It's hard to imagine that we've only featured three R32s in et. With 5000 sold to enthusiasts in the US during its '04 production, we know there are plenty that fell into the right hands. And we're grateful to have discovered this prime example from Minnesota.
Dusty Hafner is no stranger to the VW tuning scene; once the R32 was released, he felt obligated to take a stab at the first all-wheel drive Golf sold in the US.
Before the R32, Dusty started modifying cars at an early age. "I had a '67 Triumph when I was 17," he mentioned. "In my early 20s, I bought my first VW. Over the years I've built quite a few, including two Rabbits, a Mk2 VR6 and a Mk4 GTI. There was a time when I was also doing American cars, but VW is ultimately in my blood."
Now in his mid-30s, happily married and a father of three, Dusty moved onto his most contemporary project, despite all the distractions. "I try to balance it all," he told us. "I have three babies in the garage and three babies in the house. My wife is a real trooper and gives me enough garage time."
While preparing for the new project, Dusty realized there was still a lot of work to be done. "VW hadn't come out with anything that crazy from stock before, but like anything else I wanted to take it the extra mile." Even though "the R32 is the cream of the crop," as Dusty describes it, he had parts lined up to improve its appearance and driving ability.
To begin, Dusty researched the potential of combining the 3.2 liter VR6 with forced induction. "I knew I wanted to supercharge it," he explained, "but at the time there wasn't a whole lot out there. VF-Engineering was one of the first tuners to release a kit and it worked out pretty nicely." The stage 1 kit arrived complete with a polished Vortech V9 centrifugal supercharger, GIAC software and a polished bypass valve.
"I previously dynoed the car, but the fueling wasn't right and it put down 236whp," Dusty revealed. "Since then, I've fixed the problem and it should hit 280whp." Helping the supercharged motor run more efficiently are a K&N air intake and Techtonics Tuning exhaust.
The factory six-speed transmission was strong enough for the newfound power, so Dusty left it stock. However, he did upgrade the drivetrain with a Haldex ECU control module, which moves more power to the rear wheels before they begin to spin.
Since Dusty planned to take the car to track events, balanced suspension was another key ingredient. He opted for Bilstein PSS9 coilovers to lower and stiffen the car since they provide enough control for the track, but keep the R32 comfortable for daily-driving.
To combat understeer and body roll, a 22mm Neuspeed rear sway bar was installed. Neuspeed also provided parts to stiffen the chassis, including a front strut brace and lower subframe brace. A Yarrow Sport rear strut brace completes the chassis upgrades.
The performance upgrades allowed Dusty's R32 to perform well beyond Volkswagen's expectations, but the exterior had yet to be influenced. "Most of my other projects have been contrasting," he explained. "This time I wanted something with the blacked-out look." To do this, Dusty fitted 18x8.5" BBS RG-R wheels in the fender wells. The forged wheels are only available in this Diamond black finish, so it met his requirements. They were matched to sticky 225/40-18 Bridgestone Pole Position S0-3 tires. "The RGRs were right for me - wide and with a decent lip. I didn't want to go with a staggered fitment because of the 4Motion."
The smoked-look was easily achieved with the set of wheels, but Dusty continued the theme on the body. A Rieger one-bar grille was fitted to eliminate the VW emblem, creating a smoother appearance. Metal was then welded to the hood to eliminate the hood notch and create an aggressive bser appearance.
The black theme was extended to the lighting, with European Hella smoked head- and tail lights. Dusty wanted all of them to match, so he smoked the side markers and turn signals by hand. Finally, he swapped the chrome rear emblem for a black military version and tinted the windows.
With the car nearing completion, Dusty shifted his focus to the interior, where he had plenty of experience. "I used to do custom stereo installations," he revealed. "So I knew where I wanted to go with it."
The rear seats were removed to present a clear canvas. Two JL Audio 10w0 subwoofers and a two-channel amplifier were then fitted snugly in a custom enclosure, which consumed the entire rear floor. "I did the trunk installation myself," he noted. "I had a guy do the suede stitching, which was just the grey 'R' logo. The black sections of the trunk are leather.I wanted to keep the trunk simple and plain. I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to stuff like that."
A PhatBox 20GB Juke Box was added, so Dusty wouldn't have to worry about changing his music selection.
Once the audio was done, extra additions included Simpson five-point cam-lock harnesses and a New South Performance gauge pod with a VDO gauge to monitor boost.
So what's next for Dusty? Although he's achieved his minimalist black theme, he has a new plan for the motor. "I'm probably going to do a turbo," he chuckled. "A good friend of mine has a Mk2 with a turboed R32 in it. It uses a GT30R with stand-alone and we've been talking about doing similar stuff to my car. Don't get me wrong; I love the VR6, and the linearity of it with the VF charger. But even with their stage 4 kit, you're still only going to make 400whp. A turbo has more potential and there's just something about that hit when the turbo kicks in!"
Tech Spec2004 VW R32Owner: Dusty HafnerLocation: Savage, MNOccupation: Office equipment service manager
Engine: 3.2 liter VR6 with VF-Engineering stage 1 polished Vortech V9 supercharger and polished race bypass valve, GIAC software, Neuspeed polished coolant cap, Leighton's polished 710 cap, K&N filter, Techtonics stainless steel exhaust with Borla muffler
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission with Haldex control module, VF-Engineering uprated motor mount
Suspension: Bilstein PSS9 coilovers, Performance Products adjustable rear end links, Neuspeed 22mm rear sway bar, polished upper front strut brace and polished lower subframe brace, Yarrow Sport polished rear strut brace
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" BBS RG-R forged one-piece wheels with 8mm H&R spacers,225/40-18 Bridgestone Pole Position SO-3 tires
Exterior: Rieger one-bar grille, metal bser hood extension, European Hella E-Code black headlamps and smoked tail lights, black VW military rear emblem, smoked side and turn signal markers, tinted windows, Honda S2000 antenna
Interior: Simpson Racing five-point cam-lock restraints, New South Performance offset column gauge pod with VDO Vision 25psi boost gauge
Audio/Visual: factory Monsoon audio system with PhatBox 20GB Juke Box, JL Audio 10w0 subwoofers and 300-2 amplifier
Thanks: wife Bergit, mom RIP, Chad at SCI Performance, C-Squared, Volksport crew, Jed M, Jack E, Mike O, and my future Dubbers: Madison, Mackenzie and Brayden