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AUTObiography: apaper’s 1993 VW Corrado VR6

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Next up is VWvortex reader: apaper

How long have you owned this car?

Since 1999. I purchased from the original owner with a mere 39,000 miles!

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

Well, I had been looking for my second Corrado for over a year. I knew what I was looking for specifically and what I wanted to avoid, and I was willing to wait as long as needed until I found it, and I did! This VW had never seen snow, rarely seen rain, and was the owner’s first of three cars, which was used for nice-weekend weather only. It was being sold because the owner was moving back home outside the US and this was the last of his possessions to be parted with. He had even sold his home and was doing all that he could to avoid selling his beloved Corrado.

ab apaper2

Why did you choose this car to purchase?

Many reasons compelled me to this purchase. This car was found via an Internet search and it had just been listed days before I called the owner. At the time, I was in Massachusetts and the car was in Kansas City, Missouri. After speaking to the owner and realizing the low mileage, the color combination, condition and many other requirements that I was putting on myself for my second Corrado acquisition, it didn’t take me long to realize that I may have found the perfect combination. In fact, it was after my conversation with the owner’s one-and-only VW authorized tech that I realized how much of a gem this car really was. Had the technician known of the owner’s intentions to sell his Corrado, he told me excitingly (and with somewhat disappointment of his personal opportunity missed), that he would have purchased it immediately, period. I then booked a one-way ticket to Missouri with my wife and we left that upcoming weekend and drove the car home!

What other cars did you consider?

Only Corrados, either ’93 or ’94 exclusively.

What was your objective with this car?

After spending many dollars on my previous 1990 yellow G60 Corrado, I had done some things that I had regretted to a small degree. I took away some of the car’s lines by adding (in hindsight) elements that were not necessarily complementary. This time, I would not make that mistake twice. I was determined to tastefully add performance and functionality without sacrificing the car’s beautiful German-engineered lines.

What tuning style best describes this car (ex. Euro, Bling, OEMplus, street racer, auto crosser)?

OEM-plus, surely. At initial glance, it’s difficult to see that there really is anything aftermarket about my car. I’ve had judges ask me, “Why are you in extreme modified?” As I show them around the car, they begin to see the degree of modifications that have been made… just in a more subtle way. Again, this was my commitment to myself at the onset of the build.

Who helped you build this car?

Over the many years of my ownership, the car has only seen the hands of one shop to perform the mechanical modifications you see today: Schimmel Performance in Pennsylvania. Bill and Brian both are wonderfully skilled craftsmen and dedicated to the VW VR6 platform. Their mounds of trophies, plaques and magazine articles don’t even begin to do them justice. They are consummate professionals and I recommend them whenever and wherever I can.

This is not to say that others haven’t given me a hand over the years for unexpected servicing, such as a water pump replacement. All VW owners know (or will soon find out) just how temperamental their cars can be at times.

Cobra (seats) out of the UK were amazingly accommodating and worked with me each step of the way to ensure that my seats were built to my requested specifications.

The electrical system (ie. security and audio) was built by myself and one of my technicians. The upholstery work (audio system-wise) was performed by one of my company’s subcontractors — thanks, Alfredo!

What makes your car special?

I feel there are a handful of things that pay homage to this question:

OE-looking engine bay: Even though there are many goodies under the hood, such as a stage-2 VF Engineering supercharger, it looks rather subdued and nothing screams out “aftermarket” (well, except for that darned strut-tower brace). Little things, like carbon fiber replacement parts custom made to replace most black plastic pieces, are abound. All wiring under the hood is either wrapped in black gaffers tape (black OE cloth tape) or wrapped in a flame-retardant nylon mesh (as found under the hoods of higher-end German automobiles) with heat-shrunk ends. There is no electrical tape used in plain sight.

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Hand-built levers: I’m in love with my Nardi steering wheel and matching shift knob. I simply love the antique feel of solid wood in my hands juxtaposed polished aluminum. Although the wheel came the way in which you see it, the shift knob was actually painted in the section that you now see as polished aluminum. Once I have the shift knob in my right hand and my steering wheel in my left, I’m totally moved to a different state of mind. Strapped into my seats, the aluminum core of both knob and wheel transmit every nuance of the road into my hands and arms, providing me a visceral experience. The flat bottom of the wheel not only beckons a more contemporary visual, but assists in ingress and egress.

OE-inspired race-seats: I acquired leather from one of my vendors in California, ordered two hides (approximately 100 sq ft) and then sent this leather off to Cobra for a six-month build. Then, I specified the color and style of exposed stitch-work (French seam) as to match what has already been used on all of the OE panels and rear seats throughout the car. They complement the interior nicely and seem to have that “came with the car” look. The seat backs are of exposed carbon fiber, which I feel nicely ties in the exterior’s subtle accents. In addition, this color combination adds a nice black and tan contrast to the interior, consistent with what you find on the dash and doors.

Quiet interior: The engine and exhaust, as you could imagine, create enough ruckus on their own without the effortless aid of the audio system (which we’ll get to). Therefore, it was important to me to have as quiet of an interior as possible for my future long trips and enjoyable listening sessions. To this end, I decided to layer the entire car’s exposed metal and plastics with multiple layers of Dynamat sound deadening and damping. One realizes how much this improves things when driving through a tunnel. Windows down, it’s hard to concentrate due to the wail, whine and popping of my car’s engine and exhaust… but roll the windows up and you’re instantly treated to an environment whereby conversation with your passenger is effortless and comfortable. These materials and their abundant application have allowed me to create a relatively quiet and vibration-free environment… all things considered.

Reference audio reproduction: This build was pretty in-depth. From the wire management of the power cables to the molding of the subwoofer enclosure, not a single detail was left unattended. I’ll spare the reader too much detail, but the following words should convey the overall idea.

Cable management: Every inch of audio cabling has been run with consideration and care by covering each section with flame-retardant nylon sheathing and heatshrink. The 2-gauge power cable runs down one side of the car while the audio interconnects run down the center of the vehicle. The speaker wires then run down the other side of the car. Again, all cabling has been sheathed. When the audio signal passes over the power cable, it does so at a 90-degree angle so as to minimize the potential for noise induction. The ground points of the amplifiers are bolted to two separate ground-lugs that have been attached to the car’s chassis and then sealed as to prevent future corrosion/resistance.

Speakers: Only three in total; yes, three speakers (well, five if you want to count the separate elements). There are two full-range speakers in the front and one single subwoofer; no rear speakers. The doors house the 5” midrange speakers which reside within robust wooden enclosure-like baffles. These baffles, which are built off of and bolted to the steel door frame — and not the plastic door card — are over 2.5” thick. Behind the midrange speakers reside an acoustical diffuser to aid in the reduction of back-wave reflections. The entire doors have been treated to an abundance of Dynamat, of course. The upper dash section, which once housed the OE tweeters, now houses the 1” silk-dome tweeters, which have been carefully adjusted. These speakers gain their signal from a Complex Passive Crossover Network, which is in turn driven by the Japanese hand-built 150 watt per channel tube amplifier running full range.

The single 8” subwoofer is in an acoustic suspension (sealed) fiberglass enclosure that sits well within the area of the driver’s side well under the rear speaker tray. This is a side-firing enclosure that was engineered to play a very narrow and low range of frequencies as to complement the authoritative front soundstage. This enclosure has been trimmed out in a leather fascia that mimics the pattern, texture and aesthetics of the OE door panels. The idea was to extend the luxury of the mid-section’s interior into the trunk area without overdoing it. This sub runs off of another 150-watt tube amplifier and plays only 60 cycles and lower.

Radio: If you look closely, you’ll see that the center dash section around the radio looks different than other Corrados. What you see there is the culmination of countless hours of hand fabrication. Some of this fabrication involved the removal of the ashtray and relocation of the cigarette lighter and AC (and recirculation) switches into the glovebox, which sits discreetly flush-mounted. In addition, there was a total re-working of the original three round HVAC controls. These three rotary controls were converted into four old-school style pull pins. Two of the pins now control the direction of the air while one pin is dedicated to temperature control. The last pin stays stationary while still rotating on its axis to control for fan speed. These pins were moved down one DIN level, to the bottommost section of the dash, where the ashtray and AC switch once rested. In turn, the middle DIN section that once housed the HVAC controls now plays home to analog VU meters which accurately measure the audio system’s stereo output wattage in real time. The topmost DIN opening now houses a McIntosh single CD player which pairs nicely with the sister VU Meter component below for a beautiful (in my opinion) retrograde look.

Amplifier shrine: In the hatch one finds the two Japanese hand-built tube amplifiers and two Japanese hand-built passive crossover networks. The amps and crossovers have been sunk into the spare tire well as to conserve as much usable cargo space as possible. These components are trimmed with solid walnut; a nice tie-in to the wooden steering wheel and shift knob. At night time, the glow of the single-ended tubes makes up for the lack of a hatch light for the time being.

