Mama Told Me
I want you to think back to your childhood. Hopefully, you had supportive and encouraging parents. Parents that told you that you could indeed be anything you wanted to be. That said you could do anything you wanted to do. Just told you that if you wanted to learn something, then learn it. Did you believe them? Did what they said stick? Nick Kramarczyk was fortunate enough to have his Mom teach him that he could do what he wanted. Just apply yourself, start somewhere, that person who is the expert? They once started from zero experience as well. Nick has taken that approach on his example of an MKII Volkswagen Golf, and the results are stunning! Sure there were a few cars in the beginning, a Quantum, a Honda, even some good ole fashion American Muscle. Nick was, however, fortunate enough to land his dream car. A 1987 GTI 16V. The GTI was the car that built confidence and allowed Nick to grow the skill set that he has now. As most younger car enthusiasts do, Nick messed with his GTI, "Some stuff silly, some stuff stupid." Styles eventually changed, but the GTI helped carve a path to the 1989 Volkswagen Golf GL you see here today. As time sank its unbreakable teeth into the GTI, Nick began the search for a clean shell to replace his existing platform. The thought of replacing the floors for the third time in the GTI was not going to cut it. The search began. In 2008 after roughly a year of searching, a Titan Red Golf GL had been located. A rolling shell from a previous part out was all that remained intact and rust-free; this was the car that Nick would apply a laundry list of skills acquired over the next 11 years!
Nick immediately started to swap bits from his rotting GTI over to the Golf. Suspension components, major interior parts, and the MK3 dash. While doing so, his mind began to spin. Somewhere in the sporadic wound up momentum of his brain, he decided he wanted to put ITB's on his 16V. This task would require additional time and research. Never one to back down from the do it yourself challenge Nick spent that summer learning all he could about the MegaSquirt system. By the end of summer, he had built the ECU and had the 16V motor running on Suzuki GSXR ITB's. As things tend to do, one modification leads to another and another. The infamous "Power Bug" quickly bit Nick. This lead to him building the engine from the ground up. Pistons, rods, crank, ported head, cams, and a laundry list of other parts and modifications had been completed.
Once the performance bits had been handled, he wanted to move on to refining and prettying the car up. So in the Spring of 2011, he started tackling the bodywork, albeit in the parking lot of his then apartment building. Once the vehicle was prepared, he drove it 100 miles with no glass or interior to a friend's barn in NH. There he sprayed the car with a fresh coat of Titan Red. With new paint and a hopped-up motor, the Golf was slowly taking form and evolving with every passing month.
The following summer, Nick decided to give the interior a refresh. He wanted to give it a "Sleeper" look. Nick went back and forth with an interior shop, and the timing never seemed to work. Fed up with waiting for his items to be reworked, he decided to take on the challenge and do it himself. Using the existing covers to help with the design and learning curve, he was able to create the new patterns and refurbish the bolsters while everything was apart. The exterior and interior of the car were for now up to par. Nick now decided to focus on the engine bay. First, he attacked the broken and unappealing GSXR throttle bodies. Instead, he fitted a new set of Jenvey ITB's from Badger 5. Things were progressing well. The plan was to focus on the bay in the fall of 2013. The nature of cars struck again. Nick's current transmission decided it no longer wanted to be in the car. Where some might see discouragement and delay, Nick found opportunity. He had a new transmission equipped with a differential that he planned on using in the fall, but now it was the time. He dove right in. In just under a month, he had cleaned things up. Recoated the floors, shaved and painted the bay, engine, transmission, and accessories. The wiring was now hidden, and the car was somehow ready to make the trek to H20. This was Nick's first time bringing a show level car to H20. Previously he had never felt that it was up to that level. As bad luck would have it, his H20 baptism would not last long. Before checking into his hotel Nick and his Golf were rear-ended on the strip seemingly millions of miles from home the devastation sank in.
Once Nick and the Golf were back home, the healing processes could take place. For the first time, someone else would work on the Golf. A local body shop replaced the rear end; the Golf would live on and again evolve. This time to the greatest iteration yet. The summer of 2014 turned into the season of transmissions. Finally, Nick settled on a still installed 02J. Though the Golf was still forming, some significant life events happened. Nick and his fiancee Rachel purchased a house. Now Nick had a proper garage to work in! Having a consistent location that helped avoid distractions lead Nick to again tackling his interior. This time he refurbished full Recaro interior as he continued to tackle more and more bits within the engine bay. Replacing all of the factory bolts and polishing everything he could get his hands on.
Fast forward to the Spring of 2016, and Nick had his mindset on targeting the "ugliest part of the car" the Golf's brake lines. Nick and good friend Jeremy Smith tackled the ugliness, and the Golf was ready for the 2016 season. As things go, Nick would once again find himself with the itch to improve something. In October of 2016, he gathered his assembled parts and began the teardown. He did not take this round of paint lightly. This time around, the Golf got new fenders, a new hood, small doors, and a shaved boot. The floors were stripped and resealed; Lizard's skin sound deadening was also applied from the firewall back. This time Nick would leave no stone unturned, not one bolt untouched and not one opportunity to modify or clean something up on the table. While he was at it, he built a custom exhaust, rebuilt the heater box, organized and rewrapped all of the wirings, cleaned up the cowl, and repaired rust around the windshield. All of these items were listed on a chalkboard in his garage to see. Speaking of, he also insulated his garage space to help make it easier for him to continue working through the cold New England winter. Night after night, day after day, he stayed focused and proceeded to check things off his list. If he wasn't working or sleeping, some form of progress was being made on the Golf. Finally, on a surprisingly warm February night, he decided to lay down some primer. This was the beginning of the Marrakesh Brown paint you see laying on the Golf now! More long days and nights proceeded, but the Golf was finished in time for Dustoff 2017. Nick's approach to his Golf and general outlook on life is inspiring. One that more people would be better suited to have. His do it yourself attitude covers his Golf from front to back. Every bolt or hard to reach area has been thought about and manipulated by him. If he messed up or didn't like something, he tried again. Sure there were setbacks and hurdles along the way, but for the past decade, he has stuck to it and created one of the most exceptional Mark Two Golfs the US has seen. In his opinion, his Golf is yet to be finished. He will continue to refine it, learn from it, and, most importantly, do what his Mama told him.