AUTObiography MKIII Jetta’s 2002 Golf TDI

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Next up is VWvortex reader: MKIII Jetta

How long have you owned this car?

A little more than a year and a half.

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

When I first bought it, it had a golf tail light and a gti tail light..i saw it and was like wtf?

What drew you to this specific car?

Way back when I bought my first car, a mk3 Jetta, I would talk to my good buddy about how cool TDIs were and told myself one day I would buy one. Cars went through my hands like butter, until I found this Golf so I had to snatch it up. I got a good deal on it and it had low miles, too, which allowed me to purchase it.

What other cars did you consider?

Really anything that had power, which is kind of a contradiction haha. But I really wanted to get another VW and make it nice. 

What was your objective with this car?

I really didn’t have much objective but to lower it and give it a little bit more power. I knew that TDIs have a hidden side to them and I wanted to bring it out.

What tuning style would you describe this car as?

I would have to say OEM+.

Who helped you build this car?

I did practically everything to the car myself except for like internal work on the motor. It’s my daily so I couldn’t afford to keep it down for more than a day. 

What makes your car special?

It’s a TDI on bags for sure… Nobody who’s into dubs around my area has a TDI nor bags, so kinda a double banger for my location. 

What is your favorite part/feature/function?

My favorite is hearing the diesel motor knock away and that turbo wistle out the exhaust, it always has people asking “does that have a turbo?” and it makes me laugh. 

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

Definitely my buddy Jay. He told me to bag it because it would look awesome. I told him only if he bagged his mk2 Jetta. So of course I bagged mine and he made some corny excuse and didn’t bag his car. I don’t regret bagging it at all.

What don’t you like about this car?

Probably the stance…I want to make it lower. When people hear me say that they look at me like I am mental. haha

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car? 

It’s still a work in progress, but so far I haven’t hit any yet which is kind of strange.

What would you change if you could?

I plan on shaving all of the body panels and getting euro bumpers for it. The hardest part for me will be deciding how to go about the interior, what colors/seats to be used. Everything will still be oem based but with some class.

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

As of now a 5. I plan on putting it away for the upcoming winter and shaving everything, along with some snazzy interior and more engine mods.

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

For sure I would put a Cummins motor in the back of the car. It has always been a dream of mine, and I think it would haul some serious ass.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project? 

I think I am the biggest critic for the car…I don’t like a lot of things on it and it’s just not low enough.

What do your family and friends say about this car? 

They say I spend too much time and money on the car. My parents wanted me to keep it stock, which will never happen, and my friends think its sick.

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

I was driving to my girlfriend’s house late at night when I came up to a red light. A Spanish man with his young son pulled up next to me and asked “Is that a 1.8t?” I replied “No, but watch this…” I aired the car out right there in the street and the guy had the most ridiculous look on his face and said “Oh shit!” and I drove off…I laughed so hard the rest of the way to my girlfriend’s house. Priceless.

What is your favorite story about this car?

A bunch of buddies and I were cruising back home from H2Oi 2009, when some old dude and his wife come flying up behind us and almost hits my buddies car. I was in the passing lane next to my friend when I see the guy pull behind me and start to ride my tail real close trying to pass. It’s funny because after this all happened my friends said “all I heard was the rpms go from high to real low and smoke billowed everywhere!” I upshifted to 5th gear and just smoked the people out for being such horrible drivers for about a mile straight. I don’t think they will ever tailgate a group of VWs ever again. haha

Has this car competed in any events? 

No, I don’t think the car is show worthy whatsoever.

What is your favorite place to drive this car? 

Anywhere that has very very smooth roads so I can drop it practically to the ground and still drive it. Nothing beats the feeling of hovering inches above the ground while doing 55mph.

What is your ideal day with this car? 

Beautiful blue skies, open roads, and a couple of other VWs to cruise with.

Who gets to drive this car? 

Nobody does anymore now that it’s bagged.

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

“How long until you sell these wheels too?”

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

It doesn’t need a name, she was named right out of the factory: TDI.

What was your previous project?

A mk1 rabbit with just way too much rust. I moved it out of the garage I was working on it at to my parents driveway. I didn’t have the tools to fix it anymore so I had to get rid of it.

What is your next project?

I’ve been in search of a project for quite some time now buying different cars but realizing they just aren’t for me. I thought to myself one day, hey I’ve been sitting in it all along. So I bought another mk1 as a daily, and putting the golf away this winter to make it worthy enough for my standards.

What one word best describes your car?


Any regrets? Tell us about it.

I don’t have any regrets yet, but I know I probably will once I get down to the nitty gritty this winter.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Plan to look for it in the upcoming years and actually entering shows, hopefully to win!

Owner Information:

Name- Jon Kerns

Address- Reading, Pa

VWvortex Username- MkIII Jetta

Occupation- Fuel Management (Powerplant)

Club Affiliations- RDG

Vehicle Information:





Color (Include original if applicable)-

Indigo Blue


1.9l TDI

Engine Modifications-

Sprint 520 nozzles, Kerma Stage2 program, swiss cheese airbox

Exhaust Modifications-

3” turboback

Transmission Modifications-

Spec Stage 2 clutch

Lightened steel flywheel

Suspension Modifications-

Mason-Tech front&rear bags.

Autopilot Digital Management

Swaybar delete

Frame notch

Brake Modifications-


Wheels and Tires-

Stern Dish’s 17×9, 17×10 (current)

Falken 512 225/40/17

Exterior/Body Modifications-

GTI tail lights

Smoked side markers

Rear wiper delete

Stock antenna cut

Random stickers

Interior Modifications-

No headrests.


Monsoon speakers

Thanks/Props- \

Thanks to my parents for putting up with my hardcore case of ADD, my girlfriend for loaning out (x) amount of money for wheels and other parts that I didn’t have money at the time for. My friends for persuading me into spending ridiculous amounts of money on the car.

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