Saturday, November 22, 2014

Project: Resurrection- Part 1, Condition.

This car was on the verge of being written off and dismantled for parts by the previous owner. After driving it for a bit I am really happy I got the whole thing and not just fragments of it haha.
Early in our years together I used to show up at home with either news of some "score" of a car or actually with some shambled pile of VW steel held together with zipties, duct tape and willpower, many which would make my wife cringe. Some ended well, and some were stripped of anything that made them good and sent for recycling, and some were put into road use or built as projects. The struggle was real for her. True story, I have heard the words "why on earth would you want that?!" and "you can't keep that where people can see it" more than most people, set aside car people with similar fluids mixed in with their blood and supportive significant others who have grown accustomed to this sort of "treasure".

Thankfully the successes have outweighed the yard planters and she now has a little faith. But when I got home with the 337, I still saw the cringe I know so well manifest ever so slightly but outwardly she managed to give a word of encouragement and an "oh good, I'm glad you like it". Haha, the struggle is real for my wife, Thank you for supporting my sometimes bizarre car habit Barbie!

This car really did need, but is absolutely worth saving.....
I had arranged a late night trip to MPLS to look at and more than likely purchase with a little help from my friend Tristan from easily one of the coolest shops I know, Further performance so I could have it on a lift in good light for a solid buyers inspection.

This car had me at the first sound I heard from it as the previous owner approached the shop. I remember the conversation with T. "that doesn't sound like a beater does it?" He said"It sounds decent whatever it is" and then it came around the corner.

Unbeknownst to the PO, I bought that car right at that moment. See my previous post about how I feel about the 337s. Not only did it sound like a well maintained 1.8t, it was clearly a 337, even with the mismatched panels.  When I walked up to the car to introduce myself and the door opened I lost my ability to negotiate too. Dammit. I went through the motions, I put it on the lift and silently pointed and noted little things I saw, all to devalue it in the owners eyes without saying a word (a brilliant buyers tactic btw, very unnerving to the seller) and then took it for a drive. Remember that ravenous drooling condition I said the 337 had put me into when I first saw the marketing materials so many years ago? Well upon my return from the test drive I stepped out of the car and immediately offered him every penny we had initially discussed over the internet. Dammit, but this was my Red Ryder bb gun, no ifs ands or buts about it. Cash and a title exchanged hands, and I had my 337.

Aside from some very small concerns which have been addressed, such as a driver axle with both boots shredded to non-existence and some attention to the lights which had just never been fully addressed after the accident that put it in this condition, the car is solid. Mechanically it is 95%, with the 5% being just cleaning up some previously installed parts (intercooler, and all the intake/recirc stuff is a mess)
The intercooler is mounted upside down and needs the bumper bar cut, the intercooler flipped to properly tuck it away. it also needs an OEM bumper skin to really clean things up.
Plans are: A real intake, a true emissions delete as all the stuff is still there and held in place by every vw enthusiasts temporary friend, zip ties, as well as a nice catch can set.
It doesn't have any check engine lights, it pulls hard, and has what the previous owner stated as a stage 2 GIAC tune. It's actually pretty badass and when I am in it and driving, I couldn't care less what it looks like.

Oh yeah, the look. Not intentional, it was a condition of purchase we shall say. It looks the way it does from playing bumper cars on a highway somewhere in MN. Thus the reason it is all mismatched. So if you know anyone, I am on the hunt for an OEM core support, Front bumper cover, driver fender, and driver door. It came with the front valance that VW equipped it with, just in the back of the car. The only piece it is truly missing is the hatch spoiler as they are pretty much permanently affixed to the hatches and cannot be removed without destroying them.

The recaros. Yes! Although the driver bolster is showing 130,000 miles of use, it is not all torn up and thankfully, still with the car.
The red stitched steering wheel and boot, Driver Edition shift knob, pedals, and aluminum trim. Some of the very desirable equipment on this car and usually the first items to go when these cars fall to this state are all there. I had to buy it....
All in all, I am totally down with this car. Thrilled as a matter of fact. This will not be some huge fancy build, this is going to be "put together the car I wanted as a driver for 12 years and drive it build". The maintenance (t-belt, etc) has all been done recently and all it needs is some cosmetic love. Speaking of........
As far as the multi color format, I am going to address it. How you ask?  I'll give you an opportunity to make an educated guess.......
Here is a link to the original post regarding the 337. This should get you up to speed on this project. Let me introduce you .......

