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My (slow) 9n3 GTI build


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Sat here at work bored, I can sit and read through other people's build threads all day long. So I thought it's time to make my own... not necessarily for you to read through but more for myself so I can look back and see my progress.


My first car was a polo 9n3 1.4 petrol, (silver 5dr) which was originally my sister's and passed down to me. I loved it lowered it and did all the first car mods anyone else would do to it. That is what sparked my enjoyment of these cars. 

Eventually, I bit the bullet and bought myself a 9n3 GTI. Below are pictures from the day I bought it. I got it cheap as it had an issue or two and decently high milage.spacer.pngspacer.png





















When I bought it the description was very vague and didn't mention any modifications just the fact it had a small oil leak. But it was a nicely specced car with the winter spec. (Heated seats, climatronic and headlight washers and had a few mods done to it. Such as a RAMAIR filter, eBay BOV (which was being a BOV, not a recirc), and SIA Delete.

For the first week or so of owning it I was driving my IS200 around, which gave me chance to do a few things to the polo while it wasn't on the road such as, change the silly tinted headlights to my angel eye headlights off my silver polo, move the head unit and subwoofer from the silver polo across give it a general clean and service of oil, filter coolant and spark plugs and deleted the N249 and N112. Also fixed the "oil leak" it was sold with which was the rocker cover gasket. When I took the rocker cover off turns out there was no gasket just black silicon... for the sake of £5 you'd just put a gasket in surely?? I also put in a yellow polybush from powerflex in the dogbone mount as the old bushing was destroyed.




















1 Week into driving the car EML... fml... what could this be. I borrowed my friends' diagnostics which brought up the code "Pressure drop between turbo and inlet manifold". I still get that code to this day and am 99% certain it's because it's got a terrible map on it as lots of research and attempts at fixing have all come down to that. As for a map I'm waiting until the car is finished mechanically to get it mapped. (No point paying for a map twice when I can just key bang it to get out of the limp mode that happens quite rarely). Anyway, wipe that it comes back shortly after. Guess I'm living with the EML... it wouldn't be a VW without it, right!?


After a while of having the STUTUTUTU because of the incorrectly fitted eBay BOV, I bought a forge BOV off of a friend breaking his 1.8T and fitted it correctly and started going TSSSHHHHH instead which sounds equally as good in my opinion. For anyone fitting these, make sure you recirc as 1.8T's have to be mapped MAFless if you want to dump to atmosphere otherwise your MAF reads lower readings than it should, gets confused and will usually just stall out the car after driving a bit. I found this out the hard way...




















By this point I'd got all the general maintenance out the way wanted to do one or two cosmetics so I installed wiper delete from KillAllWipers, a sharkfin areal from eBay and a nice set of 6R style rear LED lights. Again found it on eBay and I had taken the wind deflectors off I personally don't like them and think cars look much cleaner without them. (Please forgive the Summer Maddness sticker, I don't know what I was thinking either...)



















Anyway with everything working, finally I can enjoy the car for a bit.

Or so I thought

I was sitting on TikTok with my car idling waiting for some of my friends to turn up when suddenly BING BING BING BING I thought oh god why's it shouting at me only to look up and see the red coolant light flashing and my temp to be up in the red. Brilliant, shut the car off and opened the bonnet as steam slowly escaped. Strange that my engine fan never kicked in.



So the next mission is to see why the fan never came on. Had a look into it turned out the fan was a bit seized so time to swap it over. While doing this, (don't ask how) a friend got happy with a drill and suddenly I had a hole in my radiator... So that got replaced as well at the same time.



Everything was going okay for a little while until a baby deer decided it wanted to unalive itself by running into the side of my car (all things considered I got off pretty lucky). Ignore the wheels I was borrowing a set of wheels while I sourced and fitted some winters to my set. It took out the wing mirror glass, and the wing mirror plastic trim around it dented the door slightly and dented the wing lots. Also dislodged the wing mirror mounting. Oh well, is what it is I'll eventually get it fixed.



After a quick stint in hospital (completely unrelated) which left me unable to do anything with the car for a little while, I decided to order a custom-made polybushed gearbox mount (which was half the price of the vibratechnics one) which does just as good of a job. This helped reduce movement in my engine and made gear changes and acceleration that bit crisper. I also decided to take the car to a local paintless dent repair place to only repair the dents on the wing who did an awesome job of it.



At this point, it was about time I got my private plate transferred and registered onto this well overdue car, as well as asking people to ignore the lack of sunstrip. (Special thanks to my wipers for taking off the previous one).




After that, there was something I had been wanting for a while which was an Ultragauge. Honestly, because I love tech, IT and gadgets I love this thing and for the price, you can't beat it. I installed that and played around with it for ages till I got the configuration I wanted and ever since I've been battling with different types of sticky tape to try and keep it mounted to the dash! This was also around the time that I got a used eBay Cupra splitter off a friend, for £10, who used to have a 9n3 and had moved onto a CC. The first installation of the splitter was questionable but it eventually gets better.



I also finally installed a boost gauge air vent mount (from Facebook this time, 3d printed) which was needed a long time ago. (Bonus points for looks is why it was needed)



There eventually came a point where one of my mates had a head gasket tester kit and he said if I wanted to use it go ahead. I had a suspicion that my head gasket may not be intact as it had been boiled once or twice due to it overheating so easily. So I put the test kit on and went to put my new undamaged wing mirror platic on when not 10 seconds later I saw it'd turned green. I turned to my friend and said "oh it's green" and he laughed it off thinking I was joking because no way could it change that fast. No, it had changed that fast and was very very green.

At this point, I had a decision to make. The options were as follows: 1. Fix the head gasket. 2. Fix the head gasket but while I'm in there, I may as well put some rods in as it'll never be easier. 3. Buy another engine with no issues, and swap it over. Fix the head gasket and forge it in my own time (money isn't exactly pouring out my ears).



About a week later, I had an engine. Came with a full loom, turbo all ancillaries. I also somehow managed to come away with spare front support for a 9n3 and a 1/1 custom-made rear centre exit valence? Now was just finding the time to do the changeover.



Tyres were also needed which I spent a lot of time looking into but also didn't have money to throw away so I ended up going for some Toyo Proxies TR1 (NOT T1R's they're the ditch finders) and am pleasantly surprised by them as they handle well for the price of them. They do however wear quite quickly and so I'll be looking at some semi-slicks for the front wheels for summer once I've gone through the toyos.



Next stop. MOT Time. It managed to get through its MOT with a few advisories such as the D/S bottom arm deteriorated, which I replaced and drop links that were on their way out. Not too bad. I also got myself a carbon fibre gear knob because carbon fibre.

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Okay, so MOT is out the way, winner. Now was the time. I set about a weekend and asked some mates for some help to use their space and their hands. The engine swap was happening. In all honesty, although it's a big engine crammed into a tiny bay it wasn't all that difficult to get out, most of my bumper was quick release by this point as well so that came off quickly and easily. As the engine came out remember that polybushed dogbone bushing from earlier... yeah I had ripped that thing to pieces not ideal. This was also the best time to install the decat I'd bought off a friend so we did that at the same time (and accidentally snapped the cables to the post-cat sensor oh well). But all things considered, we started at about 12pm and finished at about 10 pm (including lots of eating, talking and just relaxing breaks) which I don't think is bad time. Or thereabouts we didn't want to go past 10 pm making noise because of the area we were in, the car fired up and the engine started sweet as a nut, it was leaking coolant from the thermostat. Oh well, that's tomorrow's job. Came back the next day, sorted the leak got the front end back together and threw it down the road. Misfiring like fuck we took the sparkplugs and coil packs from the broken engine and swapped them over and the car had never felt so fast. A few runs up and down the road were the greatest feeling ever. It also got thoroughly tested by making a trip up to Newcastle for a car meet that night and back and it went with no problems.



All was well with the new engine... until 3 days later on the way to work I got a coolant light shouting at me. Felt like dejavous however this time it had leaked all its coolant out. I topped it up and carried on my way to work. Before I left work that day I checked my coolant and it still had some. Started it up annnnnd brilliant it's leaking it out of the water pump. Limped it home with a bottle of water and stopped twice at which point I ordered myself a water pump and used my other polo for a day or two. Then my friend came and helped me fit it when it arrived.


