VRffordable Double Take: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Update 2/6/2018: After selling in November for $2,250, the new owner of the Candy White GTI is selling it with an uninstalled turbo kit asking $2,900 now.

Tired of seeing high prices for Corrado SLC VR6s? Today is your day, because nearly all of the fun offered in the 6-cylinder Corrado was also slotted into the GTI. For a hair under $20,000, you got the same thrilling 2.8 liter VR6 mated solely to a 5-speed manual. Did you want an automatic? Well, then buy the Jetta. Sure, that motor and the bigger body of the Mk.3 meant it was quite a bit heavier than the previous GTIs had been – by 1995, the ‘hot hatch’ had bulked up with 700 additional lbs of super-weight gain Mk.3000 versus the A1. But faster? Without a doubt. With nearly double the horsepower of the original U.S. market model, 0-60 was sub 7-seconds and you could hit 130 flat out. Coupled too with VW’s ‘we don’t care if you think it’s broke we’re not going to fix it’ styling attitude, the Mk.3 might have not looked as slinky as the Corrado, but underneath it was still a Golf and as such, practical.

So while the Corrado pretended to be a Porsche, the GTI remained the answer to the ‘what if’; you wanted a Porsche, but you a) didn’t want to (or couldn’t) pay for a Porsche, and 2) you occasionally needed a car that you could actually use to transport things other than your smile. This was the recipe that made the first two generations successful.

It was no surprise then that the third generation GTI remained a niche hit for Volkswagen even in relatively dire times for European imports. While finding a nice GTI VR6 can be quite difficult, it was a bit of a Thanksgiving treat to see two pop up in my feed.…

1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

After its unceremonious and unexplained exit from the U.S. market with the introduction of the third generation Golf in 1993, the GTI came roaring back in a big way for the 1995 model year. Sure, it was bigger, bulkier and well…roundier, but it came with a bunch more gusto thanks to the addition of the VR6 motor as seen in the Corrado and Passat models. The single-overhead cam, twelve valve head lacked the race-bred feel of the Mk.II 16V, the new motor more than made up for it with the addition of two more cylinders. Good for 172 horsepower and 173 lb.ft of torque, it swept the hot hatch from 0-60 in 7.1 seconds and produced a 15.5 second quarter mile at over 90 mph. But much like the original, the GTI was more than the sum of its numbers, with drivers enjoying the great 6-cylinder soundtrack which accompanied the waves of usable torque.

Of course, like all VWs from the period, it was expensive. Really quite expensive. A base GTI VR6 rolled out the door in 1995 at $18,875, and with a few options it wasn’t difficult to breech $20 grand. Yet that was still only a little more than half the money it would take you to grab a same-year M3, which offered only a bit more motivation and cornering prowess. Catch the pesky BMW driver off-guard, and they’d be unlikely to easily out-drag you. So you could either look at this model as a really expensive Golf or a really cheap BMW. That was what the legendary GTI had always been about, and this was a resounding return to form and continuation of the brilliance that was the GTI 16V, even if they felt (and, looked) completely different:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

Eye Candy: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Do you want to maximize your budget and fun? Need an affordable ride that will reward you nearly every time you turn the key, but is also practical enough to daily drive?

Look no further. We may all want a car collection of virtually new, unused and perfect condition examples of our favorite car designs, but frankly that’s just not a reality most who’s names don’t start with “Sultan” and end with a small southeast Asian country’s name can contemplate. And even he needs to liquidate his massive Ferrari collection from time to time when small rebellions pop up.

