A/b: 1998 GTI VR6

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Next up, and winner of this week’s NGP Racing $50.00 gift certificate is VWvortex reader: GTIMAN99

Q: How long have you owned this car?

A: I have owned my 1998 GTI VR6 for almost 3 years now. I bought it in January 2002, and have been enjoying it ever since.

Q: Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

A: Well, I think one of the unique things about the car is how I acquired it. I had my 1986 GTI out one freakish 50-55 degree December day. Because it was so gorgeous out I had to take the GTI and drive it around (it had been sitting in my garage undriven for the winter months). I was on my way home from helping fellow Vortexer and friend, Martin (yelowgti), build his A2 VR6 when a woman blew a stop sign across 4 lanes of traffic, turned left in front of me and caused me to hit her trunk and spin her around. It was on a Wednesday that this happened and that Friday I was to go pick up a ’98 GTI VR6. It had been smacked in the rear, and I was going to use it as a donor car for the ’86 GTI – Tornado Red with black leather and 50k miles on the clock. Well now, due to the accident I re-evaluated the situation and decided to look for another car, instead of dumping serious amounts of money into my loved A2. This is where the 98 GTI VR6 that I now own comes in. I had seen the car months before my accident and the car was simply too much money. I drove around browsing at several different cars, two of which were a black 850R Volvo wagon and an Estoril Blue ’98 BMW M3. I later drove by the red VR6 that I had seen parked at a shop for about 8 or 9 months and decided to stop in. As I spoke to the owner of the shop I found out it was a bone-stock ’98 VR6, mint condition in and out (just dirty outside due to sitting for months). It was a one-owner car that belonged to a Navy officer who was stationed in Virginia. The car had 29K miles, was very clean, and I wanted it. It was the car I wanted back in ’98 when I graduated high school. I saw a new one sitting at a local VW dealership, but I had no money at the time. It was basically meant to be, and as it turns out, I got it for a great price, showed it some TLC (detailing wise) and it is history from there – I finally had my 98 GTI VR6.

Q: What was your objective with this car?

A: My objective with this car was to have a simple, clean, quick, and good-handling daily driver. At first I was going to leave it bone-stock as it was a very strong stock VR6 – putting down 172.1-whp and 172.8 lb-ft of torque! Very quickly, though, I realized that the stock suspension was a bit soft (compared to the coilovers on my A2), so I opted to drop it, free its breathing w/ a stainless steel exhaust, and improve its lighting with OEM HIDs from an Audi S4. After I accomplished these few modifications I realized that this car was truly a beautiful, special machine and not simply a “daily driver.” So I modified it tastefully; personalizing it, putting a lot of time into the car detailing it, polishing everything I could, and making modifications that actually made sense.

Q: What tuning style would you describe this car as?

A: The style my car represents is, in a sense, a mixture. I think it is very much a good representative of OEM-plus, but it does have overtones of a motorsport style. In essence, the car is in European factory spec with some twists of motorsport style and function.

Q: Who helped you build this car?

A: No one really helped me build my car. I have done everything including maintaining, building, polishing, detailing it and so forth. No one touches my cars besides me. I have a lot of friends that offer help and support in my decisions, but I do all my own work and I pride myself on that.

Q: What makes your car special?

A: Some aspects of my car that make it special are that it is truly a simple, clean, strong, functional car. It is all original, including the paint, which I think is awesome because I can enter the car in show events, even with 6 year old factory paint that has its minor imperfections (which are result of the previous owner), and still place and even win. Another aspect is the car’s power – it is truly a strong VR6, a mystery motor that even in its stock trim does quite well against other cars that would seem to have an edge in power and performance. I have put a lot of work into the car, a lot of time, and some money – the car is simply awesome!

Q: What is your favorite part/feature/function?

