Meet our two girls from Florida. One just started college and bartends near home in West Palm Beach, while the other lives in Orlando and works in financial services. Both girls had never met until we brought them together because they share a common interest. Their unrivaled passion for VWs and shared learning experience wrenching on cars created common ground and led to one of the most fascinating articles to hit these pages.
Barely LegalAlthough not old enough to appreciate the original '83 VW GTI, 18 year-old Monica Rossi didn't have a problem applying her unique style to this 20th Anniversary GTI.
Interestingly, Monica wasn't introduced to VWs like many of us; it was photography that provoked it. "I stumbled across VW Web sites and used them to help my photography," she explained. Monica continued to read about VWs and finally bought her first Veedub.
"I bought it from an auction for less than $9k because it has a rebuilt title," she explained. "It needed a full respray, new fenders, wheels and driver-side headlight. I thought the engine was fine but a mount fell out one day, so I ended up buying another 1.8T from a wrecked GTI."
After piecing together the injured 20AE, it was time to start having some fun. "I do all the work myself," Monica continued. "I learned how to work on cars building this one."
The engine mods came first, with a simple GIAC software upgrade. Next came an evoms cold-air intake and Milltek 2.5" turbo-back exhaust, which freed additional horsepower.
Monica wanted her GTI to be quick but also look aggressive, so a Milltek front-mount intercooler was also installed behind the stock front bumper. But it's not only go parts under the hood - Monica hand-polished the intake manifold and powdercoated the engine cover pink for her own delight.
Standard on the 20AE GTI, the six-speed manual transmission is already strong and the brakes featured 12.3" front and 10.3" rear rotors. These are bigger than the standard GTI, so Monica left them unmolested, although she painted all four calipers pink to match her personality.
The 20AE suspension is 30mm lower and outfitted with thicker sway bars as well as revised rear bushings. But Monica wanted her car to handle tighter and sit lower, so H&R's threaded coilovers were installed.
On the exterior, she didn't want to detract from the OE look so kept the Votex front and rear valances but swapped the side skirts with R32 parts. To tidy the front, a JOM badgeless grille was installed, while the bumper notch and side markers were shaved.
After research, Monica ached for a bser hood so she fabricated her own metal extension and molded it on.
Wheels came next, and something rare was required to set the car apart. In her search, Monica came across a set of Tramont Staria 5 wheels, and she claimed they're the only set in the States with a VW bolt pattern. "I bought the wheels gold but they were pitted, so I redid them in white by hand," she said.
Downsizing to 17" wheels from the standard 18s, the widths are 9" front and 10.5" rear for extreme chubbiness. A set of Dunlop SP Sport tires were then stretched onto the rims.
Perhaps the most difficult task was the interior. "The headliner was the hardest to do," she told us. "It took 12 hours in the Florida heat." Ditching the stock black headliner, pink plaid now adorns the roof and pillars.
The rest of the interior didn't need much so the stock 20AE Recaros, aluminum trim, leather steering wheel and shift boot remain.
Keeping it simple and Euro-style with extremely wide wheels, a low stance and bser hood, Monica achieved plenty with her first, self-built project. She told us a GT28RS turbo awaits her but the car's a daily driver and she gets plenty of teasing from guys everywhere she goes. "On the forums, I get eight-page threads just because I'm a girl. It's kind of rough. But for the most part, they're lighter on me if I do something ridiculous to my car, like anything pink. But hey, I'm a girl!"
Tech Spec2003 VW GTI 20th AnniversaryOwner: Monica RossiLocation: West Palm Beach, FLOccupation: student and bartender
Engine: 1.8 liter four cylinder 20v with GIAC X+ software, Forge Motorsport polished 007 diverter valve, evoms V-Flow cold-air intake, Milltek 2.5" turbo-back exhaust, front-mount intercooler, polished intake manifold, powdercoated engine cover, Optima Yellow Top battery
Drivetrain: six-speed manual transmission
Brakes: pink calipers
Suspension: H&R coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 17x9" front, 17x10.5" rear polished and painted Tramont Staria 5 wheels with 225/45-17 front, 245/40-17 rear Dunlop SP Sport 8080E tires
Exterior: custom bser hood, shaved side markers, OE R32 side skirts, JOM badgeless grille, 15% window tint
Interior: reupholstered plaid headliner and pillars
Thanks: Eric Luipersbeck, Ryan Meloy
Something SilvaJessica Silva just turned 25, but it might shock you to know she's only been into VWs a few years. "I started at rock bottom," she began. "I didn't care about cars for the longest time."
