Sam’s Caddy – “Laid out in the leaves”

Upon first glance, there’s no denying that Sam Johnson’s MK1 Caddy is a very pretty thing indeed. Clean and crisp, with enough well thought out retro and modern touches to keep both sides of the fence happy, this is a seriously impressive build.

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Being a commercial vehicle, and not wanting anything too complicated to detract from the rest of the car, Sam decided on Volkswagen’s Candy White, after seeing it on a friend’s Mk5 Golf. After a considerable amount of preparation (it’s 27 years old), the paint was expertly applied to the now arrow straight bodywork. To get the flanks as precise as they are takes some serious dedication, but Sam’s chosen body shop pulled it off perfectly; it really is flawless.


But perfect paint and sides so smooth you could use them as a straight edge weren’t going to be enough for Sam; he wanted more. So all side trim mountings were welded up and smoothed, along with the side repeater and aerial holes. A set of tried and tested Audi 80 door handles found their way on too. A 7 slat debadged grille, Euro style black bumper and smoked cross-hair headlamps complete the look at the front, whilst at the back a totally bespoke bumper was created, topped off by custom all red light clusters.

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In perfect contrast to the paint are the timeless BBS RS001s, in possibly the most inspired colour combination we’ve ever seen. Sam always knew he wanted to colour code the centres, but was stuck on what to do with the lips to break it up a bit. Enter, stage left; anodised copper, with matching hardware and black barrels. Genuine badging in black with a gold outline sets them off a treat. We literally don’t think they could suit it any better. Chassis wise, the little pickup sits on Eibach adjustables all round, running a cool -1.5 degrees camber. Sam’s looking to air it out over winter, so if any potential sponsors are reading this, give us a shout. This thing is going to be hitting the scene hard next year…


The biggest surprise in the Caddy’s arsenal is the interior; no flea bitten tweed or broken glove-boxes here. The R53 Mini dash & centre console swap is a stroke of genius, and sits in there so perfectly, you’d never know it wasn’t factory. It wasn’t without it’s problems though, as Sam found out when he had to buy a custom speedo/rev counter/everything else from Dakota. He’s even managed to incorporate the heater controls so perfectly, you’d never guess they weren’t supposed to be there. With Audi TT seats & flat bottom wheel, as well as a full compliment of stereo equipment and a fully sound deadened floor/kick panels, this is a much more refined place than it has any right to be.

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When it came to the powerplant, Sam wanted to ensure that his latest project had the minerals to back up the looks. Enter stage right the perfect powerplant;the 1.8 16V KR from the fantastic Mk2 GTI 16v. No time was wasted  in getting the power to an “appropriate” level, with a set of Weber 45 DCOEs finding their way onto the front and a tubular manifold on the back. After a proper rolling road tuning session, the little lightweight is putting out a very respectable 160bhp at the wheels, with similar torque figures.


Sam has plans to smooth the bay and give the engine a refresh over the winter, along with giving the doors another coat of paint, and a few other touches to make it bigger and better for next season. Keep your eyes peeled…

Media by Matthew Clifford

Complete set of images here

Sam's Volskwagen Caddy

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