1985 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

I hear the same line all the time from enthusiasts; “Volkswagen/Audi, bring (enter European specification model) to the U.S. – we’ll buy it!” Well, the truth is that there are many reasons why the company doesn’t bring your long-sought after model to these shores. First, they’re not stupid, in general. They’ve done their homework and though there are inevitably many people who claim they’d rush down to their dealer to buy the car, the number of people who would actually show up with cash is quite a different story. Mostly, it seems those enthusiasts saying they so eagerly await a model really would wait until it had floated down the used-market stream a bit. Then, there are the costs associated with bringing a new model into the market; the safety tests, campaigns to launch a new model, stocking and educating dealers, parts, and training mechanics to repair them. And, when that isn’t enough, there will inevitably be some small problem and they need to recall them all. Look, I’m not saying car companies aren’t making money – but it’s money that they’re in it for, not the love of making cars (sorry, Porsche – but it’s true). On top of that, the companies – believe it or else – have sales data. And that sales data reflects period when they did import the cars that supposedly enthusiasts wanted. And while some enthusiasts did buy them, more “non-enthusiasts” bought their other models more. A great example of this is the disappearance of the wagons from North America, but more poignant to this post is the relative lack of diesels. Considering all of the major German manufacturers (even, begrudgingly, those purists at Porsche who only love to make cars, not money) offer highly efficient diesels in their model ranges, it’s a bit strange that they haven’t offered them until quite recently over here, right?…

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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The Jetta GLI has always been a object of desire for me. While the GLI really gained fame with the Mk2 generation, it was a final-year offering on the excellent first-gen sedan, bringing most of the GTI goodies to the 3-box setup. This red example has been with the same owner for the last 15 years and is looking pretty darn good on BBS 3-piece rims with what look to be like-new Euro bumpers and front lip. The interior also looks outstanding for being over 30 years old, but a few blemishes inside and out keep this from being a perfect package. A small rust spot, mismatched tires, and paint issues on the roof are all fixable but indicate the projects will continue.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

1990 Volkswagen Golf GL Euro-Spec with 34,000 Miles

I wonder when the Mk.2 market is really going to blow up. For some time, it’s been the A1 models and Sciroccos that have really drawn the big money. Of course, on the other side the Mk.2 market is bookended by the Corrado market, which has always been quite hot. But the 1985-1992 Golf was a very popular platform; I had one, my friends had them, and we drove them hard and turned them up. They were European style on the cheap, versatile and economic hatches that were fun to drive, reasonably reliable and just different enough from the norm to make you feel special. But today, 23 years after the Mk.2 left U.S. shores, there are precious few left in good original shape. I don’t think that the Golf was ever intended to be a collector car, mind you – but then, neither was the original Mk.1 Golf, and those have certainly proven their staying power. However, in Europe, the Mk.2 crowd is – if anything – much stronger than it was in the U.S., and since Volkswagen sold more of the later models in Europe and they’re now becoming import legal, it seems appropriately time that these models start sneaking over to these shores, primed to take advantage of a surging 1980s market:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Golf GL on eBay

1987 Volkswagen GTi 16V with 60,000 Miles

1987 saw some serious upgrades for the original “Hot Hatch” GTi. Externally, you’d have to be a seriously devoted Volkswagen fan to pick them all out. The body and trim remained effectively the same as they had been in 1985 and 1986, but new “Teardrop” alloys replaced the leftover “Snowflake” (also known as “Avus”) and “Bottlecap” (also known as “Montreal”) wheels that had adorned the earlier models. Squint closely at the front, and a new deeper chin spoiler sat under the bumper with two brake ducts. The GTi sported a new spiky hairdo as well, with a new roof-mounted Fuba antenna which would become signature for the model going forward. But the change that enthusiasts really liked was under the hood, where eight more valves made their appearance on the venerable 1.8 mill that had powered the GTi. That new motor was announced on every side of the car with new “16V” badges adorning the front, rear and side trim. Horsepower increase was relatively modest – about 13 more horsepower over the high-compression 8V that the car ran in 1985 and 1986. But the letters DOHC were magical pixie dust for wannabe racers in the 1980s, and the entered you into the coolest club out there – Club Twin Cam. Everything sprouted Twin Cams in the 1980s, but it brought the GTi up a notch in performance to compete with the new crop of Hot Hatches it had helped to sprout. 0-60 was now achieved in under 8 seconds – a serious feat for an economy car at that time. The new 16V GTis would be available – as before – in only four colors; Diamond Silver Metallic, Dark Blue Mica, signature Tornado Red or my favorite, Red Pearl Mica (LE3P) that this low mileage example is shown in:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen GTi 16V on eBay

1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI G60

It’s hard to think that the Volkswagen GTI has been with us for forty years. In that time, the we’ve seen everything from 2.0 liter, 115 horsepower 8-valve Mk3s to an insane GTI concept car with a mid-mounted W12 engine. In between, there’s been a number of variations on the hot hatch theme, including this car, the Mk2 Golf GTI G60. For those of you non-VW aficionados, the G60 pertains to what’s under the hood, in this case, the 1.8 liter supercharged inline-4 with 160 horsepower that saw duty in the Corrado when it debuted and later in the rare Golf G60 Limited. This GTI G60 for sale in Switzerland has had a complete overhaul and looks sharp sitting on aftermarket, deeper offset Ronal alloys.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI G60 on Classic Driver

