AUTObiography- andylyco’s 1993 Corrado

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Next up is VWvortex reader: andylyco

How long have you owned this car? Just over 3 years – since March 8, 2003. It turned 120K on our test drive, and we’ve enjoyed over 22K glorious miles since then.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car? We are only the 2nd owners, but it was a VW dealer demo car for the first 4K miles of it’s life, so who knows how many people have actually driven it!? It could be over a hundred! It has never been in an accident and all numbers match, which seems to be somewhat of a rarity!

Why did you choose this car to purchase? To afford college I was forced to sell my mint condition ‘92 GTI. I promised myself after I completed a degree I would reward myself with something better. Like many other VW enthusiasts, the Corrado has always been at the top of my list. Now that they are relatively affordable, it only made sense that I enjoy owning the best vehicle that VW has ever produced.

What other cars did you consider? As we are German auto enthusiasts, it will come as no surprise that I considered Audi A4s, a few BMW 3 Series (including the venerable E36 M3), Mk III & IV GTIs, and even a special edition two-tone Benz 190E. However, there has always been a special place in my heart (and on my key chain) for the Corrado. Plus, insurance on the Corrado was cheaper (!) than any of the others. Surprising, considering the SLC has a similar horsepower/weight ratio as some of the big-name sports cars of its era.

What was your objective with this car? Clean it up, learn how to work on a VR6, and have a BLAST driving such a step-up from my other VWs. Also, trick people into thinking it just came off the boat from Deutschland.

What tuning style would you describe this car as? I have to admit this Sport Luxury Coupe definitely has plenty of “Euro”-spec and style goodies. However, as the interior is almost entirely original and I’ve raided the VAG parts bin for many of the upgrades, “stock plus” gets a nod as well.

Who helped you build this car? My wife Briar. Before we were married, she drove over 5 hours to Connecticut with me to buy the car sight unseen, and I let her drive it back to PA while I tried to keep up in the Cabriolet. What a “date”! Except for the application of paint and yearly state inspections, we haven’t had this car to a mechanic; we’ve done 100% of the work. I must also give credit to the original owner Ron Bender who did a fantastic job maintaining it for almost 116K miles.

What makes your car special? Since I’ve owned this car, it’s turned from simple appliance of transportation to lifestyle. I’ve traveled to Wolfsburg 3 times, run up over 330 positive feedbacks on Ebay buying and selling VW parts, learned some German, and gone from merely changing oil to handling clutch & timing chain jobs. As most Corrado owners will attest, it draws you in more than you expect! At every show or get-together people compliment the timeless good looks, tasteful modifications and quality engineering. Furthermore, this is no garage/trailer queen. It was a daily driver for over 138K miles including Connecticut and Pennsylvania winters!

What is your favorite part/feature/function? The functional city lights (Euro-style) always start conversations. My neighbors were confused at first, but grew to appreciate them since they could see the car on our dark street. They are LEDs we installed in the head and tail lights. We can turn on just the left or right side, or all 4. When at restaurants, I’ve grown to expect the announcement: “There is a red… um… car in the lot with the lights on.” Since they are LEDs, I can leave them on for weeks at a time without draining the battery.

Who or what inspired the direction of modifications on this car? Since 2001, between the two of us we have traveled Europe (particularly Germany) nine times – even taking our honeymoon in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Italy. It was the eye catching yet functional differences on vehicles abroad that most influenced our modifications.

What don’t you like about this car? VW didn’t give American Corrados enough of the goodies from Europe. Their cars had better headlights, safer seatbelts, extra horsepower, and even more. We’ve had to spend too much time and money building what Europeans bought directly from the factory, and we’re still not finished.

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car? For the first 2 1/2 years I owned it we didn’t have a garage. All work had to be done in the street or backyard. All year round. In central Pennsylvania. The neighbors thought I was completely insane.

