With a time of seven minutes and 23 seconds, that is the quickest Volkswagen Golf Mk2 to ever lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Do I’ve your consideration? Good, as a result of while it might look a bit tough across the edges, Nigel Pinder’s Volkswagen Golf CL is likely one of the most exceptional vehicles I’ve ever skilled in particular person.
Nigel’s first expertise of ‘The Inexperienced Hell’ occurred again in 2006 in his household automotive, a 2003 Mazda 6 property. After only a few meandering laps, he’d caught the bug. Realising fairly shortly that the poor Mazda wasn’t actually appropriate for the job, he set his sights on both an E30 BMW 316 or a Mk2 Golf.
The front-wheel drive security of the Golf received Nigel over, with the added level of: “If I hated it I might simply promote it and purchase an E30 anyway.”
Clearly, Nigel didn’t transfer over to an E30, although his first Golf met its demise on the ‘Ring round Easter in 2007. The automotive you see earlier than you is Nigel’s second Mk2, and the results of 16 years’ price of analysis and improvement.
Nigel and the ‘Pinderwagen’ are considerably of a legendary pair within the UK monitor day and Touristenfahrten (TF) circles, so when the possibility got here as much as spend a day with the 2 at Thruxton Circuit, I wasn’t going to move it up.
Two issues had been obvious from the off: One, Nigel is a beautiful chap and, two, you possibly can inform he’s been attending monitor days within the Golf for near two a long time.
At first it was ‘simply’ a Mk2 Golf with a Mk3 Golf GTI 2.0L ABF engine, which other than the addition of a standalone ECU and Suzuki GSX-R throttle our bodies remained pretty commonplace till being turbocharged in 2014. The explanation for the latter? Some pleasant in-family rivalry.
“I had plateaued across the ‘Ring with a time of 8:20 the identical 12 months my son took his E36 328i monitor automotive,” says Nigel. “Inside 5 laps of attempting the E36 I’d managed an 8:04, and I used to be torn between entering into one thing totally different or turbocharging the Golf.”
Right now, the engine is loads totally different to when it was initially turbocharged, although. The block, cylinder head and crankshaft could also be commonplace, however the remainder of the construct is complete. Wiseco solid pistons are mounted on Built-in Engineering rifle-drilled connecting rods with ARP bolts, whereas ARP head studs preserve all the pieces in a single piece.
The turbocharger is a hybrid Littco-Garrett G25-660 plumbed as much as a customized KR/1.8T consumption manifold and ABF throttle physique through the customized front-mounted intercooler, with a mixture of two.5-inch and 3-inch pipework. A DTAFast S80Pro ECU controls ignition, gas and increase, whereas a customized SCH40 metal manifold and 3-inch system handle exhaust gases.
Energy reaches the entrance wheels via an SQS Racing 02Q 6-speed dog-gear handbook transmission with an SQS SeqShift mechanism, which basically converts the standard H-pattern into sequential shift. A light-weight flywheel, Alcon paddle clutch, SQS plate-equipped restricted slip differential and customized driveshafts strengthened with Golf R32 elements full the bundle.
Suspension and chassis-wise, the Pinderwagen has had as a lot work as Nigel has been in a position to do to beat the truth that “on the finish of the day it’s a 30-year-old Golf – there’s solely so quick it’ll go!”
The shell has been strengthened and stiffened with a mixture of multi-point roll cage and reinforcing the chassis legs within the engine bay. The entrance stitch-framed subframe has been braced to take away as a lot flex as doable underneath load, along with polyurethane bushes all through the automotive.
On the again, the stub axles have been spaced out by 25mm and changed with newer VW Polo objects for higher sturdiness, whereas on the entrance a mixture of prolonged decrease wishbones give elevated caster at 7.5 levels versus the manufacturing facility 1.5 levels for extra camber when turning.
This has been performed alongside spherical joints and an upgraded Vauxhall steering pump and steering rack from a Mk3 GTI for extra exact and dependable cornering, going hand in hand with the KW Clubsport coilovers working Eibach Professional Race springs in customized prolonged, strengthened and slotted strut towers
AP Racing CP9660 callipers and Reyland floating discs on the entrance are, admittedly by Nigel, overkill in a bundle as mild and manoeuvrable because the Golf. However with security and reliability on the ‘Ring being the precedence, I’d argue any drawbacks are far outweighed by the advantages.
The actual speaking level of the Golf – other than its sheer pace, after all – is the aerodynamic bundle, which has been honed and developed by Nigel with the assistance of some confirmed testing strategies, technical literature and his expensive spouse, Louise.
Armed with a replica of Competitors Automotive Aerodynamics by Simon McBeath, Nigel set to work on his first entrance splitter and air dam idea, which he notes did make a noticeable distinction within the pace he might stick with it monitor. “The primary splitter seemed horrendous; I simply thought I’d see if it really works… and it did!” Nigel says.
Nonetheless, after a number of tweaks, a quite scary second at Silverstone Circuit – the place the rear finish of the Golf tried to overhaul the entrance – taught Nigel the significance of aerodynamic steadiness. Classes on monitor with strings of wool taped to the aspect of the automotive and Louise taking pictures at varied factors on the monitor to search out pockets of ‘useless’ air and wind circulate have culminated in what you see right here. “I’m on model six of the entrance splitter now, and model three of the rear diffuser,” Nigel added.
I can let you know personally that at pace you possibly can actually really feel simply how planted the Golf is round corners and quick sweeping bends. At excessive speeds specifically, it’s the Golf’s flat flooring that makes the distinction. Nigel mentions how even in opposition to “sleeker” vehicles with comparable energy, the Mk2 continues to drag away on account of its lack of underbody drag.
Even with a totally stripped automotive, Nigel needed to retain a point of consolation for his journeys and monitor periods with passengers, similar to his spouse. The roof scoop directs air at Nigel while the NACA ducts and ducting all through the automotive retain cabin airflow.
A really driver-focussed cockpit with a number of digital readouts for driver and passenger preserve Nigel knowledgeable concerning the Golf’s situation, whereas the passenger show retains the
sufferer occupant knowledgeable about how briskly they’re being hurled into corners.
With very changeable climate circumstances at Thruxton Circuit, Nigel switched twice between semi-slicks, slick tyres and his moist climate Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, all mounted on 17-inch Group Dynamics wheels in 17×8-inch, and 17×9-inch for the rear full slicks.
What caught with me essentially the most from our day at Thruxton wasn’t simply how blindingly quick and succesful the Mk2 is as a monitor device, nor was it Nigel’s ability behind the wheel. It was his can-do, nicely organised and optimistic angle.
Nigel’s strategy to trace days and the life-style that surrounds them is about as healthful because it comes. He usually attends monitor periods along with his household, making entire journeys and experiences out of it. They’ve spent whole summers tenting on the Nürburgring, doing monitor laps and exploring the area.
Even on the day, a silicone increase hose actually exploded within the engine bay on our second lap out. As a substitute of being disheartened about it, a brand new hose was sourced from a close-by efficiency workshop and the monitor motion continued.
Aspect word: This specific workshop is a gold mine for a BMW nerd similar to myself and would possibly warrant one other journey…
More than pleased to reply questions and chat with passersby, and preferring to share his monitor periods with a passenger over heading out on the circuit by himself, Nigel is a real gentleman and represents the very best of what monitor day tradition is about.
I’ll go away you a gallery beneath with some highlights from the day. Because of Nigel and the Pinderwagen, it’s one I received’t overlook.