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Where do you go once you’ve built and sold a truly hallmark vehicle?
Well, if you’re Simi Valley resident, Lee Liu, you take a long hard look in the mirror and reflect on what you’ve learned over the years. You take into account all the time you spent with your ass-cheeks clenched while driving your past project car around town, scared to death you might hit a pothole or encounter a steep driveway. You remember how frustrated you were that you had enough horsepower and suspension goodies to really enjoy yourself in Southern California’s renowned canyons, but never did because you were too stressed, worrying that your wide wheels and tires might at some point make mincemeat out of your pretty fiberglass arches. You think about all that stuff and put together a plan to make sure the next car you build will reflect your established good sense of style and proportion but will also this time let you really enjoy the fruits of your labor by driving balls-to-the-wall any time you want. Lee has performed that sort of soul-searching, and the 1994 Corrado you see before you is proof enough.
Lee’s previous project was a 1994 Golf III and as mentioned above it was truly one of the heavyweight MkIII Golfs of all time. Fitted with a wide Abt Cup-style body kit and motivated by a nicely-swapped 1.8T engine, the car lacked for absolutely nothing. VW fans from all over the globe knew the car on sight and enjoyed following Lee and his many updates and additions along the way. But the truth is that we spectators were enjoying the car more than was its owner, and, well, that’s not good. As stated earlier, Lee might have gone too far with the Golf, as things got to the point where he simply became scared to drive the car hard. So after many years of ownership, Lee sold the Golf with the idea of building something else – something a bit more mature to suit his own newfound personal growth and enlightenment.
Choosing the next vehicle wasn’t an issue. Lee’s favorite VW has long been the Corrado, ever since he saw a certain blue turbo 16v example in the pages of a Performance VW magazine. Had he been able to afford the insurance at the time, he would have bought a Corrado rather than his ubiquitous black Golf. But all things happen for a reason, and Lee readily admits it’s a good thing he had to wait before buying this car, as he may have well gone just as over the top with a Corrado as he did with his wide-body Golf.
So pretty much from Day One Lee knew he wanted to build a car he could drive the snot out of without constantly worrying about messing it up. This time there would be no fragile body kit or wheels and tires that made useless any precious suspension travel. Sure, the Corrado would be low (Lee may have matured, but he’s no AARP member just yet), but this time he was willing to compromise some cool looks for a sense of usability.
Lee bought his 1994 Corrado VR6 in January of 2004 and has been tweeking it ever since. Things got off to a rocky start early, though, as the car got rear-ended the day after Lee bought it.
So it was off to the body shop a bit earlier than planned, but ever the optimist, Lee was grateful for the opportunity to respray the entire car and chose to stick with the original Dark Burgundy Pearl Effect VW paint color. As nice as his new Corrado was, it was still a ten year-old, 100,000-mile car when Lee bought it and it did have a few dings and rock chips to show for its age. While under the knife, a few custom touches were added, such as a shaved rear emblem and filled rear body seams. Tragedy had turned to opportunity and when it finally left the body shop, Lee’s Corrado was looking almost brand new.
Unable to stomach driving any stock-looking VW for very long, Lee got right to the process of building his dream Corrado. With an eye towards actually enjoying this new project and its driving experience, he spent a fair amount of time (and money) inside the engine bay.
Lee’s no dummy and knew right away that the first order of business was to make sure the 100k-mile VR6 was in good running order. He has a couple other cars to drive on a daily basis but weekends belong to the Corrado, and Lee very much realizes that Corrados are only reliable when properly maintained. Good friend Adam handled all the basic Corrado maintenance issues (Lee swears this car wouldn’t even run without Adam’s help) and soon the VR6 was ready for an infusion of horsepower.
A VR6 is a pretty special engine in its own right, but the aftermarket has proven over time that there’s plenty available to make it even more special. A VF-Engineering Vortech supercharger kit tops the list of engine mods, and a Schrick variable-geometry intake manifold is used to fatten up the low-end while also providing a little extra overall volume. VF-E engine mounts help all that power get to the front wheels. Spent gasses are handled by 2.5” Techtonics tubing and a Supersprint Mega muffler finishes of the exhaust system.
Next up on the mod list was suspension and Lee took his time to make sure he chose parts that would offer him the combination of good looks and handling he was searching for. Certainly, coil-overs offered the most versatility as far as ride height was concerned, so Lee opted to go with a set of Weitec versions sourced from ubiquitous good-guy Matt Crooke of Tuning Zubehor fame. Neuspeed front and rear anti-roll bars were chosen to keep the Corrado’s attitude nice and flat in the canyons and the 10-year-old chassis was stiffened via a set of upper stress bars – Weichers up front and Eurosport in the rear.
Smart folks know that more power should beget better brakes. Lee’s Corrado now wears slotted and drilled rotors at all four corners, with the fronts being an inch larger that stock and sourced from VAG’s only modern coupe, the Audi TT. Mintex pads all ‘round assure consistent performance and minimal fade.
