SPECS
Horsepower
115 HP
Torque
122 LB-FT
Curb Weight
2858 LB
Drivetrain
Front Wheel Drive
Engine Size
2.0 L
Transmission Type
Manual
MPG (City/Highway)
24 MPG
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        VEHICLE STORY

        A ribbon of road is laid before me by machine and man. Rock and flame follow the insufferable changes in elevation, winding through the backcountry of Snohomish, past the quaint farms and the pungent smell of Fall’s cows. Off in the distance is a small Church-going community, who turn to look at something that is not there but a tremor of unease passes through in the wind. He is coming for them, like a tiger shark stalking its prey, relentless in his mission to suck in the pure air of the countryside and devoid any semblence of its tranquility. With a rev-matched downshift, he rips and roars and exits left. A whiff of rich gasoline replaces the dung smell for a mere two minutes, announcing the presence of Kato. He slows down to a purr, his occupant nestled in the cabin with a huge grin on their face, laughing uncontrollably and hands shaking within the leather gloves. This is the ballad of Kato. Kato started out like any other New Beetle, a daily driver and little grocery-getter that sipped on fuel and puttered around Washington. I am sure he was content with this lifestyle under the control of my parents and my sister. I wouldn’t know. I never rode passenger in Kato. Kato came into my possession through a series of events and necessity…and the introduction of car payments and self-insurance. Kato stayed with me for 5 years, from college through two serious relationships, too many non-serious ones, drunken fights, late-night wrenching, later-night driving, the bitching, the moaning, the giggling and my personal “Dark Age.” He was a friend that didn’t ask any questions, didn’t judge my relationships, produced respect everywhere he went and humbled those that threw the first punch. Tolerable and reliable with very little in the way of problems, he already had flared fenders and road-racing pedigree of the GTI. And low? Yeah…he was on that tip before Illest and Fatlace coined “hellaflush.” Power was never his strong suit and with some parts from Fujita5 (a concept cold air system), Techtonics Tuning and the support of CarDomain (with help from my Mom), he was producing well-beyond the estimated figure of 105hp. He pulled hard when the blueprint and port and polish came around and the then-prototype P-Chip from Neuspeed were institituted. And then came the turbo…and that did not go well. Not well at all. Kato made it known that he did not like it by dipping into my wallet every two weeks for repairs. Eventually I threw out the turbo and put back the 2.0L with only a water pump failing. The fun stuff, where Kato flexed his muscles, was the suspension and braking system. By going on a diet initialized by Barrier Audi in Bellevue, Kato dropped around 200lbs but still retained the well-laid out and comfortable cabinspace. H&R lowering springs were used with 2002 GTI OEM Sachs shock and struts. Neuspeed 28mm rear and 25mm front sway bars put on to keep the tires flat at corner speed. I took inspiration from ABD’s New Beetle and HPA’s Twin-Turboed New Beetle so a bit of trial and error was in the cards to seam-weld only the major stress points in the car.  I knew that he was going to have any success on the track, a braking system so Powerstop slotted brakes, Goodridge brake lines and a master cylinder from a R32 was sourced. The master cylinder didn’t quite meet up with what I had in mind but with the expertise and ingenuity of the Vortex, I got it to work. Eventually, a full R32 brake conversion was successfully applied with Performance Friction Brake pads plopped on for good measure. Kato handled like a go-kart from that day forth and was a total chick magnet. The understated nature and flashy OEM CyberGreen paint was a great contrast against the 18×10 PIAA FR-S wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport Cups (the same used on the Porsche 911s of the day). He looked good and he knew it. The first couple of times he showed up the track, disses were made and hate was thrown around until Cam of Maltby Motorsports dialled him in. I’ve never seen a Green Hornet blaze on Pacific Raceways’ straightaway before and I won’t ever again. The feeling was incredible. And then I stepped into Kato, revved the 2.0L, and dropped that clutch…even now I am getting choked up. The sensation of my hardwork at 90mph, 100, 110, 120. The needle just climbed, the N/A engine SCREAMING for release. And release I did…it was only a few years later that I traded Kato in. I drove Kato everday rain, snow and the sun. On the track or the street. To the grocery store or to fancy dress party or to WaterWagens and beyond. He was my DD and trackstar. I put him back to as much OEM status sans the struts and springs, brakes and wheels. He needed those. The power was gone reverted back to DD status but he would never let the new owner forget where he was and what he was capable of. I cried tears of heartbreak when I handed over the keys…

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