Do you remember the first of the second run of the GTi? Not many do. It seems almost as though there was a jump straight from the original A1 chassis in 1984 up to the GTi 16V. Even then, finding the first of the 16V cars has become extremely tough. But the 1985-1987 8Vs? They’re just about gone. I remember wanting one with a passion; I had a 1986 Westmoreland Golf, and the GTi seemed like a pretty big step up. It was, in 1985 – selecting the GTi kicked your price up 30% from $7,000 to $9,000 automatically. For that additional amount, you got the HT high compression motor churning out a nice round 100 horsepower. But from a street credential standpoint, it wasn’t the 15 horsepower jump that was important; it was the 14″ alloy wheels, the rear spoiler, the red stripes, and that magical “GTi” badge surrounding the trim on the car. You also got a close-ratio 5-speed transmission, sport seats and a multi-function computer. This was high-tech stuff back in the day! GTis also sported 4-wheel disc brakes, an upgrade over the A1 chassis, along with dual sway bars and a leather wrapped steering wheel – a huge improvement over the stock (and very plastic) wheel in my Golf. But the 8V GTi was completely overshadowed in 1987 by the launch of the dual-cam 16V model. Now with 40 horsepower more than the standard Golf, it was a serious upgrade befitting its new $12,500 pricetag. Once in a while, though, a standard GTi pops up and reminds me of a simpler time:
All posts tagged GTi
From time to time, we like to take a break from our regular features of cars on the market to quench the thirst of those who are true petrol heads. For years, it has been a desire of mine to visit Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, as this is one of the world’s preeminent automobile factories from one of the world’s largest car manufacturers. A few months ago, I changed jobs and my new employer sent me to Germany this week for a conference in Hannover, which is about one hour east of Wolfsburg. To my surprise, one of the items on the agenda was a tour of Autostadt Wolfsburg and the Volkswagen Werk (factory). This week I celebrated my birthday and honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better present than to check this item off my bucket list.
Let’s discount, just for a moment, the reputation of the fourth generation water-cooled, front engined platform from Volkswagen. Yes, they’re known for not having the best build quality, and they were a bit pudgy. The electrics were sketchy and Volkswagen’s venerable 1.8T, which found its way into nearly every VAG product in the late 90s and early 00s, is certainly not without fault. But in many ways, the Mk.4 platform offered some exciting options for the Volkswagen faithful. First, the introduction of the turbocharged engine into the platform redefined the possibilities of the hot hatch. It was available not only in the top-spec GTi, but you could get a 4-door 1.8T, too – a first for Volkswagen, who had offered hot 4-door hatches in Europe but not the U.S. previously. Then, in 2002, Volkswagen upped its game even more with the introduction of the 25th Anniversary Edition in Europe. “But the GTi didn’t come out until 1983″ U.S. fans said, forgetting that 1977 was the launch year of the 1.6 original in Europe. It seemed, for some time, that the U.S. would get snubbed again. After all, it wouldn’t be very smart for them to offer a 25th Anniversary Edition of a car that didn’t exist here, and “19th Anniversary” doesn’t have the same ring. But then, at the New York Auto Show in 2002, Volkswagen surprised U.S. fans by offering the near-identical package to them. The name was the GTi 337 Edition; the name harkened back to the original project code for the Golf GTi. Beefed up with 180 horsepower, a 6-speed manual, an awesome set of Recaro seats, aero tweaks and with some awesome shot-peened BBS RC wheels, it was an instant hit. Volkswagen sold 1,500 of these models to U.S. fans, and then when they had sold out, recreated the magic in 2003 with colorful options in the 20th Anniversary Edition. Today we’re looking at the 337 though, and I’ve found three for sale in varying states. 13 years on, are these hot hatches still appealing?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen GTi 337 on eBay
Yesterday’s Rabbit was an interesting case of many good ingredients not necessarily making a good cake; or, at the very least, not an appropriately priced cake. I really wanted to like the car but even outside of the price there was just too much to get me really excited about it. Amazingly, at the same time as that car is listed, we have an interesting counterpoint of a Mk.1 to consider. This example started life as an actual GTi, so it automatically has a leg up – at least in theory – from the ’78 Rabbit that was used to create a GTi. It’s also been completely redone, and also themed with a Euro-feel, though this car has a completely different ethos even outside of the color. Under the hood we find a Mk.4-spec 1.8T mill, complete with transmission, gauges, harness, radio and immobilizer transplanted into this original hot hatch. The price? If you have to ask….
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi 1.8T on eBay
I was at my mechanic’s just the other day picking up my Passat when he asked me to give him a hand pushing a Mini Cooper S with a blown motor out of the way. He laughed as it rolled to a stop and remarked how heavy it was for such a small car. Of course, BMW made up for this by upping the power and the first of the new Minis is still a hoot to drive in S form, but he said to me “I’d rather have an original GTi”. I concurred; a legend even in its own time, the A1 GTi’s magic has never really been replicated by even Volkswagen themselves. Sure, there are faster, better built and better looking hatchbacks, but there’s something magical about the original – right down to the crazy stories both of us had about 11/10ths driving, flinging the small hatch at corners, overpasses, underpasses, small pets and occasionally pedestrians with abandon. Has all of that nostalgia turned into dollar signs in today’s market, though?