Having just "finished" building a Mk4 Jetta, disaster struck Joe Adams when his car caught fire after a fuel line cracked. Within minutes, the car was engulfed in flames, as well as part of Joe's house and even the neighbor's house!
Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but the houses needed repair and his project was a total loss. Without the chance to enjoy his labors, Joe decided to start afresh with a '04 GTI VR6.
After the sale of several parts that had been still waiting to go on the Jetta, Joe was able to pick up the GTI as his daily driver. For the most part, he wasn't going to do a lot to it, "But you know how that goes..." he laughed.
Four days after buying the GTI, he got bored and the car found itself in the paint booth. As a custom bodywork specialist and painter by trade, Joe had the right tools for the job. He started by painting the roof black and shaving the hatch.
With this happening during the recession, work dropped off so he had plenty of time to focus on the car. Within a short period, he'd sourced a 20AE lip kit, fitted a Euro rear bumper and shaved the exhaust and tow hook cutouts.
The shaving and molding continued with the front bumper, markers, hood notches and door handle pockets.
Other accents were added, such as OEM stubby mirrors, an R32 hatch spoiler, projector foglights, blue tint, red tail lights and Helix headlights - the latter were stripped, molded and fitted with internal ballasts for the plug-n-play connection.
When it came to the desired wheel choice, Joe had the perennial problem: choose something different and risk the haters, or go with a tried 'n true that's guaranteed to look right.
After going through a dozen sets of wheels, most of which were rare or uncommon, Joe decided there was no beating the BBS RS. He went with staggered 17x8.5'' fronts, 9.5'' rears with quarter-height caps to give them a different look.
Yet another quest is for the ultimate low. With previous experience in the mini-truck scene, Joe was starting to see airbags grow in popularity, so decided it would be a fun to do the same. He installed a Mason-Tech air suspension kit with a Dakota auto-level management system for digital monitoring in the cabin. And with interior plans including a rear-seat delete, Joe had no problem mounting the massive air tank in the hatch with all the controls adjacent.
While air-ride is one of the major aspects of the Mk4's interior, it's not the highlight. On a quest for something different than the rest, Joe removed the upper dash and door panels (only offered in black from the factory) and painted them the gray you see here, finished with PPG's soft-touch clearcoat to give it a leather-like sheen.
Adding a motorsport splash, the owner infused a black suede headliner and pillars with matching Sparco Milano 2 seats. He added other accents like OEM aluminum trim and a custom rollcage, before replacing the rear seat with high-density foam covered in carpet. Cutouts allow the Schroth harnesses to mount in the rear and the entire piece weighs around 5 lb. That's more than 60 lb lighter than the stock seat!
Attention shifted to the engine bay, with the VR6 24v receiving 264° Techtonics cams and 2.5'' dual downpipes. Joe ported the exhaust manifold and fabricated a carbon fiber intake manifold. Spent gases exit through a custom 2.5'' stainless steel exhaust. Unitronic then developed a custom tune for the set-up.
Next, he fabricated a custom oil catch-can for a cool look and functionality. He then relocated the power steering and coolant reservoirs to the frame rails behind the headlights, while the EVAP system and other components went under the rain tray. This allowed Joe to smooth parts of the bay for a clean, Euro look.
Final touches included polished AC lines, braided fuel lines and a custom painted engine cover to create a unique touch.
This GTI is yet another clean example of the Mk4 genre, and one that took top honors at VAG Fair '09 in the modified Mk4 category, as well as mentions in H20i's Top Dawg contest among its accomplishments.
Joe plans to continue showing the car as often as he can, and even mentioned the possibility of drag racing it in the all-motor category next year...
Engine: 2.8L VR6 24v with Techtonics Tuning 264° cams and dual downpipe, ported exhaust manifold, custom 2.5'' stainless exhaust, custom intake, carbon fiber intake manifold, Unitronic software, shaved engine bay, custom painted engine cover, custom oil catch can, polished AC lines, braided fuel lines
Drivetrain: five-speed manual with Autotech 9lb flywheel, Raxles driveshafts
Wheels & Tires: 17x8.5'' front, 17x9.5'' rear BBS RS wheels with quarter-height caps, 205/45 R17 front, 215/45 R17 rear Yokohama S-drive tires
Exterior: 20th Anniversary Edition front valance, side skirts and rear apron on Euro rear bumper with shaved tow hook and exhaust cutout, R32 hatch spolier, shaved door handle pockets, fender markers, hatch, hood notch, side markers and bumper notch, lower grille foglights, black roof, blue tint, OEM stubby mirrors, custom dual-signal headlights, all-red tail lights
Interior: Sparco Milano 2 seats, Schroth harnesses, black suede headliner and pillars, custom grey upper dash and door panels, custom rollcage, rear-seat delete, OEM aluminum trim, R32 steering wheel, 20AE shift knob, Pioneer DEH-P410UB head unit, Auto Meter voltage and oil pressure gauges
Thanks: Tim M, Tim J, Brandon, Kurtis from mandrelbend.com and Collins Collision