It’s a bit sad that there is such a huge generation gap when it comes to the letter “i”. Teaching college level students, were I to write the lower case letter “i” up on the board and ask the meaning, immediate answers of “iPhone”, “iPod” or “iPad” would pop up. Perhaps some of the more clever individuals would associate it with “intelligent”. Apple has transformed the meaning of the lower case letter “i” for entire generations of people who will grow up not knowing what it means to my generation. For example, were I to write the word “carburetor” on the board and ask the meaning, outside of some motorcycle enthusiasts and perhaps a few into older cars, I’m willing to bet very few would know what the word meant, likely associating it with carbonated beverages before internal combustion engines. But in the 1970s and 1980s, “i” was a magical letter which indicated greater performance and improved reliability. It ranged from exotics like the Ferrari 512BBi right through the 2002tii, and while some of the systems were less dependable than others, by the time we got to Bosch’s continuous injection system, German cars were universally the best running, most dependable cars you could get into. In fact, one could argue that most of the success of the German car industry boils down to not their legendary build quality nor the advanced designs they pioneered, but the dependability of the fuel injection system. “i” meant a higher level of performance, and instead of simply being a necessity for every teen to mindlessly separate from society it was a way to indicate you had arrived, and you had arrived in style thanks to your fuel injected cars. Audis sported “Fuel Injected” badges proudly up through 1985; Mercedes-Benz attached an “e” for Einspritzung to nearly every model, while virtually every BMW sported an “i” badge for several generations, and some still do. But enthusiasts of the Volkswagen front point to one very special “i” which followed the Grand Turismo letters on the Mk.1 Golf chassis as the most classic hot hatch the market has ever seen:
All posts tagged GTi
Mk1 GTIs grow more fully appreciated as classics each day, the Mk2 retains its affordable performance status in a package that is still superior to the Mk1 in the ways VW intended at its inception – more space and more comfort while retaining fun performance and German looks. This example takes those last two elements to extremes, bringing a modified G60 engine under German flag stripes front and rear. He doesn’t mention what suspension is helping it sit so low, but whatever it is is matched with Scirocco brakes to create a package that should be able to handle at least some of the increased speed and power. With well over 300hp to the front wheels, it’s not going to be able to handle all of it, mirroring the exterior’s placement on the edge of out-of-control. This is fast and loud in Mk2 form.
Click for details: 1991 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
Let’s suspend our rules of engagement at GCFSB for a post and look towards Germany’s western neighbor, France. While we write up a Swede from time to time, it’s not often that French cars make our blog. But since the Franks, who established rule over France under the Merovingians in the late 400s, were actually a Germanic tribe, let’s make an exception and consider this listing. Being a fan of European cars, it’s not often that I get stumped by one – but in my normal searches I came across the front end of what appeared, at first, to be a Peugeot 205 GTI. The 205 is perhaps the car that out-GTI’d the original GTi, better handling, awesome looks and more speed meant it’s become as legendary as the car credited with starting the market segment. But it didn’t look quite right, and a closer inspection revealed it was in fact the bigger brother of the 205; the 309. In GTI trim, they mimicked the recipe started by Volkswagen; turn up the engine, lower the suspension, fit larger alloys and of course stick red accents and “GTI” badges everywhere. Producing 120 horsepower and with low weight, these were fairly potent hatchbacks in their day:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Peugeot 309 GTI on eBay
When I think about simplifying my life, one of my largest hurdles is what would I ever do with the E28 M5? Acquiring it realized a major life goal, and I still love it every day, but as life goes on will I always have the means to give it the (financial) love it deserves? When I imagine a world where I could do without its sound, rarity, story, looks… where was I? Oh, right. If I could let go of the things that are unique to the M5, a Mk1 GTI is where I’d head. Yes, it would still be an 80s German toy, which is not exactly “simple” to most, but it would provide legendary driving enjoyment without requiring regular valve adjustments and insanely priced out-of-production parts.
While GTIs have been steadily gaining in value, for the moment they’re still within reason. This extremely clean example received a new paint job last year, matching classic silver with some serious blue accents that provide an interesting counterpoint to the typical red striping. The hood stripe doesn’t quite do it for me, but I absolutely love how rally’d-out it looks from behind with the painted rear window surround and “Rabbit” mudflaps. It has a few needs that should be attended to sooner than later – but this GTI is an ideal candidate for some inexpensive home-wrenching and some massively rewarding driving.
Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
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: