As promised, we have a few features coming to you folks from the fine people down in Puerto Rico. As we stated before, these articles will praise those who have poured their hearts and passion into the cars they have built or are in the progress of building. This next article is sure to not disappoint. As you guys have seen we are huge fans of MKIII VW’s. But that doesn’t mean that it’s strictly what we write about or want to feature. We love any and all European makes/models. And with the right personality, any one of these cars can make for a great article. Point in case, Gabriel Gonzalez and his 89′ MKII GTI. This is a guy whose entire back round has been that of VAG cars. He knows truly what it means to care and want to make a difference within the community. In this article we will open your eyes to who he is, and the car that has put a smile on his face since the day it was purchased.
It was at the age of 7 when Gabriel first caught the bug for VAG cars, literally. His uncle handed him a ‘Hot VW’s Magazine’ and the passion had ignited. Five years later at the age of twelve, Gabby’s dad bought him his first car. It was a 69′ Beetle that Gabby still happens to own to this day. For that, Mr. Gonzalez definitely earns the title of Best Dad Ever. It was this Beetle that quickly turned Gabby into an Air-Cooled fanatic, it turned him into an old school car guy in general. This can also be attributed to his uncles owning old school VW’s and Muscle cars as well. So when the MKII came around, it wasn’t anything too different for him as he had been working on even older VW’s on a regular basis. In comparison there are so many people that are currently building newer cars, that building older ones has become somewhat of a dying breed as Gabby puts it. And it’s completely true. There are far more people that build MKVI’s and up versus those who build late/early 80’s cars and air-cooled models for that matter.
So with that said, what was it that made Gabby decide to build the MKII. Well after completely restoring the Beetle, it was time to look for a “daily driver”. So the search began with some water-cooled VW’s. After a couple disappointments, he had stumbled upon the MKII. It was clean and already a VR6 swapped into it. What more could you ask for? Needless to say, after an hour and a half drive, the car went home with Gabby the same day. And for a year or so, it was a great daily with no complaints.
Then tragedy struck when someone who was backing up into a parking spot hit the passenger side fender. But as we all know with dailys, instead of just applying a new fender and repaint, it turned into a “mild” build. This included a new fender, paint, a mild shaved bay, then came the supercharger, a set of Borbet Type A’s and a H&R cup kit. As you can see this is the dilemma with most of us who have “dailys”. Its the temptation of completely building a new car. Gabby couldn’t resist, but at least it was still somewhat a “daily”. This lasted for about a year.
After the year was up is when the modding really began to take flight. The car went from having a “mild” shaved bay to a completely shaved bay and wire tuck. All cross members and front end suspension components were powder coated black, while all the hardware in the bay and tranny were replaced with stainless steel. The car was also fitted with custom made stainless steel brake lines that were then tucked and then fitted with H&R Ultra Lows. A lead soon followed on some Porsche 3 piece wheels that also came at a price that could not be passed up. After they were restored and fitted with some 195/40 tires, the process was complete. the build was done over a course of five years with all parts purchased on the island. The only exception being some “rare” parts that were purchased through EBay or VWvortex. The car has since gone from being an excellent daily driver to an even better weekend car. It’s without need to say that the car has come a very long way.
So with all the work that has been done to the car, what are Gabby’s thoughts on community down in PR versus ours stateside? His answer, is music to our ears.
“I think what makes our euro community different from the US is that everyone builds their car just for fun. The rivalry or competitive side of the scene isn’t a major focus here like it is in the US. Because we’re a small island nearly everybody in the community knows and helps each other. We go to shows just to have a great time, cruise on our beautiful roads and hang out with our buddies. Not for the trophies or the fame. THAT’S what I like the most from our community.”
Another question we had to ask was if there were any parts in PR that are not as readily accessible as they are here in the states. As well as any differences in the events that take place.
“Something that I think is really hard to get here in PR is the tires. It’s nearly impossible to find stretch/stance friendly 15″-16″ tires. In the states they are so much easier and cheaper to acquire. Also, the events here are more air cooled oriented so the US has more variety of European events.”
So what does the ufutre hold for Gabby and the fine gents over at EuroCrewPR for the rest of the 2015 show season and into next year? Well for starters, November will bring in the 5th show and dyno event hosted by EuroCrewPR on the island. Gabby says he would also like to come stateside to attend this years Florida Bug Jam and Simply Clean 7. As for the future of the car, work will start on the interior. This will consist of MK2 Recaros wrapped in OEM fabric along with the headliner and dashboard. Last bit will be to get the A/C into the car and working. Our prayers go out to Gabby as we know the humidty/climate must make for a sweatfest the likes we have never seen. Gabby would like to give a special shout out to his girlfriend who has stuck with him through all he parts in the drive way and supporting his passion to the fullest. Another thank you to everyone who has helped in getting the GTI to where it is today. And finally, a huge thank you to everyone that is part of EuroCrewPR for not only keeping the European scene/community alive in Puerto Rico and making us stateside folk wanting to see more and more. Stay tuned for more of our coverage from PR!
And for your enjoyment, here is a full spec mod list of what it is done to the car:
• 89′ GTI – original Bright Blue Metallic (LP5U)
• Full MK3 VR6 swap
• MK3 dash swap
• Blue stitched Personal Grinta Steering Wheel
• Drivers Edition Shift Knob
• Custom steering column gauge pod
• Suede wrapped pillars
• Fully shaved/wire tucked engine bay
• Vortech V1 supercharger
• 12 PSI pulley with 440 injectors
• Forge 50mm bov
• Haltech Sprint 500 standalone ECU
• Water/meth injection
• 2.9 clone intake manifold
• MK4 head gasket
• MSD coil pack upgrade
• Hoyles Bespoke billet strut caps
• Gruven Parts billet oil dip stick
• H&R Ultra Low coil-overs
• FIRST 3 piece 16×8 & 16×9 Porsche wheels
• Front blue Fifft signal lights
• Blue Hella Magic Colour tail lights
• North Vicking front brake ducts
• Shaved engine plastics
• Votex rear upper spoiler
• Porsche scripted door handles
• Eurosport Rear stress bar
• Front ABD lower stress bar
Words by Sean O’Connor @smokeysama
Photos by Gabriel Rodriguez and Jose Ramos
If sharing photos please follow and credit us and our photographer:
@agabopw – Gabriel Rodriguez
@jom_ramos – Jose Ramos
View entire Flickr album, by clicking here.