How to make a Scirocco look like a fresh million-dollar automobile

We start out here by noting that the Volkswagen Scirocco, named after a desert breeze, pretty much blew in and out of the annals of automotive history much too quickly. Volkswagen assembled and sold more than half a million of the front-drive sports coupes styled with angles drawn by Giorgetto Giugiaro during the model’s lifespan. But they proved to be far more popular in Europe than in the United States, where enthusiasts of the late 1970s were more enthralled with black-and-gold Pontiac Trans Am coupes than with small-bore stuff like the Scirocco. Built between 1974 and 1981, a Scirocco today is a rare, valuable find in any condition. That’s why it’s so gratifyng to see a lifelong Volkswagen enthusiast like Jason Whipple strap on a Scirocco that used to be a weathered driver, and has now been transformed both mechanically and cosmetically into a potent front-drive drag racer. Sometimes, it feels as if he dumped a million dollars into it. “It’s a fantastic little car and I’m shocked at how many people don’t know what it is,” Whipple says.

Whipple is a co-founder of California-based Rotiform wheels and a significant player in the Golden State’s booming import drag scene. His 1980 Scirocco is appropriately dubbed Change after Whipple dumped, in his mode of description, what appeared to be a million bucks’ worth of modifications and refinishing into it. The Scirocco still packs its original 2.0-liter, two-valve Volkswagen engine, but Whipple fully rebuilt it by hand and he estimates it’s now capable of a consistent 180hp at the front wheels. Whipple teamed with British designer and fellow Volkswagen enthusiast Nicolai Sclater to create the Scirocco’s decidedly Seventies-appearing paint and graphics, in time for Change to make the display floor at last year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. Change is retro, looks good, hooks hard and runs quickly. What else do you need? In Whipple’s case, it’s another performance Scirocco from the brace of three that he owns. The next one, he posits, will be known as the Two Million Dollar Scirocco and probably see duty hauling his kids around in the epitome of Giugiaro style.

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