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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”
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