2.8-litre VR6 engined Volkswagen Jetta Mk2
When it comes to stateside Dubbers, they don’t come any more OG than Ted Dorset. His blown VR Jetta is pretty damn legendary on the scene, too… Words: Tony Saggu. Photos: Tony Watson.
It’s funny how things change given a few years isn’t it? It doesn’t seem so long ago that collecting stuff wasn’t considered all that cool, be it stamps, comics, magazines… or those cards that they used to give away in bubble-gum packets and boxes of tea bags…actually those were so long ago we’re positive that no one aside from a few of the grey-haired crew remembers, even though those actually bordered on passable collectable credibility. On the whole though, having a pile of pre-war coins or heaps of diecast toys was reserved for nerdy trainspotting types with a steam locomotive fetish and a compulsion for wearing anoraks. Accumulating old stuff and hoarding it in dark corners was the preserve of the past, not really what the current demographic of Generation Z or Generation Alpha… or whatever the new trendy young things are calling themselves nowadays were into. If it didn’t come down the information super highway three seconds ago it’s history, and history is old news and so yesterday. But if there’s one thing that the lords of the new church of the Internet have taught us it’s that it’s all about perception, everything can be cool if you sell it the right way… substitute weird and dorky for quirky, kitschy or kooky and the next step is eccentric… before you know it you’re in the land of eclectic, rubbing shoulders with hipsters and “influencers” soaking up social media respectability. A case in point, the weird nutter at the end of the avenue with half a dozen rusting heaps partially obscured by ripped to shreds tarps is now a “collector”, a connoisseur of automobiles with a YouTube channel and an Instagram account… only seems like last week he was the scourge of the neighbourhood, creating an eyesore and bringing down your property prices.
If there’s anyone who’s seen the sea change in attitudes from the perception police, it’s our man Ted Dorset. A few years ago the Maplewood, New Jersey native would have been considered decidedly on the fringes of popular car culture social acceptability; no air cooled 911 in the garage, not a wire wheeled British classic in sight…not even a flathead V8 or antique straight eight. Highfalutin tweed tailored auto buffs didn’t consider his particular taste in vintage transportation worthy of even a sideways glance. Ted’s an old school VDub man, with a particular affinity for water-cooled Wolfsburg fayre, and if you want a display of rare old collectable automotive jewellery with a 80s/90s German flavour Mr. D is the man to see. Not only has Ted amassed an enviable array of, once old tatt now, collectable treasure over the years, he’s also managed to blend all the rare and valuable bits into a single rolling exhibition that even the most grandiose of gearheads have to admire. “I wanted to build something different and really special,” Ted told us, “I mean, just get away from all the cookie cutter type stuff I’d seen before and build it just the way I wanted, with all the parts and ideas coming together without any compromises”.
The humble Mk2 Jetta, Vento in the euro parlance, is hardly a seldom seen project car, but it’s rare to see a car delivered from vision to driven with such complete dedication to the dream. Every part Ted wanted is on the car, no matter the time, distance or currency needed to bring them together, there’s point and click retail refugees rolling rides fuelled by Amazon and then there’s dudes like Dorset. “It’s been a long term project which I’m pretty sure will never be really finished,” admitted Ted, “I’ve got over twenty years in it so far and I’m sure it’s not going to stop taking my time and money any time soon” he laughed. If the car has a familiar air to it that’s probably because long time readers spied it featured in the January 2005 issue of PVW, yeah… he thought he was finished perfecting it, but you know how that goes.
It turns out Ted is no stranger to Jettas of a second generation persuasion, although there have been other VWs on the Dorset driveway its always the Mk2 booted Golf he comes back to. “This one kind of fell into my hands and at the time it was white Jetta number three,” he told us. Sadly the two previous projects had met with unfortunate ends wrapped around the bumpers of other vehicles, but as they say ”the third times the charm”. “I figured if this one was taken from me, no more white Mk2 jettas,” he insisted. Late 2001 saw our man without a VW cruising down to H2O International in a rented PT Cruiser…not ideal. “I met a friend of mine Paul G. and he said in his Barry White voice, “Teddy! I got a car for you! It’s a Jetta, it’s a VR and its white.” Needless to say the weekend after the show the two mates were standing in Paul’s garage talking Dubs and dollars, “I fell in love with the car immediately,” recalled Ted, “I told him I’d give him a deposit and be back the first weekend in November.”
For his three grand Ted reckons he got a great deal, though far from perfect the 88 vintage Canadian spec GTX was rough around the edges but had lots of potential. “the car was a couple oil changes away from the junkyard,” he laughed, “but it had a VR and it was strong! There was a rust hole in the driver’s side kick panel so big you could see inside the frame rail, there was a VR6 short block being stored in the trunk, and the windows were being held up with bits of wood.” The equivalent of the MoT, the State inspection sticker was for a 1990 Calypso coupe, but that’s another story… “It was pretty trash really, but it had good bones. It was solid underneath and It had 9.4 brakes which worked great…sometimes.”
