The OG’s OG
It was too early on a Saturday for developed thought as we hopped into the Volvo and pointed it towards 95 south, hardly above freezing, iced coffee in hand, dizzy with lack of sleep and excitement to spend a day seeking adventure and old stories.
Ted Dorset is the OG’s OG. He’s been modifying MK2 Jettas before a lot of us had heard of them, let alone bought one and spent hours staring at polished intake manifolds, engines to swap in, or suspension componentry. I ask about the origin of his current car, and the response begins on September 11th, 2001. Eyes fill with a mixture of sadness and thanks as Ted recounts the circumstances of that morning. Sad that the previous day was a large layoff, filled uncertainty for their future careers. Thankful that he and former coworkers stayed out too late the night before, together one time before departing in separate professional directions. The harshness of reality returns while recalling the drive in to the city late on that morning, tower two smoking off in the distance, assumed to be a terrible mistake. Next thing you know, confusion causes a traffic mishap with a Port Authority vehicle that was rushing downtown, totalling Ted’s now former MK2. Fortunately, this kept him away from downtown Manhattan on that infamous day. We quickly bring the mood up with a tour of two decades’ worth of memorabilia: framed German Squad posters, various magazine plaques from the US and Europe, radio controlled cars with enough details for their own feature pieces, hip hop mix tapes, and camera talk.
Eventually, things moved on the following month back in 2001, as Ted searched to replace his lost Volkswagen. Insurance checks cleared, and a certain white four-door Jetta soon landed in the driveway before one of the last shows of the season. What followed were years of work in the garage, a PVW feature, hosting German Squad BBQ’s, trips to Ocean City, park cruises, and the ups and downs of life itself. At one point car sat for a couple of years, but eventually came back out from under a tarp to reignite that bright spark which this hobby brings out in people.
As Sadie shoots detail images for the piece, I ask about details on the car, particularly interested because I also own a MK2 and you don’t get to cross paths with these very often anymore, eventually landing on a chrome fire extinguisher mounted just behind the front seats. Ted lights up and dives into a story from that November back in 2001, where a friend volunteered to help clean up some grit from the engine bay using some brake cleaner. Needless to say, next thing you know there’s a fire in the engine bay, and amid a misguided attempt to control the flames led to the purchase of this exact fire extinguisher, which remains on hand to this day.
Modifications are classic and clean, based on a full conversion to the Jetta GTX spec, which was never available in the US, and given a bit more power and flair. Under the hood sits a highly polished VR6, with a polished vortech supercharger and Eibach strut bar to match. Inside, a Recaro interior, complete with polished billet details, four point Schroth harnesses, and the now super rare Premier gauge cluster. Wheels are a set of sixteen inch Borbet Type A, which come with their own story about barely maneuvering around a narrow, flooded driveway to get into a garage on higher ground for protection from Hurricane Sandy, and later finding obscure parts for vintage European wheels in modern New Jersey. The car sits low but purposeful on coilovers, and we’re warned that any passengers will cause the rear wheels to rub, but later we see that Ted drives the car in the sort of closely familiar way that lets you know he’s dialed it in over thousands of hard solo drives. “Burnouts are like therapy”, he later says, and I solidly agree.
Every detail on the build yields a story: Lego valve stem caps include a tale about visiting car shows with his son. Even a plastic toy dinosaur on the dash brings us to learn that Sadie carries around nearly the same thing everywhere she goes. I casually mention dice valve caps, and we’re on to childish bicycle trends from decades back, we’re quickly distracted by a clever compartment hidden in the trunk for tools and cleaning supplies, alongside a spare wheel which matches the Borbets on each corner.
The afternoon begins to wind down. We all share anecdotes about VR6 engines, and experiences driving a classic Volkswagen in recent years, and have a little fun on some great park roads. Ted flashes a youthful smile, excited as ever for an excuse to take the Jetta out for an afternoon drive with friends, and we depart to the soundtrack of supercharger whine and exhaust grumble as the sun begins to set.
Let’s go for a drive and share stories.