A: My favorite part or feature of my car is in fact the VR6 itself. I am truly a VR junky! I love the sight, feel, sound, smell, and at times, even the taste of my VR6. It is truly an awesome motor that rewards me every time I drive it. Just to be able to pull out of my driveway and hear that wonderful sound is rewarding. The feel of its pull combined with the sound is addictive, and those that know me can attest to the fact that I simply cannot get enough! If I had to narrow it down it would have to be the sound of a VR6 on the highway at wide open throttle, or a 2nd-to-3rd shift under load, or 80-mph in 4th, blip, down to 3rd and wham! – wide open throttle till I hit 4th, then coast and let the VR wind down… Yep, that would be my favorite feature.

Q: Who or what inspired the direction of modifications on this car?

A: When I got the car I knew I was not going to go crazy with it. I just wanted to clean it up, make it “mine” and just keep it simple. I only went with euro bumpers because mine were scuffed on the corners and I got a great deal on them. The Kamei grille was added because my stock grille was bent and I got a great deal on that also. As for the textured side moldings, well, my stock ones were dirty and were drooping off the doors (as many do), so I removed them, and added the Golf Sport clip-on set. Other than that, the exterior is mainly stock – just simple and clean as I intended. For the rest of the styling modifications, I wanted a car that performed well, hence the PSS9 coilovers. I also wanted a quality strong, light wheel so I went for the BBS RG-R.

Q: What don’t you like about this car?

A: The only thing I can really think of is the fact that it attracts too much attention, mainly from police. It is hard to drive the car “normally” because it begs to be heard – it wants to sing that VR6 song and loves to call out to its prey. I love my VR6, and I don’t think there is anything I would really change. Maybe I would like pop-out rear windows (which I am working on). Another little thing that bothers me is that the dash sides sit higher than the door panels. I would like them to be more flush like on the Corrado dash in my A2. Now that I really think about it, there are little things that bother me, such as small scratches and dings that were there when I bought the car. I always wished I owned it from new, as then it would have no dings, or scratches.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome of this project?

A: On a scale of 1-10, I am feeling a “9” on this project. I’ve met all my goals with it – I created the A3 VR6 I had wanted for years. It handles great, pulls hard, looks great, and is 100% functional. I also accomplished a few goals with it that I had only dreamed of before. I had always wanted the car to be in a magazine and it was in a few shots in PVW and eurotuner, and I also won 1st place at Waterfest 2003, among many other shows during the 2003 season. I felt these wins were a great offering of appreciation and reward for my work. More important than winning shows and so forth were the compliments I received at the shows from others that had seen the car online and so forth. Just knowing my work is appreciated makes me happy.

Q: What would you do to the car if money were no object?

A: Hmm, what a question! Well, I would rebuild the car from scratch- fully tear it down, sand blast it, seam weld it, smooth the engine bay, interior and rear. I’d fully respray it a custom color to be determined at that time, but it’d likely be some sort of pearl/flake in a nice base (probably a brown with gold pearl/ flake). Then would come Audi A8 door handles, smoothed Cabby bumpers (front/rear), pulled fenders, euro hatch (de-locked and de-wipered), Euro R32 OEM HIDs, carbon fiber böser, pop-out rear windows, no mirrors, fully-built 3L VR6 turbo with SDS, custom cryo’d 6-speed polished tranny, chrome subframes (front and rear), A-arms, sway bars, exhaust, calipers, carriers – everything. I’d also add 17×9 and 17×10 HREs with glossy black centers, huge polished lips, gold bolts. For the interior, 2 Recaro A8s in black leather and black Alcantara centers w/ Carbon fiber backs, Alcantara covered TT dash swap, Alcantara A/B/C pillars, door panels and headliner, polished full cage with “x” brace, and so much more… I must stop thinking about this – it’s going to make me mad! And I mean insane, not angry.

Q: Who has been your biggest critic of this project?

A: My biggest critic has been my father. He just doesn’t want me spending money on the car, which is perfectly understandable, even though he loves the car in the end!

Q: What do your family and friends say about this car?

A: My family likes the car, though as I’ve said, my father just wants me to save my money and my mom feels the same. My younger cousins, on the other hand, love the thing. They love going for rides, shows and such, and as a result my uncle bought my cousin a 2001 GTI VR6, which he also loves.

Q: What is your favorite place to drive this car?

A: My favorite place to drive is on some local back roads in my area. I have found some awesome twisty back roads that run between a reservoir and some wooded areas. Depending on the weather, it is simply a beautiful experience. The exhaust echoes through the woods and off the cliffs on the side of the road, the air is clean and soothing as it blows through the cabin, and the roads are smooth – perfect for a good long ride. Then there is always the Merritt Parkway!

Q: What is your ideal day with this car?

A: My Ideal day with this car is one in which I simply go for a ride and become one with the car. A day in which I have a true experience with the car, feel the car, know what it wants to do, and how it wants it done – days that I can be alone with the car and experience true bliss driving it, forgetting all that is on my mind, and just enjoying life.

Q: Who gets to drive this car?

A: Well, that is a sore subject with some people I know… I drive my car unless it is impossible to do so. I drove it to H2O International in Maryland from Connecticut and back again, even though at the time I had a freshly-broken right hand. So, there are very few reasons in which someone else would drive, though there have been a few occasions that we just won’t talk about here.

Q: If your car had a motto, what would it be?

A: My car’s motto would be “Nice wheels, wanna ****?”

Q: If you had to name your car, what would you name it?

A: Well, I did name her – she is “The Red-Headed Bitch.”

Q: What was your previous project?

A: My previous project was my 1986 GTI 8v, which is once again my new project. It’s now going to be a Euro-styled, built 3L VR6 turbo – pure sickness there! In a sense, I am returning to my roots.

Q: What one word best describes your car?

A: Sweet!

Q: Other info?

A: I’ve done a recent 60k+ service which included new brakes, rear wheel bearings, suspension, exhaust, radiator, coolant hoses, and much more. As mentioned earlier, the car has dyno’d at 172.1-whp, and 172.8 lb-ft of torque, all in stock form. It has also run an impressive 1/4-mile time of14.7 @ 94 mph, w/ a 2.377 60-ft time (bone stock), which shows 14.5-14.4 passes were very attainable with decent traction.

Owner Information:

Name- David Esposito

Address- Norwalk, CT

E-mail- GTIMAN99@aol.com

Occupation- Student/ auto technician

Vehicle Information:

Year- 1998

Make- Volkswagen

Model- GTI VR6

Mileage- 72,000

Original Color- Tornado red

Current Color- Tornado red

Engine- 2.8L VR6

Engine Modifications- Turn2 cold air intake w/K&N filter; coolant bypass modification; high flow MAF housing, 2.5” stainless steel Techtonics Tuning hig-flow cat and exhaust with stainless straight-through Borla muffler, stainless tip

Polished Bits- Intake manifold; valve cover; fuel pressure regulator; cylinder head; cold air intake tube; tensioner; throttle body; coil-over bodies; exhaust system; door latches; door pins; hatch latch; and more

Suspension- Bilstein PSS9 coilover suspension; Eibach front upper strut bar

Brakes- Brembo cross-drilled and slotted front 11.3” rotors w/Mintex pads; Brembo cross-drilled rear rotors w/Mintex pads Wheels/Tires- 17×7.5 BBS RGR with DBK finish; 205/40-17 Yokohama A520 tires

Interior- Stock OEM black leather seats, Driver’s Edition red-stitched steering wheel, boot, shift knob and e-brake handle

Exterior- Euro texture-top bumpers; textured side moldings; Golf IV-look hella headlights w/custom OEM Audi S4 HID conversion; smoked OEM Hella Euro-spec fogs w/projectors, dummy lenses and turn signals; Kamei sport grille; FK smoked ½-red/½-clear taillights; deleted rear wing; deleted rear wiper/sprayer; S2000 antenna; rolled and slightly pulled fenders; original Tornado Red paint

Audio- : Alpine in-dash CD/MP3 head unit; OEM Monsoon system

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