Tuner Tuesday: Built To Euro-Spec 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit “GTi”

I was at my mechanic’s just the other day picking up my Passat when he asked me to give him a hand pushing a Mini Cooper S with a blown motor out of the way. He laughed as it rolled to a stop and remarked how heavy it was for such a small car. Of course, BMW made up for this by upping the power and the first of the new Minis is still a hoot to drive in S form, but he said to me “I’d rather have an original GTi”. I concurred; a legend even in its own time, the A1 GTi’s magic has never really been replicated by even Volkswagen themselves. Sure, there are faster, better built and better looking hatchbacks, but there’s something magical about the original – right down to the crazy stories both of us had about 11/10ths driving, flinging the small hatch at corners, overpasses, underpasses, small pets and occasionally pedestrians with abandon. Has all of that nostalgia turned into dollar signs in today’s market, though?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Cabriolet Etienne Aigner Edition – REVISIT

The 1991 Volkswagen Cabriolet Etienne Aigner Edition is back up on offer, this time with a Buy It Now price. If you’re looking for a summer cruiser and a manual gearbox isn’t high on your list of priorities, keep reading…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Cabriolet Etienne Aigner Edition on eBay

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1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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The Jetta GLI has always been a object of desire for me. While the GLI really gained fame with the Mk2 generation, it was a final-year offering on the excellent first-gen sedan, bringing most of the GTI goodies to the 3-box setup. This red example has been with the same owner for the last 15 years and is looking pretty darn good on BBS 3-piece rims with what look to be like-new Euro bumpers and front lip. The interior also looks outstanding for being over 30 years old, but a few blemishes inside and out keep this from being a perfect package. A small rust spot, mismatched tires, and paint issues on the roof are all fixable but indicate the projects will continue.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit “Sleeper”

As I’ve written up a steady stream of Porsches and BMWs of late I thought it prudent to mix it up as I’d hate to get automotive tunnel vision. I had just finished editing some pictures of my girlfriend’s new MkVII Golf when it dawned on me that perhaps one of its early ancestors would make for an interesting post. With that in mind I set about scouring the depths of the internet in hopes of finding something quirky that would spark my interest. I’ve never been a rabid VW fanboy but my New England upbringing did instill a healthy appreciation for Das Auto. In my adolescence I probably spent more time in MkIII Jettas than any other car. A few friends had Golfs but for whatever reason those were far less popular in my neck of the woods. I like an underdog so I focused my search on old Golfs, passing over a number of listings for modified Jettas.

Personally I’ve always preferred the practicality of the hatchback design especially since the Golf was the base for the GTI, which with the exception of the MkIV & MkV, is a nameplate I am a fan of.  I think part of what I love about those older boxier designs is that they do not look fast, not even with a bunch of modifications. They are spartan, basic and from a design standpoint relatively un-inspired but that’s exactly what I think makes them cool. If older GTIs don’t ask for attention then the MkI Rabbit is the hermit of the VW family, living way out in the woods with no internet, phone or electricity. So when I came across a clean ’81 Rabbit hiding a 2.0L 16v EA827 under its hood, I knew I had to post it.

And now for something completely different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit on VWVortex

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1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup

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I’m a huge Rabbit Pickup fan, and frequently startle the people around me when I see one as I excitedly point out “Look at that! That was my first car! Yes, that weird little Volkswagen. It was awesome.” Despite coming from Florida, today’s Caddy is pretty exceptional, sporting Mk3 running gear and full interior, taking the OEM+ concept to a wonderful extreme. Adding a turbo to the 2-point-slow should certainly help this pickup’s gittyup, while Weitec coil overs and upgraded brakes should help turn what was a fun driver into a moderately serious weapon. The Rabbit Pickup should never be taken too seriously, and the bold blue helps with that, but overall this is one of the more exceptional Caddy restomods I’ve seen.

Click for details: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup on eBay

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1976 Volkswagen Scirocco

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The first-generation Scirocco only gets better with age, the classic Giugiaro design combining rectilinear lines with personality in a way that would characterize German cars for the next two decades. From the low, snub-nose to the glorious, mantis-like C-pillar window frame that exaggerates the Hofmeister Kink to an extreme. Original examples have their own charms, but today’s is just about perfectly done with a ground-up restoration and OEM+ modifications throughout. Some clean Euro retrofits on the exterior combine with an interior that will remind you every day that this car is from the 70s; the plaid makes the Mk1 GTI’s classic fabric look subtle. The 16v 2.0-liter completes the package, making this a looker and a mover – and about as good as VWs get.

Click for details: 1976 Volkswagen Scirocco on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet

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The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet still exists abroad, but for drop top VW fans in the US, the two choices offered are the Beetle Cabriolet and the soon to be extinct Eos. For years, the Mk1 Golf/Rabbit Cabriolet carried the torch in this market niche, bringing the charm of the old Beetle Cabriolet into the front-engined, water-cooled era. While they carry the stigma of being a car for the fairer sex, these Cabriolets offer a lot of fun for not much money. This 1990 Cabriolet for sale in Missouri was brought to our attention from our reader Albert, and has yet to break 50,000 miles.

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet on The Samba

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1984 Volkswagen Jetta GL

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Today’s Jetta hits a lot of chords for me: Mk1, brown, adorably original, and some feel-good history. It’s been owned by the seller twice, once after he bought it from the original owner, then again when he bought it back after an unappreciative snot didn’t like the manual car his parents got him for college. It’s covered over 180k miles (the odometer broke a little while back) but still wins at shows because it’s in beautiful shape. Cars like this little survivor are my kind of classic – no fancy, climate-controlled exotic, just a loved example of a great, simple car.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GL on eBay

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1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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I love the Mk1 Jetta, funky little sedan that it is. While later Jettas are quite common in the states, the Golf/GTI is far more common from the first generation. Just as the US market dictated the production of the new A3 sedan (meh), in the late ’70s VW realized the ‘Muricans liked trunks and didn’t have as tight of parking restrictions, so they grafted on a third box. The GLI was a one-year special, bringing most of the GTI’s upgrades. International preferences aside, that made for a pretty great little sedan.

While today’s description nearly landed it in the Friday Fail section, the car itself is nice enough to pull it back to positivity-land. The Euro bumpers and Zender lip add to the 80s flair, and there has clearly been some decent attention to making it run as well as it looks. It’s especially attractive without the roof racks and on the upsized RML Snowflakes, but unfortunately those don’t come with the car. The buyer would do well to get rid of the included wheels as soon as possible and get some form of snowflakes – even OEMs would look great. Best of all, in the end it’s a high-mileage, Mk1 Volkswagen, which means the price isn’t going anywhere crazy.

Click for details: 1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLI on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet Bel Air

While we only saw a few special edition Volkswagens in the 1980s – mostly Wolfsburg Editions – the amount of special edition VWs available in the European market was staggering. Whether it was a fashion designer or a tribute to a particular sport, it seemed there was a trim package for just about every taste. This particular one, a Cabriolet Bel Air, is one that I haven’t seen before. These Bel Airs were available in three colors, Diamond Silver, Ruby Red or the Blue Pearl we see here, all with color matched Avus wheels and color matched trim. This low mileage example is for sale by the same dealer in Germany that had the BMW L7 we featured last month.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Golf Cabrio Bel Air on Mobile.de

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