Photography by Jeroen Willemsen
I struggle to find anything that could prevent Tom Klein Gunnewiek’s 1977 Volkswagen Scirocco from being the nicest example ever built. It’s an absolute magnet. Once you start looking at the details of the Netherlands-based build, it’s impossible to look away. The car was pitched to us by our star photographer from the Netherlands, Jeroen Willemsen, and I was immediately smitten. As I peeked at the photos once they were sent to us, I found myself staring at the intricacies—of which there are many—and I just couldn’t pull away. So how did Gunnewiek come to build this elaborate machine? First, let’s discuss his history with cars in general, and we’ll work our way towards the Scirocco.
“My dad had a garage, and I always loved cars. I was not that much a VW fan at first. But when I was 17 and wanted to build a car, which I could drive when I was 18, I started with a Golf MK2 because they were cheap, and it was easy to get parts. Since then, I fell in love with VW, “says Gunnewiek.
After owning the MK2 for several years, he had come to the point where it was finished in his eyes. Unsure what to modify on it next, he recalls that anything different would have required him to start all over on the Golf or start a new project. Just as the desire burns within us all, Gunnewiek’s eyes wandered toward a new chassis—a fresh start.
“I always loved a Scirocco MK1, so I started looking for one. I found a car on the internet that could be interesting. It was on the other side of the Netherlands, so I went over there with two friends on a Saturday,” he says.
However, when he saw the car in real life, it was in much worse condition than initially thought. Tom decided to relay his vision for the future Scirocco build to the seller, which returned a surprising answer. The seller was familiar with a garage nearby with a lot of old Volkswagens. He could remember they had a nice Scirocco in the mix, too, but wasn’t sure if it was still on the premises. Without knowing whether or not the car would even be for sale, Gunnewiek figured he and his friends were already so close, and they needed to at least have a look.
Upon arrival, they found the lust-worthy Scirocco in question, and it was indeed up to par. It had already been in storage for 17 years. The owner had grandiose plans of a rebuild because his first car was a MK1 Scirocco. He had saved a large number of parts, but just never had the time to give it the restoration it so deserved. Despite never wanting to sell it, only a week prior, the owner had discussed the possibility with his wife of selling his beloved Scirocco. Tom was in the right place at the right time, and the owner agreed to sell the car and its parts. If he hadn’t driven across the country in search of the first Scirocco that ended up being rough, he would never have found the beautiful chassis for this build.
A week later, Tom and his friends picked up the car with the collection of parts from the shop. While it was still the shining example he’d been looking for, upon closer inspection, some rust would need to be fixed. However, for a MK1 Scirocco, it was in exceptional condition, which explains why the seller held onto it for so long.
“After I got the car home, I had it in storage at first. So I had the time to sell my Golf mk2, save money, and find the parts that I needed. At first, I wanted to build a red car with a 16vt [engine]. But after I bought this silver car, it looked that good in silver that I was thinking I’d keep it silver—just not the original silver. That looked a bit too cheap and simple for me. So I searched for other silver colors that I liked more. In the end, I found a Porsche color that was good enough,” says Gunnewiek.
“I also changed my mind on the engine. I wasn’t sure what I wanted yet, but the engine bay had to be as clean as possible. And I didn’t think a 16vt would be clean enough for me. A friend of mine came up with the idea of a 16v with throttle bodies. I liked that idea, because it can be done very clean, and still have enough power.”
Gunnewiek knew of a MK1 Golf with a 16v engine built using carburetors—a similar-looking setup to his idea of individual throttle bodies. A company known for constructing high-quality race and rally engines named Van Kroenenburg in the Netherlands had built it. The owner already had the powerplant out of the car, and Tom knew it would be perfect for the Scirocco project.
“So I asked if I could buy his engine. He refused at first, so I started buying the parts I needed to build an engine myself. After a while, he called me to say he wants to sell his car and engine. If I still was interested, I could buy the engine,” he says.
