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Night Rider - 2007 VW Jetta

Darker Than A Black Hole In Space, John Duda's Jetta Is One Menacing Ride.

Greg Emmerson
Apr 1, 2008
Photographer: Josh Brown
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When we spotted this black-on-black Jetta at last year's H2Oi we were instantly hypnotized by its satanic aura. Falling under its spell, we were ensnared by its Mercedes wheels and had to dig deeper.

We got talking to John Duda, owner of satan's chariot, and discovered this wasn't some hopped-up GLI but was a Jetta 2.5. Somehow, this made the conversion even more appealing since John has opted to leave the mechanical elements stock and concentrate on making his entry-level Euro a head-turner.

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The 23 year-old web developer from Detroit previously owned a pair of Mk4 Golfs and a Mk4 Jetta. However, he wasn't keen on the new Jetta, so vowed his next car would be a hatch. Yet something about this car intrigued him and John eventually decided he was up to the challenge of making over the new Jetta.

His previous '05 Golf had an all-black theme and he decided it would work equally well on the new car. So he visited a tinting shop days after buying the Jetta to have a 5% limo tint applied to the windows. Within the next few weeks, the car was lowered on its KW coilovers and the project started to take shape.

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It initially ran on a set of wheels taken from his previous car until he discovered a set of 18" Mercedes Alphard wheels with tires for $1200 on eBay. At 8.5" wide on the front and 9.5" on the rear he knew they'd fit, but had to get new tires. The generous 255/40 fronts and 285/35 rears from the Merc application would never squeeze under the stock VW fenders.

Having downsized to 215/40 front and 225/40 rear Falken tires, the polished wheels weren't going to work with the midnight theme, so they were dispatched to QC Coatings to be powdercoated satin black.

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The Alphard wheels then bolted straight onto the Jetta. The Merc wheels share VW's 5x112 bolt spacing and John was even able to use his stock VW wheel bolts to fit them.

So far he reports no rubbing on the fenders, but expects that to change when he swaps his KWs for FK coilovers. He wants to get the front lower, but understands it's going to bring its own problems.

One potential trouble spot may be the front fender wells, which have already been shaved to accommodate the slightly narrower Rabbit front bumper, purchased online from a forum member in California for $150. It was shipped to him with a with Seat Cupra R chin spoiler from to save costs.

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In order to fit the bumper, a Rabbit radiator support is recommended, but John was able to modify the bumper sufficiently to avoid the extra complication.

The bumper was resprayed and fitted by Randi Rytel, a friend of John's father, who's been working on musclecars for years.

Entering the final stretch, John embarked on the details that make his Jetta so satisfying. He started with a pair of Hella smoked headlights, purchased from TM Tuning in Germany as soon as they were released. For the rear he bought a second set of tail lights and took them to a bodyshop formerly owned by Detroit Piston guard, Lindsey Hunter. They sprayed the clusters and buffed the paint until it was transparent. Finally, he replaced the indicators in the mirrors with smoked lenses from

As for the VW emblems, John disassembled them himself before rubbing them down, priming and painting them flat black. He also added a European VW Sharan antenna to the roof, bought from

The interior is essentially stock, but for a Euro headlight switch and Pioneer head unit. The latter is hooked up to a 60GB Western Digital hard drive, "so I can leave the iPod at home," John said. "You just disconnect the drive from the car, reconnect it to your computer and download all the tracks you want to it."

The music is enjoyed through the stock speakers, plus the addition of two JL Audio subs in the trunk, powered by a JL amp.

As with many parts on the Jetta, the audio was salvaged from his previous transport and installed by the owner. He even re-used a European radio delete plate from his Mk4.

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"I had to shave it down a little," he said, "but it fits under the head unit and blanks off the storage space below it."

The Jetta is John's daily driver, so he's amassed three tickets for window tint, the same number he attracted with his previous car. He was also stopped on his way to H2Oi by a Maryland cop, but luckily for him no action was taken.

When asked why he hadn't invested in any performance mods, John stated, "I never really get into performance parts and don't like the problems they bring. And I'm saving so I can do a 1.8T swap into a Mk2."

So there you have it. A demonic Jetta that looks cool without costing thousands of dollars. And for those Jetta and Rabbit owners who can't decide what to do with their car, hopefully this and the 2.5 liter tuning guide elsewhere in the issue will provide you with plenty of inspiration.

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Tech Spec2007 VW JettaOwner: John DudaLocation: Detroit, MIOccupation: Web developer

Engine: bone-stock 2.5 liter 20v five cylinder

Drivetrain: stock six-speed manual transmission

Suspension: KW Variant 1 adjustable coilovers

Brakes: stock

Wheels & Tires: 18x8.5" ET35 front and 18x9.5" ET40 rear Mercedes Benz SL550 Alphard wheels powdercoated black with 215/40-18 front and 225/40-18 rear Falken FK-452 tires

Exterior: shaved NA-Spec Rabbit front bumper with Seat Cupra R lip, Hella smoked headlights and custom smoked tail lights, smoked mirror indicators, black VW emblems, 5% limo windw tint, OEM VW Sharan antenna

Interior: European-spec headlight switch

Audio/Visual: Pioneer DEH-P6900UB head unit with 60GB Western Digital USB hard drive, two JL Audio 12w3v2 subwoofers in sealed box, JL Audio 500/1 amplifier

Thanks: Michigan VW Enthusiasts (MIVE), Jag, Bill Walker at QC Coatings, Randi Rytel, girlfriend Nicole, awesome parents Eugene and Janet, MK5 'Tex crew

By Greg Emmerson
1078 Articles



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