1991 Volkswagen GTI 16V

Without a doubt, for me the best change ever to the GTI lineup was the revision in mid-1990 of the GTI 16V. The DOHC screamer was already a pretty potent performer, but Volkswagen pushed the desirability over the top for the end of the run. The result was what many – this author included – consider the best of the breed. The original may have been more pure, and subsequent models are a lot faster and more dependable. But none of them got it quite as right as the 2.0 16V.

Outside the GTI built on its legend with wider European-market flares and deep rockers. Like all of the A2s, new ‘Big Bumper’ covers integrated fog lights and brake ducting. Yes, they looked heavier than the previous slim bumpers, but they also matched the design well. Iconic round headlights returned, now with inner driving lights too. But arguably the best change was the addition of 15″ wheels – in this case, the BBS RM multi-piece units. New colors also were introduced, including the equally iconic and signature ‘Montana Green’. Inside the interior was bulked up with large bolster Recaro Trophy seats. To match the wicked looks, under the hood was improved with a new 2.0 version of the 16V motor. The 9A introduced CIS-E Motronic fuel injection, while the bore was increased from 81mm to 82.5 and the stroke from 86.4 mm to 92.8. Compression was increased slightly from 10.5:1 to 10.8:1 and the result was 134 horsepower at 5,800 RPMs and 133 lb.ft of torque at 4,400. The engine was still matched the the 2Y close ratio transmission with a 3.67 final drive. While the GTI 16V couldn’t match the Callaway Turbo GTI we saw yesterday on sheer acceleration, it was generally reviewed as the best GTI yet. Finding a clean example today is always cause for celebration, and this one looks ready to party. Does it hold up?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen GTI 16V on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Volkswagen GTI Callaway Turbo with 34,000 Miles

It’s always a bit of a surprise when something unique and special from the mid-80s VW catalog comes along. Pre-16V GTIs are pretty hard to find in decent shape. But Callaway Turbo models with period BBS body kit and low miles? When I came across this listing you could say it wasn’t the only forced induction. Callaway was the American tuner of the 80s, building supercar-slaying twin turbo Corvettes that generated almost as much press for their acceleration as their propensity to melt down faster than Chernobyl. But on the less exotic end of the spectrum, Callaway’s turbo kits made VWs pretty potent machines. They switched from K-Jetronic to KE-Jetronic and dropped compression to 7.8:1 by adding a thick head gasket. Then on was bolted a turbocharger generating 10 lbs. of boost, pushing the GTI’s power from 105 to 150 in an instant. This resulted in low 7-second 0-60 times and a higher top speed. Callaway generally outfit his cars well with BBS body kits and wheels, and for good measure a Nissan 300ZX Turbo hood scoop for the intercooler on top of the motor too. They cost a pretty penny; a base GTI was only around $9,000 in 1985, but the turbo system in stage II configuration cost $4,000 and the BBS body kit another $1,000. Pop for some BBS wheels and tires and you were another $2,000 lighter, and some owners went farther with steering wheels, seat and radio upgrades. The result could be over $18,000 and few were sold, but then this GTI would give a more expensive Porsche a run for its money.

Amazingly, we’ve gotten to see a few of these rare GTI Turbos for sale over the past few years. Most recent was the all-white ’87 Neuspeed , but back a bit further we saw a nearly identical ’85 hit over $20,000. This lower mile example is on offer currently for only about half that amount:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen GTI Callaway Turbo on eBay

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1976 Volkswagen Scirocco with 23,000 Miles

One of our favorite colors over here at GCFSB is Viper Green. Though it’s made a resurgence on recent PTS Porsche 911s, for me it really works the best on the clean lines of 1970s models. But few remember that there were actually two Viper Greens in the 1970s. There was the popular pastel tone most associate with the name, but Volkswagen also launched its Scirocco in the 1970s with a metallic version of the color. Code L96N was ‘Viper Green Metallic’, and it looks equally lovely here on this Type 53 Scirocco as it would when equipped as a Paint To Sample on a 911SC Targa.