Then; more problems. My car wasn't getting up to temp but the gauge was reading that it was. I've figured that my thermostat is stuck open because it was a cheap non-OEM stat. This does however counter the problem of my fans not working so it doesn't overheat unless I sit idle for a little while which doesn't happen too often. Either way, the plan is to buy a standalone temp sensor and fan controller and when the other engine goes back in it'll have a genuine thermostat put in which I have laying around but I don't want to put that in this engine when I don't care for it that much.



Anyway, given that I'd put the new engine in but I didn't even bother to do an oil change on it, my friend said his ramp was free so I thought I may as well use his ramp if I could. Me and my friends all had a look underneath the car just to check everything out, I dropped all the oil out and the filter, and filled her up with 5W-40. Also took the time to reposition the splitter so it was actually on properly and looked sensible.


After all the mechanical issues, I thought it was time to give the actual car some love. Gave it a proper wash and hand wax which looked great. Stuck the number plates on so they were straight and on the rear of the car I took the VW badge off and took out the greyish plastic silver backing on the badge and stuck the badge back on without it so that it was paint matched in the gaps. It's a small thing but I think looks good. (You can see a slight bit of where the metal indents inwards to hold the badge I guess but if you're not looking you barely notice.) The car came up well and the black magic colour shined like never before. I even polished the exhaust tips.


A small thing I had wanted to do for a while changed the grill strip from red to another colour. My favourite car colour being VW Candy White I decided it was the only option to go with white as my accent colour on the car. I thought it looked well and different. Still agree with what I thought to this day.


Next up. I knew the drop links had seen better day and the rear suspension was knocking. Time to go big or go home... I ordered myself a set of BC V1s for the car. Got them installed to a decent height (I still want to go lower) and set it to 15/30 dampening all the way round (which I still have it set at and like how it feels a lot) and oh my god did it change how the car performed. It went around corners like they were straight lines I couldn't believe how much it had changed the handling I cannot recommend these enough to anyone looking for a set of coilovers if they're wanting to handle not just lows. I went for the V1 Extra Lows (6/4kgmm) and love them.



After buying them I decided I need to make a start on forging the other engine or it'll just never get done. So I rang up my friend and said "help me take the head off this engine" and we set away about it. I knew that I wanted to get the head off and away to be pressure tested and skimmed if need be, so that was my aim - getting the head off and in a position to give it to someone to sort. I'm currently waiting for a day off work to be able to take it to the engine shop I want to, but I've got the cash ready and untouched to get it done.


The day after doing that I decided that the black wheels finally needed to go. I have to say I hate black wheels on cars I think they look really bad, the wheels get lost in the car and it just doesn't look good. It's something I've wanted rid of since day 1 of owning the car but I've always thought I'll just stick with them until I get a nice set of OZ Racings which are on my list along with so many other things. Anyway, I started throwing paint stripper at the black wheels hoping it would take all the black off. It was a job and a half getting the paint off. The problem was it would get the paint off in some places and then just continue through to the laquer underneath the paint and I ended up with bare alloy in some places and still some black in others. Not great but I carried on until it was all silver/alloy.


Then very quickly needed to buy some spray paint because in person they looked horrendous. Now, truthfully and in complete honesty I wanted to go bronze. The paint looked like it was going to be bronze. It was not bronze it was a very shiny bright gold which I'm now fully backing as I like it. Simple enough; a few coats of grey primer, some coats of the spray paint and some coats of clear coat. Sanded back beforehand, mainly did the faces to make sure they looked good the insides were not so good, but there was also alloy corrosion to deal with. These wheels are only gonna be on the car for so long so I'm not too bothered about them.



And well, that's it, for now, that's where I'm up to with the journey of this car. I've done a fair bit and I've got so so so much planned for it but it all is time and mainly money I won't share my list of to-do's but it's not a short one and will be ongoing for a while. You can always go bigger and better. But I'm pretty happy with how the car stands at the moment.

I'll try to keep this forum updated with my progress as I go along but can't guarantee anything.



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