Note: Hover your mouse over the “My GTI” link above to reveal a drop-down menu which lists write-ups for various changes to the car or use the “Quick Links” below…

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I’ve been an electronics enthusiast since the 1980’s. As a result, every vehicle I’ve ever owned has had one upgrade or another. I had a system “professionally” installed in 1989. However, I became quite disenchanted with shop quality when I eventually needed to do some troubleshooting. From then on, I decided to do all electronics work myself so that I could have strict control over installation practices and quality of workmanship. Here’s a summary of my upgrades:

Communication Suite – I’m an avid ham radio operator and I enjoy adding capability to any car I own, even a sporty GTI! My suite can offer worldwide communication without relying on cellular services or public infrastructure. This system is capable of using 13 different ham bands between 3.5-467 MHz while operating via several different modes. My setup has proven effective, regardless of whether I’m on the move or parked. See this page for more info.

Helix Sound System – This Volkswagen accessory used to retail for $660. Volkswagen discontinued it and slashed its price to $300 when they released a new version. I found one dealer selling it for $235 shipped (after 10% rebate). The system includes a 5-channel amplifier with digital signal processing and a small subwoofer which replaces the spare tire. I found a dealer that would install it for $312. No thanks! I did it myself. Read this entry to see how i did it.

500-Watt Subwoofer System – This upgrade was going to happen with or without the Helix system. I had already started assembling the parts and building the box before the Helix price dropped. This upgrade exchanged the Helix subwoofer for a 10-inch unit that achieves deeper bass and allows me to keep the spare tire (to say the very least). There’s far more to this upgrade than what I’ll write here. See this page for more info.

12V Power Distribution – I could have just run a large wire from the battery to the trunk and kept things “simple.” But I wanted a lot of control and flexibility in how power is distributed around the car. Some systems are powered only when the engine is running, some stay energized for 20 minutes after the engine is stopped, and others can run for days, thanks to a 100-Ah lithium secondary battery. See this page for more info.

MIB2 8-Inch Display – I learned that the European version of my car has an 8-inch display. I was not shocked. As a longtime Volkswagen enthusiast, I am perfectly aware that Europeans get all the best stuff in their Volkswagens. Americans want it, too. HAHA! Thankfully, someone imports the larger displays and their associated bezels and sells them as a kit. It’s an expensive upgrade, so I avoided it for some time. Then the kits went on sale, dropping in price just enough for me to make an impulse buy. See this entry for more photos and details.

Next, read about the accessories that I’ve added to the car.