It’s been 15 years since I traded in that piece of crap 2000 Volkswagen GTI. I haven’t had the nerve to buy another Volkswagen since, but this isn’t a problem since the Scirocco and Polo GTI are conveniently omitted from the US product lineup. I am convinced to this day that VW had hired away some Fiat assembly plant workers back in the dark days of the 1970s and would employ them on the line when the Germans went on holiday. There was no other way of explaining a car that would self destruct in front of my own eyes. It also made me pine for the simpler days of the car we see here, the original Volkswagen GTI. This 1984 GTI for sale in New York reminds me of the example fellow GCFSBer Brian owns, albeit in stock form. For a final year Mk1 GTI, rarely do they get this nice and it has just the right amount of mileage and patina that won’t deter an enthusiast from using it as intended.
When I met Lon, he was in Washington on his yearly pilgrimage to see friends and search for rust-free Mk1 Volkswagens. He lived in Iowa and had a farm filled with interesting VW breeding experiments. GTIs mated with trucks, diesels injected wherever possible, etc. He knew that our sweet little truck was getting more than a little rough around the edges – a cracked exhaust manifold was the final need that broke my dad’s patience – but he also looked at it with the same optimism and appreciation that I did. I was just a couple of months into having my driver’s license, and the passing on of my beloved Rabbitamino was hard to swallow. Lon seemed to be the right person to pass it on to, someone who would make it better and give it a new life in a way I wasn’t prepared to do. The pain of loss was dulled when he let me drive the Mk1 GTI he had already picked up on his trip – a low and tight little mongrel featuring a Quaife differential and a short-geared diesel 5-speed. Howling through the gears and hitting fourth before 40 mph, he offered to trade me the GTI and its trunk full of VW race parts for the truck and a little cash. 16 year old me was not in the driver’s seat for our family’s car choices, however, and my dad wanted another truck. We ended up with an incredible Toyota 4×4 that is still kicking ass and taking names, but that drive in (and missed chance at) Lon’s sweet GTI has always stuck with me.
Thus, the Mk1 GTI is still a bucket list car for me, but I’m thinking I need to either jump on one soon or cross my fingers and hope I win the lottery down the line. This beautiful Royal Red example has covered roughly 2k miles in the last 9 years after the owner bought it in Chicago and took it to New York to tuck away, drive on weekends, and take to shows. It’s not completely original – new snowflakes have been acquired by the owner over the years, and it has a stainless steel Techtonics exhaust – but it’s damn close. We’ve seen impeccable, fully restored GTIs, but original examples like this carry an extra air of gravity and provenance. Whatever the seller invested 9 years ago, I’m guessing it was a heck of a lot less than the nearly $10k the auction is reaching.
Click for details: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
Edit: Though the original listing has this car as a diesel, some eagle-eyed Facebook fans noted the spark plug leads. Looks like this is a case of mistaken identity! -ed
While it looks like the Volkswagen emissions scandal might have killed off the diesel engine in the US market (at least for now), I doubt it will kill the idea of oil burners with the People’s Car badge worldwide. VW has been committed to this engine for quite some time as we can see with this impossibly mint condition 1982 Jetta CL
Diesel. While you might still run across a first generation Golf or GTI on the street from time to time, a first generation Jetta is much more rare, whether in two or four-door form. This four-door Jetta CL Diesel for sale in Germany comes saddled with the 3-speed automatic gearbox, which certainly won’t win you any stoplight races, but if its preservation class you are seeking to participate in, you’ll wow the crowd at your next local meet.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Volkswagen Jetta CL Diesel on Classic Trader
There are few cars, past or present, that do not have a stigma attached to them. The Toyota Prius is for dope smoking activists who are under the impression they are helping the environment. Range Rovers are for trophy wives. Mustangs are for people who enjoy burnouts at Cars and Coffee and jump the median strip or crash into a crowd upon leaving the event. The Volkswagen Cabriolet? The stuff dreams are made of for high school girls and the official sponsor of sororities across the country. Right? Too harsh of an assessment? Well, if I was ever going to question my masculinity, I’d do it with this 1989 Volkswagen Cabriolet. In black over nicely contrasting white leather, the Snowflake alloy wheels and 5-speed manual gearbox set this one apart from the usual cruisers equipped with the 3-speed automatic. This example for sale in Florida is about to hit 80,000 miles and quite frankly looks like it just rolled out of the showroom. I wouldn’t mind tooling around in this drop top this summer.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Cabriolet on eBay
When I first saw this GTI, I thought “that’s a beautiful Mk1 GTI,” immediately followed by “they want $15k with 216,000 miles?!” which is the exact response the seller is discouraging in his ad, as I later found out. What I also found out as I read further and drooled over the pictures was that this GTI has just about everything new on it. Seriously, it’s like new under there with a rebuild with a fresh bottom end, all suspension, rebuilt brakes, and an interior redone in new-old-stock GTI red cloth. It’s pretty much perfect, and the mudflaps put me over the damn edge (I put some on my E28 M5 this winter and am now obsessed). This is the best non-original, like-new GTI out there.