1983 Volkswagen GTI

Over the last few weeks, we’ve gotten to see the rewards of a new trend in water-cooled Volkswagens. For a long time, years if not decades in fact, if you wanted a clean A1-up chassis your only hope was that you’d stumble across an unknowing candidate. But the advent of the internet and a greater appreciation for 1980s automobile designs has finally resulted in a market where it’s become possible to restore these cars and not (entirely) lose your shirt. What does that look like? Well, we’ve seen some lightly restored Sciroccos bring pretty good money:

Wild or Mild? Double Take: 1978 and 1980 Volkswagen Sciroccos

But what about the heavy-hitter from Volkswagen? The GTI has name recognition outside of the brand; heck, even outside of European cars. Guys with Camaros and Ram Trucks know what a GTI is. They may not like it, but often I think they respect the hot hatch. As a result, outside of mega-clean Sciroccos and camper vans, GTIs have generally been the best bet for bringing strong money at an auction and if you were hoping for a resto-flip, it’s the likely candidate to choose to come out on top:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

1984 Volkswagen GTI

We’ve had plenty of Volkswagen A1 chassis to look at recently, from the neat Jetta Turbo Diesel we’ll be seeing again soon through the string of very awesome Sciroccos from both the first and second generation. I’ve also looked at quite a few GTIs, from the second, third and fourth generation. But for all that love, I’ve somehow managed to avoid combining the two and covering what is arguably the most famous modern Volkswagen – the original GTI.

Today I hope to rectify that with today’s last-year example of what many consider to be the original ‘hot hatch’. While the U.S. example was somewhat watered-down and had chunkier styling than the truly Spartan 1976 design, it was still a revelation in performance and universally heralded as the benchmark by which all other sporty economy cars would be based moving forward. At a time when there were few do-it-all type cars, the GTI managed to be nearly all things to all people; it got good fuel economy thanks to a relatively miserly 1.8 liter inline-4 with efficient fuel injection. It looked neat, thanks to 14″ alloy wheels, wide fender flared and blacked-out detail work with red accent stripes. It was functional and flexible, with fold-down seats and a (for its size) spacious hatch area to transport goods. It was usable year-round, with front-wheel drive allowing for decent snow traction. And the sport suspension, heavily bolstered seats and close-ratio transmission made the whole package an athletic alternative to the norm, allowing practical-minded men and women to fling their family car through corners with aplomb. Near universal was its appeal, and infectious were the ad campaigns, which in the Volkswagen tradition used short phrases to capture attention like “They’re going fast” and “Serious Fun” – even the oft-used “It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.…

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

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

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

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

1983 Volkswagen GTi

It’s a bit sad that there is such a huge generation gap when it comes to the letter “i”. Teaching college level students, were I to write the lower case letter “i” up on the board and ask the meaning, immediate answers of “iPhone”, “iPod” or “iPad” would pop up. Perhaps some of the more clever individuals would associate it with “intelligent”. Apple has transformed the meaning of the lower case letter “i” for entire generations of people who will grow up not knowing what it means to my generation. For example, were I to write the word “carburetor” on the board and ask the meaning, outside of some motorcycle enthusiasts and perhaps a few into older cars, I’m willing to bet very few would know what the word meant, likely associating it with carbonated beverages before internal combustion engines. But in the 1970s and 1980s, “i” was a magical letter which indicated greater performance and improved reliability. It ranged from exotics like the Ferrari 512BBi right through the 2002tii, and while some of the systems were less dependable than others, by the time we got to Bosch’s continuous injection system, German cars were universally the best running, most dependable cars you could get into. In fact, one could argue that most of the success of the German car industry boils down to not their legendary build quality nor the advanced designs they pioneered, but the dependability of the fuel injection system. “i” meant a higher level of performance, and instead of simply being a necessity for every teen to mindlessly separate from society it was a way to indicate you had arrived, and you had arrived in style thanks to your fuel injected cars. Audis sported “Fuel Injected” badges proudly up through 1985; Mercedes-Benz attached an “e” for Einspritzung to nearly every model, while virtually every BMW sported an “i” badge for several generations, and some still do.…

1984 Volkswagen GTi – REVISIT

Back in January, this GTi popped up in strong, mostly original condition but with an even stronger asking price. I suggested it was unlikely to sell at $9,500 – and it appears I was correct, as it’s back up for sale with a substantial 20% price drop to $8,000. While that price is getting more realistic, it still strikes me as a bit strong considering the similar cars we’ve seen sell recently. Still, what other legendary classic car could you purchase for under $10,000 and enjoy at 10/10ths? Finding original examples of the hot hatch will continue to be difficult and always make me smile!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site January 3, 2015:

1984 Volkswagen GTi

Just the other day I caught the Wheeler Dealer episode where they restored a Mk.1 GTi. For me it was a trip down memory lane; my GTi also suffered the electronic woes and shift linkage problems that the one on the show did. Unfortunately for me, I was not nearly as talented a mechanic as Mr. China is – resulting ultimately in the end of my ownership of the now-legendary car. Of course, when I owned it they were still throw-away cars – while people liked seeing them, no one really considered them particularly collectable in the 1990s. However, since then clean and unmolested original GTis have steadily increased in value to the point where we’ve documented a few examples north of $15,000. Those were exceptions to the rule, though – we’ve also seen nice original condition cars struggle to make even half that amount. Today’s example seems to lie in the middle; clean and mostly original, lower mile and good condition with a $9,500 asking price:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen GTi on eBay

1983 Volkswagen Cabriolet 16V

The Volkswagen market is fairly fickle these days. Some low mile, original cars go for big bucks; other times, its unlikely modified cars that draw the money. But it seems in general that the 16V Scirocco and original GTi are the two shining stars right now for 1980s Volkswagens. What do you get when you put them together and chop the top off? A 16V Cabriolet, of course! Granted, this isn’t how this car was delivered from the factory, but if you’re looking for the best of three world, perhaps you can enjoy this Cabby modified in the style of OEM:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen Cabriolet on eBay