As iconic cars go, the original Golf GTI and the Porsche 911 must be in the top ten of all time. We caught up with James Bullen: Heritage customer, enthusiast and iconic car collector.

Campaign for success

James picked up this run out ‘Campaign’ edition 4 years ago and set about making it right, not just a few cosmetic tweaks though. It’s had a full restoration, but James’s attention to detail extends beyond that as he’s still not finished. We’ve had the pleasure of supplying a large percentage of his non-genuine VW Golf Mk1 parts, hence our excitement to see what they’ve become. Parts fitted include coolant hoses, suspension bushes, Golf Mk1 brakes and wheel bearings.

Encouraged to go further

Spurred on by cars he’d seen at shows and online in the Mk1 Golf Owners Club, James is determined to do this car ‘right’. He’s tracked down and met with all previous owners bar one and uncovered every story, to explain each nuance and peculiarity he’s encountered on his project journey.

Pane in the glass 

James is currently on the hunt for original green tinted door glass, but not the common Sekurit type, the far rarer Delodur version. The original owner swapped the door for a second hand one after it was damaged by car thieves back in the 80s but they never swapped the glass around. Back when this was a ‘cheap run about’ no one would have cared. I didn’t notice, but to James, it really matters and he won’t stop ‘till he finds some!

Friend, mechanic and wingman 

One of the downsides to owning two cars like this is you can’t drive them both at once, so James enlisted his friend and Redbourn Auto Solutions owner Ian to come along for the day. He takes care of all James’ cars, so no one better to be at the wheel of his cherished Golf.

Barn find

With James living over 2 hours away from Heritage HQ, we needed to find a location that would put up with our antics and also offer a complimentary backdrop for our photos. We got lucky and found a beautiful Wedding venue just outside Letchworth Garden City, called The Priory. The owner very kindly gave us free roam early on a Friday morning so we could get the photos you see here.

Drive Heritage

Out on the road, our pretty pairing turned heads, in fact, we managed to secure a Wedding booking for the Golf when we pulled in for a drink at a local hotel! “It’s the GTI that gets people talking,” James tells us. “I can’t fill it up without creating a conversation with someone who used to own one”.

The Golf GTI is certainly spritely off the line and despite being over 100bhp down on its Stuttgart cousin it makes the Rennsport built RS work hard to keep up.

The RS end

So we’ll be honest, it’s not ‘a real one’ but as James says “I didn’t have a spare half a million to buy one of those, plus if I did, I’d be scared to drive it!” What it is, however, is a beautifully crafted homage to a Porsche Icon. Based on an ’84 G series it features a 3.2-litre engine and ticks all the right boxes for anyone this side of a Concours d’elegance.

One more thing…

As we start to bring things to a close and consider going our separate ways James let’s slip about a certain South African spec Mk1 GTI he’s sourced. “Only available over there with 5 doors and finished in a Mk2 Golf colour it’s an oddball by European standards,” he tells us. All being well it’ll be coming to the UK later this year for James to work his meticulous magic on. We’ll keep you posted!

Andy

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