Even 28 years ago, our Rabbit’s body wasn’t strong enough to deal with race-stiff suspension and sway bars. Three decades of fatigue, crashes and primate repair jobs haven’t helped. To make up for the fatigue, we’re adding Eurosport braces all over the place. The lower arm brace that hangs under the engine is normally hard to install; strangely, it bolts straight to our car without complaint. The strut tower bar, which connects the front strut towers above the engine requires extensive modifications to deal with the chimp’s handiwork. A third brace, connecting the rear suspension towers across the rear cargo area, drastically cuts into the amount of crap Jared will be able to carry around the country. The rest of us, though, think the handling gains will be worth the sacrifice.
The scariest part of the corkscrew, truthfully, wasn’t the steering delay, the body roll, or the relentless understeer, it was hitting the brakes at the entrance to the steep, downhill Rainey curve that comes next. Mashing the Sipster’s middle pedal was like popping a parachute–a little, 6-inch G.I. Joe parachute–and then patiently waiting for it to slow the car down.
We had originally planned to install bigger front brakes from a Passat, but as Raffi correctly points out, the bigger calipers will only make the brake pedal squishy if we don’t also swap in the master cylinder and brake booster from a Scirocco 16V, which we don’t have. Putting stronger front brakes on without upgrading the rears would also make the brakes too front-biased, making the front brakes lock up well before the rears have done their best work.
Instead, Raffi suggests simply using the setup that has served his 178-hp Rabbit racecar for over a decade, slightly thicker GTI rotors, more aggressive brake pads, and maybe some rear wheel cylinders that aren’t leaking, along with new shoes and drums. By now we’ve learned to do what Raffi says, and the improvement is dramatic.
With the car now safe to drive 60 mph, we’re getting serious about that 0-60 goal. So serious, we’ll have results up next installment, along with a description of our visit from the torque fairy. See you then.
Jared just helped me find the videos that went with this series. Amazingly, they’re still up somewhere in the TopGear internet universe. Here’s our handling video.
|How’s about some Sipster part 4?|
|Go get yourself some Project Sipster part 3|
|Go get yourself some Project Sipster part 2:|
|Go get yourself some Project Sipster part 1:|