How can you talk about 1980s Volkswagens and not mention the Scirocco? Karmann’s lift of the Giugiaro Asso di Picche, Asso di Quadri and Asso di Fiori designs was plainly evident, but that they were borrowed really should come as a surprise. After all, the reception to the master Italian designer’s other pens – the Golf, first generation Scirocco, Audi 80 (4000) and Coupe GT firmly established both companies in the public limelight. In the case of Volkswagen, it defined a company emerging from the shadow of the air-cooled generation; for Audi, it modernized designs and capitalized on the success of the 100 lineup in the 1970s. But Karmann had been integral in the production of the first two as well, making an easy transition from ItalDesign to Volkswagen’s go-to special production for the second generation Scirocco.
But while the design was all grown up and modern for the 1980s, the underpinnings were the same; little changed dynamically between the 1981 and 1982 model year, and though upgrades came over the next few years with higher-spec trim and a bit more power, it wasn’t until 1986 that VW coupe fans finally got to rejoice as the addition of the PL 1.8 liter dual-cam inline-4 finally joined the lineup. Now with 123 high-revving horsepower, the Scirocco went a bit more like the wind it was named after. The wide-ratio, economy-minded gearbox of yore was gone too, replaced by a close-ratio gearbox. Like the GTI and GLI, 14″ ‘Teardrop’ wheels and a new bodykit heightened the boy-racer appearance, and the 16V models got all matchy-matchy before the Golf and Jetta, too, with body-colored painted bumpers.
Perhaps this was a shot across the bow of the other Giugiaro-designed, sporty 2-door coupe on the market – the Isuzu Impulse Turbo. Because as much of a VW nut as I am, let’s be honest – the Impulse was cooler.…
There are some obvious links to yesterday’s ’86 Golf in this 1990 Cabriolet. Beyond both being Volkswagens and based upon the Golf platform, they both have low mileage. Above and beyond that, they’re also both the base models of the lineup for their respective year.
In 1990, the Cabriolet was broken into three trim levels; base Cabriolet, the “Best Seller” we looked at recently, and the triple white “Boutique” model at the top. All shared the basic underpinnings with the 94 horsepower Digifant 2H 1.8 liter inline-4 and 5-speed AUG (010 3-speed automatic was optional) and 9.4″ front vented rotors and rear drums. The only differences came in the Boutique’s leather interior and wheel options; the Best Seller having the teardrop 14″ alloys in all silver, while the Boutique’s insets were color-matched white. You could also opt for package P24 in the Best Seller, which gave you both air conditioning and cruise control. Option package P60 in the normal Cabriolet only got you the first option – outside of color, the only selection you could make for the 1990 model year to the base model. In place of 14″ alloys, you instead got 14″ steel wheels with trim rings shared with the 1990-1992 Jetta.
But just because this model isn’t a higher-specification model doesn’t make it desirable, because here condition, color and mileage trump all other considerations:
For fans of the GTI, the 4th generation offered a few “greatest hits” editions for the model. The first to launch was the 2001 “25th Anniversary Edition”, built to commemorate a quarter century of hot Volkswagen hatches – in Europe, at least. Since the GTI wasn’t launched in the U.S. until 1983, a “18th” anniversary wouldn’t have made much sense here. However, what was basically the 25th Anniversary Edition was brought here in 2002. The “337” Edition ran in 2002 with Votex bodywork and great BBS RC wheels, along with a cozy set of Recaro seats. Only 1,250 were sold out fairly quickly, so in 2003 Volkswagen continued the greatest hits parade with the release of the nearly identical 20th Anniversary Edition. Each was numbered and a total of 4,200 were made, each now available in three colors and with OZ-made Aristo wheels in place of the BBSs as well as different interior fabric over the same Recaro seats. They were popular new and have remained the Mk.4 to get outside of the R for the past 15 years:
I think this Corrado SLC is an interesting comparison to yesterday’s Misano Red ALMS Edition Audi TT 225 Coupe. Like the Audi, in 1993 The Corrado SLC with its throaty 2.8 liter VR6 engine was the top of the heap in the 2-door product offerings. It too was a 2+2 hatchback best suited for only the first part of that equation. While the heavyweight Audi packed more punch from the turbocharged 1.8T, the all-wheel drive meant it was quite a bit heavier – so acceleration between the two wasn’t as much of a gulf as you’d expect, with both ticking 60 mph in under 7 seconds. Both have a unique style and both are fan favorites, with the nod probably going to the Corrado on greater market appeal to “enthusiasts”, while more people who drive appliances to work view the TT as a “cute” weekend car.
