In your Jan 2007 issue, Incoming, page 36, the letter "More VAG Please," lamented the lack of VW content. Your response was: "As soon as Volkswagen builds a proper sports car... like a new R32/R36... coverage will... increase considerably." Well, ec was greatly responsible for getting VW to bring the 2004 R32 to the US and it won your Grand Prix Award. There are 5000 of us ready to read articles on upgrades and custom R32s and, more importantly for you, ready to buy product from your advertisers. As a 20-plus-year subscriber and owner of past VW sports cars (Scirocco and Corrado), I am disappointed. My subscription is paid for until May 2008. Surprise me.
Most of the staff grew up on VWs. Rabbits, Sciroccos, Jettas, Eurovans, Corrados... you name it, we've owned them. We feel a maternal instinct towards VW-call it the 'Mother Brand' if you will. We love VW-there, we said it. However, we can't help being disappointed that a company with such vaunted technology has been missing a proper sports car for more than a decade. Yes, we've seen the IROC concept and our sources indicate it will most likely see production. And when it does, we promise our VW coverage will increase markedly. Until then, drive the wheels off that R32. It's a brilliant car-for a hatchback.
A rare find
I found an issue of european car with a 405-hp E34 1989 BMW Dinan 535i on the cover. I wanted to know if there is any way to get a copy of this, as I have the exact same car. It seems these are incredibly rare, so rare I have only found one other in existence. I do not know the month or year of the issue but I will attach a picture of it. The car has garnered a great deal of attention on the enthusiasts' sites and we would all love to know more about it. It was a diamond in the rough that I stumbled upon locally, a modern-day barn find.
The March 1992 issue featured Dinan's Stage Three 535i Turbo. Five-speed manual versions could hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and complete the quarter-mile with a scorching 13.1 seconds at 122 mph. Top speed was 168 mph, limited by gearing. The 3.5-liter, 12-valve straight-six was fitted with new pistons, intercooler, high-flow exhaust, software and specially designed wastegates. At 12.5 psi, the car made 405 hp at 5250 rpm and 438 lb-ft of torque at 2550 rpm. At the time, the Dinan 535i Turbo was one of the fastest mid-size sedans in the world. It's still quick today. As a recognized OE manufacturer, Dinan maintains detailed records. There should be a build number plate somewhere within the car. We'd ask Dinan (via e-mail) to look it up. Congrats on a spectacular find.
Concerning the December 2006 issue: Wow. Didn't realize the 997 Turbo was fast enough to warp Watkins Glen from NY to NJ. And Bidrawn's intake of the bubbly must have been off the charts for him to pass through the Lincoln Tunnel thinking it was the George Washington Bridge.
Yeah well, we flunked geography in high school and college. Good eye.
Right now I'm deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom in beautiful and luxurious Afghanistan (sarcasm, anyone?), but I'm planning on which car to drive when I get back. I've been looking into Saabs, but haven't seen many tuning opportunities as far as heavily modified Saabs go. The most I've seen is intakes, exhausts, chips, etc. I've been looking at a 9-3 Sport Sedan, or a 9-2X. I like the 9-2X. But as far as the 9-3 Aero goes, would it make a good car to tune? My goal is to start autocrossing and maybe a few passes at the strip, but the majority of my time would be in the twisties. Does the 9-3 have parts on the market to become a fun and fast canyon carver, or have people really not explored the limits or built parts for the 9-3's suspension? I know the Ecotec engine shares a lot of parts from all across General Motors, so that takes care of that. But is modifying boost on the 2.0T a pain because of its engine management system-the Trionic 8, if I'm not mistaken? Secondly, what is the 9-3's handling like? I read your reviews online and I like what I've seen so far, but just how much of an autocrosser would the 9-3 make? Is it just too heavy and too 'watered-down' to become a fast turner? I know what parts are available for the 9-2X (basically all Subaru parts). That's why I'm looking into one of those as well.
The answer to all your questions, as usual, comes down to "it depends." I've been messing with Saabs for more than 30 years, including racing, autocross, rally, pro-rally and lately vintage racing a V4-powered Saab 9-6. They are great cars if you like being the underdog. Parts are nowhere near as common as they are for VWs, Audis and BMWs and, at least on an autocross course, they are nose-heavy. The exception might be the Subaru Impreza-based 9-2X, as you point out, but then you are going to have to run against other Subarus that probably are going to weigh less and be that much quicker. The 9-3 would appear to have possibilities, but if you make any sort of modifications, you will have to run against other cars that have a bigger selection of parts available than Saab and Saab tuners can offer. So unless you like having a built-in excuse as to why you aren't winning every weekend, my advice is to buy a nice 9-3 for your daily driver and build a hot GTI or M3 for weekend fun. The days of the one-car-does-it-all are, alas, over. -Kevin Clemens
Correction: Claus Ettensberger's custom VW FAST (who he named Schnell), our good luck charm on Bullrun 2006 (and likely the source of Claus's superhuman driving powers), was custom painted by Troy Lee, not Foose as indicated in the caption on page 72 of the January '07 issue. We only pray that Claus, Lee and Schnell can forgive us. Especially Schnell-we're going to need all the mojo we can muster for next year's 'Run.