If you are wondering if this is my winter project the answer is no. I also took another big bite of a historical piece......
More on this soon..............

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ski's Oshkosh. A "New" grocery experience in downtown Oshkosh.

Many years ago across cities in America life was compartmental. Neighborhoods had their own grocery stores housed in what now seems like quaint flat faced, big window store fronts with a big awning inviting patrons in for their daily or weekly needs. Dairy, produce, dry goods, they carried everything they should have on hand to provide locals with what they needed. The operators knew their customers, usually on a first name basis and special orders were not a problem unless the materials were out of reach for the store.

These markets dotted the landscape of american cities and you can still see the footprints everywhere, even in Oshkosh. Now re-purposed to anything from hair salons to fortune tellers, to private residences the shadow of them is still visible even if the original intent is now hidden.

As society progresses things are on a constant course for change. Time moved on and large "big box" style grocery stores popped up offering a selection of what people wanted at a sometimes lower price, but as with anything mass produced, you lose the personal touch of somebody behind the counter that knows your name, and has your order in their head when you walk in the door. What was once a personable, friendly experience has now become another faceless, just need to get it done, hurry up, get the cheapest processed thing on the shelf, Stores where healthy and organic foods receive a special section with big signs to boast they have them. The employees can generally tell you where something is but cannot tell you what it is or where it comes from. Not their fault, it is just not a priority for their employment, as the role of a food purveyor is a numbers game more than a passion for them.
probably the coolest butcher chart I have ever laid eyes on....
Ski's Meat Market in downtown Oshkosh not only has the feel of that old school corner grocery, it IS that corner store. The classic downtown storefront with an inviting awning and a stoop greets you as you walk up to it on Main St, and a large front window so you can see the interior of the store, a classy setting for what at first glance does not look to be a disappointing prospect to walk into.
Deli counters piled high with quality sliced meats, delicious smells, dry goods, a very contemporary but stylish decor, and after a short perusal, a selection of foods to excite anybody that has experience eating beyond mass produced, processed mash that is pushed on us daily in our world. I know it's a meat market, I'll get to that, there's alot to talk about here though.

Opened in October 2014 by  Kris and Sarrah Larson, April and Chef Mike Buckarma, And Janine and Jason Faught to fill a need in the Downtown Oshkosh marketplace they have fit the bill. I'm sure you recognize at least some of those names, they all bring important additions to a place like Ski's from equipment, to grocery, to the food and preparation, and the management of it all. One thing they all certainly brought to the table was a common vision as the end product of their efforts is outstanding. Execution of something different so well that it is lasting, not a novelty. Ironically, I say something different but the values it is based on are old school, the forgotten art of quality product and good service that has been forgotten and buried in our quick service convenience based society.
Not only stocked with awesome stuff, good looking too.....
Featuring as many local suppliers as they can, partnering with places like Growing Oshkosh, to Rhapsodies Frozen Custard to name a couple, they truly aim to support the city they call home.

Beyond injecting quaility into our local food supply, they also bring a much needed boost to our downtown economy as well as provide  a service to the people that live in the area. I remember living downtown without a car. When supplies were needed, it sucked. Stocked with all the basic needs, Ski's is there to serve the community at large. It also just happens to also be chock full of things so the culinary fans can have playdates in their kitchens.
There are not many stores you can go to that the folks behind the counter can give you pairing suggestions or meal ideas using the produce, proteins, dairy, starches, and liquor, wine or beer selections all available within eyeshot of the conversation. Oh, and know your name at that too.

Wine, craft beer, good booze, Mmmmmmm....
Infused oils, and seasonings, this store has something for everybody.

