was like the fifth one or something like that.

I regret the amount of money I spent on it. My little golf and trailer were perfectly capable of hauling around anything I needed to haul around. Every bit as useful as a truck. I will admit that the reasons why we chose to embark on this project have little to do with usefulness so I try to remember that when I look back. As I said I did enjoy (some parts) of the project.

I also regret cutting up the car that I cut. It was a nice car. Very clean. I feel like I killed a living thing. Strange and dumb as that sounds. Had it been an already wrecked in back or otherwise cosmetically troubled I probably would have felt the opposite but I really feel like that car could have just been a really good, inexpensive car for someone and I stopped that from happening.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
It was like the fifth one or something like that.

I regret the amount of money I spent on it. My little golf and trailer were perfectly capable of hauling around anything I needed to haul around. Every bit as useful as a truck. I will admit that the reasons why we chose to embark on this project have little to do with usefulness so I try to remember that when I look back. As I said I did enjoy (some parts) of the project.

I also regret cutting up the car that I cut. It was a nice car. Very clean. I feel like I killed a living thing. Strange and dumb as that sounds. Had it been an already wrecked in back or otherwise cosmetically troubled I probably would have felt the opposite but I really feel like that car could have just been a really good, inexpensive car for someone and I stopped that from happening.
Those are really very understandable reasons. I knew it was going to be a money pit, so that isn't shocking me too badly. Plus, in reality, I was never going to get rid of this car; too many miles and peculiarities to dump onto a relative or other unsuspecting novice.

Even in its very unfinished state, it turns heads and has been a great conversation piece. What I am hoping will be my last costly effort will be a new paint job. My dad had a MKI Rabbit in orange and I want to see if I can source the color.
 

runonbeer

Maintenance EnthusiastVendor
Joined
Apr 15, 2002
Location
Austin, TX/Chapel Hill, NC
TDI
'00 Golf 02M, '10 Golf 02E, '02 UTE 02M
And to answer you other question, yes just regular black bed liner. I think it was called U-pol raptor or something. I think I bought it on amazon. I also scrubbed all of the surfaces with scotchbrite and a little bit of brake cleaner then applied some “adhesion prompter” also sold by U-pol. All that because Vladi at Austin imports had some bad results with his bed liner peeling on his grey Ute which you can see in the above album.
 

Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
Very helpful. I need to add to the list research on what to use to bond the window surround to the roof and fill in the gaps between the window surround and quarter panels.
 

runonbeer

Maintenance EnthusiastVendor
Joined
Apr 15, 2002
Location
Austin, TX/Chapel Hill, NC
TDI
'00 Golf 02M, '10 Golf 02E, '02 UTE 02M
It’s just regular ol great stuff foam from Home Depot. I just let it ooze out and then sliced it flush once it was set. And yes fiberglass matting and regular old epoxy pretty much everywhere. There was some bondo applied at paint time.
 
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runonbeer

Maintenance EnthusiastVendor
Joined
Apr 15, 2002
Location
Austin, TX/Chapel Hill, NC
TDI
'00 Golf 02M, '10 Golf 02E, '02 UTE 02M
I was never able to find anything that could adequately bond the side windows. I just wond up riveting them because no matter what I did it would always pop up on one end. It was that plexi they supplied. I suspect that one of the properties of that material is that absolutely nothing can bond to it and they just overlooked that when they chose it. Hopefully the later kits use a different material that whatever I got.

I had the rear window installed by the guy that did the windshield. I helped a little but I knew he had a much better chance of getting that thing to stick than I did. Dude was a pro. Liked him a lot.
 
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Lex4TDI4Life

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 22, 2006
Location
Stamford, CT
TDI
2001 Golf-Ute TDI GLS 5spd Manual
Very helpful, thanks! Those side windows on the window surround are not in the newer kits; it is just solid fiberglass. I used 3M windo-weld on the back window with a layer of black silicone over it and so far it has held and is watertight.
 

stp359

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2014
Location
Montreal, QC
TDI
Passat 4motion tdi 6speed
Congratulations mate! That's a nice build! I was wondering if you have enough room to slide the seats back in case you need to remove them. I'm considering doing the same thing with a TDI swapped Allroad and building a mimcro camper in the back.
 
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