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1995 Volkswagen Jetta - Head of the Class

When Well-Rounded Makes you Leader of the Pack

Yvonne Liu
Jan 1, 2001
Photographer: Philip Royle

When it comes time to choose a feature car, we on the MAX staff act very much like college admission officers. We look for a candidate that exemplifies our ideals of what a MRyde should be—well-rounded Euro-tuned cars that synthesize aesthetic beauty with performance to the nth degree. We seek out leaders of the pack, cars that stand out in a crowd but have more to offer than meets the eye. Sure, every once in awhile we think about the babe magnet factor, but more often than not, dinner at a swanky restaurant may sway our votes.

One candidate that caught our eye at DubFest2K, held at the Irwindale Speedway in SoCal, was Matt Oberer’s ’95 VW Jetta (Thanks for that caviar and steak dinner, man.—MAX.). Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, he and a friend drove out to attend the show over Labor Day weekend. Little did he know that he would meet us MAX staffers, and the rest, as they say, is automotive history.

The VR6 engine buildup was performed by Brody Hooper of Speedlab in Albuquerque. Kent camshafts, along with heavy-duty Tectonics valve springs were installed. To allow more air into the engine, a Midnight Motorsports air intake and Evro throttle body were added. For exhaust output, Matt opted for a Borla 2½-inch after-cat system. The intake manifold, idler pulley, valve cover, strut bar, and aluminum radiator fan cover were also powdercoated Jazz Blue for added visual performance.

The five-speed transmission remains stock, but a Velocity clutch and lightened flywheel were installed. Matt worked on the suspension himself, upgrading to Eibach Sportline springs and Bilstein Sport shocks front and rear. The rear was lowered 2½ inches and the front by 2¾. The rear stabilizer bar and strut brace were upgraded to a 1-inch-diameter O-Bar and full race O-Bar, respectively, while the front welcomed a Neuspeed strut brace. Polyurethane bushings were also added. For the ultimate in cruise and race control, TSW VX1 17x8-inch wheels roll on Yokohama Parada 215/40-17 tires. Cross-drilled Brembo rotors and Metalmaster pads allow for responsive stop- and-go action.

To bring the Jetta’s true beauty to the surface, Matt turned to Terry Hill at Xtreme Kustom Werkz, also located in Albuquerque, for exterior mods. A Wings West front spoiler and speed-sensitive Corrado rear wing were installed. Custom bodywork in the way of shaved handles, deck lid, and squirters, a shaved and de-seamed front bumper, and a de-seamed and Euro-plated rear bumper were also performed. White, Audi Silver, and Lazule Blue Pearl were hand-painted on the body by Terry. M3 mirrors, a Beesting antenna, a Bonrath badgeless grille, and Hella Golf IV lights completed the exterior transformation.

Of course, the Jetta’s interior is as equally striking as its exterior, thanks to Joyride Customs, also located in Matt’s hometown. The stock leather buckets are a sharp contrast to the custom-painted White Pearl dash. A MOMO steering wheel, shift knob, and pedals, plus an Autopower street rollcage, can also be found inside Matt’s Jetta. ICE-wise, Jeff Henkins of Joyride installed an Alpine head unit, Phoenix Gold amps, four JL Audio 12-inch speakers with component Alpine separates, a Soundstream crossover, and Monster Cable wiring. Chris Chavez added the Quantum 14-percent window tint to keep the goods on the down-low.

As an entrepreneur, Matt wanted to do something different than what everyone else was doing with Jettas, but he still needed to be able to haul ass. So, for two years and many Benjamins later, the result is an MRyde now inducted into the MAX Feature Vehicle Hall of Fame (You can thank us for upping your babe magnetism later, Matt.—MAX) and lifetime membership in the MAX Alumni Association (And we’ll also hit you up for donations.—MAX).

By Yvonne Liu
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