When introduced to the U.S. in 1980 the Jetta became the first notchback VW ever offered for sale in this country. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Coupe seems a fine example, but is its price a coup too?
Perhaps it was too many bad memories of riding in the back of them, or of having their presence loom in your rearview. Or maybe it was just too damn expensive and potentially more worn out than Sasha Grey's cinnamon starfish. But whatever the reason, an overwhelming 83% of you thought that, while it would be fun at recess, the Ex Bondurant School Cobra Vic should get a passing grade in one class only, and that was Crack Pipe 101.
That custom cop car might not have been too cool for school, but upright sedans and their coupe cousins are represented by some of the coolest kids to ever sit in the back of the class. The BMW 2002, Datsun 510, and today's rectilinear candidate, the VW Jetta, proved that sporting pretensions and practical looks can go together like Mamet and masturbatory prose. Discounting the French Curve-emulating Karmann Ghia, until the MTV generation VW never gave their U.S. Customers a notchback body style. Oh sure the teased us with Type Three notches, some of the most achingly pretty cars VW has ever built, and offered in both Canada and Mexico but never officially crossing the border to notch our belts. The K70 - originally intended to be an NSU sister to the amazing RO80 - was likewise denied to an eager car buying public, who were saddled instead with the twin poxes of the 411 and the 412. Even when the company went large with the Dasher/Fox twins, they kept their product a fastback, while giving Audi all the notchy good times.
That drought of notch ended when VW took the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed Golf/Rabbit and gave it junk in its trunk. Usually a booty call like that results in an awkward monstrosity like Ford's Scorpio or Ice T's wife, but in this case, the car looks even better balanced. Like the other desirable notches, the first gen Jetta has, for the most part, gone the way of Elvis. That's why finding a rust-free example (especially of the uber-rare two-door) is pretty cool.
VW fanatics run the gambit from wild-haired borderline tweekers who have nasty, stripped out body shells powered by some kind of home-brew turbo nightmare, to the kind of anal retentive brand crusaders who have pumped their every last dime into making their specific VW (they have 12 of them) produce 650 horsepower at the wheels, while enshrining it all in a car so divinely pristine the Virgin Mary herself could eat buckwheat falafels off its rubberband-like tires.
This 1983 Jetta falls somewhere in between those extremes. When Volkswagen's little hatchback was originally designed, U.S. bumper laws were not really taken into account. That's why, while the rest of the world got Golfs with Kate Moss hanging off their extremities, the only option available to American buyers were Rabbits with Kirsty Alley strapped to each end. And just like that former Cheers star, when the Jetta debuted, they got even bigger. This modded car fixes that problem by having tossed the castle-storming endcaps with the more demur and, obviously lighter, Euro pieces. That, and the glass brick headlights improve what's already a good looking car. There's a number of dings and dents that the seller notes in his Photobucket photo essay, but none is too awful, and the arrest-me red paint remains pretty shiny, at least in those photos. Wolfsburg plastic wheel arch extensions and a set of RS Limited rims in formal black finish the dress up. Inside, the Wolfsburg plaid interior is claimed unmarred and the dash appears to have survived the intervening decades without suffering the unflattering cracks that they and wearers of low-rise jeans inevitably do.
Under this Jetta's hood rests not the original 84-pony motor, but a 1.8 injected unit which, while not expressly promised, should be good for at least a 100 horses if the litany of mods is to be believed. That mile long list seems longer than the standard features when the car was new, but tells you that this Jetta has had a lot of what wears out already replaced. Details however are scarce, and while the seller says that four has been rebuilt, he doesn't say when, or how many miles the Jetta carries in total. Of course if you're down with the Dub, you won't care how many miles are on it, because you're going to replace this or that next year anyway, as these cars are always a work in progress.
While this car's progress is only modestly, and seemingly tastefully modified so far, it should be noted that it is being offered for sale on the VW Vortex Forum. That online venue is to the fan of the water-cooled Vee-Dub what San Bernardino County to a meth addict, or Craigslist is to a lonely fetishist looking for a willing participant to shit on their chest. It's like jumping into the lion's den of VW rabidity.
Reality on that site, along with the argument over the merits of rear wheel drive over that of front, seriously bends the laws of physics. That's not to say that rationality is as rare there as a car without something by Neuspeed on it, and in fact this 3-box Jetta's asking price of $3,900 seems as modest as its modder's aspirations.
But what do you think about that Benjamin-short of four large for this seemingly well cared for Jetta? Does that price make you want to take this notch back? Or, is that too much to put this notch in your belt?
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