1986 Volkswagen GTI

1986 Volkswagen GTI

Edit: After selling for $4,650 in the auction from June, this car has been relisted with a $4,750 Buy It Now.

Jumbo Shrimp. Act naturally. Hell’s Angels. Living Dead.

Oxymorons are part of our life to the point where we often don’t even consider their genesis, nor their contradiction. Yet these things pop up on regular basis and have become integral to our culture. Well, I’d like to add a few oxymorons to the list when considering this 1986 Volkswagen:

1) 1986 Volkswagen GTI 16V : Yes, it’s true that the 16V wasn’t introduced in the U.S. until the 1987 model year. Yet, here we have a well engineered, so-clean-it-looks-stock PL-code 1.8 16V swapped in.

2) Clean, well-presented Volkswagen: I know this one seems silly, but it’s really true – outside of the ridiculously clean (and ridiculously bid to $21,000!) 1987 Jetta Coupe , it is extremely rare to find crisp, well-maintained, well-photographed and detailed Volkswagens from the 1980s.

And, unfortunately for the seller but fortunate for us, there’s one more:

3) Buyer didn’t pay: This happens on a regular basis on eBay, but thankfully it offers us a chance to take a peek at the lovely condition:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen GTI on eBay

1977 Volkswagen Rabbit VR6 24V swap

1977 Volkswagen Rabbit VR6 24V swap

Did the high-mileage R32 from earlier get you wondering what you might do with the drivetrain? A little over three years ago, we took a look at a special early Rabbit. Dressed in Miami Blue and looking subtly upgraded with Corrado steel wheels and a lower ride height, what the exterior didn’t give away was that lurking under the hood was a 2.8 liter 24V VR6 motor popped in. The swap looked well executed and generally clean outside of some loose wiring, and the builder hadn’t gone over the top with a crazy interior – instead, relying on the original items for a true sleeper status. With a few minor changes like a better executed intake, engine cover and some odds and ends, the car has reappeared with generally the same introduction – but that’s okay with us, because the look is spot on! It’s also a no reserve auction, so we’ll get to see where an honest yet seriously quick Rabbit gets you these days.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit VR6 24v Swap on eBay

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

Yesterday, searching through bad 1980s movies to watch I came across the Orwellian classic 1984. I sat and stared at the image of John Hurt, slightly bemused that Orwell’s vision of the future was so dark, dire and complicated. Sitting at the end of a head-scratching 2016, 1984 seems in many ways to be such an easy time. Okay, remove the equally crazy politics of the period; telling my students that bombings in downtown London were commonplace when I was growing up confuses them, or that plane hijackings happened almost as often as mass shootings do today, nevermind the environmental and infectious disease disasters of the period. In 1984, you could buy a Volkswagen Jetta GLi for $8,500. Inflation corrected, that’s just below $20,000 – so still quite a deal in the grand scheme. Sure, today’s cars offer more luxury and convenience, and isolation from the driving experience. They are, without a doubt, safer in every measurable characteristic than cars in the 1980s. And faster? Also indisputable, as a new Jetta GLi turbo will positively wipe the floor with this A1’s performance. With only 90 horsepower on tap, you’ll struggle to best speeds most modern cars can do without the driver even blinking. Relatively speaking, this Jetta GLi is slow, loud, unsafe, and not hugely comfortable. Why, then, were they so much fun to drive?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi on eBay

1984 Volkswagen Scirocco “GTX”

1984 Volkswagen Scirocco “GTX”

There are a lot of folks who long for European versions of the cars that we got here in the United States, and this author is amongst them. For the most part, the Euro versions were closer to the original design; in general they had smaller, better fitting bumpers, better headlights, and some options that were deemed too expensive or not appealing enough to bring to the U.S.. They also typically had better performance from non-de-tuned motors and lighter weight. So, better looking, faster and more special; but in talking with Paul, we both agreed that there is also an element of wanting the things we just can’t have. One Volkswagen model that never made it here was the GTX trim Scirocco. The GTX was one of the higher spec versions in Europe and looked quite sporty; put some of those Euro bits onto what would otherwise be a pretty mundane 1984 U.S. spec Scirocco, add some desirable tuning modifications and some fresh paint, and you have a tidy package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Volkswagen Scirocco “GTX” on eBay

Wednesday Wheels: Volkswagen Steel Wheel Refinishing 101

Wednesday Wheels: Volkswagen Steel Wheel Refinishing 101

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If you live anywhere with poor weather and road conditions over the winter, you’ve probably already started thinking about swapping on your winter wheels. When I purchased my current Passat, it came with a spare set of steel wheels with horrible Tire Rack issued hub caps. From previous Volkswagen steel wheel ownership, I knew that getting OEM hubcaps was an expensive option; at the same time, I always loved the Corrado steel wheel option that many swap onto early cars. I decided to try to make my own set of “steelies”, and after some research found the materials and paint I needed – I also found some rare factory option Tiguan steel wheel centercaps that I thought would give a different Euro look to the family wagon. So for a change of pace, here’s a writeup of how I refinished the wheels and some products to do it with – if you need steel wheels to start, the picture above links to a steel wheel auction and they’re pretty plentiful at low prices.

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I started by doing a light sanding of the wheels. The lips of the wheels had some corrosion from the retaining clips of the hubcaps, and while I didn’t get all of it I removed most. Afterwards I utilized a surface prep cleaning solution to clean and remove grim, grease and sanding particulate. Since my wheels had tires mounted, I used some cardboard coupons that I was going to recycle to cover the tire. They were reusable and easier than using tape. I simply overlapped them and slipped them into the bead of the tire as shown. I decided to use a self-etching primer to give the silver paint (which is more expensive) a good surface to bite to. I also made sure to tape up the valve stem!…