1991 Volkswagen GTI 16V

The 1991-1992 GTI followed the same basic recipe as the 1987 model we saw this past week, but everything was turned up a few notches. Starting in the mid 1990 model year, all US bound A2s received the “big bumper” treatment; new smooth aerodynamic covers front and rear. To help to differentiate it a bit, the GTI’s blackened arches were widened. Filling those arches were new 15″ wheels from BBS. The multi-piece RMs were lightweight and the perfect fit for the design, echoing other contemporary class-leading sports cars such as the M3. Volkswagen color-coded the mirrors and rear spoiler to match the car, as well. VW also gave the GTI a fresh face with more illumination; quad round lights filled the grill, and foglights illuminated the lower bumper. Prominent GTI 16V badges still encircled the car.

Power was up to match the heightened looks. Now with 2.0 liters of twin-cam fun, the GTI produced 134 horsepower at 5,800 RPMs and 133 lb. ft of torque at 4,400 RPMs. Coupled to the close-ratio 5-speed manual, that was good enough to drop 0-60 times below 8 seconds. That may not sound like much today, but at the time it was another league of performance compared to the typical economy car. Holding you in place were the same heavily-bolstered Recaros that special editions like the ‘Helios’ 1989 Jetta GLI Wolfsburg had enjoyed.

It was a recipe for success, but these cars were also relatively expensive in period, and fell into the global recession time frame which affected sales of nearly all European marques drastically. The general consensus is that around 5,000 of the last of these GTIs were imported, putting their rarity on the level of the M3. But because they weren’t M3s, there are far less around today to enjoy and few turn up in stock configuration for a myriad of reasons. It’s always a bit of a joy to see one arrive in the feed, though, and this LY3D Tornado Red example sure looks great:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen GTI 16V on eBay


Year: 1991
Model: GTI 16V
Engine: 2.0 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 110,747 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction

THE GOOD!
This is an unrestored 1991 GTI 16V pure survivor with 110k original miles, purchased from the original owner after looking for one for two years. These cars are almost impossible to find in unrestored state especial in this condition. It has spent most of its life in a garage not kept outdoors, including now. And was purchased solely as a toy to tinker with and occasionally drive. In my possession I have logged under 100 miles of use.

The 1991 and 1992 GTI 16V was a special car from VW included BBS RM wheels, Recaro seats, a 2.0 16V motor that was not put in any other GTI. 16V cars worldwide had a 1.8 motor. Total production numbers from “The last of the best” as they were known are around 3500ish units. I like to say it was Volkswagen’s version of the E30M3 ( which I have two of) the driving feel is very much like the original M3 direct and unfiltered with superb feedback. A pure drivers car! I have a huge grin every time I take it out.

Includes the original window sticker laminated to keep it from deteriorating and sales brochures from the dealer.

It has a host of period correct VERY NICE upgrades. The interior was redone in Jackie plaid (OEM VW material) with black this year replacing the interior the previous owner did in bright red. It was not cheap but looks fantastic in the car. Also has NLA OEM GTI 16V black floor mat set. I remove the mats to drive the car to keep them looking as new. Also has a NEW 16V key pill ( the plastic key fob that you slide the key in has 16V on it. )

Mechanically it is in great shape has had regular oil changes every 3500 miles per the original owner. timing belt and water pump were done about five years ago and have maybe 300 miles of use. Oil was changed right before I picked it up and is clean and clear.

If you are looking for a garage kept extremely clean GTI 16V this is it! I have not seen a more original unrestored 16V GTI anywhere.

Some things amazing… the original tool kit is UNOPENED! Never used still in the plastic bag. The spare tire looks like it has never touched the ground! The fenders are glossy and shiny and look great under the car looks like new ABSOLUTE ZERO rust anywhere… If you know much about these older MK II cars you know how rare that is… All the under hood stickers are in place the fuel door area looks great with the original decals still present.

* has no stereo or speakers removed by original owner and I coudl not decide whether to find all the OEM equipment to reinstall or put aftermarket back in…

Upgrades
Nuespeed sway bar set front/rear
Nuespeed front stress bar
Nuespeed poly bushings in control arms
Nuespeed/Momo Steering wheel ( these were close to 500 new in the 90s and looks amazing on the car!!!!)
Neuspeed/Momo red anotomical shift knob in red
Quaiff LSD unit ( this was not a cheap upgrade back in the 90’s)
ABD short shift linkage
ABD rear stress bar
Coilover conversion on new dampers ( OEM 16V sport package dampers) 450front 350 rear rates
Fuel pumps upgraded – no more plastic fail prone accumulator ( original parts included)
Hawk HPS pads all around
Drilled front rotors ( on when purchased)
Stainless brake lines
K&N filter

The not so good..but…
As stated this is a 100% UN RESTORED CAR is the paint show quality.. no.. It is mostly original with a few spots on the rear quarters where the previous owner said he had a few door dings fixed from parking lots when he drove it daily ( still slept in the garage at night). I have been torn on repainting the nose and hood on the car. Erasing the patina from years of loyal care taking is something I am torn to cover. The original owner took fantastic care of this car waxing it until on a few edges on the hood/fender he waxed through to the primer.. Which he continued to wax the primer is now glossy! (see photos)

The cruise control servo on the engine went bad and the previous owner removed it. easy to source it never bothered me since I rarely drive it and I never drive it in traffic or on the highway.

