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Feature Car: A Diamond From the Rough

“There are three kinds of men,” said the entertainer Will Rogers, “The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation, and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

The automotive lifestyle was probably not the basis for Rogers’ famous bon mot, but the lengths to which some men will go for their cars proves the point. Despite a series of modifying mishaps spanning a decade, car and owner have come to terms with the relationship, a cycle Clint Maryonovich describes as “righting past wrongs” that has resulted in a crisp motorsports-inspired, show-stopping example of Volkswagen’s most notorious and demanding design.

The first of many obstacles to overcome was getting back behind the wheel of a VW after dabbling in the domestic market. A one-time Volkswagen owner who found himself piloting a Cavalier Z24 by circumstance, Clint’s eye was caught by an Alpine White G60 in the front row of a dealer’s used-car lot back in 1997. Partially due to fond memories of his identically colored ’78 Rabbit and mostly due to impulse, Clint traded his Chevy on the spot. There are many virtues of sporty coupes that buyers look for: Some of them are economical, some are reliable, and yet others are cheap and easy to work on. None of those can be ascribed to the G60. But with results like this, who cares?

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Clint didn’t anticipate the changes the car would undergo; he believed he would be satisfied with his 73,000-mile stock example for quite some time. Six months after the purchase, however, he totaled the car, and “lacking sanity,” as he put it, bought it back from the insurance company to perform the repair work himself. He began stockpiling parts in his one-bedroom apartment, a point at which the presence of aftermarket items was to be tacitly accepted.

“I should have known that my VW addiction was taking root once again,” he said. “It took nine months [to fix the car], and I wondered whether it was worth the trouble. But everything was done right, and ten years later, I’m glad I saved it.”

It started out simply enough—used, mismatched body panels replaced those damaged in the crash, the local dealership welded in a new nose, and a Eurosport exhaust marked the first performance upgrade. But once the car was back on the road, the repairs and upgrades ground to a halt. Clint was subject to a predicament common to apartment-dwelling car enthusiasts.

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“The car was draining me financially to keep it on the road, because I had nowhere to work on it,” Clint said. “I spent $450 to replace the water pump. Another $200 for a ball joint failure. A motor mount failed soon afterward. I seriously thought about selling it.”

Soon after, however, Clint landed a promotion that included a relocation to Indianapolis, and celebrated by taking one step forward and two steps back, installing a Bahn Brenner Motorsport Stage IV kit, adding a set of K-Mart pedals, and icing the cake with a Maaco paint job.

“It looked good for about three months, until the paint started peeling in sheets,” he reluctantly admitted. “Obviously, some choices were better than others.”

The most important and influential modification came just in time, in the form of a house with a two-car garage. Clint used the space to dismantle three parts cars, saving what he needed and selling the rest to finance more work. From there, Clint started a much more aggressive phase of modification.

“Nothing like getting your hands dirty to gain the knowledge,” he said.

A set of MOMO pedals and a MOMO Millennium steering wheel were installed; these complemented the Euro leather seats and mitigated the offensive aesthetics of the previously installed pedals. VDO oil pressure and boost gauges also found a home during this round of upgrades, in preparation for performance enhancements to come.

In superstition, ladders are regarded as a sign of bad luck; for Clint, it may have been a blessing in disguise. One day in 2002, the Corrado became a victim of a fallen ladder at work, and the low-quality finish didn’t hold up to the impact. Clint disassembled the body and had the car fully prepped for paint, including a baking-soda blast. Diamond White Pearl, a shade from the Lexus range, was selected from the body shop’s paint catalogue.

“The car just didn’t reflect what I wanted it to be,” Clint explained. “Part of me wanted to stick to factory Alpine White. So I flipped through the book, and most of the VAG pearls were nice, but looked browner than my Alpine White. The Diamond White Pearl was a very close match in hue to the Alpine White, but added the custom touch I wanted.”

When a car goes into the body shop for a full respray, it’s usually a carte blanche excuse for custom body work. Clint opted only to color-code the door handles and remove the side moldings, although several years later, he had the third brake light shaved.

“I’m not a fan of Corrado body kits, and think Corrados have the cleanest lines when left alone,” he said.

The exterior is subtly accented by a the VW Euro-spec lip spoiler, a VR6 grille with a 16V emblem, Kamei grille spoiler, Lamin-x blue Euro lights with relays, and Lamin-x Euro clear turn signals. A Euro-spec rear license panel and clear/red In.pro taillights round out the rear end, and a single round Magnaflow tip was added to the exhaust, “thereby modding my first mod,” Clint pointed out.

With the exterior nicely sorted, it was time to bring the mechanicals up to speed.

“Once I got the car back from paint, I purchased the 16V integration kit from BBM, and went about collecting all the parts needed,” Clint said. “It was the first motor I’ve ever attempted to build, and it was a challenging one.”

Clint retained the G60 block, bored out to 83.5mm to fit Ross 8:1 forged pistons. The stock crank and rods were used with ARP fasteners. He installed a CIS inline fuel pump, mated 44# Bosch injectors with a Porsche 3.5bar fuel pressure regulator, and added a VDO inline fuel pressure gauge. An SNS Stage V dual-map chip resides in the stock ECU, and was programmed to match the fuel setup. A Mk III downpipe allows an extra O2 sensor for the Batan A/F gauge in the dash. A Techtonics adjustable cam gear, a 53mm pulley, and a 1.8T diverter valve complete the setup. All said and done, Clint’s upgrades allow him to run 18 lbs. of boost.

