1980 Caddy – Grayson’s Ladder Charity Car

Let me start by saying if you haven’t been able to meet Grayson, please head over to https://graysonsladder.org/ and meet the man that spurred all of this.

I met Grayson shortly after my wife began working with his mother Laura in a Chattanooga heart surgeons office.  What always amazes me is even after being around him for several years, every time I see him, his laugh and smile are still just as infectious as the first time I met him.

I won’t spend alot of time covering what Alexanders Disease is, you can read all about that on the Grayson’s ladder site linked above.  I will just say that I love this family, and will continue to support them and their cause in anyway possible.

In 2021, We built and raffled the 1984 Rabbit GTI you can see here, the winner of the car picked it up and we get updates from Raf pretty often on the car via his Instagram page or a surprise text message with a picture of the car at an event or out on the town.

This year kind of caught me on my heels.  I planned to build a TDI swapped caddy, I love caddys and I love the TDI, so it seemed fitting.  However the shell I had planned on using needed paint, interior and everything that goes with it.  My painter fell ill and I have not located another, my interior guy has quit the business, so I was looking at a long list of things that I did not or could not do in house.  All of that to say, I wasn’t ready..  These builds take alot of time, and when they are for charity, by nature they do not bring profit into the shop, in fact they usually are a big RED mark in the ledger.

I had purchased a 1980 Caddy from a fellow VW member out of Oregon,  it had really nice original paint with just enough patina to look great but not worry about it rotting out from under me. The under side was solid, as were the rust prone structural areas. I bought it without a motor or trans, and it really needed some TLC on the bushings, bearings and brakes..


What I built was the first 07k swapped caddy (I think anyway.. best I can tell) .. This 07k swap came from a 2013 Jetta, CBTA motor code with just 67K miles on it, I mated it to a 1.8t transmission and used our exclusive  bolt in mk1 07k kit along with a pile of other parts you can find on the S&P site.


The motor received some coated timing covers, an IE intake manifold, and open element air filter.  With software from UM we are looking at over 215hp to the ground with this setup, and its smooth power so it cruises nice too.

Techtonics supplied the cat back exhaust system in stainless with a Borla muffler so it sings the 5 cylinder symphony so nice.

I added 16v brakes up front to slow the caddy down, refreshing the drums in the back with new shoes, drums, wheel cylinders and bearings.



Solowerks caddy coilovers and air shocks in the rear with drop plates set the caddys ride height, and you can haul plenty of weight with the air shocks bumped up to 80 PSI, when you’re done using it as a truck you can knock them back down to 30 to get that desired level ride look.

Gear changing is handled by the 02j shiftbox that matches the gearbox from the 1.8t donor.

Cooling is supplied by the S&P tucked radiator package (same one we use for the VR6 swaps) keeping the factory coolant reservoir on the strut tower makes for easy fill and level checks.

Inside the truck we have a set of Recaro LX seats on the S&P low profile seat bases to hold you in place while cruising in the caddy.

Woodgrain steering wheel gives the truck a bit of that early euro flavor, along with the minimalist interior.






Front and rear bumpers from smallbumpers are coated satin black to match the other trim.

H4 Headlight housings, with LED h4 bulbs keep the dark away.







On the bed you will find a utility rack (it is removeable) made from SCH80 aluminum tubing, and coated in wrinkle black powder.  In the bed you see red oak bed strips sitting on the color matched Raptor bedliner.





A set of Ronal Turbos refinished by Top Notch Customs Powdercoating have just the right amount of Rootbeer Candy coating on the barrels and in the windows that touch off the browns found on the trucks exterior and interior.



I REALLY didn’t want to raffle this truck, for one I sunk alot of my own money into it, as this was to be my truck..  I knew I wasn’t going to have time to build another VW for this years raffle. I bit the bullet and just said that I will find another one another day..  It seems that fate smiled on that decision because not 2 weeks after I committed the truck to Grayson’s Ladder I got an interesting call..  Through a local VW enthusiast (thanks WILL ) Someone wanted to use my truck in an upcoming NBC show.  I told them that I could commit to the show as long as I would have the truck back in my possession by the first week of March.. That would give me enough time to install new door panels, carpet and dash before the truck was to be raffled off..  I signed the contract and sent the truck to Georgia to shoot “Candy” which should be out this MAY . It was used in several of the episodes, so keep an eye out when the show is launched. (Here is the official trailer link)

Your chance to own a “Hollywood” car and help out this great charity is one ticket away..

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