Rare Rabbit: An Indonesian Two Door Volkswagen Golf Mk1
Photography: Ibi Muljosantoso.
Two door Golfs in Indonesia are like rocking horse poop. So, in true Indonesian style, Erwin set about bringing his dream to life by… Making his own.
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
Hi, my name is Erwin, I’m 48 years old, Indonesian and I’m a car enthusiast. I am a senior manager working for a heavy equipment dealer in Indonesia during week days and since my kids are all grown up I spend my weekends either with my good lady or enjoying my ‘me time’ with friends and car enthusiasts.
Tell me about your first love for cars. Right back when you were young. What inspired you?
Well I guess my Dad was the biggest influencer. I remember he drew me pictures of cars almost every time he fed me when I was very young. He bought me Matchbox or Tamiya toys back then as my birthday present. And he has been into Volkswagen Kombi and Mercedes Benz all his life.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1972 Fiat 125 Special, Dolphin Grey, twin cam engine with four barrels carbs (Weber), first generation timing belt, intermittent wiper, wire tugged, lowered with R13 TRD rims, and a totally white interior. This was back in 1985 and I was only 17 years old. I remember my dad was very happy to see that I chose an old Fiat instead of a brand new Suzuki Jimny! He said that I am man enough to dare to take the risk of owning an old car. But really, that Fiat made me who I am today. I am the handy-man when it comes to repairing classic cars.
How many cars have you had? List a few.
I have had quite a number of cars before I start collecting. I am into European cars, especially Volkswagen. I collect almost all models such as 1974 Super Beetle 1600cc, engine with progressive Kadron carbs. 1962 Classic Beetle, 1800cc with four barrels Dellorto carbs, DPR crankshaft, Gene Berg parts. 1971 Trekker with Reduction Gear 1600cc with four barrels Baby Kadron. 1974 Golf Mk1 Swallowtail, 2 door, 1600cc (work in progress). 1978 Golf Mk1 4 door, 1600cc standard. 1978 Golf Mk1 modified to 2 door, 1600cc with two barrels carb (Weber). There are some others that I cannot reveal here as my wife will kill me if she knew...
Why Volkswagens specifically? Are you into other genres?
Well with Volkswagen, it’s not only the cars that I love but also the community that I am engaging with. This is one amongst other genres where the owner’s social status is taken for granted, no matter who you are and what you do. When we meet up, we see ourselves being a Volkswagen enthusiast, period.
Of course as a European car enthusiast I collect other genres such as Mercedes Benz and BMW. With these ones I limit myself to looking after the so called rare models in Indonesia. Some of my collections are the W202 Kombi and BMW Z3 2.0. Anyway…
What are we looking at here?
Before I answer the question, I must inform you that a 2 door Golf is considered as a very rare item in Indonesia. There were only 8 units originally imported between 1974-1978, 5 units of them were wrecked as they were used for racing. So out of the remaining 3 units I got one in my garage under restoration.
So we are looking at my favorite ride – I named her the GERMO. She is a hand crafted VW Golf Mk1 1978 modified from 4 doors into a 2 door version.
When and how did you come to own it?
I adopted her back in 2013. It was my friend’s abandoned project. He was into a 2 door cars and opted to modify his 4 door. Long story short he ran out of budget. I fell in love then decided to continue his project. It was a good decision.
In what condition was it when you bought it?
The condition was half-baked, body shell was modified as per the original dimension. But all the original window glass and rubbers could not be used because the dimensions changed and those items are not available in Indonesia. The engine, gearbox and wiring are all over the place. Grills, head and rear lamps were all wrecked. But there was something about this car that I loved, the passion of modifying it into a 2 door, and the license plate. It is a 2 digit number which in Indonesia considered being a premium number.
I named her GERMO, which stands for Pimp!
What were your intentions back then? What was your vision?
The plan was really to continue the project, modifying Germo into a 2 door. Complete her garnish, rubber and accessories. Recondition her engine, gearbox, undercarriage, and wiring. I chose to take the racing look stance with an original but fast engine. I mean two Recaro seat with roll bars, and a racing steering wheel. Less accessories on the inside but still looking clean. She got to be lowered and adjustable but non-air suspension. Classic steel bumpers! She either wears ATS Cup or BBS RS as her shoes with ‘donuts’ tyre fitment (terms that we use to refer to the tyre fitment).
Now list all the modifications that have been done to the following, including any interesting facts and/or stories to go with them:
Body + Paint
The body shell modification was measured against an original 2 door version, except for the fenders which were widened by an inch to elaborate the wide rim that I am planning to implant. The old paint was removed and rusty parts of the panels restored. I started up with Sumatera Green but then changed it to light green (no name as I mixed it myself).
Semi-racing style. I took out the back seat and everything associated with it. Black Recaro seats replace the original front seats. The racing style becomes more obvious as I installed 4 points silver painted roll bar (plus front strut bar inside the engine hood) and an original Wolfsburg GTi steering wheel which looks sporty.
The floor panel is trimmed with black carpet to improve the acoustics and also for better and cleaner interior appearance. The door trims are all black.
I am keeping it as original as possible unless original is not functioning right for me. Because my old Solex 34 pict 5 carb was unrepairable, the 1978 1.6 litre engine is now powered by progressive double carb from Weber fired by Bosch spark plug silicon wired to MSD Coil and CDI, and 4-1 header to improve the engine exhaust. I was also planning to convert the camshaft from standard to 100 as I believe it will improve the firing, I just have not been able to get ample time to do so. Anyway, the gearbox remains standard as I felt its gear ratio meets the engine power nicely. Manual transmission, 4 speed.
Original ATS Cup R15 inches, 7” wide, ET 20 on the front with 0.25” inches spacer, ET 28 at the back with 1” inch spacer. This fitment to me results in the perfect stance whilst she can still handle bumpy roads in the area where I live.
Lowered to fit the tyre as close as possible to the fender, leaving about 0.25” inches gap. Adjustable height with coilover, which I made myself, to allow adjustment later when necessary.
Cross haired head lamps that I bought from the UK. I tinted the rear lamps to look like the Postman version and light grey body striping just to give a bit of a sporty appearance but calm at the same time. The front grill is covered by plastic harness plus a GTi emblem to strengthen her racing accent (even though she is not the GTi version).
Do you take the car to events? How is the social scene that goes along with owning a classic?
Being my favourite ride, I always take her to car events whenever I can. She has gone through hard trips as far as 800 km one way a view times – my friends even named her GERMO the Queen Warrior.
Indonesian classic car owners are a true car enthusiasts. This applies not only to the youngster, but also to those who are into this scene since they were young. I am only one out of millions people like me. We have thousands of car communities and clubs and they’re still growing! Some clubs have even been around for nearly 33 years.
What’s next? Future plans?
Germo will remain my weekend toy whilst continuing the restoration process of my swallowtail. I just got the bare original 1978 1.6 litre engine and gearbox. All other components are mostly ready in my garage, waiting for me.
Follow Erwin: @romnation.
Follow Ibi: @i_muljosantoso.