I have to admit that when I initially heard the details of the 337 Edition GTi, I was very excited. To me, it seemed like Volkswagen had finally gotten the message and brought us a modern interpretation of the car that I loved, the 1990-1992 GTi 2.0 16V. After a period of low performance 4-cylinder variants, the pokey 1.8T was now pumping out 180 horsepower and matching torque – finally, the car had the go to match the show. While the VR6 had continued into the fourth generation GTi, the accompanying weight, luxury items and electronic throttle meant that while horsepower numbers went up, the seat of the pants kick and thrill that was the hallmark of the original and 16V GTi – and even the Mk.3 VR6 – had been replaced by a stout highway cruiser. As if to answer critics and revisit the original formula, in 2001 Volkswagen introduced a stripped down, turned up version of the GTi called the 25th Anniversary edition, celebrating the original 1976 launch. For me, it was a return to form for the original hot hatch with some great updates. Unfortunately, it wasn’t heading to the U.S., because of course we didn’t receive the GTi until the 1983 model year. But U.S. fans were taken care of too when the nearly identical GTi 337 was launched. Outside, it got some awesome shot-peened BBS RC wheels that looked stunning compared the the rather bland wheels styles that had adorned the GTi since the BBS RMs on the 16V. Behind those wheels were beefed up brakes and red calipers, because red is of course faster (or, slower in that case?). It also sported a new body kit that highlighted the lower stance – hunkering the GTi down over those great wheels. After a period of hidden tailpipes, a polished exhaust tip emerged from the rear valance – a nice change for sure! Inside, special details like brushed trim, red-stitched shift boot and special “Golf Ball” knob for the 6-speed manual and some awesome Recaro seats greeted you. And to keep weight down, no sunroof was offered. This was a sporty car that went like it looked for a change! Limited to 1,500 examples, it was an instant hit and apparently a good bet for a future collectable:
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Duocorns: 1987 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Syncro Variant and 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed
In yesterday’s Audi project post, I wrote up two more-rare Audis with potential, though both would require some work and dedication to get to daily driver status. Today, I’ve got two more “project” cars – though, if anything, these two are considerably more rare these days than either of the two Audis. Both are all-wheel drive wagons from Volkswagen, but if you can quint and see a family resemblance, that’s about all that links them together. The first is the B2 Audi-derived Quantum Syncro – essentially, an Audi 4000 quattro with Volkswagen hubs, wheels and brakes and a unique rear suspension under the Quantum body. The Passat W8 also shared Audi A4 all-wheel drive components but essentially was a completely different offering, from the 6-speed manual transmission this model sports to the unique W8 motor stuffed into the discreet Passat Variant package. While there were considerably more Quantum Syncros produced than W8 6-speeds, finding one today can be quite hard – many succumbed to poor residual value, rust and neglect; though not complicated cars, the were more expensive to work on than the standard 4-cylinder models. The W8 is at the verge of falling into the same fate, with the exception of original production numbers – with only a handful of W8 Variants imported originally, both of these cars are serious unicorns these days. Which is your style?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Syncro Variant on eBay
I’ve owned and loved modified Volkswagens now for going on twenty years, so I’m certainly not new to the scene. Obviously, being a popular tuning and performance platform since its launch, the GTi has undergone just about every conceivable permutation of modifications. Despite what would seem to be an endless pool of candidates, though, I often find examples lacking a clean, well put together look. I’ve also found as I’ve gotten older that the cars that really stand out to me aren’t the wildly modified cars, but the subtle cars; cars that manage to integrate their modifications well into what already was a good platform. Let’s be honest; modifying cars is a very personal endeavor, so of course there are going to be varied opinions about what looks good. To me, find a clean VR6 Mk.III in close to original spec but with just the right hints of spice to make it stand out and be a little less vanilla, and it’s perfect. Make sure those mods are on one of my favorite colors – Windor Blue – and it’s one of the rare cases where I think the seller got it just right:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTi VR6 on craigslist
Volkswagen projects slowly left my mind as I got more into classic M-cars, but the concept of interchangeable parts and endless custom possibilities made VWs take the place of sheep each night through many of my early car-loving years. A 1984 GTI with a nice swap has always been high on the dream list, and the G60 provides a solid platform that’s a little more contemporaneous and fitting than the VR6 or 1.8T ideas. Despite unassuming aesthetics, this GTI G60 has had the full workover with revised running gear, a turbocharger instead of the normal super, and some desirable exterior items. The “needs” items are few but give the impression this is a project he needs to get rid of, and projects can be a hard thing to transfer.
Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
For most enthusiasts, last week’s 1997 BMW 318ti M-Sport represented too little car for too much money; sure, the M-Sport looked great, but as pointed out by one of our readers the performance didn’t necessarily live up to the badges. The M-Sport was fast in appearance and carried a hefty price tag to go along with it. A fully optioned 318ti M-Sport in a special color would set you back around $25,000 – a steep asking price considering the M42 engine with only around 140 horsepower motivating it. So the 318ti M-Sport was a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothes; a good car, but with the promise of more performance than it could deliver.
On the other end of the spectrum was the original giant-slayer hot hatch, the GTi. While not all versions enjoyed great performance, if you opted for the VR6 variant you got a handsome, well built and good handling package capable of out-drag racing, out-turning and out-carrying the 318ti. Best of all, it was about $5,000 cheaper than the BMW. Outwardly, aside from the wild-colored Jazz Blue or Ginster Yellow examples, to many the GTi VR6 was virtually indistinguishable from the standard Golf – for many, part of its huge appeal. It was, simply put, the wolf in sheep’s clothing: