There’s a fairly active Volkswagen community in Jacksonville, and the guys from Stateside Euro are regular attendees at the monthly Cars & Coffee event here. All are well versed in their rides, and can fill you in on an incredible amount of obscure detail about Volkswagen and their specific year, make, and model. Most have invested a significant amount of scratch in their rides, and by anyone’s definition of the word, these guys are hardcore enthusiasts.
The flip side of that coin is that most of these guys run pneumatic suspensions, ridiculous drops and wheels that weigh nearly as much as the air-cooled flat four from an original Beetle. Their cars have a certain look, but the mods made won’t reduce lap times or quarter-mile times. In fact, I’d argue the point that most of these guys have made their rides slower around a racetrack, or at least have greatly reduced gains made thorough tuning the ECU, intakes, larger turbos and custom exhausts. In other words, form, or how a part makes a car look, takes precedence over function, or how a part improves acceleration or handling.
I’m building a GTI for next year’s One Lap of America on an extremely limited budget, so every single change has to improve acceleration, handling or braking. I’m currently sweating the details over a 17-inch wheel setup, which (with tire) weighs 38.2 pounds per corner, versus an 18-inch wheel setup, which bumps the weight up to 40 pounds per corner. Those 1.8 pounds per wheel may not sound like much, but unsprung weight is the enemy of acceleration, braking and cornering. I really don’t care which setup looks better – I only care about which setup goes faster.
In other words, I’m a function over form guy, and always have been. If it doesn’t make the car go faster, I’m going to have a hard time justifying it in the budget, and that even carries over to things like nav systems (my Garmin and iPhone are good enough) and audio systems (to my untrained ear, even the base GTI audio system works just fine).
Which brings me to my question of the day – are you a function over form guy, or a form over function guy?