1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

The introduction of the DOHC motor into the Volkswagen lineup may not have heralded a massive increase in power; on paper, the 21 horsepower bump from the RD 8 valve 1.8 liter inline-4 to the PL 16V of the same displacement was pretty modest compared to the massive leaps of today. But in a 2,000 lbs car, the 20% bump in thrust meant that the new Jetta GLI 16V for 1987 felt like the rocket ship its tach acted like every time you stabbed the throttle. To match the additional power, Volkswagen offered many upgrades over the standard 8 valve GLI in 1987, the only year they were offered together in the U.S. market. A deeper front lip spoiler with brake ducting and rear spoiler added boy-racer looks. Though the wheels remained 14″x6″, the new “Silverstone” design you know as “Teardrops” looked cooler than the bottle-cap inspired design on the 8V. A swept-back Fuba roof-mounted antenna continued the speed theme and became the signature Volkswagen look for some time. Inside 16V badges on the dash and a higher red line prepared you for the thrill ride while heavily bolstered half-cloth, half-leatherette Recaro Trophy seats hugged you. And to show how fancy you were to your friends, this Volkswagen included a lit key fob – the first I can think of for a Volkswagen. The Jettas were also marketed upscale of the more boy-racer GTI (a trend which recently has been reversed), so options included power windows, air conditioning and a sunroof, and the model carried over from 1987 largely unchanged into 1988. They were a cut-rate M3 to an entire generation that was never able to even contemplate new BMW ownership, and became wildly popular as a result:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

Tuner Tuesday Roll the Dice? 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Tuner Tuesday Roll the Dice? 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

A little over a week ago, I took a look at a 1992 GTI 16V. One of my absolute favorite cars, it was worth a look outside of the inherent appeal because of the survivor status and the prove-my-theory-right dirty pictures. I figured that it was about a $4,500 car, but was surprised that the bidding pushed upwards to $5,300.

Today we have another Volkswagen to consider. It, too, confirms many of my prejudices about the Volkswagen market. It, too, is a second generation water-cooled car. The asking price is right where I pegged the value of the last Mk.2 at $4,500. And it, too, has 16 valves under the hood – although in this case, it didn’t start there.

Speaking of not starting, it also doesn’t run.

Is this modded Jetta GLI worth a roll of the dice?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

Yesterday, searching through bad 1980s movies to watch I came across the Orwellian classic 1984. I sat and stared at the image of John Hurt, slightly bemused that Orwell’s vision of the future was so dark, dire and complicated. Sitting at the end of a head-scratching 2016, 1984 seems in many ways to be such an easy time. Okay, remove the equally crazy politics of the period; telling my students that bombings in downtown London were commonplace when I was growing up confuses them, or that plane hijackings happened almost as often as mass shootings do today, nevermind the environmental and infectious disease disasters of the period. In 1984, you could buy a Volkswagen Jetta GLi for $8,500. Inflation corrected, that’s just below $20,000 – so still quite a deal in the grand scheme. Sure, today’s cars offer more luxury and convenience, and isolation from the driving experience. They are, without a doubt, safer in every measurable characteristic than cars in the 1980s. And faster? Also indisputable, as a new Jetta GLi turbo will positively wipe the floor with this A1’s performance. With only 90 horsepower on tap, you’ll struggle to best speeds most modern cars can do without the driver even blinking. Relatively speaking, this Jetta GLi is slow, loud, unsafe, and not hugely comfortable. Why, then, were they so much fun to drive?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi on eBay

2004 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

2004 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

While the GTi, and more recently “R” models, have enjoyed the Volkswagen performance limelight, in the background has been an equally fun and nearly as capable sedan. Since the A1 chassis, Volkswagen has offered the same underpinnings with slightly different style in the betrunken Jetta (clever, that), and just like the GTi there have been some special models along the way. For example, the Wolfsburg Limited Edition “Helios” GLi was one of my favorite 80s VWs, with the beautiful blue color matched on the BBS RA alloys and uniquely striped Recaro seats. While the Mk.3 model lost the GLi in favor of the upscale GLX VR6 models, the GLi made a triumphant return in the Mk.4. As with the Golf, it was available with either VR6 or 1.8T turbocharged powerplants, and in fact the Jetta got an undercover screamer in a 24V version of the VR6 not offered in the Golf. Today, though, we’re taking a look at the equivalent of the 20th Anniversary Edition GTi in the Jetta lineup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Jetta GLi on eBay

1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V with 53,000 Miles

1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V with 53,000 Miles

As I talked about in a post last April, the 1987 Volkswagen GLi 16V had some unique trim features. 1987 was the sole year in the U.S. that you could buy both a 16V and 8V GLi. Upgrading to the DOHC motor got you a rear spoiler and deeper front spoiler with integrated brake ducts. Though they were the same 14″x6″ size of the 8V model, 16Vs got the signature “Teardrop” alloys (though their actual name is Silverstones). Inside you got some awesome Recaro seats in place of the normal sport seats, and the more luxurious GLi models had many power features available. Both 1987 models retained the earlier split front door window design and narrow door trim as well as the 7-bar grill, but the 16V GLi also got a roof-mounted Fuba antenna. That particular 1987 I looked at in April was in awesome condition with near 140,000 for, so this one should be spectacular with 90,000 miles less:

