Is it too early to define an automobile sold between 1992 and 1999 as a classic? In hindsight, Apple has created its own classic in the portable music player industry with the iPod, originally introduced in `01. Another example are movies such as Office Space ('99) and Austin Powers ('97), which are praised by many critics today as classics in cinema comedy. So perhaps in terms of modified European cars, a stylishly designed and effectively tuned Volkswagen Mk3 could deserve the label of a classic.
Take this '97 GTI from British Columbia, Canada - Euro bumpers and moldings, BBS RS wheels, suede interior and a black respray - arguably, the formula to craft the undisputed Mk3 classic.
To some diehard VW fanatics it could appear overdone, but take a minute to examine the lines and details. We promise you'll appreciate its simplicity and cleanliness. It's not just another modified German car, but a timeless work of art. It's something your father or 16 year-old cousin could build step-by-step. A finely engineered Mk3 GTI is everlasting, which is why eurotuner can't help but continue to marvel at its success more than ten years after its debut.
This particular GTI is practically flawless in every aspect. Owner Uttman Jones drives his car seven days a week, but babies it like an infant. The car's glow is from the fresh coat of black paint. The exterior modifications were kept to a minimum with stubby Euro bumpers, textured VR6 moldings and fender flares, plus a badgeless grille. Appropriately, the side markers and rear emblem were shaved to refine the overall smoothness.
In true Euro fashion, a set of 15x7.5" BBS RS wheels were modified to fit the GTI using extended Kodiak lips.
There's no argument about the appearance of Uttman's GTI, but would it roar like a lion or squeal like a pig? Outfitted with the 172hp 2.8 liter staggered-six, the engine was solid and strong. In its day, the VR6 easily dominated most sport compacts on the street. But in this day and age, your auntie's '08 Accord can overpower the dated German automobile. So Uttman visited a group of local enthusiasts with proven success tuning the VR6 and building turbo kits - Kinetic Motorsport.
No stranger to et, the monstrous bellow from Kinetic's '02 GTI 337 in last year's eurotuner GP still rings in our ears from its victory in the FWD dyno competition. If you haven't seen the video, check out its 558.36whp dyno run at www.eurotuner.com on nothing but pump gas. Although this reflects its 1.8T program, Kinetic's VR6 program has been their bread and butter.
"It's a street car but it's built tough enough to take to the track," explained Shawn Van Neer of Kinetic, the brains behind the motor and chassis build. "Uttman and I wanted the best of the best for this project, so we installed our full stage 4 kit."
Kinetic offers four stages of VR6 turbo kit for both OBD1 and OBD2 applications. Its stage 1 starts with the basic hardware using a T3/T4 turbo and makes 245whp. Going up the ladder until you reach stage 4 isn't for the faint-hearted since it uses a larger T67GJ turbo to extract in excess of 400whp.
Although forged internals aren't required, the compression needed to be lowered from the factory 10.0:1 with a stainless head spacer, dropping it to 9.0:1. Forged pistons weren't necessary but for a touch more low-end torque, Shawn installed balanced European VR6 pistons to increased displacement from 2.8 to 2.9 liters. A three-angle valve job was performed to freshen the motor and also increase reliability. Lastly, shorter duration Schrick 260 cams were also needed to maintain cylinder pressure.
Every piece of hardware was included in the turbo kit to make installation easy enough for an able mechanic. The turbo exhaust manifold was a key part, along with a 3" stainless downpipe, exhaust and intake, TiAL wastegate, braided oil lines, pan and fittings, silicone hoses and lastly clamps. Of course, the engine would be more thirsty, so fueling components include 60# Siemens injectors and Kinetic's bigger fuel pump.
A hybrid turbo was pieced together using a .82A/R T3 turbine housing, while the compressor was a T04S. This builds maximum boost in the 4000rpm range, resulting in most of the usable power up top.
With a front-mount intercooler added, Kinetic received aid from C2 Motorsport to program the software including boost, ignition and air/fuel. On a safe program using pump fuel, Uttman can easily roam around with 400whp, but more power is achievable with an aggressive tune and race gas. He also has the option of modifying the boost himself via a GReddy boost controller mounted on the center console.
With more power comes additional responsibility, so a Competition stage 4 clutch was installed in the stock five-speed manual transmission, along with a lightened flywheel. Helping with traction was a Peloquin limited-slip. Factory driveshafts typically fail on boosted VR6 cars as well, so DriveshaftShop parts were included.
The remaining items to complete the car's street-assassin abilities included 11" RPI brakes to stop the car from triple-digit speeds. A sticky set of Bridgestone Potenza tires supplied maximum grip and Vogtland coilovers with Neuspeed sway bars round off the chassis updates to improve the cornering ability.
With the engine, chassis and exterior buckled down, only the interior was left. Not wanting to draw much attention, he kept it fairly stock with factory-style additions. For example, the seats were reupholstered in black leather and silver alcantara with white stitching. Alcantara also found its way to the door cards and headliner, while the sunvisors and pillars received black leather.
The stock deck wasn't going to cut it, so a double-DIN Alpine touchscreen rests in the dash, controlling the factory speakers with the addition of two subwoofers in the hatch.
Nearly every morsel of this VW has been addressed and enhanced by Uttman and Kinetic. It has the looks of a superstar, power of a bodybuilder and the quality of what we like to call... a classic.
1997 VW GTI VR6
Owner: Uttman Jones
Location: Vancouver, BC
Engine: 2.9 liter VR6 with Kinetic Motorsport stage 4 turbo kit, Euro-spec pistons, three-angle valve job, T67GJ turbocharger using T04S compressor and .82A/R T3 turbine housing, TiAL 38mm wastegate, 9.0:1 compression head spacer, 3" stainless downpipe, exhaust and intake, 60# Siemens injectors, fuel pump kit, front-mount intercooler, silicone hoses, C2 Motorsport software, Schrick 260 cams, ported throttle body, custom intake manifold
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with Competition stage 4 clutch, lightened flywheel, Peloquin limited-slip differential
Brakes: 11" RPI Equipped drilled rotors and four-piston front calipers, Ferroda 2500 pads
Suspension: Vogtland coilovers, Neuspeed sway bars, DriveshaftShop upgraded driveshafts
Wheels & Tires: 15x7.5" BBS RS wheels with extended Kodiak lips, 195/45-15 Bridgestone Potenza
Exterior: European bumpers and VR6 front lip, textured fender flares and moldings, badgeless grille, smoked E-code headlights and Votex foglights, shaved sidemarkers and rear emblem
Interior: black leather front and rear seats with alcantara center panels and white stitching, alcantara door cards and headliner, leather sunvisors and pillars, Mk4 shift knob
Audio/Visual: Alpine IVA-W200 touchscreen head unit, two 10" subwoofers with amplifier in alcantara enclosure, GReddy Profec Type S boost controller