In what's become a time-honored tradition, wild Volkswagens are built each year for the SEMA automotive trade show in Las Vegas, and this year was no different. Yet while we were responsible for creating our Surf Beetle Turbo (EC 4/13 & 5/13) for the 2012 show, this year we could sit back and take it easy. Although, we did give some input on the Jetta widebody created by Southern California specialists, FMS Automotive in Cerritos CA. The company decided to build a pair of badass street sedans to wow showgoers.
The two Jetta builds would be very different. One would be easily replicated, while the other would be an over-the-top project to inspire the Euro community. We had the exclusive build and feature stories on both cars, which we posted at europeancarmag.com and euortuner.com before the show opened. This is a summary of those posts.
All good stories have their share of trials and tribulations, and while most project builds tend to encoutner adversity inside the workshop, the Jetta widebody was almost derailed shortly after the concept was born. "You wouldn't believe what we went through with the build," said Gil Plasencia from FMS Automotive. "It's come a long way in a short time and it was a fierce battle on occasions. However, the blood, sweat and tears were worthwhile once the car finally rolled out of the workshop."
So what happened? Parts didn't arrive, hammer dropped on a toe, somebody forgot to tighten a crucial bolt?
"This isn't the car we started with. It was called into action when our first Jetta was destroyed by a hailstorm while being transported through a hail storm in Colorado," he explained. "When we finally laid eyes on it, the car was destroyed. There was about $13000 in hail damage and the car was a total loss. Every panel was hit and the glass smashed. It was a huge setback for a project that was only months away from its SEMA debut!"
Suddenly, the search began for a second car, after which an utterly stock 2014 Jetta SE 2.0T was dropped into the capable hands of Eurocode Tuning in Torrance, CA. These guys made quick work of removing the APR-fortified powertrain from the deceased Jetta and transferred it into the new car.
The reason the original car was on a trailer at all was because under the hood was an APR stage 3++ built motor with a big turbo kit. It was rated at over 450hp at the wheels (500hp crank) on 93-octane gas and was returning from APR in Alabama to FMS in California when the storm happened. Perhaps next time they'll remember to use a covered trailer!
Inside the block there are APR forged pistons and connecting rods on a stock crank. It was topped with a ported head but the centerpiece is the GT3071R turbo on an APR manifold, software and ancillary parts.
With the transplant completed, the second Jetta returned to FMS where it underwent its bodybuilding: "We wanted something that was bold but sophisticated. We tried to use as many OEM parts as possible, so started with a Golf R front bumper and added a custom splitter. We decided that the extra horsepower justified wider fenders, which would allow us to fit wider tires to put the power down," Plasencia said.
As a result, the car was widened in metal nearly 2" at each corner, resulting in a car that's aggressive, but not overtly so. The custom fenders were augmented by fabrication work to the Golf R front bumper and side skirts, as well as a GLI rear bumper, to ensure all the panels were aligned.
Other OEM additions included a Jetta Hybrid grille and trunk spoiler, plus LED tail lights from the 2014 GLI.
FMS then created a custom roof spoiler and its own door trims, before the car and its mirrors were painted the original white with a satin topcoat. The roof was finished in a contrasting gloss black to match the Golf R grilles.
To ensure the swollen arches were filled, TSW Jerez wheels were specified in 19x8.5" front, 19x9.5" rear and wrapped in 245/35 and 275/30 Nitto NT05 tires, respectively.
The TSWs had to provide clearance for a Brembo four-piston front brake kit that used 14" slotted rotors. They were accompanied by Golf R rear brakes and the car sits on H&R Street Performance coilovers with matching Sport sway bars front and rear.
Inside, the Recaro Sportster CS front seats were wrapped in black and beige hide to match the stock dashboard. The same leather treatment was bestowed on the rear seats, door panels, GLI steering wheel, e-brake handle, shifter and center console. FMS also created a rack in the trunk to house two Shoei helmets for track days, plus a TSW spare wheel.
Hours before this 450hp Jetta widebody was slated to leave for the bright lights of Vegas, it was rolled into the daylight and to our photo shoot. "We wanted to focus on the details, to show enthusiasts the Jetta is a great alternative to the Golf and GTI platform. In some cases, I think it's more versatile because the sedan can suit families better. I hope this high-powered approach will show people how great the Jetta can be," Gil said.
2014 VW Jetta SE 2.0T
Engine 2.0L four-cylinder 16v turbo with APR stage 3++ conversion including EA888 forged pistons and connecting rods, ported head, Garrett/Honeywell GT3071R turbo, ECU software, larger injectors, front-mount intercooler, boost tap, downpipe and Carbonio carbon fiber intake, FMS dual-exit exhaust system
Drivetrain six-speed DSG automatic transmission with APR clutch and flywheel
Brakes Brembo four-piston calipers, 14" slotted rotors f, Golf R single-piston calipers, 12.2" StopTech rotors r
Suspension H&R Street Performance coilovers and Sport sway bars
Wheels & Tires 19x8.5" f, 19x9.5" r TSW Jerez wheels, silver centers, polished lips, 245/35 R19 f, 275/30 R19 r Nitto NT-05 tires
Exterior FMS widebody fenders, modified Golf R front bumper and side skirts, modified GLI rear bumper, Jetta Hybrid headlights, front grille and trunk spoiler, custom FMS splitter, roof spoiler and door trim, GLI smoked LED tail lights, satin white paint, gloss black roof, tint
Interior Recaro Sportster CS front seats in black and beige leather, matching rear seats, door cards, GLI steering wheel, e-brake handle, center console, door panels and shift knob, VW Accessories pedal covers and sill kick plates, Corinthian Textiles mats and trunk liner with beige stitching, FMS helmet rack, ECS Tuning digital vent gauge, Philips LED interior lighting
Audio/visual VW Accessories RNS315 nav system with backup camera and custom sound box with digital sound processor
Helios Tribute Car
In 1989, VW released one of its rarest production cars of all time, but it wasn't a high-performance edition. Instead, it was themed on its Helios blue paint.
With only 1500 examples of the 1989 Jetta GLI 16v in Helios blue, the lucky few who obtained an example had all the features found in a loaded GLI plus the exclusive exterior paint, color-matched wheels and special blue plaid inserts for the factory Recaros.
"When we first explored the idea of building cars for our SEMA booth, I instantly suggested we build a Helios tribute car, simply because I owned an original and still regret selling it," said Gil Plasencia from FMS. "The Mk2 chassis really spoke to you and the Helios cars were extra special with the blue paint and special interior. It was exclusive and something only hardcore VW fans would recognize."
Keen eyes will note the tribute car isn't actually Helios blue. It's finished in Tempest Blue Metallic, which is almost a dead ringer for the original paint and is available on the 2014 VW Jetta, which helped to inspire the tribute.
Before balking at the paint code, FMS could have painted it the original color, but preferred Tempest Blue because it's available right now to anybody wanting to build something similar.
Speaking of attainable, most of the glory goes to VW Accessories with parts like a body kit that was painted the gloss black and is a nod to the door moldings on the original car.
FMS also fitted the 2014 Jetta Hybrid grille, trunk spoiler and headlights as well as 2014 GLI smoked tail lights.
Of course, the original Helios car had painted wheels but FMS went with a ceramic finish on the 19" VW Motorsport wheels, which are also available from your local dealer.
Other additions include H&R Street Performance coilovers, Golf R brakes and GTI Recaro seats custom upholstered to resemble the original Mk2 Helios car.
Under the hood is the new 1.8T motor, fortified with APR software and a carbon fiber Carbonio CAI. At the other end is a custom 2.5" exhaust system built for FMS with a Magnaflow muffler.