Have you ever been a part of something for so long that if it were to cease it would leave a giant hole in your being, or quite possibly change the balance and enthusiasm of your life? When I think about the last twelve or so years, I realize that a lot of my existence revolves around VW’s. A person having only known me for a few days, or even someone happening upon my Instagram or Facebook account would see that my life thoroughly is, and without shame, about cars. And not just the machines, but the community, the people, the industry, and the events. As I am writing this, I can only begin to wonder how difficult it would be for me not to be involved in the Euro car community. There is an overwhelming sense of emotion actually…needless to say I’d be lost. It’s like one of those odd daydreams that leaves one with more questions than answers. What would my spare time be like? Would I still go on adventures? Would my friendships and relationships be a special as they are now? And the big one- how much money would I have? (That’s a silly and extremely adult question no car enthusiast really wants to know the answer to, by the way.) For me it’s not about the daydream, but the reality of the situation- I’m a car geek. Changing that would erase a large part of me.
I guess this is where I should introduce myself. My name is Tara Jayne Evans, but some family and friends call me TJ. I have been the words behind a few of the VW Girls Blog posts in the past and our fearless VW Girls leader has asked me to write about myself. I knew it would be a daunting task and possibly too long, but I told her I would give it a shot anyways. I grew up in a small suburb of Wichita, KS, called Derby where I have spent a large majority of my life except for a few small stints in Kansas City, KS, and the GREAT Pacific Northwest. I am married to another avid car lover and we have three spoiled dogs at home. I have been a Q.A. inspector for a quickly growing machine shop for the past seven years, and worked in a body shop prior to that. I had taken an interest in cars, trucks, and motorcycles while growing up, but no one in my immediate family has ever owned a VW other than my aunt on my mom’s side. My dad is a car guy, but working the long hours he did only left for a small amount of time for me to learn a thing or two from him. Most enthusiasts have defining moments of when they first took an interest in cars; possibly building their first car with their dad, a car show, or a family business of sorts. Mine? It could have been the time my dad bought me a monster truck Power Wheel instead of the Barbie Jeep I asked for for Christmas, or the time he bought me a large electric race car track with epic loops another Christmas, or when the neighbor kid pulled up in his beautiful classic Pontiac Satellite across the street when he turned sixteen. I’m not really sure where, when, or how it all started. I just knew at one point I couldn’t get enough of them; I still can’t.
It wasn’t until fall of 2003 during my junior year of college that I “did a thing” by purchasing my first VW- a 2003 black Tiptronic 2.0 New Beetle. At the time, I had no ties to the VW community, but I really liked the MKIV platform and that’s why I chose a VW over the other makes and models on my list. It wasn’t until a few months after purchasing the Beetle that I met a local couple, my now best friend and her husband, who invited me to a few meets with a local VW/Audi group named Team Foolie. The group not only welcomed me, but became my second family. You all know the kind of groups- the epic weekend shenanigans, holidays, poker nights, shared build enthusiasm, and car modding get together’s, which were really just great excuses to crack open a few and spend time with friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start out learning about my car and the community. There is something of great value in those moments, and I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today had I never stepped out of my shell to embrace it all. I’ve learned a million lessons, my car family has tripled in size, and the relationships I have gained are irreplaceable.
In hindsight, being an enthusiast isn’t an easy task by any means. One normally takes on more cars than they should, and like myself, become attached to quite a few. Each car tells a different story, and in some small area of the heart there is that feeling that they all need saving. Between my husband and I, we have had fourteen ranging from a 1979 MKI Rabbit to our current MKVII GTI’s with a few BMW E30’s and a E24 thrown in there. If I had to pick my all around favorite (to this point, of course), it would have to be the MKVII GTI by far. It has nothing to do with the fact that it is the newest model, and it is also absolutely nothing special to anyone but me. It isn’t bagged, the wheels aren’t three piece…it’s nothing like what I had before and yet I’m incredibly content. My very first test drive in a new GTI made me giddy.
I smiled the whole time and I can honestly say I was hooked instantly. It brought me back to the fun driving experience of a MKI Rabbit with the nimbleness to handle the road, yet was still comfortable. It was a far cry from how I felt with my 2012 bagged New New Beetle at that time; so much so that I traded the Beetle in for a Pure White 6 speed manual SE. I have missed the many different looks that the Beetle took on, but I don’t regret the decision to trade it one bit. The GTI has renewed my feelings as an enthusiast, and the all around fit and finish for the price is impeccable in my opinion. The red stitching and the small red light details in the doors are great interior interior notes that I get more compliments on than anything. It’s quick out of the box stock, but the Stage I APR tune wakes it up. This time around I chose lowering springs instead of bags for a no nonsense “get in and go”. I originally started out with VWR springs, but have since changed to FK’s. The choice came about when wanting to close fender gap a bit more, but still keep within a reasonable cost. I’ve always been one for small details, so the brake calipers and red stripe in the grill were painted with Duplicolor’s Torque N’ Teal high heat enamel. The accent color may change once I find an aftermarket wheel I can decide on though. For now, the OEM+ 19” Golf R wheels do the trick for me. My future plans are always changing, but I usually have an idea in mind to build on. I currently have a few mods in my possession such as Golf R replica headlights, a VWR intake, and an e-Golf grille; all of which should be installed in the coming months. I have had the GTI since July 5th of 2014, and even though the mods have been slow and steady, which is opposite of my last build, I’m really enjoying the car and it continues to make me smile on a daily basis. Isn’t that another part of what being an enthusiast is all about?
In closing, I find myself having been blessed to experience so much and to call many car enthusiasts family here and across the pond. I can’t thank them all enough for allowing my small family to also be that to them. Spending weekends in other states just to hang out with car friends, meeting people in the industry who end up becoming genuine friends, driving extreme hours to make it to shows, and hanging out with the local group are all a huge part of my life. My twelve years in this community may mean absolutely nothing to the outside world, but this community and people mean a lot to me. I appreciate the opportunity to write for a sub community solely based around Euro female car enthusiasts such as VW Girls. (GASP…did she really just use that term?!) I’m happy to be a part of it because it means I’m part of a group that supports girls who are interested in cars just like me. My advice to other car girls? Do what makes YOU happy. It doesn’t matter if someone else has already done what you wanted to do. It’s a guarantee that your story and your experiences will be different than someone else’s. Don’t let others tell you how to build your car or tell you that you aren’t a real enthusiast because you are a girl. Give encouragement to other female car enthusiasts and find a mentor or be a mentor to someone else. If you’re building something and happen to get stuck, don’t get discouraged. Stick it out and learn a thing or two. Reach out to people and get involved in this awesome community. It’s by far the best thing I have ever done.
Shout Outs and Thanks go to:
- My husband, Aaron. Thanks for always believing in me and allowing me to step out and create something my own. You’ve never held me back and have supported me through a lot.
- Team Foolie/ Wetdub, you all have been my rock in more ways than one. A lot of my time with you has molded the enthusiast I have become. Much thanks and love for letting me a part.
- Randy Decker, you’ve been the guy we have counted on for so much through our car endeavors. We could never repay you for all you have done. Thank you!
- Shawn Sanders Photography for the amazing photos of my GTI. You always amaze me.
- Kleen Freaks, we appreciate everything you’ve done for us and for your awesome friendship. Thanks for letting us be apart of the Kleen Freaks family.
- Andrew at Open Road Tuning
- Matthew Bounds with Sowo Partners
- The CAtuned family
- DWS Parts
- Melissa, Chikoune, Natalia and all of the VW Girls
Keep an eye out for more updates on my crazy car journey on Instagram @gti_jayne. Also Make sure to check out the official VW Girls Instagram and Facebook pages for more updates on our members and what we are doing in the community.
Tara Evan’s MKVII Golf GTI
Engine/Trans: 2.0T 6 Spd. Manual SE
Color: Pure White
Suspension: FK Sport Springs
Wheels: 19” Golf R Cadiz
Performance mods: APR Stage 1 Tune, P3Cars Gauge, VWR Intake
Exterior mods (Current/Future): Painted brake calipers and grille piece in Duplicolor Torque N’ Teal, Golf R replica headlights, e-Golf Grille