1984 Volkswagen GTI

1984 Volkswagen GTI

As far as owning a legendary automobile goes, does it get much more affordable than the Volkswagen GTI? I don’t think it does. Universally lauded as one of the great all time designs and driving experiences, a trans-formative automobile that redefined (and forever defined) the marketplace, a practical pocket rocket, the GTI is not a million, nor even a hundred-thousand dollar car.

The asking price here is $12,995.

For that money, it’s true that money could buy you a new car. No, I’m not joking; the base price for the 2017 Nissan Versa S is 11,990. After destination, that comes to $12,855. Let’s call it even. So where is your money better spent?

The GTI produced about 90 horsepower from its 1.8 liter inline-4. The Nissan makes 109 horsepower from a 1.6. And, it’s got dual cams to impress all the chicks.

The GTI had options such as air conditioning and a radio. On the Nissan, they’re standard. Plus you apparently don’t need hands to operate them (or, Nissan gives you free hands? Whatever.) The base Versa has manual windows and locks, just like the GTI.

Volkswagen claimed the GTI could pip 36 mpg, which I’m pretty sure was a lie given that my ’84 turned about 5,000 rpms at highway speed. The Versa S you just bought is claimed to get…you guessed it, 36 mpg in 5-speed form.

Curb weight on the GTI was about 2,200 lbs with some options. The Nissan’s curb weight is 2,390 lbs. (seriously, I found this pretty shocking. I was unaware that a modern car could be made under 2,500 lbs unless it was completely carbon fiber)

You’d be equally unlikely to survive a major crash in either. But the Nissan comes with self-inflating fluffy pillows hidden in various spots of the dashboard.…

1983 Volkswagen GTI

1983 Volkswagen GTI

Is it true that you should never meet your heroes? I remember the stigma surrounding the Porsche 911 growing up, and when I first got a chance to drive one as a late teen – a ’77 911SC – I wasn’t very impressed. It made nice noises but basically felt a bit like a fast pogo stick to me. That was reaffirmed by my second drive in a 911, a close friend’s ’85 Cabriolet. Both were very pretty – the requisite turn and stare every time as you walk away after shutting the door type of pretty. But driving experience? Well, maybe I completely missed the point, and perhaps neither of those cars were particularly well set up, but I wasn’t really blown away either time.

I think it’s more likely, though, that my expectation level far exceeded what the car could ever deliver in either case. For my first drive, I was moving from the vehicle I learned to drive on – a clapped out, seven-time crashed 1984 Toyota Pickup – to a goddamn Porsche 911. I’ve finally been accepted to be an astronaut, I thought to myself, this will be the best drive of my life! Plainly, it was not. I haven’t completely sworn off the 911, mind you, but since I’ve never looked at them the same.

Contrast that with my Volkswagen GTI experience. I bought what may have legitimately been the absolute worst example of a GTI it was possible to buy in 1998. Non-running? Check. Rusty? Check. Partially disassembled? Check. Crashed at some point? Check. Westmoreland build quality? That, too. It was impossible at times to find gears in my car. You could look through gaps in the body structure. The radio didn’t work. Neither did the air conditioning, or the heater, or occasionally the lights, and sometimes the starter.…

1983 Volkswagen GTi

1983 Volkswagen GTi

Way before “i” stood for everything ‘intelligent’ from your phone to your (no joke) pet, adding the 9th letter of the alphabet to your German car meant something equally as forward thinking in the 1970s and 1980s – injection. Unless, of course, you were talking about ‘e’ in a few cases, where the German word for injection – Einspritzung – came into play (I’m looking at you, Mercedes-Benz. And, occasionally BMW, for no apparent reason).

But I digress.

Adding fuel injection to your motor in the 1970s was pretty close to rocket science, since in the 1960s only the most exotic and high performance cars available had it. So when Volkswagen dropped a fuel injected 1.6 liter inline-4 pumping out an astonishing for the period 110 horsepower in 1975, it’s no wonder it was a revolution. Consider, for a moment, that the 1975 Corvette – with its gargantuan, gas-guzzling 5.7 liter V8 – managed to produce only 165 horsepower. Today’s base Corvette produces about 455 horsepower, meaning that the same relation would make today’s GTI a 300 horsepower hot hatch. Which, ironically in R form, it pretty much is! Still, it was the formula of the original that made this the hottest commodity on the market. It would be eight long years until the GTI debuted in the U.S. market. When it did, it had been turned down slightly and injection was no longer solely the domain of the GTI. Still, it was a potent and popular package, with attractive Guigiaro-penned looks and plenty of practicality. Some 34 years on from launch, the looks still capture the imagination of many who owned (or longed to own) one of these transformative hatches:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

Fearsome Frenchie: 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

Fearsome Frenchie: 1984 Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

Legend generally has it that the Audi Quattro dominated the World Rally Championship and the iconic Group B class of flame spitting, air catching homologation specials. But popular belief is wrong, as though the Audi was successful, it was far from the walk-over that many fans believe it was. The Quattro was challenged at every step; first from the establishment Lancia with the 037 – a rear-drive, mid-engine super-lightweight special. Lancia proved that a lightweight, better balanced design could best the nose-heavy Audi even in inclement conditions and though the four ring’s Hannu Mikkola won the driver championship in the WRC for 1983, it was the Lancia who captured the constructor’s title.