1986 Volkswagen GTi

I wonder if the A2 GTi is really as near extinction as I’ve claimed it is. I mean, sure – there are still countless A2s cruising around on Raceland coilovers with too many stickers on a 45 degree on the rear windows with VR6 or 1.8T swaps and too-wide BBS RSs. There are even more crumbling in their decaying potential, smashed and grabbed by owners with the promise that they’ll be something again someday. But clean, original and unmolested GTis? Now, that’s quite rare. Especially rare seem to be the very early models, the 1985 and 1986 1.8 8 valve model. While the GTi was much more fun when the valves were doubled, the original model still sported a higher compression motor capable of making the tossable A2 an entertaining ride. When I was in college, I had a 1984 GTi and worked with a guy who had inherited a 1986 model without knowing or really caring what it was. He told me that it wasn’t running right and asked me to take it for a ride, which I was happy to do. A quick run through an on ramp and onto the highway with a quick blast up to illegal speeds confirmed my belief that he wasn’t much of a Volkswagen connoisseur – it was easily quicker than my ’84 model, especially above 40 m.p.h., where my Italian tuneup yielded smooth and responsive power. No one will mistake the GTi for a Lamborghini, but in terms of sheer enthusiasm, the 1.8 mill is a motor that encourages thrashing – perhaps an indication as to why so few are left today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

10K Friday “80s Classic” Edition: 924 Turbo v. 5000CS Quattro Avant v. Golf Rallye v. 535i v. 300CE

One thing I really love about writing up these 10K posts is a odd combinations pricing allows me to come up with. For today’s post, I decided to do something a little different. Instead of maximizing the budget, I decided to look at it from the perspective of what was a classic 1980s car that you could buy and maintain well under $10,000. Obviously, if you’re willing to shill out much more, there are countless classics you can jump in to turn-key; but under $10,000 means with almost certainty that the car you’ll be getting in to today will be at least in part a bit of a project. Is there anything wrong with that? No, I think there’s an inherent appeal to trying to save and resuscitate a car that was in part neglected or just needs attention. Certainly I’ve tried to do that several times with 1980s cars – with mixed results. Today, I grabbed one classic from the 1980s (give or take, we’ll see…) from each of the major manufacturers – which is the one you’d like to save?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay

1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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Many of us car fiends rationalize the purchase of an older car in need of work by repeatedly telling ourselves that we’re saving a piece of history from the crusher – keeping a worthy example of automotive art on the road for all to enjoy. I’m certainly guilty of this myself and will continue feeding myself these lines as long as I can, even as the devil’s advocate says that no one cares about your silly old car and you’re sinking good money into a project that would be better spent elsewhere – perhaps even just on a nicer example of the exact same car.

But, as I said, I’m still a believer, and appreciate that this seller took a beat example of a cool car – the Mk2 Jetta GLI definitely counts as a worthy entry in the book of notable German special-edition sedans – and worked hard to bring it back to life. The salvage title means it will never sell for market value, but the seller clearly knows his VWs (note the collection in the background of the pics) and he put some serious time and energy into making this a decent car. Nothing here is perfect, but a lot of it is really cool. Quad headlamps – check (but that S4 badge – booooo). Porsche 928 wheels – check (but “stretched” tires – lame). Decent roof rack – check (but permanently mounted?! What’d you do?).

On the path of keeping misfit examples of cool older cars on the road, I’ve learned that we must be accepting of imperfections. Overall, I like the gist of this car, and believe it can continue making VW fanboys smile for years to come.

Click for details: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

1989 Volkswagen Golf GL

Boy, this is a trip down memory lane for me. My second car was very similar to this 1989 Volkswagen Golf in many ways; mine was also a base model with air conditioning, cloth interior with manual windows and Titian red. There were some important differences; I had a 1986 Westmoreland Golf which had CIS injection rather than the later Digifant electronic injection this car has, mine was a 4-door instead of two and when I bought it, it had somewhere around 190,000 miles on the clock. On paper, this is pretty much the car I would have liked to have; a lower mile, clean example of a basic transportation with flare – the Volkswagen Golf is a great hatchback that looked and functioned miles better than most of the competition at the time.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Golf GL on eBay

Feature Listing: 1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC with 37,000 Miles

Having now written up my fair share of cars on this site, I’m asked from time to time “what’s the next E30 M3?” Certainly the trend that created demand on the M3 would have been hard to predict; while it’s a desirable package for certain and has an illustrious race career, I’ve also outlined how very similar cars haven’t achieved such notoriety. The Audi Quattro and 190E 2.3-16V, for example, though noted for their importance and with strong fan followings just don’t command the premiums of the M3. The Volkswagen world has been similarly fickle; the original GTi has certainly taken off in value, with prime examples now pushing well past $10,000 in today’s market, while other models that are arguably better cars don’t command the values of the GTi. Perhaps part of that appeal lies in the few that remain in good, original condition – especially with lower miles. But if you ask me what I think the next big thing in the Volkswagen market will be, I’d have to answer that the Corrado SLC has to be up there. A popular car to modify, there aren’t many that are left with low miles in pristine original shape. Couple the dwindling good examples with what is acknowledged as one of the best driving platforms Volkswagen has made and good looks, and the Corrado is sure to be a hot item for years to come. They don’t get much hotter than this example, either – with perhaps the lowest mileage Corrado we’ve seen on the market in the past few years, this Flash Red example is stunning:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC on GCFSB