"It started out as my daily driver when I was 17, then became my summer car when I installed the turbo and repainted it. Now that everything's polished, I only take it out when it's nice. But don't think I'm afraid to drive it hard!" Those were young Andy Dixon's words before laying a 12-foot black line on a deserted country road the morning before H2O International.
Originally a 1.8 liter 8v painted a dreary black, his '92 GTI now summons 350whp from a 2.8 liter VR6 turbo and exudes enough style to steal your neighborhood car show.
A small-town boy from Lakeville, MA - a quaint city south of Boston - this is Andy's first project and first VW, for that matter!
His first car was a lifeless '89 Chevy Corsica, but wrenching on cars is in his blood. His father runs an automotive repair shop called A&A Automotive where Andy has practically lived since he can remember.
The shop handles mostly domestic cars on a day-to-day basis but Andy worked after-hours to mold his Mk2 masterpiece. Every week he'd see another big-block V8 pull into the shop and its owner talk down his project, but Andy was resilient and had his own agenda to humiliate them with his humble hatchback.
Being his first Dub, he ventured to Waterfest to soak up the VW scene like a sponge. He returned wanting the best of both worlds: form and function. But he was in high school and didn't have the income to support his dreams. Encouraged by coworkers and friends, he got down 'n dirty. "I did all the work myself, except the exterior. I even did the shaved engine bay and motor swap in my own time at my dad's shop," he told us.
At first, Andy swapped-in a G60 motor. The supercharged four provided more performance than the sloppy 8v, but still lacked real power. "I sold the motor and found a totaled Mk3 GTI VR6 as a donor car for its motor and drivetrain," he continued. "I also wanted to paint my car, so I pulled it apart that winter."
We're lucky Andy's still with us after adversity struck when he picked up the VR6. On his way home, the tow-truck jack-knifed on the highway and rolled over. Minutes later, a car came at full speed and smashed the truck into pieces. Andy and his friend got out in time and the Mk3 was surprisingly salvaged. "If we got out of the truck a moment later, I probably wouldn't be here!" he said.
With luck on his side, Andy got the VR6 home and continued the project. A VR6 turbo was his final goal but limited funds meant the build would be split into stages. The 2.8 liter 12v motor dropped in smoothly, along with its five-speed transmission. "I ran the car for a year, all motor, even with the Mk3 wheels. The next year was time to turbo..."
Before the VR6 received forced induction, Andy rebuilt it with help from B&H Auto Supply. "A lot of guys run a head spacer but I lowered the compression properly," he explained. "I wanted to make sure it was going to last, so Ross pistons dropped the compression from 10:1 to 8.5:1."
Once the motor was reassembled with ARP hardware, Andy picked up a Kinetic Motorsport stage 2 turbo kit from C2 Motorsports. Typically, this includes a front-mount intercooler but Andy opted to fabricate his own. A Garrett T3/T04E turbo provided the heart of the system, along with new intake and exhaust manifolds. C2 Motorsports included its own software and fueling kit to ensure the optimum mixture. In addition, a 38mm Tial wastegate and Forge diverter valve redirect excess boost to guarantee reliability. Finally, a 3" downpipe from 20squared Tuning expels spent gases.
With more than double the original horsepower of a stock VR6, would the transmission last? He'd already blown up the first 02A tranny before the car was even turboed. So Andy found another in a wrecked Passat and fitted a Peloquin limited-slip differential and bolt kit, plus a Spec aluminum flywheel and clutch to assure the power was transfered to the wheels.
Andy had built a screamer. The setup dynoed at 350whp and 351 lb-ft of torque on pump gas. Not just a dyno queen, he took the car to his local track and spun the tires to an 11.8sec quarter-mile at 118mph.
His speed-demon GTI was impressive, even conquering the muscle cars of trash-talking coworkers at the drag strip. But his quest didn't stop at straight-line performance. Appearance also mattered, and what better way to astonish people than a shaved engine bay? "Back in the day there was a burgundy Mk2 with a shaved engine bay. It also had a VR6 turbo and color-matched engine covers." Using influences from the past, Andy commenced shaving the bay, which swallowed an entire winter. "There are over 100 hours in that engine bay, just shaving and welding all the holes. I also had to fabricate panels and make everything flush. I'm not a body man by any means and taught myself as I went. People gave me advice here and there, but for the most part, I taught myself," he said.
