As long as I've been around the Euro car scene, I've often wondered what brings people in and keeps them here so long. Sure, the cars are great, but for so many this isn't just about a car. It's about friends and family. Eric Hockman and his '91 GTI G60 are a perfect illustration of this because along the way, it's been as much about friends as the car.
Eric's love for the Mk2 chassis began with a '91 Jetta GL. A VR6 swap followed, and from there Eric was hooked on Mk2s.
The demands of school meant the Jetta had to go, but it was never a question of if, but rather when he was going to get another. And when the time came, his good friend Dan Held was there to back him up all the way.
"I found this car in Utah and actually ignored it because I thought it was too much money. I started emailing people in Arizona, California and Washington saying I'd fly out and drive their car home, but nobody was picking up on it. So I found the guy in Utah," Eric said. "I bought a plane ticket, my buddy Dan flew out with me and we drove it home."
Sounds simple enough, but as you may know, hitting the road with an engine conversion of unknown origins is never simple. "The car needed quite a bit of work but we drove it home on a wing and prayer anyway," Eric added.
A blown fuse for the radiator fan nearly spelled doom before they were out of Utah. "I was driving through Salt Lake and the car started overheating," Eric continued. "Just as I turned it off and popped the hood the coolant bottle blew in half!"
Not a great way to get acquainted with a new car, but luckily they caught the problem before any engine damage occurred. That would have been a tragedy, as this is no run-of-the-mill G60. It is a genuine Golf Rallye engine that came from Steve Brown's Rallye VR6 Turbo (et 7/07).
Eric's Rallye-specific G60 had a ported 'n polished G-lader from Kompressor Kanada, a Techtonics 268/260 cam, SNS chip and a custom 2.5" cat-back exhaust terminating in a Magnaflow muffler. The trick OEM front-mounted Rallye intercooler from Steve's car was enough to make any G60 owner envious. "I was really stoked to see Steve's car [in et] because the person I bought it from didn't really have answers for me as far as the motor went," Eric mentioned.
Although they arrived home at 2 am, Eric and Dan ripped the dash out and set to work cleaning up the wiring. The stock plastic fuel rail had also begun to leak onto the hot exhaust manifold, so a Bahn Brenner billet aluminum item was installed.
Once everything had been cleaned and a starting problem resolved by Hardey's Motorwerks, the car was running quite well. A dyno day at Mac Autosports gave Eric the opportunity to show what the nearly 20 year-old 8v could do. An impressive 172whp and 181 wheel torque was registered, which is quite stout for a G60. But even with such solid numbers, G60 ownership is never without its quirks.
"It's the most temperamental motor I've ever known," Eric confirms. "Because it's an '89, there are no check engine lights, so there's no way to pull codes from it to see what's going on or where to start."
Finicky or not, the motor has what counts at the end of the day. "It's a lot of fun," he enthused. "It's not the fastest car on the road but it definitely shocks a few people as they don't expect it to be so quick. You can't really hear the charger at idle and the exhaust is kind of subtle. It's just a nice, clean GTI."
Speaking of clean, the car's still on its original paint, which is downright amazing for a black VW. The single-stage paint used in '91 didn't take kindly to neglect, so this one's certainly been well kept.
Eric chose to elaborate on the nickname Dan gave the car on the way home. "Dan had bought a '92 Jetta GLI from a guy in Salt Lake City. It's Alpine white; mine's all-black, so he started calling mine Darth Vader, while his is the Storm Trooper. I got the Euro 'Vader' plate and the blacked out tail lights, tinted windows and dark colored wheels with smoked lights to give it the Vader/sleeper/stealthy look."
On the outside, Eric chose to go the OEM+ route, fitting G60 flares, an '85 Golf rear window, 7" crosshair headlights and the aforementioned smoked Hella tail lamps. A badgeless Bonrath grille and Kamei grille spoiler completed the look. With the angular Mk2 body and the angry G60 under the hood, Darth Vader seems to be a completely appropriate nickname.
It would be foolish to risk such a good-looking machine with under-equipped brakes and suspension, so they had to be improved. Consequently, a Koni coilover system was installed, which, along with polyurethane bushings and a Neuspeed front sway bar, keeps the car flat through the turns. Eric rates the suspension highly, and was especially pleased with the balanced ride: "The coilovers are absolutely amazing," he said. "You'd never know they were aftermarket."
Brakes were Corrado G60-based and already on the car when Eric bought it, but in fairly rough shape until they were overhauled. All the worn bearings, hubs and spindles were also replaced, and new OEM rotors were added along with EBC Green Stuff pads to clamp on the 280mm discs.
A set of 15x7.5" Work Equipe replica wheels, originally meant for a Scion, now reside in the wide G60 arches. Although 10mm spacers front and rear provide a little extra poke and caliper clearance, 195/50 Kumho tires provide the necessary grip.
The wheels came from a friend and were essentially free, since Eric helped his buddy Josh with parting out a Jetta. "I saw Work wheels and thought they were cool and different, so I figured I'd try it out," Eric continued.
The interior is simple and straightforward as well. Lots of premium OEM parts have been employed, such as Recaros from a GTI 16v, a leather wrapped GLI steering wheel and a GTI 337 shift knob. Auto Meter boost and oil pressure gauges reside in a custom panel in the lower center console, with particular care taken to ensure the plastic matched perfectly. Eric flipped the polarizing filter on the OEM LCD screen for a reversed appearance; blue LED lighting is used throughout. The stereo is a simple combination of Alpine electronics along with Infinity speakers and a Bazooka tube for bass. A black suede headliner tops things off.
Many of us can relate to Eric's story. It's about friends helping with repairs, traveling hundreds of miles to co-pilot a project home or pushing a car out of an intersection when you break an axle. After reading about Eric's GTI G60 it's a fine example of the best aspects of our Euro lifestyle.
1991 MK2GTI G60
Owner: Eric Hockman
Location: Dillon, CO
Occupation: snowboard and ski tuning technician
Engine: 1.8 8v G60 from a '89 Golf Rallye, rebuilt ported and polished G-lader supercharger, 65mm aluminum pulley, 3.5bar Porsche fuel pressure regulator, SNS chip, Techtonics 268/260 cam, ISV re-route and check valve, Bahn Brenner billet fuel rail, JL Audio battery cables, OE U-bend, front-mount Rallye intercooler, powdercoated valve cover, intake manifold and charger brackets, custom 2.5" cat-back exhaust with Magnaflow muffler and dual tips
Drivetrain: Mk3 2.0 five-speed manual with 16v pressure plate and flywheel, Sachs clutch disc, Neuspeed shift weight
Suspension: Koni coilovers, Neuspeed front sway bar, polyurethane bushings
Brakes: Corrado single-piston G60 11" front rotors with EBC Green Stuff pads
Wheels & Tires: 15x7.5" Work Equipe-replica wheels, custom Audi 100 polished center caps, 195/50-15 Kumho Ecsta tires
Exterior: Bonrath badgeless grille, Kamei grille spoiler, crosshair headlights, smoked turn signals, color-matched banana lights, OE Hella fogs, 16v front spoiler, '85-spec rear glass, 16v/G60 flares, armor door plates, black Wolfsburg fender badges, black short aluminum antenna, smoked Euro-spec Hella Magic Colour tail lights, polished Inxx hood lifts
Interior: Recaro 16v seats and door cards, GTI 16v floor mats, GTI 337 shift knob, Audi TT pedals, GLI leather steering wheel, black leather e-brake and shift boot, Auto Meter Pro-Comp Ultralight oil pressure and boost gauge in custom center console panel, blue LED lighting in cluster, climate control and gauges, rear seats replaced with false floor, fire extinguisher behind front seats, black suede headliner, B-pillar converted seatbelts
Audio/Visual: Alpine CD head unit with iPod Interface, Infinity Reference speakers, 4x6" in the rear, 5.25" in the doors, 3.5" in the dash and 8" Bazooka subwoofer
Thanks: Dan Held at DubZentrum, Hardy Baits at Hardey's Motorwerks, Katie, Mom and Dad, Kelly, Nate, Ryan Viola, Josh Jessup, Lildubber and Josh Moyer