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Budget B5 Buildup Part V

The 2000 VW Passat Project is Finally Complete

Philip Royle
Apr 1, 2001

Our Passat will never win a car show. This comes as no surprise to us, as we knew when we spent the first dollar on the project. The concept of the Budget B5 Buildup was to take an average Euro and turn it into a street cruiser for under $5,000, and to that we were very successful.

In case you missed the first four installments of our buildup, we broke modifying a car into five categories: chassis, engine, interior, in-car electronics, and exterior. Based on these categories, we grabbed a calculator to see how much we could spend in each area. Realizing we would have to get creative and make compromises, we decided the factory Monsoon audio system was perfectly acceptable stock. Although we would have loved to add some kick to the system through a trunk-mounted woofer and aftermarket component speakers, we decided we would have to wait until the end of the buildup to see how much money was remaining. Since a woofer and speakers cannot be purchased for $7.22, the idea was booted. What did make it to the table were the remaining categories.

For chassis upgrades, we chose to build a car to cruise the strip, not attack the track. We also knew that 19-inch wheels would put us over budget very quickly, so we chose to go with MAK 18s with Falken rubber instead. Eibach was a natural selection for springs and shocks, as the Eibach Pro-Kit and Pro-Damper combination allowed for a significant drop in ride height without adversely affecting ride quality. The MAK Force 18x8 wheels we chose were not the cheapest on the market, but once we decided the car must look good, they were also a natural choice together with the 235/40-18 tires.

We knew the 1.8L turbo engine was capable of churning out some serious power, but as we were on a budget, there were situations we needed to avoid. One major issue that we had to work around was cracking open the engine. If we chose engine upgrades resulting in too much power, the clutch would die a premature death, and that would kick us well over our budget in repair costs. To avoid that and cut corners everywhere we could, we created a limited-power game plan. Boosting the power, we headed to Neuspeed, where we had a P-Chip and K&N drop-in filter installed. We then purchased a Bosal Brospeed universal muffler with DTM tips and headed to a local muffler shop for the install. All in all, the engine mods boosted the power from a stock 136.5 wheel hp to 157.4 hp; not bad for only $630.

Inside the car we knew we wanted everything to look great while retaining every inch of functionality that is inherently VW. For that, we replaced the factory shift knob and boot with a Conrero Misano shift knob and leather boot. We knew our budget wouldn’t allow for a short shifter, so we were pleasantly surprised to discover the added weight of the Conrero aluminum shift knob aided shifting, making each throw of the gears more effortless than before. The Legend 5 aluminum dash kit we chose matched the Conrero shift knob perfectly, continuing the aluminum theme into the back seats. And imagine our surprise when we stumbled upon Alan Gun Leather Accessories’ leather wheel kit. For under $50 we wrapped the stock four-spoke wheel in real leather, with the end result being near exotic.

Finally, we picked up a Wings West Passat-specific, two-leg spoiler with brake light and headed to Wet Works in Stanton, California. There, we had the spoiler and the Passat’s black underbody pieces color-matched, creating the illusion of a complete body kit for a fraction of the cost. After the car was painted and back together, we stopped by Modern Image Signworks in Huntington Beach, California, and had them apply carbon-fiber-look vinyl to the B-pillar and rear quarter window trim, as well as cut a trendy MAX Power window banner. The finishing touch was something that may be overlooked by some, but it’s our signature seal. We tossed the dealer license plate frame for a $15 chrome one, removed the Passat emblems, and ditched the front plate.

The total spent was $4,992.78. Granted, that includes parts, not labor, but with the exception of color-matching the body pieces, most of what we did could be completed by anyone with an instruction manual, a good set of tools, and a strict budget. Unfortunately, we had to compromise on certain parts. We would have loved to install a complete body kit, tweaked the turbo a little more, and upgraded to a higher quality audio system, but we were determined to stick to our budget. Now that the project is complete, we may even save up once more and upgrade the remaining parts as funds become available. Then again, now that we’re broke, it could be a while.

By Philip Royle
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