When Jessica first started to drive, she roamed around in a Mitsubishi Eclipse. She graduated to a '02 VW Jetta 2.0 but was unaware of the tuning scene. It wasn't until her fianc bought an Acura and joined car club Team Stance that things started to make sense.
"He dragged me along to every meeting and the club kept telling me they needed a girl on the team." So Jessica became the first and only girl on the team with the only Euro. It was then that she made the epic decision to trade her two.slow for a '04 1.8T.
Team Stance is a Japanese import club, but Jessica managed to avoid the gaudy styling practiced by some of her peers. Through her own research, she built this ultra-clean Jetta, commonly nicknamed "Getta" because of its Golf front-end.
"Being in a car crew, I had lots of help from people who knew cars," Jessica explained. "I tried to get involved with everything. I don't just drop it off and expect somebody to do it. I'm not a hardcore grease monkey, but it's my car and I want to know how it works."
Starting with the exterior, the front-end conversion was one of the more intricate tasks. Jessica had to track down a Golf front bumper, fenders, hood and lights to complete the swap. She later advanced to the more aggressive R32 bumper and badgeless grille.
The hood and bumper notches were filled to look seamless, and for less distraction, the bumper side markers were also shaved.
Jessica wasn't done there. She installed smoked Euro-spec projector headlights and painted the grille flat black for contrast.
The rear features GLI tails and the side mirror plates were color-matched to flow with the lines of the car.
Jessica told us she's also proud of the checkered roof. "People think it's vinyl, but it's painted," she explained. "I saw an old-school Mini Cooper with it and thought it was badass!
The 18x8" Konig Imagine wheels were one of her first modifications. "They were convenient and inexpensive at the time," she explained. "I like the mesh design so stuck with them and kept working on everything else."
Performance came next and she was happy to have a 1.8T rather than the two.slow but that didn't stop her from seeking more power. She upgraded it with GIAC software, an evoms CAI and GHL exhaust with downpipe.
Local import shop Kami Speed helped Jessica source Forge Motorsport turbo inlet pipe, boost and intake hoses, as well as a blow-off valve for better boost behavior.
Although stuck with a five-speed Tiptronic, Jessica is content with the acceleration. For stiffer handling and a lower stance, H&R Sport springs were installed, but she has a set of coilovers and sway bars in the works.
Jessica's accomplished a great deal for being the only girl in an import club, not to mention building her first project car. "Sitting at a car show like Hot Import Nights, people don't expect the car to be mine. When they find out, the reaction is priceless!"
Tech Spec2004 VW Jetta 1.8TOwner: Jessica SilvaLocation: Orlando, FLOccupation: financial services
Engine: 1.8 liter four cylinder 20v with GIAC software, GHL 2.5" stainless steel turbo-back exhaust with resonator and dual tips, evoms cold-air intake, Forge Motorsport boost hose kit, intake hose, turbo inlet pipe and 007 blow-off valve
Drivetrain: five-speed Tiptronic automatic
Suspension: H&R coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 18x8" Konig Imagine wheels, 225/40-18 Fuzion tires
Exterior: OE GTI front-end conversion with R32 front bumper, FK Automotive badgeless grille painted flat back, molded hood notch fill, color-matched rear valance, checkered roof, smoked E-code projector headlights, GLI Sport tail lights
Interior: GReddy turbo timer, Defi Blue Race boost, temp and volt gauges, Audi TT pedals
Thanks: Adam Perez, Team Stance, mom and dad, Kami Speed, Nicole, Mike