How did you overcome the issue? In the winter you could find me in the yard under a huge tarp with a flashlight, all bundled up, pulling apart the front end to install something or other. In the summer, I would periodically hose down the asphalt so it wouldn’t fry me as I worked. I fought a losing battle with the birds and their desire to relieve themselves on the fresh paint. Extreme shade-tree mechanics!

What would you change if you could? I am of the opinion that the car could be faster and handle better with more traction, particularly all wheel drive. The VR6 engine has more potential than the front wheel drive configuration can handle, and the “traction control” is a joke.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome of this project? No doubt, “zehn”. It has been nothing short of a pleasure to own and drive. Everything on the car works splendidly and because of our meticulous preventative maintenance, we’ve experienced none of the typical Corrado maladies. Of course, like any good project, the “outcome” is constantly changing.

What would you do to the car if money were no object? I would modify the underpinnings to support the Haldex AWD system from the TT or R32 with upgraded differentials. Forced induction is on the wish-list as well. For fun, I would like a BMW 318ti “California” sunroof, also found on some old VW bugs and busses. I must learn how to weld!

Who has been your biggest critic of this project? Absolutely nobody. All my friends know what pleasure I get from tinkering with it, and my family appreciates it because I am more capable to help them with their Volkswagens!

What do your family and friends say about this car? My VW driving brethren appreciate the rarity, the capable mechanicals, and the immaculate condition of this 16-year-old (!) car. My family all drive VWs. Dad has ’00 Passat V6, Mom ’05 Jetta TDi wagon, Brother ’03 Jetta TDI & 81 Rabbit Diesel. ALL are 5 speed. Amongst the 5 of us, we’ve owned 18 VW’s in the past 12 years. They agree that this Corrado is the nicest of them all (or at least that’s what they tell me to my face).

What is your most memorable/humorous/embarrassing moment with this car? I think this is somewhat embarrassing, but Briar would include this in the “humorous” category. Two summers ago, we had a major cycle of “17-year Cicadas” in the northeast USA. These are key-fob sized, winged, alien-looking insects. They are harmless to humans, or so we thought. Over Memorial Day weekend Briar & I were on the highway to Bugout VW show in Manassas, Virginia. I was actually swerving from lane to lane to avoid the clumsy bugs. I had the window down when a Kamikaze Cicada swooped down and aimed for the side-view mirror. Luckily I was wearing sunglasses and my eyes were spared the brunt of the explosion. I can tell you what Cicada tastes like, though. We spent most of the morning at the show cleaning guts off the headliner and back seat, and trying to explain (with a straight face) to passers by. Briar still laughs ’til she cries when she tells this story.

Has this car competed in any events? Many of the North-East US VW shows, (Volksfest PA, Waterfest NJ, H2O MD, Bugout VA, Dubs on the Lake MD, etc) and dozens of smaller get-togethers and shows in central PA. We have received plenty of recognition, including best-of-show at Dubs on the Lake ’05.

What is your favorite place to drive this car? The on-ramps and cloverleaves around the Washington, DC, beltway have always excited me. The myriad twists and turns through the beautiful rolling hills of central Pennsylvania make for a great drive. After recently completing some semi-major engine maintenance, this spring finds us putting hundreds of miles on the odometer driving back roads in SE Pennsylvania. Our recent 620 mile round-trip drive to Dubs-on-the-Lake in Maryland was the epitome of Fahrvergnugen. Finally, we are looking forward to our 2500 mile trip to Las Vegas in August.

What is your ideal day with this car? Briar and I often take the scenic route to some of our favorite wineries in Eastern PA. Moonroof open, spoiler up, we sing along with that throaty Corrado VR6 exhaust at full boil. Yes, singing with it. In my humble opinion, only the whine of a select few exotics supercedes the song of the VR6 Corrado.

Who gets to drive this car? A few buddies and even my mother, but mostly me and Briar.

If your car had a motto, what would it be? Form and function can co-exist.

If you had to name your car, what would you name it? Mein Rot Schnell.

