Meet two VW enthusiasts from Pennsylvania. Both of them have owned several and modified Veedubs since before the turn of the century. They're also friends who frequent local York, PA shop Euro Auto Source operated by Cory Sterling, who built a Euro-clean, supercharged Mk3 Jetta (et 1/08).
Although these gentlemen have similar cars and resources, they traveled two different roads. Neither shares the same philosophy toward tuning - one is more audacious with an addiction to speed, while the other seeks daily drivability and smooth looks.
For the past few years, the friends embarked on an ongoing but good natured battle to complete their cars. Today, they're finished and here to show off two sides of the Mk3 tuning spectrum.
Every enthusiast has at least one great story that leaves you in either shock or laughter. For Eric Heishman, his experience at H2Oi '07 had kept this story a secret until his friends and family read this feature.
After belting across a bridge in triple digits while leaving Ocean City, Eric noticed a cop coming the opposite way as he crested a brow in the road. Undeterred, he continued accelerating his 289whp supercharged VR6 GTI, satisfying his thirst for speed.
Although this might not have been the most sensible action, Eric took part in the carefree atmosphere of H2Oi and accepted the consequence. Luckily, he wasn't escorted off to jail, but slapped on the wrist with a ticket.
After talking to Eric, he had nothing but good humor. In all honesty, he's far from a maniac behind the wheel but enjoys driving fast where safe.
After reaching completion of his project, he stopped daily driving it to preserve its flawless finish but continues to take it out whenever he craves the thrust from the supercharged six.
There are some interesting facts about Eric and his love for VWs. This is his third Mk3 GTI, but he's also owned a Mk4 Jetta GLI and currently drives a Corrado VR6 to work. After owning all these VWs, it came as no surprise to discover he's the sales manager for a prominent VW/Audi dealership in his hometown.
As the original owner of the '98 GTI, he kept the car free of harm. After driving it stock for five years, he finally caught the itch. "I just wanted to do a little bit here and there to make it a good looking car," he told us. "It didn't have to be the fastest or coolest, but just fun to drive. I got to know different people and eventually met Cory of Euro Auto Source. He was gung-ho and helped with the build."
After meeting Cory, Eric recounted the time when he did an evil burnout at a GTG while the car was still stock. Days later, a gear shot through the side of the bellhousing. Fortunately, Cory took the car and the two of them worked on it.
The pair started with the injured five-speed, rebuilding in combination with a Peloquin limited-slip diff, modified fifth gear, ACT race clutch and lightweight Autotech flywheel. A Dieselgeek short shifter finished the transmission upgrades.
The engine was next on the agenda, with exhaust components including a Brospeed header, custom test pipe and Techtonics 2.5" cat-back. "I was still getting beat by other cars and everybody busted me about going faster," Eric continued. "That's when I talked to C2 Motorsports."
The VR6 received a Vortech V2 supercharger, 4" MAF, 42 lb injectors and Forge diverter valve, easily giving it 100whp more than factory. "I really didn't look at turbos much because most of the systems at the time were new and people had issues with them, while people with supercharged cars ran great," he said.
"I initially had some tuning issues but C2 resolved them. And although it's not putting out as much power as some of today's VR6 turbos, it still has balls-out horsepower!"
Better stopping power was also needed, so drilled and slotted Brembo rotors were mounted. Stainless steel lines and Hawk pads completed the package.
Suspension was also essential, so Eric fitted Autotech sway and strut bars. H&R coilovers lowered the car to the perfect ride height and gave an aggressive setup for the street.
Although performance was the focus, he realized a stock-looking car wasn't going to cut it. "I like speed and horsepower, but also like the clean, Euro look," he told us.
To start, Euro bumpers smoothed the car, while Rieger front and rear valances plus side skirts added some spice. Eric admits the Rieger pieces are a bit old school, but he still likes them. A shaved hood and rear wiper cleaned up the lines more, while a badgeless Kamei grille personalized the front. Finally, Projektzwo mirrors and a Zender hatch spoiler added more character to the GTI.
Next came wheels, and Eric wanted something with Euro flavor but nothing that would hurt the car's performance. "I've ridden in some cars with stretched tires and pulled fenders and it wasn't for me. I was doing 5000 miles a year and didn't want an awful ride."
You can't go wrong with BBS, so Eric picked up a set of the newer 17x8"RG-R wheels. The wheels were wrapped in Yokohama Parada Spec-2 tires.
"My goal was to keep the exterior clean. There are no graphics and everything works nicely together. I've never had to roll the fenders and didn't want to cut the car up."
Interior mods were kept tame as well. After browsing other cars, he fitted alcantara seats from an '01 Audi S4. He also installed New Beetle headrests plus Sparco and Momo accessories to enliven the cockpit.
One of his favorite mods is the carbon B-pillar deletes, which do away with the seatbelts. "I like the little things you don't really see." With no belts, Eric uses Schroth harnesses to secure himself.
Lastly, the trunk houses a full size spare and 12" JL Audio subwoofer in a custom fiberglass box that Eric built in his garage. "I'm really proud of it because I didn't know what I was doing laying out the fiberglass so it was rewarding to see how well it came out."
Despite adding his own cosmetic touches, Eric upheld his goal for a performance car. If he's not polishing the GTI in his garage, he's driving it balls out, making full use of his modified VR6.
Owner: Eric Heishman
Location: Carlisle, PA
Occupation: VW/Audi sales manager
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6 12v with Vortech V2 supercharger, C2 Motorsports hardware and chip, 4" MAF, 42lb injectors, Forge 007 DV, K&N filter, deleted air conditioning, powdercoated intake tube, manifold and bolts, BFI Delrin motor mounts, low temperature thermostat and fan switch, Brospeed exhaust header, test pipe with deleted cat, Techtonics 2.5" exhaust with Borla muffler
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with Peloquin LSD, modified fifth gear, ACT four-puck race clutch, Autotech 9 lb flywheel, Dieselgeek short shift, Corrado G60 mount
Suspension: H&R coilovers, Autotech front upper stress bar, 28mm front sway bar, front lower stress bar, rear upper stress bar and rear sway bar, polyurethane bushings
Brakes: cross-drilled and slotted Brembo rotors, Hawk pads, stainless steel lines
Wheels & Tires: 17x8" BBS RG-R wheels, 10mm rear spacers, 205/40-17 Yokohama Parada Spec-2 tires
Exterior: front and rear Euro bumpers, Rieger GTX front lip, side skirts and RR-X rear diffuser, Hella Mk4-look headlights, Kamei grille, shaved hood and rear wiper, color-matched handles, Projektzwo mirrors, Zender hatch spoiler, modified rear emblem
Interior: Oe Audi leather and alcantara seats, New Beetle headrests, Audi TT dead pedal, Sparco four-point harnesses, steering wheel and shift knob, Momo pedals, "Thatcher" carbon B-pillar delete panels, Auto Meter gauges and pod, Euro headlight switch, upper Euro glovebox, concealed fire extinguisher, turbo timer
Audio/Visual: Kenwood KDC-x817 head unit, 7" LCD visor monitors, 12" JL Audio W3 subwoofer in Mk4-look trunk enclosure with spare wheel and two amps, MB Quart components, DVD player in glovebox
Nobody can deny the thrill of driving a fast car, but is it practical for the street? Devin Winand, a family business owner and kayak instructor, took a different approach to his Mk3. Instead of building his '98 Golf GL for speed, he built it for practicality and style.
"I didn't want to do anything over the top. But anybody in the VW scene can tell it's been changed," he told us.
Devin's love for VWs started at the age of 16 when his mother owned a rare Quantam. Unfortunately, he didn't get to drive it long. "It was one of those dumb 16 year-old moves where I ended up totaling it after acquiring my driving permit," he told us. "I then picked up an '85 Golf and started doing stuff to it. That's how I met Cory of Euro Auto Source and I've known him for about 12 years. He helped me do a 2.0 swap - the first one we'd both done."
Devin and Cory transformed the Mk2 into a 2.0 monster, but that was only the beginning of Devin's list of projects. He's owned more than 13 VWs - just Mk2s and Mk3s.
Another impressive project was a '90 Jetta Coupe with a built 1.8T, custom bodywork and full interior. He sold the Mk2 because it became too much to daily drive and maintain, so shifted his sights to the newer Golf. "It was my only car, so any project had to get done relatively quickly," he explained. "I wanted it to be clean and get good gas mileage. I didn't want anything so crazy it would be impractical, hence the four doors and no forced induction or engine swap. It went from bone stock to how it is now within a couple of months."
After an initial inspection of the car, it needed tuning so Devin and Cory decided to improve the powerband with a Techtonics 268 cam. Matching titanium valve spring retainers, valve springs and cam gear were also fitted for additional reliability.
Sucking more air is an ABD Big Bore intake. On the exhaust side, an OBX stainless header pushes spent gases through a Techtonics 2.25" cat-back. "The car was a stock 115hp 2.0 but it's probably around 130hp with what I've done. It's no great leap but is fun to drive as fast as you're going to take it on public roads," he said.
Putting the power to the ground is a rebuilt five-speed with a Eurospec lightened flywheel and 16v clutch. A Peloquin LSD ensure the tires receive the right amount of power during hard cornering.
Suspension and braking were also addressed - you might think the GTI is on air ride or the lowest setting on coilovers. "I could have gone down another inch on these Vogtland coilovers and I actually drove at this height through the winter."
Golf GLs came with drum brakes on the rear, so Devin swapped in Mk4 rear discs, using drilled Brembo units, Mintex pads and stainless lines to improve the performance.
The front bumper was shaved of its lights and fitted with an OE Euro Golf CL spoiler, giving the car a duckbill. The rear bumper was repainted to look new before the rear spoiler and wiper were deleted for a cleaner look.
On the sides you'll find GLX skirts as well as European Polo door handles - these are more rounded than stock and Devin opted to use rear handles so there's no key lock. The final touches involved Euro smoked head- and tail lights plus a Thule roof rack.
The wheels are reminiscent of '80s Euro goodness but sadly this 15x8" OZ Turbo design is discontinued, so the last you'll see of them is on Devin's car. "I took them apart and fitted new lips and bolts," he revealed. "I also color-matched them Atlas grey to my old Mk2 Coupe but figured the grey complemented this silver car nicely."
The tires are 195/45-15 Toyo tires and Cory helped find another wheel, which is displayed in the trunk.
Months after our photo shoot, Devin parted with the car but has picked up another project to molest; this time, a rare '81 Polo. "It's lowered, has wheels and a 1.1 liter carbed motor, so I bought Yamaha carbs and plan to build the motor and fix the body. It's rare enough that I don't want to molest it too much, but it is my long term project."
Owner: Devin Winand
Location: York, PA
Occupation: Family Business Owner
Engine: two liter 8v with Techtonics Tuning 268 cam, titanium valve spring retainers, valve springs, cam gear, 2.25" cat-back exhaust and software, OBX stainless header, BFI motor mounts, K&N filter, Taylor Cables plug wires, ABD Big Bore polished CAI, polished intake manifold
Drivetrain: five-speed manual, Eurospec flywheel, 16v clutch and Peloquin LSD
Suspension: Vogtland coilovers, Eibach front strut bar, Autotech 28mm rear sway bar
Brakes: Brembo cross-drilled rotors front and rear after Mk4 rear disc conversion, Mintex pads, stainless steel lines
Wheels & Tires: 15x8" OZ Turbo wheels painted Atlas grey, 195/45-15 Toyo Proxes tires
Exterior: shaved front bumper, OE CL chin spoiler, GLX side skirts, deleted rear spoiler and wiper, Polo door handles, Hella E-code headlights with yellow high beams, custom smoked tail lights, Thule roof rack
Interior: Oe Glx leather interior, Mk3.5 Cabrio steering wheel, Momo shift knob, Audi TT pedals, false floor located in trunk
Audio/Visual: Alpine head unit with iPod and XM adapters
Thanks: Kristan, Mom and Dad, Josh for paint, Cory Sterling at Euro Auto Source (yourautosourceinc.com), Techtonics Tuning, Eric Leitner