Written by : Unit--11 Team

Posted on : March 2, 2024

Unit-11 Chronicles: The Revival of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 VW Caddy

Welcome to a special feature from us here at Unit-11, where we delve into the heart of automotive restoration with a project that’s close to our hearts. It’s not just about the cars; it’s about the stories they carry and the futures we can give them. Today, we’re sharing the journey of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 Caddy, a project that challenged our skills and rewarded us in equal measure.

A Carpenter's Companion

Our story starts with a Caddy that had seen better days. Once the reliable partner of a carpenter, this vehicle was sidelined in 2018 as its owner took on a project that would see him featured on the popular TV show, Grand Designs. The Caddy, with its custom wooden bumpers and a body consumed by rust, was in desperate need of attention. It was time for us at Unit-11 to step in.

Unit-11 Chronicles: The Revival of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 VW Caddy

Back To Basics

The first order of business was stripping the Caddy down to its bare bones. Every component was removed, revealing the full extent of the task at hand. The bed, typically a victim of these trucks’ hard lives, was fabricated anew to match the original as closely as possible. Our philosophy is simple: original metalwork, wherever possible, for the best fit and minimal fuss.

A Labour of Detail

The bodywork presented a canvas of past repairs and challenges. It was a painstaking process to strip, repair, and prepare the Caddy for its new lease on life. This phase was the backbone of our project, ensuring that the vehicle wouldn’t just look good but would stand the test of time.

A Community Paint Job

In an unusual twist, the painting of the Caddy became a community affair. Our neighbours, Lake Country UK, were hosting an open day, and we saw an opportunity. The vehicle, ready in primer, was offered up for attendees to try their hand at painting. The results were surprisingly decent, though a final repaint was necessary to meet our high standards. This process allowed us to achieve a finish far beyond what’s typically expected for such a vehicle. Utilising our 3D Sanding system and Lake Country pads, we dry sanded the finished paintwork to a orange peal free, glass like finish. Something that would far surpass the original factory paintwork. 

Unit-11 Chronicles: The Revival of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 VW Caddy

Under the Bonnet

The original 1.6 8V Petrol engine was replaced with a more robust 1.9 AAZ Turbo Diesel, enhanced with a larger Holset Turbo, Dark Side injectors, and a larger intercooler. This upgrade wasn’t just about power; it was about ensuring reliability and ease of maintenance for years to come.

Inside and Out

The interior overhaul was comprehensive, with new headlining, carpets, and door cards, all complemented by sound deadening. The seats, Mk1 Golf Recaro, were re-trimmed in a traditional pattern, marrying comfort with classic aesthetics. Choosing the right wheels was crucial. We custom-built our own, modifying original 13″ 1964 MK1 alloys into a 17″ 3-piece arrangement. This allowed us to fit a 9.5J width at the rear, perfectly under the standard arches, without any modification.
Unit-11 Chronicles: The Revival of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 VW Caddy

The Final Touches

It’s the details that make a restoration project truly stand out. New swage trim, a Caddy Covers bed cover, and Raptor liner for added protection were just some of the finishing touches. Chrome bumpers, an original chrome grill, and Cross Hair lights were the icing on the cake, blending the old with the new seamlessly.

Looking Forward

The completion of this 1989 Volkswagen MK1 Caddy is a testament to our passion and expertise in automotive restoration. It’s ready to make new memories, embodying both the spirit of its past and the promise of its future. This project, set to be showcased at the Malle Mile Beach Race alongside another project we are currently working on – a 1957 Triumph Cub Scrambler, this represents the pinnacle of what we do at Unit-11.

For those inspired to embark on their own restoration journey, we hope this Caddy’s story serves as a beacon of what’s possible. With a bit of vision, dedication, and craftsmanship, the road ahead is full of potential. Here at Unit-11, we’re just getting started.

Unit-11 Chronicles: The Revival of a 1989 Volkswagen MK1 VW Caddy

Final Specification


1989 Volkswagen MK1 Caddy

VW Alpine White

17″ Unit–11 Split Rimms Rear 9.5J Fronts 7J 

Rebuilt 1.9 AAZ Engine 

Darkside Injectors 

TD5 Fuel Pump 

Custom Stainless Steel Intercooler and Radiator 

Lowering Kit

Uprated Top Mounts & Poly Bushes

New Hubs & Wishbones

Complete Service on All Parts

Mk1 Golf GTI Seats 

Wolfsburg Steering Wheel

Mk1 Golf GTI Center Console 

New Carpet & Sound Deadening 

New Headlining 

New Rear Window 

Chrome Front Bumper

MK1 GTI Front Grill 

Crosshair Lights

New Bed Deck & Raptor Lining 

Caddy Covers Bed Cover 

Special Thanks

This project would not have been possible without our partners :

Heritage Parts Centre


SRR Hardware


Kent Refinishing Supplies 


Lake Country 


Darkside Developments