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?
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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: