Text by Wooley Photos by Andrew Sutter MK2 GTI Issue 44
Kids get in free. But too often, we slip & fail to see all those kids running around cars shows as ‘real people’.
Sounds harsh. But it’s true. We see them NOT by name… but rather just as “our friend’s kids”.
We talk over them… literally. And all the while, they hang around their parent’s knee – unnoticed. And even though it’s an honest mistake… it’s not cool. These are real people. Half the size lol, half the voice, but taking it all in. Absorbing it like a sponge; repeating it to their friends on the playground back at school. Their own little foundations about life… forming in those little, often ignored heads.
Their opinion matters. And if we include them, often times, they’ll quite frankly amaze us. So we should really go out of our way to treat them as if they’re a full part of this culture too. Because they are… and they will be.
I remember being that kid. And I remember those occasions when an adult looked down and included me in the conversation. Even if he was just pullin’ my leg, or teasing me about girls. And even if I was too shy to come up with that quick-whit response… I still felt included. And that meant a ton… as I sat at the school desk the following Monday with my race t-shirt on.
Ellie’s childhood story matched up to mine in so many ways.
I always made it a point to include my daughter, Ellie, in my hobby, whether we were at a show, or just in the garage wrenching. She honestly took a liking to it immediately – and absorbed everything. Almost 3 years ago – myself, my wife, and Ellie were at Water by the Bridge in my Mk5 VW GTI. It was my passion & love. I actually took 1st place in the Mk5 class that day.
On the way home, Ellie reflected & said, “I WISH I COULD BUILD A CAR AND SHOW IT. DAD CAN WE BUILD A CAR FOR ME???” Of course, I was excited that she was getting hooked. My wife, on the other hand haha, knew we were in for it. Like father like daughter. We agreed to do it.
One of the main reasons I committed to the idea was – teaching her the mechanics of the vehicle. And most importantly – to teach her RESPECT. Not just for the car, but for herself, hard work, and the car community as a whole. It seems that too many of today’s younger generations can’t even change their own oil. Don’t even want to drive their own cars. And when something simple breaks, they’re all-too ready to trade it off for the first thing that runs.
…Not my daughter.
So! After we set some expectations, the first question was, “What kind of car do you want to build, Ellie?”
Ellie loved the older cars because of their smaller size to be honest. It also seemed to her, through her eyes, that most of the older cars were prettier… in that they were simpler designs.
She wanted a Mk2 GTI.
But we were having trouble finding the right one. After a month or so, we came across a Mk1 Cabrio – white on white. We showed Ellie the car and what approach we could take. She thought about it a few days and we discussed the car with the seller. Long story short, we were assured that the car was rust free & mechanically sound enough to be a 1st car. Confident it would be ‘the one’… the three of us made the 5-hour drive. As we pull up, I can practically see the rust from the end of the driveway. The seller walks out & first thing he says is, “I’LL TAKE HALF!”
Now I am a respectful guy, but when you lie to me or my daughter, I take it personally. I knew this car wasn’t going home with us… and I knew Ellie was going to be heartbroken. (Remember – she was 7 at the time.) I remember being 16 and getting my heart set on a car that fell through… and I couldn’t stand someone to hurting my little girl’s feelings. I was coming unglued inside.
BUT – you never know what fate has in store.
We both reassured Ellie as we were driving home empty handed, that we were not giving up & we would find her that special car. A few hours had passed on our trip, and we were about halfway home. My wife had been searching the forums/pages to see if we missed anything… or if something new had been posted. As we entered Nashville, she said “OMG, I think I found it Ellie!”
The original car Ellie had wanted was an Alpine White Mk2 GTI, but what my wife had just found was a 1989 Tornado Red 16V GTI (my dream Mk2). The car was in Nashville, and so were we! So we recalculated, set our destination toward the MK2… saw it, loved it, bought it… and came home full-handed!
The car was honestly one of the cleanest Mk2s I had seen. Of course it needed paint & a few service parts, but it was the cleanest, most pure 16V. I was so thrilled it could be Ellie’s! What a fun car to drive, and what a blast to look at!
As a family, we made our wishlist of parts & modifications. And now, 3 years later, the car has taken on a whole new look and life.
It’s the best feeling… going in this together as a family. When people meet Ellie at a show, they just can’t believe how this ‘little girl’ knows her car inside & out. Heck – they test her, and she completely amazes them. I am proud of my daughter, my family, and the car we have built together. I know Ellie has learned a sense of discipline & perseverance beyond her years. She’s developed a respect for the car & car culture. This is all very important to me, as a father… and ‘the older’ car enthusiast.
1989 – MK2 VW GTI 16V
CIS fuel system
ENGINE BAY IS ESSENTIALLY OEM+
WE WENT FOR A VERY CLEAN OEM LOOK
SUSPENSION / BRAKES
EUROSPORT STRUT BRACES
AIRLIFT 3P SUSPENSION/MANAGEMENT
SEAMLESS TANK & COPPER HARDLINES
10.1 FRONT BRAKE UPGRADE
DIGIFIZ DIGITAL GAUGE CLUSTER
DUO STYLING GAUGES (VOLT, OIL PRESSURE, AFR)
SPARCO HARNESS BARS
GTI 16V OEM MATS
DASH & INTERIOR HAS BEEN RESTORED WITH ORIGINAL PARTS
OF THE BEST POSSIBLE CONDITION (ITEMS ARE GETTING HARDER TO FIND)
REAR SEAT DELETE W/ EXPOSED AIRLINE SETUP
NEW OEM CARPET
RESPRAYED ALPINE WHITE
BBS BODY KIT / BBS DESIGN DECALS
OEM SWAGE LINE KIT AND REAR HATCH DECAL
EURO SPEC HELLA SMOKED/RED TAILS W/ HECKBLEND
NOS WESTY GRILLE SETUP
HELLA DE HEADLAMPS
EURO SPEC BUMPERS
CUSTOM BBS EURO PLATES MADE BY JOHN LUDWICK JR.
POP-OUT REAR WINDOWS (WHICH HELPS SINCE IT IS AN NON AC CAR)
VINTAGE BBS MAGNESIUM
ITB OR CARB SETUP
REDO THE ENGINE BAY AND COLOR-MATCH IT
THE CAR IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING, AND ANYTIME WE FIND A BETTER PART THAT WE CAN REPLACE, WE WILL.
I HAVE PURCHASED QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT GRILLE SETUPS, AND LUCKILY IT IS AN EASY 20 MIN JOB TO COMPLETELY CHANGES THE LOOK OF THE CAR.