1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Perhaps the rationale behind the SUV popularity in the US these days is due to the fact that people used to like hatchbacks more here in the US. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the choices for vehicles with a rear hatch seemed endless, but nowadays, you would be hard pressed to identify on two hands the number of offerings available here in the states. The second generation Golf went a ways towards refining Volkswagen’s first attempt at a subcompact, front-drive vehicle for the masses and with it carried over the hot version, the GTI. This particular GTI for sale in the UK is another one of those low-mileage creampuffs we’ve come to expect from 4 Star Classics. While this one packs the milder 8 valve engine, there is no denying this car’s classic appeal.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI at 4Star Classics

1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

If you were not a Volkswagen fan, it would have been relatively easy to miss the numerous small changes to the Jetta lineup in 1987. Chief among these changes was the introduction of a new model, the GLi 16V. Outside there were subtle changes to what was already established in the sporty 4-door to help it be distinguished from the 8 valve model it was sold alongside (only in the 1987 model year). A new, deeper front chin spoiler had two integral brake ducts. The antenna had been relocated to the roof, and the rear spoiler was color-matched on the top surface. Inside, new body-hugging Recaro seats were offered, alongside the host of subtle luxury options that the Jetta had including power windows, mirrors and locks, sunroof, air conditioning, cruise control and an onboard computer. The GLi 16V also received new wheels, popularly known as the “Teardrop” alloys but properly named Silverstone. Of course, appearance was one thing, but performance was what the GLi 16V was about and the dual overhead cams of the new motor churned out 123 horsepower. That doesn’t sound like a lot today, but it was plenty to make this light sedan entertaining. Expensive new and popular to be modified secondhand, these early GLi 16Vs are somewhat rare to happen across these days:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V on eBay

Sporty Soot: 1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V Ecodiesel

With the exception of the short-lived Jetta TDi Cup Edition, Volkswagen has denied U.S. fans something that it’s offered in Europe for several generations – the sporty versions of its diesel products. They go as far back as the mid-1980s and made lots of sense in European countries were greater fuel economy trumped the need for speed. But that lack of importation hasn’t stopped some from creating their own anti-sleepers. What started life here as an early Jetta GLi 16V has gone through a unique swap to an equally if not more rare Ecodiesel-spec 1.6 turbo motor. You get the sporty look and interior from the GLi with all the clatter and fuel economy of the diesel:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V Ecodiesel on eBay

1991 Volkswagen Golf Driver

It’s interesting to me that Volkswagen has managed to make the Golf a premium product, because for so long it was actually low man on the totem pole at VW. I owned a Westmoreland made Golf built in 1986, and while it was a fun car to drive, luxurious it was not. Compared to new models with Audi-inspired interiors, the Mk.2 cars are positively Spartan in design. However, compare them to some similar Japanese interiors from the day and you begin to see why the Golf was widely regarded as the premium hatch in the segment. It also offered plenty of performance from the 16V models, though in Europe those cars were more expensive to insure. Popularity and a propensity for getting into accidents meant that they were targets for theft, the and consequently high insurance premiums. As a result and due to the higher cost of the GTi models, Volkswagen introduced several GTi-look packages like the Golf GT and this one, the later Golf Driver:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Golf Driver on eBay

End of the Run: 1991 Volkswagen GTi 16v and 1992 Volkswagen GTi

There’s something that’s just so right about the 1990-1992 GTis. The bigger bumpers gave a chunkier, more menacing look than the 85-89 cars had, and the swap to the 4-headlight grill worked so well. More power and bigger, better BBS wheels made these the best GTis in the eyes of many VW faithful. By 1990, the GTi 16V had gotten fairly expensive so Volkswagen reintroduced a more budget-conscious 1.8 8 valve version. It wasn’t a total poseur, though – Volkswagen made an attempt to differentiate the entry level GTi from the standard Golf. With 105 horsepower on tap (5 more than the standard Golf) and a 5-speed close-ratio gearbox, they channeled a bit of the original A1 GTi even if they didn’t sing up high like the 16Vs did. There were other subtle differences between the 16V and 8V; externally, they looked very similar except that the 16Vs wore appropriate 16V insignia front and rear and on the slimmed down side moldings. The 16Vs also got the larger and wider BBS RM multi-piece wheels with wider flares, while the 8V model wore the 14″ “Teardrop” alloys that had previously been the signature of the 16V. Both now wore roof mounted antenna and integrated, color coded rear spoiler with 3rd brake lights and color coded mirrors, along with the aforementioned 4-headlight grill, deeper rocker panels and integrated foglights. The 16V got beefier Recaro Trophy seats, while the 8V was equipped with the standard sport seats. Both wore the same sport suspension. And, both models now had the passive restraint “running mouse” belts. Today we’ve got one of each to look at, so let’s start with the big brother:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen GTi 16V on Huntsville Craigslist

1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

“DOHC” was king in the late 1980s and 1990s, and Volkswagen offered several different flavors of dual-cam goodness. You had practicality and sport in the Scirocco model and GTi, with the Golf carrying the torch into the 1990s after the sports coupe’s production ended. Volkswagen also carried the 16V into the Jetta, but offered some slightly different features and styling to help to separate it from the Golf. Where the Golf was slightly more hard-edged and felt like a racer, the Jetta felt slightly more refined. While 1987-1989 models externally weren’t very different in the front from the GTi, after 1990 single rectangular headlights continued and GLis now came standard with the BBS RA 15×6 wheels in silver. Those wheels had previously been outfitted on the Helios Edition. They also got the Recaro Trophy seats and bigger, aerodynamic bumpers that the GTi now carried. Standard was central locking, twin outlet exhaust, 10.1″ front brakes and a cassette radio with 6 speakers, while options included ABS, power windows, sunroof and metallic paint. Just like their GTi counterparts, these expensive Jettas weren’t sold in great numbers and finding all-original examples can be difficult, especially one with lower miles like today’s end of the run 1992:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GLi 16V on San Francisco Craigslist

1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC 6-speed

Following up on the 2.0 16V GTi from earlier, the car that perhaps draws wider appeal as the best 1990s Volkswagen product – and, in part, the argument against paying a lot for a late Mk.2 GTi – is the Corrado VR6. As I talked about in the 1990 Corrado write up from the other day, the G60 was a bit down on power and finicky, leaving the GTi as the more desirable choice until 1992 for many. But in 1992, Volkswagen changed the game by introducing the narrow-angle VR6 motor into the sport coupe. Compared to the European-spec model, North American cars were detuned; Europeans enjoyed a 2.9 liter mill with nearly 190 horsepower, while North America made due with about ten less from a 2.8 variant. Subtle upgrades to the exterior made the Corrado look a bit more finished and upscale to match its pricetag. Performance was also where it should have been from the get-go, and the result was the package that many consider one of the best front-drivers ever made:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC 6-speed on eBay

1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V

While it’s nice to look at imports from Europe that we didn’t get here, when it comes to the Volkswagen front we got at least one of the most desirable 1990s VWs that wasn’t sold in Europe – perhaps, one of the most desirable all around Volkswagens ever made – in the 1990-1992 GTi 2.0 16V. It wasn’t really the best at much of anything compared to the competition; the engine was thirsty and noisy, the upright shape of the Mk.2 Golf was old and on the verge of being replaced, the expensive wheels bent at the mere sight of a pothole, the transmission self-machined occasionally and the electronics were the work of a high school tech class. If you wanted a fast, economical, awesome handling hatch that actually worked all of the time, you bought an Acura Integra GS-R. But all of these faults didn’t detract from what was for the the most desirable GTi package Volkswagen produced. You got the iconic chunky shape of the Golf with extra wide flares. It sat lower, and though they were soft those BBS RMs were gorgeous. Inside were the spectacular Recaro Trophy seats and little else – these were no-frills cars compared to the more luxurious GLi models. And to top it off, under the hood was the screaming 16V in 2.0 form. Good for 134 horsepower and vibrating the entire car (and your eardrums) at highway speed, this car moved beyond look and into entire sensation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1990 Volkswagen Corrado 16V Turbo

The promise of the all new Corrado was great, and on paper the specs sounded fantastic. A new and modern chassis was paired with a supercharged inline-4 and active aerodynamics. Volkswagen fans around the world united in collective salivation. But even at launch, Volkswagen was behind the 8 ball. Performance was lacking compared to the competition and the price for this attractive coupe was quite high, as generally all Volkswagens were at the time. Then the problems of running the G60 long term started to rear their heads. The G-Lader supercharger in particular was a finicky bit of kit, and coupled with notoriously poor Volkswagen electronics in the early 1990s these remained fan favorites, but also cars to stay away from – with many opting instead to get the more robust and better driving SLC model that was launched in 1992. Modern solutions have arisen to help the G60, including turbocharging instead of supercharging, but still there aren’t a glut of these cars left. Today’s example, though, certainly looks pretty spectacular and has gone the next level by swapping in a 2.0 16V from a Jetta GLi – and then turbocharging it!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Corrado 16V Turbo on Hartford Craigslist

Now Legal for Import: 1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf

Continuing with a theme I touched upon last week, I’m going to take a look at a few cars this week which are now legal for importation to the United States. It’s hard to believe more than 25 years have already passed since 1990, but that opens up a whole new portfolio of vehicles that weren’t certified by the US Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency for US sale. The Volkswagen Rallye Golf almost made it to market in the US, but sadly, an executive at Volkswagen of America trumpeting this vehicle’s cause perished in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. With that, yet another homologation special slipped away from the grasp of the US consumer. This Rallye Golf for sale just a bit north of Stuttgart, Germany is one for the serious VW collector, having covered just over the equivalent of 20,000 miles. This is also one of the few I’ve seen with the rather tasty partial leather interior, featuring a variation on the GTI plaid in the seat inserts.

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen Rallye Golf on Mobile.de