Job one was to fix the cabin carpentry and bin the Balsa wedged in the windows, “can’t really drive a car that you can’t open the windows and drive, I needed to have some type of ventilation,” grinned Ted. Once the car had been pressed into daily transport duties the long and careful process of reconstructing and personalising the interior got underway.
There have certainly been a few changes over the years but the old school period custom vibe remains strong. Recaro Trophy seats naturally form the centrepiece, the best the VW factory had to offer when the cars rolled off the production line and hard to improve on in style and character, adding headrests to the rear pirated from a Carat model Jetta raise the style stakes a few notches. If ones building a 90s influenced waterpumper throwing in a Mk3 dash is a must, it would have been rude not to, “I was having some work done on it down at Fast Road Specialties and had them install it at the same time, it’s a 2002 Mk3.5 Cabrio one,” revealed Ted. Reflecting the attention to detail that flows through the rest of the interior, in fact the whole project, the dash is superbly installed along with matching steering column, pedals and centre console, with all the switches and dials not only present and correct, but also fully functional. Talking of dials…take a look, a collector and connoisseur of rare and classic VW parts could only have perhaps the crown jewels of Dub dash instrumentation; handmade Premier gauges by Uncle Steve Denton himself. Not to name drop, but VW legend the late Jeremy Hillock of Just Matz personally sorted out some custom floor mats and Nick Kramarczyk, no stranger to these pages with his own stunning Mk2 threw in some custom Recaro pillows. Simple, clean and coordinated are the watchwords for the rest of the interior, deleting the stereo means uncluttered doorpanels and rear shelf, not to mention the dash, and the OMP tiller, complete with its custom Nothelle horn button, adds just a twist of aftermarket fi nery without overdoing the blend.
“When I originally went to pick up the car from Paul we’d discussed the direction I was going to take with the project,” recalled Ted. “I wanted something a little different, No disrespect to everyone who was doing their thing and building beautiful Mk2s out there, but I’d done the whole VWVortex approved cookie cutter route twice already,” he added, “with big bumpers, G60 Arches, Mk3 VR6 chin spoiler and all the Mk2 trimmings… This one was going to be different in every way.” Having the car refi nished in his trademark Alpine White was going to be the basis for the exterior treatment, it would be the details added and subtracted that he knew would make the difference, “The car was originally Alpine white. When I resprayed it in the winter of 01, I had it done in 91 Alpine white which is a little more cream coloured than the original 88 Alpine,” he revealed. While the car was away at the paintshop, months as it turned out, Ted busied himself scouring the 'net contacting likeminded hoarders and collectors all over the globe to assemble the choice parts he knew he’d need. The result of his efforts, which he admits has undergone subtle changes over the years, has a decidedly euro flavour… a little Brit Look, a little Austrian and German… not so much textbook euro as Ted’s book. Some details were of course almost mandatory; slim Audi 4000 handles, the euro rear numberplate housing, Hella tails…and the oh so rare Bonrath single wiper, ”set to right hand drive operation”, pointed out Ted proudly. “The grille took me 15 years to actually decide to go with, Ted told us, “When the car came out in its first phase in 2002, Steve Sweetland made a photoshop of the car with the Rallye conversion. I loved it, but the gap between the grill blend and bumper is way more pronounced on a small bumpered car than with a big bumpered car. So I put it off. It wasn’t until I saw my friend Nezra Clark’s GTI where he’d extended the bottom slat to meet the bottom of the fenders, thus removing the gap, hat tip to @feetgraymk2, that I was won over.” While the small bumpers are prominent in giving the exterior its signature character, other touches are more understated; the slimmer late Mk2 side mouldings paired with early rear arch spats and stubby mirrors blend effortlessly into the mix.
An old school build with a personal touch was going to be a challenge in all departments, but perhaps nowhere more than in the choice of rolling stock, three pieces of BBS engineering bolted together would have been the natural choice…for most. “I’d originally had a set of 17 inch Adikt 5 spoked polished lip wheels that were from the UK,” Ted explained, “When the Keskin KT1s came out literally nobody in the States was running them and although it took a lot of doing I managed to get the first set sent out from Europe.” The deep lipped euro five spokes were handsome as you like, but eventually started appearing everywhere and their exclusive appeal soon faded. “I saw a Mk1 GTI on Volksforum.nl which had these amazing looking Borbet A’s but they appeared to be splitrims,” recalled Ted, “ I had no idea if they were custom or production. I started the hunt and after some serious digging I found that they were a limited production run called the A3s.” Stumped on how to source a set Ted called on a friend over at StyleDynamix in Hayes England, owner Shahid Malik had always had a reputation for digging up rare and unique wheels and he was sure to have a line on a set. “Yeah, the man is a legend!” enthused Ted, “I sent him the picture I’d seen and told him I didn’t care what it took but I need these wheels!
PERIOD!” As it turned out the chaps at Borbet had not been exactly generous with production of these beauties in the first place, finding a set of wheels that were made as a limited production run decades ago proved even to tax Shahid’s skills. “It took probably three years but amazingly he managed to source a set in Germany in the perfect size and the right bolt pattern… did I mention he’s a legend?” smiled Ted. To perch the well sorted sedan over the splits to get that just right stance would now surely be a straight forward air affair, “Actually I’m currently running H&R coilovers, revealed Ted, “I keep thinking about air bag suspension, but I love how it rides and sits. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love how cars look aired out but I hear horror stories about the ride and handling of air verses static. Plus I’m old school,” he smiled, “I stay analogue. I don’t even have a Smartwatch, my Citizen still ticks and I listen to cassette tapes and vinyl at home.”