What was your previous project? That was my beloved ‘84 Rabbit Convertible with taller gearing for the 186 mile roundtrip to Lycoming College. (Hence, AndyLyco) It had Neuspeed everything, Mk2 GLi Recaros, 15” Borbets. Bought in ’98 @ 162K miles, retired last summer with 252K miles. It lives on, having donated many parts to our 91 Etienne Aigner Cabriolet. Among others, I’ve enjoyed a ‘92 GTI and 3 Rabbit GTIs, and Briar drove a ’01 Bora VR6 and another red ’93 Corrado SLC.

What is your next project? Briar and I are searching for a clean used Audi TT 225hp 6-spd quattro coupe. I’d also like to build a 1.6-liter TDI Golf or Jetta Wagon that runs on fryer grease.

What one word best describes your car? eBay.

Anything else you’d like to share? This car was purchased on eBay, as were the wheels, tires, springs, brake lines & pads, strut tie, P-flow w/ K&N filter, radiator, seatbelts, headlights, stereo, Karmann badges, stubby antenna, “city light” LEDs, and sun visors. It is possible to build a show-worthy car that is dependable and fun for not much money. It does, however, take uncountable hours of labor, but every minute was worth it.

Finally, we just bought a house in Las Vegas, and are looking forward to meeting some left-coast ‘dub owners when we move in August!

Owner Information:

Name- Andy & Briar Stahl

Address- Harrisburg PA

VWvortex Username – andylyco

Occupation- Andy = computer programmer, Briar = attorney

Club Affiliations- Harrisburg Area Volkswagen Owners Club (HAVOC), Central PA VW (CePA)

Vehicle Information:

Year- 1993

Make- Karmann (VW)

Model- Corrado SLC

Mileage- 142K miles

Original Color- Flash red

Current Color- Flash red body, black cabin.

Engine- 2.8 L VR6

Engine Modifications- P-flow intake, Autotech 10 lb flywheel, low temp thermostat & fan switch, G12 coolant with Samco silicone hoses

Exhaust Modifications- Neuspeed stainless cat-back

Transmission Modifications- Original clutch just replaced at 141K miles! Mobil 1 synthetic fluid. Currently ISO .71 5th gear.

Suspension Modifications- Neuspeed sport springs & strut tie; sway bars on the way!

Brake Modifications- Cross-drilled front rotors, PBR Metalmaster pads, braided stainless steel brake lines, DOT 4 synthetic fluid.

Wheels and Tires- Authentic Audi TT 6 spoke wheels, Falken Ziex 205/40/17 tires

Exterior/Body Modifications- “dipped” paint job w/ homemade “Karmann” badge & Deutschland emblems, Euro-spec chin spoiler, home-smoked Euro-spec headlights w/ Kamei eyebrow, functional city lights, homemade rear fog light, matching Osnabrück Germany plates, deleted rear wiper, MkIII side skirts, home-smoked tails, Karmann emblems from European Renault Megane Cabriolet, bumper marker lights converted to turn signals.

Interior Modifications- Euro-spec manual seatbelts, Passat glass moonroof, 3 different shades of nice dark tint.

Audio/Video/I.C.E.- A Blaupunkt cd player and upgraded speakers for when I get tired of listening to the exhaust. (rarely!) The accelerator is enough “In Car Entertainment!”

Thanks/Props- Doug at Baum’s VW service for the cheapest parts anywhere & trustworthy work (Lemoyne, PA), Scott at Oliver Enterprises for trustworthy VW service (Lemoyne, PA), Randy at Hank’s VW salvage (Etters, PA), President Ron Mann of HAVOC, Charlie Russo of, the crew, fellow Vortex contributors, my always helpful buddies: Jason Powley, Wendell Peifer (mrgti turbo), Tom Finnegan (6cylVWguy), Steve Mociak (audiquattroturbo), Matt Butchko, Brian Moore, Russ Weigle, Robert Bentley publishers, God, and especially my pretty little wife Briar.

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