ACT clutch

Trends move fast in automotive culture. And we’re in a place-in-time right now, where that’s becoming borderline tragic. Because of the way technology is infiltrating the car industry these days, there are certain key DNA ingredients of car culture that are getting lost & forgotten in the transition. Cars are damn sure getting faster, no doubt about that. But they’re also getting way more numb & restrictive… and less soulful. So is it worth it?

MK2 VR6 Jetta

Because while the performance of newer cars is unarguably a step above… 

The SENSATIONS are not penetrating as deeply into our soul. Therefore THE LANGUAGE of car culture is not as poetic or memorable as it used to be. 

And that goes for most things in this digital age. It’s not just our vehicles. Look around – no matter what your hobbies, passions, or livelihoods are… there’s a damn good chance that technology is coming in to dumb-it-down, cater to the masses, and fill in the gaps that used to require actual skill, talent, and muscle-memory. Here’s where I’d normally give examples… but I want to keep this open-ended in hopes that you’ll really start to see it in your world. 

MK2 Jetta GTI

It’s an epic shame if we step back and look at the big picture & the trajectory of where we’re going.

Because in past decades, it was all about pouring into your craft to master it. The magic ingredient was you: The human element. It took more time to get there & it didn’t come easily… but that’s what gave it value. But now, technology let’s us fast-forward THROUGH the character-building parts of the process… practically straight to the glory. Who said we deserve that? We don’t. I was recently re-watching Yellowstone & caught a line that said, “Authenticity is the one thing money can’t buy.” Let that soak in. 

MK2 Jetta coupe

Morgan Wilson, the owner of this MK2 Jetta Coupe…

Is the senior service advisor at Black Forest Technik in North Carolina. Over the years, he’s also contributed to sites like illest, StanceWorks, and Canibeat. In other words, he’s had his hands & voice in the youth-driven side of this culture for the past decade. Morgan is now in his early 30s, and expressed that he’s already started to feel ‘the generation gap’. But in my diagnosis & experience… that’s not it. 

VR6 swapped MK2 Jetta

Look – it’s a difficult time to come to a true sense of adulthood/maturity in America right now.

Because what we grew up in is NOT where we are now. And that may FEEL like an age gap. But in reality, it’s an abrupt technological/political/social shift that’s left a lot of us feeling unexplainably weighted down & restricted.

MK2 Jetta coupe

In his early 30s, Morgan’s juuuuust old enough to remember…

A time & childhood where cars were more analogue & visceral. When stuff was built with more spirit & energy… and less tech & impersonality. And that was across the board. It applies to vehicles, music, recreation, retail, all of it. There is a big driving-force nostalgia for that as we reach maturity & look for meaning in things. Hence – the magnetic draw for Morgan to European cars of the 80s & 90s.

Morgan Wilson MK2 Jetta

When it came to vehicles, sporty cars had 2 doors & 3 pedals.

Vehicles like this MK2 Jetta Coupe felt unique because they WERE unique. During this era, attention was in the details & the sensations… not the gimmicks. Excitement would build as you anticipated real gear changes. Now you flap paddles in 4-doors. You used to actually feel the tires in the steering wheel. Now your steering has selectable ‘modes’ depending on the mood. Sporty cars used to be a commitment. But they were pure. Now, except for a couple models, ‘sport’ is a compromise… a simulation of the real thing. Performance cars have lost authenticity. And because of that, it’s replaced true enthusiasts with true posers… and then we wonder why the segment is dying? According to specs & data, this is what innovation looks like in the 21st century. But emotionally this is automotive culture with a big thick condom on it. 

MK2 Jetta 2 door

Technology can and will enable people to buy cars (online) that are faster than anything from yesteryear that we build in our garage.

But it’s happened at the expense of grit & authenticity. It’s fast-forwarded straight through ‘the process’ that builds the connection & the character. They’ve replaced art & passion & and the human element… with technology & convenience. And while that WILL win in the long run (as people historically choose ease & convenience over all)… what is it winning exactly? 

Text by Wooley     Photos by Peter Stuppard & Louis Bethea

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MK2 Jetta round headlights

MK2 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe

Engine:

2.8 VR6 from ’94 Passat GLX
02A transmission from ’95 GTI GLX
Black Forest Industries (BFI) 93 octane chip
S&P top fill radiator & electric fan setup
BFI stage-1 engine mounts
Short ram intake
BFI crack pipe
TT 2.5″ exhaust
Flowmaster muffler
Satin black intake manifold
MK2 16x9

Suspension:

ISC track-valved coilovers w/ 12k springs
MK3 Plus control arms & axles
MK3 5×100 hub swap
Polyurethane bushings
ECS HD strut mounts
MK2 Jetts euro trunk

Exterior:

Shaved rub strips
Smoked banana markers
Hella clear side markers
French fog lights
OEM red stripe GTI grille
Smoked single round glass headlamps w/ crosshairs
European-market trunk tub

Recaro Velour seats

Interior:

OEM Recaro Velour seats
Custom radio delete plate
BFI GS1 shift knob
BBS RS 16x9

Wheels & Tires:

16×9 BBS RS wheels w/ 1.5″ & 2″ lips & 24k hardware

OEM BBS half caps & valve stem caps
Nitto Neogen 205/40/16’s
16mm & 20mm BFI spacers