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Tag: Steelies

1984 Volkswagen Jetta GLi

Yesterday, searching through bad 1980s movies to watch I came across the Orwellian classic 1984. I sat and stared at the image of John Hurt, slightly bemused that Orwell’s vision of the future was so dark, dire and complicated. Sitting at the end of a head-scratching 2016, 1984 seems in many ways to be such an easy time. Okay, remove the equally crazy politics of the period; telling my students that bombings in downtown London were commonplace when I was growing up confuses them, or that plane hijackings happened almost as often as mass shootings do today, nevermind the environmental and infectious disease disasters of the period. In 1984, you could buy a Volkswagen Jetta GLi for $8,500. Inflation corrected, that’s just below $20,000 – so still quite a deal in the grand scheme. Sure, today’s cars offer more luxury and convenience, and isolation from the driving experience. They are, without a doubt, safer in every measurable characteristic than cars in the 1980s. And faster? Also indisputable, as a new Jetta GLi turbo will positively wipe the floor with this A1’s performance. With only 90 horsepower on tap, you’ll struggle to best speeds most modern cars can do without the driver even blinking. Relatively speaking, this Jetta GLi is slow, loud, unsafe, and not hugely comfortable. Why, then, were they so much fun to drive?

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1984 Volkswagen Scirocco “GTX”

There are a lot of folks who long for European versions of the cars that we got here in the United States, and this author is amongst them. For the most part, the Euro versions were closer to the original design; in general they had smaller, better fitting bumpers, better headlights, and some options that were deemed too expensive or not appealing enough to bring to the U.S.. They also typically had better performance from non-de-tuned motors and lighter weight. So, better looking, faster and more special; but in talking with Paul, we both agreed that there is also an element of wanting the things we just can’t have. One Volkswagen model that never made it here was the GTX trim Scirocco. The GTX was one of the higher spec versions in Europe and looked quite sporty; put some of those Euro bits onto what would otherwise be a pretty mundane 1984 U.S. spec Scirocco, add some desirable tuning modifications and some fresh paint, and you have a tidy package:

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