While owning two Rabbit Gti's in the past, I had visions of converting the stock, 8v 90-hp engine for a 16V engine with potential to get over 140-hp. I had never had the experience of driving a 16V until I purchased my 1991 Jetta Gli. With a Techtonics chip and an exhaust later, I was convinced of putting that engine in a lightweight Rabbit. In addition, I have always appreciated the Rabbit's non-aerodynamic style. Lastly, I have an affection for the aggressive European look.

With the lack of time, tools, garage, resources, and overall knowledge, I was determined to find a Rabbit that had a 16V conversion. I had even more concerns:

The search was on. I was fortunate to meet Joe Rajewski at JW'sVW's in North Andover, MA. I confided with him about starting a project 16V. While considering putting one together, it appeared costly and exhaustive. I would need a donor car, Scirocco 16V 1.8L or a 90-92 Golf Gti, Jetta Gli, or a Passat for a 16V 2.0L. The difference is not only the size of the block but small differences in the headwork and more significantly, the fuel management system.

The 16V 1.8L Scirocco used CIS-E, where as all 2.0L 16V engines used the Motronic system. The later of which is more attractive due to the ability to upgrade the chip within the CPU. This modification is the cheapest and best mod to do on any 2.0 16V engine. As for the 1.8 16V, a Fuel Module is the best mod. It fools the engine thinking that it's cold. In return, the 5th injector is engaged (more fuel) when driving in the upper RPM range. Techtonics Tuning and Autotech make similar modules.

Joe's quidance and 16V expertise was the my greatest resource. I decided to search for a Rabbit with a 16V conversion. I saw an ad in the "water-cooled news group," for a 1.8 16V conversion. The car was priced to reveal that it had no fifth gear and recently had a light rear end collision.

      Buy it or not?

After worrying about never seeing another 16V conversion for sale around the New England area, I purchased it and quickly began the process of working out little bugs and intentions of light restoration. In the process, Joe and I found out that the lack of power in low RPM's in 1st gear was the result of low compression in a cylinder. The cause? Bad rings! Not a good feeling. The seller was reluctant to help out in any capacity. As a result I began the usual money dumping into a project that I was trying to avoid. In retrospect, it seems unavoidable. However, this turned out to be a great learning experience. In addition, this posed as a great opportunity to witness and be involved in a 16V conversion into a A1 chassis.

I purchased a 88' Scirocco 16V parts car for a 16V transmission. JWsVWs rebuilt it with a fresh clutch and bolted it onto a 2.0 16V block. It was topped with 1.8 head and Techtonics intake cam. If financially capable, I would have done a port and polish. However, the intentions were to get the car back in perfect running condition while keeping it financially feasible. The result is a light weight, A1 chassis and a freeflowing 16V. This car is a blast to drive. There is no better feeling that pulling up to a A2 or A3 and putting them in the rear view mirror while having a shit eating grin!


This car was sold during the fall of 2002 to a fellow VW enthusiast in Rhode Island, the state from which I bought the car a few years earlier. I had bought another Gti Project a few months earlier and was really not looking to sell the 16V Rabbit but the opportunity knocked and it was going to a good home. Last I heard, the car was then sold and relocated to Maine. The exterior of the car got a face lift with a single round headlight conversion and a deeper color of grey.