1980 Volkswagen Scirocco

Period modifications can be pretty hit or miss, and when you’re talking 1980s cars, it seems most weren’t on target. Sure, the AMG widebody and Ruf cars are spectacular, but many more suffered the ignominious fate of having tacky tacked-on plastic bits, wild and poor paint jobs, and “performance enhancements” that more often than not led to a protracted period of non-running conditions. But once in a while a period piece pops up that looks special, and this 1980 Scirocco spotted by our reader Wojciech is just that:

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1980 Volkswagen Scirocco with 6,500 Miles

Coming across a low mile, “time capsule”-esque Porsche isn’t a particularly rare thing. While it’s hard to conceive of a time when they were considered cars rather than investments, even when new the high entry price and exclusivity of buying a top-tier German car meant that quite a few were treated more as prized possessions to be preserved rather than as transportation. Though less frequent, the same goes for Mercedes-Benz models, as we roll across quite a few pristine and original low mile SLs, S-Class and even less expensive models. Certainly, it is less common among BMWs and downright atypical to find a low mile, original and unmolested Audi, though one wonders if recent market trends have inspired a generation with disposable income now to buy and squirrel away brand new RS, M and AMG cars in cocoons to emerge in a few decades as a retirement fund. It’s all a bit nuts if I’m honest.

But a Volkswagen? Low mileage, original time pieces are beyond atypical. When they do surface, they’re not always the most desirable model, either – Grandpa’s 1979 Rabbit in all-brown, for example. Sure, it’s got only 11,000 miles on the clock but it’s like donning a polyester suit and slapping on a fake mustache to go to a Halloween party as Ron Burgundy. No, no, I’m sure you do the best Will Ferrell impersonation in the world, but the situation is a bit worse than the plotline to Anchorman 2. But once in a while something comes along that is truly special AND cool:

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1979 Volkswagen Scirocco

While cars from the 1980s are really starting to stretch their legs, most cars from the 1970s seem to lay in a no-man’s land of value, minus of course Porsche 911s. There’s been some recent appreciation for the R107 but generally the cars that are heavily valued are the last of the run 560SLs from the late 1980s, so while that was a late 1960s design it’s not really a 1970s car at that point. Go through the ranks though – with a few exceptions, the 1970s equivalents are undervalued compared to their successors. W116s are cheaper than W126s, E12s and E21s are budget BMWs relative to clean E28 and E30 pricing, early 924s and 928s are close to being given away judged against the last of the run cars and Audi? Go find one from the 1970s. The one area where 1970s products currently outshine their replacements is on a limited scale, but at Volkswagen clean 1970s models tend to be valued more highly than those from the 1980s. It’s easy to see why in most cases; swallowtail Rabbits are just plain prettier than the later Westmoreland cars, the Bus, Thing and Campervan models captured the last of the 1960s spirit and are so ugly they’re cute, and then there’s the Scirocco. Modest underpinnings it might have had, but in one of the most brilliant strokes of design from Giugiaro the lines are pure magic:

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1988 Volkswagen Scirocco GT

Let’s face it. Volkswagen Group of America is screwing us. I’ve touched on this topic before, but one glance at the current lineup on VW’s USA website leaves little to be desired. Nothing beyond the GTI, Golf R and Passat CC do much to stir emotions in the heart of the enthusiast. Now that Volkswagen has shot itself in the foot with this diesel scandal, unlucky consumers in the US can’t even specify one of these miserly oil burners. What’s an enthusiast to do? How about scouring Europe for anything built before 1992, as these vehicles are now legal to import stateside. Such is the case with this low mileage, late model 1988 Scirocco GT for sale in Dachau, Germany. This would be the last year for the Scirocco in the US market, however, Scirocco production would continue on through 1992, overlapping the Corrado in showrooms.

