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David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

Just to prove it's possible to create a feature car without daddy's money, meet David Moneymaker's Jetta GLI.

Brad Beardow
Apr 1, 2006
Photographer: Mike Kippen
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0604_z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Front_Corner_Driving Photo 1/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

Some folks don't think it's possible to build a feature-worthy vehicle on a student's budget (a genuine student, that is...). Well, those folks are just plain wrong, and David Moneymaker's '90 Jetta GLI is here to show them how it's done.

Take a look at these photos and note there's nothing that particularly hits you over the head, but at the same time it's crystal clear this is one special vehicle. With David's car it's the sum of the parts that equal greatness: the wheels, the color, the stance.

0604_z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Front_Corner_Open_Hood Photo 2/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

There's an OEM+ theme going on here and with the Mk2 Jetta, that's pretty effective. Let's face it: the second generation Jetta is a purposeful looking car, and there's never been much on the aftermarket that's improved the original design. Not being able to fall back on over-the-top body mods presents its own set of challenges when it comes to building a feature car, so David was forced to plan carefully and execute wisely.

Actually, the Kirkland, WA resident never set out to build a car at all, let alone an et feature car. David was originally prepared to buy somebody else's completed project (also a Mk2 Jetta) and went as far as purchasing wheels for the car ahead of time. He'd have been perfectly happy driving around in a car built by somebody else, but when that deal fell through David was inspired to build his own version of the car he almost bought. So the search began for a decent 2.0 16v GLI.

0604_02z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Front_Corner_Parked_On_Street Photo 3/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

By his own admission, David's an impatient person, so when he found and bought a rather rough Calypso green GLI, he began to wonder what he'd got himself into. The car he tried to buy had quality bodywork that included widened steel fenders with fat wheels. That look was critical to his new project but David knew there was no way he had the patience or money to fashion the flares. However, he had a set of 15x8.5" and 15x9.5" BBS RMs at home that were going to need lots of room to fit, so he got the cutting wheel and proceeded to trim the hell out of the fenders.

0604_03z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Front_Corner_Parked_On_Street_Hood_Open Photo 4/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

While the car was stripped for bodywork David took one of the Jetta's front flares, turned it around, and tried it on the rear to see how it looked. Amazingly, the front flare seemed to fit and its extra width spoke to his sense of style. Those 9.5" RMs would now have plenty of room. Before applying a fresh coat of paint, David and his buddies seized the opportunity to remove assorted dents and shave the antenna hole, rear body seams and badges. Once done, Dreamwerks Custom Paint & Restoration applied the Calypso paint with a touch of blue pearl for added effect. While they were at it, Dreamwerks also color-matched the BBS centers, complementing the custom gold bolts David chose.It's one thing to build a car around a set of wheels you purchased months before you owned the car, but it's another thing entirely when you're not sure what tires to use. David's a big fan of the stretched tire look, but when it came to his 9.5" rear wheels he didn't know would work. During a trip to last year's New Dimensions show, David got a chance to chat with California autocrats Dan Koenig and Andy Reimann. These guys know about stretch and informed David a pair of 215/40-15 Dunlop SP9000 tires were needed. They also told him there was no way he'd find them in the US and he should contact Matt Crooke of Tuning Zubehor for assistance.

Does it sound strange to sweat the details regarding rear tires? Perhaps, but take another look at the photos. If you're honest, you'll admit there's something about this seemingly lightly modded Jetta that looks so right, and that something is in the details.

0604_z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Front_Corner_Parked_On_Street_Low_Angle Photo 5/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

You see, David took his time, consulted with the right people, and fiddled with the car until it was right. That means it's no accident the car sits the way it does over those immaculate (and period-correct) BBS. It's also no accident the Jetta's Weitec coilovers are set to a height that accentuates the dish of the wheel and the stretch of the tire, while ensuring no daylight will ever make its way between the tire and fender. It's true that most people don't put so much thought into such arcane detail, but it's also true most people don't drive cutting-edge cars that make enthusiasts nod their heads in approval.

Keep in mind we're not discussing a perfect car here. Hell, we're not even discussing a completed car, if you want to be specific. David still intends to iron out a few nagging details, such as manipulating the rear flares to fit flush with the body and tidying the interior. But that's part of the fun, and no project is ever finished, right? Also bear in mind David's a young guy and full-time student, so funds dictate the pace of this project. As funds allow he intends to refinish the interior and trade the tired 2.0 16v for a fresh VR6.

0604_z+1990_Volkswagen_A2_Jetta_GLI_20_16v+Interior_Dash Photo 6/10   |   David Moneymaker 1990 Volkswagen MK2 Jetta GLI

Over the course of the project David has learned a lot about himself and his hobby. He's learned that while there's nothing wrong with buying a built car and enjoying it, there's something special about harnessing your ideas and building something unique. He's learned that a limited budget is not a death sentence. And more than anything else, he's learned that those beautiful BBS wheels look a whole lot better on the car than they did in his bedroom!


David Moneymaker

Location: Kirkland, WA

Occupation: full-time student

1990 Jetta GLI

Engine: 2.0 16v four cylinder with Techtonics Tuning chip

Driveline: five-speed manual

Suspension: Weitec GT coilovers

Brakes: factory GLI discs all round with stainless steel lines

Wheels & Tires: 15x8.5" (front) and 15x9.5" (rear) BBS RM wheels with color-coded centers and gold bolts, 195/45-15 Toyo T1-S (front) and 215/40-15 Dunlop SP9000 (rear) tires

Exterior: Mattig badgeless grille, smoked Aero E-code headlights, smoked M3-style tail lights, smoked bumper lights, shaved rear badges, rear body seams, roof and fender antenna holes, cut and welded rear arches, front 16v flares used front and rear, full respray in Calypso green and blue pearl basecoat

Interior: Recaro SRD seats, Mk4 shift knob

Audio/Visual: Kenwood head unit

Thanks: Dreamwerks Custom Paint & Restoration, Francis, Matt, Lars, Marshall, Rene, Dan, Andy, Matt at Tuning Zubehor, Brandon Hart, Mike Kippen and my family

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By Brad Beardow
11 Articles

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