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Budget B5 Buildup Part III

Interior upgrades

Cullen Clutterham
Feb 1, 2001
Photographer: Philip Royle

This budget thing is killing us. We all have to deal with it when building our cars, but it’s still a pain in the neck. While determining what we were going to do for this installment, we realized how much, and how little, $1,054.17 really is. Although it’s a huge dent in a bank account (Any that we have access to.—MAX), it really is only a tiny amount of money, considering all the modifications that are available, and all that we’d like to experiment with. Despite these burning desires, we do have enough restraint to limit ourselves to the budget that we’ve set…at least we hope we do.

Rather than trying to find some way around the budget that we set up, we’re going to continue building. This month, we’re gonna go all-out in the cabin. A shift knob may be enough for some, but in the driver’s seat is where you spend most of your time, and being happy with your interior is going to make a huge difference in the driving experience. A shift knob is definitely going in, but so are a replacement shift boot, a leather steering wheel cover, and a complete billet aluminum dash kit.

For the shift knob, we searched out some extremely stylish products that have Gucci looks but not the Gucci price tag. Conrero (Represented in North America exclusively through CFI Motorsports.—MAX) is an Italian manufacturer with very classy designs and awesome pricing. For our shift knob, we chose the $59 Misano. It is a race-styled knob with a slim design, constructed of solid aluminum with a brushed finish. Rather than play mix-and-match, we also chose Conrero for the shift boot, which is your typical high-quality leather boot with high-quality stitching. Although the stitch was available in a contrasting color, we decided that the black stitch was the best for our application. With the boot ringing in at $55, our total expense for the Conrero products was $114.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there have been several recurring words throughout the Budget B5 Buildup: stylish and classy (Not to mention “and” and “the” and…—MAX). Legend 5 manufactures some of the best-looking dash kits available. The kits cover all the bases from the conservative to the radical race look with components including colorful resin, colored carbon fiber, wood, and billet aluminum. Sticking with our two buzz words, we opted for Legend 5’s billet aluminum dash-trim kit. This 19-piece kit covers essentially every part that you can think of, ringing in at a price of $399. That price tag is more than reasonable, considering the kit is CNC-machined from billet aluminum and anodized clear. CNC-machining guarantees perfect fit and super-tight tolerances. The kit is beautifully finished and matches our shift knob quite well. It is imperative to be careful with the pieces, as they are metal and can be bent. Make sure you test-fit all the pieces before preparing the vehicle’s interior surfaces for application. The 3M adhesive tape sticks very well, and attempting to remove the pieces once the adhesive has set can damage them. By far, this is the most time- and fund-consuming part of the interior dress-up process, but no other product makes as big of an impact.

The final piece to what we consider the perfect budget-priced interior is leather steering wheel trim from Alan Gun Leather Accessories (AGLA.—MAX). This is not a generic one-size-fits-all steering wheel cover that you can get at Pep Boys. It’s a top-quality leather piece that covers the spokes, designed to look like factory. AGLA develops its wheel covers to look like factory by carefully measuring out the exact shape of the leather needed to properly cover the wheel. Considering that with the $1,500 factory leather package from VW all you get, beyond what was included in our GLS trim-level package, is a leather-covered e-brake handle, leather seats that have almost no grip and get quite uncomfortable on long drives, and the leather-covered steering wheel, it seems as though you’re stealing the steering wheel cover from AGLA. For $49.95, and a little patience to install it, we can get what is essentially the same steering wheel. AGLA’s kit comes with the leather in your choice of colors, as well as thread in the same or contrasting color, installation instructions, and needles. We opted for a dark gray stitch to match the interior a little better, however subtle it turned out.

Now that you know what we acquired to upgrade our interior, follow along as we install everything. All of the products come with installation instructions, so be sure to follow them, and only use our steps for reference. Then again, have we ever been wrong (Don’t answer that.—MAX)?

By Cullen Clutterham
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