Yet here we are, in a market where you could buy a very nice example of either for the difference of a latte.
I’m going to continue my string of 924s with an interesting 1978 today. This car represents the early run of the original design. It was a simple, no-frills, lightweight sports car – in essence, what Porsche was all about. However, Porsche’s headlining cars had moved on to powerful 6- and 8-cylinder designs, and turbocharging ruled the roost in performance options – so the EA827 derivative normally aspirated 4-cylinder from corporate partners Volkswagen and Audi was selected. That relegated the 924 to only about 100 horsepower, but with good handling and excellent aerodynamics they were still entertaining – albeit relatively slow – drives.
And, at less than $10,000 new, they were an affordable sports car with good build quality and a name established in winning prestigious races around the world. Yet, as Porsche does, sales success didn’t stop them from launching marketing-targeted limited production models nearly every single year – and charging a lot more money for them with options (up to around $15,000!). Today, if you want to collect an early 924, they’re generally the ones to grab. 1976-7 saw the Martini World Championship cars, while in 1978 you could have the Limited Edition model, and in 1979 the Sebring model. There was a 1980 Le Mans edition and further specials that we’ve seen, too. Along with the addition of the Turbo to the lineup in 1980, then, there generally isn’t much of a call to look at a non special edition early 924. But, this is one that might buck that trend….
Recently, I went on a train ride with my son to the local airshow at Quonset Point in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The location also is the port which brings in a fair chunk of the Audi and Volkswagen products destined for New England. And, more recently, it’s also become a graveyard.
As the train rounded the corner onto the siding heading towards the port, what used to be an abandoned rail yard of a forgone era – a reminder of when the Navy had a major presence and money in Rhode Island – has been filled to the brim with a new activity. Yet it’s equally as sad as the dusty boarded up military buildings which once lined what has become an industrial park. That’s because it’s the home of all of the local “Dieselgate” buybacks of Volkswagen TDis.
Row after row of (to me) effectively brand new or lightly used TDis greeted us as the train shook on the decrepit rails. So bad is the condition of the track in that area that the train is limited to nearly walking speed; fitting, as it made the procession by the flocks of abandoned Volkswagens all the more painful to witness. We couldn’t just buzz past quickly; it was as if the antiquated rail system was offering a commentary on the VW scandal.
It brought me back to a little over a decade prior when Volkswagen came roaring back to the U.S. with its promise of “Clean Diesel”. A fan of the brand, I – like so many others – felt genuine enthusiasm as the products which dominated Europe were finally coming to the U.S.! Real world mileage was met with manual 6-speed transmissions and even a wagon – and more people than ever were flocking to the brand, happy to identify themselves as budding environmentalists because of their discerning automotive choice.…
The first water-cooled entrant into the Volkswagen world had remarkable staying power, just like its air-cooled brethren had before it. Construction of the first models began back in 1974, and though the convertible version didn’t begin production until five years later, the renamed (but largely unchanged) Cabriolet wouldn’t wrap up production until an amazing 1993. Granted, by that point the Cabriolet was more niche model and nostalgic throwback than practical transportation, but nonetheless it was an impressive return on investment in the chassis design that 19 years later it was still being produced. And, if you want to count the reworked South African version, technically the Mk.1 was still available for sale until 2009!
