Don’t Give Up Hope: Joffrey Oude Nijhuis’ 1982 Volkswagen MK1 Golf CL

  • Combine an ’80s VW from The Netherlands with perfect fitment, ‘zero lip’ BBS RS wheels with turbofans, and a stunning engine bay for a mixture you’re going to love.
  • This standout MK1 Golf CL still sporting its original color and interior was crafted over a dedicated three-year build time.

Photography by Jeroen Willemsen

There are certain cars in the automotive world that enthusiasts simply have to erase from their list of desired builds. Whether the reason is the quickly rising costs of a quality chassis or the improbability of finding one in good enough condition to start building. Cars like the E30 M3, DC2 Integra Type R, or AE86 Corolla are shining examples of this.

For the European car faithful, the MK1 Golf ranks on this list as well. Because Volkswagen initially slated it as an everyday driver’s car, they weren’t commonly cared for in an ongoing manner or preserved beyond their expectation. These chassis were often used on family trips or daily commutes in all types of harsh weather conditions. The majority of lasting examples showcase this treatment. For Joffrey Oude Nijhuis, he had all but given up on building his dream MK1 until the perfect specimen came along, and he jumped at the opportunity.

Why Volkswagens?

While he remembers hearing his dad’s stories of a modified MK1 Rabbit, there wasn’t a presence of custom cars surrounding Joffrey’s childhood. Automotive workshops didn’t fill Joffrey’s early family years like some of our other enthusiast’s stories — no, instead, he admired them independently.

“Since I was a child, I was always inspired by cars. On holidays, if the family was going by car, I could never sleep in the car because I didn’t want to miss any cool cars! I always hoped for a fast Audi or Porsche to drive by,” says Joffrey.

Thinking back to his dad’s MK1 with all of its custom modifications, he knew his first car had to be a Volkswagen. On top of that, he knew he wanted to make it look fast and cool, dropping it low and equipping it with big wheels.

Buying The MK1 Golf

After owning a MK2 Golf as his first car, Joffrey had plans to buy another and build it with an R32 engine strapped inside — a dream he still wishes to complete at some point. However, there was a lingering love for the MK1 version. The only issue was finding a viable chassis with which to start his build.

“All of the good ones were gone, so I gave up hope. Until I see this MK1, and told my friend Robert, ‘This is the car I must drive back home.’ Everything came together perfectly: color, chrome, and interior. Plus, the history was perfect, only lovers and it was always kept warm in a garage,” says Joffrey.

The Build Process

This vision was simple: Keep it classy. Lay it on the ground — but remain static — with 17-inch wheels and a motorsport-oriented engine.

During the first year of ownership, Joffrey treated the MK1 to a set of wheels and H&R coilovers to boast what he saw as perfect static fitment. The MK1 utilizes stunning 16-inch BBS RS centers mounted to unique 17-inch ‘zero lip’ (when the wheel center mounts outside of the lips) converted lips and barrels for an outstanding final product. Within the second year, he had bought Turbofans — designed by himself and crafted by a friend.

Throughout this time, he also bought OE Volkswagen chrome bumpers and repainted half of the car in its original Papyrus Green Metallic finish. A necessary step as he wanted to roll the fenders for better clearance anyway and didn’t want any of the OE holes in the fenders. Of course, with the additional room of the rolled fenders, he purchased new adapters to take full advantage of the new space.

By the time his third year of ownership had begun, Joffrey and friends got to work on finishing the engine and its associated bay. They started in the winter and assigned a tight schedule, completing the incredible engine rebuild with motorsport valve cover and the smoothed bay in just six months. A feature he lists among his favorites on the car. He dreamed of having a vehicle with a clean engine bay and now admits he can’t stop looking at it.

The Hardest Part

Sometimes an original vision has a way of making the most straightforward changes into complicated projects. This was the case for Joffrey’s view of the interior and its relation to the car’s transmission.

“I wanted to keep the interior fully original. The open middle console had to stay! I love this clean spatial look. But I also wanted a 5-speed gearbox, instead of the 4-speed. To make this possible, I needed more changes than only a gearbox — shift rods, driveshafts, CV axle, steering knuckle, and more, but we made it.”

Giving Thanks

Joffrey is grateful for the people in his life who helped his build reach today’s level.
“My wife for dealing with the endless stress I’ve had during the build, Niels for the endless time we put in the engine, engine bay, and troubles we overcame, Jeroen for building these awesome turbofans, Twan for the coilovers and making it possible to get the parts for my custom 17-inch BBS RS wheels, Ettiene for the paint job, and Robert who helped me make the good choice of buying this car.”

The Future

In an effort to keep changing aspects of the car without completely altering the initial vision, Joffrey plans to add small touches throughout. Additions like a new steering wheel, Porsche door handles, small taillights, and a black CAE shifter. Those are all hopeful changes for now, though. The immediate future looks bright on a recently finished set of BBS E26 wheels.

No matter the setup, I’m confident Joffrey’s one-of-a-kind MK1 Golf will continue to wow onlookers at every turn. By not giving up hope of finding a chassis and staying true to his initial vision, he and his friends have created a phenomenal spectacle with unforgettable memories to boot.

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