When the job came up of driving Nothelle’s superb Golf Mk2 GTI to the UK from Wolfsburg; ready to be displayed under the VW Classic Parts banner at GTI International, I jumped at the chance! It would make a pleasant change to normal duties (eating biscuits, overseeing the warehouse team, making sure the building doesn’t fall down) as Operations Director after all!
My journey started in a taxi (needing most of the Meyle catalogue thrown at it) taking a pleasant route through the Sussex countryside getting me to Gatwick in plenty of time. Easyjet then delivered me into Berlin’s very small old airport (the new one is 9 months behind schedule) where I was then whisked to Wolfsburg in a nice new Tiguan to meet my wheels for the trip back.
The Golf Mk2 in question was sat in the small workshop at VW Classic Parts HQ looking immaculate. It had been sourced from Switzerland with 80000 km on the clock, then German tuning firm Nothelle had taken things up a notch or two, tweeking the power on the 16 valve lump up to just shy of 200bhp. They had also gone through the suspension and firmed everything up nicely whilst keeping it’s appearance completely stock.
I fired it up and the tuned engine settled into to a slightly lumpy idle. With a small crowd of VW Classic staff watching, my first task was to reverse it out through a small gap past the MD of VW Classic’s mint new Golf. No pressure then!
A few minutes drive through Wolfsburg saw us arrive at the Autostadt where I spent a fantastic afternoon looking at loads of great exhibits and having a tour of the Wolfsburg factory; sadly not being allowed in to watch the Mk7 Golf pre-production run, but mighty impressive to see the robots in action on the current models all the same.
I woke up the next morning at my hotel; not a bad place and with views of the factory chimneys; in any other country views of factory chimneys would be a bad thing – but not in Wolfsburg, and not today!! I was really looking forward to driving nearly 600 miles in the cleanest, most powerful, and best sorted Golf I had ever been behind the wheel of.
Once out of Wolfsburg and onto the autobahn, the sat nav informed me that I had 200 miles before my next turn off. 200 miles later I hadn’t had to come out of 5th. You’ve got to love the German road network! The Golf was running like a dream and the only hazards to watch out for were the lorries that would signal and move out of the slow lane at the same time whether there was a car in their way or not, and the 120 mph Audi’s & BMW’s that bore down on you rather quickly in the fast lane.
Another 150 miles down and I started to look out for the next services to fill up with some super unleaded. Within a few miles I pulled onto a petrol station forecourt and looked for the 98 ron pumps.. slight issue-there weren’t any! Looking closely I could see some pumps that used to dispense the super variety of go-juice but their stickers had been covered over and it was now serving up some ‘eco-friendly’ type.. doh!
No need to panic yet as I still had a few litres in the tank, so I moved on to the next services. Another 20 miles down the road and another petrol station sign came into sight. I pulled in, rolled up to the pumps, and guess what? Same thing again! No sign of the necessary 98 ron nectar. Now I was starting to get a little worried. Exactly how many petrol companies in Europe had stopped selling super unleaded? I decided to frugally drive to one more petrol station and see if it was going to be a case of 3 in a row. If it was then I would have to admit defeat and call the guys at Nothelle for advice.
A third service station eventually appeared on the horizon and I pulled in with everything crossed (not easy whilst driving…). I have never hugged a petrol pump before and I probably never will again, but I was rather pleased to see it proudly displaying it’s ’98 RON’ sign.
Once the car and myself were refueled, I had an uneventful drive marred only by my sat nav not recognising a reconfigured intersection which led me to take a wrong turn. 20 minutes later I had managed to get back to the same junction and I cleverly took the same wrong turn again! I had a few choice words with myself and finally got it right on the third attempt. The ring road around Antwerp provided my only traffic jam of the trip, which had me concerned about how the tuned Golf would handle crawling along for a few miles. I needn’t have worried as it sat quite happily burbling away with everything staying suitably cool.
I had allowed loads of extra time for breaks but I was still pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the Euro Tunnel check in 4 hours ahead of my scheduled time. There was space on the next train so after some questions about the car from an interested customs officer and a quick check for explosives I was pretty much straight on board. 35 minutes later I was back in the UK and a final blat on the UK’s motorways saw me back at our Burgess Hill HQ about 10 hours after leaving Wolfsburg.
Now I just need to volunteer for the return leg…