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2005 Jetta GLI - Long Winters

A snow day is a terrible thing to waste.

By Ezekiel Wheeler, Photography by Ezekiel Wheeler, Josh Brown

Nova Scotia is known for “rather long winters”, explained Lee Purcell, owner of this ’05 Jetta GLI 1.8T. Making sure the time doesn’t go to waste is another story entirely…

You could probably complete several intense workout DVDs to achieve a ripped physique by spring, or you could cutout your floorpan and make sure the power is reaching all four corners. Lee opted for the latter of the two.

Being more used to SoCal summers, our appreciation for snow days reached a new level after seeing Purcell’s R32 AWD-converted Jetta. He bought the car new in ’04 and hasn’t left it alone since then.

While you were hibernating in the winter, watching cult-classic movies and drinking hot chocolate, Lee was busy in his 30x30ft heated garage conducting Frankenstein experiments on his Jetta. “I did all the work myself,” Lee explained proudly. “A friend was going to come and help out but he had a kid, so I was left to my own devices.”

The car’s seen several engine swaps, including a 380hp 2.0L 1.8T motor, which might have prompted him to focus on drivability with an R32 engine and AWD swap with a Passat five-speed transmission. He hooked it up to a C2Motorsports launch control during a build that took him six months, otherwise known as a “proper” Nova Scotian winter.

Lee shared a link to a photo collection of his winter sanctuary. The garage is where he planned and executed the daunting task of replacing the floorpan with the R32’s to accommodate the all-wheel drive system.

Once completed, Lee worked on the suspension set-up, with Air Lift bags fitted all round, accompanied by Bilstein shocks to ensure a smooth ride. Of course, the supplied hose kit wasn’t sufficient, so with a little time on his hands, Lee chose to fit stainless steel lines throughout the entire system. He then fabricated a false floor in the trunk where the tank sits.

The interior is relatively modest, but includes details only a VAG fan would appreciate, like the R32 steering wheel and entire dash. He’s also added gauges for boost, AFR and air pressure.

With its aired-out stance, wheel selection was crucial and Lee sourced a set of polished CCW LM5s. These are 18x8.5” front and 18x9.5” rear, with 215/40 and 245/35 Nitto NeoGen tires.

It goes without saying that building a labor-intensive project car alone requires plenty of motivation. Thankfully, Nova Scotia provides the conditions to ensure a job well done.

By Ezekiel Wheeler
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