Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

When Angel Fuentes took custody of this ’1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2 the rare Helios Edition must have thought all its Christmas’s had come at once. Here, Ted Dorset discovers exactly why…

Words: Ted Dorset

Photos: Tony Watson


Period Perfect MK2 JETTA VR6

Helios Blue Jetta gets ultimate '90s makeover

They say everything happens for a reason. This rings true for more than just life events. It can happen to anyone at any time with anything, and in this instance that 'thing' happens to be the wonderful machine that Angel Fuentes, from Newark, New Jersey, has built and is here for you to see. Now, Angel wasn’t always a fan of Volkswagens until a lowered Mk2 Golf rolled in at a local car meet and, as they say, it was love at first sight!

Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

The car before you isn’t his first foray into the Mk2 world, though, as he’s had a run of cars, but this is the gem!

«The spare is a three-piece 5x16» BBS face and lip on a donut to match the rest"

For the past three years Angel has had the joy of building this glorious creation, so let’s take a trip down memory lane. Previously, he’d had his hands deep in an ’89 Jetta coupe, that was VR6 swapped. Just know that Angel’s love of the “old school cool” and period correctness in his choice of parts had this car dressed to impress. From the Ray-Ban headlight covers to bits like the Fischer umbrella holders the car was a head turner, in its own right. Angel planned to get a bit of body work done to complete the car, then it happened on the way home from a show with his Jersey Hooligan crew — the thing we all fear came to light. He was cut off in traffic by not one, but two cars at the same moment. In the attempt to avoid both instances he lost control and ploughed into a road barrier. After a flatbed assessment, he and the crew quickly assesed that the car was bent beyond repair — yep, it would most likely be totalled. While the car continued it’s journey on the tow home, as you could imagine, Angel was heartbroken. Word soon spread about what had happened and the local VW community was abuzz with the loss and everyone was reaching out to help. Enter a phone call from long-time VW enthusiast, Juan Vargas, the very next day. Juan just happened to have a rare 89 Jetta GLI Helios Edition, that he was willing to part ways with. Needless to say, a deal was soon made.

Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

Angel picked up the car and straight away he wholeheartedly admitted that the colour was one of the biggest deciding factors of choosing this car over others; “The colour is the most beautiful shade VW offered”, “LA5Y Helios Blue Metallic!”. The car wasn’t in the best shape, but it was solid and was a great canvas to start with. Thus, the creative juice soon began to flow. Parts were being swapped over from the wrecked coupe, including the motor. Evenings, afternoons, and weekends were consumed with pulling everything off of the coupe shell and getting ready to install it into the Helios. The new car was soon readied for its heart transplant at my house, where the 2.0-litre 16v was quickly pulled to make way for the healthy 2.8 VR6, which was transplanted from the coupe. The car quickly began to take shape. The bay was prepped and coated, the subframes installed and then, in went the motor. With the help of many of the Jersey Hooligans, the man they call “The Whisperer” and Angel's close friend, Roberto “Berto” Gonzalez, the motor fi red up one afternoon and it was time to “work out”! Not many can say that they’ve physically touched every part of their build, but Angel definitely can. The intricacies involved with the details of this car are simply mind blowing. If you don’t pay attention to what you’re looking at, you’ll definitely miss something.

«If you don’t train your eyes to notice things, you WILL miss something»

Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

Once the car was mobile, off to Angel’s garage it went. Admittedly, Angel states that the hardest part about this entire build was, “…removing all the glue…”. Unfortunately, many things were glued on and not attached with OEM connectors and clips. Being selfproclaimed “anal” he had the tedious task of obtaining and installing all the necessary OEM hardware, ahead of him. Once he’d sourced all this the heavy work began. The interior kept its Helios look, where the seats retained their Helios pattern centres, while the bolsters and door cards were all treated with custom blue leather, as well as the fishnet headrests. The door cards shine with the addition of polished inner door pulls. Remember the Fischer umbrella holder I mentioned earlier?

