There’s something about a wedge-shaped car that resonates ‘cool.’
Conceptualised in the ’60s (look up the Lancia Stratos Zero and enjoy), reaching the public in the ’70s but thriving in the ’80s, angular sports cars are synonymous with high-waisted denim, big hair and even bigger attitudes. Get some George Michael in the cassette deck and take a chill pill, you’re driving a Mk2 Volkswagen Scirocco.
Brad Pajak’s 1984 Scirocco GL is a prime example of the wedge shape having trickled its way down from the supercar elite to the everyday sports car, and it’s certainly his pride and joy.
“I’ve owned it for eight years and it’s been in bits for almost six years,” says Brad. “I wasn’t actually looking for a Scirocco at the time, I was looking for a Mk2 Golf GTI. This came up for sale and because it had no body kit I fell in love. The car was completely standard when I bought it.”
Brad’s Scirocco is far from standard now, although he’s not pursued any ’80s fads in his choice of modifications. Opting instead for a monochromatic colour palette, the Scirocco blends choice period parts with a thoroughly modern approach to custom car building.
Starting with the paint, Brad’s VW has received a respray in metallic grey both inside and out. This is complemented by 17-inch BBS RS wheels, which stand out from the rest of the BBS wheels in the UK show circuit for a very niche reason.
To the untrained eye, this is ‘just another’ set of polished, forged aluminium alloy BBS RSs. This they are, but I thought there was something… different about the colour of the metal. They appeared darker than aluminium, but seeing as the face and lips matched in finish they couldn’t be stainless steel.
No, the wheel nerd inside me was thrilled when Brad confirmed my suspicions: This is a set of entirely chrome-plated BBS RSs, something I’d never seen before. The UK tends to avoid chrome-plating wheel parts, opting for polished aluminium instead. This is a nightmare to maintain, whereas chrome plating is much more durable and guarantees a uniform colour across the wheel parts.
The ‘shallow’ centre hexes suit a narrow lip better, making this a very well thought out set of wheels. I was so excited to fully understand these BBSs. I need help, I know.
Brad has avoided fitting a body kit to the Scirocco as so many owners do, as it was the slim, narrow look which he fell in love with originally. The Scirocco achieves the stance it does thanks to custom air suspension with Only Charged Dubs double-bellow airbags on bespoke shock absorbers.
The suspension is controlled by Air Lift Performance V2 management, but more significant work was required for the car to sit as low as possible when aired out whilst still retaining driving manners on the move. The tie-rods had to be inverted and fine-tuned in order to dial out bump-steer, alongside extended and flipped ball joints. While the front suspension was apart for the job, Brad set out to refurbish every arm, subframe and underbody component.
Every single nut and bolt on the car has been replaced, every bushing upgraded with polyurethane, and the rear brakes converted from drums to a G60 disc and calliper upgrade to match the fronts.
A single-wiper conversion, rear wiper removal, and smoothing of the aerial complete the minimalistic look on the Scirocco’s exterior, but Brad’s quest for a clean, fuss-free look doesn’t stop outside the car.
The simple, tonal theme continues inside the car, where the OEM grey plastics are complemented by a pair of Ford RS Turbo Recaro seats trimmed in silver/grey Alcantara. Not wanting to disrupt the shoulder line of the Scirocco when looking at it side on, Brad had the seats’ headrests removed and the holes trimmed shut.
Yes, you read that correctly. Brad thought the headrests were too ugly when looking at the car from the outside, so they found their way into the bin instead. The rear bench, A-, B- and C-pillars and the headlining are all trimmed in Alcantara to match.
In between the seats you’ll find a ‘trigger’ handbrake from a classic Mini Cooper to tie in with the CAE short-throw tower shifter, complete with a wooden shift knob to match the wooden Maserati Biturbo steering wheel.
Inside you’ll also find a mix of decades, from the original, pristine dials to the Blaupunkt Bremen head unit and Air Lift Performance V2 controller on the dashboard.
The boot hasn’t escaped the Alcantara treatment, in this case black, but also hiding the relocated battery and tank for the air suspension.
Moving back to the front of the car, you may have noticed a distinct lack of bonnet on the Scirocco in the earlier business-end shot. That’s because the Scirocco’s engine bay is far too beautiful to keep hidden, and is a contender for the most aesthetically pleasing feature of a car I’ve seen all year.
A 1.8-litre 16-valve ‘KR’ engine resides in the shaved, smoothed and tucked engine bay, fuelled by a pair of Dellorto 40mm carburettors and distributing power through a VW 02A gearbox. Cooling comes via a custom-built Fresh Reflections radiator with integrated expansion tank.
Not settling for half-measures, Brad had the engine rebuilt with 1.0mm oversized pistons and a ported/polished cylinder head. The carburettors have also undergone a strip and rebuild, as well as the gearbox which is now encasing a billet flywheel and high-performance clutch.
As the bay has been painted with the same neutral, metallic finish as the bodywork, the engine and ancillaries themselves stand out as ornamental.
Again, as with the exterior of the car, the monochrome colour palette keeps things minimal, with just the odd brass accent or hint of red from the polyurethane engine mounts or wiring.
In what could be a contender for the Speedhunters’ Most Pretentious Paragraph Award 2023, the textural differences on the KR engine are simply a delight. The gloss black rocker cover is broken up by the machined, polished ribbing, and there’s a slight difference in colour and finish between the grey cast carbs and the silver ceramic-coated tubular 4-to-1 exhaust manifold.
If ever there were a blur between automotive function and form, Brad’s powertrain may be it. Not only does it power the car, but it’s the centrepiece of its aesthetic too. In fact, considering Brad has built this as a show car, I’d be inclined to argue that this engine in particular is more important as a display piece than it is as a power unit.
“It’s been a long six years. I’m very particular and everything had to be perfect, which is why the build took so long,” says Brad. Though after winning an award on debut, and I believe at every show the Scirocco has attended since, I’d argue it was absolutely worth the effort.
Brad’s Mk2 Volkswagen Scirocco is a prime example of hindsight being 20:20. Picking and choosing the best aspects of the past and mixing them with a thoroughly modern approach to modifying; stripping away the fat to leave a sleek, refined final result.
Some may think that it’s easier than ever to slap together a ‘show car’ these days. Builds like Brad’s serve as a reminder that a little bit of thought, and a lot of patience, go a very long way.