It was the perfect setup for his project car. So he picked up the aggressive motor typically found in the European-market MKIII Golf and got to work rebuilding it to suit his taste. He completely repainted it, added a surplus of chromed and polished parts, and even changed out the carburetors. Jenvey individual throttle bodies helped move this setup to fuel injection and updated the induction system.
During the engine tweaking time, the body of the car was sandblasted and covered in epoxy primer. Tom, a paint and bodywork master by trade, was already hard at work cleaning and repairing the exterior, while also smoothing every orifice of the engine bay.
“The engine bay was a lot of work. I welded every hole I could find. The battery had to go to the boot. Wiring loom hidden behind the wings. No cables for the speed meter and clutch. The only cable visible in the engine bay is the throttle cable. I removed the scuttle tray and heater motor. I let someone build a custom radiator so that I could remove the reservoir for the cooling liquid. I removed the brake booster and bought a custom made pedal box so that I could install the brake and clutch cylinders under my dashboard,” he says.
Let’s talk about how in-depth some of the smallest changes were to accomplish. Starting with the pedal box—made for a MK1 Golf—which came with its own stack of undertakings to fit inside the Scirocco. But the real intricate job was the wiper. Tom was diligent in the installation of this single wiper setup on its front windshield. Which is interesting, because the 1977 Scirocco already has a single wiper, right? Yes, and no. It does indeed have a single wiper. However, it was too large and bulky to fit with the vision Tom had for his bay.
To remedy this, he bought a more streamlined aftermarket single-wiper-conversion from Bonrath—for a MK1 Golf like the pedals—which also doesn’t fit his car. He made the motor work by switching all of the mounting points over from the OEM unit onto the aftermarket Bonrath solution. Of course, even after that was completed, the OEM wiper itself didn’t work on the new unit. Luckily, a friend of Tom’s works with CNC machines, and was able to modify the wiper and the motor, so it all fit and worked together. All of that for a windshield wiper, you say? Yes, but that’s just an example of the dedication Tom had to his vision, and the results speak for themselves.
“The car had to be as low as possible, but still be static, and on 17-inch wheels. A lot of MK1s who want to be this low have 6 or 6.5 x 17 wheels with 165/35 tyres at the front, but I wanted 7 x 17 with 185/35 tyres. I wanted at least 200 horsepower so that I could use a bit more tyre. I pulled the arches a bit on the outside, but I also knew from friends that the main problem was rubbing the tyres on the inside of the arches when you are steering. So I also modified the inside of the arches/engine bay a bit, so I had a little more space for the wheels. But, it all still had to look like it was original. So there are a lot of small details in the engine bay that were a lot of work, but almost nobody will ever see them,” says Gunnewiek.
It doesn’t end in the engine bay, though. Numerous details on the outside have been refined or smoothed without changing the overall look of the car. The side trim, rear wiper, and rear logos were the first to go. But getting rid of parts—while it requires some work to smooth—is much easier than finding quality replacements for the rare Scirocco, which Tom found out while searching for new bumper end caps. He searched for over a year and a half altogether before assembling the complete set of four. In the end, he sourced them separately from the Netherlands, Germany, and France.
Tom didn’t stop there, either. He continued his undying meticulousness into the bottom of the vehicle. The entire underside of the car is smoothed, shaved, and painted, too! Axles and gas tank included, which were painted black for contrast.
“A lot of show cars use chrome for the engine, axles, and everything under the car, but I didn’t want too much chrome. I think it looks a bit too kitsch, and I like the contrast between the silver and black more than just chrome everything,” says Tom.
By retaining the interior’s original look and adding a few subtle details, Gunnewiek’s tasteful eye has even mastered the Scirocco’s passenger compartment. The headliner was refinished in Continental’s synthetic black skai® leather instead of the factory white version. The seats are formerly from a MK1 Scirocco, but a modification giving them a more Recaro/Porsche-look improved their aesthetics. Every panel in the interior has been retrimmed with new material. Tom’s favorite piece on the inside is still the CAE shifter, as he feels it perfectly matches the look and idea of the car.
