Scott Stewart is a 41-year-old Texan whose Motorwerks company sells accessories for European cars. How very convenient. He's had this 1991 VW MkII GTI for around 17 years.
"I was a VW guy before I even got my license," Stewart says. "I saw this one sitting in the back of a lot collecting dust. No one could get it started. I threw the dealer a real low number and he took it. It was that model where the seatbelts were attached to the door and had to be clicked in before the car would fire up. I engaged the belt, started the car, and drove off." He's since changed those belts to the more conventional types.
For the first six or seven years, it was Stewart's daily driver. Modifications did not begin because Stewart was mad keen on customizing. It was to keep the car on the road. The original auto transmission was the first casualty of commuting, which was when Stewart replaced it a with a five-speed manual originally made for a '93 Corrado VR6. That's the one with the cable-actuated shift that feels so beautifully buttery.
The alteration process wasn't quite as smooth, though. "It was pretty hard," Stewart says. "I had to replace the whole pedal assembly as well as the complete shifter linkage. I had to run a couple of wires together to trick the car into thinking it was in Park so it would start. Then I eventually took out all the auto trans wiring all the way to the fuse box." He kept the OEM flywheel and fitted a Sachs clutch.
After breaking the 200,000-mile barrier, the original engine combusted its last air/fuel charge and in went a stock 2.9 VR6 from a '93 Canadian Corrado. At some point, a mysterious chip came along. "I bought it at a VW swap meet and car show years and years ago, right after I did the VR6 swap," he says. "The chip says: 'German Motorsports 2.9 OBD1.' It's supposed to boost output by 10 percent, but I don't really know." Stewart has since rebuilt the engine, but hasn't done anything radical to it. He did the semi-shaving work on the engine bay as well.
The air intake's piping is from a Eurotek kit that came from another car. "A buddy had it lying around and it suited my needs for how I wanted to route the intake," Stewart says. On the exhalation side, Stewart chose a Scorpion full exhaust system that came all the way from dear old England. Scorpion has enjoyed some success in the country's VW Racing Cup series over on the other side of the Atlantic.
"Over the years, I get moods," Stewart says. "Let's work on this and that." But one consistent factor is the use of Corrado parts. We could go into a long rant here about the much-loved and much-missed Corrado, and how VW adds the insult of not bringing the Scirocco Stateside to the injury of discontinuing the Corrado. But we won't.
Instead, we'll mention the swapping of the GTI dash for a Corrado unit and the G60 front fender flares. One of the main reasons for going deeply Corrado, though, was pragmatism. "They're the easiest pieces to bolt up," Stewart says. Which just goes to show that things don't have to be difficult to turn out right.
Stewart obviously has a keen and discerning eye, going for many BBS products such as the steering wheel and shift knob, plus those classic RS 16-inch wheels, which are currently wearing Falken 512 tires.
And there's nothing wrong with choosing Neuspeed antiroll bars along with an Eibach upper strut bar to complement the set of Supersport coilovers. "I first bought a 40/60 Supersport lowering kit for our MkIII and loved it. I saw these MkII coilovers pop up for sale and thought, 'Why not?' I've had several coilovers on this MkII, but ultimately, for the money, I love the Supersports." Ride height has been lowered by about 3 to 4 inches.
The Texas rain is no problem. "I use the mono wiper because it's one of the only ones I've found that sits in the stock position, but still sweeps the entire windscreen," he says. "It also gives the car a cleaner look."
Perhaps all this is just a subconscious longing for a Corrado, but Stewart owns one of those now. "I'm actually doing a VR6 swap at the moment." Meanwhile, this GTI is no longer a daily driver. "I occasionally drive it on a weekend or a get-together." But naturally, it isn't finished. "I would love to raise it up a little and make it more comfortable to drive. Someday I will get motivated to put A/C back in, so I can drive it during a Texas summer."
Even if the joy, anguish, and challenge of modifying was never the initial motivating factor, Stewart is now firmly in that camp. "Family has been the number-one priority over the last several years, but I would love to build an '80s-'90s Westfalia Vanawagon with a Subaru swap to take the kids camping and still get to enjoy a VW project."