1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

When I owned my 4-door 1986 Golf, there were two things I really coveted but never had; blacked-out VW symbols front and rear and red piping on my bumper covers. It may sound silly to hear such things, but those small details were just about all that differentiated the GLi and GTi from the normal Golfs and Jettas in 1986. Granted, there were other details, too – for example, you couldn’t get the color of my car – Titian Red Metallic – on one of the performance models, they had “big” 14″ alloys, subtle fender “flare” trim and the red piping continued to the side moldings. Other than that, you’d need to jump into the car to tell the difference; again, small but notable details like the steering wheel, dash trim and options that weren’t readily available on most normal A2s. But the addition of a few horsepower to these light sedans really transformed the driving experience. They weren’t fast by any means, but instead of lazily climbing the tach like your overweight co-worker trying to make it up the flight of stairs when the elevator is out, the GTi/GLis raced up the tach like those red trimmings seemed to promise they would. At least, it felt that way in 1986….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLi on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen GLi 16v Project Car Part 2

Welcome to the latest project car installment, part 2 of my recent GLi purchase. In part 1 I was still giddy with the new acquisition and the car was coming back from Paul at Sports Car Shop with some fueling and suspension tweaks. It didn’t take long before I sent the car back for more work though, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is how she looked after getting raised up significantly when I got her back the first time earlier this winter (Instagramed of course):


Soon after we got a ridiculous 18″ of snow in two days, which is unheard of in the Pacific Northwest. The Jetta got sidelined while the trusty Volvo XC70 got us the necessary supplies (snacks and booze).


While the nice shiny lips on the Enkei92’s helped to distract from the overall condition of the car, I’ve never cared for staggered rims on front wheel drive cars. It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. Plus when these came out originally they were much more at home on late 70’s and early 80’s cars and trucks.

So I set about finding a set of Corrado Sebrings from the G60 model as I’ve always thought they looked the part on MKII’s, and in fact had them on our Golf several years back. This time around though they were harder to source and I actually bought them from a very nice guy on Craigslist in Phoenix, some 1300 miles away. For less than $400 they arrived at my door and really suit me much better with that OEM+ look. Here’s a shot shortly after they were mounted:

MK Jetta GLi Sebring Wheels

The replacement of the in-tank fuel pump, as well as setting everything in the fuel injection back to factory specification, helped the hard starts and idling quite a bit. The primary fuel pump is still making a fair bit of noise so that will be addressed soon as well.

While it was definitely more fun to drive after Paul’s initial tweaks, I definitely had an urge to do more as soon as I could. There is so much potential in this car and every time it comes back from him, it’s closer to the vision I have for the end result. So back it went for more work at the hands of the master. Here’s the list of repairs and improvements this time:

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  • A new starter was fitted as it was becoming more obvious this would be an issue sooner or later.
  • Front brakes and discs, axles, ball joints, motor mounts, and all the related rubber and bushings. Shame on the previous owners for spending more on wheels and cheap suspension than properly taking care of key components on the car!
  • Refreshed the shifter and it’s very crisp now.

dansjetta2 038

It’s hard to describe just how much a difference these small changes made and that are often overlooked. With these improvements in place the shitty suspension is almost tolerable. But really I plan to put on an H&R Cup Kit next and this will truly make the car a respectable driver and a pleasure to drive.

After that it’s time to put in the headliner, make sure the grill is appropriately dressed, and fit a proper, period car audio system. Thanks for following along,


I’ve had this post in draft for weeks as I’ve had other distractions preventing me from finishing. Here’s a wallpaper in 1920×1080 of how the car looks right now with all the repairs currently in place.


10K Friday: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI with VR6

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One of the things that initially intrigued me so much with VWs back in the day was the concept that Volkswagen Auto Group parts were much more like Lego than other makes; you could grab different pieces and improve and modify as you pleased. This Jetta takes that concept to 11, OEM+ing the heck out of 1992 Jetta GLI. With enough specific year-model-piece details to make your head spin (88 Jetta bumper, 92 GLI spoiler, Italian grill, 97 GTI shifterbox, etc…), it’s essentially a greatest hits of Volkswagen performance. Yet unlike a greatest hits set from auteurs like Pink Floyd or the Beatles, which remove the context which amplified the songs’ greatness, this GLI makes all the pieces work in harmony for a result greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve said before that the Mk2 GLI reminds me of a frugal E28 M5/535is, and this is no exception. Looks great all around, must go great with the VR6, and is all clearly chosen for specific gratification. If any Mk2 Jetta is going to pull $10k, it might as well be this one.