What we have here is one of the later U.S. specification Cabriolets. In 1988, Volkswagen updated the look of the aging model (which, incidentally, had just been lightly refreshed in 1985 and renamed Cabriolet from Rabbit Convertible) to the “Clipper” models. Signature would become the four-headlight grill, deeper and smoother front fascia, wider fender flares and side skirts. The Cabriolet became the first Volkswagen model to sport an airbag as standard in 1990, too, as well as a new knee protection bar to the lower portion of the dashboard. 1990 also marked the change from the ex-GTI CIS motor to the Digifant electronic fuel injection. The more upscale models, like this “Best Seller”, also received the 16V model “Teardrop” alloys making for a slick looking package:
Has it really been a month since our last “What We’re Watching”?!? Today I’ve lined up another group of rare and rarely seen models that all have their fans. Once again, they’re all no reserve, offering us a great glimpse at where the market is heading on some models and where deals can still be found:
Click for Details: 1984 Volkswagen Transporter Syncro Panel Van
This one ticks all the right rarity boxes in the T2 market; it’s a Syncro and very unique in that it’s a panel van, though admittedly that probably limits the appeal to those who carry passengers. The “Expedition Build” makes up for it, though, and this adventure van looks prime for traveling anywhere. Bidding is heating up on the no reserve auction, but this one is still a lot cheaper than you’d expect normally for a built Syncro at only $15,000 with a few days to go.
Click for Details: 1989 Volkswagen Fox Wagon
It takes a strong VW lover to appreciate the Fox, but the diminutive 2-door wagon has arguably the greatest appeal of the run. Built in Brazil, these models shared a lot in common with Audis of the same period with a longitudinal layout. Unlike what the seller indicates, that makes a VR6 swap not impossible, but not hugely easy. It sounds like the running condition could probably be sorted reasonably easily if the car at least starts, and the chassis is reasonably clean appearing with lower miles. Right now, a single $1,500 bid buys it, but that’s probably still strong considering it’s only a roller.
Click for Details: 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG
We definitely don’t give much press to the R170, but we probably should since the nutters at AMG got their hands on them and crafted a great option. The SLK32 might not have had the big V8 like the later 55s did, but you still got 349 horsepower from the 3.2 liter V6 for top-down 0-60 in 5 seconds.…
Yeah. Another Scirocco. If you can be fascinated by the proliferation of the mega-Beetle 911, though, you can bear with me. Volkswagen’s replacement for the Karmann Ghia, what would become the Porsche 924, proved to be perhaps a step too far for the company. What it created instead, once that was abandoned, was a bit of a legend in its own right. Based upon the pedestrian underpinnings of the Golf but actually developed in tandem and released prior to the more famous hatchback, Giugiaro’s penning of a slinkier two-door coupe variant of the platform was simply beautiful. As the Ghia had before it, it married serious Italian styling credentials with the practicality of an economy family hatchback.
Volkswagen’s new EA827 was the power of choice. Here displacing 1588 ccs and generating 71 horsepower, it was adequate motivation to top 100 mph – just. Amazing at it may seem, the nearly 1.6 liter unit in this 1977 was an upgrade over the 1.5 from the model’s 1974 launch in the U.S., though it only gained one net horsepower. They were diminutive cars; a 94.5 inch wheel base and only 155.7 inches overall, the first generation Scirocco is an amazing 10 inches shorter than the model I looked at yesterday. Even though it had little horsepower, road tests revealed that the Scirocco could out-accelerate a Mustang II Mach 1 (its contemporary) in the quarter mile. How dreary must that shoot-out have looked to our modern eyes? Suspension in front was a strut with coil-over spring setup; the rear was technically independent with a trailing arm configuration. Wheels were 13″ by 5″, or about the same size as modern brake discs on high performance cars.
As I mentioned recently in my 1979 Volkswagen Scirocco post, early water-cooled Volkswagens are really beginning to stretch their legs in value. That’s especially true for survivor cars; those untouched by the hand of times and hands of the traditional Volkswagen crew. It’s unusual to see a Scirocco at all these days, but one in pristine original condition with low mileage? Yeah, play the lottery when that comes across your field of view. Well, at least some (the traditional fans of these cars, for the most part) will now have hope to hit the lotto to throw their hat into the bidding for some of these cars: