SCCA Race 7 - Maiden run with the Cabby

What’s it like to drive the Cab?

A little three wheel motion

It’s charming. The Cabby’s strongest suit is a boxy, vintage charm; a time capsule of what the world was like in the 80s. This is my first project car and was built on the countless amount of trial and error over the past three years. The retro orange color in a boxy package is something that has always attracted me to the car, with its faults and all. It wasn’t the fastest, but you don’t care, it’s adorable!

This is a Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet MK1. At 2200 lbs, 90hp from the factory, carbureted ITBS, a header-back exhaust system, and a rusty, crusty bottom, it’s as good as it’s going to get. I have no immediate aspirations with this car to be a champion racecar, I just wanted to enjoy driving something to the beach. The best surprises in my life have never been planned, things happen and I simply oblige.

As far as the driving experience, it’s deafening in here with the convertible top-up. It’s not the exhaust that gets you, it’s the pinging sound of a shitty old car full of metal and old plastics, that can get overwhelming in the cabin. But with the top down? It’s lovely.

A little three wheel motion

The wind barrels around the roofline and enters the cabin area, twisting and twirling our hair as we drive a healthy 70MPH in 5th gear. As we’re climbing up H2 from North Shore, the cab needs a little persuasion to get up the hill. Dropped a gear but we’re still here, gently climbing our way up the slope with a hearty push from the ITBS. The heat from the engine bay and exhaust warms our feet but the cool air passing from the nighttime drive balances everything out. There’s nothing like a nighttime cruise with a drop-top because everything is amplified. The shining evening lights and bustling noise of the freeway and city life flood the world inside the little cabin. The cabin is illuminated by the street lights, shining on the faintly glowing gauges scattered across the dashboard. One more hill.

The entire car jolts with fear and excitement commensurate with my RPMs as I depress the gas pedal. The engine growls into a lovely metallic roar that tickles my primal sense of joy. At full throttle, you can’t beat the sound of ITBS, the pains of sitting in traffic roll away and all that remains is a childish grin plastered onto my face.

Race day

A little three wheel motion

My face and body still hurt from racing this thing. The lack of bolstering made it a challenge to keep my body in place, so I had to hunker down and keep from flinging out the window. All the vibrations and extra heat from running the car hard also put my body in a less-than-ideal state.

Cabby 2020 August 2020, three years ago when I got my first set of basic tools

It has been years of effort trying to put this thing together to be not only road-worthy but race-worthy. The leaks are gone. Steering, suspension, and driving issues have been resolved. The ITBS are almost dialed in. All of the nights staying up ‘til 1 or 2 AM to put this piece of shit together finally paid off. This was never meant to be a racecar, it was a car made to be driven and appreciated for what it was. I don’t have the funds to make this happen as fast as I want it to, and I most certainly would love to have the funds to make it faster with EFI, better suspension, and better tires, but there will always be something better.

Slammed 4 life amirite First days with the coilovers, about a finger of clearance!

After upping the suspension to 125MM of thread for the front suspension and about 100MM of thread for the rears, there have been no rubbing issues since. My tires are 185/55/R15 500TW Arroyo tires. VERY cheap tires and are very shitty for autocross. They were screeching throughout the turns and couldn’t get a proper grip on any of my runs. It’s hard finding tires in this size, but I did see one set of Falken tires that I could run on this car in the future.

Cabby 44 racing

The sound of ITBS and immediate throttle response make driving this car so much fun for a tiny car. With a bit more power and some scare factor, this could compete in the middle of the pack with proper driving. The lightweight chassis and short wheelbase make it a perfect contender for mid-power, around 120-150HP would make this car a lot scarier so I’m hoping for that with next year’s revisions.

Cabby 44

I’ll always be chasing and chasing the next best thing if I can’t be satisfied with what I have now. I’m overjoyed with the success of my first project car. I can say I’ve completed the project car cycle and accomplished what I set out to do. It’s so easy to lose sight of our projects because life gets in the way. For most of us in autocross, this is not our full-time job. We’re not competing for the sake of championships and world records, we’re here because it’s fun. Because it’s just for fun, it’s not mandatory for anyone, so progress and projects go unfinished because we don’t need to.

For now, I’m satisfied with what the car can do. I know it’s slow and I’m okay with it for now. For now, I can relish having a completed car. Thank you, Arvin, for the photos, now I know how dinky this car looks on a track LOL.

What’s next for the cabby?

Cabby 44

An ABA/JH swap.

Okay, I know I said I was satisfied but I have this ABA sitting in my garage and I think it’s time for a bit more power haha. I’ll be taking a break from projects for now to focus on other things, but when I’m ready in late October, I’ll go through the ABA and start rebuilding it for some cabby power :) This will be my first venture into engine internals so that means new tools, getting things machined from Ted’s Automotive, and a lot more frustration and triumphs ahead.

Happy camper for the day, but I think I’ll be bringing back the Civic Si for the last race of the year, haha.

Cabby 44 racing