"My wife and I were expecting a baby two weeks after we purchased the Passat," Drew Dorbritz started. For two hours, the soon-to-be dad sat inside his local dealership trying to talk himself into buying a wagon. After owning a Mk4 Golf and Audi TT, he needed something more functional for a toddler, preferably with four doors and cargo space.
His initial thought was a B5 Passat, then a B5.5, but his salesman offered him a deal he couldn't refuse on this '07 Passat 2.0T. "I never put any thought into a B6 and hadn't seen a modified one at the time," he explained. For that reason, Drew signed the paperwork, drove the wagon home and began scheming his next project.
"It became the family car we use everyday. I wanted the functionality of going low while throwing all the gear in the back and not having the tires rub all the time," he told us.
Drew's Passat began like most other VW projects with suspension and wheels - purchasing a set of 19" Axis Penta wheels with Falken FK-452 tires. He then sought the best stance: "It's been through different stages," Drew explained. "I started with springs, then coilovers and finally air bags."
The air suspension was originally intended for a '65 Van, believe it or +not. Drew's been restoring it for several years but wasn't making any headway. So he grabbed the rear bags and management system he had sitting around. "I've been around air-ride for 12 years, having always been in the off-road and aftermarket scene," he reminded us.
With his experience, Drew fitted the Slam Specialties bags in the rear. "They make an excellent bag for trucks," he said. Up front, Drew was running KW coilovers, so kept the bodies but ditched the springs and changed to a bag-over-coil system.
The bottom of the coilovers was modified to accommodate the Universal Aero bags. Drew deleted the notches, so the struts could slide further through the spindle, allowing the Passat to drop lower. An Airride Technologies controller manages the entire system.
With the perfect stance dialed-in, Drew concentrated on making the Passat pretty, devising a surf theme. "I wanted to do an updated surf wagon," he told us. "I'm a surfer at heart, even though I live in Texas. Having the wagon reminded me of a real woodie surf wagon." Living in the middle of Texas, the nearest beach is at least four hours away, but he surfs every chance he gets and enjoys skateboarding.
The theme required a surfboard in or on the car, so a custom rack was mounted on the roof with a color-matched board.
Continuing the theme, the interior trim was painted silver and teal to mimic the board. Even the rearview mirror was changed for a novelty surfboard item.
The trunk became one of the most involved projects, with the air tank and 10" Rockford Fosgate sub painted like vintage suitcases. Continuing the theme, the cargo floor was lined with wood and chrome rails.
Exterior renovations continued as Drew considered wood paneling along the doors but decided to keep it clean. Instead, he ordered a Votex front valance and chrome mirror caps. The plastic lower moldings were also color-matched in Reflex silver.
Next, he fabricated his own badgeless grille. At the time, nothing was available for the B6, so he took two grilles and fused them together.
In Drew's master plan, he was irritated by the fake rivets in the Axis Penta wheels. So he drilled and re-tapped them to accept genuine stainless bolts. The time-consuming process took several hours with more than 80 bolts fitted. Once done, he stripped the original clear coat off the wheel centers and painted them a satin Gunsmoke metallic.
Critics might argue Drew's Passat is too minimal. But that was the point. As a painter turned stay-at-home dad who drives with his baby son everyday, he didn't have a baller budget or need for speed. He tailored the Passat to his needs. "A lot of the car is understated," he concluded "but I'm proud of the one-off things like the trunk and grille. I built it for me, not the scene." And we can't help think the scene is richer for this sort of imagination and diversity.
2007 VW Passat 2.0T
Owner: Drew Dorbritz
Location: Allen, TX
Occupation: dad and painter
Engine: 2.0-liter 16v turbocharged with K&N filter, Magnaflow exhaust, color-matched engine cover with airbrushed wood grain panel
Drivetrain: six-speed Tiptronic automatic
Suspension: Universal Aero bags over KW Variant 2 front coilovers, Slam Specialties RE-6 rear bags, Airride Technologies E2 management system
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front, 19x9.5" rear Axis Penta wheels painted metallic Gunsmoke grey satin, 215/35 front, 235/35 R19 rear Falken FK-452 tires
Exterior: Votex front valance, custom badgeless grille, painted lower moldings, roof rack with surf board mount, OE Euro New Beetle rear emblem, chrome mirror caps, front and rear foglights, 5000K headlight bulbs
Interior: color-matched trim with painted teal stripe, surfboard rearview mirror, New South Performance boost gauge, relocated Euro headlight switch, wood trunk floor with chrome rails, painted air tank
Audio/Visual: Kenwood Excelon DDX-7015 head unit, JL Audio 250/1 and 300/4 amps, 10" Rockford Fosgate P2 sub in vintage luggage enclosure
Thanks: wife Denise, Jason and crew at Boardwalk Parkcities VW, every friend who helped