Period Perfect 2.8 VR6 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Mk2

Well, that is mounted on the side of the seat with an original BBS umbrella. The plastic lower seat switch panels have been replaced with aluminium ones that have been powder coated and have raised polished “RECARO” letters along with original Recaro seat adjusters. The four-spoke BBS steering wheel, donning a yellow BBS DesignLine horn button, has also been Helios’d, with the inserts being wrapped in Helios material as well. Look up to see all black matching headliner, sunroof panel and sun-visors, with a chrome Golde sunroof crank from an air-cooled elder.

Look to the shift gear and you find a BFI black leather golf ball shift knob with its own yellow BBS DesignLine coin logo atop. The Votex console above allows Angel to control his power window switches and Kenwood cassette head unit which is connected to Kenwood Exceleron 5.25" speakers all around (of course OEM Aktiv speaker covers on the doors). Then your eyes quickly dart to the left where you see the Nothelle gas pedal and custom A/G Designs brake and clutch pedals to match. I told you before, if you don’t train your eyes to notice things, you WILL miss something. Custom blue BBS VR6 floor mats line the floors, highlighted by a blue camouflage Supreme fi re extinguisher and Fischer cassette tape holder and cup holder. Looking through the steering wheel you will find a set of Premier gauges with yellow needles. Since the radio has been moved to the Votex console there is an OEM VW radio blank and BBS unused switch cover dressing up the bezel. And the hits keep coming. Below the dash you will find the Euro deep pockets, deep non A/C glove box and Euro upper ash tray where the vents would normally live. This car is simply marvellous. Just one look at the outside makes you drool. The car sits on Air Lift Slam Series suspension all around. The trunk holds the custom powder coated sparkle silver air tank with a custom matching Helios material cover. Notably one of Angel's favourite parts of the car are the wheels, which are BBS RS 133s, which were sourced from Instagram but needed work. With the legendary touch of Ariel at Perfect Metal Finishing, they are the work of art you see before you. They are 7.5x16” all around with face mounted sparkle silver centres and black powder coated wheels bolts and inner barrels. But it doesn’t stop there. The spare is split donut wheel! A three-piece 5x16" BBS face and lip on a donut to match the four on the outside… game changer sitting in a custom false floor in there! The body is no exception to Angel’s rule. The Euro front and rear bumpers with blue Fifft turn signals, Euro seven-slat early single round grille, Ray-Ban headlight covers, custom BBS VR6 grille badge, German AA support badge, Hella H4 round lights with yellow Laminex, a MetalPlast hood vent cover, Bonrath single wiper, and a genuine BBS lower chin spoiler finish off the front. Out back there’s Hella Euro OEM taillights and Hella Heckblende, Foha rear trunk spoiler, and Jetta GTX badge with the small VR6 badge underneath.

Let’s pop the hood [wink] that has a custom hood bra, in Helios and blue leather matching the interior! The first thing you see is the powder coated Schrick intake manifold with blue coated logo. The yellow theme follows into the bay with the 8mm ignition leads. Polished bits adorn the motor all over! The valve cover (covering the AutoTech 262-degree cams), Zealous oil cap, fender, engine and engine bay hardware, GruvenParts fuel line holder, strut cap covers, and OMP strut brace — there’s bling everywhere! Chromed hinges, latches, and a shortened hood prop continue the theme. A AutoBahnWorx hose kit finish the process!

There are so many details to be seen on this car, its unbelievable. I’m sure that some have been missed here but are present in the Dub Details! When we asked Angel if there were one thing he would go back and change, the answer was a resounding, “NOTHING! I’d do it all again if I had to. Of course, Angel is proud of what he’s done, with his greatest critic being his son, Mason. “The best reaction I could ever ask for, is the look on his face when I start and air up the car!”. The car is well observed everywhere and Angel is definitely a “people person” with him stating that he’d “chosen to do it all for the many friends and extended family that he’s made while building cars”. Like the rest of parts hoarders, he “loves the hunt for rare parts!”. In the end, he’s built this wonderful example of a Mk2 Jetta that I think we all can appreciate, completely. When asked if there were any other interests he has it was a solid answer of sneakers and urban street wear, yeah more expensive things to be bought!

Who knows what Mr. Fuentes’ next project will be, but he has hinted upon a ‘Merica build of a Chevy dually made to match the Helios Jetta. If it even comes remotely close to being finished to a similar standard, then we're sure it will be boss! Bravo Mr. Fuentes, bravo!


  • ENGINE: Full VR6 12v OBD2 swap, Reflect Tuning chipped ECU, Auto Tech 262 cams, ECS lightweight crank pulley, EAA aluminium water pump, alternator and serpentine belt tensioner pulley, Schrick manifold powder coated sparkle silver with the Schrick logo and line powder coated blue and some parts polished, polished aluminium valve cover, Zealous oil cap and JSCap dip stick cap, Mk3 coolant ball with Eurowise billet bracket, polished Gruven fuel hose holder, Black Vibrant braided fuel hoses, TA Technic headers, Borla exhaust with Techtonics piping, 42 Draft test pipe and SAI delete plug, Zealous engine & engine bay hardware, Corrado air box with K&N drop in filter, 42 Draft satin black metal crack pipe, Eurowise aluminium thermostat housing, ECS billet oil fi lter housing, UroTuning bullet proof shifter bracket, Velt Sport billet shifter bracket bushings, full AutoBahnAutoWorx silicone hose kit, yellow 8mm ignition Wires
  • CHASSIS: 7.5x16” all around with face mounted sparkle silver centres and black powder coated wheels bolts and inner barrels. Air Lift Slam Series bags front & rear, Air Lift 3P digital air management, Air Lift 3P manifold with custom blue cover, Mk3 rear beam, polished Gruven strut cap covers, polished OMP front strut bar, chrome Eurosport rear strut bar, powder-coated sparkle silver air tank with matching Helios material cover
  • EXTERIOR: Euro front bumper, Fifft blue bumper turn signals, BBS front lower chin spoiler, Euro rear bumper and seven-slat grille, headlight covers, German AA grille badge, custom BBS VR6 grille badge, Hella Euro h4 circle headlights with yellow film, Hella Euro OEM taillights, Hella heckblende, OEM passenger side mirror delete, Bonrath v2 mono wiper, Foha rear spoiler, Metalplast hood defl ector, Jetta GTX rear badge, VR6 rear under badge, chrome front & rear VW emblems, custom Helios & blue material hood bra, SWG one-piece rain tray, OEM battery cover, chrome hood hinges and latches, chrome shortened hood prop rod, under hood sound deadening pads
  • INTERIOR: BBS four-spoke steering wheel with yellow BBS Designline cap as horn with matching Helios material insert, Premier faced cluster with yellow needles, S&P tach adapter, S&P speedo cable, BBS dash plaque, CEL dash switch, Helios material centre with custom blue outer front Recaros, Recaro imprinted side panels, matching custom blue door cards, full black recovered headliner with matching visors, blue BBS VR6 custom mats, Nothelle gas pedal with custom matching clutch & brake pedal, black c-pillars with upper trim, black sunroof surround, Euro under dash pockets, deep non ac glove box with Porsche latch, Euro upper ash tray and e-brake, BFI black leather golf ball shift knob with custom BBS Designline logo, Air Lift 3P controller on an OEM phone holder, Votex centre console, Fischer cbox cup holder, tape holder and umbrella holder with BBS umbrella, polished inner door handles, OEM first aide kit in trunk, black rear window blinds. Kenwood KRC-2560 cassette tape radio, Kenwood Excelon 5.25 speakers all around, Aktiv door speaker covers
  • SHOUT: Special thanks to my lovely wife, Melaine for putting up with me. Special thanks to my brother, Joshua for originally detailing the car and bringing the paint back to life, to Rob for always helping me, to Ted for all his help and to all the Jersey Hooligans. Special thanks to all three of my kids and especially my number one fan and pusher to getting anything ready on the car, my little man. A thank you to Ariel at Perfect Metal, Riegel at Clientele Coatings and a huge thank you to Shaun at Platinum Plus Customs for all the upholstery
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