2002 Volkswagen Jetta 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: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup on eBay

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2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

A few years before TDI-gate broke, Volkswagen did something that seemed to me to be quite strange. The MQB-based Jetta had launched in 2011 and carried over the then-popular turbodiesel. With a boatload of torque, the TDI was reasonably sporty to drive, returned around 40 mpg on the highway, would clip to 60 in about 8 seconds, and had a base price of about $24,000 in 2013. But the same year, Volkswagen introduced a new hybrid version of the Jetta. This had a turbocharged and intercooled 1.4-liter inline-four mated with an electric motor and a 1.1-kWh battery for a combined output of 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While the TDI could be had in six-speed manual form, the hybrid only came in DSG 7-speed guise, and it was rated* at 48 mpg on the highway, would do 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, and had a base price $2k higher than the TDI.

So at first glance, the hybrid seemed to offer a reasonable return on investment; for only a small up front price, you got 20% better mileage right? Not so fast. In the real world, the TDI would return better mileage than the numbers suggested, while the hybrid returned worse….a lot worse. Real world testing suggested that on the highway, the more slippery Jetta only got about 38 mpg. Considering the technology thrown at it, that was pretty horrible. After all, my twin-turbocharged inline-six 135i, which was not designed with fuel economy in mind at all, will return over 30 mpg on the highway at 70 plus mph. On top of that, the hybrid didn’t sound as sexy as the TDI did (strangely) to a lot of people, and, in hindsight and considering the buy-back credits, the TDI was a much better purchase. How about today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid on eBay

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2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Fahrenheit Edition

Back in 2007, Volkswagen launched two special editions with the same name but different specification; the Fahrenheit Editions of the GTI and GLI. Effectively these were limited-edition appearance packages; 1200 each of the GTI finished in Magma Orange and the GLI finished in Imola Yellow. Both got 18″ Charleston wheels, a numbered steering wheel with contrasting stitching, upgraded audio, the Premium Package, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, and leather interior with heated front seats – otherwise, these were stock 2.0Ts with your choice of the DSG gearbox or the six-speed manual. They weren’t exactly cheap when new – you’d have to plunk down nearly $30,000 to get into one, at which point you were about $3,000 shy of a BMW 328i. Still, with only 2,400 imported, they’re somewhat rare to see, and this one has been owned by the seller since it was just 10,000 miles old. The thing is, that doesn’t mean it’s a keeper.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Fahrenheit Edition on eBay

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1997 Volkswagen Jetta Trek

If an effort to bolster slow sales in the 1990s and rebrand itself as a fun-loving alternative to the rest of the modest budget alternatives, Volkswagen rolled out a new marketing campaign and several special editions of the popular third-generation Golf and Jetta. Probably the most famous is the Harlequin, but there was also the Jetta GT and the Wolfsburg Edition. But the ones that really struck a cord with college students were the K2 and Trek editions, as they came not only with your Fahrvergnügen driving experience, but something to do when you got there as well.

In the case of the Trek Edition, you could get alloy wheels, front fog lights, special interior trim, a sunroof, and a rear spoiler. But the most important part of the package was of course the Trek mountain bike that came mounted to the roof rack. It was a silly marketing gig for what was neither the best car nor the best mountain bike available, but it was fun and cool. And today, it’s pretty rare to find them still attached to one another:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen Jetta Trek Edition on eBay

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1998 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6

Purists decried the arrival of the “grown up” A3 chassis Golf and Vento, sold as the Jetta in North America. It was expensive, it was heavy (relative to the A1 and A2 chassis, anyway) and the performance was dulled – that was, until the introduction of the GLX model that replaced the earlier GLI models. Now sporting the VR6 that had debuted in the Corrado and Passat a few years earlier, the GLX was all around a screamer. It might have been heavier than the GLI it replaced, but it was quicker to 60, quieter on the highway, more comfortable and better in crashes (if things went south), and returned close to the same fuel economy as the thirsty, buzzy and boxy 16V had. The Volkswagen Jetta III, as it was known in the US, was introduced at a time when US sales were at their lowest and it appeared as if VW was considering pulling out of the US market, but this generation Jetta became the best-selling Volkswagen by the time the production run ceased in 1999. It was insanely popular and seemed to be the defacto college car of choice for both men and women. Because of that, many of these Jettas fell into disrepair or were totaled, so it’s rare to find a lower mile and clean GLX these days:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 on eBay

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1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V

Update 7/21/19: This Jetta GLI 16V sold for $2,750.

Volkswagen of America’s new ‘Fahrvergngen’ 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:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V on eBay

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2000 Volkswagen Bora Variant 2.8 V6 4Motion Highline

Continuing on my theme of rare European treats, here’s a Jetta you don’t see every day. While the market may have seemed fairly saturated by the 2000s with all-wheel drive wagons – including Volkswagen’s own Passat Variant 4Motion – that didn’t stop VW from bringing a new generation of small wheel drive five-doors to customers. Of course, there had been a Mk.3 Golf Variant Syncro available with the VR6 previously – I looked at one a few years ago:

4WD Week: 1996 Volkswagen Golf Variant 2.9 VR6 Syncro

The Syncro name was dropped for the 4th generation and fell in line with the new 4Motion branding shared with the Passat. However, while the Passat’s longitudinal drivetrain borrowed Audi’s B5 quattro system, the Mk.4 was of course transverse. As a result, the Mk.4’s Haldex system was shared with the Audi A3 and TT. The Golf Variant was also renamed the Bora Variant, and thus was born today’s car. Engine revisions mid-run led to this model: the 2.8 V6 4Motion Highline. While the car is branded “V6” and if you open the engine bay it even says “V6” on the beauty cover, it was in fact a 24 valve variant of the 2.8 liter narrow-angle VR6. Dubbed the BDF and rated at 201 horsepower, that made this a little all-wheel drive pocket rocket 5-door, and just like the R32 we saw it could be mated to a manual transmission:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Bora Variant 2.8 V6 4Motion Highline at Autoleitner

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1998 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 with 31,000 Miles

While the last few VWs have been a bit strange in some way or other, each held a specific subset of people absolutely obsessed with them. The same does not seem to be true of today’s Mk.III Jetta GLX VR6, which is strange to me since it has the hallmarks of a potential collector.

Purists decried the arrival of the “grown up” A3 chassis Golf and Vento, sold as the Jetta in North America. It was expensive, it was heavy (relative to the A1 and A2 chassis, anyway) and the performance was dulled – that was, until the introduction of the GLX model that replaced the earlier GLi models. Now sporting the VR6 that had debuted in the Corrado a few years earlier, the GLX was all around a screamer. It might have been heavier than the GLi had been, but it was quicker to 60, quieter on the highway, more comfortable and better in crashes (if things went south), and returned close to the same fuel economy as the thirsty, buzzy and boxy 16V had. The Volkswagen Jetta III, as it was known in the US, was introduced at a time when US sales were at their lowest and it appeared as if VW was considering pulling out of the US market. This generation Jetta became the best selling Volkswagen by the time the production run ceased in 1999. It was insanely popular and seemed to be the defacto college car of choice for both men and women. Because of that, many of these Jettas fell into disrepair or were totaled, so it’s rare to find a lower mile and clean GLX these days:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 on eBay

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1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6

Update 11/11/18: This Jetta is listed as sold at $1,486.

Update 11/8/18: After being listed as sold for $1,977, this Jetta GLX VR6 is back on the market again for no reserve.

There’s something really special about the used Volkswagen market that you just don’t get with other cars. There are stories – stories of plans hashed over a few too many PBRs, stories of hard luck and bad decisions. A fair chunk of the time the cars appear with hurt feelings – or just “hurt” and “feelers” in Volkswese. Listings leap into “I was planning…” and proceed to outline a SEMA build-off from someone who clearly is neither Chip Foose, nor has the budget to be. Even when they’re not, hilarity can still ensue.

In short, you just don’t get the type of entertainment from a Porsche listing that you do from a VW. Today’s listing is a 1997 Jetta – but the seller assures us that this is “not your typical Jetta”. That must mean that everything works, it’s not rusting, and it has some residual value? I kid, I kid. What drew me to this listing, though, were two things. First off, Jetta GLX VR6s are getting harder to find, and this one both looked reasonably clean at first glance and was being offered at no reserve with a semi-useful description and set of photos.

But those photos are the key here. Not only did this seller manage to line up the Volkswagen to take pictures with signs indicating it’s pointing the wrong direction on a one-way, further investigation reveals that they’re not on a road at all – they’ve parked straight in the middle of a bike path. In front of a Meineke, which I’ll fully admit I was amazed to see was still a thing. But the coup de grâce must be the giant hanging “CHECK ENGINE” sign. Is there a more appropriate way to depict a dark green Jetta from the 90s?

Still, it is a VR6…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 on eBay

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