If one thing can be said for the Volkswagen world, it’s that there’s never a shortage of inspiration. Most cars have stories behind them, but Bostonian Jay Fay’s GTI is an everyday reminder that good things happen to good people. Thanks to the members of DubAudi Gruppe and club.broke.status, a dream came true for one of New England’s most well-known Volkswagen drivers. A television crew wasn’t there to capture the moment, unfortunately, but that’s where VWVortex comes in.
Sidelined because of a wiring fire, Jay’s flat black mk2 1992 GTI with a 2.0 crossflow conversion demanded some much-needed attention to the electrical system. Jay, however, had other priorities, and the car sat in storage for two years because he was occupied with supporting his friends and family.
“He’s dedicated to his work, his shop, his friends,” said Jay’s girlfriend, Monica Colon. “He’s very good with his family.”
“He invested so much time and effort into other peoples’ cars while his sat for months on end, not even running,” said Derek Benoit.
According to DeVron Warner, the wheels started turning one night at Waterfest, when a group of Jay’s friends was gathered for dinner and they began brainstorming ways to help out. Chalk it up to two common VW mentalities: VW drivers are always looking for the next project and they are known for aiding a fellow driver in distress.
“At first we were just thinking small, like a nice set of wheels or something along those lines,” DeVron explained. “Well, later that night, one of the guys that was at dinner with us found out that something that Jay really has always wanted was a VR6 swap into his mk2.”
Word about the plan got around quickly and Jay’s friends were eager to assist in any way they could.
“When I got back to Boston I started making phone calls to some of our close knit group of friends,” explained DeVron. “We wanted to show him that he wasn’t alone and that his friends care about him and wanted to help. Everyone I asked was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best idea ever, I want to help out in any way I can.’ It basically stemmed from there and we had a project on our hands.”
“There were so many people involved!” said Derek, who was involved in coordinating a lot of the logistics, as well as providing the donor car. His ‘95 VR6 GTI had been rear-ended and totaled a few months before, and he thought that donating the remains for the swap would be a noble way for both cars to live on.
“I miss that car dearly and I’m glad Jay can get the same enjoyment out of it that I did,” said Derek.
Monica was thrilled to hear the news.
“Derek and I were talking about how [Jay’s] car has been out of the loop for two years, and how he’s spent all his time helping his friends and how it would be nice if someone did something for him,” said Monica. “He always, always spoke about wanting to have a VR swap.”
Sammy Desmarais and Mike Dimick from Northern European Automotive in Concord, New Hampshire, were responsible for completing the swap. Sammy told Jay he was going to pick up the car and fix the wiring for him.
“I was lucky enough to be with Jay while he was on the phone with Sammy,” Derek said. “Sammy was telling him how he was going to come down, grab his car, and get it running. Of course, I knew what was going on, but Jay kept going on and on about how awesome Sammy is and how excited he would be to drive his car again.”
“Jay was shocked and so appreciative,” said DeVron. “He had no clue what was really going on, though.”
“It was cool that someone decided to do something for him,” said Sammy. “I was involved as soon as I heard about it.”
Sammy used his work truck and trailer to transport both cars to the shop, and quickly got to work on the rebuild. It took about two weeks for both cars to be torn down and for the swap to be completed, using the engine, transmission, wiring, and cluster from Derek’s GTI. Some other goodies, collected by Craige Ohlstein, included a coilover suspension from B&G, motor mounts from WRD, and a clutch cable bracket to convert from a hydraulic clutch. Sammy and Mike fabricated other parts for the swap as necessary. The car was even put through its paces on the dyno, with a result of 181 whp.
“[The swap] was pretty straightforward,” said Sammy. “My boss let me use the shop as long as we needed it, so that was cool. The engine bay was really rusty so we spent a bunch of time cleaning it all out and fixing it so it would be nice again.”
While Sammy and Mike took care of the mechanical aspects, the rest of the crew focused on planning a barbecue to get everyone together on the day of the unveiling. Friends from across the Northeast showed up, eager to see Jay’s reaction. Jay arrived at the shop “two hours late, in his usual fashion,” joked DeVron.
“We had asked everyone there not to act all funny when he showed up, but Jay was so looking forward to seeing his car with the wiring fixed that he didn’t even notice everyone beginning to huddle around him and his car,” DeVron said.
As the crowd closed in, Sammy turned on the headlights and turn signals to demonstrate that, supposedly, the crossflow’s wiring problem was fixed. He popped the hood release and said to Jay, “Hey, want to see the burnt-out wire that was causing all the problems? There it is,” pointing vaguely in the engine bay.
“Jay, with his hands on his hips and expressionless, stands there for a moment as he sees a VR6 in the engine bay of his car for the first time,” said DeVron. “He then turns around and walks out the shop. Tears are rushing from his eyes. It was great! The man with an answer for everything was finally speechless.”
“He had no clue. He was in shock,” said Monica. “It was very important to him.”
According to DeVron, Sammy followed Jay outside and brought him back in. Jay, still in shock, repeated, “This isn’t my car.” Hugs were exchanged all around and then Jay slid into the driver’s seat behind the wheel.
“The rumble of the VR had him grinning from ear to ear,” DeVron said. “For the next hour, I still think he was out of it, and didn’t really know what had happened.”
Jay’s friends enthusiastically concur that Jay is uniquely deserving of this gift.
“Jay deserved to be overhauled more than anybody,” said Scott Herdling. “He is the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back, literally.”
“Jay Fay is what is ‘right’ with the dub scene,” agreed DeVron. “It’s been said in a thread on the Vortex that Jay is the ‘Good Will Hunting’ of the VW scene. He may sound like a rough Boston kid, but he really knows his stuff when it comes to dubs.”
Monica strongly supports Jay’s pastime, in part because she believes their experiences are a characteristic of the Volkswagen world.
“He has such a passion for Volkswagen. He’s been in the Volkswagen scene for over 12 years,” said Monica. “Everywhere we go, people know him. People respect him. You won’t see that kind of stuff in other car scenes.”
Despite that reality has sunk in and Jay’s had time to reflect (over the distinctive growl of the VR6, of course), he’s still at somewhat of a loss for words. In fact, he can only compare his experience to another life-changing event.
“To sum that experience up in few words is hard, but I guess I would say [I feel] unbelievable and thankful that I have such great friends,” Jay said. “It was like the day my son was born, very emotional and an experience I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
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