Words and Images By: Derek James
What does your car mean to you? When you get your driving license, it means freedom. The ability to extend your means of existence past your family. It’s an introduction to being able to make decisions for yourself, you can go places by yourself, and have new experiences. As one gets older, a car is access to a job, college, significant others. Cars are an integral part of everyone’s lives in some form or another.
Spencer Stover’s introduction to operating an automobile was as stereotypical as it gets. He completed Driver’s Education, earned his license, and got his first wheels. An Infiniti QX4 SUV, chosen for its imposing size, reliability, and all-wheel drive system, it is an ideal vehicle for a new driver.
After owning, a Mazda 3 and a diesel Chevrolet pickup truck, Spencer was introduced to European vehicles. After hanging out with me for close to six years, a little bit of my affinity for German metal rubbed off on him. When his truck blew a head-gasket, a reliable daily was needed so that the truck could be repaired. He ended up purchasing a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 300e Turbo Diesel wagon. It was with the first drive of the classic Benz wagon his love for diesel German automobiles grew. A few months later, a five speed Mercedes 190d was purchased. Then shortly after that, a trade for a motorcycle allowed Spencer to acquire this 1984 Volkswagen Mk1 Jetta Diesel.
The little sedan quickly became Spencer’s favorite vehicle in his arsenal. After having a few newer cars Spencer exclaimed that he will never own another new car again. He would rather keep his vintage German machines going and roadworthy. Which is an amazing thing to hear. As many kids of our generation would rather have the newest, shiniest, and most advanced cars that they could get their hands on. It’s good to see that someone has chosen to care for and love these old examples of exceptional engineering.
Now take a look at this minuscule Jetta. Could you imagine an auto manufacturer making a vehicle like this now a days? No, the car is much too small for anyone birthed in the fires of the 21st century. We are so immersed in technology and safety that I can’t see another car like this being produced again. First off, there are no safety features to speak of, well, that is except the seat belts. There are no airbags, no crumple zones, no lane or braking assists. There isn’t even any power steering. The only real amenities that you get are a radio, and four windows.
What the car lacks in speed and features, it makes up for in character. Lowered on a set of Raceland coilovers, and sitting on a set of 15×8 Enkei 92s. The car has a classic, yet modern feel to it. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s stanced. Now, lowering a Volkswagen is nothing new. Trying to fit tires and wheels up against the very edges of the fender flares is certainly something of the last decade.
Modifications to the interior of the car come in the form of a pair of Mk2 Golf GTI Recaros in a blue diagonal pattern that goes perfectly with the blue cloth interior. The only other change is a modern head unit for the radio. Other than that, its factory 80’s Volkswagen. The astonishing thing about the car is that it has 35,000 original miles, 35k! I was baffled when Spencer told me that. How does a diesel Volkswagen, designed to eat up the miles only rack up 35k miles in 35 years? Your guess is as good as mine.
The simplicity of the car is it’s greatest asset. It shows that you don’t need to do much to a car to make it look great. Now Spencer bought the car with all the modifications done by the previous owner. Spencer’s future plans for the car is to restore the car to a cleaner condition. After years of sitting outside and being driven the paint is scratched and faded, as well as a few spots of surface rust have appeared. Back to the character thing. If it were my car, I would keep it exactly the way it is. The car has personality from here in Germany and back. It earned each and every blemish inside and out. Alas, the car isn’t mine. It will definitely be cool to see the car all done up. Good news, the car is in great hands, and Spencer will enjoy the car for many miles to come.