So, I haven't talked about the meat yet. Have you ever heard the phrase "saving the best for last"?
Case in point just in case you ever need a reference.
I don't mean for this to sound weird but it's inevitable. I like sausage. I love it as a matter of fact. Just about any meat counter worth it's weight has some sausages they've made up, some are very good. Ski's is a playground. With a selection of unique flavors and custom orders welcome (of course there is a minimum order for the custom stuff) the imagination is allowed to run far past the standard grill it and put it on a bun mentality.
These caught my eye. Maybe tonite? Probably......
What kind of a meat market doesn't have beef? Not sure, thankfully this one does. Featuring beef from 1855 beef, this stuff is head and shoulders above what I am used to buying locally until now.
I know, it's not all full. I personally think that's a good sign. Fresh, restocking frequently to keep up with demand. That's a good sign. Don't ever eat at the empty restaurant.....
The beef is fresh, with excellent color,  and great marbling. The flavor is fantastic and the texture is something you will behold if you know what you are looking for in beef. If you aren't looking for anything specific, your reaction will be "damn this is good!"

I can't say much more about the beef. It's good. Go get a steak, cook it how you like it and it will blow you away. What else can I say about it without being redundant?

I'm almost done blathering now, just a couple more quick things.
The Seafood. Wow. Fresh, variety, delish.
Always fresh with a changing selection. Sigh........
The seafood cooler is the best thing ever to happen to my wife's pescetarian diet as I'm not afraid to buy seafood from Ski's. She has reaped the benefits of my trips to the meat market in the form of many different preparations of Mahi, Talapia, Salmon, with more to come. I'm getting hungry.....

Ski's Meat Market is a franchise brought to us by some true downtown philanthropists. We should all be thankful to have folks like this in our community bringing us things like this to enjoy.

Go shopping, cook something, eat it, enjoy it. Live life, savor it all.....

Ever wonder where all those cool photos on the Ski's Oshkosh facebook page come from?
Ladies and Gents, Kris Larson. One set of hands behind Ski's Oshkosh providing us with cool photos to grab our attention on their facebook page.

Note: If you are coming by car, the parking lot is off Merritt Street, with a backdoor entrance off the parking lot for convenience.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Project: Resurrection. Introduction

The VW GTI 337. Borrowed from the

I have a way with cars. I really do. I always get my way even if it means compromising a perfect result for something that may not be the ideal choice for somebody looking for a specific model.

Historically I've bought cars cheap that I wanted and then cleaned them up enough to be respectable and enjoyed them for what they were. As long as it runs and drives when I get it (I've broken that rule too many times haha) I do what I want with it to make myself happy with it and drive them. When something else catches my eye, I sell it and move on.
Factory Recaro Seats. (Photo:

Take for instance the 2002 VW GTI 337.
In January of 2001 my wife and I bought a 2002 GTI in the color of silver. Nice car. Brand new. Being a solid VW enthusiast that's a pretty exciting thing to get. But I think I remember there being some buzz about a special edition coming soon.

That special edition was the 2002 GTI 337. The 337 was a designation created in the early 70s as the model code at VW. So fitting that they use it.
Created to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the GTI as well as an outcry from enthusiasts in the US, the 337 was built to fill a niche that VW had needed to fill stateside for some time.

Equipped with many nice touches to trigger the buy button in guys like me, the 337 had just about all of it. When I first saw the pictures and info released in the VW marketing, I was enamoured. I had to have it. 18" BBS wheels in a classic design, Big bolstered Recaro seats, Front and rear spoilers that really worked well with the car, Brushed aluminum trim in the Interior, real metal pedals, it was to die for (a little insight into me, I'm like a 10 year old who wants and is soon expecting whatever is really awesome, Obsessed, and driven to the point of crazy)
BBS RCs, pretty cool wheels for a factory car. (photo:

That was sometime in early 2002. When I approached my wife and calmly suggested trading in "her" brand new GTI, It received a prompt "no".  I said "But babe! Look at it! Just look at it!"

Now my wife, who has good taste in cars and certainly thought it was cool stated very clearly, that in no way shape or form were we trading in the brand new car for another very similar model just because it was "cooler"

I get logic, but logic was out the window. I was a drooling, wild eyed, raving lunatic about this car. I have always sought out the "special editions" They were the reasons I drove VWs. I hate to use generic terms, but I love OEM+ styling. I like these cars because of their character, the aesthetics. So when I modify them, I only want to accentuate the engineers original version. This car was almost done from the factory in my eyes, a little adjustment of the altitude and it's just about perfect. Even when I was a kid I was head over heels for the little hatchbacks and tossed right over the edge the first time I saw a Rabbit GTI. This car gleamed to me like a chest full of gold and gems does to a pirate.

Ever since then I have wanted one of these. The 2002 GTI came and went like cars do. It was nice. But I was never in love with the fourth generation of VWs. I didn't love that car and was not sad to see it go. I went on my way from car to car but have not over the years really ever put much thought into a mk4 (fourth gen Golf or Jetta) but every now and then I would see one of these and feel that little tingle in my gut.

I'll leave this here for right now. I now have one in my possession but well, remember in the beginning here I said I will sometimes sacrifice perfection for one less desirable with a price tag that reflects that? More soon as I am about to set off resurrecting my very own 337......
Until next time...... (photo from

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Madfurther 2, MF2, #madfurther2014, Whatever, it was awesome. St Paul MN 8/23/14

“We're all mad here.” ― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

Gas+Air+Spark= BOOM, also known in the new school as "internal Combustion" Something we can all relate to. The equation that powers our dreams, and makes us tingle when an impressive demonstration of such presents itself.
Madfurther definitely had us tingling this year. After pulling off a super show last year in what could be a record short planning period, this year held a little more time to be creative with the set up and execution of this years show.
Following the theme created  last year, there was absolutely no shortage of rad stuff to drool over this year either.
Where else can you get this mix, at a working airport, with this kind of crowd? Madfurther is where......
I'll spare you the slobbery wet kisses of description about how great this show is, I did that last year and all I could do is repeat the same words if I tried again as it felt just as good this year. If you want a piece of that see here. myoshkosh to Madfurther 2013 coverage. This year had just as good a feel if not a little better.
of course with most of the organizers having deep roots in the VW scene there would be a strong contingent here, no disappointments....
 Pulling cars from all walks of enthusiasm is not an easy thing to do, there is uncertainty, and sometimes animosity between the different brand loyalists at times. Thankfully there is a trend coming about in our world of automotive enthusiasm, one of tolerance and a respect for cool stuff regardless of what the tag on the grill says.
This is called "doing it right"

"that moment when" the jawdropper rolls in....

All things cool represented.....

Not to mention the layout this year made for some decent photo ops.....

As was last year, Richard Grieco Suave was hitting it at the tables with another fixture from my neck of the woods- JB Ill. These guys should be called murders as they are always killing it. RGS almost being a fixture at Midwest VW Enthusiast events is probably one of the coolest crosses in industries I have ever seen and we are lucky it's happening! As he brings in more artists and talent to our world, It only benefits us as the biggest thing lacking at most car events is aural stimulation. Thanks for being there for us guys!

I'm really starting to be intrigued by the JDM scene. Many would be critical of a car arriving in this state, Me, I want to hear the story.......
For once (and I'm sure you are thankful for this) I'm pretty sure I have more pictures than words to tell The Madfurther 14 story. Enjoy....
being a serious picture taker and all I thought I'd play around with watermarks.....
I'd spoil this car if I said anything beyond It took home best muscle car last year as well as some awards this year.

Scott Evans is certainly making his rounds with his badass Allroad this year. And that's a good thing....
What would a carshow be without some CCWs?
Oh yeah, this thing. A bagged , ratrod radio flyer complete with skull shifter that operates the bags. Dang....
Is that guy taking a leak? Just kidding....
I wasn't kidding when I said there was some of everything there....

Really, I mean it.
What a cool mix of stuff.
Sorry bout that mess I left on the tarmac after I saw this....
I just happened to be into reflections in wheels and yellow cars that day haha....

Without fear of overstepping my bounds, I can say the organizers of this show say thank you for another great year. Your attendance and support either as a spectator or a sponsor/vendor are some of the major things that keep an event alive and a big thanks is in order for this.

In the spirit of Gas+Air+Spark=Boom, Thank you for a kickass show. I look forward to another celebration of internal combustion with my friends, many of whom feel like family, next year. 

Get more info on the show and it's happenings at Madfurther

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Drive to the Bridge 2014 ( a forgotten bit)

So the other day in some play on Facebook my friend Logan asked whatever happened to the thing I was writing in the hotel room in Kentucky, I had read bits and pieces as I worked on it to my fellow imbibers and he happened to remember. I did some searching on the laptop and after realizing that after many cans of PBR, a few Yuenglings, a couple bottles of Latangos homebrew, and maybe a shot or 2, I managed to save it in a random place  on my laptop where it would have collected e-dust until times untold. So, a bit late but better than never......

I am a VW enthusiast. I have been enamored by them since my earliest memories. Growing up very close to Road America, I had a lot of exposure to all types of exotic automobiles. Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Alfas, Maseratis and the likes.   Much to chagrin of the people I was with at these events (I think I was there with the wrong folks?), I would beeline to the motorsport prepped VWs and want to hang out by them the entire time I was there. This has stayed with me throughout the years  and made itself a large part of my adult life. Through the years I have owned, disassembled, modified, and driven these cars religiously. What the hell is wrong with me?

Today was the official kickoff of the season for guys like me. We live for days like today. We wait all winter for that day that we can pile tools into our cars, clothes, spare parts,  toiletries if we remember them as well as anything else we think of in the middle of the night before the trip after we put the car back together after whatever last minute project we had to perform  and hit the road with people we generally only see for events like this.
We all meet up, and drive our piles, some very well built articulated piles, and some held together only by sheer willpower and zipties.
Milwaukee kick off. Thanks Lower Standards for hooking it up

Today we met up in Milwaukee and embarked on a journey to Louisville KY for a show called Water By The Bridge. That whole event will be a different post as it deserves it. The time and energy it takes to pull off an event like that is staggering. More on that in another post though. I have lots to say about that.
So after leaving the first stop of course in traffic the group always gets split. You find your cruising buddies and point your cars in the right direction and just roll. I’m not sure how to describe it beyond chaos with spots to stop and take a breather.

We had skipped the first stop in hopes of making some time up and getting to Louisville ahead of schedule to hopefully make it to a friends shop to roll some fenders to avoid eating up new tires.
Not wanting to tangle with law enforcement we opted to take the safe method and not push our luck and stay within realm of the posted speed limits. Unbeknownst to us, we arrived at the northern Indiana stop shortly after the rest of the cruisers. So much for that.
After fueling and a little banter and ribbing from the rest of the cruise about being old and driving slow we hit the road again.
Hebron IN. The entire front of the gas station is our crowd. Good times. Travel in packs and be awesome.

Every roadtrip is/has a story, sometimes somebody breaks down and the community pulls together and either gets it fixed or secures transport home for said vehicle. Either way it’s inevitable with the cars we drive.
Shortly (moments) after getting on the highway Flinny my co pilot said “wow, that diesel up there is really smoking” as of course in our world, the only cars that break on the highway are our VWs. I was of the school of thought that there was a definitive problem with said car. At least a half mile ahead of us this car was smoking not only more than a diesel but was emitting smoke similar to a house fire. A bit farther down the road it pulled off the highway onto the shoulder so I hit the hazards and made the necessary moves to pull off. Several other cars followed suit and as we got closer I realized it wasn’t even one of ours. It was a Chevy Cobalt and was clearly having a major technical issue. As I rounded the front of the car, the driver had already popped the hood and as seconds passed the smoke was getting heavier.  The driver was sticking her head out of the window saying “somethings wrong with my car!” I opened the hood and was greeted with flames from the back of the engine theat were bordering on 2 feet high and rapidly growing. I immediately yelled “ get out of the car NOW!” and poked my head around the hood and started hollering to the others to get a fire extinguisher. With traffic blowing by us at 80 mph it’s hard to hear. It’s disorienting and hard to make out what someone is saying. After screaming at the top of my lungs several times  to get an extinguisher the closest person finally read my lips and got “fire”
It was this persons lucky day. Not sure how that would have went for her if people who don't drive old VWs had stopped. We know what to do if there's a fire lol.....

With some well placed VW roadside fire training we passed the crucial “Either it’s good, or get the hell away” point. With the fire out a couple of us waited with the owner for the authorities and when they arrived we hit the road. Good deed done. Hopefully that means karma will get our cars home without the assistance of a flatbed.
The rest of the trip was uneventful actually. Smooth, nice weather, by Indianapolis the sunroofs and windows were open and we were cruising with sun. Ideal. The only thing that really stands out in my head is when we got to the hotel, I stepped out of my car and smelled hot coolant. Uh oh. As I crawled around under my hood with a flashlight looking for the source I remembered I was in a parking lot with a slew of old VWs that had just driven for hours in warm weather. Totally normal to smell that then haha. Which leads me back to the first paragraph. But I think you get it now…..

Till next time.