Although Mk2 VR6 conversions are a dime a dozen nowadays, there was a time when the swap was less common. The desire for a fun street car, distinguished from the crowd with a little polished perfection, is what motivated Zach Kurth to design his 1991 GTI about three years ago. As his technical skills were somewhat lacking for a project of this scope (“I am a bartender, not a mechanic,” he explained) he selected S&L Imports in Loretto, MN, to complete his vision. The goal was relatively simple, in theory.
“I felt like I needed something new at the time,” Zach said. “This was the second VR6 Mk2 swap in our state.”
The completed VR6, combined with a stainless steel exhaust system, Borla muffler, and Weitec coilovers, meant Zach’s GTI project was off to a promising start. After a year, however, a Vortech V1 supercharger was installed to give the car an extra edge. A Quaife LSD, Corrado transmission, and Sachs clutch with a heavy-duty pressure plate handled the speed, supplemented by the stopping power of 11.3” front brake rotors and 9.4” rear discs with stainless steel lines.
“268-whp in a Mk2 is crazy,” Zach said. “The feeling you get off the line, or dropping to third on the freeway, is unreal. I raced the black [GTI] every weekend and never lost to another VW.”
But a car that’s all go and no show leaves something to be desired. In Zach’s case, he showed a little attention to the exterior by way of smoked E-code headlights, smoked foglights and blinkers, half-smoked taillights, and pop-out rear windows. The front end was accented with a grille and 16v chin spoilers, and the passenger side mirror, rear wiper, body seams and emblems were removed – all fitting for a dark, stealthy car that Zach preferred to drive at night, nestled in Sparco seats and Sabelt harnesses behind a Mk3 dash.
“The dash whooped [S&L] for a while,” Zach said. “It took a few dashes to get it right. This was the first Mk3 dash they ever did.”
Once customized to near perfection, “this car set the bench mark for all other cars that were built after it in our town,” Zach boasted. Perhaps that accomplishment is what gave him the cockiness to adorn his GTI with license plates reading 9INCHES.
“The wheels, 16X9 CR 7s, are the defining feature of the car, and I get all kinds of questions about the plates,” explained Zach. “I love the look on peoples’ faces when they read the plate and start to giggle.”
However, the car still didn’t meet Zach’s high standards. He was dissatisfied with the exterior and somewhat regretful of the decision to remove the A/C. “Everyone else thought it was mint, but not me,” he said. “This car is black on black. A VR under
the hood and no A/C – it’s like riding around with your legs in an oven.”
Even after countless hours in the shop and the pride of successfully breaking new ground, there’s always the lingering notion that the grass could be greener on the other side of the pavement. After a while, the desire to build a pure show car overcame the need for speed, and once the seeds of a new project are planted they’re difficult to ignore. Zach recently began to dismantle his GTI in favor of his current car, Project Retro Jetta (full VWvortex feature to come).
“I wanted a show car. There are no real show cars where I am from,” he said. “The black car was not going to cut it.”
Noble aspirations, for sure, but it’s a shame that the GTI is no more. Considering that Zach’s comprehensive Project Retro Jetta buildup has already attained a cult-like following, we can rest assured that we can look forward to seeing another highly detailed and original Mk2 in the near future.
Name- Zach Kurth
Club Affiliations- Volksport
Original Color- Black
Current Color- Black
Engine- OBD1 2.8 VR6
Engine Modifications- Vortech V-1 Blower, 7.5 LB pulley, high pressure fuel pump, 2.5 stainless steel exhaust, Borla muffler
Transmission Modifications- Corrado tranny, Quaife LSD, Sachs clutch, heavy duty pressure plate
Suspension Modifications- Weitec SC coilovers, Mk3 “Plus” suspension
Brake Modifications- 11.3 front rotors, 9.4 rear discs, stainless steel lines, EBC green stuff pads
Wheels and Tires- 16x 9 CR7 15mm offset, 215/40-16 Yokohama A520
Exterior/Body Modifications- Smoked e-code headlights, grille spoiler, tinted blinkers, smoked fogs, 16v lower spoiler, tinted glass, pop-out rear windows, half smoked tails, deleted side mirror, shaved wiper, seams and emblems
Interior Modifications- Sparco Torino seats, Sabelt harnesses, Mk3 dash, boost gauge, fuel press, air/ fuel, Mk4 shift knob and boot, relocated radio
Audio/Video/I.C.E.- A little better then stock!
Thanks/Props- Josh and Leon at S&L Imports, Scott and Lee at Autoworks
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