This Vanagon does my favorite kind of bait-and-switch. At first glance, the unwavering white paint/black trim looks at best plain. White wall tires on steel wheels exaggerate its age, giving the overall impression of yet another old beater camper van. This impression matched with the $26,750 asking price furrowed my brow immediately, but elicited a rewarding closer look. Checking out the details on this High Top, you see that the plain white paint is actually a recent and well-done respray. Inside, we find a nearly perfect interior with a new wood-laminate floor to match the cabinets. All camping items work including the propane stove and heater, water pump with filter, refrigerator, and external ports. It has 184k miles but still returns 20+ mpg and appears to have received the maintenance and care to keep it going for another couple hundred thousand. The 6’7″ standing height means even my 6’5″ brother could be comfortable, though the fold out bed might not either of us very well. It’s an under-the-radar Adventurewagen that is perfectly eccentric as is.
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When I met Lon, he was in Washington on his yearly pilgrimage to see friends and search for rust-free Mk1 Volkswagens. He lived in Iowa and had a farm filled with interesting VW breeding experiments. GTIs mated with trucks, diesels injected wherever possible, etc. He knew that our sweet little truck was getting more than a little rough around the edges – a cracked exhaust manifold was the final need that broke my dad’s patience – but he also looked at it with the same optimism and appreciation that I did. I was just a couple of months into having my driver’s license, and the passing on of my beloved Rabbitamino was hard to swallow. Lon seemed to be the right person to pass it on to, someone who would make it better and give it a new life in a way I wasn’t prepared to do. The pain of loss was dulled when he let me drive the Mk1 GTI he had already picked up on his trip – a low and tight little mongrel featuring a Quaife differential and a short-geared diesel 5-speed. Howling through the gears and hitting fourth before 40 mph, he offered to trade me the GTI and its trunk full of VW race parts for the truck and a little cash. 16 year old me was not in the driver’s seat for our family’s car choices, however, and my dad wanted another truck. We ended up with an incredible Toyota 4×4 that is still kicking ass and taking names, but that drive in (and missed chance at) Lon’s sweet GTI has always stuck with me.
Thus, the Mk1 GTI is still a bucket list car for me, but I’m thinking I need to either jump on one soon or cross my fingers and hope I win the lottery down the line. This beautiful Royal Red example has covered roughly 2k miles in the last 9 years after the owner bought it in Chicago and took it to New York to tuck away, drive on weekends, and take to shows. It’s not completely original – new snowflakes have been acquired by the owner over the years, and it has a stainless steel Techtonics exhaust – but it’s damn close. We’ve seen impeccable, fully restored GTIs, but original examples like this carry an extra air of gravity and provenance. Whatever the seller invested 9 years ago, I’m guessing it was a heck of a lot less than the nearly $10k the auction is reaching.
Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
Longtime reader Sam was selling his “Blue Colonel” Rabbit Pickup in Portland but saw another extremely clean Caddy for sale at the same time. It looks like the Blue Colonel has sold, but this beautiful little LX – leatherette and wood dash included – is still looking for a new home. It’s covered 134k gentle miles and spent most of last 15 years in a temperature controlled garage. Everything looks original in the best of ways, including the clean engine compartment. $6k is a pretty common number for diesel Caddys, but we’ll see if this excellent gas pickup can swing that much too.
Click for details: 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on Craigslist Portland
The GT badge was one which appeared on Volkswagens in the late 1980s and early 1990s for the slightly less hot version of the GTI. My father purchased a 1987 Golf GT new, a Tornado Red two-door hatch that had the trimmings of the GTI with the familiar 8 valve, four-cylinder engine. It wasn’t a particularly fast car and was not without its problems, but I always appreciated the clean design of the Mk2 Golf. The same goes for the Mk2 Polo GT. It’s not exactly an exciting or exotic vehicle, but a clean design. It’s a car that could have done well and still could do well in the US market, speaking to those buyers who turned to the original Beetle for basic transportation. This 1993 example represents the final year for the Mk2 Polo and is currently on offer in Switzerland.