Seeing the car was bought with a six cylinder under the bonnet, ripping it out and replacing it seemed like a backwards step, “The two previous white Mk2 Jettas were eight valve four cylinder cars,” explained Ted. “The 86 had CIS with all its headaches and the second was Digifant… with all its… no power,” he laughed. The 91 OBD1 motor has been mildly warmed over with a selection of choice internals with a Vortech V1 S-Trim supercharger strapped on for good measure. Ted admits he’s becoming a bit of a dab hand at assembling and setting up boost hardware, after getting messed around by a shady shop on his first AMS charger install our man did things the hard way and taught himself how to spin the spanners. The bay itself is naturally shaved and smoothed to perfection, and not to make the polished and detailed motor feel left out of the rare and collectable theme checkout the Nothelle Schrick intake manifold…just another jewel from Ted’s treasure chest. Ted set out to build a car with a unique edge, recognizably old school with a euro flavour but not by the well-worn book. Dorset’s decades immersed in the Dub game have been distilled down to the sexy six shooter sedan on these pages. Subtle yet striking, crammed with seldom seen parts but not simply a clothes horse for them, it’s the artful blending to his own taste of the rare bits that makes the difference. Is he done? We doubt it… although he’s busy collecting trophies and magazine features these days.
- ENGINE: Late 1995 OBD1 2.8-litre VR6 (Coilpack Car), Vortech V1 S-Trim supercharger 8psi pulley, 30cc 30PSI Mustang injectors, AWE Stage 1 S/C software, Schrick “Nothelle” VSI intake manifold, Schrick oil cap, 3” stainless custom exhaust, Borla X1 muffler, 3” stainless custom charge pipe, polished valve cover, polished aluminium “crack pipe” coolant pipe, polished aluminium coolant pipes, B3 Passat thermostat housing cover, aluminium Corrado radiator, Eurowise coolant bottle expansion tank, smooth engine bay, chrome “shorty” hood prop, chrome hood hardware, chrome hood hinges, chrome fender bolts, battery relocated to trunk, billet Optima RedTop battery tie down, Artemi Yakov raintray and hood vent covers
- CHASSIS: 16x7 and 9 Borbet A3s, 16x7 Borbet A monoblock spare, H&R Coilovers, Brembo X-drilled rotors, Corrado G60 11 inch front brakes / spindles, Bonrath Domlager strut bearings/bushings, polished aluminium strut cap covers, FK rear shock tower brace, Eibach flatbar front brace, 5mm Eibach spacers
- EXTERIOR: 1991 Alpine White, Audi 4000 door handles, custom stubby mirrors, Jetta GLI rear wing, Euro plate tub, LED license plate lights, late spec door and fender moulding, early rear half-spats, authentic UK custom plates, GTX door badges, Jetta GTX rear badge, MetalPlast hood vent cover, Bonrath monowiper, Rallye grille setup w/ extended lower grille blend, smoked Rallye lights w/ HID retrofit, smoothed and painted South African rad support, Hella smoked and red taillights, Hella smoked “Euro bumper” turn signals, black billet “Bee-sting” short Fuba antenna Hannibal Lector antenna ball
- INTERIOR: Recaro Trophy interior w/ power window door cars, door pockets without speakers, chrome inner door latch pulls, chrome door handle pull caps, Jetta Carat headrests added to rear seat Schroth 3pt harnesses w/ covers, 2002 Cabrio (dimple) dashboard, upper glove box (wrapped in dimple material, Mk3 VW console, lower glove box, custom GTX Floor Mats from Just Matz, billet shift knob, custom GTX shifter coin holder, custom Trophy material shift gaiter, RAID chrome handbrake handle, Premier gauges, polished OMP steering wheel, custom Nothelle horn button made from a Nothelle wheel centre cap, radio deleted, Evolution Sports gauge panel, VDO gauges, rear parcel shell rewrapped in black tweed w/deleted speaker holes black felt headliner, false floor in trunk surrounding spare, B5.5 wagon cargo tiedowns, custom Recaro pillows
- SHOUT: I need to thank my Wife, Amanda, for completely sharing my VW addiction and actually wanting a driveway full of Volkswagens! My family for understanding and coming with me along the way. The Jersey Hooligans: Berto, Donnell, Angel, Danny, John, Lee, Tony, Dan, Andre, Mike, Abel, Gabe, and Tanner. Paul Glazewski, Nick Kramarczyk, Perfect Metal Finishing, Artemi Yakov (IG), Performance VW Magazine, Eurowise, VW Vortex, StyleDynamix, Tony Watson Photograhy, DubNation, ShiftBoots, Borbet Wheels Best VW Parts, Blast Lab NJ, AG Designs
«The car was a couple oil changes away from the junkyard,” he laughed, “but it had a VR and it was strong»