He remembers the first time starting the engine a few weeks before its maiden voyage to Edition 38 as a highlight.
“I always loved the Edition 38 show in England, every first weekend of September. In March 2015, I painted the car and could start rebuilding it. So, I planned and booked the trip to Edition 38—but the rebuild wasn’t easy. I didn’t have a lot of big problems, but a lot of small ones. One week before the show, the car was far from ready. I worked every day from early in the morning to the middle of the night to get it ready. We always leave on Thursday for the ferry to England. That Monday evening/night was the first time I pushed the car outside of the garage, started it, and tried to see if it could even drive. When I knew it could drive, I used Tuesday and Wednesday to finish the rest of the car and clean it. Thursday, I put the car on the trailer and left for England. It was a great weekend, and I got a great response from a lot of people. People came over from The Netherlands, Belgium, and England, just to see my car,” he says.
He thought a lot about everything he did on the car, and his friends helped him considerably whenever he was unsure of anything.
“While I was building the car, a lot of friends helped me with things that I couldn’t do myself. We also talked a lot about the car, and what was the best way to do things, or was the best look for all the parts.”
He would like to thank the following people for helping him along the way: Yoeri Kox, Roy Verbeek, Bas Rozendaal, Joris Visser, Rick Papen, Twan Niemeijer, Oliver Verheij, Ron Huijzer, Michel Massop, Jos Klein Gunnewiek.
In the end, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, with the right friends and the right ideas that all culminated into the finest MK1 Scirocco we’ve ever laid eyes on. Tom says he wouldn’t do anything differently, and doesn’t necessarily have any plans for the car but finished by saying, “I really love the car, but I’m also thinking about selling it and starting another build.”
We all know how that itch goes, but if it’s anything like this project, it’s sure to be an absolute scorcher. Has Tom Klein Gunnewiek built the nicest MK1 Scirocco ever? We’ll let you decide.
Tom Klein Gunnewiek's 1977 Volkswagen Scirocco MK1
|Exterior:||Porsche Polar Silver paint, deleted side trim, deleted rear logos and wiper, pulled arches, chromed bumpers, logo, mirrors, door handles, window trim, and roof trim.|
|Interior:||Custom seats based on the original Scirocco, complete retrim in the original fabric, Black skai® leather headliner, Black CAE shifter, VDO gauges, QSP steering wheel, no audio installation.|
|Engine:||2.0-liter 16v ABF engine, completely rebuilt and painted high gloss black with polished and chromed details and custom made parts, 45mm Jenvey DTH individual throttle bodies, lightened and balanced crankshaft, pistons and rods, flowed head with custom camshafts, valves and adjustable camshaft wheel, Sustom sump, Daihatsu dynamo, complete stainless steel Powersprint 60mm exhaust with 4-2-1 manifold, custom radiator, KMS management system, cleaned/tucked wiring loom, cleaned/shaved/tucked engine bay, front scuttle tray and heater motor removed, and battery relocated to boot. 209 horsepower @ 6900 rpm, 215 N⋅m @ 6800 rpm.|
|Drivetrain:||Sachs clutch, rebuilt G60 gearbox, painted high gloss black with chromed and polished parts, Quaife limited-slip differential, driveshafts from a 1989 Polo diesel and a Lupo 1.0.|
|Suspension:||Shortened front axles at the front, H&R Ultralow adjustable coilovers, chromed adjustable top mounts, MK2 Scirocco anti-roll bars, all axles, suspension parts, steering and other running gear new or rebuilt and painted high gloss black with chrome details, and custom-made pedal box with brake and clutch cylinders under the dashboard.|
|Wheels/Tires:||7x17-inch et40 Ronal Racing wheels with 0.5j outer lips, 185/35/17 Nankang tyres, and 20 mm spacers front and rear.|
|Brakes:||Wilwood brakes with 288mm Brembo front rotors, Golf MK4 brakes with Golf MK2 16v rear rotors.|