The relationship between a hardcore VW enthusiast and his local dealership can typically be described as uneasy at best, with the potential to turn contentious at the flip of a switch. It’s just a fact of life most of us have simply come to accept. But every once in a while a dealer comes along that rocks our foundation by reaching out to those of us who see our cars as more than just transportation.
Enter Herzog-Meier Volkswagen in Beaverton, Oregon. The 50-year-old Portland-area dealership has been in the VW business since the early Eighties. Several years back they decided to branch out into the aftermarket performance accessories business and opened the doors to H-M Motorsports. The business model is one that has worked for decades in Europe for many specialty dealers. In fact, many of Europe’s great tuning houses got their start selling cars to the masses, with the occasional “house special” taking center stage in the showroom.
H-M Motorsports has adopted this same approach. You can walk into Herzog-Meier and pick up a base-model Jetta, then walk around the corner to the Motorsports center and pick out the bits and pieces you want to make your new Dub your very own. Or perhaps you’ll stroll across the showroom floor and be taken by a fully-modded car ready to roll.
Given the wave of enthusiasm for the current GTI, it seemed only natural for H-M Motorsports to build a balls-to-the-wall example to put on display. But even better than parking it beside a salesman’s desk on the floor, General Manager Tom Herzog, whose grandfather started the business in 1957, decided it would be better to actually drive the car; you know, let it be seen on the street as an example of the company’s capabilities. And so the project began.
The car that would serve as the foundation for this project was ordered specifically for the task. A Black Magic 2007 GTI with Package 2, Sat Nav with iPod adapter, port-installed Votex body kit and 18” wheels was ordered in December of 2006 and arrived shortly thereafter in January. The crew wasted no time in custom tailoring the car, literally tearing into the dash to install a factory Bluetooth adapter as soon as the PDI was completed.
With just five miles on the odometer, the factory ECU was re-flashed with GIAC performance software to bump up the boost. Naturally, GIAC’s “stock” mode was used exclusively until the engine was properly broken in. While the internals were getting to know each other, the progress outside the engine bay got under way. To keep an eye on the higher boost levels, a New South Performance boost gauge and column pod were fitted. With blue backlighting and red needles, this setup is as close as you can get to a factory look.
Meanwhile, the exterior was getting its game face on for the bionic enhancements waiting in cue. VW may have finally gotten the GTI’s stock suspension to look and handle appropriately, but for a truly tuned car there is always room to go just a bit lower. In a move that proves that an affordable set of coilovers can do the job,a set of NEX SS Series coilovers were fitted, resulting in the proper attitude adjustment. Reports indicate that ride is smooth and sporty with just the right amount of adjustment for that customized look. An H&R rear sway bar measuring 24mm in diameter helped the already excellent chassis negate the little bit of understeer that still existed.
Perhaps the most important styling element on any car is the wheel design. In the case of a performance car like the GTI, the wheels must not only complement the overall look of the car, they should also enhance its dynamic qualities. As such, H-M Motorsport chose a set of Neuspeed RS10 forged wheels in an 18 x 8- inch size. Lightweight and strong, they also look good with their silver centers and machined lips. Wrapped in BF Goodrich KDW performance tires, the setup reduces several pounds of unsprung weight at each corner, improving acceleration, braking, and cornering prowess all at once.
H-M Motorsports could have stopped right there and had one hell of a nice car to sell, but they didn’t. Instead, they took care of all the little details that so many GTI owners demand. So the windows were tinted and the front clip and body kit were treated to paint protection film. The original mirror-mounted turn signal lenses were swapped for tinted ones, and the mirror lenses were replaced with the aspherical glass found on Euro-market cars.
Out back the taillights were swapped for Euro-spec LED units for a more aggressive look, while the front end was treated to OEM open-mesh foglight grilles and upgraded to OEM projector foglights.
Inside, the US-market headlight switch was dumped in favor of a European one with a true “off” position as well as a stop for parking lights only. The center console and dash were upgraded to Euro-spec as well with the addition of the roll-top cupholder and dashboard cubby for storage. The finishing touch was the auto-dimming mirror with rain and light sensors.
Back to the part about the bionics. The 2.0T GTI is delightful right off the lot, but there is plenty of potential still on tap. H-M Motorsports turned the tap big-time, and the addition of GIAC software was just the beginning. Things got more serious when the factory exhaust system was ditched (downpipe and all) for better looking, better sounding, and better performing hardware from Milltek. The full stainless setup added horsepower and reduced weight, while giving the GTI a decidedly meaner growl as the angry exhaust gasses fight to escape.
On the other side of the turbocharger, better breathing starts with an Evolution Motorsports V-Flow intake with the requisite heat shield. Once compressed, the intake charge is passed through a Forge Motorsports front-mount intercooler that augments the factory charge-cooling setup resulting in a “twin-cooler” design. Neuspeed’s Hi-Flo intercooler pipes smooth things out along the way. Excess boost is handled by a Forge blow-off spacer made specifically for the 2.0T engine. What good is charged air if you can’t hear it? Neusepeed power pulleys lighten the load on the engine slightly for better acceleration. Hot coolant is contained in a set of Forge silicone hoses, while an Evolution Motorsports engine cover completes the performance appearance under the hood.
The list of power enhancements was pretty thorough, encompassing nearly everything short of opening up the engine or exchanging the turbo itself. To get a reality check, the GTI was strapped to a dyno and forced to perform. The results were an impressive 261 horsepower at the wheels, with torque peaking at 300 lb-ft., certainly enough grunt to move the lightened GTI down the road swiftly.
That is, of course, assuming you can get that power to the road. Super-sticky tires are a good start, but with that much muscle spinning the axles, it becomes imperative that both front tires get an ample bite of the asphalt. A Peloquin limited-slip differential replaced the factory bits, while a Spec stage 2+ clutch and single-mass flywheel were installed to reduce weight and improve the connection between the engine and the gearbox.
Aside from swimming in a bath of Royal Purple synthetic gear oil, the rest of the transmission’s internals were left untouched. A Neuspeed short-shift kit, however, was installed to reduce the distance between shifts, while VF Engineering’s engine and transmission mounts were employed to reduce powertrain movement with relation to the chassis, ensuring that everything stays where it’s supposed to stay.
The ability to make big speed demands the right equipment to scrub unwanted velocity with confidence. The factory braking system was more or less up to the task, but the pads were upgraded to Hawk HPS to ensure better bite time after time. The rubber brake hoses were removed in favor of stainless-covered Teflon lines from Neuspeed, and the whole hydraulic system was flushed and refilled with Ate Super Blue racing brake fluid for a firmer pedal and improved modulation under demanding conditions.
The list of equipment in this GTI is the stuff of dreams for many enthusiasts. Naturally, this all comes at a price. The donor GTI started out with a list price of $30,405, and by the time it was done in the surgical ward, its value would tally out to over $48,000. That may sound like a lot for a GTI, but it really isn’t all that uncommon for an owner to spend that kind of money in upgrades over the life of the car. The upside of dropping all that coin up front is actually getting to enjoy the car in its most athletic form while it is still a new, tight, fresh car.
The completed GTI is technically for sale, but for now H-M Motorsports employees enjoy the occasional mid-day customer demo. Between the numerous summer shows it attends, Tom Herzog does the real testing as he bookends each day with the entertaining drive to and from work.
While most dealers’ comprehension of the accessories market ends at mud flaps and floor mats, Herzog-Meier Volkswagen has gone out and built a car that many dyed-in-the-wool performance enthusiasts would donate organs in order to purchase.
Engine and Exhaust Upgrades
Evolution Motorsports V-Flow Intake
Evolution Motorsports V-Flow Heta Shield
Evolution Motorsports Engine Cover
Neuspeed Hi-Flo Turbo Discharge Kit
Neuspeed Hi-Flo Intercooler Pipe Conversion
Neuspeed Power Pulley Kit
Forge Motorsports Front Mount Intercooler
Forge Motorsports Blow-off Valve
Forge Motorsports Silicone Coolant Hoses
Milltek Downpipe and Catalytic Converter
Milltek Stainless Exhuast System
Clutch and Transmission Upgrades
SPEC Stage 2+ Clutch and Single-Mass Flywheel
Peloquin Limited-Slip Differential
Royal Purple 75W90 Synthetic Gear Oil
Neuspeed Short Shift Kit
VF-Engineering Engine Mounts
VF-Engineering Transmission Mount
Chassis and Brake Upgrades
NEX SS Series Coilover Suspension
H&R 24mm Rear Sway Bar
Hawk HPS Brake Pads
Ate Super Blue Racing Brake Fluid
Neuspeed Stainless/Teflon Brake Lines
Neuspeed RS10 Forged Wheels, 18 x8.0
BFGoodrich KDW Tires
ECS Projector Foglight Conversion
Euro GTI “Open” Foglight Grilles
Euro LED Taillights
Euro Asphirical Mirror Lenses
Tinted Mirror Signal Lenses
3M Protection Film
OEM Bluetooth Adapter
Euro Center Cupholder
Euro Dash Cubby Storage
Euro Headlight Switch
Rain and Light Sensor with Auto-Dimming Mirror
New South Performance Boost Gauge with Column Pod
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