Volkswagen of America’s new “Fahrvergnügen” sales campaign in the early 1990s was, while a marketing ploy and a totally made up neologism, underscoring sporty changes at Volkswagen. The more serious 2.0 16V GTI I’ve already covered recently, but the same motor was available in the more fun-to-drive Passat here, too. Then there was the Corrado, which while it only had 8 valves sported a supercharger. You could that that G60 in the Passat in Europe, too.
Volkswagen’s popular smaller sedan had a healthy dose of upgrades though, too. In ’89, the Jetta GLI 16V had a special Wolfsburg Edition which had added the deeply bolstered Recaro Trophy seats and BBS RA alloys. These were color-matched to the Helios Blue Metallic paint outside. The seats and BBS wheels would carry over for the 1990 model year, but like the GTI the Jetta received the new 9A 2.0 16V and revised bumper/trim of all the A2s. Brakes were updated to 10.1? and dual tailpipes emerged from the new ‘big bumper’ A2 refresh. Central locking and a cassette player were standard, while you could opt for many power options including windows, mirror, anti-lock brakes, trip computer, cruise control and of course a sunroof.
Although the package was essentially quite similar to the GTI, I’ve never quite taken to the 2.0 GLI 16V in the same way. But it’s still very nice to see a clean example hit the market:
The Audi racing program went through some really interesting changes between the late 1980s and the mid 1990s launch of what became one of the more dominant touring cars produced, the A4 STW. Continuously evolving regulations were part of that, coupled with a global recession and cost-cutting measures among many manufacturers. So it was just a few short years between the flame-breathing iconic 1989 Audi 90 IMSA and the death of the turbocharged Audi racing sedans entirely, though there were some interesting steps in between. For example, Audi tried their hand in the France with the 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme I looked at a few years ago:
Motorsports Monday: 1992 Audi 80 quattro Supertourisme
That car was powered by a crazy turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Simultaneously, Audi built a 2.5 liter V6 80 for the German DTM series, though they ended up withdrawing in protest over the series rules, and the car never ran. Quietly, in the background, a more reasonable – and very entertaining – solution emerged. In 1990, the British Touring Car Championship revised their rules to make racing more affordable in the wake of the massively fast and expensive Ford Sierra RS500s. The new regulations were based around production sedans of no more than 2.0 liters and with no turbochargers. This, in turn, led to a series of homologation specials to make cars legal for the new Super Touring regulations, and Audi was happy to take part. What emerged was the Audi 80 Competition quattro – limited to 2,500 units to comply with regulations, Audi stuffed a development of 2.0 16v inline four also found in the European-market B3 Coupe into the B4 chassis quattro, stuck an S2 front end on it and a raised rear spoiler, quattro-script interior and a few other goodies, and sold them to the public:
The 968 occupies a strange space in the Porsche world. Limited in production, good looking, well-built and with good chassis dynamics and performance, it should have all of the hallmarks of a collector car in today’s market. Many prominent automobile publications have bashed you over the head with that, too – it’s not just me banging on here. Petrolicious posts an article (the same one, usually…) seemingly every week about the Porsche 968 Club Sport, Hemmings has repeatedly said it’s the best of the breed, and Hagerty told you to get on board in 2018 and buy one. And when Bring a Trailer sold one in late 2017 at $36,250, it seemed 2018 was poised to be the year of exploding values on the 968.
But it wasn’t. Bring a Trailer has, so far to date, failed to present a match to that one-off. It’s not for lack of trying – quite a few have come up since, including a Club Sport, but they’re all below $30,000. For reference, they’re selling at about the same price as E30 325is – and I’d argue that they’re a lot nicer. So here we are in 2021, wondering exactly where the values on these cars will head. Today’s clean Guards Red coupe is priced right below that 2017 sale from BaT – so is it a deal?
While the step up to the Mk.3 added a fair amount of size – and accompanying weight – to the Volkswagen Golf, the GTI emerged with the much more potent VR6 engine borrowed from the Passat and Corrado. While admittedly the power and the exhaust note was very appealing, and in hindsight the third generation Golf looks positively tiny compared to cars today, I have always lamented the loss of the what I consider the best GTI – the 1990-1992 16V model.
