AUTObiography: CasteSystems’ 1998 VW Jetta GLX

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Next up is VWvortex reader: CasteSystems

How long have you owned this car?

I bought it Thanksgiving [’06] when someone hit the front end of my MKI GTI and I needed a car for school while it was being fixed. I actually had no intention of keeping it.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

As I drove it around, I began to realize that I had never seen a MKIII Jetta VR6 in this color blue before. My friend has a R32 and when I parked next to it, we realized the colors were damn near the same.

Why did you choose this car to purchase?

I really needed a daily driver, and the rare color of this Jetta caught my eye. It was an automatic at the time as well with a slipping problem, which is probably why I got it so cheap.

What other cars did you consider?

None. I saw this Jetta sitting there and despite it being an automatic, I was just sold on it.

What was your objective with this car?

Initially I wanted to drive this car until my GTI was repaired, then sell it off again, but as I drove it more and more I realized it wasn’t going anywhere, or staying stock, for that matter.

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

I would call it OEM Plus with a hint of VW “what should have been.” I tried to make a theme with this car, as if what would have happened if VW made an R-line Jetta during the MKIII era.

Who helped you build this car?

My friend Ben Zarpentine helped me carry out the auto to manual transmission swap, and Autotech 262 degree cam and timing chains we did in the process of that.

What makes your car special?

It is one of the rare MKIII Jetta VR6 Porcelain Blue Metallic cars out there. I have only seen one other Jetta like it. I don’t know the exact number of cars produced, but I am told its somewhere only a little over 1000.

What is your favorite part/feature/function?

I love how it’s a 1998 and it has the roll-down/roll-up feature on the windows and sunroof when you lock and unlock the car.

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

After realizing the color of the car was very close to that of the R32 of present, I decided it would be cool to create a car somewhat along the lines of the R-line theme as though VW had built a “R GLI” during the MKIII era.

What don’t you like about this car?

Tan interior. Planning on doing a black interior with Corrado back seat in the future.

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car?

Probably that weekend spent doing the transmission swap and camshafts. Just one thing went wrong after another.

How did you overcome the issue?

Just kept at it. I guess looking back on it, it wasn’t so bad, but at the time I was ready to just put the auto back in.

What would you change if you could?

Go back in time and verbally abuse someone in the VW design department as to why they never made a MKIII Jetta coupe.

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

Right now the car is running great and looking equal, so I really have no complaints. Right now I’d say its at about a 9 for me.

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

If I had all the time and money in the world, the coupe conversion would be on deck for this car in a heartbeat.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project?

Probably everyone on the street when they hear this car’s supercharger whirring. The thing sounds like a damn 747… wouldn’t change it for the world.

What do your family and friends say about this car?

My mom had to drive the car a few days after the manual transmission swap was completed. She said she got in it and just started driving it instinctively, not even occurring to her that it was automatic. She’s been impressed with it ever since.

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

Let’s just say the cops in Albany, NY know the car now.

Has this car competed in any events? Results?

I have run it down the quarter mile and it’s run mid-14s. I need to do something about the front wheels hooking up in first gear. Then I think it’ll do better.

What is your favorite place to drive this car?

Any road that’s long, straight and without radar traps.

What is your ideal day with this car?

As long as it’s not raining or snowing, I usually find a way to enjoy driving this car wherever I’m going.

Who gets to drive this car?

Anyone I trust, really. My neighbor has a 97 Jetta 2.0 so he begs to borrow it all the time.

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

The 1998 VW Jetta R GLI.

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

We all call him Arthur.

What was your previous project?

I had a 1983 MKI GTI with 9A 16V and Euro front end swap. Loved that car but had to let it go, it has since been wrecked… great.

What is your next project?

I just recently got a 1957 Beetle Oval. That will become RHD in the near future.

What one word best describes your car?


Anything else you’d like to share?

Just would want to thank all my friends and family who put up with my addiction with being unable to leave any car I own stock.

Owner information:

Name: James Castellano

VWvortex username: CasteSystems

Occupation: VW/Porsche mechanic

Club affiliations: LHVA/CA-VA

Vehicle information:

Year: 1998

Make: Volkswagen

Model: Jetta VR6

Mileage: 92,000

Original color: Porcelain Blue Metallic

Current color: Same

Engine: 2.8L VR6

Engine modifications: Autotech 262 cams, MKIV headgasket, Ford Racing injectors, ATP software, Vortech V1 supercharger

Exhaust modifications: Autotech 2.5” stainless steel catback system

Transmission modifications: 020 CCM VR6 manual transmission conversion with Peloquin limited slip differential

Suspension modifications: Weitec height and dampening adjustable coilovers

Brake modifications: Cross-drilled and vented rotors, front and rear, with EBC Green stuff pads, and stainless braided flex line front and rear

Wheels and tires: 24V GTI 17” Arriettas w/Kumho 215/45r17 tires

Exterior/body modifications: Euro VR6 front lip, Rieger sideskirts, R GLI rear badge, R front grille badge

Interior modifications: TT brushed pedals, MKIV shift knob and boot, pillar-mounted boost gauge

Audio/video/I.C.E.: Alpine headunit, MP3 iPod dock

Thanks/props: Thanks to Al for his never-ending supply of parts in his garage, to Ben for his help with the tranny swap and his knowledge with VW wiring, and to everyone else who puts up with me

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