Our Intern Gets Stubbies

Peruse our forums for only a short while, and you’ll realize a few things. One is that we’re blessed with members from many different parts of the world. And second, they all want what they can’t have. The old adage of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is alive and well in our forums. Whether it’s bumpers, number plates, headlights or anything else, if it bears a “TÜV,” “DOT,” or “E-Code” stamp, it’s highly sought after, as long as that’s not the customer’s governing regulation. Years ago, those in search of such parts were often relegated to eBay.de and Google Translator. Fortunately, companies such as TMTuning are making the proverbial fence much shorter, and specialize in offering Euro spec parts to us here in the States.

Among the MKIV crowd, there is a prominent trend in the search for euro bits: “stubbies.” While this may initially sound like an undesirable affliction, along the narrow roads of Europe, having a stubby is actually desired. Located only on the passenger side on Euro spec Boras and Golfs, stubby mirrors help keep parked cars’ protrusions minimal. This helps passing cars get safely through city streets without causing a line of cars to look like they just ended a bout with Mike Tyson. The mirrors are a full 45 mm shorter, making them just over 5 inches from end-to-end.

My MKIV has been modded mostly due to necessity. The previous owner cracked the passenger side mirror along the bottom of the cap, and proceeded to repair it by mounding a sizable glob of touchup paint over the crack. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before such a fine repair broke again. So I figured I’d both repair and upgrade the mirrors, and give TMTuning a call. After hearing reports that stubby mirrors are a bit hard to see out of, I ordered a set of the mirrors off the 25th Anniversary Edition GTI, which is sized somewhere between US spec, and full-on stubbies. These also come with blue tinted aspherical glass, but more on that later. The mirrors come with the caps already off the base, coated with primer grey. For an additional fee of $125, TMTuning also offers to paint your mirrors to match your car, using OEM paint and processes, in case you don’t trust your own steady hand, or the ones at the body shop. I had something a little different in mind, so I opted out of that service.

After receiving my mirrors, and taking a rattlecan to them, it was time to install. Aside from the typical Volkswagen necessary removal of unrelated parts to accomplish one task, installation was a snap, and DIYs are readily found in the FAQs.

After driving for two weeks with the shorter mirrors, I am extremely pleased with how much better these mirrors make my driving experience. Courtesy of the driver’s side aspherical glass, which has a flat inner area, but a curved outer section of the glass, blind spots are virtually eliminated. The nose of the car in the lane next to you is very apparent in your peripheral vision before the tail leaves your mirror, even on smaller cars. And doing plenty of highway driving, my neck doesn’t need to strain nearly as much doing the driver’s ed blind spot check. The passenger side glass is fully convex, which does an equally good job of eliminating the blind spot as well. The blue glass also does a fantastic job keeping headlight glare at bay, and keeps those pesky SUV headlights from blinding me at night.

If you’re looking for a great safety upgrade, are a chronic worrier of the ass-end of your car, or are just in search of some E-Code goodness to make your car more unique, having a set of stubbies is a must. And thanks to companies realizing the demand, and making the search for these mirrors much easier, they are an easy upgrade to perform. Time will tell if the want for foreign parts will ever subside, but until then, companies like TMTuning have the enthusiast crowd covered.

For more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums at the left.