RallyWagen: Jaimie Orr’s trip with Volkswagen of America to the Arctic Circle Presented by ECS Tuning

Something we find incredibly enticing about cars is how many different ways we can find them exciting. We can appreciate the differences between our cars as they become more than just a utility. In some cases, the prospect of doing something insane with a car is the best way to bond with a car and too tempting to pass up. The situation in which we find ourselves now definitely falls into the ‘insanity’ category. Volkswagen of America, Jaimie Orr of Orchid Euro, and a number of partnering vendors have all come together with us to send a pre-production MK5 Golf Sportwagen through a grueling road trip across America to the Arctic Circle for a little bit of fun.

This particular MK5 is something special but unfortunately has to be destroyed as a result of its unique VIN restrictions. The wagen came to us from VW as a demonstration and crash-test only pre-production car, so it has a number of interesting features and differences between the actual production model. This low-mileage car was featured at SEMA for the debut of that generation and has since been sitting around just waiting for death. Since the car never received the love or attention it deserves, we thought we would give it a chance to form that bond between car and driver on a massive road trip.

Normally, driving 8,500 miles in a minty-fresh, low-milage, economy car would be in the realm of sanity and not terribly difficult. However, we couldn’t just sit by and make Jaimie’s trip a posh jaunt around the States, we had to give him something exploratory to make up for the general nice-ness of the MK5.

After some phone calls to APR, Black Forest Industries, KW Suspension, LIQUI MOLY, Escort, Thule, and GSP North America, we had a fairly extensive list of modifications for the doomed wagen. Most notably, we immediately slammed the VW on a set of KW V2 coilovers to make it as ground-hugging as humanly possible. This is where our own input came into play: the wagen will drive the full trip completely dumped out, so it needs some added protection for the daunting on-and-off road beating it will take. This is the perfect time to give our Street Shield the ultimate test by fitting it to the MK5 and sending it all the way up to the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle by way of some of the best roads in America for killing oil pans.

The Street Shield will keep Jaimie on the road for the trip if it is up to the challenge, which we think it most certainly is. Escort provided a radar detector so Jaimie can make sure he knows where the closest officer is to provide assistance in case of emergency (wink wink) and hopefully allow him to avoid any trouble on the way. LIQUI MOLY supplied oil for the trip, which we know will keep the engine running smoothly for the new APR upgrades it will receive in Alabama.

Beyond performance upgrades, we knew it couldn’t just go without some aesthetic improvements. Thule provided a roof storage box and racks for extra space and an aggressive overland look, we peppered the car in a classic rally-inspired livery, and BFI will be touching up the interior with some of their tasteful additions on the first stop of the journey.

Right now, the wagen has left the garage with only a few minor incidents of self-inflicted damage and is heading south to the BFI headquarters. You can follow us along as the MK5 Sportwagen receives numerous upgrades along the route to the Arctic Circle and hopefully encounters wildlife, rough roads, and adventure all the way there.

Check out all the sponsors:

Street Shield






KW Suspension


Black Forest Industries


APR Performance


GSP North America


Published by

Craig Daugherty

Craig Daugherty is a writer and BMW enthusiast from Nashville, TN. His writing focuses primarily on performance tuning, DIY articles, and automotive history.