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    VW mk6 GOLF R / Is this tastefully upgraded Golf R the ultimate all-rounder?

    HIGH STANDARD / #Volkswagen-Golf-Mk6 / #Volkswagen-Golf / #Volkswagen-Golf-VI / #VW-Golf / #VW-Golf-Mk6 / #VW-Golf-VI / #VW / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Golf-TFSI / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI-Mk6 / #Volkswagen-Golf-2.0TFSI-VI /

    After cutting his tuning teeth on #JDM metal Stan Kowalski thought he would try a Dub or two. We think he made a wise decision… Words: Sean Matthews. Photos: Neil Sterry.

    It’s fair to say that not all journeys that start from A necessarily find their way to B. Even with the best intentions, the route we take in life (whether it’s career, serious life decisions or, in Stan Kowalski’s case, his favoured car scene obsession) can naturally digress and before we know it we’re travelling in the opposite direction. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a negative thing, as Stan’s stunning Mk6 clearly demonstrates…

    You see, the New York native started out favouring brands from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, having owned a few Mitsubishis. “When I was younger I was a JDM guy,” he admits.

    “When I got my license I got my first second-gen Mitsubishi Eclipse. After that I thought I’d try a Subaru out. I actually crashed the Subaru 18 days after having it. I then got myself back into another Eclipse straight after, then onto an Evo. It wasn’t long before I blew up the stock motor.

    I rebuilt it and then decided to take it on the track. However, I ended up blowing up the rebuilt motor due to a fuel injector failure. I really liked to race cars but after all I was getting older, and thought better about getting into trouble getting caught doing street racing. So I figured I’d try the show scene instead…”

    A factor that gave Stan the direction to change the scene he was involved in was actually his mum. “She had always told me that she saw me driving a GTI,” he explains. “With that I decided to go on the hunt for a Mk4 R32.

    I sold the Evo with the blown motor, which I ended up getting good money for.” Looking through all the standard avenues, such as Craigslist and cars.com, yielded no clear or promising results for the right Golf so the next step was to hit the ‘wanted’ section on Vortex and post up details of his dream R32. A reply from Massachusetts arrived, with the seller needing his car gone fast. Stan went to see the car in question and fell in love with it instantly.

    This may have been assisted by the fact it had a Stage 2 Vortech V9 supercharger! With 333 all-wheel- horsepower and 320lb ft of torque the R32 had more than enough go to see off many cars and keep its new power-obsessed owner happy.

    Whilst owning the R32 Stan and some friends started the #VW club ‘VolksNation’, whom you may have seen on Instagram and which has a healthy following across the world. “Me and my friend Joel started the group. We have a whole bunch of different members, some in New York, some in Pennsylvania, and some in New Jersey. We are about 65 strong but we are continuing to grow.” To say he fell into the dub scene hard is clearly an understatement!


    However, another reroute was about to occur and it wasn’t long before Stan was already feeling the pull from another über Golf. “I was going to all these shows in the R32 and all it had was the supercharger, wheels and suspension. Everyone else was going crazy with all they do to their cars and I wanted some of the action… but this time I wanted to seriously modify a Golf R. So, even though it was hard to give the R32 up, I put it up for sale for sheets and giggles at $23,000. It was a steep price but I could afford to as I didn’t need to sell it. And what do you know? Someone came and gave me $23,000 for it!”

    So by June 2013, with his back pocket full of cash, Stan ventured to his local VW dealer and put a down payment on a Tornado red Mk6 R. Whilst waiting for his ride to turn up, other money was being ploughed into parts waiting to grace the Golf ready to take it to the next level. “I bought a downpipe, a cat-back exhaust, a high pressure fuel pump and an intake – basically everything United Motorsports (UM) suggested I need to get the car to Stage 2+. I haven’t had it on the rolling road yet but I have seen in many places that 330whp and 400lb ft is normal.”

    Stan trusted United Motorsports’s guidance already as he had found the guys there to be a great help when he owned his ’charged R32 previously, as it had not been running right when he first bought it. “As I had a lot of trust with Jeff when he worked on the R32, I only wanted him to work on the R,” Stan explains.

    Stan’s next plan of action was to work on the chassis of the R, and it was his chance to fulfil a long held ambition to ride on air. Through more recommendations Open Road Tuning in Nashville came up trumps and was contacted to provide Stan’s car with Air-Lift Performance struts and the ubiquitous V2 auto-pilot management. “I went to them for the hook-up because they gave it to me at a pretty good price. Originally, the boot build and the installation I did myself but then a friend of mine from our VolksNation club opened a shop in Astoria, Queens and suggested we do the trunk setup differently, so I took it to him.” The boot received a subtle tweak, the tank being painted in the same shade of red as the R and some vinyl work was added in for good measure.

    An Autopower Industries roll-cage, cordially powdercoated body colour, was then bolted-in, and this completes the rear. The forged Watercooled Industries three-piece MT10 wheels add the finishing touches to the look of the car, giving it a real concept sports car-style that wouldn’t look out of place at an international autoshow.

    And the best part of the build for Stan? “Ah man, I just love the whole car. I take it to shows and everyone else seems to love it just as much as I do. People come up to me and take pictures of the R and ask how I got so much done in such a short time. It helps to have a garage full of parts whilst you wait for your car to be delivered! I used to go to shows and never win but in the past year I’ve taken first place at Volkswagen Show New Jersey and first place at Waterfest. I went to H2O International and ended up getting nominated for ‘Top Dawg’ which was a great feeling. But when I saw what I was up against, I was like ‘damn…’ as they all had shaved bays and crazy swaps. But it was a real honour to be in the ‘Top Dawg’ competition.”

    Most recently Stan was representing Volksnation at Dub Expo in Atlantic City, winning ‘best in category’ and the coveted ‘best of show’. Stan and his fiancée Nicole are planning to get married this summer, so the changes that are still to come will have to be done on a slightly tighter budget. These will include hydrodipping the wheel centres and bumper plastics, shaving the badges and side markers to give it a subtle makeover.

    It seems that Stan’s journey from JDM fan to serious Dub player has found its true course, with no end to this route in sight. We have a feeling we will be watching him as he continues to weave his way through the VW tuning scene for a long time to come.

    “People come up to me and take pictures of the R and ask how I got so much done in such a short time”

    Dub Details
    ENGINE: 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI #VW-K04 , #CTS-Turbo intake, #Forge-Motorsport intercooler, coolant hoses, and diverter valve, #Integrated-Engineering valve cover, R8 coil packs, #NGK spark plugs, #BSH engine mounts, #Magnaflow cat-back exhaust, #APR downpipes, #Performance-Haldex controller, #Southbend Stage 3 endurance clutch, #Tyrolsport solid shifter bracket bushing, #ECS-Tuning cross-drilled/slotted discs with Hawk pads, Tyrolsport brake caliper stiffening kit, #Tyrolsport Master Bracket

    CHASSIS: 9.5x18” #ET41 10x18” #ET38 WCI MT10 wheels, 205/40/18 and 215/40/18 Nitto Neo Gen tyres, #Air-Lift-Performance Series fronts and Double Bellow Bags rear, #AutoPilot-V2 air management, #H&R anti-roll bars, #Tyrolsport-Deadset subframe collar kit, Tyrolsport Deadset rear subframe kit

    EXTERIOR: ECS Tuning carbon fibre front lip and rear diffuser, CS Tuning carbon fibre side skirts, black vinyl wrapped roof, rear wiper delete, carbon fibre side view mirror caps

    INTERIOR: Cipher Auto racing seats, Takata racing harnesses, Autopower four-point bolt-in cage, rear seat delete, carbon fibre interior trim work, Forge shift knob, custom suede trunk setup, Rennline door straps, LED lights

    SHOUT: Mike and the guys at Tyrolsport, Chris and the guys at #C&M-Performance , Brett and the guys at The Custom Shop, My fiancée Nicole, My Volksnation team
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    DEF ROWE / #Volkswagen-Jetta-Mk2 / #Volkswagen-Jetta / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Jetta-II / #VW / #VAG

    If ever we needed proof that America leads the way in the booted Dub department, Harry Rowe’s turbo Coupé is all the evidence you’ll need. Words: Elliott Roberts / Photos: Sam Dobbins

    It’s safe to say the Volkswagen Jetta Mk2 never quite took off in Europe like it did Stateside. Granted, as with any minority motor car you will always have your fan bois that obsess over them, but for the most part modified Mk2 Jettas in the UK were extremely thin on the ground and if you did find one, well, it would most likely be average at best. Okay, they were until we started to see a bunch of killer examples emerging across the Pond but if we’re honest the Yanks have always led the way with the booted Golf. I guess Harry Rowe’s VR6T Coupé is a great lesson in just why.

    “As a kid I was always into cars and bikes. I had dirt bikes and go-karts before eventually winding up in an 1983 Rabbit GTI,” claims Harry. Despite the natural draw to American muscle cars Harry was soon turned on to the VW way of life after a bunch of mates dragged him to a couple of European car shows. “Also, my father’s good friend worked for VW and they built quick quarter-mile cars in their spare time. It was good fun back then,” Harry adds.

    He actually ended up taking the ’90 Jetta Coupé as a trade with a friend, as he explains: “My friend Paul Harley had bought the car but quickly discovered it had a lot of bugs and it was soon just parked up. It had lots of potential but was poorly put together I guess.” After getting the car running Harry drove the thing daily for a couple of years so he could iron out all the little niggles and get it mechanically flawless. Then trouble struck. “One day a tractor slowly reversed into the front, Tunacanning the fender off,” Harry says. He was originally planning just to fix the cosmetic damage but, inevitably, got carried away. It was at this stage the engine came out and Harry started to plan which angle of attack to take. He was set back a little due to the purchase of his first house… and mortgage! “The good thing was it had a garage, though,”

    Harry says, “so at least there would be somewhere to store the car and work on it.” On paper the car as Harry purchased it was quite sorted. “It had widened rear fenders, a semishaved bay, shaved body mouldings and marker lights,” Harry tells us, “but I just perfected it by doing a full-on smoothed bay, fitting the pop-out rear windows and adding a number of other little touches.” Harry claims he just loves changing things up and being creative. Although he was aware of some of the US scene’s Mk2 Jetta Coupé ‘greats’ Harry claims he wasn’t inspired by any specific one: “I just wanted to make the car nice and put my own spin on it.” Stuff like the key-hole-mounted rear-view camera and Mk3- style boot popper are things that most people wouldn’t even notice but Harry knows are there and will appeal to the real anoraks.

    Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though. After Harry exchanged on the house he began stripping the car right down for a full repaint: “I did a lot of the engine bay prep in my garage while Haggard Fab took on some of the other fab work before the rolling shell went off for paint.” According to Harry it’s Mars red but with a Mercedes Benz paint code.

    Those with a keen eye may also have noticed the rear window seal isn’t as it left the factory. “There I used a number of parts from various brands of car,” Harry reports. “This changes the look of the rear window seal and, in my opinion, makes the car look more modern and, most importantly, different to all the rest.” You won’t see many Jettas running round headlights either. The purists may frown on this but we think they look at right home there and Harry is happy with the end result: “I’ve always loved round headlights. I’ve tried Westy aeros but I keep coming back to these. Of course, I’d happily fit a Rallye front-end if somebody was to donate one though!”


    Despite carrying out a lot of work himself, Harry claims he couldn’t have done it without the help of his friends – especially Matt at Eurokraft: “His knowledge of these cars is amazing and helped me tons.” Apparently Harry was most motivated when the car came back from paint: “After that, it was all hands on deck from my friends.”

    There’s obviously more to this car than a new coat of paint and a few rare modifications, though. Yup, it’s time to talk about the big turbo VR6 running all the right bits: “The car had a VR6 swap when I got it, although it looked nothing like it does now, even though it is the same motor,” Harry tells us. “It’s a nonintercooled VR6 turbo with titanium valve springs retainers and HD valve springs and head gasket spacer with ARP hardware. For what it is – a lowboost setup with about 13lbs – it really moves.

    I’ve embarrassed a number of cars on the highway.” He’s also done alright at the quartermile, with a best ET of 12.7 at 115mph. That’s certainly not to be sniffed at. We like the fact that despite the fresh paint and show car wheels, Harry is still all about driving this thing: “Yeah, I’m not afraid to whoop on it from time to time. That’s why I put it together really.”

    So the car can clearly hold its own on the showfield and quarter-mile, but what about in the twisties? “I almost went for air-ride but decided against it. The car is running CX Racing coilovers, which I know are not exactly expensive but they adjust pretty well and the car corners great and rides low, too,” Harry says. When it came to the interior Harry really didn’t want to go overboard: “I love the sight of a Mk2 dash and interior so long as it’s in good shape, so I didn’t see the point in wrapping it up. After all, it’s a car I built on a budget, so just adding simple OEM+ touches and a few creature comforts like the double DIN touchscreen, Hella wheel and SWG gauge pod, plus custom centre vent gauge mounts and suede headline with matching pillars and red stripe seat belts worked for me.”

    So now it’s all finished we ask Harry if he enjoyed the build and what was the hardest part of it? “I think staying motivated was the hardest part, especially while moving into my new house,” he replies. “As for the positives, well, despite just being a VW Jetta it gets plenty of attention even from non-car people and I guess it’s pretty fast, too.”

    What does the future hold for Harry? “Well, I don’t really have any new projects lined-up just yet. I don’t think I’ll do another serious build any time soon. I did buy a Kamei hood scoop that I painted body colour recently, though. I’m really liking that on the car.” So why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves through all of this? “I enjoy making things better whether it’s fixing or modifying things,” Harry surmises. “If somebody doesn’t get it then usually a turbocharged thirdgear pull normally explains it all perfectly!”

    Dub Details

    ENGINE: 2.8-litre 12v #VR6 with #Kinetics Stage 1 kit comprising Precision turbo, #ARP hardware, upgraded injectors and software, titanium valve spring retainers, uprated valve springs, 8.5:1 head gasket spacer, stock cam, hidden coil pack and tucked wires, #Dahlback-Racing diverter valve, Tial wastegate, shortened oil pan and R32 oil pump, custom Eurokraft wire harness for shaved bay, Forge boost controller, Haggard Fab coolant reservoir, #Haggard Fab 3” exhaust with custom mounted #Borla-Pro XS muffler and short tailpipe, #Quaife differential, ARP hardware, #Southbend clutch, Polo shift box and 02j shifter swap.

    CHASSIS: 8x16” and 9x16” #BBS-RS , half caps with red centres, five-stud conversion, Mk3 VR6 brakes, #CX-Racing coilovers, upgrade polybushings, #VF-Engineering motor mounts.


    EXTERIOR: Custom-made rear pop-out windows, Porsche script handles, Mercedes Benz Mars red paint, badgeless single round grille, widened rear arches, shaved body mouldings, shaved marker lights and antenna, custom-mounted rear-view camera in trunk key hole and Mk3-style rear trunk popper.

    INTERIOR: #SWG gauge pod holding Innovate wide-band, custom centre vent gauge panel housing #Cyberdyne digital boost/vac, oil pressure and oil temp gauges, #Recaro Trophy seats, #Hella Royal Exclusive Line steering wheel, Mk3 silver-faced cluster, suede headliner and pillars, leather-wrapped parcel shelf, custom-made Porsche script ‘Turbo’ floormats and a personalised pillow, #Pioneer double DIN touchscreen display, 10” Pioneer sub mounted in rear armrest, #Kenwood amp, Infinity door speakers.

    SHOUT: Big thanks to all my friends that came and helped when I needed it, Paul, Jay, Joel, Dan, Matt from Eurokraft, Matt from Haggard Fab, Sam Dobbins, oh, and I can’t forget my lovely fiancé for putting up with me, and anyone I forgot. This was most definitely an honor, thank you.
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