In the world of automotive clichs, we've probably heard 'em all. What can go wrong will go wrong; blood, sweat and tears; there is no I in team. Well, maybe we don't hear that last one so often but we can all relate to their meaning because there is a lot of truth in them.
Some people can relate more than others. Take Carl Kotch, for example. He's owned this Tornado red Scirocco 16v turbo since '97 and had his share of triumph and tragedy during that time.
Back in '97 he chose the car over a customized Corvette - an odd choice, some might say, but Carl knew what he wanted. "My Dad restores classic Corvettes," he began, "but I've always been into Porsche, Audi and VW stuff. I remember he got mad at me when I was 15. He was asking me what car I wanted because he had a Corvette for me, and I told him I wanted a VW."
Carl originally hoped to find a Mk1 GTI but a local dealer received a trade-in on a low-mile Scirocco from an elderly couple, and Carl swooped on it. "The car was a really nice, original example. It was my daily driver for college, but then it snowballed. I used part of my student loan to order Euro bumpers and headlights. That transformed the car and then it was one thing after another..."
Carl shaved the notches left in the rear pan after the US bumper was removed, and the stock grille was replaced with a badgeless version. Clear corners were also installed to match the Euro headlights, while a shorty antenna and single-wiper kit rounded out the simple but effective changes. Sensibly, the Karmann-built coupe retains its factory 16v body kit.
After running BBS RX wheels for a time, Carl chose a classic set of 16" BBS RS wheels, shod in 215/35 Toyo tires. Avo coilovers brought the Skyrocket back down to earth and the car under control.
It was around this time that the car was photographed for another magazine, but much to Carl's dismay, the feature never ran. It's the dream of most hardcore enthusiasts to score a mag feature because it validates all your hard work. There may have been a few tears spilt, but rather than sell the car or become bitter about the stillborn feature, Carl kept working to make his Scirocco even better.
"I decided I wanted to go faster, so ended up fitting a nitrous kit. I took it to the drag strip and ran maybe a 13.5 first time out of the box. But that just got the bug in me. I didn't want to worry about a bottle warmer or bottle pressure though. I just want power all the time. So I removed the nitrous and told myself I was going to build a budget turbo kit," Carl chuckled. "I laugh about it now because it's ridiculous how impossible that was."
Knowing how hard he'd be on the car, a built bottom end with 9:1 forged JE pistons, Eurospec Sport H-beam forged rods and ARP hardware would ensure reliable quarter miles. The head was ported and polished, too. And Techtonics heavy-duty valve springs plus Schrick 268/272 cams help the engine breath and stay together at the 8200rpm rev limit.
The turbo kit was built piece by piece, starting with an AMS tubular-style cast manifold, onto which he mounted a Garrett GT35R ball-bearing turbo. A Spearco intercooler was custom-built and Carl worked with Ben Cook Racing (BCR) to create a 3" downpipe and exhaust system.
An unusual choice, BCR specialize in sprint cars but the proof is in the parts: "They're amazing with TIG welding and stuff like that," Carl enthused. "[They] did the intercooler plumbing, the intake manifold and fuel rail." The log-style intake manifold is Carl's own design, incorporating a 65mm Mustang throttle body for maximum flow.
Everything about this motor is big, so the fuel system uses a 1000hp XS Engineering fuel pump, which feeds 1000cc Precision Turbo injectors through Aeroquip lines and a Paxton fuel pressure regulator.
The task of igniting the C16 race fuel is left to an SDS EM3-E standalone engine management system plus an MSD 6AL ignition box with a two-step rev limiter.
Enlisting the help of his cousin Chuck Schneider, a fellow VW enthusiast with a drag race Beetle, Carl set about tuning the beast.
We should warn you that after the tears, we've now reached the "blood" stage of the story: "The motor was in the car and we were hooking up the SDS. It requires you to drill and mount magnets on the crank pulley before you mount the hall sensor and align it so it can read the magnets and tell the ignition when to fire," Carl explained. "Chuck's sitting in the car reading the display because I'm under the car turning the motor over by hand with a big wrench on the crank pulley. I had my face wedged in there trying to see what I'm doing. Well, I guess we had it mounted at the top of the compression stroke, or it somehow fired the ignition, because the motor started spinning. I let go of the wrench and it whacked me in the mouth, breaking four of my front teeth in half and splitting my lip open. Pretty intense, and I've literally shed blood, sweat and tears over this car!"
It's an example of Carl's dedication that he got right back in the saddle: "The next day, the wrench was laying with blood on it and little bits of teeth stuck to it. I was gonna bury the wrench or something, but I'm still using it..." Carl grimaced.
Luckily it all paid off, with the engine making enough power to make a Porsche jealous. At 27psi boost pressure, the 2.0 16v makes a staggering 505hp to the wheels.
At this point, the 020 transmission was a weak link: "I ended up breaking every gear in five or six different 020 transmissions before I decided to try something different," Carl said.
