Fifteen Hours Of Rain

About a month in advance we caught on that these guys were driving across the country for a MK2 Volkswagen centered event that we were holding in New Jersey. Our first questions were the obvious ones: “Who are these guys?” and “What are they driving?”. Naturally, we had to sit down at a diner and get to know these guys and hear how the trip went.

After it became clear in the fall of 2017 that the H2Oi event in Ocean City was to be no more, a small but dedicated handful of MK2 Golf and Jetta owners decided that we wanted to continue having an annual occasion to get the community together. This led to a full winter season of planning in order to host MK2 Mayday, a gathering of second generation water cooled Volkswagens. The idea was to have a casual get together where everyone would be encouraged to bring out their MK2 regardless of what their style was. On the day of the event we had more than a few PVW feature cars, a handful of race cars, varying degrees of weekend cruisers, show cars, and good honest well-worn drivers in attendance. The announcement of this show was where Bradley Turnage and his friend Taylor Jones saw a fitting excuse for a road trip from Phoenix Arizona.

The Jetta is unashamedly dirty, paint is flaking off like rats fleeing a sinking ship, but in this moment it is drenched with character and purpose. Well, that and a spot of rain, but that’s neither here nor there at this point. For vintage car owners of any type, a long haul is a commitment well beyond simply putting in time behind the wheel watching white lines flick past as you tack miles onto the odometer. It requires preparation that goes far beyond throwing snacks and fuel into the car, or even washing the damn thing. It’s about knowing the complete state of your vehicle, and your own level of dedication. In Brad’s instance, before even leaving in his 1990 Jetta coupe, a water pump and an alternator were needed, as well as a full kit of tools in the trunk and a couple of spare wheels. The list undoubtedly is longer than I could catalog here without boring all of you, but my point is these guys weren’t fucking around getting it together for a run across the country in a lightly modified twenty eight year old economy car. 

Admittedly, the car itself is nothing special in its specifications. Upon arrival, it wore a set of 16” Keskin KT1 wrapped in modestly stretched rubber. Suspension consists of inexpensive coilovers, and the driveline is currently unmodified. The interior is original and era-perfect blue with honest hard wear from typical use, and a life spent in direct sunlight. Despite the grit, it’s maintained in a practical way; I’m fairly certain the air conditioning even works, I mean the dudes drove out from Arizona, after all.

The drive was long and harsh. The midwest gave them fifteen hours of rain, with no interruption. They stopped in for an alignment partway across the country. They packed a starter, but not an alternator, which would have come in handy as voltage regulators started to burn out on the way. For some reason they felt the need to pack a timing belt. I guess sometimes once you start packing, you don’t really know when to stop. Taylor had even broken his foot hardly a week before departing, and was toting an air cast during this trip. You could see the madness of road fatigue in their eyes, mixed with the joy of meeting friends who had previously only been an internet presence up to this point, and seeing east coast hero cars in person for the first time.

Quick shoutout to anyone who wanted us to lay off the Volkswagen features. Brad and Taylor are testament to the sheer dedication that many among the old school watercooled Volkswagen crowd have for these boxy European cars. This has quickly become a tight knit community that are equally concerned with creating full on works of rolling art, as they are for the adventure of traveling to meet each other and trade stories. These two guys have most certainly embraced that second category, and I hope their trip encourages others to throw a couple bags in the car and have some fun. I know they’ve motivated me to do so.

Midnight Special are Sadie Fortin and Brian Buckley

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Post by Brian Buckley

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