Volkswagen's 600 Horsepower Jetta Set A Very Specific Land Speed Record

Illustration for article titled Volkswagens 600 Horsepower Jetta Set A Very Specific Land Speed Record
Photo: VW

The whole reason Volkswagen flew me out to the Bonneville Salt Flats was so I could, ideally, witness their specially-prepped 2019 Jetta beat the speed record for the Southern California Timing Association’s (SCTA) Blown Gas Coupe (G/BGC) class record of 208.472 mph. They did, making an impressive 210.16 mph—but they did it after I left, so I didn’t get to see it. Oh well.

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I did get to see them attempt the record a number of times, and I got to see the crew deal with the frustration of spark plug issues caused by a different fuel formulation than they were used to. I also got to see the very determined crew check to see if they could steal a crankcase sensor from the press Beetle VW loaned me for the event:

Illustration for article titled Volkswagens 600 Horsepower Jetta Set A Very Specific Land Speed Record
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Luckily for me, it didn’t have the one they needed, so I was still able to get back to the airport.

The takeaway here is that setting any kind of speed record like this is not easy, at all, even with VW’s resources behind you and a talented driver and crew. The Jetta’s EA888 engine started life bone stock, but THR Manufacturing tweaked things pretty significantly, replacing the connecting rods, pistons, valves, camshafts, turbocharger, and exhaust system with new parts designed for high-power racing applications.

The result was an engine that dyno’d at 600 horsepower at 8,500 rpm. That’s one helluva Jetta.

Illustration for article titled Volkswagens 600 Horsepower Jetta Set A Very Specific Land Speed Record
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In the end, though, they pulled it off, overcoming the plug-fouling fuel issues and the other small things that stood in their way, so, good work there.

Now we all know the fastest Blown Gas Coupe is a Jetta, at least according to the SCTA. It may be a very specific record, but it’s still a record.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

And the Germans continue to insist that 4-door cars can be coupes.