1998 VW Jetta GLX
The situation is intimidating. Everybody's scared to approach the '98 VW Jetta GLX. It looks flawless with genuine Euro style. Pulled fenders, smoothed body, aggressive wheels and a white interior as pure as cocaine; the intoxicating red-on-red color doesn't help either. This Mk3 is drop-dead gorgeous. A 6'4", 265 lb man steps out of the drivers door and the crowd goes silent. We whisper to ourselves "please don't hurt us."
Tailored in an all-white outfit to match his leather and suede seats, the owner looks us up-n-down before running at us like a linebacker. Bracing for impact, we're lifted off our feet and hugged like a favorite teddybear.
This is the personality of Volkswagen enthusiast Matt Zinn. If you've never met him, his monstrous stature can be intimidating, but he's always friendly and loves to joke around. "Everybody's first impression is to be scared, but I'll be the first to come up and give you a bear hug," he chuckled.
Matt's personality adds to his resume of skills. He's currently employed as a full-time tech at Euro Auto Source in York, PA --Cory Sterling's shop. By night, Matt's a bartender at a local pub. He's all about having fun and being enthusiastic in his life, and more recently in his passion for European cars.
Cars haven't always been in Matt's blood. He only built an appetite for VWs three years ago with a Mk4 daily driver. Then the "floodgates opened," as he described it, when he purchased Cory's "Flame Proof" Mk3 Golf 2.0L turbo with shaved engine bay, exterior and more (et 8/05).
"After buying that car I became that annoying guy who would hang out at the shop all day. Eventually, Cory needed some help. So I went from me being at the shop part-time answering phones to turning wrenches full-time."
Matt's picked up five other VWs since and his sinful Mk3 Jetta is just the latest.
Matt originally didn't want to molest the car so much it wouldn't be daily-drivable. But that obviously changed... "It lasted three weeks at most as a daily driver. I thought I'd just put wheels on it, do a couple of things and maintain the daily aspect. But before I knew it, Cory suggested we widen the fenders. We then decided we wanted to do something crazy with it, and that's when everything else came into play," he explained.
When Matt started driving the Jetta, he admitted it wasn't anything spectacular. There was normal wear and tear, like rusted rockers, a hail-damaged roof and door dings, so the exterior had to change first.
"From front to back, top to bottom, everything was fixed and painted. The entire body was touched with a piece of sandpaper in some shape or form," he told us. Some rehab was in order for the aged body as well, but Matt saw an opportunity to add his personal Zinn philosophy. Starting up front, the bumper retained a clean appearance with an Abt front lip. He then shaved the vents under the turn signals to create a smoother appearance. The rocker panels were also smoothed, along with windshield washers on the hood.
"I normally wouldn't go to this extent," Matt reiterated, "but I thought I might as well do it all in one go."
The fenders were pulled and smoothed to look original. Matt tells us they're truly insane. "When you see it with factory wheels, you could fit my head between the wheel and fender. But when you put 10" wheels under, it just flows."
With a body of a supermodel, the car was looking the part but it needed some go. So Matt decided to keep his Zinn philosophy going "getting crazy with it".
His main focus was to do something that hasn't been seen in awhile. He drew his inspiration from the hot rod community and had 4EverKustoms copper-plate the valve cover and fuel rail. For a little contrast, the intake manifold was brass-plated.
While Matt was finishing up the show details, he was missing the power to back it up. And since he didn't want to go to a show with a stock engine, he found a deal on a stage 3 supercharger from VF-Engineering. The polished blower would complement the bling in the bay, but Matt also had the supercharger bracket brass-plated while the side-mount intercooler was covered in copper.
To complete the engine upgrades, he installed Techtonics camshafts, titanium lifters, a downpipe and cat-back exhaust. The forced induction also required a 255 lph Walbro fuel pump and 4-bar fuel-pressure regulator to feed the beast, while a head spacer with ARP head bolts ensured it would stay together under boost.
Hooking power to the wheels was the factory five-speed with a stronger Spec clutch and Peloquin limited-slip diff. Although Matt's never dynoed the car, he estimated 300hp with this setup. "It's not a bad motor," he told us. "I wasn't planning to make it a fast car - I have other cars that are meant for that - I just wanted something reliable I could get in, start up and not worry about."
Although the exterior of the car first draws your attention, followed by the deep sound of the supercharged VR6, it's the interior that makes you want to kick up your feet, lean back and pop a bottle of champagne. It's outright seductive.
The story behind the interior started from a discussion between Matt and a friend in the UK. "White interiors came up in our conversation and I saw some photos online. I found myself just saying `wow'.
Starting with the drab factory carpet, it was tossed for a new carpet in a similar red to the exterior. More red accents continued with a suede Sparco steering wheel and an Abt shift knob. Matt then pulled the dash, pillars, center console and door sills to dye them white. Finally, Gibble's Upholstery took care of the cream suede and white leather upholstery used on the front and rear seats as well as the New Beetle headrests, headliner, sunroof slide and rear parcel shelf.
