A long time ago, in a garage far far away, I told my girlfriend I would fix her broken cupholder. I knew they just popped in / out, and getting a new one on ebay would be simple. I would be a hero.
So when the replacement showed up in the mail, I marched outside with my tools, easily popped out the old broken cupholder, and slid the new one in. Hrmm.. slight problem though. It won’t slide all the way in. This is confusing to me, because I’ve been assured what I have is a direct replacement part.
But it was not to be. See, she owned a 1999.5 MkIV Golf. And the original cupholder design was Total Shit. VW would replace it the following year. But the kicker is while the new cupholders would fit in the 2000+ VWs, the 1999.5 was special. There was a small piece of plastic blocking it, and I’d need to “Dremel it out”.
Well, the project just jumped from a level 1 to level 3 difficulty. To do this, I would need to pull half of the goddamn dash. Here take a gander at PART 1 of the fucking instructions. Yep. you have to take off the ebrake cover, center console, radio, heating unit, and even the FUCKING GLOVE COMPARTMENT to get the radio cage out.
This was clearly more work that I wanted ( or trusted myself ) to do. I could already picture all the broken plastic tabs, my inability to put things back where they belonged, the horrible and inevitable failure.
Step 1 : An easier way
I mean I really looked. I literally took years to figure this out. I tried finding a replacement part, but all the vintage pieces were either in terrible shape, or would just break again anyway. I looked at upgrade the center console to a newer version ( that contained cupholders by the ebrake )
But I couldn’t buy them in beige.. and they had quirky additional requirements like “You have to bend the e-brake” or “replace the ebrake handle”. These seemed either dangerous or again, outside my skill level.
So it sat in my “to-do” list, for a very long time. Unsure how to proceed. Unwilling to admit defeat.
And then 1 day, I came across a guy on craigslist who had just gutted his beige Jetta… and aside from a ton of interior pieces I wanted.. he had the upgraded center console. On top of that he assured me that swapping it wasn’t that hard. Even the ebrake. So rather than finding an easier way.. I decided to just swap out fucking everything. New console, New glovebox, and while I was there, I would dremel the shit out of that radio cage and put in the new cupholder.
Step 2: A bunch of stuff happens
I am not going to go play by play on this. Too much has happened. But I’m going to do some major highlights, and maybe offer some tips if you are trying this yourself.
I recommend starting here, on the VWVortex.com Forums. This is a great explanation of how to tear down all the way to the radio cage. Pretty much I followed these instructions, and they walked me through the whole process.
Some things I learned:
- Don’t trust the dude you bought stuff from. Even if he seemed nice, and used to run his own shop. He probably broke plastic tabs taking the parts off, and there might be parts missing as well. I ended up having to purchase a few black parts for the beige replacement console. Luckily they look pretty good.
- Take the time to disconnect the battery. Once you start messing with the glove box area.. you spend a lot of time with your face pressed against that passenger airbag. Would suck to have it go off. It also makes it easier because you can move the shifter around if you are using an automatic. This makes it much easier to slip center console on / off
- If you decide to upgrade your glovebox to a newer version, be prepared for some frustration. 1999.5 comes with a metal support brace that needs to be removed, and it was a bitch to get out. Tight area, lots of force needed. Also… you don’t need to rekey the lock. Your current key VW key will open a new glovebox.
- Try really hard not to break plastic parts. Getting everything to fit back together was a challenge, made even more difficult when broken plastic tabs were no longer there to hold stuff in place. I’m looking at you..uh.. metal bar under the ashtray.
- Just buy a new ebrake. Don’t mess around with the “Bending” it crap. It costs like $20 on ebay, and fits much nicer. MAKE SURE YOU BUY THE RIGHT MODEL NUMBER. 1JM 711 303 You want the one that is for later model MKIVs. It is the “bent” or “angled” model.I did a video on how to get the ebrake cover off. Looking back though, I wish I’d just left the black leather. probably would have looked better, but hey. Here is my video anyway on how to change the cover for an ebrake.
- Have the right tools. Definitely need 13MM socket head, Power drill driver for all those damn T20 bolts, Additional interior lighting ( I used a lamp + flashlights as needed ), and plastic tools for prying stuff off without damaging the surface.
Step 3: Scoring
Time to complete : 2 years. yeah really. Like that girl isn’t even my Girlfriend anymore. -100
Time spent: Maybe 8 hours? Have definitely lost track. -10
Broken Plastic Shit: -10
Cost: $100 total. Less once I sell off old parts. +30
Completed?: Hell yezzzzz. +shitload
SCORE: VICTORY BITCHES
I’m still pretty amazed this all worked out. Looks solid too.
all KINDS of cup holding going on now.