We spend a great deal of time focused on the most popular enthusiast models chosen by the community to drive, modify, build, race, and showcase. It makes sense, because those cars, like the E46 M3, MK7 GTI, B8 A4, and other extremely popular performance cars are what most enthusiasts drive. However, we aren’t exclusive to those more common platforms, we love everything from the most basic European vehicles to the funkiest, weirdest, low-volume cars a few select enthusiasts dedicate their lives to maintaining, building, and owning. So this week, we’d like to look on the rarer side of things at one of our ECS family, Dave, who is infatuated with those oddities from VW and Audi. Settle in to an exploration of what goes through the mind of someone who prefers things a bit differently. 

How did you get into VWs? 

In high school, the car scene wasn’t much in the small town that I grew up in but everyone seemed to have these MK4 Jettas and GTIs that always appealed to me. Granted, before I knew anything about them I never wanted to own a VW/Audi because, like most people, I heard about the maintenance costs and the nightmare of owning them. The appeal came from all these super dumped big turbo 1.8Ts that I kept seeing around town and in the High school lot. 

My friend had multiple VWs and he’s really the one who educated me about them along with another friend who played big roles in my interest in Volkswagen. Basically, I learned minimal things from them and ended up purchasing my MK4 VR6 shortly after that. I loved the way the VR Sounded (even though MK4 12vs are heavy slow pigs) and I’ve been stuck with it ever since. Shortly after I purchased it, I started working here at ECS and it’s just been my preference since then. I really have to give it to the Euro Car Community, though, I’ve never met such a diverse group of people that are so completely different yet they share this one common interest that brings everyone together. It appealed to me and I felt like it was something I wanted to be a part of. So, many years later, here I am. 

What was the first VW you bought?

The first VW I purchased was a 2001 MK4 Jetta GLX with 114k miles for 3800 bucks. It was really the first “project” car that I had dug into. I daily drove the slammed pile for about 7 years and sold it last year at 200k miles. It was time to focus on other projects such as the Corrado. I had also gotten tired of putting money into it and lost interest. To replace it for daily duty, I picked up the dirty diesel MK6 Jetta sportwagen. 

What made you drawn towards the funky stuff like your Corrado and V8 Quattro?

Honestly I don’t know. I like weird stuff. The more I learned about it, the more interesting it became to me. I like the challenge, it’s just part of the fun. I grew up in the Pontiac community thanks to my father’s influence. He taught me most of the things I know. He would always point out weird Pontiacs and stuff that was kinda rare here and there so I guess I just picked up on it. 

He is a collector of rare birds himself. He currently has a 63 LeMans 326 and constantly kicks himself in the ass for selling his Super Duty Trans Am, so I guess I inherited the ‘oddball collector bug’ from him. Even though I moved to a weird market and he gives me shit for it, I think he has grown to like the oddball VW stuff that I come across and is beginning to appreciate a different realm that he isn’t used to. I would also love to give a shout out to the guys at German Auto Pros. Mostly, the Burkett Family. Cary, Julian, and Susie have been a big help with a lot of this oddball stuff as well and have had some influence on me to make poor financial decisions, like picking up this Audi V8 Quattro with a manual. He’s also extremely knowledgeable and always willing to help out!

How has it been caring for something that’s hard to get parts for?

Owning these cars just necessitates it. I have become pretty good at finding the rare and NLA things for these cars. I make constant four to six-hour road trips in a night just to go pick up parts from other collectors or members of the VW community. That’s part of the adventure for me honestly and once again it ties back to the people that you meet. I plan to continue to do this as long as I can just for the adventure aspect of it and how much fun it is. Granted, it’s not always financially smart but at the same time you only get to experience certain things in life. Might as well do it while you’re young. 

What has kept you interested in cars for this long? 

Honestly, the people more than the cars. Don’t get me wrong, I love cars and it gives myself and many others the opportunity to express ourselves. It is mostly the people. Going to shows across the US and just meeting many different walks of life makes this community so full and vibrant. Everything is always an adventure, especially when it’s in something that most people don’t really expect to see on the road. 

What are your favorite things about your three cars?

It’s hard to say but I guess I’ll be direct. The TDI has great fuel mileage and makes for a wonderful daily, especially paired with the manual trans. It’s slow, but fuel efficient, which allows me to save money for parts and the other two gas hogs. The Corrado is kind of hard to explain, honestly. It’s just an overall fun car to drive. It sounds great and the active aero is such an interesting and appealing feature (which I spent countless times trying to get to work.) Nothing beats the sound of a straight piped 12v VR, or any straight piped VR, for that matter. As far as the Audi goes? It’s just a weird big body Quattro car that makes V8 noises and caught my eye when it came up for sale. Having the manual transmission in it makes it incredibly nifty, too. I think part of the appeal to it was its ties to the late 80s 90s DTM Era as well

What’s next for your projects?

I’ll be leaving to go pickup two 4.2L V8s hopefully next week to drop the 3.6 out of the Audi for now. Honestly, I change my mind so frequently that I have no idea what my plans are for any of my cars right now. It changes daily. I mostly just want to drive them. Maybe the Corrado will get a turbo at some point and a desperately needed paint job but we will get there. I would love to use the Audi as a road trip car and driver but we will see. I haven’t gotten that far yet. 

Wrapping Up

As an oddball car owner, this is par for the course for most folks’ experiences. It’s part passion, part impulse, and a whole lot of nerdiness that brings out a desire to own something like a Corrado or a V8 Quattro. It takes commitment and motivation since finding parts is tougher every day that passes. Many of the parts just can’t be found, at least not when you need them, so it also involves quite a bit of effort and energy to save, refurbish, rebuild, and reuse anything that can be kept. You find yourself hoarding parts, jumping on any post that offers parts you may not have a need for today, but could see yourself needing in the future. Its a labor of love that Dave knows all too well, as many of you likely share. Here at ECS, it takes all kinds of enthusiasts to bring you the catalog and services we offer to keep these kinds of rarities on the road and looking perfect. If you have a story of your own, we’d love to hear it! Reach out to us and share your enthusiast story. You might find yourself in another edition of Tuned In Weekly.