An 02A from a Passat 16v was installed, along with a Peloquin torque-biasing diff, stage 3 Driveshaft Shop axles, ACT clutch and lightened flywheel.
With over 500hp, Carl spent more time spinning tires than racing, so he fitted Weld Magnum Import Drag front wheels, measuring 13x8" with 24.5x9" Hoosier slicks. The skinny rears are 15x3.5" with 24.5x4" tires and a set of spare fenders were modified to clear the slicks.
"I've had hardcore traction issues with the car. Even with slicks it spins through fourth gear on the track," he said. "At the end you're skating down the track, almost like you're on ice as the differential tries to transfer power back and forth."
The 13" drag wheels explain why the stock-sized brakes remain - it's all that will fit. Carl relies on a simple Brembo rotor and Hawk pad upgrade to slow down.
His best time to date is 11.30sec quarter mile at a blistering 129mph. For those readers interested, there's some footage on the net that shows how much of a handful the car can be: "Braking is a bit scary when you're going through the traps at 130mph!" Carl confirmed.
To maximize traction, he fitted Tokico/Ground Control front coilovers with 500 lb Eibach springs, allowing Carl to fit slicks. And with Avo coilovers on the rear, it helps to minimize weight transfer. At present he's avoided going to a solid rear end because the car still sees occasional street duty: "I kept the dash, door panels and carpet up front. I've tried to keep it relatively stock, without hacking it up to save weight," he explained.
However, you will find an NHRA-approved BCR rollcage and a set of Sparco Pro 2000 racing seats in the car, complete with 3" Sparco cam-lock racing harnesses. There's also the SDS controller, Turbosmart E-boost 2 controller and LM1 data-logger.
Whenever Carl's Scirocco makes it to the street, it's been known to surprise some exotic machinery: "I'm not street racing the car every night, but occasionally you stumble upon some situations where it's hard to keep your foot out of the throttle," Carl laughed. "That's what I like about this car; nobody expects it."
So after years of trying and despite many obstacles, Carl's 16v turbo has finally got the recognition it deserves. We're glad to have been a part of it, and to finally make all the sweat worthwhile.
Techspec'88 Scirocco 16v TurboOwner: Carl KotchLocation: Sugarloaf, PAOccupation: sales rep for pharmaceuticals
Engine: Two liter four cylinder 16v with 9:1 forged JE pistons, forged H-beam Eurospec rods, ported and polished head with Techtonics valve springs, Schrick 268/272 cams, Kent Cams adjustable cam gears, Techtonics adjustable cam sprocket, ARP head studs, rod bolts and mains bolts, GT35R turbo with 0.82 A/R, Advanced Motorsport tubular cast exhaust manifold, 38mm Tial wastegate, GReddy blow-off valve, custom 3" downpipe and exhaust, 65mm Ford Mustang throttle body, custom intake manifold, custom Spearco intercooler, SDS EM3-E engine management, MSD 6AL ignition with two-step rev limiter, Turbosmart E-Boost 2 controller, XS Engineering fuel pump, custom fuel rail, Precision Turbo 1000cc injectors, Paxton fuel pressure regulator, Aeroquip fuel lines, Flex-a-lite radiator fans, LM1 data-logger, battery relocated to Moroso battery box in rear, Hella kill switch
Drivetrain:O2A transmission with Peloquin limited-slip diff, Driveshaft Shop stage 3 CV axles, B&M short shifter, Eurospec Sport cable/hydraulic clutch conversion, ACT VR1-HDR6 race clutch, Eurospec lightweight flywheel SUSPENSION: Ground Control front coilovers with Tokico inserts and 500 lb Eibach springs, Avo rear coilovers, Autotech stress bars, front sway bar removed, polyurethane control arm bushings
Brakes: Stock 10.1" front brakes, 1JO Mk4 aluminum rear calipers, Brembo cross-drilled rotors and Hawk pads all round
Wheels & Tires: Street: 16x7" BBS RS wheels, with 215/35-16 Toyo Proxes 4 tires Race: 13x8" front, 15x3.5" rear Weld Magnum Import Drag wheels with 24.5x9" front, 24.5x4" rear Hoosier slick tires
Exterior: European bumpers and headlights, clear corners, badgeless grille, shaved hatch, single wiper, shorty antenna, James hood lifts, filled bumper notches in rear pan
Interior: Sparco Pro 2000 seats and 3" cam-lock harnesses, Ben Cook Racing six-point rollcage, Mountney steering wheel, Turbosmart E-boost 2 boost and RPM, display, VDO volt meter, custom carbon fiber gauge panel
Thanks: Chuck Schneider, Frank Victor, Rick Roesky, Kevin Black, Ben, Bill and Danny at Ben Cook Racing, Mike at APTuning, Ed at Eurospec Sport, Mom & Dad, Joe Kress at Harry's U-pullit Salvage Yard, Jim Corazza at Fairway Motors, Numedia Raceway