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American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

Kenny Wehry Reminds Us To Imagination With The Popular MK4 GTI.

Mar 1, 2008
Eurp_0803_01_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+front_view Photo 1/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

Possibly the coolest feature on Kenny Wehry's '02 VW gti 1.8t is the roof. It's painted black and the antenna was shaved. But there are plenty of gtis out there with a similar mod, so what makes this car special? "i'm a retired hiphop dj," he explained. "growing up, i used to do a lot of graffiti. I always wanted to do it on the car and one day i met a guy who owned a clothing store with tons of graffiti art. He hooked me up with an artist who free-handed my roof in two different sessions. It wasn't too intricate, but it was exactly what i wanted. The tag says 'xposed,' which is my old dj name."

Eurp_0803_02_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+xposed Photo 2/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

We never really think of ourselves as artists, but for guys like Kenny Wehry, making something fresh in the mk4 scene requires personal expression. Although his tagging skills are rusty, he kept his ideas and used them when he found the right people. Along with the rest of his modifications, he managed to successfully blend his passion for art into his greater passion for cars.

Surprisingly, his endeavors didn't begin with euros. "i started working on dsms like mitsubishis and eagle talons," he told us. "i did a small build on an awd talon turbo and got into the VW scene because of my friends. I always hung out with VW kids and gradually went in that direction. This gti was my first VW."

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As a Veedub virgin, he enlisted the help of some influential people who eventually became close friends. "i bought the mk4 to modify, ut was new to the scene. However, i met a couple of kids like tucker harding (owner of Joosey bodyshop) and discovered we lived two miles from each other. He was in the process of modding a mk4 too, so we built our cars together."

You might remember tucker's '02 VW gti from our h2o coverage (et 1/07). It radiates hardcore euro flavor, with an audi red paint job, smoothed exterior and engine bay, built internals and big turbo.

Eurp_0803_04_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+tail_lights Photo 4/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

Another influence on Kenny came from the german squad car club (et 3/07). "i got involved with german squad during the early stages. They're a great gang of people and I always hang out with them at shows." The club is renowned for breaking barriers and has received worldwide recognition because of its high quality dubs.

With some very knowledgeable people behind him, Kenny should have been off to a flying start. "i really didn't know what direction to take," he admitted. "i changed the car a million times in a two year period. My goal was to be different, but there are lots of modified mk4s and we're all running out of ideas. It's hard to come up with something new."

As a result, Kenny cycled through five different bumpers. He's also done his share of wheel swapping. "i still couldn't figure out what direction i wanted, so ended up on the border of euro and 'techy' styling. I got most ideas from other cars and twisted it to make it my own."

Eurp_0803_05_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+engine_bay Photo 5/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

The basis is a Jetta front-end conversion. However, Kenny replaced the front and rear valances for rieger pieces, which were molded to the bumpers for a smoother look. He also shaved the side markers and filled the exhaust notch on the rear.

The hood features a custom bser extension, as does the hatch, with smoked tail lights modified to accommodate the hatch extensions. The emblem and handle were also shaved.

Kenny then added rare emphase side skirts, a 20ae roof spoiler, black mirrors and B-pillars, plus a badgeless grille. The lighting wasn't forgotten either, with the headlights replaced by oe hids.

The exterior was almost complete, but needed a suitable set of wheels for his gti. He confessed to being something of a wheel whore, but finally settled on three-piece ssr wheels, which compliment the style perfectly. "nobody really has these wheels since ssr stopped making them in black," he asserted.

The sp1 professors measured 19x8.5" all round, wrapped in cooper tires. Kenny poked the wheels out further using h&r spacers to align them with the fenders.

Eurp_0803_08_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+front_fascia Photo 6/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

To lower the stock ride height, a Weitec cup Kit was fitted. The spring and shock Combo lowered the car approximately 2 5" front and rear.

The performance of a stock 1.8t obviously wouldn't suffice, so Kenny contacted rennen performance for giac software. A eurojet front-mount intercooler ensured cooler air from the turbo, while a euro sport intake plus techtonics downpipe and exhaust liberated thebreathing.

The appearance of the engine bay was important to the overall project, so Kenny Polished the valve cover and powdercoated the intake manifold.

Eurp_0803_06_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+interior_view Photo 7/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

He also made detailed changes to the interior, starting with a custom set of recaro speed 4 seats to match his interior. The headliner was then reupholstered in black to match the leather. He also added a 20ae auge cluster, pedals and Jetta air vents.

Kenny didn't skimp on the audio, sourcing components from Kicker, Jl audio and Alpine. A box in the trunk houses a 12" Kicker subwoofer and Jl audio amp. For even clearer sound quality, Jl components were installed in the cabin, and an alpine head unit replaces the factory one.

With this combination of modifications, it's no surprise he was as passionate about what he did as an artist. He's currently a cook, applying his artistry in the kitchen, but also plans to start another creative project car with a mk3 or an audi. "in the VW scene, there's always lots of criticism when you build a car. As a result, people build cars for other people. But i built this car for myself, and i'm happy with how it turned out," he said.

Eurp_0803_07_z+2002_vw_gti_18t+subwoofer Photo 8/8   |   American Graffiti - 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8t

Tech Spec
2002 VW GTI 1.8T
Owner: Kenny Wehry
Location: portland, me
Occupation: sous chef

Engine: 1.8 liter four cylinder 20v turbo with giac x-chip, eurojet front-mount intercooler, Bailey motorsport diverter valve, n75 valve, euro sport cold-air intake, techtonics tuning 2.5" downpipe and exhaust, Borla muffler, ecs tuning motor mounts, polished valve cover, powdercoated intake manifold

Drivetrain: five-speed manual with sachs clutch and Vr6 flywheel, B&m short shifter

Suspension: Weitec 60/60 cup Kit

Brakes: factory

Wheels & tires: 19x.8.5" ssr sp1 professor wheels with 7mm front and 15mm rear h&r spacers, 225/35-19 front and 235/35-19 cooper Zeon 2xs tires

Exterior: Jetta front-end conversion, molded rieger front bumper with shaved rub strip, filled exhaust notch on rear bumper, bser hood, shaved bser hatch, emphase side skirts, 20ae roof spoiler, shaved side markers, black roof and B-pillars with shaved antenna and graffiti art, oe hid headlights, hella smoked tail lights, badgeless grille, oe black mirrors

Interior: recaro speed 4 suede and leather seats, schroth rallye-4 harnesses, custom black headliner, 20ae gauge cluster and pedals, Jetta air vents, a-pillar gauge pod with boost gauge

Audio/Visual: custom subwoofer box with 12" Kicker solo-Baric sub, Jl audio fourchannel amp and component speakers, color-matched alpine head unit

Thanks: german squad, tucker harding, Joosey, Jake at rennen, city financial, recaro, steve at xenon depot

Sam Du
By
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