“I love the rarity of this setup,” he said. “It definitely seems unique out there. When I dynoed in 103-degree heat this past July, it put out 200 horsepower crank, before tuning. After working with the timing and fuel, I should be putting down a realistic 210 to 215 horsepower to the wheels. The dyno talks, though, so I need to get it back on there by next spring. It pulls very strong through the gears, stronger than my wife’s 2.0T. It’s fun!”

An 02A transmission with short ratios and a Quaife differential put power to the ground, aided by a BBM short-shifter. A European water pump pulley allowed for removal of the A/C, and a Eurosport thermostatic oil cooler was substituted for the leak-prone factory unit.

John Betz from G60 Performance Products provided a 16V silencer kit with a custom intake manifold and tail bracket. The noise reduction is due to the relocation of the throttle body in front of the charger intake, and the kit also eliminated the ISV (which Clint re-installed under the intake manifold) and relocated the battery. Clint claims his kit was the prototype, from which only three other kits were ever produced.

With so much effort invested in the motor, Clint recognized the need to bring the engine bay aesthetics up to par.

“Over the last two years, I’ve spent some time going over the wiring and hoses, and relocating the temp sensors for easier replacement and tuning,” Clint said. “I upgraded where needed for reliability, not to mention a cleaner look. I decided to go with a VW Motorsport theme, and used blue accent colors throughout the bay,” including accent paint on the manifold, coordinating spark plug wires, and a Red Bull coil that Clint says is his favorite mod because “it balances the colors in the engine compartment perfectly, and only costs $1.99.”

Also tying into the theme is a set of aluminum strut tower caps that bear the familiar VWMS logo.

“I met a Corrado owner, Tim Groeschel, at Midwest Treffen ’05 and admired some of the machining work that he had put into his car,” explained Clint. “We exchanged e-mails at Treffen, and he made the caps for me in exchange for two rearview Corrado mirrors. I still feel like I owe him for the caps; they look incredible.”

The Corrado sits on Tokico shocks and H&R springs, which provide a subtle 1.5” drop. Autotech front and rear strut tower braces improve handling. The stock calipers remain, aided by Zimmerman front and rear drilled rotors, stainless steel lines, and PBR pads. To complete the overall look, Clint decided it was time for a classier wheel.

“After eight years, I decided to change up from the 15” TSW Evos, and go with a set of 16” BBS RS replica wheels,” he said. “These wheels are extremely light and have done wonders for the look of the car.” Refinished in black (another nod to Clint’s ’78 Rabbit) and wrapped in 205-40-16 Kumho Ecsta ST tires, the basketweaves provide the desired sophisticated effect.

To bring the cockpit in line with the new motor’s increased rev limit, a Euro 16V Corrado cluster, featuring an 8000 rpm tach and 160 mph speedometer, was sourced from Britain. Aluminum trim rings were added to the cluster to unify and modernize the feel of the interior elements.

Stereo upgrades are modest; most important to Clint, the OE Heidelberg head unit remains (“I love the look; most Corrado owners may have forgotten what one looks like”). A 75-watt 10” Alpine subwoofer resides in the hatch, and an older Sony XMC-U150 integration unit raises the system power to 30W x 4, allowing use of a remote and a Sony 6-disc changer. The rear deck trays were modified slightly to fit Polk Audio 4” x 6” speakers, and the factory AKTIV system still powers the dash speakers. Other interior upgrades are equally simple. The automatic seatbelts were ditched in favor of Canadian manual belts, including the matching A- and B-pillars and center console, a popular modification amongst Corrado and Passat owners. The cabin is rounded out by a Jetta GLX moonroof.

The car has logged about 10,000 miles since the body and engine work was completed, but the cycle persists.

“It sits in the garage a lot, but it definitely gets driven hard,” Clint said. “If something fails, it’s an opportunity to upgrade! I’d rather change things out of necessity, rather than the sake of change itself. I’m satisfied that other than paintwork, I’ve done everything myself on this car. Lots of cursing and bloody knuckles went into making my Corrado what it is now. I’m really happy with the end result.”

Clint isn’t the only one happy with the results; he entered the Corrado in three shows during 2006, and his car took top honors in all of them. At Midwest Treffen, Clint’s efforts were rewarded with first place in the Corrado class. He also won Best Old Skool at Midwest Dubfest, and left the Allroad Motorsports Show ‘n Shine with the Best European and Best of Show trophies.

He plans to have another round of work completed this spring, including headwork from BBM, 260-degree Autotech cams, a set of poly control arm bushings, and a transmission rebuild with a fifth gear from a TDI or a BBM 6-speed.

Should Clint find himself without any damage to repair or worn-out parts to replace, this glutton for punishment has already acquired another project on which to focus his efforts. A ’75 Scirocco, purchased from the original owner and boasting only 93,000 miles on the clock, lies in wait should its younger sibling decide, against all odds, to surrender Clint’s attention.

Yet another addition is joining the family in the near future. Clint and his wife, Lisa, are expecting a baby boy (whether he will be riding in a stylish black leather safety seat to match the Euro fronts remains to be seen). Clint is proud of the role his family plays in his hobby, and is grateful to Lisa and to his daughter, Caitlyn, for their encouragement.

“Without their support, I wouldn’t want to do it,” he said. “Also thanks to John Betz for the years of exceptional customer service and friendship and Mark Sulzberger of Indy for the OE parts sourcing since I moved to Indianapolis. I can’t forget the UBERDUBS crew, Jayvee Badua, and my friend Mark Durick for letting me call him old, as well as for being an outstanding enthusiast and friend. And also, VWvortex and CCA, for providing the tools I needed to piece this car back together so long ago. What a community!”



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