It's no secret that the Euro scene north of the border is growing dramatically. Among others, we've uncovered some extreme project cars, such as DM Motorsports' R32-powered Mk2 Jetta from Quebec, and a pair of built Mk3s from British Columbia (et 3/09). Now, feast your eyes on this handsome Tornado red Mk3 GTI in from Toronto. It's not an over-the-top show-stopper or 900whp monster, but it's something we could all achieve through patience and hard work. Best of all, it's daily driven - how a VW should be...
Owner Steven Lloyd entered the VW community six years ago as a mechanic. He started wrenching part-time at a local dealer, and that's when he picked up his first and only VW - a '99 GTI VR6.
This was the last year of VW's Mk3 with the beloved 172hp 2.8 liter VR6. It was the perfect platform for a novice to start a project car with catalogs of performance and cosmetic tuning options. Now 27, Steven is full-time at his neighborhood dealership and his project has evolved from bone stock to this appealing OEM+ GTI. "Everything was do-it-yourself on the car," he started. "I did most of the work except things like alignment and paint."
The project began with a few trouble-free upgrades such as a cold-air intake, Eibach springs and a clean set of Porsche Design 90 wheels. But it was all removed after Steven got more involved in the scene. "I went to a couple of events like Waterfest and some local shows, which got me motivated to do more," he revealed.
Although Steven wanted to modify his Mk3, he had an OEM state of mind, meaning the car had to operate like factory without bugs or compromises. An extravagant forced induction setup or race suspension just wouldn't be practical, because he still had to commute to work everyday on the congested Toronto streets. "I was just trying to make power while keeping it virtually stock," Steven explained. "I wanted to keep the original sound and feel of the car but at the same time give it more power."
Steven began by ripping apart the factory intake manifold to rebuild it to European 2.9L spec. He then fitted a Techtonics 2.5" cat-back chip and exhaust, eradicating restrictions in the motor. An ABD Racing Big Bore air intake finished the performance package.
Because the motor was constantly burning ignition coils, MSD Ignition parts improved the VR6's reliability.
After tweaking the engine, Steven swapped the Eibach springs for B&G coilovers along with Mason-Tech Great Plates, which moved the trailing arms further back. Steven dialed down his coilovers for a lower ride height. "That's as low as I can go driving in Toronto," he told us. "the roads are pretty bad; the skidplate saves me sometimes..."
For that reason, a strong set of wheels would be vitally important. So after driving on the Porsche D90 wheels for several months, Steven located a set of 16" BBS RS. In bruised condition, new lips were sourced 0.5" wider all around. After refinishing them, the polished 1" lip in the front and a 2" in the rear sparkled in the sunlight. The formerly gold faces were painted black and secured with gold bolts.
You'll notice there are two different center caps; red and black. Steven couldn't decide which he liked better, so fitted both on opposite sides to solve his dilemma.
The rejuvenated BBS were mounted on H&R adapters and with Falken Ziex 512 tires to ensure grip in wet and dry conditions.
The stock brakes were beginning to show signs of wear, so Steven replaced the rotors with drilled KVR parts and new pads. The calipers were changed to OE Driver's Edition parts to complement the Tornado paint.
With the performance and chassis up to par, the owner could shift focus to styling. He began with classic Euro bumpers front and rear to create an authentic German feel. He molded the intake vents in the lower bumper himself to tidy up the front. He then continued by adding his own style with chrome trim on the bumpers and moldings to replicate Mk4 trim.
The front-end also featured a Euro VR6 lip, Hella Mk4-look headlights and badgeless grille. He then found a Mk3 badge from an old Triumph, which was attached to the grille.
The rest of the exterior additions included stubby mirrors from a Mk3.5 Cabrio, de-locked handles and clear Audi markers.
Steven left the interior until last. The original tan panels, pillars, roof and seats had to go. He wanted a black 'n red theme, so either swapped or reupholstered certain parts. Starting from the top, the headliner was covered in black suede, while the pillars are in black cloth along with sunvisors, handles and sunroof switch. Some heavenly Recaro SRD front seats were fitted along with red Schroth four-point harnesses to continue the color coordination. Chrome accents followed on the vents, climate controls and door pins.
Steven completed the makeover with a sound system in the trunk, featuring a 12" Clarion sub in a custom enclosure under a carpeted false floor. A 7" Nexstar DVD head unit plus Pioneer components front and rear finished the audio upgrades.
For now, Steven tells us he's done with the project, although he plans to add some subtle touches over the winter, tidying the engine bay and installing a Euro hatch. "My goal was to simplify the car without going overboard," he concluded. And Steven accomplished that on his first project, incorporating some clever themes while still driving his GTI daily.
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6 12v with polished and modified intake manifold, ABD Racing Big Bore air intake, valve cover and oil cap, Neuspeed heat shield, 42DD SAI delete, PCV bypass to catch can, Techtonics chip and 2.5" stainless cat-back exhaust with Borla muffler, MSD ignition, Optima Red-Top Battery
Drivetrain: five-speed manual
Brakes: KVR cross-drilled rotors and pads, OE VW Driver's Edition calipers
Suspension: B&G RS2 coilovers, OE VW rear upper strut bar, BPTD skid plate
Wheels & Tires: 16x7.5" front and 16x8" rear BBS RS wheels with 1" front and 2" rear polished lips, gold bolts, polished hex caps, 205/40 R16 Falken Ziex 512 tires, H&R 20mm adapters
Exterior: OE Euro bumpers with molded front lower air inlets, chrome trim, Euro VR6 lip, Votex long fogs, badgeless grille, Mk3 badge, Hella Mk4-look head- and tail lights, de-locked door handles, Mk3.5 Cabrio stubby mirrors, rolled fenders, Honda S2000 antenna, Audi side markers and 2.8 rear badge
Interior: Recaro SRD seats with red stitching and Schroth four-point harnesses, OE VW Driver's Edition steering wheel, shift knob, e-brake boot, rear seats and floor mats, chrome vents, HVAC controls and door pins, VDO in-dash volt gauge, Duostyle in-dash air/fuel gauge, Mk3.5 Cabrio e-brake handle and sunvisors, black pillars, suede headliner with red sunroof trim, Corrado black sunroof switch, B3 Passat grab handles, Audi TT pedals, New Beetle Turbo S dead pedal, Cabrio door handles
Audio/Visual: Nexstar DVD head unit, 12" Clarion sub in enclosure, MTX amp, Pioneer component speakers, carpeted false floor, Stinger wiring
Thanks: mom and dad, sister, girlfriend Farran, Tibor, FS crew, Projekt Motorsports