Since I'm nearly complete with Wolfgang, I picked up this Scirocco to be my project car.
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V.L. Enterprises Saga
August 15, 2004 -- And now for some shocking news. I sold Sonja yesterday to a good friend of mine, Sean. I know I haven't mentioned anything about this decision here on Sonja's page, but you can read all about it (if you care) in the History section of my home page. As is evidenced by the decreasing number of updates on this page, I haven't been spending as much time on Sonja as I should, so I've passed her off to Sean. I know he'll treat her right and take her to the next level, and I think we're all pretty happy about that.
In fact, I hadn't driven Sonja for two weeks to make sure she'd exhibit the cold idle stumble so Sean would be aware of it. I let him start her up so he could experience it first hand. She fired right up and didn't stumble at all. Figures. So, it looks as though she likes Sean well enough, and I wish them both many happy miles together. :)
April 9, 2004 -- Sonja is out and about again! Thanks to her new Optima Yellow Top battery, she fired right up and was ready to go. Stopped at the local auto parts store on the way home and picked up a new box of oil. Changed her oil when I got home, then dusted her off and pumped the air in her tires back up to acceptable levels. After a bit, I took her for a drive. Good times. :) That lower steering column bushing is staying in place so far, but I'm going to wait a bit longer before I re-install the panels/trim below the steering column and dash.
April 3, 2004 -- 'Bout time to bring Sonja out of hibernation. Won't really happen until next weekend, but I did a couple things in preparation.
First, I put a zip-tie around the steering column, just below the bushing. I'm not too confident that'll actually keep it from sliding out, but I figured it was easy enough to be worth a shot. I'm sure I'll have to come up with a more permanent solution.
I also replaced the Optima Red Top battery with an Optima Yellow Top. The Yellow Top is designed to be more resilient to deep-cycle discharges. Since I haven't been driving her as much (and with the addition of the R32 to my stables, that situation isn't likely to change anytime soon), I figured a deep-cycle battery would be a better fit. Egads, I think that Yellow Top is even *heavier* than the Red Top it replaced--and the Red Top felt a fair bit heavier than a standard lead-acid battery! Think I'll have to give serious consideration to relocating the battery to the hatch for better weight distribution... Oh, and I also bought a battery tender. My new winter storage ritual will now involve removing the battery and storing it in my garage with the tender hooked up to keep it healthy.
I plan to perform the ritual spring oil change next weekend, and let Sonja have daily driver duties for a week. Now that I have *three* cars (where's that white jacket with the really long sleeves?), it's going to be a challenge to divide my time among them evenly. For the moment, I plan to do a weekly rotation throughout the summer--drive one car for a week, the next car for the next week, and the third car the following week, then repeat...
January 1, 2004 -- Happy New Year! Golly, it's been a *very* long time since I've updated this page. I drove Sonja once in awhile in the fall, then changed her oil and put her back in storage. Not too exciting. However, she did develop a new quirk--the lower steering wheel bearing decided to slide down and out of place. The steering still works just fine, but the steering wheel now shifts on a 45º about 1/2". Not a big problem, but rather disconcerting nonetheless. That'll be the first thing to fix when spring rolls around. Also, since I haven't been driving her as much as I should have, her battery hasn't been holding a charge for long. I have installed a battery saver switch (easily disconnects the battery when I know I won't be driving her for awhile), but that wasn't enough to really help. I wonder if the ol' Red Top just needs to be replaced...
August 24, 2003 -- Another successful trip to the Ozarks in Sonja. Her A/C kept up fine as long as we were moving (it just doesn't move enough air when sitting still to be effective), although after a couple hours of use, I'd discover condensation on the floorboards. I need to check the drain tube.
Friday night, near the end of my journey, Sonja developed an odd ailment. At 3000rpms or above, she'd kinda bog down and I could almost hear some strange sucking sound from the engine bay--but she would only do it under load (which made it impossible to do any detective work by myself on the side of the road). I managed to reach my destination, but it was after nightfall, so we left it until the following morning.
The next morning, she ran just fine. Typical. That evening, we went for another test drive. Not a single problem. She ran great all the way home, too. Go figure. <shrug>
Yep, she's a Scirocco...
August 21, 2003 -- I changed Sonja's oil tonight in anticipation of a road trip this weekend. I was actually planning on driving Wolfgang, but he's still in the shop for the latest round of upgrades (new clutch, lightened flywheel, and Peloquin differential--in case I haven't blathered on and on about it to you).
August 10, 2003 -- LOOOONG overdue for an update. Not too much to report, though. I have long since properly secured the amp in place with all four mounting screws.
I've been swapping between Sonja and Wolfgang for daily driver duties every couple of weeks or so. A couple times, her battery went flat while sitting in storage (most likely the new amp and/or stereo drawing a little current). A jump start from Wolfgang, and the Optima Red Top battery bounces back nicely. I have purchased a battery disconnect switch, which I plan to install in the next week or so. That'll make disconnecting her battery when storing for long periods of time much more convenient.
