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Motor Trend - 2000 Volkswagen Golf

Motor Trend Project Car Build-Up

Team Members: 1

Months to build the car: 1

Place we want to finish: 1

Going into this build-up I was faced with a perplexing situation. Our research data shows that the average Motor Trend reader is a well-educated, middle aged, working professional with a pretty solid total household income. The last time I checked, such successful people didn't drive clapped-out beaters to and from work. Rather, MT readers tend to drive above average vehicles that, consequently, tend to cost a fair amount. So here's the problem: With a total budget of $25,000, how was I to buy and modify a vehicle that would not only be nice, quick, and unique, but would be something that our readership would be proud to call their own. Truth be told, I could have easily spent the entire $25K on a bone stock car and had nothing left over for go-fast parts.

After much consideration, I came to the decision that buying a Volkswagen was the smartest choice. A VW offers good looks, solid safety, decent performance, and (most importantly) a strong helping of refinement and luxury—all for a fair price. Searching eBay Motors revealed scads of clean VW examples (including Golf, GTi, Jetta, etc.) but deep down I knew that I needed to build something more unique than just a Golf with some flashy wheels. Motor Trend readers love performance and I needed something that really performs, not just looks like it performs. VW's new R32 is just that, but it is way out of our budget. But that got me thinking, why not build a custom VW with all the best attributes of the radical R32, but make it even more radical? Thus began the project.

The plan:

1. Buy a clean Golf or Jetta that didn't need much work.

2. Score an aftermarket or factory R32 body kit for improved looks.

3. Somehow retrofit an AWD system pirated from something like an Audi TT, Passat W8, R32, or such.

4. Retrofit a performance six-speed manual gearbox.

5. Install some serious brakes (either aftermarket discs or optionally available factory brakes from a performance model of VW/Audi).

6. Ditch the wimpy factory rolling stock in favor of larger, wider, grippier performance wheels/tires.

7. Upgrade to radically better suspension with a lowered ride height.

8. Add a bit of visual flash to the interior (maybe floor mats, seats, a cool looking stereo, or such).

9. Add some external visual flash (paintwork, graphics, etc.).

10. More power—and lots of it! Turbos, supercharger, nitrous…Who knows? But it'll be something impressive.

That's the plan. Initial scouting on eBay has proven that many of the parts do exist. As a one-man team the deck is stacked against me and my hectic work schedule affords me little time to pull it off. Oh, and since I won't have much money to work with, chances are that I'll have to install most of the parts myself or con friends and family into helping me. Again, that's the plan. Now let's see how close I come.