1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V

While it’s nice to look at imports from Europe that we didn’t get here, when it comes to the Volkswagen front we got at least one of the most desirable 1990s VWs that wasn’t sold in Europe – perhaps, one of the most desirable all around Volkswagens ever made – in the 1990-1992 GTi 2.0 16V. It wasn’t really the best at much of anything compared to the competition; the engine was thirsty and noisy, the upright shape of the Mk.2 Golf was old and on the verge of being replaced, the expensive wheels bent at the mere sight of a pothole, the transmission self-machined occasionally and the electronics were the work of a high school tech class. If you wanted a fast, economical, awesome handling hatch that actually worked all of the time, you bought an Acura Integra GS-R. But all of these faults didn’t detract from what was for the the most desirable GTi package Volkswagen produced. You got the iconic chunky shape of the Golf with extra wide flares. It sat lower, and though they were soft those BBS RMs were gorgeous. Inside were the spectacular Recaro Trophy seats and little else – these were no-frills cars compared to the more luxurious GLi models. And to top it off, under the hood was the screaming 16V in 2.0 form. Good for 134 horsepower and vibrating the entire car (and your eardrums) at highway speed, this car moved beyond look and into entire sensation:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen GTi 16V on eBay

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1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

Last night, I watched a “Throwback” Motorweek which reviewed the then-new top-tier twin-turbocharged Japanese sport coupes. It pitted the height of the market cars against each other – the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, the Toyota Supra Turbo, the Mazda RX-7 and the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo in a head to head. It’s hard to believe only a year or two after that segment aired, all of those cars would have disappeared from the U.S. market. While vestiges of them have returned, we’re still generally left without that glut of fast Japanese GT cruisers that were available in the early 1990s. It reminded me of another segment that all but disappeared around the same time; the sports economy coupe. True, cars like the Scion TC live on, but remember when there were 11 or 12 different small coupes you could buy? Like the “HYBRID!”s of their day, each offered shouty colored badges about what made them special; a DOCH here, a 16 valve there, or if you were really, really cool, you had a TURBO badge somewhere on your car. Preferably, multiple places. I remember fondly my friend in high school’s Plymouth Sundance Turbo; it might as well have been a Ferrari to us. While Volkswagen never went that far, they did continue to offer their version of a sport coupe, the Scirocco, through the late 80s. Still sporting its Giugiaro-inspired but Karmann-stolen all-angles design proudly, the Scirocco had a bit of a mystique as all Volkswagen coupes had that it was the best of the class, even if by the numbers it wasn’t:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V on eBay

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1985 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

I hear the same line all the time from enthusiasts; “Volkswagen/Audi, bring (enter European specification model) to the U.S. – we’ll buy it!” Well, the truth is that there are many reasons why the company doesn’t bring your long-sought after model to these shores. First, they’re not stupid, in general. They’ve done their homework and though there are inevitably many people who claim they’d rush down to their dealer to buy the car, the number of people who would actually show up with cash is quite a different story. Mostly, it seems those enthusiasts saying they so eagerly await a model really would wait until it had floated down the used-market stream a bit. Then, there are the costs associated with bringing a new model into the market; the safety tests, campaigns to launch a new model, stocking and educating dealers, parts, and training mechanics to repair them. And, when that isn’t enough, there will inevitably be some small problem and they need to recall them all. Look, I’m not saying car companies aren’t making money – but it’s money that they’re in it for, not the love of making cars (sorry, Porsche – but it’s true). On top of that, the companies – believe it or else – have sales data. And that sales data reflects period when they did import the cars that supposedly enthusiasts wanted. And while some enthusiasts did buy them, more “non-enthusiasts” bought their other models more. A great example of this is the disappearance of the wagons from North America, but more poignant to this post is the relative lack of diesels. Considering all of the major German manufacturers (even, begrudgingly, those purists at Porsche who only love to make cars, not money) offer highly efficient diesels in their model ranges, it’s a bit strange that they haven’t offered them until quite recently over here, right? Well, again, history tells us that they did in fact offer diesels in the 1980s – but loud, noisy and slow, few people bought them. They do still survive though, so it’s always nice to see one pop up like this 1985 Golf. Modified to look like a GTi, it’s a spiritual nod to the upcoming and long anticipated Golf GTD TDi that, if I’m to believe my Facebook feed, every single Volkswagen enthusiasts is going to run out and buy (right after they also run out and buy the maybe-coming Golf TDi 4Motion Sportwagon, that is):

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen Golf Diesel on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Golf Country

I was in Stuttgart in 1998 when what I thought was someone’s version of a good joke rolled by me. It was a dark green Mk.2 Golf; not particularly abnormal since they were still mostly less than a decade old and Germans notoriously care for their cars better than most other nations. However, it was about a half-foot taller than it should have been, equipped with some cool looking Speedline wheels, brush guards and a spare tire mounted to the rear. Germans have an odd sense of humor, so it seemed to fit that this was one mullet short of a Hasselhoff Fan Club. I had no idea that I was looking at a factory model; remember, this was in the infancy of the internet and as an American, knowledge of every single European model of the Mk.2 was hard to come by. But the “Country” graphic scrolled down the side gave me a clue, and after some research I found out that this was more than just a one-off. Underneath the standard looking exterior was a Viscous Coupling all-wheel drive setup shared with the Rallye Golf and Golf Limited, amongst others. The engine was more pedestrian with a standard 1.8 8V, but in total an amazing 438 non-standard parts went into the creation of the Golf Country. Since new, they’ve always commanded a premium and have been the object of lust for American Volkswagen fans who like to do things just a bit different:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Golf Country on eBay

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1985 Volkswagen GTi Callaway Turbo – REVISIT

As Paul said, “It’s back!” The awesome BBS and Callaway modded GTi is back just in time to fulfill your Christmas wishes! I know I’d certainly love to have it under my tree. Bidding reached into the $20,000 range with the reserve still on last time around, failing to sell. It’s already hit $10,000 this time with 4 days to go. What will it take to buy this incredible Mk.2?

