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Motor Trend - 2000 Volkswagen Golf
During the Build - Phase Two

Motor Trend Project R28: Interior Installation

As stated in the first installment of our Project R28 build-up, the 2000 VW GTI once was a heavily modified street terror. The key words here are "once was." However, when we bought it, the previous owner had already removed the seriously modified turbocharged engine, pricey aftermarket wheels, and many of the interior pieces. Gone from inside were the aftermarket bucket seats, fancy aftermarket steering wheel, and other bits. What was left, however, were a few aftermarket upgrade pieces (some installed, some removed and sitting in a bag) along with various factory interior panels. After scouting eBay Motors, we came up with a used (yet mint condition) VW Golf interior that included custom front and rear bucket seats that incorporated Alcantara suede inserts with custom stitchwork, special front/rear Alcantara door panels, and floor mats. The cost? $1,200. But since the stock GTi's interior was still somewhat complete, we were able to remove and sell off some of the remaining stock interior pieces for $250, thus allowing us to have a complete custom interior for the price-adjusted sum of $950. Not bad. The best part was that the interior pieces were a snap to install and we went from a gutted-looking interior to a custom cabin in about 30 minutes.

Our eBay sourced interior included 2001 VW GTI front bucket seats that incorporated Alcantara suede inserts in the center sections. The back seats had similar inserts that matched custom front/rear door panels shod with Alcantara upgrades as well. The interior goods also came with a set of stock R32 black floormats, but we're still undecided if we'll use them or try to score some custom mats instead.

We started our custom interior install by removing the remaining factory supplied interior bits including rear seats and door panels. Once gutted, our ride looked like it had just spent the night at an east L.A. chop shop.

Looking forward, our interior is looking pretty sparse. The good news: the stripped car would really fly at the dragstrip. The bad news: driving a car in the 12s in the quarter mile would be challenging without a place for the driver to plant his rear.

First up for install were the rear door panels. Begin by making sure the myriad small push-in clips are in the proper position within the door panel, then...

...align the panel with the mounting holes located in the vehicle sheetmetal. With a few taps from you hand, the retaining clips should pop into place and the door panel is then installed.

Before installing the new front door panels, we first had to install the two side mirrors. The previous owner must have had (and removed) custom side mirrors because when we got the GTI there was a pair of stock mirrors in a box and nothing on the side of the car. Installing the factory mirrors is a cinch...just insert the mirror's wiring through the access hole in the door, align the mirror on the door, and then thread-in and tighten the retaining screws. Afterwards, attach the remote mirror's power wires to the proper wiring loom within the door and you're done.

Next up was the installation of the front door panels. Similarly to the rear door panels, simply align the small mounting clips and tap the panel into place.

Once the front door panels are in position, connect the wiring to the underside of the switch panel (shown) and then clip in the small panel. The nice thing with the door and switch panels is that all the wires have specific wire connector ends thus making it impossible to incorrectly cross-wire anything.

Installing the custom rear seats was a no-brainer. Simply align the metal rod in bottom of the seatback with the receptacle welded into the floorboard of the car, then flip back the seatback and clip it into place.

Install the second half of the fold-down rear seatback just as you installed the first seatback. However, upon installation, make sure not to snag the lower seat rod on the other seatback, as it's a close fit.

The seat bottom cushions simply snap into place. Align them with the floorboard mounts, then click them into position.

The driver-side portion of the rear seat bottom simply pops into position. It's really that simple.

The previous owner must have had (and removed) an aftermarket steering wheel, but included a stock wheel with the car. We simply aligned the wheel, threaded on and torqued the retaining nut, and then plugged in the wires for the steering wheel's airbag. Afterwards, the airbag was aligned and popped into position.

In a bag of stuff that came with the car was (among other items) an aftermarket Raid shift knob with leather boot. Although the knob wasn't the fanciest item we'd ever seen, it looked better than the stock knob and it didn't cost us anything. Moreover, the stock shift knob incorporated shift pattern markings for a 5-speed manual gearbox whereas our Project R28 would incorporate an aftermarket Quaife 6-speed transmission...thus, the markings would have been incorrect. The Raid knob had no shift pattern markings.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that our GTI came with an aftermarket Racimex boost gauge mounted to the A-pillar. We can only assume that the previous owner thought it was more difficult to remove and reinstall the gauge on his new car than it was to just buy a new one for his new car. In any case, we're glad that he left it.

With our interior panels and rear seats installed, it was time for the new front seats. Installation was as simple as aligning the seat's bottom seat tracks with the mounting holes in the floor, then bolting them into place.

Finally, the driver's front seat is positioned and bolted into place. It literally takes only but a few minutes to have the seat installed and ready for use.

Now that we were sporting a custom interior, we wanted to add a bit of customized punch to the factory-installed Monsoon 8-speaker premium stereo system. The simplest thing to do is to add a stand-alone subwoofer unit, so that's what we did. We'd seen the cool-looking subwoofers from SAS Bazooka ( that mimicked an aftermarket nitrous oxide bottle and thought that it would be fun to incorporate such a unit for our Project R28. Scouting eBay turned up many such Bazooka tubes, but just before we were ready to bid on one we found a local kid who wanted to hock a new-in-the-box "Bazooka Express" version that mimicked a white Nitrous Express nitrous bottle, so we bought it from him for $150. We mounted in the rear of the car and wired it to the factory amplifier that was located inches away in a nearby panel.

Our Bazooka tube incorporated a fully self-contained 8-inch subwoofer with a 300-watt power handling ability. Although our "passive" subwoofer didn't come with an auxiliary amplifier, Bazooka does offer 8- and 10-inch subs with build-in amps. Also, although our subwoofer looks like a Nitrous Express bottle, Bazooka also offers subwoofer “bottles” that look similar to the popular blue Nitrous Oxide Systems nitrous bottle. Not only do these subwoofers look cool, but the box touted "Chicks dig it" so how could we refuse.

Here's the finished look at our custom interior for our Project R28. Not only do the Alcantara suede inserts look cool, but they offer a nice feel as well. Next up: custom coil-over suspension, larger disc brakes, and aftermarket 18-inch wheels/tires.