February 29, 2024

Details Matter: A Show-Winning Mk1 VW Golf

For 15 years, Volkswagen fans in South Africa have been attending the annual SA Camp Fest in big numbers. There’s a very good reason why too, as year after year the event brings out the very best builds in South Africa’s VAG modifying community.

Camp Fest not only entertains – it inspires. If you needed proof of the latter, Kylan Naidoo‘s Mk1 1979 Volkswagen Golf L is it.


Kylan has owned his Golf since 2014, and up until he attended the 2022 SA Camp Fest, it had only been on the receiving end of some basic bolt-on modifications. The show visit changed everything, and Kylan left the event with a clear idea to return in 12 months with his car looking a whole lot different.


To bring the vision to life within the one year timeframe, Kylan called upon Stanton Govender of Toti SouthSide Car Styling in Durban. The pair worked together, discussing and deciding on all aspects of what would be an extensive, complete build, and then putting a plan in place to see it through to completion.

You could call Stanton the project manager, as he oversaw the build from start to finish, doing what he could in house, and outsourcing the specialist work to some of the best in the business locally.


The Mk1 Golf is a popular car in this part of the world, and a big reason for that is because it only went out of production here in 2009. Yes, you read right. While the Mk1 was officially discontinued in 1983, Volkswagen South Africa kept the model’s lights on for another 25 years. 

But while that means whole cars and replacement parts are very easy to come by in South Africa, the bits and pieces that Kylan and Stanton needed to make this Mk1 really stand out, required them to look overseas for a number of special components.


Starting with the exterior, the Golf now benefits from a Euro-spec front valance, rare pop-out side windows front and rear, brand new rubbers and chrome trims, Porsche 944 ‘Script’ door handles and a Hella polished fuel cap – all of which were obtained internationally.

The bodywork itself remains stock, South Africa ’79 spec, but the panels were meticulously massaged and prepared before multiple coats of Volkswagen Dunkelgelb (LN1E) paint were expertly laid down inside and out.


In keeping with the classic and timeless nature of the build, only BBS RS mesh wheels were ever going to cut it, but these too needed to be sourced from overseas. Sized 16×7-inch, the 3-piece wheels are wrapped in 165/45R16 Kenda rubber. Tucked in behind at the front end are Wilwood 4-pot callipers with drilled and slotted G60 discs.


The Golf needed to be low too, and that’s taken care of with an air-ride system based on Airlux struts.


Now, if Kylan’s Mk1 was powered by its original four-cylinder engine those 165-section tyres would do just fine on the front end, but that motor is long gone. Now in its place sits a 3.2L VR6 EA390 from a Golf R32, backed up by a V5 5-speed manual transmission. Yeah, those tyres don’t stand much of a chance.


In stock form these motors output 240hp, but with a few select modifications – a RacingLine intake, custom 63mm stainless exhaust system, and a Dicktator 60-2 engine management system – Kylan’s VR6 is probably making a little more. Whatever the number, know that it’s plenty of power for this lightweight Golf and a whole lot of fun to lean on. As you’d expect, it sounds glorious too.


Perhaps even more impressive than the engine itself is the bay it sits in and the detailing around it. No time expense was spared here, and it shows with flawless paint and polished hardware throughout. There’s barely a wire to be seen either. Kylan was keen to point out the custom radiator, Audi R8 oil cap, and the Mk4 R32 engine cover – another special import.


That just leaves the interior where, again, no detail was spared. A highly-polished stainless steel roll bar frames the cabin, with electric Recaro LS front seats custom-trimmed in Nappa leather and Alcantara, and a rare BBS steering wheel (again, imported) two of the standout features.


We can’t forget the custom headliner and carpet, Coolerworx shifter, Porsche glove box catch, brand new door pads, round clock dash with rev counter and twin-gauge console either. Various plastic trim parts were even 3D printed.


To build a car to this standard is one thing, but it to do it to a deadline is something else. So credit where it’s due to Stanton and all the other people and businesses involved in the Mk1’s recreation, because they got it across the line in time for SA Camp Fest 2023, where Kylan proudly showed it off for the first time.


Another Mk1 Golf (which we previously featured) scooped the event’s main prize, but that only pushed Kylan to build upon a couple of aspects of his car (after our shoot) for this year’s show.

A new set of reverse-mount BBS wheels and a custom Rockford Fosgate-based sound system did it – last weekend, Kylan drove ‘ESCOBAR’ home with the coveted ‘Best of Show’ accolade from SA Camp Fest 2024.


Not that we’re surprised in the slightest; this is a beautiful car every way you look at it.

Brad Lord
Instagram: speedhunters_brad

Photography by Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia

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