Things got more interesting in 1984, as major modifications and increasing power introduced new players to the field. The season started out where 1983 had left off, with the long-wheelbase Audi Quattro A2 and the Lancia 037 dominating the first eight rounds of the championship. Round 9, though, saw a new, unorthodox design launch. As Audi rolled out their shortened, upright and more powerful Sport Quattro, Peugeot emerged with the diminutive 205 economy hatchback. Yet it was not a front-engine, front-drive design as they’d be seen on the road; stripped, widened, and seriously turned up, the new 205 Turbo 16 was a mid-engine, all-wheel drive turbocharged revolution that would go on to dominate the Group B competition over the next two seasons.

Just how dominant was it? While the 205 Turbo 16 didn’t look or sounds as impressive as the leaping, massively winged Audis or outrageous turbocharged and supercharged Lancia Delta S4, the chassis balance, power delivery, reliability and driver combination was spot on. The results spoke for themselves; there were 29 races the 205 Turbo 16 raced in WRC before Group B ended – Peugeot won 16 of them.…

1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

I think I’ve made my gripes with the used Volkswagen market abundantly clear in prior posts. Fuzzy photos, “feelers”, lack of information, failure to wash the car, only posting photos of the car in a carwash covered in foam, junk-strewn interiors, massive miles and broken odometers, poorly executed swaps, maintenance skipped in favor of dubious modifications. We’ve seen it all on these pages; well, a “no thank you” helping sample of “it all”. But once in a while a Volkswagen comes along that really debunks the stereotype of typical VW owners. Today’s GTI VR6 is one of those myth busters:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport

Just the other day, Paul looked at a 1998 BMW 318ti in Oxford Green. An offbeat commuter, the condition of that car was great, but not so much was the near $7,000 price. Today I have another 318ti to look at, but this one ups the ante a bit. Again it is an original M44 car in great shape with well below average miles. The color is a little less 90s spectacular, but still looks nice in Alpine White. However, it’s the addition of the California roof and the M-Sport package which really helps this hatch stand out. Let’s take a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 318ti M-Sport on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1992 Volkswagen Golf VR6 Turbo

Tuner Tuesday: 1992 Volkswagen Golf VR6 Turbo

The hot hatch may just be the perfect have your cake and eat it too automobile. And though many argue that they weren’t the originator and didn’t produced the best example in the market, Volkswagen’s GTi has been intrinsically linked with the moniker. It always raises an interesting question of which generation is best, and while there are plenty who would contend that the model never got any better than its original configuration, fans of each iteration of the venerable model abound. Like some others that read the blog, I came of automotive age in the midst of the Mk.2 model run. A Mk.2 Golf was also my second car, and as a result I have quite a soft spot for them. In the days before the internet, my knowledge of European models like the Golf Limited was non-existent, so at the time it got no better than the late GTi 2.0 16V. Wider arches, deeper bumpers, fog lights and the signature red striped quad-round grill setup coupled with some great colors like Montana Green. The roof mounted Fuba antenna was like a remote control pickup for fun, and capped with some awesome BBS RM multi-piece wheels and slick looking Recaros, the package might as well have said “Ferrari” on the front. But if the looks of the Mk.2 GTi were the best in the line, quite a few VW souls would point out that the fantastic sounding VR6 model that followed had the performance that really backed up the hot-hatch name. As a result, swapping the VR6 into the Mk.2 has not only become popular but almost a given, and VR swaps are nearly as prevalent as the ubiquitous S50/S52 in a E30 swap. This particular one has been dialed up a few more notches with a turbo, but channels the look of the 2.0 16V with some updates and a whole lot of black paint:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen Golf VR6 Turbo on eBay

1983 Volkswagen GTi

1983 Volkswagen GTi

While it’s awesome to contemplate museum-quality classics from the 1980s, the reality for most enthusiasts is that they’re quickly being priced out of the market. And let’s say you do drop some semi-obscene amount on your weapon of choice – what then? Are you going to drive it to the market, knowing that every trip means a chance at being run over by a cellphone wielding driver who was much more impressed with their Snapchat convo than your Snap-on collection? Some will, but more than a few cars will be tightly wrapped in their protective blankets, seldom to see the light of day for fear of falling residuals. It’s therefore a bit refreshing to see a clean example of a classic that isn’t absurdly priced or ostentatiously presented, a driver-quality car that can be improved upon and enjoyed. This 1983 GTi is just such a ride; clean overall but not perfect and not claimed to be, the seller has opted for a no reserve auction. Yea!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

2004 Volkswagen R32

2004 Volkswagen R32

For a few generations, Volkswagen fans were denied the cream of the crop for Volkswagen products. It took several years to finally get the original GTi to these shores, and then it wasn’t quite as hot as the European version. The second edition might have sported twin cams and 16 valves, but Euro customers got the option of a supercharged, all-wheel drive version. There were plenty of cool options missing from the U.S. lineup in the 3rd generation, too – including the 2.9 liter VR6 Variant Syncro. So there was a bit of rejoicing finally when the all-wheel drive hot hatch was finally added to the U.S. lineup after the initial launch in 2003. Sporting the same 3.2 VR6 found in the TT, unlike the Mk.1 TT it was 6-speed manual only. It was also only available as a 2-door model, with special body kit unique to the R32 and dual exhaust to help announce its sporting intentions. With the best part of 240 horsepower on tap, it certainly seemed like the ultimate Golf and the sound generated from the narrow-angle 6 was mesmerizing. While heavy weight meant it wasn’t much quicker than the 1.8T GTi models, it nonetheless has secured a spot in U.S. fans hearts as the top trump from the Mk.4 generation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

1983 Volkswagen 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.…

Feature Listing: 1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC

Feature Listing: 1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC

We have a tendency to look at older cars through rose-colored glasses. Today, by all accounts, the Corrado SLC is a modern classic – but was it always so? In fact, if we go back to the original tests of the cars, as with most Volkswagen products it wasn’t the fastest, quickest, best turning or braking. It didn’t turn the fastest lap times and yet was usually the most expensive. As such, in comparisons like Car and Driver’s 1992 Sport Coupe comparison, the Corrado finished only mid-pack. But as with other Volkswagen and Audi products, there was an intangible element to the Corrado that made it somehow more appealing than the competition.

By 1992, the supercharged Corrado G60 was underpowered compared to the competition given its relatively high weight. Volkswagen solved the problem with the introduction of the awesome narrow-angle VR6 motor, rated at 178 horsepower and 177 lb.ft of torque. New wheels mimicked the design of the of the outgoing 1991 BBS wheels on the G60, but were subtly different; underneath hid now 5 bolts and a redesigned suspension, brakes and electronic traction control system. Subtle changes were new clear signals and a re-sculpted hood, along with new nomenclature – the VR6 model was now dubbed the SLC. Further changes were rolled out in 1993; a change of wheels again to the more purposeful 15″ x 6.5″ Speedline 5-spoke design was most notable outside, while inside a revised dashboard had mostly new and more upscale switches, dials and gauges. A fair amount of the 1993-1994 Corrado SLCs were shipped fully loaded, now with a price a staggering $10,000 more than the 1990 base price at a lofty $28,000. That meant few sold, but even though by the numbers these Corrados weren’t the best deal, much like the contemporary Porsche 968 the SLC proved more than the sum of its parts.…

Motorsports Monday: 1984 Volkswagen GTi

Motorsports Monday: 1984 Volkswagen GTi

When I was young, my family traveled out to Michigan. The year was 1984, and on the trip we went to see some vintage car racing as my father is a pretty big Shelby nut. There were plenty of Cobras and GT350s ripping up the track with V8s bellowing away that day, but what stuck in my mind more was a demonstration that was put on by Volkswagen of America. There were 5 or 6 then-new GTis that were put through their paces, and the particular corner we were sitting at had the train of these hot hatches popping over curbs, dangling a wheel in the air as they slithered through the corners. Sounding more like a pack of angry hornets, they made more of an impression on me than the rumbling Ferrari-killers, and to this day I still smile and think of that day every time I see a GTi. More than once in my ownership of a 1984 example, I even tried to imagine the train of GTis racing around that course on my daily commute to school to the chagrin of all of the other drivers on the road. But the best way to contemplate that magical day in my memory is to check out a race-ready Rabbit:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V

1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V

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

Tuner Tuesday: 1984 Volkswagen GTi Callaway Turbo with 21,000 Miles

Tuner Tuesday: 1984 Volkswagen GTi Callaway Turbo with 21,000 Miles

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

1996 Volkswagen GTi

1996 Volkswagen GTi

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTi on eBay