But there’s much more to love besides just a color here. If Viper Green Metallic wasn’t rare enough to see on a infrequently seen first generation Scirocco, this particular one is a low mileage survivor with the color-matched Tartan green interior and appears in nearly original condition:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

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Roll The Dice: 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Update 8/30/18: The car has been relisted at $3,000 Buy It Now.

I keep chuckling as I come across A2 Jettas. I’ve already professed that they’re not my favorite, yet interesting examples continue to pop up and they’re simply too good to pass on. Today’s may buck that trend, however, as it’s a non-original, non-running example. So what’s it doing here? Well, because of how it was built and how it appears today, it was worth a closer look. With a 1.8 PL 16V swap, a great set of Ronal wheels and some other VW-chic mods, is this a Jetta worth saving?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL Syncro Wagon with 43,000 Miles

In the mid-1980s, Volkswagen aimed its market sights upwards and tried to gain more traction in a niche market by offering…well, more traction. Starting in 1986, Volkswagen partnered with Steyr-Damiler-Puch and made a unique alternative to corporate partner Audi’s quattro drivetrain utilizing a viscous center differential. Puch was also responsible for design and manufacturing of the T3 Vanagon Syncro, which used a different viscous coupling system because of the rear-drive platform and nature of the Vanagon. In addition to the transmission of power forwards, the T3 also offered a rear differential lock while both center and front were viscous.

But in 1986, there was a third option. Because the Volkswagen Quantum (née Passat) shared nearly all of its internal architecture with the B2 Audis, fitment of the quattro setup from the Quattro and 4000S/CS quattro was possible – so Volkswagen did it. As there was no Audi B2 Avant, Volkswagen offered the new Quantum quattro – also badged Syncro – in Wagon form, and only in wagon form. This meant that there was no competition crossover between the 4000 quattro and Quantum Syncro in the U.S. market. The Quantum also continued to run smaller 4x100mm hubs versus the Audi, which allowed it to utilize the same “snowflake” Avus wheels borrowed from the GTI. Pricing was on par with period 4000 quattros, though – base price was $15,645, but equip the Quantum similarly to the standard 4000 with power windows, mirrors, locks and sunroof and you’d quickly crest $17,000 – about $4,000 more dear than a standard GL5. Unlike the 4000, Quantum Syncro Wagons came standard only with power steering, brakes, cruise control and air conditioning. You had to opt-in the power package to get the other items.

That made the Quantum Syncro Wagon very much more expensive than, say, a Subaru GL 4WD Wagon or the Toyota Tercel SR5 4WD Wagon. But both of those cars were part-time 4WD; in order to get a car with similar build quality and seamless drive of all wheels, you’d need to pony up a staggering $30,000 for the Audi 5000CS quattro Avant. Volkswagen only brought over 2,500 1986s, making them a rare treat to see today. But the condition which this particular 1986 appears in is staggering:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Email seller of 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

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1999 Volkswagen Caravelle Westfalia Syncro TDi

Update 11/11/18: The seller has dropped the asking price to $50,000.

Update 9/12/18: The seller has updated their asking price to $54,000.

For decades, I’ve had a pipe dream of taking a Westy van cross-country. When I was a teenager, a family member had a late 80s Vanagon Westfalia, and we went on a camping trip in it. It was great! And while I’m certain time has diminished the drawbacks of our method of transport on that trip, the knowledge of that isn’t enough extinguish my desire.

Unfortunately for me, it seems like I’m not alone. #VanLife has pushed the value of these clever boxes on wheels up substantially. Clean T3 campers regularly hit the market in the same territory as late 70s 911s. Even the replacement T4 Eurovan Weekender – which just has a bed, and none of the real camping gear the earlier Westfalias had – command a substantial premium over a non-pop-top T4. By far, the Volkswagen vans are the most expensive products from their catalog.

So you can imagine that if we get a rare Euro version of the T4 over here, it’ll probably be worth a look:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Volkswagen Caravelle Westfalia Syncro TDi on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

The Jetta Diesel wasn’t a big seller in the U.S. early on as oil-burners fell out of favor in the mid-80s. Up through 1987, you had your choice of the 1.6 liter diesels with or without turbochargers, producing 68 and 52 horsepower, respectively. For 1988, both disappeared, yet oddly there was a run of ’89-’90 Jettas that reintroduced the 1.6 ME diesel prior to the launch of the new EcoDiesel model. While the diesel had been able to be selected in higher “GL” trim level earlier, the ’89-’90s were base model only and are fairly rare to find. But today a nice ’89 example has popped up for sale:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel on eBay

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El Jettamino: 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Smyth Pickup

Although I’ve espoused my love of wagons and their do-everything nature, the reality is that I live in the suburbs and there are certainly some times (read: pretty often, actually) that I could use a pickup truck. But, if I’m completely honest, I’ve previously owned a big Chevrolet 2500HD pickup and I’m still not convinced that I’m a pickup kind of guy. Worse still, have you priced a pickup out lately? HOLY MACKEREL. A base Silverado starts at almost $30,000 and if you want things like…seats, and/or wheels, you’ll quickly need more than $40,000. When I see $40,000 asks on a pickup which a) I know will be rusting in 5 years no matter what I do and b) because it’s a GM, will almost certainly break, I get pretty annoyed. Worse still, the “Heartbeat of America” isn’t built in America. I know. I live right by the port where they all come in on a boat. Beside the steady stream of Fiats, Volkswagens, Porsches and Alfa Romeos, there’s a long line of Chevrolet and GMC pickups being driven into the United States for the first time.

So how about a pickup that’s a bit more my speed? Built in America with tons of European flare by utilizing recycled Audi/Volkswagen products, there’s always the Smyth Pickup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Smyth Pickup on eBay

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1995 Volkswagen Cabrio 1.8T

When the second generation Cabriolet finally launched for 1995, Volkswagen had waited so long to replace the A1 chassis that it completely bypassed the A2. What appeared then was a A3 chassis, and compared to the outgoing model it was bigger, rounder, softer and not appreciably sportier. Motivation was from the same ABA 2.0 inline-4 found in the standard Golf rated at 115 horsepower, so to make it ‘hipper’ Volkswagen dropped the “let” from the name.

It was, however, instantly recognizable as the new go-to affordable 4-seater drop-top, but sales were slow in the mid-90s. Volkswagen sold just over 5,800 1996s, for example. They were pretty expensive for a Golf at nearly $20,000 MSRP and over with some options, but then this was the cheapest German convertible you could buy. The big problem was that for less money you could get the much more entertaining (and reliable) Miata. The combination of low production numbers, the classic styling of the original and lack of enthusiast appeal mean we just about never feature them. I last wrote up a Cabriolet in July 2017, and the last Cabrio was a year earlier. So there’s nothing to see here? Not with this turned up and built one, that’s for sure!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Volkswagen Cabrio on eBay

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Forever in Blue Jeans: 2001 Volkswagen Beetle

I’ve talked in previous posts about how in the early 1990s, the standard Jetta was pretty hard to get excited about because of the other neat products at your local VW dealership. But the Jetta was done a service by the birth of its new sibling – the New Beetle. Looking a bit like a Golf with mumps, the New Beetle was gimmicky and a clever marketing exercise, but as an enthusiast it was about as far from desirable as you could get. Adding to that was that a majority of early examples were tied to the “2.Slow” and had an automatic transmission – now you were stuck in a slow fish bowl.

To make it more appealing, nearly since its inception VW has had special editions of the Beetle pretty much every year. 2018’s are the ‘Convertible Coast’, which has a “surfboard-look appearance dashboard” and the ‘Dune’, which comes with a free VHS copy of the eponymous movie I think. 2017 included the ‘Classic’ model which had a special interior. But for special interiors, we need to talk about 2016’s ‘Denim’ edition. It was a throwback to the 1970s, when Volkswagen launched multiple ‘Jeans’ editions of the original Beetle, replete with “denim-style” fabric. But these two weren’t the only times that a Volkswagen attempted to capture America’s favorite pantalones:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Volkswagen Beetle on eBay

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