A dash of polish couldn't hurt the interior, so a four-point Wiechers roll-bar was fitted.
Moving to the rear, he deleted the GLX spoiler. With attention to detail, Matt wrapped the lip spoiler around the trunk and onto the body. "There's a natural lip on the trunk that dips down. We took that and extended it to make it flush around the side of the car. This gives the appearance of a wider stance," he explained. Meticulous bodywork was also required to complete the task, which involved modifying the rear quarter panels. Not quite finished with the project, the rear bumper had its lines deleted as well.
Eventually, it was time to respray the Jetta and Matt opted to keep the factory Tornado red, with the exception of the black roof.
The Mk3 body was as sexy and smooth as a Victoria Secret model but Matt knew the wheels would have the final say. "For me, you can do little Euro things to a car but the wheels make or break it in the end."
After running into complications finding a manufacturer to build custom offsets, Matt finally selected the Stahl S2 wheels, a design he continually went back and forth on.
TunerShop built a custom set of 17x8" front and 17x10" rear wheels with crazy offsets measuring ET21 and ET0 respectively. The wheel centers were then color-matched and wrapped in super-stretched 205/40 front and 215/40 rear Falken tires just in time for his inaugural show at the '08 H2Oi.
"The amount of stretch in the back is just insane," he declared. "215/45s give a nice stretch on a 9" wheel, but I now snicker when people do them. My 215/40s around the 10" Stahls are screaming at me, holding on by their fingernails."
With the wheels mounted, Matt marveled at his creation. "The back is my favorite part of the car. Just look how wide it is. The rear wheels have so much negative camber it almost has a pyramid look. It just kicks it out and makes the whole car come together."
Turn the lights off and the interior shines thanks to LED lights from Baak2basics. "It almost looks like a strip club at night with the lights on and the poles!" he laughed.
Matt couldn't cruise his Jetta without listening to Will Smith's greatest hits, so a Jensen head unit controls upgraded Eclipse speakers and a 12" sub in the trunk.
"In the end, everything was gently molested in some way, shape or form. It's got the best of both worlds. There's go to it, but also show on the inside and out. It definitely gets looks everywhere I go.
"The neat thing is people who aren't into VWs can appreciate the car for what it is. They don't necessarily know the trunk wrap or Euro styling, but they can see the work on the interior and shiny stuff under the motor," Matt concluded. Perhaps that's the Zinn philosophy. This Jetta appeals not only to the purist Dubbers, but to the masses as well. Everybody can appreciate the workmanship put into the vehicle, but also the charismatic owner behind it.
1998 VW JETTA GLX
Owner: Matt Zinn
Location: York, PA
Occupation: Euro Auto Service technician, bartender
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6 12v with VF-Engineering stage 3 V9 supercharger kit using polished blower, copper-plated side-mount intercooler, fuel rail and valve cover, brass-plated intake manifold and supercharger bracket, 550cc injectors, Walbro 255 lph fuel pump, head spacer, ARP bolts, Techtonics 2" downpipe, 2.5" cat-back exhaust, cam set and titanium lifters, 4-bar FPR, C2 Motorsport 4" MAF
Driveline: five-speed manual with Spec clutch and Peloquin LSD
Brakes: Zimmerman drilled rotors
Suspension: B&G coilovers
Wheels & Tires: 17x8" front, 17x10" rear Stahl S2 wheels with color-matched centers, 35mm front, 40mm rear spacers, 205/40-17 front, 215/40-17 rear Falken Ziex ZE-512 tires
Exterior: smoothed rear bumper and rockers, shaved and smoothed front bumper with Abt lip, Projektzwo mirrors, reinforced pinch welds, pulled fenders, deleted washer nozzles and GLX wing, extended trunk lip with widened rear quarters, smoked E-code headlights and lights, badgeless grille, Euro plate tub, deleted rear seams, car repainted OE Tornado red, black roof
Interior: seats upholstered in white leather with cream suede inserts, New Beetle headrests, color-matched carpeting, white suede headliner, sunroof slide cover and rear parcel shelf, dash, pillars, center console and door sills dyed white, white door cards with GLX leather parts wrapped in crme suede, Abt door pins, shift knob and gauge cluster, Sparco steering wheel in red suede, Wiechers polished roll-bar, Baak2Basics LED lighting AUDIO/VISUAL: Jensen DVD head unit, Eclipse front speakers, 12" sub and amplifier
Thanks: Megan, our families, Don
Garrett, Devin, Jeff, Eric, Jay, Kevin, Jason D at 4everkustoms.com, Jeff at Techtonics, CJ Tires, Gibble's Upholstery, Brandon at baak2basics.com, Migs at B&G Suspension, Steve Busse at Busse's Garage, Chris at C2 Motorsports, Grandfalloons Tavern and Cory Sterling at Euro Auto Source