Q-Ships: decoy boats used by the British in World War I to defeat German submarines. They were disguised as merchant vessels to entice enemy subs to the surface but once the enemy took the bait, the Q-Ships would unleash hell with a barrage of gunfire.
Meet Kinetic Motorsport's Q-Ship, a stock '02 VW GTI 337 on the outside, but with enough firepower to destroy a Porsche 997 in a straight line or on the track.
Out of the box, a 337 is already sporty with 18x7.5" BBS RC wheels, factory body kit, indestructible 02M six-speed transmission plus unique aluminum trim and Recaro seats. It also didn't get a sunroof to help structural rigidity and handling.
With only 1500 sold in the US and 200 in Canada, the 337 is a VW landmark. But even to the educated Dubber, Kinetic's 337 could easily be overlooked because it's "stock." But this was the intention of Kinetic Motorsport's co-owner, Shawn Van Neer. "I built the car so it wouldn't take second place," he explained. "It's my personal car, not a Kinetic car, but I built it to show what we're capable of."
To get a feel for the car, we traveled to Kinetic's facility in Surrey, BC, Canada to take a test drive with Shawn. My first instinct was to drive the car normally, which it does amazingly well. After checking its daily drivability, my right foot lay into the throttle. In first, second and third gears, the turbo and tires screeched. Some skill is required to feather the throttle in order to keep the tires gripped and under control. And before we knew it, we were in fourth gear, passing 120mph by the end of the block. With the intersection approaching, I backed off the gas and jumped on the brake pedal. The car slowed with ease before the stoplight. Exhale...
Shawn's 337 is menacing yet well-balanced. During acceleration, the car feels smooth but pulls incredibly hard in each gear, with no surging or sudden jolts. When Shawn told us he could walk on Porsche 997s, he wasn't joking. This 337 has the speed, stopping power and suspension engineered for the track. Perhaps the most surprising factor is its drivability. With over 200whp per liter, the car breathes normally. The idle is smooth and it remains quiet around the city.
So how did Shawn do it? It started with horsepower and torque. We've all heard the push-and-pull theory of how torque pushes you off the starting line giving you instant thrust, while horsepower pushes you at higher speeds once are a going. For the combination of power Shawn wanted, he had to sacrifice some torque in order to achieve the desired horsepower. But that doesn't mean this car can't run off the line. It's still quick to accelerate, and thanks to a heat-shielded Garrett GT3040 ball-bearing turbocharger, it spools at 4000rpm.
The help of Schrick 268/260 cams operating Supertech titanium valve springs and retainers allows the big-turbo motor to gain top-end power and rev to near 8000rpm. This is especially important because the operating range of the turbo favors higher rpms, making the car a highway hauler.
A four cylinder motor crammed with so much power warrants a reinforced bottom-end, so Integrated Engineering connecting rods were used, secured by ARP hardware. Shawn opted to retain the stock pistons for reliability. "Motors with forged pistons tend to smoke on deceleration and wear out quickly," Shawn commented. "It's not a good choice for a daily-driven street motor."
Maximum airflow is important for engine efficiency, so the stock head was ported and polished by Shawn's friend, Ferrial, the "head whore." The long-branch headers also contributed, using 0.5" thick flanges and stainless tubing. The exhaust is a 3" system utilizing Vibrant V-bands and muffler. A prototype high-flow intake manifold and beefier VR6 throttle body were also included to maximize flow into the combustion chamber.
Initial flow bench testing of the head, cams, intake manifold and header were calculated to pick up a whopping 66whp.
More air equates to a thirstier motor, so fueling was addressed with 60 lb Bosch injectors, an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator and a custom fuel rail. Shawn also developed a kit that allows direct fitment of the Walbro 225 lph fuel pump into the Mk4. The fuel system is good up to 500whp.
The stock intercooler was ditched in favor of Kinetic's front-mount, and a Tial blow-off valve and wastegate were also fitted.
With so much boost, it's common to run race gas to avoid detonation, especially with over 400whp. But a stage 2 water/methanol injection kit from Snow Performance was installed to make this unnecessary. "The car can only run 19-20psi on pump gas," he told us. "To reach 25psi, you need water/meth." The system is located where the air pump used to be and uses a mixture of 80% methanol and 20% water.
With the engine built, Shawn bolstered the Q-Ship to handle the massive power. The six-speed transmission received a Southbend clutch, Aasco flywheel and Peloquin limited-slip to improve the transfer of power to the sticky Bridgestone RE-01R tires.
The suspension and brakes were dialed for the track. Shawn contacted Vogtland for its stainless coilovers with Koni adjustable dampers to manage the chassis, while H2Sport improved the suspension geometry with its Sport Spindles and spherical suspension pivots. Ensuring a tight chassis is a custom rear sway bar inside the rear beam.
The stock brakes are excellent but with the car's new ability, a solution was required. So a big brake kit was developed using 13.15" R32 front rotors with Wilwood four-piston calipers.
Most of the parts on Shawn's 337 will be available through Kinetic Motorsport, including the exhaust and intake manifolds, brakes, fuel pump kit and more. A turbo kit is also scheduled for release using a quick-spooling T3/T4 turbo that's been tested to yield over 300whp on 93 octane fuel.
Shawn emphasized that we shouldn't focus on the dyno numbers though. "They're cool, but getting in the car is what tells you about it." After our test drive we have to agree, and so will any other brave soul who's foolish enough to challenge Kinetic's Q-Ship.
2002 Volkswagen GTI 337Owner: Shawn Van NeerLocation: Surrey, BCOccupation: co-owner of Kinetic Motorsport
Engine: 1.8 liter four cylinder 20v with Integrated Engineering connecting rods, ARP fasteners, ported head, 268/260 Schrick turbo cams, Supertech titanium valve springs and retainers, Garrett GT3040 ball-bearing turbo, Kinetic tubular stainless steel header, silicone hoses, clamps, front-mount intercooler, oil cooler with Mocal thermo-plate, 3" exhaust with Vibrant muffler, VR6 throttle body, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, 60 lb Bosch injectors, Walbro 255 lph fuel pump, custom fuel rail, Tial blow-off valve and 30mm wastegate, prototype intake manifold, custom catch can, oil feed and drain lines, Earls fittings, turbo heatshield and wrap, Starlight hoses, Snow Performance stage 2 water/methanol injection kit, Beru updated coil packs, Braille battery
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with Southbend OFE clutch, Aasco flywheel, Peloquin limited-slip differential
Suspension: Vogtland stainless steel coilovers with Koni adjustable dampers, H2Sport spindles and spherical suspension pivots, custom internal rear sway bar
Brakes: Kinetic Motorsport big brake kit with 13.15" R32 front rotors and Wilwood Superlight 4R four-piston calipers, Ferrodo 2500 pads front and rear, Kinetic stainless lines
Wheels & Tires: 18x7.5" BBS RC wheels on 12mm front, 10mm rear spacers, 225/40-18 Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires
Exterior: stubby antenna, Hella smoked e-code headlights with HID bulbs
Interior: AEM digital boost gauge with boost controller, OE Euro headlight switch
Contact: Kinetic Motorsport (www.kineticmotorsport.com,604/882-9962), Bridgestone (www.bridgestonetire.com), Snow Performance (www.snowperformance.net,866/365-2762), Vogtland (www.vogtland-na.com, 951/694-6981)