What is your favorite part/feature/function?

I really don’t have one favorite part. I appreciate the project as a whole, but if I was forced to choose, I’d have to say the dash/radio section, as I’m not sure that anyone else has done something quite like it.

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

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, and I really draw a blank. I know there are influences on what we do and how we do things on a daily basis, but I cannot think of one thing in particular. Therefore, I’d have to say that the entire industry and persons that I’ve met over the years have provided me examples of what I like and dislike, and with that, I’ve created my own direction, I suppose.

What don’t you like about this car?

I wouldn’t say that I don’t like a particular feature of my car. It’s more about what I feel would make things better and therefore I currently like less than I’d like at the moment (if that makes sense… I hope). I would like to finish off my dash/radio and get my four pull-pins labeled (micro-enamel silkscreen) so that any onlooker knows what pin does what. I’d also like to find my Speedline wheels in a 16” version. There are not any wheels out there that I feel complement my car’s lines like that of my OE Speedlines. I just wish they were 1” larger in diameter…

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car?

I am my worst obstacle. I’m convinced that I have a slight case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) because I’m never happy with things and they’re never good enough. For example, I drove around for over two years (yes, over 24 months) without any stereo in my car (and I own an audio shop!) because I didn’t have the time to do it the way in which I felt it should be done. Therefore, I would rather have silence over something sub-par. That’s just stupid, if you ask me… I just can’t seem to help it…

How did you overcome the issue?

Therapy from my psychologist seems to be helping…

What would you change if you could?

The day I brought home my car, I truly wish I would have installed 3M Paint Protective Film (PPF) to protect my paint from all of the spraying and lashings that the paint has seen over the years. It’s now peppered with markings. My car’s paint remains 100% original and it’s never seen any bodywork or damage. I guess if I were to rationalize things, the peppering gives it that special “patina.”

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

I’m at an 8 at the moment. Doing the things that I’ve mentioned and finding 16” Speedlines would help me along to a 9. I’ll never be at a 10… well, unless my therapist and I make some remarkable breakthroughs.

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

I would have the engine bay shaved and painted to a show-like finish and the rest of the car would also get an amazing re-spray of the same color.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project?

If you’ve been patient (and masochistic) enough to read all of my ramblings thus far, then you’d know the answer to this question. Yours truly…

What do your family and friends say about this car?

My wife, while supportive, doesn’t understand my love for this machine. She doesn’t even think that car is that good looking on the exterior… oh well. My friends respect what I’ve done, although much of the details are lost on them. And my family… they just think its “neat.”

What is your most memorable/humorous/embarrassing moment with this car?

Oh boy, this is a good one! This would be memorable moment, and very recent too. My wife and I drove from Annapolis, Maryland to Quebec City, Canada, for a week long driving trip in the Corrado. We were sweeping through the mountainous roads of Vermont at around 85 MPH with no one in sight, when all of the sudden, small blue flickering lights of a vehicle were fast approaching in my rear view mirror. Within 45 seconds, those tiny blue dots were upon me… an Aston Martin Vanquish! I told Jen to get the camera out and “Take some pics, quick!” when at a blink of an eye, he plunged the accelerator pedal and off he went… but not without me pondering for a minute, “Should I chase him?” I then decided to breach triple digits to catch up! Once I caught up with him (and I won’t divulge the speed at which I had to travel to catch sight of Mr. Vanquish) I realized that he was taking pictures of my Corrado. That was enough to convince Jen to break out the camera and return the favor! At that point, it was game on. The Vanquish and the Corrado maintained triple digits for over 40 minutes until we reached the Canadian border. When we arrived, Mr. Vanquish immediately got out of his car and came back to greet Jen and I as we stayed strapped into our seats. He leaned over, gave me a once-over and looked into my interior, extended his hand looking for reciprocation, and said “I love your car!”

Has this car competed in any events? Results?

Yes. I’ve only competed two times and they were both this year, once at Waterfest and the other at H2O in Ocean City, Maryland. Both times I placed second.

What is your favorite place to drive this car?

One of my favorite places is a route that I and many other fellow enthusiast drivers have done many-a-time before, which is to take back roads from Annapolis all the way down to Solomons Island, Maryland. It’s wonderfully scenic and the roads are in terrific condition and super twisty at various points.

What is your ideal day with this car?

A day is not enough. In order for me to immerse myself, I need at least three consecutive days. But I have to admit, my recent days driving to Quebec City with my wife were what I would consider perfect! I truly was a content man.

Who gets to drive this car?

My two techs, Bill Schimmel and Brian Berwin of Schimmel Performance… and that’s it. If my wife wanted to, I’d let her, but she doesn’t want that kind of responsibility over her head. She knows that I tend to bitch a lot…

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

Balance and subtlety.

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

I’m not one to name things… so I’ll reluctantly have to pass on this question, sorry.

What was your previous project?

Aluminum gauge ring installation around the gauge bezels.

What is your next project?

Installing a K40 radar/laser system front and rear and custom grafting the warning LEDs into the gauge cluster where there are currently unused sections.

What one word best describes your car?

Incognito.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I plan on having a handful more cars in my day, but none, I feel, will ever do to me what I’ve consistently felt all of these years. The Corrado, since its debut in the US in 1990, has captured my imagination, and since my first Corrado purchase in 1993, I have never felt the need to own any one car other than a Corrado. A 930 Turbo Porsche would be nice, but not a need.

I thank all of the wonderful staff at Volkswagen for helping make a childhood dream of mine — and countless other girls, boys, women and men, I’m certain — a living reality.

Owner Information:

Name: Adam S.

VWvortex Username: apaper

Occupation: Owner of car audio and electronics company

Club Affiliations: SCCA

Vehicle Information:

Year: 1993

Make: VW

Model: Corrado SLC

Mileage: 140,000-ish

Original Color: British Racing Green

Current Color: same

Engine: VR6

Engine Modifications: Stage2 VF Supercharger (8 psi), high-flow fuel injectors, up-rated fuel pressure regulator, ported and polished throttle body, ported and polished intake manifold, rebuilt head, ARP head studs, lowered compression to 9:1, secondary oil cooler with 180-degree thermostatic switch, lowered fan temp switch, silicone wires, new radiator

Exhaust Modifications: Supersprint header, ceramic coated header, new catalytic converter, hand-built 2.5” stainless exhaust cat-back, mid-muffler deletion, Borla rear exhaust, raw brushed stainless exhaust outlet (no tip)

Transmission Modifications: Neuspeed short throw linkage, rebuilt transmission with 3.3 ring and pinion, taller fifth gear, Peloquin LSD, lightened OE flywheel, VF motor mounts, hardened syncros

Suspension Modifications: H&R coilovers, Autotech hollowed front and rear anti-sway bars, Autotech lower A-arm brace, front and rear upper strut tower braces, rear 5mm H&R spacers

Brake Modifications: 11” Wilwood big-brake kit with 4-piston calipers, rear Zimmerman cross drilled rotors with Mintex pads, stainless Teflon lines, ATE Blue fluid

Wheels and Tires: OE Speedline 15” wheels with 205 Pole Position tires

Exterior/Body Modifications: Rear plate holder replaced with carbon fiber, stubby antenna, stainless steel door sill plates with etched “Corrado”, all black plastics under hood replaced with carbon fiber replacement parts, new OE hood liner with aluminized cutout for supercharger

Interior Modifications: Cobra Misano carbon fiber seats, Nardi wooden shift knob and steering wheel, custom dash/radio, OMP drilled pedals, aluminum gauge ring trim, aluminum door pull handle, aluminum door pins, glove box houses AC switch and cigarette lighter

Audio/Video/I.C.E.: McIntosh CD player, McIntosh VU meters, Pear Cable solid silver interconnects, Muse tube amplifiers, Muse 5” component speakers, JL Audio 8” subwoofer, Dynamat… tons and tons

Thanks/Props: My wife for putting up with all of my addictions (including my car) and for unconditionally supporting me if she knows that will make me feel happy and more complete. My father for always keeping me grounded and reminding me of what was and is important. Also, let’s not forget he for letting me use his garage as my workspace when I was 15 to 20 years old, as these years formed what would help make me who I am today. My mother, who always iterated to me that I could do anything I put my mind to and was always very supportive and still is to this day. My guru technicians of Schimmel Performance: Brian Berwin and Bill Schimmel. My oh-so-talented in-house technician at AEX, Michael Booher, for spending so many long hours with me at the shop making my Corrado’s audio and security system crème-de-la-crème. My parts go-to guy for his consummate professionalism and unwavering attention to help me procure the many new VW OE parts over the years — thank you, Mr. Brendan Poleski. And all of my customers since the inception of my company, for without their support my dreams would have not been made a reality.

Most sincerely,

Adam


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