When it came to the Mk.4, as they had in the prior generations Volkswagen offered you two flavors of GTI. In 2001, this was represented as the GLS and the GLX. The GLX had the throaty 2.8L VR6, while the GLS made due with the 1.8T. It was still a punchy package, though; with 150 horsepower and 155 lb-ft of torque. While that was down on grunt to the VR6, you could easily chip the 1.8T and make up the deficit. That’s what a lot did, and consequently it’s pretty hard to find a car like today’s example – here we have a stock Mojave Beige Metallic GTI GLS that has under 60,000 miles. If you want one, it’s definitely one of the best out there:
Tag: VW GTI
Back in July 2021 I took a look at a rare bird; a stock Mk.4 GTI 1.8T with only 75,000 miles:
That may not sound like a rare car on the surface, but it’s far more difficult to find one of these than…say, pretty much any 911 ever. Today’s example is pretty similar in some ways; it’s also got only 75k miles, also appears to be stock, and also is a 1.8T manual. But this one turns up the rarity a few notches; not only is it equipped with the Luxury Package (which adds a power moonroof and Monsoon audio), Cold Weather Package (heated front seats), and Leather Package (you guessed it), but it’s also Rave Green. It’s not perfect, but that’s not holding back bids – let’s take a look:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8T on eBay
Yes, the Mk.4 GTI ushered in a more bloated body, subdued styling, increased safety, and a lot more weight. But, it also brought with it a lot more choice. While the VR6 continued over into early models largely unchanged, though a more potent 24-valve version emerged later. But the big news was the entrance of the turbocharged 1.8T into the lineup for me. More in keeping with the character of the original model, the peaky and punchy 1.8Ts grew in power over the production run, and they also offered the basis for a few special models; the European-market 25th Anniversary model, the 2002 337 Edition, and the 2003 20th Anniversary Edition.
Today’s car is none of those special models, but it carries a large amount of the same DNA in a more discrete standard package. It’s also got only 75,000 miles and is claimed to have lived with just one owner, and it’s completely stock. This might be the rarest GTI of them all.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen GTI 1.8T on eBay
While not the fastest or the prettiest car Volkswagen ever made, the GTI represents the ethos of VW’s 1980s philosophy of cheap, fun-to-drive, and eminently practical cars for consumers. As they did when new, the first generation GTI also represented a car which gave much faster cars a run for their money. True, the 90 horsepower under the hood won’t scare a supercar. But what this car lacks in straight-line performance it more than makes up for in value.
You see, over the past few years we’ve watched the fan-favorites and driver’s cars from the 1980s increasingly price themselves out of the range of most enthusiasts. The esoterics are also forged in unobtanium today, and while there was a period where you could snap up cheap 80s products in Europe and import them, they’re going away, too. Sure, the M3 and 911 led the charge, but today a clean 190E 2.3-16 or Quattro will set you back some serious bucks. And then when you do get one, you need to worry about collector insurance, expensive and hard-to-source parts, and whether you bought in a bubble.
The solution is still the giant-killer GTI. Find a clean one, and you’ll have a car that can be driven at 10/10ths still today and generate plenty of smiles, yet is relatively cheap to buy and very cheap to run. You’ll get thumbs up just like the 911 driver will. Maybe even more, honestly, because when was the last time you saw an A1 cruising around?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1983 Volkswagen GTI on eBay
Popular wisdom would suggest that modifying a car will never be rewarded in improving its desirability. After all, they are personal expressions of automotive passion, and passions vary wildly. So slap a set of VMR rims and an APR tune on your GTI, and yeah, it’s faster. But it’s not necessarily worth more. That logic has been challenged over the past few years, though, as tuners from the 80s have really come to the forefront of value in the classics market. Ruf, AMG, and Alpina have all produced some stunning cars, and lately, stunning numbers at auction. But it’s hardly a new trend.
Way back in 2013, I watched in amazement as an unassuming 1983 GTI took center stage in a bidding war which resulted in a then-staggering $18,000 worth of bids. I was lucky enough to speak with the new owner, and shared his vision and experience in a Reader Ride story which revealed a lot more not only about why he bid, but about what we didn’t know – how incredibly well preserved that Cashmere White GTI was, with full documentation from day one. Certainly, the chance to own such a piece of history was unrepeatable. Or, was it?