1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V

“DOHC” was king in the late 1980s and 1990s, and Volkswagen offered several different flavors of dual-cam goodness. You had practicality and sport in the Scirocco model and GTi, with the Golf carrying the torch into the 1990s after the sports coupe’s production ended. Volkswagen also carried the 16V into the Jetta, but offered some slightly different features and styling to help to separate it from the Golf. Where the Golf was slightly more hard-edged and felt like a racer, the Jetta felt slightly more refined. While 1987-1989 models externally weren’t very different in the front from the GTi, after 1990 single rectangular headlights continued and GLis now came standard with the BBS RA 15×6 wheels in silver. Those wheels had previously been outfitted on the Helios Edition. They also got the Recaro Trophy seats and bigger, aerodynamic bumpers that the GTi now carried. Standard was central locking, twin outlet exhaust, 10.1″ front brakes and a cassette radio with 6 speakers, while options included ABS, power windows, sunroof and metallic paint. Just like their GTi counterparts, these expensive Jettas weren’t sold in great numbers and finding all-original examples can be difficult, especially one with lower miles like today’s end of the run 1992:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GLi 16V on San Francisco Craigslist

1984 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe

If there is one car that never really made sense to me in the Volkswagen lineup, it is the Jetta Coupe. There is a cult following for these two-door sedans and many times they command a premium over their 4-door counterparts. Why? That’s a fantastic question, though perhaps it is simply the rarity of the 2-door that elevates their status. The same phenomena can be seen in the Audi 80 (4000) 2-door, which was available in several different engine and drivetrain configurations early in the production run. However, in that case it’s specifically the 2-door 80 that was used as both a basis for the development of the Quattro and, perhaps more notably, the doors and windshield of the Sport Quattro. That link adds to the mystique of the 2-door 80. But the Jetta? I’m afraid I’ve just never understood why it’s more desirable. It’s a less convenient sedan without the styling of a real coupe or grand tourer and without the functionality of the 2-door hatchback Golf. Yet desirable they are, and when presented in low mileage condition with some nice dress up items on an already rare platform like the A1 chassis sedan, it’s quite desirable indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe on eBay

1996 Volkswagen Jetta “Trek” Edition

The year is 1997, I’ve recently turned 11, and mountain biking is my thing. My 21 speed Trek is my ticket to freedom, and adventure, I’m old enough to now be allowed to ride it anywhere in my small town, and strong enough to take it on some of the more aggressive wooded trails. One day while out for a ride a car blows past me, not anything out of the ordinary, just a Mk III Jetta. But up on the roof rack, well, there sat a pristine Trek with one of the freshest paint jobs I’d ever laid eyes on. If Google had existed I would have gone straight home, and looked up all the pertinent information about this uber cool bicycle, and known that it was a special edition in partnership with Volkswagen. Instead, it wouldn’t be until I accompanied my parents to a local VW dealership that I would come to learn about the Jetta Trek edition.

Click for details: 1996 Volkswagen Jetta TREK on Cars.com

Friday Fail? 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe VR6

In the past, I’ve used the Friday Fail to examine some pretty awful ads and terrible aesthetic choices. With today’s column, however, I’d like to put it to our readers to decide if this is a full-on fail, or if there is some merit to this Jetta. I happen to really dig the 2-door Jettas as both Mk1s and Mk2s, cutting a similar cropped 3-box style to the E30 coupes (compare these to their four-door brethren and then try to wrap your field of vision around a 4-series… who’s failing now?) This one has some choice Dublover retrofits like a VR6, outstanding Porsche D90 wheels, and a clean Trophy interior. The body modifications, however, are where the fail starts to seep in. I don’t hate how the Mk2 Big Bumpers look on it, or rather how they could look on it if fully modified to fit, but their slight sag makes my linear-loving brain blow gaskets. The rear bumper is the worst, which brings us to the next fail: if you’re going to give such great detail about what you’ve added to the car, CAN’T YOU TAKE MORE THAN TWO PICTURES?! At least SHOW us how that saggy butt really looks so we can start to picture how to fix it.

$6,500 isn’t bad for a mostly cool-looking Jetta Coupe with a VR6 and Porsche wheels. But having two pictures is the domain of $850 OBO “NEDS WRK AC BROKN” eBay specials. So, is it a big Fail this Friday, or just in need of a serious in-person investigation?

Click for details: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe on eBay

1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI VR6

Every now and then, you come across a car that reminds you of your youth. This 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI with a VR6 heart transplant puts me squarely back at the end of high school and beginning of college. It was around that time that I was running a 1998 GTI 2.0 and VR6 engine swaps into earlier A1 and A2 chassis Volkswagens were just catching on. While some of my classmates turned towards the Japanese tuning scene, I was firmly entrenched on the German side of things. I didn’t do a lot of modifications to my GTI, but I enjoyed going to shows and races alike with my friends in the Vee Dub circles.

Time moves on, and a few Mercedes-Benzes later, I’m back into a (half) German hatchback, a MINI Cooper S. I still have a hankering for an A2 GTI or Jetta, though. I can’t put a finger on it, but there’s some reason I like the A2 series better than the original. This Jetta GLI for sale in Ohio is modified just enough to sate the youthful enthusiast still inside of me.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI VR6 on eBay

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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The Jetta GLI has always been a object of desire for me. While the GLI really gained fame with the Mk2 generation, it was a final-year offering on the excellent first-gen sedan, bringing most of the GTI goodies to the 3-box setup. This red example has been with the same owner for the last 15 years and is looking pretty darn good on BBS 3-piece rims with what look to be like-new Euro bumpers and front lip. The interior also looks outstanding for being over 30 years old, but a few blemishes inside and out keep this from being a perfect package. A small rust spot, mismatched tires, and paint issues on the roof are all fixable but indicate the projects will continue.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

Wagon Week: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI

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When I think roadtrip vehicle, my mind immediately goes to the frugal and capable Jetta TDI. When driven carefully, they can far exceed their standard MPG ratings while swallowing tons of gear. All this with class-leading comfort and style in the interior. My main gripe is the unattractive front end, but in my dreams I just throw a TDI Cup front end on it, creating a seriously good-looking wagon. This 2009 Sportwagen has a lot of positives – low mileage, 6-speed manual, panoramic roof and premium sound are all boxes I’d want ticked. The glaring downside is the rebuilt title, which we know is always a big liability. A full inspection could suss out if the driver’s-side collision really was minor and if everything is good to go. Rebuilt titles mean low resale values – maybe not ideal if you sell it in the future, but if everything checks out it creates an insane deal on an ultimate roadtrip machine.

Click for details: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI on eBay

2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon

The earlier dueling beige wagons was a bit of a letdown post, and off the bat I have to say I’m sorry. I should have been more excited to see two rare VAG products from the 1980s, but looking at those two the best response I feel I can muster is a general “at least they’re clean”. And that’s sad, because keeping a car in good condition for that period of time certainly takes a fair amount of care and concern – it doesn’t just happen by accident. Despite that, I just found it very hard to get at all excited about either of those wagons. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I got quite excited when I stumbled across this 5-door. Now, I want to be clear up front that I’m not a Jetta fan – I reside firmly in “Camp Golf” when I’m not at “Club Passat”. Furthermore, I’m not really a Mk.4 fan. They’re notorious for shoddy build quality, wacky electrics and…well, to be not particularly delicate, the Mk.4 Jetta reminds me of college girls from New Jersey and not in a good way. However, there are some positives to consider. First, while we were denied the Mk.3 Golf Variant, Volkswagen allowed the small wagon to come to the U.S., and this is one. Second, the Mk.4 generation had some great motor options; the frugal TDi, the tunable 1.8T and the torquey and awesome sounding VR6 engines – all available in 5-door form. Lesser known is that all of the wagons, like the Passat, were assembled in Germany. That may not matter to some, but my experience has been that the German-built Passat wagons had better build quality than the sedans. On top of that, you also got some great wheel options in the Mk.4 and it could be had in a 5-speed manual.…

1982 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe

For many years, my trips to Lime Rock Park in the Coupe GT for Patroon Chapter BMWCCA driver’s events were accompanied by a similar soul; there was a ’84 Volkswagen Jetta GLi that seemed to always be joining me. On paper, the two were probably quite similar in terms of all-out speed; the Jetta had less power, but was also quite a bit lighter than the Coupe. But in fast corners, the better balance of the GT and equal-length driveshafts meant it was a bit easier to carry speed and get power down. Over the years, we both modified our cars in turn. I went to a Ground Control coilover suspension and steadily upgraded the engine and he followed suit. Squint a bit, and in the first generation Jetta you can see the similarities to the Audi GT. Both were Giugiaro designs as was the original Golf/Rabbit; but the Jetta went slightly upscale compared to the Golf. Ironically, in recent years that role has reversed – top of the range Golfs are even more expensive than mid-range Passats. But in the early 1980s, Volkswagen made the U.S. market A1 Jetta have slightly better interiors and, aside from the obvious trunk, a different grill with 4 rectangular sealed-beam headlights led the way – very similar to the U.S. spec Audi GT. They were available in 2 or 4-door configuration with a range of motors which matched the Rabbit; trim levels were base “L”, upscale “GL” and performance oriented “GLi”. Today, Jettas are far less common to come across than the more popular Rabbit variants, especially when they’re in the condition of this Inari Silver example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe on eBay