In 1956 a man named Joe Vittone would pioneer a path that we continue to follow today at EMPI. A small light car with more power was always his goal; and he built an entire company and started a movement around modifying, personalizing and upgrading air-cooled Volkswagens. This all makes perfect sense as his VW dealership in Riverside, CA sold new Volkswagens as fast as they landed at west coast ports.
With EMPI parts a humble Bug could go from under 60 horsepower to nearly 85 ponies with basic bolt-on parts. If you were seeking better handling to complement that extra power, EMPI could satisfy your needs with upgraded shocks, wheels and tires, a front sway bar and a rear camber compensator.
Taking inspiration from EMPI’s past we pay tribute to the spirit of the GTV with our GTV II. EMPI lead technician and VW enthusiast Victor Gonzalez led this ambitious project with assistance from Larry Hole and Tyler Kitchen. The EMPI team installed the drivetrain, suspension, braking and steering components as well as an EMPI OE style wiring harness for a better than new electrical system.
Jack Sacchette, the founder of JayCee and accomplished VW drag racer assembled the all new 1914cc motor using many of the kit components found in the EMPI Long Block package, including a brand new EMPI AS/41 magnesium alloy case and rotating assembly, EMPI Stage 1 heads, 44HPMX dual carb kit and much more. Topped off with an EMPI stainless steel sideflow exhaust this motor sounds ready for fun on the street and at Autocross on the weekends with nearly 130hp available under your right foot.
Rancho Transaxle of Fullerton, CA is an EMPI authorized distributor, and their lead technician Lino Iniguez built an awesome Pro-Street 4 speed starting with an all-new aluminum EMPI transaxle case, stainless steel side covers and race axles.
Underneath, EMPI parts comprise the suspension from front to rear with an all-new narrowed and adjustable beam, EMPI Exclusive forged trailing arms and zero offset spindles and carriers, spring plates and a rear suspension truss kit for correct geometry and rigidity. Sway-A-Way torsion bars and upgraded Bilstein B6 shocks collaborate for a sporting, responsive driving experience. EMPI bolt-on disc brake kits coupled with a big bore master cylinder improve balance and stopping performance. Renown car designer and automotive artist Chip Foose pitched in with customized EMPI BRM “mag look” wheels finished with a cool machined lip. Completing the performance package are sticky Yokohama AVID Ascend GT tires that give the GTV II an aggressive, raked look.
The interior of the GTV II is a most special place courtesy of Sewfine Interior Products of Denver, CO an EMPI authorized distributor. The Sewfine team lavished their show car craftsmanship throughout the GTV II. From the custom upholstery and detailed stitching on the Race-Trim low back seats and door panels, inset with Spirit of Le Mans tartan plaid, to the rear seat delete, square weave oatmeal carpeting and matching headliner and ragtop; every inch of the interior is a pleasing place to enjoy motoring. Completing the cockpit are 1 of 50 Limited Edition GTV inspired instruments from Smiths Gauges of Edenbridge United Kingdom, an EMPI vintage copper look shifter which will be returning to the EMPI catalog shortly; and a classic EMPI dark wood steering wheel.
The GTV II body includes a few subtle nods to the past featuring a 1 of 50 Limited Edition GTV decklid recreated from recently uncovered original molds in Southern California. To pay homage to the original GTV, EMPI Engineering designed unique GTV II badges and matching wheel caps and our manufacturing team CNC machined them in-house. Completing the GTV look, Ryan Alexander of Signpros Brea, CA created and installed a GTV stripe kit keyed to the color of the interior vinyl. Look for the GTV C-Stripe kit to return to the EMPI catalog in multiple color ways soon.
All of us at EMPI hope you enjoy the GTV II as much as we enjoyed building it! Let’s keep classic air-cooled Volkswagens on the road together.
All New All EMPI Long Block Plus, Built by Jack Sacchette
All New Pro-Street Transaxle built by Rancho Transaxle
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
Body & Paint
Please see the GTV II Build Sheet here:
Photography and Video by Ray Herrera and Eduardo "Icy" Sanchez