According to Lee, the defining modification to his Corrado would have to be the spectacular (and very complementary) 17” BBS RS301 3-piece wheels. Their classy good looks and well-documented motorsport heritage makes them a perfect match for a Corrado. Wrapped with Falken Ziex 512 tires in size 205/40-17, this wheel and tire combo exudes both style and function.
When Lee adjusted his suspension to suit his desired stance, it became clear another trip to the body shop was in order. Past history taught Lee that he did not want to have to worry about his pretty new wheels and tires rubbing the rather confining Corrado wheel wells, and with zero hesitation he made an appointment to have the fenders properly pulled and rolled.
With most of the functional details taken care of, Lee soon turned to the aesthetic part of his Corrado equation.
As far as the exterior is concerned, Lee is of the opinion VW didn’t leave much on the table when it came to designing the Corrado. Most body kits do more harm than good as far as improving or even complementing the coupe’s factory good looks, so Lee chose to be discreet when it came to exterior changes. A European Corrado chin spoiler is quite a bit larger than its US counterpart and is virtually unbreakable to boot, so that was one of the first changes made. But the extra depth of the front spoiler made the Corrado side sills look a bit higher off the ground than Lee liked, so he had a set of smoothed Abt MkIII Golf/Jetta side skirts custom fitted with an eye towards bringing the Corrado’s profile back into proper proportion. Other exterior changes include a Reiger front grille and upper roof diffuser, shaved front bumper side marker lights, In.pro headlights and FK M3-style taillights.
As far as interior changes are concerned, Lee has kept with the less-is-more theme. Changes are minimal and consist of a Momo/Oettinger 320mm steering wheel combo fitted to an L2 quick-release hub adapter, an Oettinger shift knob, a Mooneyes boost gauge, and a Passat cup holder. Rounding out the interior mods are a Kenwood KDC MP825 head unit, Pioneer speaker, and a Passport 8500 radar detector. Not many changes, but again – it’s hard to argue a stock Corrado interior needs many changes in the first place.
Lee’s Corrado is not nearly as flashy as his Golf III, but he couldn’t care less. In fact, Lee much prefers this more mature approach to building a project car and doesn’t feel he’s lost anything in the process. Besides, there’s something special about owning and driving a Corrado, simply due to the fact you do don’t see very many on the roads. Ten years later, people still stop and ask Lee what kind of car he’s driving and gush over its good looks and style. Even amongst VW enthusiasts, a Corrado simply has less of a cookie-cutter facet about it. Sure, there are the occasional Corrado idiosyncrasies – Lee’s car puked its heater core ten yards after leaving a VW dealership – but when you’re not counting on a Corrado for all your transportation needs, you can even argue such quirks are part of its charm.
So what does the future hold for Lee and his beautiful burgundy Corrado VR6? Well, he’s never selling it – that is for certain. He may well add some DSR 256 cams and repair that busted heater core (bypassed for now), but as far as future mods are concerned, he intends to keep with the same sensible script that’s got him to this point.
Let’s face it – people and cars age over time, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When it comes to Lee and his Corrado, we’d say that both owner and car are maturing quite nicely, thank you.
Name- Lee Liu
Address- Simi Valley, CA
Club Affiliations- C.H.U.D.
Model- Corrado SLC
Original Color- Dark Burgundy Pearl Effect
Current Color- Same
Engine- 2.8 VR6
Engine Modifications- VF Engineering supercharger ( modded inlet pipe to woek with Schrick), Schrick Vgi manifold, VF engine mounts, Neuspeed 8mm wires, Neuspeed aluminium strut caps, Zender oil cap, Neuspeed low temp fan switch and T-stat, Denso Iridium sparkplugs, L2 ground wire kit
Exhaust Modifications- Supersprint Mega muffer for a 2.9 Corrado connected to 2.5 inch Techtonics piping
Transmission Modifications- Standard O2A with a VF tranny mount
Suspension Modifications- Weitec coilovers, Weichers strut bar, Eurosport rear strut bar, Neuspeed front and rear sway bars
Brake Modifications- 12.3 TT brakes front/slotted drilled rotors, slotted drilled rear rotors, Mintex pads all around
Wheels and Tires- 17×7.5 BBS RS 301( from Neils), Falken Ziex ZE 512 205 40 17
Exterior/Body Modifications- Full respray in Dark Burgundy Pearl, Front fenders rolled, rear pulled half inch/rolled flat, Rear badge/body lines filled, Reiger grill, Rieger upper roof diffuser, front bumper side lights shaved, Abt Mk3 sideskirts, 90mm early euro lip spoiler, Inpro headlights, FK taillights
Interior Modifications- Momo/Oettinger 320mm steering wheel, Oettinger shift knob, L2 quick release/short aluminum hub adapter, Mooneyes boost gauge, Passat cup holder
Audio/Video/I.C.E.- Kenwood KDC MP825 head unit, Pioneer speakers, Passport 8500 radar detector
Thanks/Props- Tuning Zubehor, Neuspeed, J&S Extreme (body work),VF engineering, Eurosport, Adam(car wouldn’t be running without him), Mitch, CHUD, SCCG, People that hooked me up with parts here and there, Corrado forum UK, and VWvortex
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