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2004 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDi

Continuing on the diesel theme from yesterday, let’s take a look at another no spark Volkswagen. Again we have one that flies below the radar but is worth a lot more than you’d expect. The pre-scandal TDis have a serious niche following. While not quite as set-it-and-forget-it as the 1Z, the derivatives – first the AHU, then the later ATD/AXR and other models similar to today’s example, were nonetheless high-mileage warriors. Rated at 100 horsepower and 177 lb. ft of torque, performance wasn’t outstanding – 0-60 took a few ticks over 11 seconds, it’d take a half minute to hit 100 and top speed was limited to 115 mph. But then you weren’t really buying this car for it’s straight line acceleration. What you were buying it for was notable longevity and, of course, fuel mileage. At a time when the standard 2.0 inline-4 struggled to return about 30 mpg at best and the 1.8T was no better, the premium for the TDi gave you 33 mpg city and over 40 on the highway. You could stretch it even farther on a tank if you were careful. Impressive? Well, for the time, it was one of the very few diesel motors you could buy in the U.S. and set the stage for the popularity of the Mk.5 models.

As we saw with the Jetta Wagon, the ‘GLS’ trim moved upscale and included nicer wheels and interior bits. But just like that Jetta, the combination of a 4-door Golf, GLS trim, the turbo diesel motor and a 5-speed manual are quite hard to come by:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Golf GLS TDi on eBay

Year: 2004
Model: GLS TDi
Engine: 1.9 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 172,630 mi
Price: No Reserve Auction


With a lot more miles than the Jetta, condition on this Golf is clearly not as good as depicted on the Jetta. The color combination is also more conservative. Though not listed, I believe the color is Blue Anthracite Pearl. It’s pretty if understated. The wheels are the 15″ x 6″ ‘Jarama’ wheels which are again conservative but good looking, and the GLS package got the sunroof as well. The overall presentation isn’t outstanding, but in typical TDi form this car appears better than an average 170,000 mile Golf. Very little information is provided, but the real value is a clean starting place – most TDi enthusiasts aren’t necessarily looking for a turn-key example, but rather one that isn’t a wreck. Job done here.

As a result, while the Jetta 1.8T wagon – by far a superior performing car and in better shape than this example – traded at below $1,800, with a little over a day remaining on this no reserve auction the bids are already double at $3,600. It wouldn’t surprise me to see another $1,000 added to that amount or even more if the right people are in the room. While that seems like strong money for a “regular” Golf, this particular package has a devoted following and finding a clean GLS 5-speed like this one in a no reserve format is very unusual.



  1. Markiteight
    Markiteight November 29, 2017

    Not sure where you’re getting your facts/figures but they’re a bit off. Mk4s came to North America with two diesel engines: first the ALH (90hp, 155 lb/ft), replaced in late 2003 with the BEW (100hp, 177 lb/ft) for the ’04 and ’05 model years. A Golf TDI with manual transmission was rated at 49mpg highway, 44 city. My ’05 Jetta TDI routinely gets 45-48 mixed mpg and 54 on long road trips. The mileage figures you quote are for the automatic.

  2. Shmcquilkin
    Shmcquilkin November 30, 2017

    ^Agree. The automatic suffering for mileage due to the larger 11mm injection pump…. which, when transplanted into a manual, gives modest, but perceptible, gains. Parts are plentiful, and there is a very robust support community, called “Fred’s” for the site originator).

    There is a very easy 5th gear swap (which is accessed via the driver’s side of the 02J manual tranny with only having to remove that side’s wheel, and then an access plate) which would allow hwy ‘hypermiling’ in the 60s mpg.

    The ALH and BEW plants are easily tuned with an ecu chip, larger injectors, and a better breathing exhaust, and with a Peloquin or Quaiffe LSD, these are transformed into still economic and frugal, but then peppy and winter-competent little buggers. I’ve grown up into different platforms (Audi AAN and Merc M157), but my original 2003 ALH Jetta is still fun to autocross with 150hp/290ft-lb.

    Beware timing belt intervals, and intake manifold clogging of exhaust gasses from the EGR emissions system. Also, if the glow plug light flashes on the dash after already having been started, check the rear tails for a bulb out, lol (really).

  3. Carter
    Carter November 30, 2017

    Good info, thanks guys!

  4. Markiteight
    Markiteight November 30, 2017

    Great info for the Bosh VE pump equipped ALH engine. Unfortunately most of it doesn’t really apply to this Golf, which has the later Pumpe Duse BEW engine. The loss of fuel economy with the automatic wasn’t attributed to the larger 11mm pump as that was paired with smaller injectors for a net increase in fuel pressure and a finer spray (reduced emissions) with no increase in injection quantity. Besides, the BEW doesn’t use an injection pump – the high pressure pumps are built into each injector and are fired mechanically by the camshaft.

    BEW equipped cars also don’t suffer the intake clogging issues of the older ALH. In 150,000 miles mine has never been cleaned and it’s still wide open. It also seems VW solved the glow plug harness issue on the later cars as that’s a common failure (but relatively easy fix) specific to the ALH.

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