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1977 Volkswagen Scirocco

One of the joys I’ve experienced in fatherhood has been to share some of my prized toys with my son. Watching him play with my treasures again fills me with nostalgia and, occasionally, curiosity. Last night, for example, he charged about the house with two Hot Wheels trucks that I had as a child. Now, I didn’t have the most extensive collection of toys when I was a boy, but I did have some really neat pieces. Two of them were these steerable trucks; a cab-over Peterbuilt and a more traditional Ford tractor that for some reason had flames and “Hot Sauce” decals on it. I don’t remember applying those, but more importantly somewhere in the past 30 years the steering trailers just went missing. I never thought about it much until yesterday, when I saw my son excitedly playing with them. I mentioned to him that they used to have trailers, but I was unsure about where they were. Inquisitive as most four year olds are, he simply asked “Can’t you get a new one?”. Huh. I hadn’t considered that. But in the age of the internet and eBay off I went. It didn’t take too much research to find out they were from the “Truck Co” series from Hot Wheels. It took even less time to figure out they were fairly rare. But on eBay, sure enough, there were not only used examples that matched mine, but brand new ones in package with the steering trailers. COOL! Then I looked at the “Buy It Now”. WHAT?!?! I exclaimed as I could barely believe my eyes. $250. That was the price – for one. Even used examples of just the cabs were asking $30-50, and the harder to find trailers trade above $100 used. Is this what recreating your childhood costs now? But, the thing is, you can’t go down to your local hobby or toy store and buy a brand new 1985 Hot Wheels car or truck. And you certainly can’t go down to your local Volkswagen dealer and buy anything near as cool as this 1977 Scirocco:

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1987 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

While we look at collector-grade automobiles more often than not, it’s always nice to ponder driver-quality cars too. I’ve made the conscious decision several times to not buy the nicest example of a car that I could find, instead trying to rehab a car that had been languishing and might otherwise have been forgotten. I’m now on my fifth example of this, and while economically it might not be the best plan there is something rewarding about salvaging a car and bringing it back from the brink. However, usually such examples are priced accordingly; I bought my 1984 GTi for $300, for example, and the same amount bought me a 200 quattro Avant about a decade later. Once I paid a staggering $800 for a Golf with nearly 200,000 miles on it, and the seemingly decadent V8 quattro set me back $2,000. All gave me lots of automotive joy – not the get in, nothing is wrong type, but if you cue the Sarah McLaughlin and sad puppy dog eyes roll across the screen, I can see the hope in salvation of nearly every car. There’s always something that’s good, right? In the case of today’s quarter-million mile Scirocco, there’s a lot that’s good:

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1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

Spotting of any first generation Scirocco is cause for celebration these days. Styled by the legendary Giugiaro, the front drive, watercooled sport coupe brought Volkswagen into a new market, ostensibly replacing the Karmann Ghia. While underneath the slinky 2-door body was relatively pedestrian underpinnings of the Mk.1 Golf/Rabbit, the styling of the Italian giant brought a level of prestige to the budget economy range. Some 42 years after it originally launched, the short and squat Scirocco still looks unique and different, a perfect combination of curves and angles that makes me smile every time one crosses my path:

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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:

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1980 Volkswagen Scirocco S

$_57 (6)

I’ve always been massively attracted to the original Scirocco. The Giugiaro design is late-70s simplistic beauty at its best, an aesthetic almost entirely lost these days (although pleasantly approximated by the new Lamborghini Huracan). This well-modified 1980 example keeps it simple with black-centered 3-piece BBS wheels and a minimal rear spoiler. Not a line out of place, and the excellence continues inside with beautiful plaid seat inserts. This is not all show, however, as the attention to greatness includes any VW fan’s laundry list of Mk1 improvements. Yes, I love GTIs, GLIs, and Rabbit Pickups, but Sciroccos like this are the Mk1s I lust after.

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1987 Volkswagen Scirocco GTX 16V

If you haven’t watched the Petrolicious segment highlighting Road & Track Senior Editor Jason Cammisa’s Volkswagen Scirocco, it’s worth a watch. In this short clip, he discusses how after driving some of the most high-dollar, powerful vehicles on the market currently, he years to step back into his Scirocco for pure driving pleasure. One point Cammisa touched on was the issue of steering feel in the Scirocco and how that kind of experience is lacking in new cars. I couldn’t have agreed more. Thankfully, we can always look back to the modern classics, such as this 1987 Scirocco GTX 16V for sale in The Netherlands. With just under 30,000 miles on the clock, it’s tempting to consider importing this VW and turning back time.

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