This B5 Volkswagen Passat wagon has lots of rare Euro aftermarket parts unavailable in the USA, but it's so clean and subtle on the outside that only true Passat enthusiasts might even notice.
Jason Ajamian of Grounded Crew became a VW enthusiast through the most unlikely of circumstances…bitter disappointment. He was promised that he would receive his grandparents’ 1970 Beetle once he was sixteen years old. He spent years planning and reading magazines in anticipation - gathering inspiration for what he assumed would eventually become the car of his dreams. Unfortunately, his parents nixed the dream due to safety and reliability concerns as many reasonable parents would. In the process, they inadvertently galvanized what would become a lifelong obsession that led to this VW fusion.
The Geek Wagen (GEEK WGN) is the result of years of accumulation of Volkswagen parts and esoterica. Very little on this car is what it seems. The stance was lowered with BC Racing extreme low coilovers with custom spring rates, and the lower body panels were all color matched with the body. As simple as these modifications may appear to be on the surface, Jason assured us that it was far more difficult to achieve than one might expect.
As the years progressed, fitment and stance trends have changed. It’s been challenging to get this B5 platform to sit at its current stance. An 18x9.5 with an ET20 wheel doesn’t sound all that crazy, but it kind of is with a B5 Volkswagen. Adjustable front upper control arms and modified tie-rod ends help. There are no options for the rear as it’s a beam type suspension. So camber shims are the only option other than literally cutting the rear beam up.”
The interior has been completely reupholstered with contrasting leathers. Jason credits this interior upgrade for defining the final essence of the vehicle. “I think that redoing the interior made the biggest splash. It made it more of a complete build.”
All of the interior trim has been painted piano black, and the steering wheel was replaced with a flat bottom wheel from a 2016 VW Beetle.
The control panel and the instrument cluster have been replaced with a Passat W8 OnStar control panel and instrument cluster. Both the vents and the HVAC controls are from the Škoda Octavia, which were produced by the Czech manufacturer Škoda on a shared VW platform.
The contrast of the chocolate brown leather with the vanilla stitching really pops and is in line with Jason’s mindset while approaching the project, “Just a clean, quality build. Nothing gaudy or over the top.” Yes. It sure is clean.
Although this vehicle has an automatic transmission, Jason opted for a MOMO shift knob for a manual transmission vehicle. Again, the devil is in the details.
The pristine nature of this build, inside and out, belies the fact that Jason is the original owner with over 280K miles logged. This is not a trailer queen. In fact, Jason told us that this was his daily driver up until six years ago.
The front fascia of this B5 is an almost chimeric splicing of rare parts. The rare and discontinued Votex front spoiler, European front license plate recess, and Xenon projector headlamps, packaged in such an aggressive stance, make for a very pleasing aesthetic.
This rare discontinued Oettinger front grill adds to the vehicle’s mystique. The Oettinger name hearkens back to the 1950s, where the company distinguished itself as aftermarket tuning specialists.
These Projektzwo side mirrors are also both rare and discontinued. Jason has found them the perfect home where they can enhance the distinctly Volkswagen styling of the entire build.
This Yakima wisp bar aero rack captures the vehicle’s essence, it’s “wagon-ness,” while lending an air of sophistication to the overall presentation. The sleek, aerodynamic design helps to transform this wagon from “weekend warrior” to awesome.
The tail lamps were upgraded to the Passat B5.5 tail lamps. The original tail lamps are a single, bland red that stands in stark contrast to the more sophisticated styling of these B5.5 tail lamps.
The rare Euro manual screen is another detail that draws the eye with its subdued style grounded in function. The UV filtering screen, though sleekly designed, also serves to reduce sun damage to the ash wood floor of the trunk.
The trunk flooring is an ash wood laminate, which could just as easily double as the flooring for the foyer of an art gallery. The contrast of the flooring with the trunk adds another accent to highlight the stylishness of this wagon.
The engine code is AUG. The engine bay has been upgraded with a Neuspeed K04 turbo & downpipe, Neuspeed software, and a Neuspeed stainless exhaust with a Magnaflow muffler. The B5.5 airbox has an ITG panel filter and the wagon has also been upgraded with 225hp Audi TT fuel injectors. A Forge recirculation valve and Euro-spec engine covers was added as well. The engine has a 1.8 cc displacement, and the Audi A8 front brake upgrade beefs up the stopping power to support the other upgrades. The entire wagon is a study in balance.
The Neuspeed K04 turbo might look a bit weathered, but it provides workmanlike power on demand.
Jason mounted up 18x9.5 et 20 Klutch SLC 1 wheels with 215/35/18 Delinte tires for daily use. Still he assures us that a set of period-correct Carlsson wheels are being re-barreled for the car to take things several notches higher. The BC Racing extreme low coilovers with custom spring rates are working diligently to facilitate this look.
When asked how this build deviated from his original plan for the vehicle, he said, “I think I stayed on plan. It’s maintained a “period correct” look but with the current fitment/stance trend.” Looking ahead, they would like to upgrade to air suspension. He thinks, “it’s time.” Whatever lies ahead for the Geek Wagen, you can see that Jason is pleased with where they have brought it. The purity of his intent matches the build itself. “I enjoy the social media aspect of it; being tagged on photos of the wagon at events or seeing a photo of it posted online is awesome.”
The words “delicately balanced” would not normally seem to be descriptive of a wagon, but the way this one sits, bathed in golden light, they certainly come to mind. Of course, this is also due to the mechanics of 034 Motorsports fully spherical adjustable front upper control arms, modified tie-rod ends and rear camber shims. Just as in a pointillist painting, the overall effect is the result of many precisely placed points.
Due to the ground-hugging stance, which prompted Jason’s co-contributor (“Big John” Posey) to dub the wagon “The Low Low,” the engine and transmission were raised ¾ inch for the needed clearance. Before the raising of the engine and transmission, which was required because the wagon has an automatic transmission, they both sat lower than the Thor skid plate that was added to protect the transmission pan. They replaced a few transmission pans before raising them and adding the skid plate for additional protection.
In the end, the proof of any concept is in its impact on those who can appreciate it. Knowing the scope of planning, esoteric parts, attention to detail, and focus on both form and function, that impact is undeniable. The quintessential geek is simply the person who cares enough to become intimately familiar with and conversant in, the minutiae of the subject matter. If ever there was a wagon created as a platform that elevates the geek to VW wizard, this is it.
Story by Avon Bellamy
Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you like this VW Passat, you can find additional Volkswagen content here, as well as more build features like this one here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS