July 12, 2020
The journey to a new home
In the mid 1980’s, I purchased my first 1983 VW Rabbit GTI from Fred Manzer at Danny Brewers used car dealership in Caribou, Maine. I put over 200,000 miles on that car while I drove it to work at Caribou Technology Center for several years.
I finally parked it due to old age problems, the car not me! I parked it and bought another 1983 GTI only this time it was black with a sunroof. It had been owned by auto parts dealer Lewis Greenier’s son.
I drove that GTI until it would no longer go into reverse. It was then parked next to the original red GTI.
I read an article ain Automobile Magazine while waiting for work to be done on another vehicle at Hogan Tire in Caribou. I noticed one of the articles was about valuable sports cars. Lo and behold…the 1983-84 Rabbit GTI made in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania was one of the top prospects. It was the few lightweight cars with high revving engine, distinctive spoked wheels, tight fitting seats, not too expensive price tag, and sporty handling in the 1980s.
I began looking around to corner as many 1983 GTI models that I could find for little money. I found one in Madawaska for $200 and one in Easton for $75. For that price you might imply that these were not pristine cars, and you were correct.
First…what happened to the red GTI?
THe red GTI was the car that I sunk three thousand dollars into, drove it in a couple autocrosses at Loring, did “Race Your Neighbor” at Spud Speedway twice, and put less than 200 highway miles on. It never worked great for me and eventually was parked.
After Edwin acquired it in September 2019, with the help of friend Dan Robertson, got it running. Let Edwin tell the story after that:
“The red car I got running a week after I acquired it from you. It was just a matter of cleaning out the fuel system. I relocated the battery from the rear back to the front and held it in with a ratchet straps since the battery tray was cut out. The right front caliper was stuck so I replaced it with a new one, also did the rotors but kept the Hawk brake pads.”
“I bought NOS red molded carpet and a new front grille. Changed the oil of course. The paint was extremely faded so I did a 3 stage buffing and brought the paint back to life. That took me over a week to do, because I had to remove all the trim pieces and painted those pieces black to restore the color. I also bought the original vinyl side stripe and put that on myself. The red car was stock besides whatever you had done to it. The coilovers, exhaust header, braided brake lines, etc.”
“I sold it on eBay for $5k to a woman living in Yonkers NY. She bought it to give it to her fiance as an engagement present. The last time I spoke with her was on the phone when it arrived on the shipping truck. She said her fiance was very surprised and happy.”
“I do regret selling it but I’m glad it went to home where it’s appreciated.”
After some title research Walker revealed,”That red GTI was owned by a man that was stationed at Loring and he bought it new at PI Volkswagen. He was assigned to civil engineering.”
The black GTI
I followed Edwin’s progress in restoring one of the three black GTI. I thought he might restore the Madawaska car or maybe the Greenier car which I drove for a couple years. Walker remarked that both cars had terminal rust problems and after stripping every possible part, were scrapped. The car I thought might be the worst became the object of his restoration efforts.
The remarkable part of this story is the fact that Walker is only 23 and has limited formal automotive repair training. He is a rare find in today’s world with his intense work ethic in regards to car restoration and attention to detail especially Original Equipment Manufactured parts (OEM).
Edwin Walker background
Born at Bitburg Air Force Base in Germany 23 years ago to parents Malcolm and Bianca Walker, the youngster did the typical military shuffle. His father was a weather specialist in the Air Force and was stationed at Langley AFB in Hampton, Virginia, Maxwell AFB in Alabama, and the Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina before taking a job with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Caribou, Maine 12 years ago.
His father always had sports cars that he would fix up and sell. His wife Bianca, who met Malcolm at Soesterberg Air Force Base in the Netherlands, was unsure of how many cars her husband had owned over the years.
Edwin’s first memory of a car owned by his father was a 70’s era white Porsche 914. What impressed him most was the center console mounted phone. A MGB was also a car that he remembered as a tiny car with a small back seat that he and his brother Dean would ride in.
Walker’s mother Bianca said, “When I was a little girl growing up in the Netherlands, my family worked hard cutting flowers, handling bulbs, and do whatever we could to earn money. We worked for it. I think our four children, daughters Annalies and Danica and sons Dean and Edwin have that work ethic.”
She continued saying, ” Ed was always out in the garage with his father”.
Edwin attended Caribou Schools after moving to the area 12 years ago. He is a Caribou High School graduate. After graduation, he spent some time at UMaine Orono in the Mechanical Engineering Technology program until he decided that was not the career path he wanted to follow.
Last year he went to Aviator College of Aeronautical Science and Technology, Fort Pierce, Florida, where he is pursuing a career as a pilot. The COVID 19 pandemic ended the year for the young man who plans to continue this fall depending on what the school has for an action plan.
While in Florida, Walker applied for a job at nearby Kiddy’s Classics Automotive Restoration in Jensen Beach. He prepared a portfolio containing stories and photos of the multiple cars he owned or was involved with in conjunction with his father.
The owner, William Kiddy was impressed that a young man of Walker’s age possess the ambition and desire to work on automobiles. Unfortunately Walker was unable to pursue work at the restoration shop due to his heavy class load at Aviator College.
He certainly was favorably impressed and humbled by the eye-opening high quality work that Mr. Kiddy’s shop produced. Walker said he would be satisfied working in automobile restoration as a career.
The first car owned by the younger Walker was a silver Porsche 914. At age 12 at the Hershey, Pennsylvania car show, he bought a Triumph GT6. It was his Dad’s VW Scirocco project car, however, that got him curious about the Rabbit GTI family of cars. Something about the Mark I group of Volkswagens made him anxious to restore them. He needed a project since his only hobby is working on cars.
The Restoration of the black GTI
Walker provided a list of the new parts he acquired for his VW:
- Polished & ported cylinder head
- Autotech adjustable cam wheel
- 260 degree TT (Techtonics Tuning) camshaft
- Scientific Rabbit intake manifold polished & ported
- Audi big bore throttle body
- NGK iridium spark plugs
- ABA oil pump (more volume)
- eBay Motors stainless steel headers
- Full TT Borla stainless exhaust
- Prothane polyurethane bushing kit
- TT K-Bar Front brace bar
- eBay Motors coilovers
- NRG 350mm steering wheel & hub adapter
- Mk2 Jetta Recaro Trophy front seats
- ABM short shifter
- assorted engine internals
- becoming rare…rear backup lenses
He also is a member of VWVortex online thread where he was able to pick up parts and information for these projects. Whether he eventually finds work as an aircraft pilot or works in a restoration shop, Walker emphasized, “I want to go to work and do what I love”
He is well on his way as these projects show.
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Let’s go racing,
Soli Deo Gloria (Matthew 5:16)