On a side note, her MFA is back to it's old tricks again. It's still on, but it occasionally goes wonky: changing between statute and metric units on it's own, not always obeying the function switch (often changing functions on its own), and usually showing the wrong hour on the clock (although the minutes have maintained their accuracy). <sigh>
April 29, 2003 -- Well, the scratchy sound of that blown amp got to me, so I stopped by the local Wal-Mart on the way home tonight for a cheap replacement. I wound up getting a Virtual Reality Sound Labs (a.k.a. Roadmaster, a.k.a. Royal Sound--what's up with that?) VRA 2.0 2 channel 200W amp for a mere $53.26 with tax. That's pretty stinkin' cheap.
Since I already had all the wires and connectors in place, it was a plug-n-play swap, which was nice. It does, however, require a completely different set of mounting points than the previous amp, so I saved that part for tomorrow night. (I've got one screw holding it in place now. As long as I don't get *too* crazy on the drive to/from work tomorrow, it should be just fine.) It also feels quite a bit lighter than the amp it's replacing, so I guess in some respect that's a performance benefit. ;) Most importantly, it works. The sound is actually clear now, so I'm happy.
One minor caveat, though is that the car must be running or else it'll go into an under-voltage protection state. (A big reason why I bought that particular U.S. Acoustics amp in the first place was because it's stable down to 12V, whereas most amps are rated at 14V. For modern cars that's not a problem. For Sonja, however...) It's not a super big deal anyway, because I can't think of an occasion where I'd want to listen to the radio when Sonja isn't running. Besides, it was freakin' cheap!
Why am I cheaping out on the audio equipment after having spent a ghastly amount of money on the gearbox alone? Three reasons:
1) It's been my experience that Sciroccos are prone to being broken into and having there stereos stolen. If Sonja should ever fall victim to such a heinous crime, I won't lose an expensive stereo system.
2) My intentions with Sonja have more to do with driving in a spirited fashion than lounging around and listening to music. If not for the possibility of taking road trips, I probably wouldn't have bothered with a radio at all. However, tunes help keep me sane on said road trips. (Helps drown out those voices in my head....)
3) I'm saving up for that blasted Golf R32. 8^D
Oh! One happy bonus of this exercise--when I re-connected the battery, Sonja's MFA came back to life! Woohoo! Of course, this means I'm going to make every effort to *NOT* disconnect the battery for the rest of the summer...
April 28, 2003 -- The mystery of the incompatible spark plug wires has been solved. Thanks to a couple of helpful folks in the 8V Forum at VW Vortex, I have been educated to know that VW changed the style of the connector at the distributor cap in '85. Typical VW to change something like that. Since I asked for plug wires for an '85 (rather than going through the hassle of explaining that my car is an '84.5, and that half-year makes a difference on some things), it stands to reason that they wouldn't mate up with my old distributor cap which I must have specified as an '84 when I bought it. Oh well, the cap and rotor needed to be replaced, anyway...
April 27, 2003 -- Many hours spent working on Sonja this weekend.
First off, I installed an actual stereo. The whole plan of plugging a portable MP3 player into an amp just wasn't working out. If you recall, the first amp self-destructed, and the second one started sounding "scratchy". My only guess is that the amps were getting unhappy because the MP3 player wasn't sharing a common ground with 'em. <shrug> So, I bought an Xtreme Sound WMS373 stereo from Wal-Mart's online store. For a mere $129.16 (including shipping), it's an AM/FM/CD receiver that also plays CD-Rs and CD-RWs *and* MP3s--not to mention RCA preamp outputs for both front and rear speakers. Not too shabby for less than $150. It also has an automatic flip-n-fold face to help disguise itself when the car is off as a theft-deterrent. Dunno just how effective that will be, but it really appeals to the geek in me to watch it do the presto-change-o when I turn the key in the ignition. :)
At some point during the stereo installation, I decided to remove the guts of the aftermarket cruise control, since it wasn't working anyway. Having those extra wires tapped in just irritated me. <shrug> Oh yeah, during one of the many "re-connect the battery and make sure everything works" iterations, Sonjas MFA clock started working. Of course, that was the only time. GRRR! Gotta be a loose connection somewhere...
I hooked the stereo up to the amp via the RCA patch cables that were supplied with the amp, and left the amp hooked up to the speakers in order to reduce the installation time. (I actually spent the majority of Saturday on this project. Either I'm getting older, or I'm just as anal-rententive as ever. After all, I did remove the center console completely for test-fitting purposes...) The sound quality is a bit on the "scratchy" side, which I chalk up to the amp being unhealthy from the way I was using it earlier. Drat. I *could* wire the stereo up to the speakers directly, but I don't wanna pull everything apart again. My plan is to live with it for now (scratchy tunes are better than none at all) and replace the amp at some point. My question now becomes this: Should I get the same brand/model of amp (mounting holes are already drilled and I know the wiring will plug right in), or should I try something different, like perhaps the $50 VR3 unit Wal-Mart has on their web site? (If only I could find some specs for that blasted thing!) I'm also toying with the idea of a small bass tube for fun...
The other task I undertook was replacing the spark plugs and wires. The spark plugs were easily taken care of (though I had to remove that blasted helicoil from plug #3). The plug wires that came in the box appeared to be in worse shape than the ones they were going to replace. Great. Someone returned their old wires and the auto parts store just put the box back on the shelf. Took the plug wires back and exchanged 'em. (The guy behind the counter took 'em out of the box to make sure they were new this time.) Got back home and started swapping out the wires. Hm. Looks like Bosch is using some kind of new connector on the end that plugs into the distributor cap:
It appears to be of equivalent size and shape, but the silly thing just won't plug in. Actually, the coil wire plugged in without any problems, but the wires to the spark plugs simply do not want to mate up. I even tried to compress that little circlip wire, but that didn't help. Did i get the wrong wires, or have Bosch's engineers come up with a new connector that's smarter than I am? After several attempts, I decided to just keep the old wires for now while I mull this over. <shrug>
April 18, 2003 -- Great news: I'm an idiot! When I checked Sonja's oil for coolant in my last report, I *thought* there was coolant in it because it looked diluted to me. (Apparently, I was deluded.) After letting Sonja sit for a couple weeks, I went back to look again. No oil in her coolant expansion chamber. Her oil was *not* milky, as it should be if coolant was truly mixing with it. After a quick drive, I didn't see much steam/smoke and no sign of moisture coming out of her tail pipe. I had a chat with Roger at Autopia, and it looks like Sonja just had some condensation and I got all paranoid and totally over-reacted.
To celebrate, I (FINALLY) changed her oil. All seems to be well. <knocking on simulated wood grain> Next up will be new spark plugs & wires...
April 5, 2003 -- I cleaned Sonja up this morning, then got her together with Wolfgang and had a little photo shoot. Unfortunately, during the process of moving the cars around, I noticed some white smoke/steam and moisture coming from Sonja's tailpipe. Ack. I checked the oil, and confirmed that her coolant is mixing with it. Argh. (Which delays that oil change I keep mentioning...sheesh.)
Now I'm in a quandry. If the head is coming off (most likely the case), then I'll want to replace it, since there's a helicoil holding spark plug #3 in place. And if I'm buying a new head, then I might as well get one that's been worked over (and swap over the G-grind cam I have in her current head). But then again, if I'm going through all this hassle, should I just go ahead with a 2.0 swap? I was giving serious consideration to an engine swap (since I'm thinking of dropping the plans for a turbo), but was hoping her current 1.8 would hold out in the meantime--because I haven't budgeted for this kind of work happening this year. (I'm saving up for that blasted R32 that's got me all foamy at the mouth...)
Further meditation is required.
March 23, 2003 -- Sonja's still running well. Her Optima Red Top battery seems to have bounced back from discharging over the winter.
We went to the first autocross of the season today, and met up with a bunch of local watercoled VW owners. Beautiful weather and cool cars made for a great time. I didn't compete in the aucross today, though. Since I'm saving up for an R32 and hoping to drive to the annual Scirocco gathering near Cincinatti this year, I'm cutting out the autocross to save some money and wear-and-tear on Sonja.
I need to change her oil, as I haven't done that yet after her winter slumber. (I'm a bad boy.) Hope to do that this week.
March 15, 2003 -- After giving Wolfgang a good hand washing and swapping out the Blizzaks, I headed over to the storage place to swap cars. Sonja's battery was still flat, so another jump-start was necessary. I left her idling while I tucked Wolfgang into the storage bay, then proceeded to take her out for an hour long drive to blow out the cobwebs and charge up the battery. That was fun! I plan to drive her daily for a week or two.
February 3, 2003 -- A brief warmup in the weather inspired me to go take Sonja for a spin yesterday. Unfortunately, her battery had discharged too much to start her, so Wolfgang assisted with a jump-start.
Once she started, I was greeted with a very unhappy-sounding clattering from the engine bay. Upon taking a quick look under the hood, I discovered that the lower mounting bolt for the alternator was missing! Today, I went to the local hardware store and found an appropriate replacement bolt, nut and lock washer. I installed the bolt, but left Sonja in storage since the weather is supposed to get yucky again this week. :\
Flash Silver Metallic paint, code LP7Y
1.8l 4-cylinder JH engine, CIS fuel injection, rated at 90HP in stock form (should be a little more HP now)
5-speed manual 4K "close ratio" transmission, converted to 6-speed with Quaife differential
Features include cruise control, power steering, power locks, power windows, power mirrors, and MFA (trip computer)
My impressions when I first considered purchasing Sonja can be found on this page.
Last updated October 30, 2005.