SP Rides: A Blast from the Past


Picture 1 of 12

By Michael Kitchens

Name: Crisdean Mac Coinnigh
Age: 35
Occupation: Self-employed
Hobbies: Cars, guns, drums, motorcycles, video games
Year/Make/Model: 1984 VW Jetta GLi
Color: Atlas Grey
Engine: 2003 1.8t AWP engine with AEB head, IE rods, stock pistons, calico bearings, all ARP aged 625 fasteners, manual timing belt conversion, IE fuel rail, 1000cc injectors, turbosmart in cabin sleeper, MBC Snow performance stg2 watermeth kit w/125cc nozzle, SEM intake manifold with phelonic spacer, 80mm throttle body, Cat 3651 cams, Ferrera Stainless valves, 034 race valve springs, Ferrera Titanium retainers, Heavy Duty super tech lifters, Treadstone exhaust manifold, Custom Pagparts Billet Garrett GT3071r turbo, Tial f38 wastegate, Tial 50mm BOV, full Custom 3-inch 304 Stainless 16g exhaust, all vbanded TIG’d with stainless FlowMaster, Super Delta 40 muffler, custom 304 stainless 16g wastegate feed pipe and dump tube, custom AWIC system, closed loop with custom mounts and plumbing, custom intercooler piping, Setrab oil cooler setup, custom engine and transmission mounts w/BFI stg2 bushings, battery relocation, drive by wire conversion, custom software with 4 bar MAP sensor setup
Exterior: Hella projectors with ddm 35w HIDs, Westy front end conversion
Interior: Recaro Trophy front seats
Drivetrain: TDi 02J 5 speed transmission with peloquin LSD, Clutch Masters fx400 clutch with billet flywheel, custom axle setup
Suspension: 32mm solid rear sway bar, custom rear triangulated stress bar, BSI adjustable front sway bar, reinforced front control arms, poly and spherical bushings throught out the car
Tires/Wheels/Brakes: Brake system with 10.1-inch front and 9.4-inch rear with ATE rotors and Hawk HPS pads, stainless braided lines, H&R Ultralows with custom valving/springs rates, VW Motorsport 1552 15×8 Snowflakes (first in Hawaii)

For Crisdean Mac Coinnigh, there’s never been a shortage of enthusiasm for the early ’80s Volkswagen. This particular era of VWs has always appealed to him, in part because of his European lineage, but also because other family members kept gravitating toward anything “Das Auto” throughout his formative years.

“There was that sudden change in the 1980s when we went from huge American behemoths to small, sporty econo-boxes,” he recalls. “They were really, really fun and appealing in the ’90s thanks to their affordability.”

As Volkswagen sought to find a suitable replacement for the incredibly popular but aging Beetle, it began introducing several new models, including the Golf, Scirocco and Jetta. The latter caught Crisdean’s eye, and he eventually purchased this 1984 VW Jetta GLi. The car is slathered in its original Atlas Grey paint job, and it still looks absolutely amazing for what is essentially a 30-year-old vehicle.

Exterior wise, this Jetta is utterly clean and almost stealth-like in its appearance. It features several choice parts, including a full early Westy front-end conversion. Significant to this conversion is the square appearance the front fascia presents as well as the absence of the orange side-markers. Euro OEM Hella projectors fill the corners while the bumpers are from the ’74 to ’78 European Golf GTi. A GTi BBS air damn is fitted to the Jetta for an aggressive look.

The original Jetta GLi sported a 1.8-liter that popped out a measly 90HP and 105 ft.-lbs. with an average weight of about 1,900 pounds — a far cry from the whopping 486WHP and 399.4 ft.-lbs. of torque that this Frankenstein monster now pours out.

Take one look at Crisdean’s enormous build sheet and you’ll see that this ride has been seriously modified. Nearly every component in the engine bay has been changed or modified, including swapping in a 2003 1.8t AWP engine with an AEB head. Crisdean was able to complete a ridiculous number of modifications in a span of two months with the help of his friend, Jason Duerr.

The massive amount of power this FWD beast puts out necessitated the addition of a TDi 02J 5-speed transmission with a Peloquin LSD. The Clutch masters FX400 clutch handles the power with the help of a billet flywheel while rocking a custom axle setup. The suspension has been upgraded with a bevy of mods, including front and rear sway bars, as well as poly and spherical bushings all around. The brakes are from a ’94 Jetta and feature Hawk HPS pads while the VW Motorsport 1552s are set in 15×8 with Dunlop Direzza ZII r-compound tires fit at 205/50R15s.

The interior features a Grant GT steering wheel along with various gauges for monitoring the vehicle’s stats. The front seats are from a 1992 GLi (Recaro Trophy Powers) and are quite a desirable item.

Crisdean has taken the original concept of the VW compact sports sedan and upgraded it with modern technology. This Jetta is now a blast from the past that features massive power in an economical ride all wrapped up behind a sleeper look that belies its beastly potential. It truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.