Several parts, such as the battery, were relocated. The wiring harness, computer and several sensors were also moved to clean up the bay. Looking smoother than a baby's bottom, Andy polished almost everything in the engine bay, including the valve cover and intake manifold.
The bodywork continued, including the more time-consuming jobs such as shaving the side markers and rear hatch. Because the plate recess in the hatch was deleted, Andy molded a new one into the rear bumper.
The stock front bumper was dressed with a more aggressive RS2-style spoiler, which offered better airflow to the FMIC. Other exterior upgrades included an FK badgeless grille, smoked lights all around, Mk3-style handles and OE G60 fender flares.
When time came for paint, Andy had friend Kevin Clements sprayed the car inside and out in Audi S4 Nogaro blue. You might remember Kevin from his RWD GTI with its mid-engine VR6 turbo (et 1/07). He did a great job but after a year of wear 'n tear, Andy decided to repaint it before the '07 show season with the help of Matt Dunfey.
To ensure the car could handle spirited driving, KW coilovers lowered the car, while an Autotech strut bar and S&W rollcage improved rigidity.
The brakes were grabbed from the donor Mk3 GTI and upgraded with Zimmerman drilled 'n slotted discs.
For wheels, Andy chose Borbet Type Ts, which are distinctly Euro. The wide 16x9" five-spokes were wrapped in stretched 215/40 Toyo T1R tires. However, he's since ditched the Borbets for gold BBS RS, so watch out for him this show season.
Although the GTI might seem complete, it's far from finished. His hunger for horsepower convinced him to order a new BorgWarner S364 turbo, which is slightly bigger than a GT35R. With race fuel, new injectors and software, the car is expected to boast 550whp upon completion.
No longer a daily driver, Andy's original intentions still hold true. "It wasn't meant to be a show or race car. I tried to have the best of both worlds and hope to run tens on the quarter-mile while still be able to score well at a show."
Techspec1992 VW GTIOwner: Andy DixonLocation: Lakeville, MAOccupation: automotive technician
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6 with Ross 8.5:1 pistons, ARP main studs, connecting rod bolts and head studs, Kinetic Motorsport exhaust manifold, Forge Motorsports diverter valve, Garrett T3/T04e turbocharger with .57 trim wheel, 38mm Tial wastegate, Precision front-mount intercooler, 2.5" intercooler piping, C2 Motorsports intake manifold, 42# software and fueling kit, 20squared Tuning 3" downpipe, BFI stage 2 motor mounts, VR6 fuel tank and pump, Walbro 255 lph in-line fuel pump, chrome OBD1 valve cover, ATP heat shield, relocated battery in rear, shaved engine bay
Drivetrain:five-speed manual with Peloquin limited-slip differential and bolt kit, Spec aluminum flywheel and clutch, Dieselgeek short shifter
Suspension: KW Variant 2 coilovers, Prothane control arm bushings, Autotech front strut bar, S&W Race Cars rollcage
Brakes: VR6 brakes with Zimmerman cross-drilled and slotted rotors, Mintex pads
Wheels & Tires:16x9" Borbet Type T wheels with 215/40-16 Toyo T1R tires, OE five-lug swap
Exterior:FK badgeless grille and smoked crosshair headlights, single-round radiator support, smoked turn signals, shaved side markers and hatch, rear plate recess molded to bumper, RS2-style front bumper, Hella M3-style smoked tail lights, stubby antenna, Mk3-style door handles, G60 front fender flares, 16v rear fender flares, resprayed in OE Audi Nogaro blue paint
Interior:OE Mk3 Golf dash and center console, Rieger shift knob, APTuning A-pillar gauge pod, Auto Meter boost gauge, leather racing seats, Sparco harnesses, deleted rear seat, flush rear floor, 16v door panels
Audio/Visual: Panasonic head unit, Infinity 4x6" speakers built into rear floor
Thanks:A&A Automotive, Matt Dunfey, Scott, Dave at B&H Auto Supply, Matt, Dad, Mom, Aaron, Ashley, Chris and Jeff at C2 Motorsports, 20squared Tuning