All posts tagged GTi

1983 Volkswagen GTi

I’m going to take a slightly different tack from Nate’s post yesterday on his equally immaculate Royal Red GTi. I owned an A1 GTi once. It was one of the worst automotive decisions I’ve ever made. Back in 1998, I bought a non-running, rusty and very tired black over blue 1984 example for $300. I had every intention of “restoring” it to back good condition, but I was 21 and a poor college student and it was 14. But it wasn’t the age (or the mileage, Indiana), it was how it had been treated in that 14 years. After all, my current Passat is 14 years old and while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty damn nice. Heck, my M3 is 13 years old and basically looks and drives new. No, age was much harder on the cars of the early 1980s; plastics weren’t as durable as they are now, nor was paint. Metal was more rust prone and the electronics were no where near as reliable even though there were so far fewer in the car. To back my GTi up, you could simply look through the crease in the bodywork between the taillights and the rear floor where there was no longer metal. Every single bushing was gone, and what was left vibrated like an unattended paint shaker at Home Depot set to high. The paint was ruined – the car had clearly been hit at some point, so the passenger door and fender were a different shade of black than the rest of the car, which could more be described as dark gray spread very thinly over light gray primer. One time it started itself, which was a bit scary. Another time, it refused to start because the starter had removed itself from the transmission, but only enough to jam the gear into the flywheel. Then one fateful night one a ride home from a late shift at work, the fuse box lit on fire, consuming the functionality of all electrics save the high beams. I had sunk a few thousand dollars into keeping that car running and improving it over the year and a half I drove it. Ultimately I sold it for parts – for $300.

I won’t over romanticize my life with a GTi. I was not sad to see it go. I don’t wish I had it back – in fact, it may be the only car I owned that I never long to sit in again. Indeed, I even have more connection to a few parts cars that I bought but never drove. But, I will say that it did provide me with some entertaining stories. And when it ran right (there were at least two times), it was really a joy to be behind the wheel. There were glimpses of its former glory; you could get in, start it up and immediately be driving at 11/10ths everywhere you went. 40 m.p.h. has only felt near as exhilarating on my bicycle. And the shape was beautiful in such a strange, boxy way. Like Nate, I certainly wouldn’t mind owning a GTi (again), but it would have to be one closer to perfect. It would have to be more like this Diamond Silver Metallic 1983, amazingly one of the two lower mileage near perfect time pieces that have popped up on eBay this week:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

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1983 Volkswagen GTI

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When I met Lon, he was in Washington on his yearly pilgrimage to see friends and search for rust-free Mk1 Volkswagens. He lived in Iowa and had a farm filled with interesting VW breeding experiments. GTIs mated with trucks, diesels injected wherever possible, etc. He knew that our sweet little truck was getting more than a little rough around the edges – a cracked exhaust manifold was the final need that broke my dad’s patience – but he also looked at it with the same optimism and appreciation that I did. I was just a couple of months into having my driver’s license, and the passing on of my beloved Rabbitamino was hard to swallow. Lon seemed to be the right person to pass it on to, someone who would make it better and give it a new life in a way I wasn’t prepared to do. The pain of loss was dulled when he let me drive the Mk1 GTI he had already picked up on his trip – a low and tight little mongrel featuring a Quaife differential and a short-geared diesel 5-speed. Howling through the gears and hitting fourth before 40 mph, he offered to trade me the GTI and its trunk full of VW race parts for the truck and a little cash. 16 year old me was not in the driver’s seat for our family’s car choices, however, and my dad wanted another truck. We ended up with an incredible Toyota 4×4 that is still kicking ass and taking names, but that drive in (and missed chance at) Lon’s sweet GTI has always stuck with me.

Thus, the Mk1 GTI is still a bucket list car for me, but I’m thinking I need to either jump on one soon or cross my fingers and hope I win the lottery down the line. This beautiful Royal Red example has covered roughly 2k miles in the last 9 years after the owner bought it in Chicago and took it to New York to tuck away, drive on weekends, and take to shows. It’s not completely original – new snowflakes have been acquired by the owner over the years, and it has a stainless steel Techtonics exhaust – but it’s damn close. We’ve seen impeccable, fully restored GTIs, but original examples like this carry an extra air of gravity and provenance. Whatever the seller invested 9 years ago, I’m guessing it was a heck of a lot less than the nearly $10k the auction is reaching.

Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen Lupo GTI

After taking a peek yesterday at that miserly Volkswagen Lupo 3L, the thought crossed my mind as to what other interesting models might have existed in the Lupo range. I had a vague recollection there was a GTI version, but I couldn’t remember if it were a concept or indeed a series production car. Sure enough, Volkswagen put a Lupo GTI into production during a time when the original GTI, the Golf, became bloated and started losing its edge. This Lupo GTI was much more in the spirit of the Mk1 Golf GTI, taking a small hatchback and wedging a large four cylinder under the hood, this time in the form of a 1.6 liter lump producing 123 horsepower. This was enough to launch the Lupo GTI from 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds.

For those fortunate enough to live outside of the US and Canadian marketplaces, you can buy a Polo GTI nowadays. However, that Polo is a bit larger than the Lupo GTI, echoing the footprint more along the lines of a Mk2 Golf. I’m still waiting for VW to announce an Up! GTI, but until then, check out this low mileage Lupo GTI for sale near Frankfurt, Germany.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Lupo GTI on Mobile.de

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1995 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V

Whatever the reason might be, Volkswagen enthusiasts never seemed to hold the third generation GTI in as high regard as some other iterations of this hot hatchback. While the Mk2 GTI 16V seemed to hit the nail on the head in terms of what boy racers desired, the Mk3 fell just a bit short of that mark, in four-cylinder form. No one was complaining about the superb new VR6 engine available, however, US customers were left with a modest 2.0 liter 8V four-cylinder that produced only 115 horsepower. It was a torquey unit, but performance at the top end was less than stellar. Regardless, I enjoyed my time with my final year 1998 GTI 2.0. I miss that car to this day, even if my 2006 MINI Cooper S blows the doors off it performance wise. Like the Audi A8L 6.0 W12 we saw yesterday, this 1995 GTI 16V was a model not offered in the US. Looking great with just over 100,000 miles on the clock, you don’t see Mk3s this nice hanging about anymore.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V at PCH Automotive

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Motorsports Monday: 2007 Volkswagen GTi

There are some (quite a large number, in fact) who claim you can’t have fun on a race track in a front wheel drive car. I know quite a few of them. And in the wrong front driver, they’re likely right. Take a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado with its 8.2 liter V8 channeled through one front tire at any time and enough body roll to mimic a rowboat during Katrina and the recipe might be humorous, but doubtfully fun. However, 1976 also saw the introduction of a revolution in front drive platforms – the very first Golf GTi. Consider, for a moment, that GM’s replacement in 1977 for the thirsty 8.2 V8 was a every-so-slightly less thirsty 7.0 liter V8 (it was, after all, fuel crisis time….). That cast iron monster produced a heady 180 horsepower. Volkswagen engineers took a inline-4 with only 1.6 liters and twisted 110 horsepower out of it in a car that weighed about the same as the motor in the Cadillac. That was the magic of the GTi and it’s why it started the trend of hot front wheel drive cars that still is running arguably stronger than ever today. With clever transmissions, electronics and differentials, perceived weaknesses in the design have been nearly eliminated and most of the really trick nose FWD cars are as quick – if not quicker in some cases – than their rear-drive counterparts around a track. Therefore racing FWD cars is still a popular past time as today’s quite successful GTi is a testament to:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Volkswagen GTi on Racer Connect

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