It was a dark time for the BFI team. Although the Passat had made it to ECS, Airline employees had driven the BFI forces to a panicked state and had lost the custom BBS wheels somewhere across the galaxy…
After losing time and resources, Adam, Michael, and Noah were in no position to dawdle. Early Wednesday morning, the team tore into the Passat. All the parts were staged and sorted, stock components were hastily removed, and more ugly setbacks maliciously presented themselves. Somehow, the scene was reminiscent of the rushed defense at the Rebel base on Hoth. No amount of planning or capability would prevent casualties and no one could expect the Imperial walkers… Ehrm, missing parts.
Yes, in a cruel twist of ironic fate, they were missing parts from their stash. As the build needed to continue, the emotional blows from missing gaskets, adapters, and assorted odds-and-ends had to be absorbed as the team scrambled to adjust their approach. Suddenly, the build shifted from mad-dashed to pure insanity. Everyone with any ability to help jumped at the opportunity to see this incredible concept come to life, and no shortage of help was around.
Photographers became fabricators, marketing staff became parts runners, and a cadre of our own engineers was dedicated to ensuring the plumbing and piping were all perfect. No mistakes were possible, there simply wasn’t the time or spare material. This whole build, in a matter of minutes, needed exact precision and flawless execution the first time. Fitting, trial-and-error, conversations; these were luxuries the BFI team no longer possessed.
Amazingly, the only constant during the build more persistent than the number of setbacks was the team’s ability to shrug off the inconveniences and fluidly adapt their plans. The original valve cover doesn’t clear? Fine, we have another. Does the turbo location have to change? No worries, just make everything fit around it. Missing an adapter plate? That’s alright, someone teach the photographer how to use a lathe.
It was mind-blowing to watch professionals in their element dodge and parry through such an onslaught of negativity more competently than Luke’s fight with Vader on Cloud City. Every swing or projectile unexpectedly thrown their way was expertly averted, dodged, or redirected through both years of experience and sheer force of will to see the project through. Not only would this build be a testament to their abilities, but it was a source of personal pride for the team. They had to prove to themselves that a start to finish build plan could still come to fruition by their own tireless efforts, regardless of any adversity.
Of course, if life were about the destination, there would be no point in living it. These struggles, while dramatic and stressful, are what makes the build unique. More so than the creativity behind such a project, the stress and strife experienced by a team of friends drawn closer together through a shared vision is an intangible and irreplaceable part to the build. That single component is exponentially more valuable than the sum of all the physical parts. Their attitude, the knowledge mid-build that they were in the process of creating together something meaningful to only them, was the most rewarding realization to observe.
As the deadline rapidly approached, after two full days of wrenching, Thursday evening saw a fairly complete mock-up of how everything mechanically was going to sit. The wheels had still yet to arrive, the exhaust demanded more tweaking, and intercooler piping had all but played musical chairs around the engine bay, but the Passat was beginning to look like a viable build. Through no small amount of effort, custom adapters had been fabbed to ensure the throttle body would mate to the MK4 intake manifold fitted to the cross-flow head. Suspension components had been replaced, the coilovers dialed-in, and, naturally, a BFI shift knob had found its way onto the shifter. While it wasn’t finished, a noticeable release of pressure could be felt in the room.
However, with all that completed, there was still a mountain of work to be finished. Most worrying was exhaust plumbing. Tucked right against the firewall, backed into a corner with nowhere to go, the turbo still needed a proper downpipe. No off-the-shelf solution could be used here, so as the build approached what was supposed to be its final day, it was left somewhat like Luke with a freshly amputated appendage, trying to see how everything would come together for a satisfying conclusion…
All photos courtesy Michael Palcowski