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1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

Spotting of any first generation Scirocco is cause for celebration these days. Styled by the legendary Giugiaro, the front drive, watercooled sport coupe brought Volkswagen into a new market, ostensibly replacing the Karmann Ghia. While underneath the slinky 2-door body was relatively pedestrian underpinnings of the Mk.1 Golf/Rabbit, the styling of the Italian giant brought a level of prestige to the budget economy range. Some 42 years after it originally launched, the short and squat Scirocco still looks unique and different, a perfect combination of curves and angles that makes me smile every time one crosses my path:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Volkswagen Scirocco on Seattle Craigslist

Year: 1981
Model: Scirocco
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: Not Listed
Price: $6,250

Listing this for a semi retired VW mechanic buddy with 40+ yrs experience, he isn’t an internet/computer user and only has a home phone (no cell or text). 81 Scirocco in excellent condition, never been hit, originally a California car. Car was repainted once 4 yrs ago in the original “river blue” color and clear coated. Last year of the Mk 1 body style with drivability and performance upgrades.

Photobucket link with 15 pictures and a video of the engine running.

• Paint/Body/Rust — Body is in great shape with no accidents and 1 repaint in the original river blue color 4 yrs ago.
• Interior — Interior and carpet are original except for the upgraded black leather seats from an 84 Scirocco. Kenwood AM/FM/CD with detachable faceplate and Sony 6 x 9s in the rear.
• Engine — Stock 1715cc motor was upgraded to an 1800cc engine from an 88 Cabriolet but uses CIS fuel injection which allows for better adjustment and tuning was preserved. GTI exhaust and upgraded (larger) throttle body. Car runs and drives great.
• Wheels/Tires — 16V alloys were purchased new with Falken 195/60 14 tires in great shape
• Suspension — Upgraded GTI sway bars
• Other — Clear Washington title

To do list is very short, there is a crack in the lower left hand corner of the windshield.

At first glance, this is certainly a lovely Scirocco, but a few things detract from the aesthetic for me. I’m all about unusual colors, and River Blue was a new one to me on the Scirocco. But I did some digging, and I’m not sure this color was ever actually offered on the model. Indeed, you have to go back to 1977 to find any blues for color choices on the Scirocco, and then it was the deeper Ancona Blue. After 1977, for the U.S. market blue wasn’t an option. River Blue does correspond to a color that was offered on the Beetle, though, and I wonder if this car had a 1980s respray into the color. Under the hood would seem to back that up, as the color appears to be silver on the fenders – and that would make sense, as Cosmos Silver was an available shade. Overall the respray looks pretty good from what is shown, but we don’t really get a sense of the paint condition. The period chin spoiler and yellow fogs do suit the design well, but again the later Teardrop alloys don’t work in my mind with the design. That could be remedied pretty easily with some A1 GTi Snowflake alloys or maybe some BBS RA alloys. We also don’t get a good sense of the later leather seats; leatherette was available but no leather was, so this is generally a nice change. Also the upgrade from 1.7 to later 1.8 motor gives some additional motivation, along with suspension changes. Overall, the upgrades are pretty tasteful though I’m a bit of a sucker for how the more original A1s look, and especially the “S” models. However, it’s hard to find clean first generation Sciroccos and this one overall looks like a nice starting point that could be brought to the next level.

Thanks to our reader Mike for the spot!



  1. Todd
    Todd January 16, 2016

    In 1982, my Dad gave me a 1981 Scirocco S with 9K miles. It was Cosmos Silver. Interior was the same color as this one. Those seats were perfect. Over the 9 years that I owned it, I did several modifications. I replaced the throttle body with one made by Weber, called the “Big Throat”. 😉
    Next, I added a hood scoop, over the intake vents at the base of the windscreen. It increased the flow of air to the interior, and looked kinda cool. I painted it body color. I think it was made by Kamei. Then, a Kamei front air dam. The original got cracked in a big snowstorm. I actually ran over it, as it plowed under the car. The car was amazing in the snow, BTW. Using the e-brake, you could power through corners, using the front wheels to pull you and the brake handle to slide the rear. Much fun! Next, I added GTI 14″ wheels, from the ’84 model. Then, I bought Zender urethane side skirts and a Zender rear wing. I had the side skirts painted body color, along with the bumpers. I added a red pinstripe to the bumpers. The rear wing remained black. I still have a tube of ‘Zender spoiler cream’, that came with the wing. Next, I sourced a rear emblem that said ‘Scirocco GT’, to replace the ‘Scirocco S’ badge. Of course I needed more lighting, so I ordered a set of European headlights and the grill. Much better looking. I decided to give the car a sort of Rally look. I installed Hella rectangle driving lights below the bumper. I don’t remember the model, but I know that they were the largest, single bulb model available. 7″ round Hella fog lights were mounted on top of the bumper. I installed a set of yellow headlight bulbs in the main lights. I could really light up the night! Oh, and I removed the Cat and installed an ANSA twin exhaust tip. Very loud. I could set off car alarms everywhere! Fond memories. I also owned a 1981 Rabbit S, 1984 GTI, and a 1985 Scirocco, with a ton of performance parts.
    Now, I’m just an old man in a 1996 Jaguar Vanden Plas.

  2. Glenn
    Glenn January 16, 2016

    FYI, Blue was available on Sciroccos prior to 1977. My first (of many) Scirocco’s was a ’75 in a baby-blue type hue. During the A1 Scirocco model run, there was a nice ice-y type metallic light blue that was really nice. I’m not sure of the name of that color, and this example may possibly be that particular shade, although this looks to be a tad darker.

    If it is indeed an un-hit, rust free example, that would be quite a find. There’s no mention of mileage on the chassis or length of ownership. Even if not severely abused, the chassis’s do have some weak spots, like the passenger side engine mount and the lower control arm front attachment points.

    I’m chomping on the bit about this car. I’ve been thinning out the herd in recent years, including a Scirocco that I owned for 30+ years that I shouldn’t have sold. 🙁 So buying this would be quite illogical… but I want it!

  3. Carter
    Carter January 16, 2016

    @Glenn, right, my point was that 77 was the last year that blues were available. Check out Ancona Blue in the 1977 brochure: According to the VW brochures, there were no blues after 1977.

    @Todd, great story, thanks for sharing!

  4. Carter
    Carter January 16, 2016

    @Glenn, sorry, to further clarify – River Blue Metallic is an actual Volkswagen color and it appears to match the color of this Scirocco. Here it is on a Beetle:

    However, River Blue Metallic isn’t a color that was available on the 1981 Scirocco.

    Here’s Ancona Blue:

    Here’s a Lagoon Blue example:

    Either of those look like yours?

  5. Doug
    Doug January 16, 2016

    Original or not, I think that color really suits the car.

  6. KevinR
    KevinR January 17, 2016

    Considering the fact that the engine bay is silver, I highly doubt this car’s original color was River blue. As with any 35 year old car that has been modified from stock, a thorough PPI is definitely in order.

    I have wanted one of these since I was 16 years old, but somehow never managed to buy one. I can’t comment on the asking price because I haven’t been following these cars lately.

  7. Todd
    Todd January 17, 2016

    The color in the engine bay looks like Cosmos Silver. It’s a silvery metallic blue. Or, it could be a blueish metallic silver. I’m not sure which.
    Cosmos Silver was available on 81 Scirocco’s.
    And, a correction to my post up top. The interior of my S model had cloth Recaro’s. Black with the red stripes down the middle. Not the black leather seats in this example. Also, I didn’t have the vinyly woodish dash trim.

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