Volkswagen created the hot hatch segment in the late 1970s with the original GTI. The car's performance repertoire, however, did not include Ferrari-humbling maximum speeds. GTI aficionado Jeremy Freedman set out to unequivocally obliterate this top speed shortcoming with his Mk III. During last fall's Texas Mile event, Freedman piloted his black 1997 GTI to a scarcely believable trap speed of 208.1 mph!
Remarkably, Freedman's car is powered by the same VR6 engine and five-speed manual gearbox it left Wolfsburg with. They have been slightly modified, however, with the VR6 being opened up from 2.8 to 3.0-liters and turbocharged to the tune of 800 horsepower. More startling is news that the gearbox internals have been been largely untouched save for a beefier clutch and the addition of a limited slip differential. (Those changes were required to put that much power to the ground through the front wheels.) Rather than mess with the gearing, Freedman relied on larger wheels and tires to adjust the final drive ratio so he could top 200 mph. You can check out video of Freedman's record-setting run after the jump.