While many projects follow a rather uneventful evolution from conception to completion, a journey through the transformation of Tony Mairena's Mk4 GLX reveals a tale of trial and tribulation that started with tragedy but ended in triumph.
As '00 came to a close, not only was Tony's life turned upside-down by a family tragedy, but his prized Mk3 Jetta was totaled when a drunk driver hit him on New Year's morning. Although Tony escaped unscathed, his beloved Dub was a crumpled ball of memories.
Dubless but not discouraged, Tony picked up a black '01 Jetta GLX from his VW dealer. "I decided on another Jetta because they're pretty quick, handle great and are practical."
Although the Mk4 was plush and the VR6 tempting, Tony's bout of bad luck left him wary. "It was funny. I told myself I wasn't going to waste money modding this car, but after everything that happened, the car became a focus for me," Tony said. "The car became a labor of love through the hard times."
Although this midnight beauty is the image of perfection, like all great things it saw many changes. "Since owning the car, it's seen two motors, six sets of wheels, three accent colors for the interior, engine bay and exterior, and three audio systems," Tony said.
Despite a lack of initial direction, Tony started with basic intake, chip and exhaust mods, adding coils and wheels for looks. With his Jetta breathing free and handling tight, he visited Waterfest '01 where he decided to turn the Jetta into a show-stopper.
With a Dub-rich history that includes Mk2s, Mk3s and even watercooled VWs, Tony knew about the marque. And even though he yearned to take the Mk4 aesthetically further than any of his previously owned cars, he knew it had to be fast as well as beautiful.
This was achieved through its own dose of misfortune when the VR6's notoriously low oil pan and slammed stance kissed a manhole cover, grenading the motor
Despite this, Tony remained steadfast in his pursuit of Euro excellence and ordered a new 2.8 VR6 12v. After installing it, his appetite for acceleration took him to GMP Performance, where he netted a VF-Engineering stage 2 supercharger topped with a Nitrous Express 50 shot of laughing gas.
When all was said and done, Tony claims his blown Jetta spins the rollers to 260whp without the bottle and 360whp with gas, and assures us he's surprised many domestics with motors twice his size.
While the car was getting boosted at GMP, Tony had the crew whittle away at the exterior. It took almost eight months but the car finally left the shop looking better than new.
Rolling into the light of day, it wore a new blanket of mirror-like Cadillac black paint that accentuated the subtly pulled rear fenders and newly acquired GTI facelift. In addition, it also had a shaved Xeon R32 front bumper, EuroGear carbon hood, Hella Mk5 headlights and a Kamei badgeless grille. Continuing the exterior excellence were skirts and rear spoilers from Caractere, carbon mirrors, Hella smoked tails and a VIS carbon trunk.
GMP is also the distributor for German manufacturer RH wheels, which supplied Tony with then-unheard-of RH AL Cup wheels matched to sticky Yokohama AVS skins. The color-matched 18x8.5 and 9.5" shoes plus H&R coilovers completed the package.
To make sure all his precious hardware would be safe, Tony added Zimmerman drilled rotors squeezed by painted Audi TT calipers.
The interior, like the rest of the car, has seen more changes than Michael Jackson. Sliding inside, occupants first notice that the passenger airbag now plays home to Auto Meter oil pressure, battery voltage, A/F and boost gauges. In addition, the car also sports a wealth of Sparco bits, including Torino 2 seats, Cromo pedals and a Flash 5 wheel. Finishing touches include the pair of nitrous bottles nestled behind the front seats and a set of silver ABD gauge faces.
From the outside, the faint whine of the Vortech blower's helical-cut gears fill the air with a sonorous whistle, but inside the car your brain is rattled by acoustic artillery orchestrated by an Alpine IVA-W200 touchscreen head unit. It works a quartet of Bazooka amps and co-axial mids, in addition to the pair of Triangle subwoofers. Adding to the electronic excellence is a PS2 and rearview-mounted 5.6" LCD screen.
Staring at the wall of trophies and awards Tony Mairena and his '01 Jetta have earned, you couldn't imagine the misfortune he overcame to achieve excellence. "My greatest satisfaction isn't the trophies; it's about being an enthusiast and having somebody compliment the car," said Tony. "Seeing somebody appreciate all the hard work makes it all worth it."
Tech spec2001 Jetta GLX
Owner: Tony Mairena
Location: Garrisonville, VA
Occupation: Network Engineer
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6 12v with VF-Engineering stage 2 supercharger kit, Techtonics downpipe and high-flow cat, Neuspeed exhaust, Nitrous Express 50-shot system, painted engine, battery and intake manifold covers, Neuspeed billet power steering, coolant and washer caps, ABD carbon oil cap
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with EIP stage 2 clutch
Suspension: H&R coilovers and sway bars, ABD strut bar
Brakes: painted Audi TT calipers, Zimmerman cross-drilled rotors, Mintex Red Box pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" front, 18x9.5" rear color-matched RH AL Cup wheels, 225/40 front and 245/40-18 rear Yokohama AVS tires
Exterior: GTI front end, shaved Xeon R32 front bumper, EuroGear carbon hood, carbon mirrors, VIS carbon trunk, Kamei badgeless grille, Caractere skirts, trunk and rear window spoilers, smoked Hella tail lights, clear markers and Mk5-style headlights, Cadillac black paintInterior: Sparco Torino 2 seats, brackets, red three-point harnesses, black harness pads, Cromo pedals, X-Speed shift knob and Flash 5 steering wheel, custom passenger-side airbag-mounted gauge pod, grey Auto Meter Sport Comp oil pressure, battery voltage, A/F ratio and boost gauges, Momo shift boot, ABD silver gauge overlays, custom floor mats, custom Nitrous bottle cages, Eurolite blue interior lights, 42 Draft Designs red interior LEDs
Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-W200 touchscreen head unit, Sony CDX-T67 six-disc changer, Bazooka EL500.1 and ELA60.4 amplifiers, RX-T2 Triangle subwoofers, RS600 co-axial and RK6S component speakers, Sony PS2, Optiplex 5.6" rearview-mounted screen
Thanks: Children Malik, Arlecia and Christian, my family, Homegrown Motorsports