The AC on the engine side was removed and could be reinstalled it is all the same hardware on any golf from 85. Once again it never bothered me I drive it with the windows down to hear the feisty 16V motor.

The center console could use a new one for power windows original owner had something for the stereo there I think so it has a switch hole.

The rear black hatch sticker needs to be replaced ( window has to come out to do it properly) reproduction decals are available int he UK. I just keep forgetting to order one and fix it.

And then…
Minus the few items above the car is truly amazing to drive and look at. Highly unlikely there is another 16V GTI of this level anywhere in the US. The last “restored” 16V I saw sold for 10k with 220k miles on it… This is a future collectible and will do nothing but appreciate over the upcoming years if kept as an original survivor car.

Thanks for looking!

From the window sticker – it should be noted rarely accompanying a period VW – we see this car had the power package, cruise control and sunroof. The bill totaled over $15,000 – up 50% from the base price for the GTI in 1986 – and the car was sold in North Carolina. Generally, the presentation appears to be good and mostly original, but as with the M3 from yesterday the closer you get the more the problems add up. The seller’s claim that the car’s owner loved it so much that they waxed through the paint is as thin as Tornado Red on the hood; that is, just not possible. That’s high speed orbital buffing that did that, likely from the same body shop that poorly applied 2-stage clear coated paint to the sides of the car rather than the correct (and, quite expensive) single stage Tornado Red. Still, back away and the car is straight and claimed rust free.

The suspension has been converted to undisclosed coil overs. The Neuspeed and Quaife additions are generally good items, but then there’s a list of unfixed items. Nonfunctional are both the cruise control and air conditioning, along with no radio and a hacked center console. The big question mark is the recovered seats (twice, apparently!) in “Jackie” (it’s Jacky, seller) cloth with leatherette sides. While the look may be classic and new GTI mixed, the result isn’t that great in my eyes. More worrying, I’ve not yet seen a bad set of original Recaros even when mistreated; the original cloth holds up very well.

But as with the M3 yesterday, the story really falls apart when you see that after a two year search the seller is parting with this car after driving only 100 miles. Perhaps, like one of the comments noted yesterday, the seller’s idea of what this car was or would be didn’t match the reality of what it is. To me it looks like a great driver and occasional show car. Is it a perfect, original example? No. Is it worth what the seller seems to be indicating it is? No there for me, either. We’ve seen some nice 16Vs cross these pages, from a ’92 for $5,300, a modified ’91 for $6,800, and a signature Montana Green example for $8,000. The auction is no reserve but the opening bid here is $10,000; strong money for any A2 right now. This one looks generally very nice, but I wouldn’t say it’s worth more than any of the other ones.

-Carter

4 thoughts on “1991 Volkswagen GTI 16V

  1. Nice to see one of these.

    Seller: you don’t get to say that the lack of a radio, air conditioning, or cruise control never bothered you, when you’ve only driven the car 100 miles. What’s that, like 2 hours? I’ve almost driven this car as much as you have.

    Also, that primer showing through on the hood and fender. That’s not patina. That’s paint damage.

    Anywhoo, a Montana 8v with 78k just sold on BaT for $12k. And the seller is right about a repainted (not restored) black ’91 16V selling this year with 220k for $10k.

    And last week we had the brown ’87 16v with similar craptastic paint job and mileage sell for $6800. The RM’s here are worth $1-1.5k alone. Are the Recaros, 2.0L, big bumpers, dual rounds, better color, and power pack worth an extra $2k? Probably. Especially when you throw in the quaife, steering wheel (I’d sell it), and floor mats ($300 alone). But then you’ve got a large deduction for no A/C, like, at all.

    If the vinyl part of the seats was just black cloth, I might be convinced, but as they sit they’re a significant downgrade from the original upholstery (plus they no longer match the door cards).

    In the southwest it’s super common to find tornado red buffed through. The single stage oxidized like crazy in the sun so they got polished too much. Not sure how that plays into a southern car that’s supposedly been garaged it’s whole life.

    I don’t know if it’s just a mk2 thing, but why is it that if the cruise, p/s, or a/c stops working the whole system gets ripped out? I just don’t get it. WTFF?! Stop it you VW hood rats.

    I guess maybe parking lot dings were the cause of the partial respray, but a lot got painted. The rear gti badge is in the wrong place, peeling clearcoat on the drivers door, and the seller mentions the rear quarters. Seems half the car’s been painted. Hard to tell how good of a job it was, but I don’t have high hopes since the peeling clear at the door handle gasket seems like maybe the handle wasn’t removed for paint, which is one screw and 10 seconds. Regardless, it’s half failing single stage and half failing 2 stage.

    Tl;dr: the car needs paint. That’s $5k.

    The 100 miles of ownership is worrisome, but if he has two e30 M3’s, who the hell knows what’s going on.

    And speaking of The Car, I do think these late model 16V’s compare reasonably well to the e30 m3, and they’re an amazing value in that context.

    Just to nit pick; Canada also got the 2.0 16v, not just the US, the hood screen is missing, there’s water in the right headlight, the right front “g60” fender flare and matching fender liner appear to be broken (coveted parts, NLA), and the duct tape repair to the plastic intake pipe does not inspire confidence in past maintenance.

    Carter: It’s a 5spd manual, not a 3 speed auto, and a 2.0L not 1.8L. And the car is not on coil overs, it’s on its original dampers with a threaded spring kit of unknown origin. So no hope of Koni or Bilstein here.

    Disclaimer for bias: I own two of these. A ’91 project and a low mileage ’92. Both LY3D

  2. @Cory, great comments, and ARGH! The auto info section is my nemesis. I actually wrote nearly all of the post to then have the site decided to delete it, so I had to rewrite all of it again. Thanks for the catch.

    It’s funny that you mention the 100 mile drive and nothing ever bothering him, I had the exact same thought.

    Re: value relative to the M3 – agree completely. The problem, especially as these crest higher in value, is that the 944 Turbo is even a closer comparison to the M3, and a much nicer car, and you can still find very nice examples in the teens.

    Then again, as a FB comment noted, maybe in five years this price will seem very reasonable. Your breakdown on why it’s worth more than the Red Mica Pearl example is totally valid. But in some ways that car was a bit nicer, too. Which would I rather have? Given the same price, probably this one, but like you when I look at this car I see about $8,000 more to get it “right”. We’re also assuming that the RMs are still reasonably round and indeed there’s no rust, as promised, and that both the 9A runs reasonably well and the 5-speed hasn’t started to self-machine.

    Side note, somewhat interesting to me. I have a Hella steering wheel from the 1980s that has a near identical stripe (but blue/gray) to this wheel. It’s shaped a lot like this one too. I wonder if Momo made the Hella wheels? I didn’t see any Momo stamps on it.

  3. I’m assuming the RM’s are bent. They came that way from the factory.

    I’m biased towards red, and all the late model 16V trimmings, but I do love the early cars too, and appreciated that ’87.

    Of course you’d bring up the 944T. The great wet blanket. The seeming fly in so many ointments. Why isn’t it worth more they scream?! Sure, on paper the 944T belongs in the mix. On paper. But the demographics and perception of the 944 is entirely different than the M3/16V (I love grouping the M3 and 16V together; don’t tell the e30 boys). Ultimately it’s emotion that sets pricing for these technologically out of date cars. So the question is, who’s triggered by a 944T?

    (Equip flame suit) The 944T is a special edition of a bougie sports car prized by boomers who were having their mid life crises in the 80’s and couldn’t afford a carrera 3.2. This is a narrow band of people. It lives in the shadow of the 911 (see also: 968), the car the boomers wanted but couldn’t afford.

    Well they can afford them now, and we see it in the 911 market. We specifically don’t see it in the 944 market. It seems that (what there is of) the 944 market is driven by cold calculation. Bang for the buck. HP per dollar. Value investing. There’s no emotion, passion, or nostalgia in the 944 market; pricing never gets carried away. The cars didn’t imprint on people. People don’t *have* to have them.

    Meanwhile, the M3 and 16V were derivations of practical cars prized by x’ers who were too young and poor to afford one. This is a wide band of people. The M3 and the 16V, like the 911, are not living in a shadow. They are arguably the best their respective marques have ever produced. If the 2.0 16V lives in a shadow, it’s the shadow of the M3, not a bad place to be. How much imprinting the 16V actually did, remains to be seen. I was hit hard.

    I’d expect per capita demand to be much lower for 944T’s yet there are three times as many of them as the M3 or 16V. And they’re coveted by entirely different groups of people. Gen x is just coming into having the disposable income to buy the car that got away, and it’s not the 944T. In fact I don’t see any catalyst for higher, inflation adjusted prices for boomer centric cars. I think we’re at peak boomer.

    Whatever logic you’d apply as to why the 944T should be priced higher than a 16V should also be largely applicable to the M3. Which is why if you find a 944T enthusiast you have also found someone who thinks the M3 is the most overpriced car in the world (except for maybe the 911).

  4. Well, that was a good read, even though I’ve always loved the 944 Turbo. And the M3, and the GTI. But maybe I’m part of a select group, or a complete a** or a moron. Anyway, I think your breakdown as to why they don’t cross pollinate is pretty interesting and likely not far off base. You definitely don’t see the same people generally interested in both.

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