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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit - Self-Built Bunny

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2008 Volkswagen Rabbit - Self-Built Bunny

Post by LhYnxz on Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:44 pm

Meet Melissa Welsh's Smooth Mk5 Rabbit And The Skilled Mechanic Who Built It.

writer: Sam Du
photographer: Sam Du




It's
a growing trend we can't continue to ignore as more and more ladies are
getting their hands dirty. The days of worrying about broken nails and
imperfect makeup are over for these car-crazy ladies, who've even taken
their passion a step further. Take Melissa Welsh of South Hampton, PA
for example. She became a licensed auto technician to pursue her hobby."I
went to school for 18 months and worked in the field at two repair
shops for over two years," Melissa began. "I quickly learned you can't
turn your hobby into a career. Working on big-ass trucks and picking up
parts twice the size of me, I got tired of it really quickly, so I
decided to take a break from it."

Currently
a full-time waitress in her early 20s, Melissa's education wasn't in
vain. She still entertains the idea of returning to be a full-time
mechanic if it involves performance Volkswagens. But for the time
being, she continues to build her own VW project cars for the pure
enjoyment.She already has four cars under her belt, including a
Corrado and two Mk2 GTIs. But don't imagine these were sissy-built with
bolt-on parts and furry animals in the rear window. The caliber of her
project cars is quite phenomenal: both GTIs featured VR6 swaps Melissa
did herself. In fact, one was a 3.0.Melissa wasn't limited to
VR6s either. Her Corrado managed a 1.8T with a big turbo.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned cars were sold into the wrong hands
and no longer exist. However, Melissa's fourth project, this stunning
'08 Rabbit, promises to be more reliable, edgier and cleaner than the rest.

"When
the Rabbit first came out, I hated it," Melissa admitted. "They grew on
me, though. I didn't care about the turbo in the GTI because I just
wanted a nice daily driver I wasn't going to modify. Well, I wasn't
going to modify it but I'm addicted to building VWs. I can't stop," she
confessed.Having knowledge and experience, Melissa easily
modified her Rabbit without a great deal of help. The only tasks she
out-sourced were the bodywork and upholstery.To the uneducated
eye, this Rabbit looks fairly stock but it's been simplified and
outfitted with plenty of Euro flavor. Melissa delivered the Rabbit to
D&D Custom, where the body was smoothed. Demonstrating that less is
more, the side markers and emblems were shaved. To eliminate the notch
left by the front badge, the bumper and hood were filled and resprayed.
A clean badgeless grille completes the front fascia.


Dipping
into the European parts bin, Melissa sourced a stubbier Euro bumper for
the rear and color-matched the valance. Deleting the rear wiper and
fitting R32 tail lights makes the Mk5 more distinctive.Melissa's
goldmine of ideas continued inside. Instead of adding a pair of race
seats or over-accessorizing, she took the car to Williams Upholstery
where a simple enhancement of color and comfort would complement the
Euro theme. The front and rear seats, along with the door cards and
shift knob boot, were reupholstered in pumpkin leather. Melissa then
color-matched the trim pieces and dash tray to the exterior, which
brought a great deal more class to the originally drab interior.

GTI
pedals give Melissa more feel, while a European headlight switch
deactivated the daytime running lights and gives the option of parking
lights.With these tasks completed, Melissa could concentrate on
the parts she could wrench at home. So finishing off the exterior are
authentic Mercedes wheels. "I had BBS LM replicas but a friend had
these SL wheels for sale," she told us. "They weren't what I had
originally planned but turned out well."Originally intended for
the Mercedes SL, the 18x8.5" front and 18x9.5" rear bolt right up to
the Rabbit without mods. Kumho tires are stretched tight around the
rims so Melissa can lower the car without rubbing issues.

The
slammed stance was accomplished with FK Silverline coilovers.
Currently, the front coils are wound all the way down, but Melissa
admits the rear can still go lower.To cap off the list of
current work, bigger brakes with slotted rotors were fitted for
safety's sake. "It's an upgrade from ECS Tuning that's similar to the
GTI and gives more stopping power than the tiny stock brakes," Melissa
said. To complement the pumpkin interior, she painted all four calipers
orange.Melissa has plenty more ideas up her sleeve but still
daily drives the car and wants to keep the modifications simple and
clean. "The car's put me in debt, so I'm broke for now. Eventually I
plan on doing the C2 Motorsport turbo kit but the car only has 10,000
miles on it and I still have a warranty, so I'll ride it out a little
longer." She's also entertaining the idea of new wheels and even a
shaved engine bay. Whatever comes next, it can only make Melissa's
Rabbit stronger and we commend her for starting a career many male
readers only dream about.


Tech Spec

2008 VW Rabbit
Owner: Melissa Welsh
Location: South Hampton, PA
Occupation: waitress, mechanic
Engine: 2.5 liter five cylinder with AWE Tuning exhaust, color-matched engine covers
Drivetrain:
five-speed manual









Brakes:
312mm cross-drilled and slotted ECS Tuning front rotors with Schwaben
carrier brackets to reposition stock calipers, calipers painted orange
Suspension:
FK Silverline coilovers
Wheels & Tires:
18x8.5" front, 18x9.5" rear Mercedes SL wheels with 215/35-18, 215/40-18 Kumho Ecsta tires
Exterior:

shaved side markers and rear wiper, badgeless grille, filled hood and
bumper notches, OE Euro rear bumper with color-matched lower valance,
smoothed hatch, R32 tail lights
Interior:
front
and rear seats, door cards and shift knob boot reupholstered in pumpkin
leather, painted trim and dash tray, GTI pedals, European headlight
switch
Thanks:
Jason, PT, Sean, Roman, Franco
and Big Tim, D&D Custom for the paint and body work, Williams
Upholstery, Katja at TM Tuning (www.tmtuning.com), www.ecstuning.com,
www.awe-tuning.com

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LhYnxz
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