“I bought the car two days after my daughter was born,” recalled Steven Davila, the owner of this amazing transformation of a 1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC. At just 22 years old, he finally had the car he yearned for and at the time, he thought he was getting a great deal on it at just $900. Then he took a closer look once the rare rain and cold faded away.
The windshield wipers didn’t work on top of having a broken windshield. The Corrado barely ran thanks to a blown head gasket and timing chain issues, the chrome of the original wheels was chipping away, dents and rust added character to an old faded paint job. None of it deterred Steven, “The car just needed some love and attention.” So, he went to work fixing the main issues he could.
First up was getting the engine in running order but that was only for a short time. By late 2012, he found someone he could trade a 1989 GTI 16V engine for a 24-valve VR6 out of a 2003 Jetta GLI. This set in motion the chain of events, including buying eight different Corrados for parts, that lead to the car you now see before you. On top of the eight Corrados, what really makes this car special is the 3.2L VR6 that Steven pulled from a Volkswagen R32.
There was one key element to the build, “I wanted to keep my stock dash and cluster,” Steven said, “so when I would drive around or go to shows with my hood closed, people would think it’s just a 12V VR6 SLC.” A good thing because the interior of the Corrado is a very lovely thing. It would be a shame to have gone in and drastically changed it. However, there are touches done to separate it from a standard Corrado affair. You can already see some of them, including that Momo Competition 350mm steering wheel.
That tall, TR Motoring shifter puts the knob just in reach of the steering wheel while it is also enhanced by a Neuspeed short shifter. The combo gives a short and crisp feel to the European race specification six-speed transmission.
As mentioned, the gauges work with the 24V VR6 swap but are stock to the 12V version found in the SLC.
You might get some hint that something is going on underhood with that aftermarket boost gauge in the vent. Steven says he used to have a supercharger under the hood, but he decided to remove it in favor of simplicity in the engine bay.
“Since owning my first MKII GLI and it having come stock with Recaro seats,” said Steven, “I knew this Corrado needed to have them, too.” You can also see the Weichers X bolt-in roll cage just behind them.
The under-dash shelf comes from the European version of the Volkswagen Corrado. It also gives a place to mount switches for the air suspension system, controlled by an Accuair management controller.
The door panels were also reupholstered to match the Recaro suede and the stitching matched the gold coloring of his new BBS wheels.
The rear seats were deleted along with the original cargo floor. Now, a custom spare tire well fits a full size and matching fifth BBS wheel, which is enhanced by some mood lighting under the acrylic panel. The false floor allows the air tanks a place to rest. You can also see all of the custom tubing that fits through bulkhead fittings for a very clean, yet aesthetically functional appearance.
You can also see the manifold in which the Accuair system controls the height and pressure of each corner. “Eurobroke” is Steve’s Instagram handle.
When it comes to European cars and matching wheels, you’ll never go wrong with a set of BBS wheels, especially these discontinued magnesium ones.
These are the BBS Rennsport E26, a true multi-piece, magnesium wheel in 17x9 that Steven has wrapped in a set of Falken Azenis tires. The suspension drop is done with the aforementioned Airlift bags but they also sit on a set of Bilstein PSS9 coilovers.
The brakes are Brembo four-piston calipers from a Porsche and use a set of Zimmerman drilled rotors. You can also see the lug stud conversion done to the original Corrado hubs.
Now, we see the 24-valve VR6 in its full glory. It’s sitting just under a discontinued Eibach strut tower bar that’s been matched to the polished chrome of the valve cover and intake manifold.
Yes, even that classic HPA intake manifold has been chromed out and you can even see the extensive wire tuck job that Steven did. “The hardest part of the build was the engine harness since it took us 14 hours to make it happen,” said Steven, “After that, I didn’t want to see another schematic again,” he said laughing.
Cooling the engine is taken care of by a custom Mishimoto radiator and custom hoses feeding the 24V VR6.
The exhaust is also all custom and terminates into a Magnaflow muffler. It doesn’t take away from that unique VR6 sound but it makes for a much more ear-pleasing tone. Just past the muffler, you can see the signature tread pattern of the Falken Azenis RT615 tires.
The car looks sleek thanks to a set of European VR6 Corrado E-code lights and front bumper. The clean look is heightened even further by the custom R32-badged grille and Kamei Grille Spoiler.
Rather than de-badge it, Steven had the “Corrado SLC” badging color painted to the car’s body. This way, it’s subtle but not missing and a nicer take to the common de-badging trend. Flanking the carbon kevlar rear trim piece, you also see that the taillights have been custom converted fully red instead of having any amber lights. Again, a custom touch that’s away from the typical European conversion or “Euro-style” lighting.
“I did all the work on my car with the help of my wife and friends,” says Steven, “The only things I didn't do were the outside paint and the door panel upholstery.” He laughed, “The only two things that I don't like doing. Everything else was done by myself.” We must say, he has a very understanding partner. Helping him build the car, letting him go get it after having their daughter, that’s someone we’d all like in our lives.
From a head case to a head-turner, this VW Corrado has certainly come from a long way compared to what it started. “I still call it my crap car,” he stated, “It’s pretty cool when people see the car and they see how much work, time and dedication I have put into it.”
Many people would have given up and demanded their money back from the seller. Not Steven, though, “I was so excited I didn’t even noticed in how bad of shape it was in at first. I just knew I wanted a silver Corrado SLC.” He not only gained that but a great looking car through the process. He saw the beauty that lurked underneath, it just need his love and attention.
If you're in a similar spot with your project, take heed of Steven's Corrado. Take your time, give it the affection it needs, and you'll end up with something wonderful in the end.
Story by Justin Banner
Photos by Antonio Alvendia
If you like this VW Corrado, you can find additional Volkswagen content at volkswagen.fcpeuro.com, 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