Dustin Drummey isn't one to mince words about his choice of transport. In no uncertain terms, he asserts the four-door Golf 1.8T here is the ultimate in automobile performance and practicality (surely it's a five-door! -Ed).
To some people, a four-door hatchback is a family grocery-getter. It's maybe more sporty than a minivan, but only slightly. Family car or not, with over 300hp it's no slouch and, as Dustin said, "It's four doors or nothing."
"My parents were always pushing me to get a Volkswagen," Dustin began. "After some research on my first car I knew the 1.8T engine really interested me, but I didn't like the Jetta body. So when I came across a four-door Golf, I knew I had to have one."
After placing his order, the dealer located one in a week and Dustin was the proud owner of a brand new Uniblack Golf 1.8T four-door, one of 7707 imported to the US.
It wasn't always the bahn-stormer you see now, nor was it ever meant to be. However, it remains his daily driver, dutifully taking the Cape Cod car salesman to work everyday.
"It started off fairly slow," he continued. "When I purchased the car I wasn't too involved with the tuning scene. But as time progressed I looked into a chip. After that I needed more power and pulled the trigger on the turbo kit."
Dustin procured an ATP GT28RS turbo kit, consisting of the manifold, turbo and downpipe, turning to Alex Wentworth of Wentworth Motorsports for the installation. Alex is no stranger to high performance VWs, having built Kevin Clemens' awesome mid-engine Mk3 VR6 turbo (et 1/07).
The stock-block 1.8T's combustion is controlled by Revo's Big Turbo software, while a set of 415cc USRT Genesis injectors emit the correct amount of fuel into each cylinder. A Walbro 255 inline fuel pump increases the flow from the tank, and an Aeromotive adjustable FPR keeps everything in check.
Evan Dent at 42 Draft Designs then supplied a custom 3" exhaust from the downpipe back, while a large GReddy FMIC would ensure maximum power was achieved, but not without some headaches.
"The front bumper was heavily modified to fit the intercooler," Dustin confirmed. "Originally the Rieger [bumper] came with foglight openings and mounting tabs, but those don't exist any more. We also flipped the GReddy core so we could get more of it into the opening. We trimmed about 3" of material on either side of the bumper but I still run a full rebar on the front of the car."
Power has been measured at a healthy 275whp at 20psi boost, and is channeled through a Spec stage 3 clutch with matching 14 lb single-mass flywheel. A Quaife differential was also installed, but not right away.
"We did the clutch when we fitted the turbo," he said. "And shortly thereafter we did my fourth set of axles, and the limited-slip diff."
Fourth set of axles? "I went through two sets of DriveShaft Shop axle and one stock," Dustin explained. "I'm on Raxles now and absolutely love them."
Clearly the additional power is put to good use: "I beat on her. But the way I look at cars is they're made to be driven," he said. "I drive my car. I'll take it easy when I have to, but it's fun to know you have the power when you want it."
When you have that sort of approach to the daily commute, you know stock suspension simply isn't up to the task. So the assortment of suspension parts include WRD/Koni coilovers, a WRD Advantage rear sway bar and WRD chassis braces.
"John from WRD has been a huge help and helps me out with any suspension stuff I need," Dustin stated. "I like the way it handles; I'm able to feel the road but would like something a little more solid." Accordingly, more suspension upgrades are in the works for next season.
The WRD parts work with a set of 18" Forgeline SX3R wheels (8.5" front, 9" rear). As the name implies, the wheels are strong yet lightweight for the brutal conditions found in New England.
"Are you familiar with New England roads?" Dustin laughed. "They're pretty bad. You have to be cautious, but it's one of those things. It's a trade-off you make after modifying your car and slamming the suspension."
The inner barrels on the wheels were re-finished in flat black to keep visible dirt and dust from the Hawk brake pads to a minimum. After daily use, cleaning them had become tiring. "I hated having to reach in there and scrub the silver wheels," Dustin explained.
The aforementioned Rieger front bumper was part of a complete kit, including side skirts and a rear valance, originally intended to give the muscle-bound hatch a more aggressive look. It did the trick for a while, but was begging for a more personal touch. "As the car progressed I wanted something a little different. So I shaved the hatch," he said. "And then I found a pair of Kerscher skirts online and absolutely wanted them."
Not afraid to get his hands dirty, Dustin got to work on the front bumper as well. "I shaved the side openings myself in my driveway for about ten days straight," he said. However, his labor went down the drain after some road debris damaged the entire bumper.