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a turbocharged night!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen GTi Callaway Turbo on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Golf GL

Boy, this is a trip down memory lane for me. My second car was very similar to this 1989 Volkswagen Golf in many ways; mine was also a base model with air conditioning, cloth interior with manual windows and Titian red. There were some important differences; I had a 1986 Westmoreland Golf which had CIS injection rather than the later Digifant electronic injection this car has, mine was a 4-door instead of two and when I bought it, it had somewhere around 190,000 miles on the clock. On paper, this is pretty much the car I would have liked to have; a lower mile, clean example of a basic transportation with flare – the Volkswagen Golf is a great hatchback that looked and functioned miles better than most of the competition at the time.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Golf GL on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1989 Volkswagen GTi “EVII”

Do you ever wonder what happens to all of those wild magazine cars? You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones you flip to first, creations that make you wonder what the motivation of the builder was? Honestly, most fade into obscurity – but once in a while one pops up again for sale, and today’s GTi EVII built by Guy Light is one of those cars that may just may you say “Oh, yeah….I remember that!” It’s been a full 25 years since this car was new and a flash in the pan. Light chopped the top off the car, added a body kit and some great BBS wheels and Recaro seats, and Viola! He made the Mk.III Cabrio prototype. Seriously, look at this car – if it doesn’t scream Cabrio to you, I’m not sure what would. Reading through the period article about the car, it was certainly an interesting and unique vision with an extraordinarily limited scope. The part that I found most fascinating? Light offered to charge individuals a staggering $13,000 – on top of the price of the car – to complete the conversion. Aren’t you surprised that you don’t see more of these floating around than the original prototype?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen GTi “EVII” on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

Back in 1989, if you showed me a brand new diesel Jetta, there is zero probability I would have been excited about anything regarding it. Gas was relatively cheap, so having a diesel getting great mileage was really for fringe people. There were no spoilers, great alloy wheels, or even mud flaps to get excited about. The diesel Jetta was pretty basic transportation by even 1989 standards; plus, it was noisy, stinky and slow. Park it next to a GLi 16V, and it would be a no-brainer which one would be my choice to check out. But 25 years on, I was genuinely excited to find this listing pop up on eBay. Isn’t it crazy how time changes your perception? Finding a mostly or fully original 1989 Jetta that isn’t a rusted, beaten basket case with lower miles has become such a rarity that it makes me smile to see one, especially when it’s the same color combination as my 1986 Golf was:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday Zender Edition: Tuner Accessories Roundup

Zender is one of those names that I really identify with the 1980s. While they continued on after, the real height of Zender’s popularity seemed to be in the 1980s. Body kits, wheels and even steering wheels ultimately resulted in a tuning firm that was able to produce a few of their own show cars; remember the Zender Fact 4 and Vision? Today there are a host of real and copy Zender pieces floating around – here’s a sampling of what I was able to find on Ebay. While the styling may be a bit polarizing, it’s hard to deny that Zender offered customers something unique and having period detail pieces like these can really set your car apart if done properly:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Zender E24 front spoiler on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday Un-pimp My Ride: 1992 Volkswagen GTi 16V G60

Edit: One of our Facebook readers – Steve – correctly noted that this is Capri Green and was an 8V Golf to start out. In some ways, that makes it better that a real 2.0 GTi wasn’t sacrificed, though my feelings about most of the modifications stay the same. Thanks Steve, and sorry for the mistake!

I’m fairly certain that with the right backing and skillful marketing I could pitch a show to one of those crappy cable networks. My premise? Take a car that has been modified and return it to OEM or OEM+ standards. Seriously, when talking about rare cars, aren’t there buyers for these rides? Don’t there seem to be lots of people endlessly browsing the internet looking for that hidden, unmodified and well-cared for gem that rarely surfaces? Heck, it’s what we’ve built a fair amount of our writing around. And even though there are plenty of people pining for original BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche models, there’s a special lot that love original Volkswagens. One of the biggest reasons they long for these “unicorn” models is that so few were properly cared for, and many of those that were have been modded within an inch of their life. Take the Mk.II GTi; a solid performing replacement for the “original” hot hatch. It’s near legendary status is well cemented in the halls of automotive history, and it’s even one of the few models that carries brand awareness outside of motoring circles. Seriously, even people who know almost nothing about cars know what a GTi is. Within the Mk.II crowd, there are several limited models that the U.S. didn’t receive, so our top of the heap has to be the 1990-1992 16V edition. With a close-ratio gearbox, revised and better integrated smooth big bumpers, the best set of BBS wheels and Recaro seats ever fitted to a Volkswagen and one stunner of a revy 2 liter inline-4, it was an awesome package. Specify it in Montana Green, and you’ve got the crowds drooling. Then someone goes and does this:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen GTi 16V G60 on eBay

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