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

1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

The late 1980s saw an explosion of popularity in homologated race specials. There was the Quattro, fresh off the World Rally Championship. Though technically not a homologation, Porsche gave us a pretty popular option in the 944 Turbo which derived much of its technology from the successful 924 Carrera GTR/LM program. Of course, the real heavy hitters were the 190E 2.3/2.5-16 Cosworths from Mercedes-Benz and the superstar BMW M3. But all of those cars were pretty expensive; the Quattro and 944 Turbo were the best part of $40,000, the Benz hit the market at $37,000 while the slightly more affordable M3 stickered for $34,000. Still, inflation corrected, even the least expensive 1988 M3’s sticker price would equate to roughly $69,000 in buying power today – hardly affordable to most.

However, for a little less than half of what the M3 cost, you could get a fair chunk of the high-revving European feel in the Jetta GLi. It hit the markets around $15,000, which felt like quite a lot considering a base Jetta cost only half that amount a few years early. But a lot of Jetta you got for that money. Like the M3, it had a deep front spoiler with integral brake ducting and a rear wing. It had a roof mounted antenna, too, and most Jetta GLis were full of power options like windows, mirrors, anti-lock brakes and sunroofs. Also like the M3 you got form-fitting Recaro seats, and light alloy BBS wheels. And at its heart was a high-revving double-overhead cam 16 valve motor hooked to a close ratio 5-speed manual gearbox. Of course, for $20,000 less than the M3, you weren’t going to get a BMW – power, material and build quality, and the performance were all less than the Munich cars or the rest of that group previously mentioned.…

1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

The other day I was stuck behind a brand new Honda Accord Sport in traffic. When I think of modern day Accords, “Sport” is the last word that comes to my mind. I grew up in a household that had a few Accords back in the 1980s and 1990s. These were marvelously engineered machines and utterly reliable. But as the baby boomer generation got older, so did the Accord. Some might welcome the extra girth of the ninth generation Accord, but it is so far removed from the cars I knew and loved in my childhood. But hey, at least you can still spec one with a 6-speed manual. For that, I give Honda my propers.

Back during Accord’s heyday, Volkswagen was busy injecting a bit of sport into the Jetta. This 1988 Jetta GLI 16V is the sedan counterpart to the GTI 16V, perfect for those sporting motorists who might happen to have a child seat in tow. This Jetta has the 1.8 liter 16V four cylinder under the hood good for 127 hp. That doesn’t seem like a lot in this day and age but kept it on par power wise with top spec sedans of its class from Japan. If you couldn’t make the stretch to a BMW in those days, these Jettas were the next best thing when it came to German sport sedans.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

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

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

1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

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

1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI VR6

1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI VR6

Every now and then, you come across a car that reminds you of your youth. This 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI with a VR6 heart transplant puts me squarely back at the end of high school and beginning of college. It was around that time that I was running a 1998 GTI 2.0 and VR6 engine swaps into earlier A1 and A2 chassis Volkswagens were just catching on. While some of my classmates turned towards the Japanese tuning scene, I was firmly entrenched on the German side of things. I didn’t do a lot of modifications to my GTI, but I enjoyed going to shows and races alike with my friends in the Vee Dub circles.

Time moves on, and a few Mercedes-Benzes later, I’m back into a (half) German hatchback, a MINI Cooper S. I still have a hankering for an A2 GTI or Jetta, though. I can’t put a finger on it, but there’s some reason I like the A2 series better than the original. This Jetta GLI for sale in Ohio is modified just enough to sate the youthful enthusiast still inside of me.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI VR6 on eBay

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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

1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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I love the Mk1 Jetta, funky little sedan that it is. While later Jettas are quite common in the states, the Golf/GTI is far more common from the first generation. Just as the US market dictated the production of the new A3 sedan (meh), in the late ’70s VW realized the ‘Muricans liked trunks and didn’t have as tight of parking restrictions, so they grafted on a third box. The GLI was a one-year special, bringing most of the GTI’s upgrades. International preferences aside, that made for a pretty great little sedan.

While today’s description nearly landed it in the Friday Fail section, the car itself is nice enough to pull it back to positivity-land. The Euro bumpers and Zender lip add to the 80s flair, and there has clearly been some decent attention to making it run as well as it looks. It’s especially attractive without the roof racks and on the upsized RML Snowflakes, but unfortunately those don’t come with the car. The buyer would do well to get rid of the included wheels as soon as possible and get some form of snowflakes – even OEMs would look great. Best of all, in the end it’s a high-mileage, Mk1 Volkswagen, which means the price isn’t going anywhere crazy.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay