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1996 GOLF GTI VR6 - Time Capsule

Jorge Goncalves Has Owned His Supercharged Golf Vr6 For 12 Years, And It Represents Many Key Tuning Themes From That Period.

Greg Emmerson
Nov 1, 2007
Photographer: Josh Brown
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In this issue you'll read about several enthusiasts who've owned their cars for a few years. During that time they've modified them, driven them and modified again. It's an obsession.

What's interesting about cars that are modified over a number of years is they can be a fascinating time capsule, capturing unique moments in modifying history.

This is certainly the case with Jorge Goncalves' '96 Golf VR6. The 29 year-old bought it 12 years ago when he graduated. He got it with 15000 miles on the clock, and it only has 17000 now. "I don't drive it much. You can't leave it anywhere 'cos people will steal anything," he observed.

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Another reason Jorge only puts 800 miles on it each year is the Golf's in a constant state of conversion. Speaking to the owner and looking around the car you can see each stage; from mid-'90s German tuning house, to avant garde French styling at the start of the millennium, to the later motorsport theme and its now evolving hot-rod style.

The first evolution began in spring '97, about six months after he bought the VR6. He contacted Abt Sportsline in Germany and bought their headlights, grille, side skirts and rear spoiler. The tuner was popular at the time and the parts suited the Mk3 well but were "extremely expensive," according to Jorge.

With all the parts fitted, he had the car resprayed in its Jet black and bought a set of Fittipaldi wheels.

Fashions change and when the new millennium arrived, Jorge was ready for something new. He switched German tuners from Abt to Zender and bought Zender's front spoiler, side skirts and rear bumper. By now he was working at a BMW dealership, so he was able to have the car sprayed in the E36 M3's Cosmos black.

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He also sold the wheels and switched up to polished Audi TT five-spokes. The motor received a GIAC chip and Schrick 268 cams, while Corbeau A4 seats found their way inside.

Again, Jorge had created another look that was cutting edge in its day. This makeover lasted until '04, when a web search turned up parts from French styling house DSP.

The DSP products were highly sought after at the time and Jorge tried in vain to find a US importer. He eventually dealt with the French in person, experiencing some translation problems. But after persevering for six months, he was in possession of DSP's $800 front bumper and mirrors.

Once they arrived he discovered the bumper needed extra parts; specifically, the grilles and foglights from an Audi S4. He initially looked at buying the parts from a dealer but discovered it was cheaper to buy a used S4 bumper and salvage what he required. After that, the DSP bumper simply bolted to the Golf's rebar and fitted perfectly.

The mirrors are Porsche 993 items on DSP mounting plates, but Jorge discovered they had manual adjustment. So he disassembled his Golf mirrors and mounted the motor and heating elements into the DSP housings to enhance their functionality.

You may have noticed the Zender skirts and rear bumper remained. However, there were plenty more changes to come. These included Audi door handles and a European tailgate.

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The rear hatch has the wider Euro plate recess, but it also deletes the third brake light and the glass doesn't have holes for the rear spoiler. This tidied the rear end, but Jorge went further by shaving the rear badges and the lock/handle. Combined with tinted Hella tail lights, he's created something as smooth as a baby's backside.

He also fitted a de-badged Bonrath grille and Hella E-code headlights. You may notice a total lack of indicators; the front bumper no longer houses them and he didn't upgrade to Mk4-style headlights. Despite this, Jorge said, "I haven't been pulled over for years..."

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Emboldened by his success, Jorge moved his attention to the interior. He swapped the Corbeaus for Recaros and eliminated the rear seat to fit a Weichers roll bar. "Pat Cosgrove (et 2/06) and I were the only ones doing the motorsport theme at the time," he laughed. So once again, Jorge was riding the crest of a new trend that's still going strong.

When the rear seat was removed, Jorge created a false floor from wood. Below it he placed a 12" JL Audio W6 subwoofer in the spare wheel well. "It's covered by carpet, so passengers often wonder where the sound's coming from," he told us.

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Recessed behind the front seats is an Optima battery. "It has side terminals," Jorge laughed when we questioned the unused terminals on top of the battery. "Everybody asks that! But I can use the top terminals to jump start the car if the main battery dies."

By '05 it was time to focus on the motor again. He started with a supercharger kit from C2 Motorsports, opting for the polished Vortech housing. He had all the brackets, bolts and pipes chromed before installing them.

At the same time, he contracted Perfect Polishing in Newark, NJ to create one of the car's standout features: its steel engine cover.

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Cutting off the original cover, sheet steel was shaped, welded and ground down to create this incredibly smooth finish. The cover was then chromed for a lustrous shine and bolted to the inlet manifold through three holes in the front. Apparently it took two weeks to create but it was time well spent.

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Right now, the highly polished motor is running a 12 lb pulley on the supercharger and producing in the realm of 270whp. However, Jorge plans to fit a 15psi pulley next year, along with a FMIC, to really get the VR6 humming. He also intends to pull the fenders and fit bigger lips on his Abt rims, which will also get color-matched centers. At present, the Abt A9 wheels are 17x8" all round, but he'll be looking for a staggered offset in the future.

These new plans mean Jorge and his VR6 should keep winning trophies and bringing him enormous satisfaction. "I've won trophies every year I've owned the car," he said. "It's either First Place, Best of Show or Best Paint.

"I don't want to sell it either. I'll never get back what I've put into it and now that I have a baby on the way, I want to pass it on to him if it's a boy. I'm just going to keep building, keep winning and keep dumping money into it!"

Tech Spec
1996 VW Golf GTI VR6
Owner: Jorge Goncalves
Location: Elizabeth, NJ
Occupation: BMW Technician

Eurp_0711_17_z+1996_vw_golf_gti_vr6+engine2 Photo 13/15   |   1996 GOLF GTI VR6 - Time Capsule

Engine 2.8 liter VR6 12v with polished C2 Motorsports stage 2 supercharger kit, 12 lb pulley, software and bigger injectors, Genie three-piece headers, 2.5" mandrel-bent custom downpipe with cat-delete, Supersprint cat-back exhaust, chrome accessories, chromed custom intake manifold, shaved oil filler neck, smoothed engine bay

Drivetrain Clutchnet Stage 3 clutch with 11 lb lightweight flywheel, Quaife limited-slip differential

Brakes ECS Tuning drilled and slotted rotors, powdercoated calipers, Mintex pads

Suspension Weitec XS coilovers, polished Eibach strut brace, polished Weichers rear strut brace, four-point NP roll bar with X bar

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Wheels & Tires 17x8" Abt A9 wheels, 205/40-17 Kumho Ecsta AST tires

Exterior DSP front bumper and mirrors, Zender rear bumper and side skirts, de-badged Euro hatch and glass, Audi A4 door handles, Bonrath grille, smoked E-code headlights and tails, Cosmos black paint

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Interior Recaro Speed seats, Driver's Edition steering wheel, shift boot and handbrake, color-matched dash pieces, Polo door pulls, Auto Meter boost gauge and AFR, black headliner

AudioVisual: Pioneer Deh-8000R head unit and component speakers, PPI amp, 12" JL Audio W6 sub in wheel well, custom trunk floor with Optima Red Top battery

Thanks cousin John at Hollywood Auto, Diego at Azevedo Motorsports, Paul at Audio Clinic, Josh at Jazztuning, Ariel at Perfect Polishing, Tom Gillespie at JMK Body Shop, Chris at C2 Motorsports, Dave Cerqueira, my parents and my wife, Marilia

By Greg Emmerson
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