There’s something that’s just so right about the 1990-1992 GTis. The bigger bumpers gave a chunkier, more menacing look than the 85-89 cars had, and the swap to the 4-headlight grill worked so well. More power and bigger, better BBS wheels made these the best GTis in the eyes of many VW faithful. By 1990, the GTi 16V had gotten fairly expensive so Volkswagen reintroduced a more budget-conscious 1.8 8 valve version. It wasn’t a total poseur, though – Volkswagen made an attempt to differentiate the entry level GTi from the standard Golf. With 105 horsepower on tap (5 more than the standard Golf) and a 5-speed close-ratio gearbox, they channeled a bit of the original A1 GTi even if they didn’t sing up high like the 16Vs did. There were other subtle differences between the 16V and 8V; externally, they looked very similar except that the 16Vs wore appropriate 16V insignia front and rear and on the slimmed down side moldings. The 16Vs also got the larger and wider BBS RM multi-piece wheels with wider flares, while the 8V model wore the 14″ “Teardrop” alloys that had previously been the signature of the 16V. Both now wore roof mounted antenna and integrated, color coded rear spoiler with 3rd brake lights and color coded mirrors, along with the aforementioned 4-headlight grill, deeper rocker panels and integrated foglights. The 16V got beefier Recaro Trophy seats, while the 8V was equipped with the standard sport seats. Both wore the same sport suspension. And, both models now had the passive restraint “running mouse” belts. Today we’ve got one of each to look at, so let’s start with the big brother:
All posts tagged GTi
While it’s nice to look at imports from Europe that we didn’t get here, when it comes to the Volkswagen front we got at least one of the most desirable 1990s VWs that wasn’t sold in Europe – perhaps, one of the most desirable all around Volkswagens ever made – in the 1990-1992 GTi 2.0 16V. It wasn’t really the best at much of anything compared to the competition; the engine was thirsty and noisy, the upright shape of the Mk.2 Golf was old and on the verge of being replaced, the expensive wheels bent at the mere sight of a pothole, the transmission self-machined occasionally and the electronics were the work of a high school tech class. If you wanted a fast, economical, awesome handling hatch that actually worked all of the time, you bought an Acura Integra GS-R. But all of these faults didn’t detract from what was for the the most desirable GTi package Volkswagen produced. You got the iconic chunky shape of the Golf with extra wide flares. It sat lower, and though they were soft those BBS RMs were gorgeous. Inside were the spectacular Recaro Trophy seats and little else – these were no-frills cars compared to the more luxurious GLi models. And to top it off, under the hood was the screaming 16V in 2.0 form. Good for 134 horsepower and vibrating the entire car (and your eardrums) at highway speed, this car moved beyond look and into entire sensation:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V on eBay
We’ve witnessed some pretty crazy market increases over the past few years. While generally it’s been the big names from Porsche and BMW stealing headlines, the reality is that the entire 1980s market is on the rise. Hagerty, for example, recently emailed me to tell me that the 1984 Pontiac Fiero has increased in value nearly 100% in the past year. As I had nightmares about that, I thought about the many other cars that used to be bought for chips that are now heading into unaffordable territory. Two years ago, we saw the Mk.1 GTi join that list when in a few weeks we witnessed back to back record sales. First to hit the market was the nearly $18,000 1983 Callaway Turbo example with 18,000 miles,followed closely by a 1984 with some period modifications and 20,000 miles for $16,000 in December, 2013. Those were enough to assume that the market was heading strongly up. Yet we also saw it flounder slightly, as very nice and original examples struggled to break – or even come close to – $10,000 again. Well, it would seem that things are back on track, because another low mile Callaway Turbo with period Zender kit has arrived on the scene, and it’s currently poised to blow the market apart once again:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi Callaway Turbo on eBay
The Volkswagen Mk1 GTI is quickly ascending the classic car ranks and dragging what used to be the most fun performance value available into a serious investment. We’ve seen nice examples come from Windy City Motorsports before, but today’s GTI comes from one of the owners personal garages and features an impressive lineup of modifications. The updates are mostly period-correct, and while they remove any claim to originality, they come together for a beautifully impressive package.
After buying the GTI from its original owner, the seller stripped it down and repainted it, opting to remove the fender flares. Most people want to make their sports cars wider, not narrower, but I can’t argue with how great the gold BBS RSs look on a clean body. Lots of other parts were smoothed out too like shaved side reflectors and fender antenna, with tidy Euro bumpers and a Zender roof spoiler yielding a GTI that is somehow even crisper than the outstanding factory appearance Giugiaro blessed it with. The interior is similarly spruced-up 80s with a suede headliner, all-new carpeting, and serious-but-clandestine stereo upgrades. The main performance upgrades are in the suspension, but to call the original 8V engine untouched would ignore the considerable work done replacing pretty much every auxiliary item, gasket, and line.
With just 52k miles, this would be a big-buck GTI no matter what. The well-chosen and comprehensive upgrades come together for a beautiful GTI with enough small touches to keep even the most die-hard VW fan poking around in awe for hours.
Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
I still very much remember the launch of the A3 chassis Volkswagens and being less than impressed at the time. At least in my mind, the second generation GTi with the 2.0 16V was a hard act to follow and the 3rd generation – unless equipped with the sonorous VR6 – seemed downright soft in comparison. They looked a bit chubby, they were equipped with only 14″ wheels when everyone else was sporting 16″ wheels, and the base GTi was equipped with a lowly 2.0 8 valve inline-4. It seemed like Volkswagen was badge engineering a standard Golf just to make money, and in many ways you could argue that’s exactly what had occured. It wouldn’t be until 2007 that I would finally understand the A3 package a bit more. My dismissal of the entire “2.slow” lineup turned out to be very misplaced, as my foray into A3 ownership proved. I picked up a very second-hand but relatively low mile K2 edition 1998 Golf. Effectively, this was a 4-door GTi, with fog lights, air conditioning, heated sport seats and white-faced gauges. Was it a really special car? No. But for basic transportation, it was fantastic fun to drive, easy to maintain, got in excess of 30 m.p.g. no matter what you did with the throttle pedal and started every time I stuck the key in the ignition. Granted, it had typical Mk.3 problems with some electric gremlins and rust had started creeping through. But there isn’t a moment that I regret any part of my Mk.3 ownership other than that for so long I overlooked the 2.0 as a form of entertaining car ownership: