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Off Their Meds

Trying and succeeding to do something different, this rear-wheel drive, twin-turbo Jetta is a major outlier in the Volkswagen scene.

1995 Volkswagen Jetta Twin-Turbo Rear-Wheel Drive

Lancaster, a small town located in the southeast portion of Pennsylvania, is home to the first battery-powered electric watch and the invention of the teeth-melting Peeps candies. Mike Love also lives in Lancaster, being inventive in his quest for amazing car builds — particularly his 1995 Volkswagen Jetta. When you first approach the car, the reaction is one centered toward its very clean outward appearance. Based on looks alone, this car could win a show. Then you notice the scoop on the hood and realize that maybe there’s more. You find out it’s a twin-turbo setup on the 12-valve VR6, which is no easy feat.

Exterior Exterior Exterior Exterior



The Jetta MK3 was a sedated little sedan from Volkswagen, offering great gas mileage, a few engine options and even some special editions that collectors gush over. However, the MK3 community is a well-endowed group offering a multitude of commentary and massive data sets like VW Vortex. It’s a vibrant discussion community that often showcases some quality builds and how-tos. You can get lost in the sheer amount of builds there, from rear engine to H20 winners.


Love wanted to think outside the box a little and go a bit extreme, building one of the best VW projects in the process.


“The RWD thing was something my friends and I had always joked about,” Love laughs. “I already had the shell there, and looking for which direction to go with it, I started cutting on it and went from there.” Eagerly motivated to build something of a different caliber, he set off for the junkyard in hopes of stumbling upon a revelation. After some solid searching and measuring, Love found a BMW E34 5 Series subframe in a bit of reverence, because he knew oversimplifying an existing, proven design would only complicate things. An Audi O1E S4 6-speed transmission was next, with an 034 Motorsport VR6 to Audi Quattro trans adapter and a lightweight flywheel attached to a SPEC Stage 3+ six-puck clutch.

VR6 Twin-Turbo VR6 Twin-Turbo VR6 Twin-Turbo VR6 Twin-Turbo VR6 Twin-Turbo

VR6 Twin-Turbo

With the exception of a few close friends, he kept the build secret until it came time for thinking about propulsion. Love already had the 12-valve VR6 block and head from an outgoing GTI project, which had a single massive turbo providing power, but opinions swayed toward a different route.


Howie Eby of HE Performance is no stranger to ridiculously detailed and thoroughly impressive fab work. Eby had worked with Love before, providing one of the intake manifolds on his GTI. “He came up with the twin-turbo idea, so at that point, that’s where he got involved,” Love says. “Any fab work on the car — any assembly — was basically Howie.”


Once Love and Eby began talking about the rear-wheel drive aspect of the build, the inevitable talk of engine power came up. “I’m a turbo guy, so I said let’s just twin turbo this thing and go crazy nuts,” Eby recollects. “You pay for the parts and I’ll donate my time. I have, like, 300 hours in that car.”


Because Love already had the donor motor, they elected to go lower boost — planning and building for more power in the future — with dual Garrett GTX2871s, considering he was running stock pistons and rods with ARP bolts for backup. There were a few minor tweaks to the head: heavy-duty valve springs, titanium retainers, upgraded camshafts, some port work and head spacers to keep compression at a manageable 9.5:1. Eby made sure all the hard lines were stainless, built another custom intake manifold, designed a billet valve cover (which wasn’t on the car during the shoot), and installed his HEP “Crackpipe” (which, fittingly, looks like a crack pipe). “The OEM unit is plastic and is known to crack, so I made this stainless-steel unit that has O-ring grooves and the SS hard lines for the oil feeds to the turbos,” Eby explains.

Interior Interior Interior Interior Interior


With the engine situation handled, Love moved on to the chassis, building a whole new transmission tunnel in the process. Floors were smoothed, deck lid cut out, new floor in trunk and a full cage setup throughout the inside and extending to the engine bay. Some of the more impressive fab feats are the canisters in the engine bay.


Eby gleefully explains the mind-set: “We had to put a bar across it and thought it would be bitching to put a canister in there, because the rain tray is cut out — so let’s put the bar on an angle and run the support tube and put the tanks in there!”


On one side you have the overflow tank (which makes sense since it’s the highest part of the car), and on the other are the engine breathers, aka the crankcase filters, featuring three filters to provide filtered air into the case. The dipstick is integrated into the canister as well. Some of the little things also make a big difference on this build.


Stepping inside the cabin is like stepping inside a rally car. The first thing you see is that beautiful white roll cage and tunnel with the golf ball shift knob in front of a hydraulic handbrake. Then you notice the MK3 Cabrio dash, which is an amalgamation of parts Love had lying around. The switches control the fuel pump and reverse lights. Wiring is hidden, the aluminum door panels feature pull straps, and Recaro Pole Position seats with G-Force harnesses strap occupants in tight. The BBS wheel is actually an NRG steering wheel with a quick release.


Saving the exterior for last as a talking point might seem a bit odd, as it’s incredibly tidy and clean. It could probably win a car show on looks alone: There’s the candy-white paint that continues throughout the car, the pulled/rolled fenders, the shaved engine bay, the MK3 Vento rear bumper shaved as well, and the ARE (American Racing Equipment) 398 wheels with BFG tires all around.

Details Details Details Details


One of the more intriguing components is the rockers, where Love did some fabrication to remove parts of the body line for a cleaner look. “The very front, where the fenders are, they’re extended,” Love explains. He continues, “The stock fenders, basically, part of the rockers are on the bottom of the fender itself. That was cut off the actual fender and welded onto the actual rockers, and extended forward to remove that body line. On the very bottom, there’s angle iron welded to it, and they’re all smoother and filled.” It’s a lot of work for a very subtle design cue, which makes a huge difference in the minds of truly passionate enthusiasts.


So what does the future hold for this MK3? Well, Love plans on turning up the boost, mostly, and seeing how far they can push the engine. So think a new head and some beefed-up internals. Until that happens, if you’re ever in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and see a clean white Jetta, you might just look twice and realize this is no ordinary front-wheel drive German sedan. It’s a sleeper containing some serious innovation.


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Bonus Images

*Bonus Images courtesy of HE Performance*


1995 Volkswagen Jetta MK3 Specifications


  • 12-valve VR6
    9.5:1 compression
    ARP bolts
    HEP tubular exhaust manifold
    Dual Garrett GTX 2871s with stainless Tial exhaust housings
    Dual Tial 38mm wastegates open dump
    Tial 50mm BOV
    Stainless hardline water lines for radiator and turbos
    HEP custom intake manifold with fuel rail and fuel pressure reg
    630cc injectors
    United Motorsports 630 tune pro MAF
    Stainless intercooler pipes
    Custom bottom to top feed intercooler
    Lightweight pulleys
    Custom coolant and oil catch cans
    Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump
    -10 fuel feed line, -8 fuel return
    10 gallon RCI aluminum fuel cell
    3.0-inch downpipes to single 3.5-inch exhaust
    Borla muffler
    034 Motorsport longitudinal vr6 starter
    Custom motor mounts
    Sectioned oil pan for steering rack
    R32 thermostat housing
    HEP stainless ‘Crackpipe’
    HEP billet valve cover
    Mishimoto aluminum radiator with dual 10-inch Spal slim fans


  • Full cage inside and extending into the engine bay
    Cut out decklid
    Floors were smoothed
    Custom transmission tunnel
    New floor in trunk to incorporate fuel cell and viewing window over rear diff
    Rear of car modified and braced to accept the E34 subframe
    Custom transmission cross member added
    Tubular engine mount provisions on frame rails
    Tubular front lower rad support
    Stock mk3 front subframe shaved and sectioned to fit trans and steering rack mounts welded
    Top front strut towers cut out and reinforced for camberplates and cage


  • Audi O1E S4 6-speed transmission
    034 Motorsport trans adapter
    034 Motorsport lightweight aluminum flywheel
    SPEC stage 3+ six puck clutch
    USP metal slave cylinder
    Modified shifter linkage
    Custom trans mount
    E34 535i complete rear subframe
    E36 325i front spindles and brakes
    E36 manual steering rack
    Modified control arms
    MK3 front coilovers adapted for E36 spindles
    Custom rear coilovers
    Car is now 5x120
    Hidden brake lines
    Wilwood pedal assembly


  • Fully stripped down inside minus dash and seat
    Recaro Pole Position seats
    G-Force harness
    Hydraulic handbrake
    AEM gauges
    Hidden wiring
    Aluminum door panels
    Floor is coated with chip guard
    NRG suede steering wheel with quick release


  • Candy white respray inside and out
    Rolled and pulled arches and fenders
    Smoothed one piece rockers
    Shaved decklid and engine bay with raintray delete
    Smooth top Vento rear bumper with exhaust and tow hooks shaved
    Shaved lower ducts in front bumper
    Vento grill
    Jetta Ecode headlights
    Euro tub
    Custom hood with cutout and shaved hood latch w/flush mount hood pins
    16x9.5 American Racing Equipment 398 wheels
    BFG KDWS tires


Shout Out/Thanks

  • Howie from HEPerformance fo turbo system fabrication/other misc help
    Close friends- Brandon, Matt, Zack, Joe
    4 Ever Kustoms
    Carbon Cartel
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