"I was driving home when a car in front threw a large branch through my front bumper. I had to have it repaired so I could have my photo shoot," Dustin lamented. "I spent so much time getting the bumper to look right, just to have it totaled in 30 seconds. It was horrible." As you can see, it now looks better than new.
On the inside, there's a mixture of OEM parts designed to improve Dustin's daily commute. "Since it's a daily driver, I wanted the interior to be comfortable, yet sporty. The stock set up wasn't doing it for me. The bolsters weren't large enough, the steering wheel was vinyl, things like that..."
So a three-spoke steering wheel, heated GTI sport seats and a Momo shift knob were included in the subtle changes. An array of Auto Meter Cobalt gauges relay information to the driver, residing in a 42 Draft Designs triple gauge panel. One of the more trick parts is the Passat W8 overhead lighting console. "It's an OEM part that provides two red LEDs to cast a glow over the cabin, like mood lighting," Dustin laughed.
The finishing touch was an array of Alpine electronics, including an IVA-D310 head unit, navigation, Type R component speakers and subwoofers, all powered by two Alpine amps. To Dustin, a former car audio competitor, good sound quality was essential: "I hooked up with Cellular Concepts locally. Sandy, who owns the company, took care of me and got all the Alpine equipment, all the good stuff."
However, the original sub box was removed and rebuilt by Dustin and his father after finding the WRD rear stress bar wouldn't fit.
Interestingly, the family that originally pushed Dustin to consider a VW helped him to be part of a whole different family, since he now organizes the New England Dustoff show with Dave Demetrick and Kevin Clemens, attending as many get-togethers as he can. "You meet people in the industry or this hobby that become lifelong friends," Dustin said. "I lost contact with half the kids I grew up with or knew through college, but I talk to people I met through the hobby and go to their weddings, hang out with them at BBQs and go to the beach with their families. It's that sort of connection with people that makes it a fantastic hobby!"
At the end of the day, that's what the Euro scene is all about, and sometimes it takes a tough-as-nails four-door to remind you.
2001 VW Golf 1.8T
Owner: Dustin Drummey
Location: Cape Cod, MA
Occupation: Car salesman
Engine: 1.8 liter 20v four cylinder with ATP GT28RS turbo kit, Revo Big Turbo software, GReddy FMIC, turbo timer and Profec B-spec 2 boost controller, Samco Sport DV, boost and coolant hoses, VF-Engineering engine mount, WRD dog bone bushings, custom 42 Draft Designs 3" exhaust, USRT Genesis 415cc injectors, Aeromotive adjustable FPR, Walbro 255 lph inline fuel pump
Drivetrain: five-speed manual transmission, Spec stage 3 clutch and 14 lb steel flywheel, Quaife LSD, Raxles.com stage 3 axles, Neuspeed short shift kit, VF upper tranny mount
Suspension: WRD/Koni coilovers, WRD Advantage rear sway bar, front sway bar end links, lower front and upper rear stress bars
Brakes: Brembo cross-drilled and slotted rotors, Hawk pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" front, 18x9" rear Forgeline SX3R wheels with polished center caps, 225/40 and 255/35-18 Toyo T1-S tires
Exterior: Rieger RRX front bumper with shaved openings and exhaust under rear valance molded to bumper, Kerscher side skirts, custom bser hood, shaved hatch with Caractere blend, OEM Euro HID headlights, 42 Draft Design white HI LED city lights, GTI tail lights
Interior: '03 GTI black/grey cloth sport seats and three-spoke steering wheel, OEM black rearview mirror, custom black headliner, Passat W8 overhead lighting console, Schroth Autocontrol harnesses, Auto Meter Cobalt boost, AFR and oil pressure gauges in 42 Draft Design aluminum gauge panel, Momo shift knob modified for 337 shift boot, OEM Euro headlight switch
Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-D310 head unit, Alpine Blackbird nav, Alpine Type R 6.5" components front and rear, two Type R 10" subs, MRV-F340 and MRD-M500 amplifiers, Sirius satellite radio
Thanks: John at www.wrdusa.com, Alex at Wentworth Motorsports, Marty at www.raxles.com, Randy at TWImports, Scott at www.usrt.com, Evan at www.42draftdesigns.com, Sean, Sandy and Guy at Cellular Concepts, parents, friends, Baystatedubs and Oceanstatedubs