But, what if that model had continued? Well, it did – just not in the U.S.. What we have here is a 1994 GTI 16V from Europe. Replete with Recaro interior, blacked-out rub strips and fender flares, beefy wheels, and dual-chamber headlights with foglights. But the best part is under the hood, where the 9A lived on as the ABF. With Digifant engine management power was up to 148 at 6,000 RPMs, while torque remained at 133 lb.ft but again higher in the range. One of these gems has turned up for sale on Ebay:
The 1991-1992 GTI followed the same basic recipe as the 1987 model the double-overhead cam motor was introduced in, but everything was turned up a few notches. Starting in the mid-1990 model year, all US bound A2s received the ‘big bumper’ treatment; new smooth aerodynamic covers front and rear. To help to differentiate it a bit, the GTI’s blackened arches were widened. Filling those arches were new 15″ wheels from BBS. The multi-piece RMs were lightweight and the perfect fit for the design, echoing other contemporary class-leading sports cars such as the M3. Volkswagen color-coded the mirrors and rear spoiler to match the car, as well. VW also gave the GTI a fresh face with more illumination; quad round lights filled the grill, and foglights were integrated into the lower bumper. Prominent GTI 16V badges still encircled the car.
Power was up to match the heightened looks. Now with 2.0 liters of twin-cam fun, the GTI produced 134 horsepower at 5,800 RPMs and 133 lb. ft of torque at 4,400 RPMs. Coupled to the close-ratio 5-speed manual, that was good enough to drop 0-60 times below 8 seconds. That may not sound like much today, but at the time it was another league of performance compared to the typical economy car. Holding you in place were the same heavily-bolstered Recaros that special editions like the ‘Helios’ 1989 Jetta GLI Wolfsburg had enjoyed.
It was a recipe for success, but these cars were also relatively expensive in period, and fell into the global recession time frame which affected sales of nearly all European marques drastically. The general consensus is that around 5,000 of the last of these GTIs were imported, putting their rarity on the level of the M3. But because they weren’t M3s, there are far less around today to enjoy and few turn up in stock configuration for a myriad of reasons. This example has not been spared that fate, but it still looks worth consideration:
The arrival of the second-generation Scirocco in 1982 was, to be honest, not much of a revelation. It’s not as though I don’t appreciate the design, though how it came about is somewhat suspect. Volkswagen canned Giugiaro as the replacement designer for the exceptionally beautiful and unique first-generation car, moving in-house to Karmann for the second go at the Golf-based sport coupe. The result looked rather suspiciously like Giugiaro’s Italdesign Asso di Fiori from 1979 and Asso di Quadri from 1976, though – the car that became the Isuzu Impulse. Two years later, and Viola! the Scirocco II debuts from Karmann with a near-identical shape. On top of that, the mechanicals continued to be based upon the first generation Golf.
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.
Today they’re hard to find in good condition at all. But this Flash Silver Metallic example threatens to break your Radwood savings account wide open with its near-showroom appearance:
Stalled projects. If you’re a budget-minded enthusiast, they are both your best friend and your worst enemy. On more than one occasion, I’ve taken over a stalled project. Or, five.
“Can you believe someone would GIVE me an Audi Coupe GT? FOR FREE????”
Of course, nothing is really free. Invariably, the subject is several hundred miles away. It’s not running. It’s missing key parts. It’s probably
a little very dirty. And despite the low entry price, by the time you’re finished you’ll likely be upside down compared to a clean example you could have bought, enjoyed, and…perhaps…driven in that time you were saving dollars to sort your pile of parts.
But then you see the ad and you’re instant thought is “Oh MAN, look at all those good parts and potential!!!”
And the cycle continues…
Okay, so recently we’ve seen neat A2 and A3 Golfs turned up a few notches – where’s the A1 love? Not to be forgotten or overlooked, the ‘original’ hot hatch is ready to make a splash in your morning feed!
This ’84 GTI looks relatively innocent enough, but it’s sporting an early production look with round headlights, thin Euro bumpers, and small taillights. It’s obviously low and it’s hard to miss those fantastic BBS RM wheels. But there’s even more to see on this neat example:
For some, the A2 is a religion and the GTI 16V is their prophet. Being that it’s the Christian Sabbath today (observed, at least – forget for a moment that it’s supposed to be Saturday!) I thought I’d take a look at a chosen few. The other meaning of sabbath, interestingly, is a meeting of witches with the Devil at midnight. Perhaps that’s more appropriate for these hot hatches, all of whom have a slightly evil temper and love mischief? Regardless, in the wake of the Rallye-inspired Golf this interesting trio of what were once original GTI 16Vs popped up, and all are worthy of a look. They range from mild to wild both in terms of mods and price. Are any of them winners?
Over the past few weeks I’ve taken a look at both the special ’89 Wolfsburg Edition Jetta GLI 16V and a ’91 GLI 16V. Both, ultimately, were lacking. The ’89 suffered from a plethora of mods but not a look quite perfect enough to be a show car, while the ’91 had a lot of needs as it had been hobbled together. So it’s a bit interesting to see another GLI 16V pop up.
Like the July example, this is a later ‘big bumper’ car. Like the ’89, this one has quite a few modifications from stock and is a special color. But perhaps because of slick photography, bigger dollar mods or the spectacularly 90s LA6U Capri Green paintwork, this one pulls it off: