Back when I got a magazine paycheck, the dark, looming locust cloud of the internet held promise of more than unemployment. It promised permanence. When a new magazine issue comes out, the old one is lost behind the toilet bowl forever. Each project car installment has to start with a brief summary of the ones that came before, because your reader may not have seen the one before. In the brave new world of the internet, I thought, everything is always there. You can refer to previous work with a link and never have to explain the same thing twice. 

Turns out that's not always how it works.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a series of stories following Jared Holstein's desperate attempt to build a fast, frugal turbodiesel Rabbit on TopGear.com America. Jared was editor of the website at the time, and the series would be the most popular feature in the site's short history. And then the site folded. In less time than it takes the average magazine to go from toilet to trash, the whole Project Sipster series vanished from the interwebs.

And it may well happen again. We're re-posting this old story even though, technically, we don't have permission to do so. With the folding of TopGear.com America, I've lost contact with anyone who could give us permission or tell us of any plans for them to re-post the story. Meanwhile, all the people who helped us make that car happen were expecting the unending fame of the internet to shine down on them in return. We owe a debt of fame, and this is our attempt to re-pay it. 

Of course, if someone at TopGear does object, we'll have to pull the story. If they put it up themselves, we'll post a link here. Meanwhile, read it while you can.

To really get the full impact of the story, remember this story was happening just as the financial apocolypse was unfolding. We had just endured the soul-sucking spike in oil prices and the country was reeling from the sudden disappearance of free money. In fact, my first draft of this story does a better job of putting your head in the times. It started out like this:

A funny thing happened when gas got to $4.00 a gallon. Driving stopped being fun. The pure joy of mashing the pedal, the satisfaction of a powerslide well done, the visceral tingle of an engine at redline, all of it was muzzled by the wet blanket of the $70 fill-up. Pouring Andrew Jackson into your tank each week is easy and painless. The $20 bill is the chump change of the ATM generation. But stuffing Ulysses S. Grant down your fill-pipe really makes you pause, and jamming both those guys in there together, well, it just didn't seem natural. 

But that intro was scrapped and the story that finally ran looked something like what you'll find on the next page.

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Monday, October 04, 2010 11:20 PM
looks very promising
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 4:13 AM
I read Part 1 of this project back on Top Gear America. I found it because I had searched for Dave hoping to find him writing on the interwebs because he was no longer in SCC. I'm excited to see the conclusion of the project.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 5:29 AM
Really enjoyed this one the first time around. Btw a much better looking car (well, "much" maybe is a stretch) was the '79-81-ish VW Dasher. More like the Scirocco, I drove one for a few years when it was new. Yeah it had the 50 hp albatross, too, but torque was decent and it was a great snow car, plus 45-55 mpg consistently. Drove it from Portland, OR to Phoenix and filled up maybe twice along the way, around 550 miles you'd want to start thinking about it (12 gal tank). Looked about just like this one, but with better OEM rims: http://vw-parts.uneedapart.com/images/vw-dasher-parts.jpg. And, it's still on the road 30 years later, my Dad completely restored it after putting the first 200k miles or so on it.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 5:39 AM
Oh, and the Dasher was also penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The Mom-car size and diesel negated that babe-magnetism, but wth, still a good looking car esp compared to a Rabbit.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:19 AM
Damn, too bad that site folded, I had no idea it even existed. Well MotoIQ can be the new home of Top Gear America, you guys are just as entertaining as the limeys across the pond, and way more knowledgeable.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 8:30 AM
TopGear.com America was staffed in New York and run by an ex SCC guy (Jared Holstein), but everyone assumed it was from those "limeys across the pond" for obvious reasons. I think the confusion about exactly to expect from the site was one of the problems. That, and the fact that it had the overhead of a real company, unlike MotoIQ, which is run out of Mike Kojima's bathroom...
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 9:49 AM
I thought Mike was running the company out of his broom closet? The bathroom was discussed, but the noxious gasses and ever present threat of water damage forced a relocation?

The only problem I see with the project comes from this line:

"Step 1: We will buy a 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Diesel right here in New York City."

Ugh. 30 year old VW driven in the Northeast. At least the heaters on those cars sucked, so maybe it wasn't purely a winter car...
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 11:06 AM
btw a britsh journalist drove a stock 2010 VW "bluemotion"(aka bioshit) passat 2463km with one (1) tank of fuel=77,25liter diesel makes around 3,7l/100km beat that stupid elektrocarcrap


ah and btw2 Vw developt 198x a 2zylinder 858ccm diesel with a supercharger and a special "russfilter" 50 testcars were build and on a testdrive one car drove 100km with 1.7l diesel...

Randy G
Randy Glink
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 11:08 AM
How much did the 168 hours of engine swapping labor cost? ;)

Awesome project Dave, great to see it surface again.
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 4:32 PM
*gasp* a project vw on motoiq (sort of)?? bestill my beating heart! plus it was fun to read something from jared holstein again. i've never worked on a diesel vw, but they aren't that much different than the gassers which swap parts like legos. new engine will probably literally bolt straight in.
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 4:52 PM
I go to Jared for fashion advice and dancing lessons (which in my case means never). Watching him attempt a tech project will be like watching a train wreck, unless Dave ands Johnny watch him very carefully.
yo vanilla
yo vanillalink
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 3:38 AM
well, maybe, but i remember liking his writing style from old scc issues.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 11:09 AM
Diesels are so overlooked in the US. Modern diesels are pretty good, they just can't get over those 1970's and 1980's stigmas of loud, and smelly.

Mike, I would go to Jared for hair advice also.
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