Jumping in to a third generation Volkswagen Golf won’t get you much respect outside of dedicated brand enthusiasts. But what it will do is reward your decision. Like the E36 M3, adding two cylinders to the model may not have sounded as sexy on paper as the high-revving double cam inline-4, but the result was better performance, better reliability, and cheaper prices for that speed. With 172 horsepower and 173 lb.ft of torque on tap, the VR6 took the Mk.3 into a new performance territory. It brought with it a more grown up feel, too – leather, a quiet(er) cabin, power windows and sunroof – these were unthinkable a decade earlier in the budget hatch. In fact there was only one option – a trunk mounted CD changer. Everything else? Standard. The increase in performance dictated upgrades throughout; sport suspension with sway bars, larger brakes with 5×100 mm hubs and accompanying 15″ wheels. 0-60 was firmly sub-7 second range, and the boxy hatch could brush 130 mph flat out. In a flat-out drag race, this economy car was on par with the Audi S6.

At nearly $20,000, the price tag didn’t seem cheap at first. Indeed, in a little over a decade the base price of the GTI had increased 100%.…

1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

6/6/2017 Updated with a new listing from a new seller – click HERE!

The Mk.3 Volkswagen GTI is in a pretty tough spot right now. For many, they’re too new to consider a classic in the making. But let’s take a breath on this one right now – the first VR6 powered GTIs can legally be registered as a vintage car in some states. Now that your mind is blown, move on to the next step – when was the last time you saw a really nice, clean and original VR6? Right, what was it – 2002? Sure, the Mk.3 didn’t have the best interior quality or the best build quality. But then, neither did the Mk.1 or Mk.2, and the GTI versions of those are firmly into collector status. The third generation may suffer from not being a Corrado and looking a little less special overall than the first two, but the addition of the VR6 into the chassis made for one thrilling driving experience. This might be the perfect time, then, to snap up a nice VR6 and get ready to rock some antique

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

1974 Volkswagen 412 – REVISIT

We featured this car all the way back in 2012, but when this Volkswagen 412 appeared on eBay again, I knew I had seen this car before. It’s a low mileage example of a not often seen seventies VW, and still needs a bit of finishing touches. For the air-cooled enthusiast looking for a smaller project, this would be a great candidate.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1974 Volkswagen 412 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site May 7, 2012:

Feature Listing: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6 – REVISIT

The clean Windsor Blue VR6 GTi I featured earlier this month has been updated with some new photos and a new listing. West Coast folks, take note – this sure looks like a great example of what’s increasingly becoming considered another classic from Volkswagen!

I’ve owned and loved modified Volkswagens now for going on twenty years, so I’m certainly not new to the scene. Obviously, being a popular tuning and performance platform since its launch, the GTi has undergone just about every conceivable permutation of modifications. Despite what would seem to be an endless pool of candidates, though, I often find examples lacking a clean, well put together look. I’ve also found as I’ve gotten older that the cars that really stand out to me aren’t the wildly modified cars, but the subtle cars; cars that manage to integrate their modifications well into what already was a good platform. Let’s be honest; modifying cars is a very personal endeavor, so of course there are going to be varied opinions about what looks good. To me, find a clean VR6 Mk.III in close to original spec but with just the right hints of spice to make it stand out and be a little less vanilla, and it’s perfect. Make sure those mods are on one of my favorite colors – Windor Blue – and it’s one of the rare cases where I think the seller got it just right:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTi VR6 on craigslist

Feature Listing: 1996 Volkswagen GTI VR6

I’ve owned and loved modified Volkswagens now for going on twenty years, so I’m certainly not new to the scene. Obviously, being a popular tuning and performance platform since its launch, the GTi has undergone just about every conceivable permutation of modifications. Despite what would seem to be an endless pool of candidates, though, I often find examples lacking a clean, well put together look. I’ve also found as I’ve gotten older that the cars that really stand out to me aren’t the wildly modified cars, but the subtle cars; cars that manage to integrate their modifications well into what already was a good platform. Let’s be honest; modifying cars is a very personal endeavor, so of course there are going to be varied opinions about what looks good. To me, find a clean VR6 Mk.III in close to original spec but with just the right hints of spice to make it stand out and be a little less vanilla, and it’s perfect. Make sure those mods are on one of my favorite colors – Windor Blue – and it’s one of the rare cases where I think the seller got it just right:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen GTi VR6 on craigslist