As you’re probably aware, James Pumphrey from Donut Media has particular tastes in cars. Their channel is one of the most popular places on the internet for automotive content, so you’d think he owns Lamborghinis and McLarens like all the influencers. But no, James has a Volkswagen Golf, and we wanted to share its story.
James likes them old and German… which sounds a little dirty. Growing up, his dad owned an E28 BMW 5 Series. The Golf 3 was his first car, and his dream ride is the B5 Audi S4 Avant. However, most people know him as a Volkswagen guy. For a whole year (around 2018), James used to have a first-generation Volkswagen Scirocco around Los Angeles, with lowered suspension and a high-compression motor.
But nowadays, he’s all about the VW Golf life, and you’ve probably seen that minty green banger in the background of Donut videos. Although it looks pretty normal, the “GUM Car” is actually a complicated build with an interesting story.
The car started off as a 1992 Volkswagen Golf CL, a European car. Another VW aficionado, Jamie Orr was flown into the Worthersee GTI Meet a few years back. He thought about buying a local car and before any of that could happen, a coilover company had already shipped suspension to his hotel. And so, he bought an economy car from a quiet village and swapped some stuff out in just 48 hours.
Euro-spec farm Golf from Worthersee
The Golf 1 hit the streets of Europe in 1991. It was the first to be fitted with airbags and turbodiesel engines. It introduced the padded dash for safety and remote controls for the door mirrors. It’s famous for two engines, the VR6, and the 2.0 GTI 16-valve, which is now the rarest GTI model. But apparently, James’ car came with a 1.8-liter 8-valve producing 90 horsepower. They even dyno-tested it and it made 57 hp at the wheels.
After talking with Eurowise for a few months, James agreed on the swap he wanted to do. Gone is the Golf GL’s 90 horsepower, replaced by a 2.5-liter. There’s an obvious connection between the VW and the iconic Audi RS3, which uses the same platform.
Deutsche Auto Parts (ShopDAP) provided all sorts of components needed for the 2.5-liter turbo, ranging from spark plugs to chains. They’re the ones who completely documented how the build went from start to finish.
Somebody also made a kit for the swap as a result if you’re interested in blowing money on a 1990s Golf. As you can see in the video, they developed a new mounting system, created shorter drive shafts, a drive-by-wire gas pedal, and installed a cable-style gear shifter linkage.
James’ car also has bigger 11-inch brakes with 4-piston Wilwood calipers, whereas the classic Golf CL setup even had drums at the back.
Now, this 2.5-liter may be a 5-cylinder just like the one in the RS3, but it’s probably from a Jetta or Beetle. As such, the bottom end isn’t built for hardcore boost, but they still strapped a big Garrett turbocharger, an intercooler and some killer 5-into-1 pipes. 327 hp and 301 lb-ft of torque are pretty respectable numbers.
Cosmetically, James GUM Golf now boasts body-colored bumpers, some aftermarket circular headlights, door mirrors that look like teddy bear ears, and a set of Rotiform wheels to match the color of the body. It’s also riding on air suspension.