Click for more details: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

For those who may have missed it, one of GCFSB’s own, Dan, recently purchased a 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V. Dan’s car is a work in progress, but for less than $3,000 proves to be solid value and a good basis to undertake some modifications to make it into a fun daily driver. He has already started work on personalizing it, so stayed tuned for updates in the near future. This Jetta GLI is of the same vintage with around the same mileage as Dan’s car. While it just hit 200,000 miles, it looks as if it could have done half of that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

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1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLi VR6 Syncro

Dan’s recent acquisition and post about the new GCFSB Project GLi got me thinking about GLis again. Truth be told, I’m firmly in “Camp Golf”, but I had a few friends with nice GLis growing up and they were always great looking and fun. One in particular was a very clean black 91 model, correct with the original BBS wheels. One day my friend came to me and asked if I wanted to buy it; I did, but it was pretty far outside of my price range at that point, so I watched it disappear to some distant land and new owner. That seems to be the story with many GLis and German car fans; everyone seems to know someone who had one at some point and now misses it. I have a feeling that today’s owner is someone who will miss this particular GLi very much, as likely will be all of his friends – who probably like me want it very much but can’t swing buying it right now. But unlike my friend’s clean 1991 2.0 GLi, today’s example shares very little in common with most GLis at all. A bunch of runs to the Volkswagen parts bag have yielded a pretty unique GLi – a VR6-swapped, Syncro-swapped sleeper. Yes, please!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLi VR6 Syncro on Phoenix Craigslist

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1989 Volkswagen GLi 16v Project Car Part 1

Introducing the first official GCFSB project car! I’m going to encourage the guys to start blogging their rides too, but since this one fell into my lap when I needed a cheap daily driver, I’ll start first.

1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

This car isn’t a perfect fit for our site as it has it’s share of bumps and bruises. Overall it’s a bit of a kid’s car in it’s current state and we obviously prefer to feature the cream on this site: examples that are worthy of the attention of well informed enthusiasts. But that’s exactly what led me to buy this car.

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1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V Helios Edition

If yesterday’s 1987 Jetta GLi didn’t spark your interest, perhaps one of the most sought-after GLis made will. The 1989-only “Helios Edition” Jetta GLi took the already good economy sports sedan from Volkswagen and followed the “more is better” rule, adding better BBS RA color-coded wheels and awesomely striped and hugely supportive Recaro seats. It was the prototype for what would become the standard GLi in 1990, but this car was decidedly the best GLi we had seen to that point. Only 1500 were made and they infrequently come up for sale, so while today’s isn’t in as good of shape as the 1987 from yesterday, it’s still a bit of an event to see one:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta GLi 16V Helios Edition on eBay

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1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

Nearly as rare to see as the 1984 Jetta GLi is the model that replaced it, the 1985-1987 8V Jetta GLi. While I’ve lamented several times that we didn’t receive the 4 door GTi until just recently, the reality is that for all intents and purposes, through 1992 the GLi was a 4 door GTi with a trunk. They shared nearly all of their running gear, styling and performance; the only difference was the non-folding seats and the trunk. Despite this the GTi was the more popular option for most, and the GLis that were sold suffered from rust and heavy use. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I saw a fairly clean early A2 GLi for sale; but here’s a pretty good example today!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Jetta GLi on eBay

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2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDi Cup Edition

2014 will reportedly introduce to the U.S. a car that many Volkswagen fans have been eagerly awaiting – the Golf “GTD” TDi. Basically a GTi with the turbo diesel in place of the 2.0T, the GTD looks great, drives wonderfully and gets some fantastic mileage. But go back a few years and we basically already had the prototype here; the short lived 2010 Jetta TDi Cup Edition. What you got for your hard earned bucks was a basically a Jetta GLi with it’s heart yanked out and replaced by the thrifty and torque-laden turbo diesel. But this wasn’t just a styling exercise for Volkswagen – they had actively engaged in racing the Jetta TDi in the “TDi Cup” to help promote the TDi brand, so this car has some racing heritage as well. Only 1,500 were produced in black, white, blue, or today’s Salsa Red:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDi Cup Edition on eBay

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