German Engineering

lauren dad and vws

It began as a simple 2004 Volkswagen Jetta. I was moving on from my 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet, which was an adorable car, but didn’t fit my suitcase full of black and grey clothes or my location in northern Wisconsin. A family friend was moving to Boston, and therefore didn’t need his car anymore. I looked at numerous cars before I decided I wanted to buy another Jetta. I’ve owned more than enough unhappy VR6’s, which made me hesitant to invest in what I thought would be a unreliable money pit. But after finding out the car had everything on my “must have” list (sunroof, heated seats and a clutch pedal), I was sold. Even better, we knew the previous owner had taken excellent care of it. When I finally got the car, I was so excited to have more than 100HP! (My Cabriolet had maybe 4 by the time I owned it) I thought I was being careful about my speeding, until I was pulled over 4 days later… Because my dad knew about my affinity for speed, he decided it was time to get me on a real racetrack. We’ve gone to Road America numerous times, and have loved every minute of watching the racecars zoom past. This time, it was my turn. We were able to get on the track during a drive-around event held while the real racers had their lunch. Finally, an opportunity for me to truly use my turbo! As I sped around corners and passed numerous cars, I felt a rush of happiness and excitement that I’ve never felt before. I had become more attached to this car in the first 2 months of owning it than I had become to any of my other 6 cars. 

A few months later, my fellow Volkswagen loving friend asked me when I was going to start modifying my car. I told him I was saving my money for a faster and more exciting car, that my Jetta just wasn’t worth it. I figured if I kept this car completely stock, it would be easier to sell for more money, making me able to achieve my dream of owning a Fahrenheit GLI. This idea lasted up to the day I found out APR was having a sale on tunes. After I got my car back, I knew I had made the right choice. It did, however, make it much easier to disobey the speed limits…

After that, it seems like everything happened at once. I immediately bought Bilstein coilovers and BBS wheels to make my car look more like a GLI. Because of this, I decided to rebadge my basic Jetta as a “JetLI”, half Jetta, half GLI.

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One of one. #JetLI #Jetta #GLI #Volkswagen #mk4

A post shared by Lauren Kortbein (@laurenkortbein) on

(I do have to credit Jordan Simon with this idea, or he’ll never let me live it down.) I upgraded my brakes to those off a 20th anniversary edition GTI. At this point I had parts from so many different cars that even I was confused about what my car was. And from that moment on, my car had become the Confused Volkswagen. 

I’ve always loved Volkswagens, but this car has made me feel like I’ve become truly immersed in the Volkswagen community and experience. I’ve met awesome new people that have taught me more than I ever thought I could know about cars. I plan on continuing to upgrade my car thanks to all these wonderful people and opportunities, and can’t wait to see what label my car will achieve next.

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