Despite the 140,000 miles on Project Corrado's clock, the car continues to perform like a thoroughbred stud looking for somewhere to kick up its heels. There's nothing quite as euphoric as feeling as its hooves fight for purchase deep into second gear.
The VFE Supercharger has proven to be a solid and effective bit of kit, providing reliably boosted performance on both road and track, and night driving is no longer a matter of outrunning the lights. Fitment of HID factory xenon headlamps also gives me a huge safety advantage when the sun goes down. I used the relays that were sent with the HID factory kit, and while they made the installation more complex, the lights function just like factory units.
Given the Corrado's health, I decided to upgrade the VFE Supercharger to Stage II, comprised of a smaller, 8-psi VFE supercharger pulley, high-capacity Bosch injectors, race bypass valve and GIAC software. This program left the Corrado SLC with another 21.5 whp and 17.8 lb-ft of torque, a 10% increase from the Stage I kit. And while the extra power is fantastic, the way it's delivered is the truly impressive part of the upgrade.
At every speed the Corrado behaves just as it did before--like a factory car. The power builds with a measured progression, pulling hard until the tach needle bounces off the rev limiter. Overall driveability is perfect, perhaps even better than Stage I. GIAC's programming makes the most of the hardware and yet keeps the Corrado sane enough for everyday street use. The billet bypass valve adds a slight "WHOOOSH" on each shift, but it's never obnoxious or "ricey." It's come to the point where the power has made a Quaife limited-slip differential an absolute necessity. Every day I delay its installation equates to more Kumho MX rubber (outstanding tires!) going up in smoke.
One of the drawbacks of owning a car you love is the constant worry. Is it going to get door-dinged? Is it going to get keyed? Is some tosser going to steal it? I purposely left the body alone, the idea being the few dents on its flanks would reduce my anxiety over new ones. In fact, I think every new car owner should take a ballpeen hammer and give his car a quick ding. It's going to happen sooner or later, so just get it over with. I considered the Corrado's blemishes evidence of a life fully lived.
There were several areas of rust on the Corrado that stood out like zits on a super model. Though small, my eye would immediately go to the bottom of the rear hatch window, where rust was beginning to take hold. Zits indeed. It's a common malady on the Corrado--water creeps under the window seal and settles at the bottom. My "fix" was a few pieces of red duct tape, a temporary bandage. I simply could not stand looking at it.
Longtime readers of ec may remember Neuspeed's Corrado G60 project, a screaming yellow road missile with the best technology of the time. The rear Zender wing was an especially nice touch and gave the car an aggressive yet O.E. appearance. If you want Zender products today (or Quaife LSDs), you see the folks at Autotech, the authorized North American importers of both lines. The Zender rear wing for the Corrado is an exceedingly rare piece, so rare, in fact, I own the last one in stock. Autotech's Ralph Hollack combed the expansive warehouse and found the Zender wing sitting high on a shelf, a thick layer of dust testimony of its popularity. It was mine, all mine.
I had seen a few Corrados decked out with gear from Autobahn Designs, in particular ABD's upper grille spoiler. It's a very understated piece that fits just over the front grille and HID factory headlamps. I had to get one.
The unpainted parts sat in my office a couple days until a call to Wet Works Garage set things in motion. I've been a fan of Wet Works cars for some time, especially its stunning work on both B5 Passat and Jetta platforms. Wet Works cars are unique, managing to blend singular styling with a factory-correct appearance.
"There are two kinds of cars," said Joe Delio of WW. "There's the 'nice car,' and then there's the 'nice car...who did the paint?'"
"I prefer to be the latter," added Joe.
Tucked away in a nondescript business park, WW specializes in a European style where "less is more." WW has been solely dedicated to European cars for more than 5 years...you won't find Hondas or Mitsus rolling out of its facility.
"We are not interested in the Asian stuff," said Joe. "We get a lot of Honda owners who want the same treatment, but it just won't work...the cars have entirely different attitudes.
"We've made a name for ourselves in the European market...that's where we're going to stay," added Joe.
Joe gave the parts a quick glance and then looked at the Corrado. His eyes immediately went to the "bandage" on the rear hatch. "Hmmm...we're going to need to take care of this. I don't want this car leaving my shop with that crap on the hatch."
You've got to appreciate people who value their reputation and will work extra hard to keep it. Wet Works is that type of place.
WW employs several expert body men and a master painter, all trained with the latest state-of-the-art materials and equipment. After removing the rust and a good portion of the surrounding material, WW used a malleable liquid steel to replace the metal. The Zender wing and ABD spoiler were painted in WW's sizable paint booth and fixed to the car. Rather than use the adhesive supplied with the parts, WW prefers to use a less permanent glue (it's still damn tough), because many owners wind up removing said pieces for a variety of reasons. In hindsight, I'm glad they did as I had to remove the front ABD spoiler to remove the HID factory headlamps and install the relay. A permanent adhesive would have ruined the spoiler and probably stripped the paint from the car. WW also fixed the rear fascia plate (the thing the license plate is attached to) and eliminated an irritating rattle back there. WW applied a brilliant finish to the parts and repaired area and skillfully blended the old stuff into the new. Overall, the Corrado looks 100% better than before.
Age and limited numbers have left the Corrado a road rarity. I feel compelled to stop fellow Corrado drivers and exchange a secret handshake or something. So, in the grand sense, this project is of limited editorial value. While that may be true, the parts and services I've used will work with the more ubiquitous of the Volkswagen species. Stay tuned.
AT A GLANCE
Installers: Wet Works Garage, VF Engineering
VF Engineering: 2 hours at $50/hour = $100
Wet Works--Paint and body work: $400 (estimated)
Zender rear wing: $240 (if you can find one)
ABD upper grille spoiler: $79.95
VF Engineering Stage II supercharger upgrade: $1,000