1987 was the year that the GTI started its climb up the weight and complexity scale with the addition of the PL 1.8 liter double overhead cam inline-4. Now with 123 horsepower, Volkswagen continued its mid-80s trend of charging the customers about $100 a horsepower, resulting in a $2,000 increase in base price to correspond with the 21 horsepower jump. New “Silverstone” alloys which had debuted (like the motor) on the Scirocco were still 14″ x 6″, but looked the part with their signature teardrop machined look. Also carrying over from the Scirocco was the Fuba roof-mounted antenna; something which would become a call sign for fast VWs for the next two decades. The lower valences, both front and rear, were painted matte black, further highlighting the red-stripped bumper covers and accented by a deeper front spoiler with twin brake ducts. The red theme carried over to the “16V” badges surrounding the outside and highlighting the inside; a new red-stripe velour and leatherette sport interior kept the passengers planted. While the 21 horsepower increase didn’t sound like a lot, the 16V was a case of a car which outperformed its numbers on paper and felt much quicker than it might have appeared. 0-60 was gone in a tick under 8 seconds and the GTI would gear-out at 124 mph. Car magazines proclaimed it the best GTI yet, though many pointed out that it was also getting quite expensive. Though still popular, not quite as many of these A2 GTIs seemed to hit the market, and finding clean, original examples today like this beautiful Red Pearl Mica example? You guessed it, exceptionally hard.
1987 saw some serious upgrades for the original “Hot Hatch” GTi. Externally, you’d have to be a seriously devoted Volkswagen fan to pick them all out. The body and trim remained effectively the same as they had been in 1985 and 1986, but new “Teardrop” alloys replaced the leftover “Snowflake” (also known as “Avus”) and “Bottlecap” (also known as “Montreal”) wheels that had adorned the earlier models. Squint closely at the front, and a new deeper chin spoiler sat under the bumper with two brake ducts. The GTi sported a new spiky hairdo as well, with a new roof-mounted Fuba antenna which would become signature for the model going forward. But the change that enthusiasts really liked was under the hood, where eight more valves made their appearance on the venerable 1.8 mill that had powered the GTi. That new motor was announced on every side of the car with new “16V” badges adorning the front, rear and side trim. Horsepower increase was relatively modest – about 13 more horsepower over the high-compression 8V that the car ran in 1985 and 1986. But the letters DOHC were magical pixie dust for wannabe racers in the 1980s, and the entered you into the coolest club out there – Club Twin Cam. Everything sprouted Twin Cams in the 1980s, but it brought the GTi up a notch in performance to compete with the new crop of Hot Hatches it had helped to sprout. 0-60 was now achieved in under 8 seconds – a serious feat for an economy car at that time. The new 16V GTis would be available – as before – in only four colors; Diamond Silver Metallic, Dark Blue Mica, signature Tornado Red or my favorite, Red Pearl Mica (LE3P) that this low mileage example is shown in: