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2000 VW Jetta GLX VR6 - Border Patrol

Swapping a mini-truck for this Jetta, Justin McLean was converted by 300hp VR6 turbo power.

By David Putty, Photography by Andrew Holliday

The VW tuning scene has often been compared to a cult. The comparison seems severe but, then again, when we look at the number of enthusiasts spending $10k in mods on $2k cars, who drive them across the country to hang out with other like-minded enthusiasts, maybe it rings a little bit true?

Every cult needs a steady stream of fresh recruits, and Justin McLean from Port Coquitlam, British Colombia proved to be no more resistant than the next guy to being converted.

Before ’05 he was a devoted mini-trucker, happy with his lowered Chevy S10. But buddy and VW enthusiast Cole Barker had a sweet second-gen Scirocco and, well… we all know how the story goes from there…

It wasn’t long before Justin found himself searching for a clean Mk4 Jetta. “I wanted something newer and more reliable,” Justin explained. “Buying a Mk4 for its reliability is funny, I know. But nonetheless I started looking around for a nice Jetta and found a ’00 GLX VR6 at a VW dealer. It even came with an extended warranty!”

Justin immediately got to work modding it, but without a large disposable income, things progressed slowly. False starts along the way included buying a spring and shock kit. “Man, I wish somebody would’ve told me to not buy springs and shocks but just go for coilovers first!” We know, Justin. We know…

The Jetta was always on active daily driving duty, so Justin took his time discovering what style he wanted, and what wouldn’t keep the car off the road for long periods of time.

Reading mags and surfing forums allowed him to get a broad view of what other owners were doing. He told us: “There were some really nice ideas and concepts out there, pushing everybody to raise their game if they wanted to compete at shows.” But he also noted: “There was a lot of crap out there, too.” Again; we know, Justin. We know…

The Jetta’s VR6 was no slouch out of the box, but in a modern world where Toyota minivans have 300hp, Justin turned to Kinetic Motorsports to put things into perspective. Starting with a Garrett T3/T4 turbo and 38mm Tial wastegate, the Kinetic kit added a 4" MAF housing, front-mount intercooler and C2 Motorsports software for full effect.

That effect should represent 300hp and 325 lb-ft, according to previous Kinetic dynos. However, Justin hasn’t tested his own car to verify the output.

As you may have suspected, coilovers eventually found their way under the GLX, and this time Justin didn’t half-ass it – a B&G RS2 coilover kit was teamed with Neuspeed sway bars, while the brakes were upgraded to GLI specifications.

Although 19" wheels seemed perfect for the Mk4 at one time, like many of us he tired of keeping the car low and the wheels round. So the big rollers were replaced by 17" SSR splitties. With a 5x114.3 PCD, Adaptec Speedware was consulted and a set of custom hubcentric adapters were fabricated.

With the bulk of the mechanical mods completed, it was time to nail down an overall theme, and while he’d previously gone the GLI route, he decided a European Bora R front bumper was the solution after he ripped off yet another front lip!

Combined with a smoothed Votex rear bumper and Dubtechnik M3-style side skirts, the new look was a homerun in Justin’s eyes. “I liked the GLI look, but it now flows better and is more classy.”

Other exterior upgrades included FK projector headlights converted to HID, a badgeless grille and filled hood notch, plus a pair of in.pro mirror caps.

Notably absent from the list is a sticker that got removed after a series of awkward US/Canada border patrol interrogations – Justin tried to explain that the brown bear leering around a corner was a joke, but the phrase “internet meme” apparently means nothing to customs officers. Spending hours convincing serious people you’re not a pedophile isn’t time well-spent, so Justin considered it a lesson learned.

The Jetta’s interior had seen a boost gauge, Audi TT pedal, some painted trim pieces and well-chosen audio upgrades – nothing crazy, but daily-driver status meant an OE environment made sense.

Fast-forward to today, and the Jetta’s been sold. In its place is a B7 Audi A4 Avant S line. A growing family meant a bigger car was in order but the wagon is getting some love in case you haven’t been paying attention.

Building the Jetta to such a high standard was part of the bigger picture – belonging to the VW community, going to shows, meeting new people: “I drove the car down to SoCal for Dubwars and the experience hooked me into the scene,” Justin said. “I’ve met many of my closest friends because I bought this car. How cool is that?” We know, Justin. We know…

By David Putty
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