Project VW Fox: A Custom Cover for Our Endurance Racer as We Contemplate What’s Next

Tom
Update by Tom Suddard to the Volkswagen Fox project car
Nov 16, 2020

It’s common practice, or at least a popular goal, to end a project on a high note. And if you’ve been following our VW Fox project, you might even think we’ve done that. After all, we bought a dirt-cheap used race car, updated the safety gear, made it beautiful with a $200 paint job, then conquered both a 24 Hours of Lemons event at Barber and a ChampCar Endurance Series race during an IMSA weekend on Daytona’s high banks. 

When the facts of the case are laid out like that, it seems like maybe we have ended this project on a high note. But there’s an asterisk: This car has still never finished a race. We nearly lost a wheel at Barber, then blew our junkyard engine at Daytona (oops). We’ve had fun, but we still haven’t accomplished what we set out to do: finish a race. 

Of course, there’s another asterisk: the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s made team sports, like endurance racing, difficult to say the least. We’ve tried to err on the side of caution as much as possible, especially as cases surged during and after our Daytona failure. We’ve tried harder and harder to keep our teammates safe, and therefore separated from each other and the car. And sure, one member of the team could work on the Fox alone (Tom’s a glutton for automotive punishment), but most of the fun that comes from racing a horrible car is laughing at it together, and it’s just not the same when your buddy is helping over Facetime with a screwdriver taped to an iPhone. With the pandemic raging and a timeline for safely returning to the track unclear, we’ve made the choice to press the pause button on our Fox. Sorry little VW, but we’ll return to you in safer times. While the Fox is mothballed, we’ll focus on our other projects, the ones that don’t require a team of six people to travel across state lines to share personal space for a weekend.

We can’t just park our Fox in the corner, though, as we had one last project before retiring the car. Cars tend to get garage rash when they’re left sitting in our shop, and it seems no matter how careful we are, we still find scuffs and scratches when pulling a car out of storage. That’s why we use car covers as much a possible, but we had a problem finding one for our Fox: Remember those giant wings front and rear? No universal cover would fit the car, not even close.

So we called Covercraft. Not only do they make custom covers for pretty much any car, they can even modify them to your own specs. Have an M3 with a wing and a splitter? They can make a cover for it. Drive a sick Eclipse with a body kit and a hood scoop? They can do that, too. “What about a Fox with a six-foot-tall, six-foot-wide Nine Lives Racing wing on the nose?” we asked. “Uhhh, sure. We’ll just have to send you two copies of our rear spoiler measurement worksheet.”

After mailing off a few measurements and waiting on a few weeks of sewing (the folks at Covercraft must have been shaking their heads the whole time), a custom car cover arrived. And after a few minutes figuring out which end was which, we’d successfully applied it to the Fox: Success! Our front wing now looked like a giant half-pipe, but our Fox would be protected from abuse while it awaited our return. How much would a project like this cost? Figure on spending about $381 for a custom cover like ours.

There was one other item on the to-do list before we could fully abandon our Fox: a plan for its resurrection. After all, you can’t press pause on a project unless you can press play later. We talked it over with the team and decided we’d keep things simple, opting to replace our blown junkyard engine with another 1.8-liter VW block. We know, we know: This isn’t the most exciting option in the world (quiet down, VR6 swap people!), but it would be a plug-and-play swap that got us back on track quickly. We made a few calls and eventually found a rusty Golf GTI in the backyard of our  favorite brewery, then drug it home to live behind the shop. We’re sure it’s thrilled about its future status as a heart donor.

Fox under cover, donor engine sourced, and stay-at-home orders in place, we put our race gear in the shed and closed the book on this chapter of the Fox’s career. Once the pandemic is under control and we can have team dinners at the buffet again, we’ll get the Fox back on track. Our goal? To finally end this project on a high note–and have more fun doing it.

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Comments
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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/16/20 3:37 p.m.

Every time I see a photo of this car it gets more beautiful.

randyracer
randyracer New Reader
11/16/20 11:28 p.m.

I LOVE that front wing.  Makes perfect sense on a front=drive.  Brilliant.  I wanna try it, but I guess I'd have to come pay some dues and turn wrenches on it (Which I am pretty good at, I don;t mind sayin'.). Back when I was racing World Challenge, I looked carefully at the rule for the wing.  While it limited how back BACK it could be, it did not say a word about how far FORWARD it could be.  I so wanted to mount it just ahead of the windshield.  Imagine the paddock ruckus that woulda have caused!  So bravoooo, Team GRM.

jb229
jb229 New Reader
11/17/20 2:49 a.m.

The Fox is wearing an elephant costume.

noddaz
noddaz GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/17/20 7:29 a.m.

Are you going to make it transverse layout this time?  lol.

Parts like hubs, wheel bearings and 5 speed transmissions would be easier to find....  

BTW, the GTi should have disc brakes on the back.  That might help the Fox if they will swap over as well.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/17/20 7:47 a.m.

Good call on waiting for the pandemic to abate, especially after you had to skip the challenge. While I love following the updates on the fox, I'd rather know that everyone's staying healthy.

I'm using a cover craft cover for my Miata, their quality is excellent.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
11/17/20 11:01 a.m.
randyracer said:

I LOVE that front wing.  Makes perfect sense on a front=drive.  Brilliant.  I wanna try it, but I guess I'd have to come pay some dues and turn wrenches on it (Which I am pretty good at, I don;t mind sayin'.). Back when I was racing World Challenge, I looked carefully at the rule for the wing.  While it limited how back BACK it could be, it did not say a word about how far FORWARD it could be.  I so wanted to mount it just ahead of the windshield.  Imagine the paddock ruckus that woulda have caused!  So bravoooo, Team GRM.

That moment when Randy Pobst jumps on your project update to coo about how great the Fox is. laugh

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UberDork
11/17/20 11:16 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:
randyracer said:

I LOVE that front wing.  Makes perfect sense on a front=drive.  Brilliant.  I wanna try it, but I guess I'd have to come pay some dues and turn wrenches on it (Which I am pretty good at, I don;t mind sayin'.). Back when I was racing World Challenge, I looked carefully at the rule for the wing.  While it limited how back BACK it could be, it did not say a word about how far FORWARD it could be.  I so wanted to mount it just ahead of the windshield.  Imagine the paddock ruckus that woulda have caused!  So bravoooo, Team GRM.

That moment when Randy Pobst jumps on your project update to coo about how great the Fox is. laugh

Now THAT'S a win!

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/17/20 11:24 a.m.
Tom Suddard said:

Every time I see a photo of this car it gets more beautiful.

@TomSuddard on Instagram

Hmm.  That's not what I was thinking.  I'm usually all in on the inherent beauty of form following function and I think the creative rules interpretation is brilliant but this car looks ungainly to me and even covering it up with a custom car cover doesn't help.

Honsch
Honsch New Reader
11/17/20 10:35 p.m.
Tom Suddard said:

That moment when Randy Pobst jumps on your project update to coo about how great the Fox is. laugh

I think Randy was fondly remembering driving our Fox at ORP

 

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