Volkswagen may not have invented the hot hatch, but with the introduction of the Rabbit-based GTI they certainly refined its execution. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '83 edition has seen further refinement with the addition of a 16V mill. Its price however, may not be so fine.
If you have a half-way interesting car, keep it in top notch shape, and aren't a total knob (karma, you know), then eventually your efforts will likely pay off and you might make some bank when selling it. That may turn out to be the case with yesterday's grey market Mercedes Benz 500 SEC, which took home a wicked 74% Nice Price win for its righteous mix of rarity, condition and price.
What is it with Germany and want-worthy coupes? I mean, with yesterday's SECsual Mercedes, BMW's various two doors, and of course that double G-stringer the Glas Goggomobil, it's as though it's imbued in the country's DNA. That of course stands for Deutschland's Neatest Autos, and under that umbrella you may just also park Volkswagen's rabid rabbit, the GTI.
Although called Rabbit in the U.S., the first generation of VW's Giugiaro-designed front driver carried the moniker of Golf elsewhere, short for Golfstrom or Gulf Stream. Along with Scirocco and Passat that moniker aligned with the company's then current penchant of naming models after winds. But here in the U.S. Golf is a ball not a stream and so I guess the Wolfburgians felt it better to go with something less germanic, and more emblematic of their hopes that the Rabbit would multiply in the manner of their leporiodae namesakes.
Additionally confusing is that while German in design, not all Rabbits were actually built there. This 1983 GTI - like all A1 platform GTIs sold in the U.S. - was built in Westmoreland Pennsylvania. This is evidenced by its American style rectangular headlamps, wrap-around turn indicators and color-keyed dashboard. Regardless of its mennonite-country origin, the GTI attempted to bring some performance extravagance to the Rabbit, and this particular one still carries almost all of that. Changes from the stock Rabbit include body color-painted bumpers, the front one here here showing some significant peppering. Additional GTI visual cues are black plastic wheel arch extensions under which live alloy snowflake wheels, red pinstripe detailing, and an extended front valance.
That's all resident here, although the original 1,781-cc, 8V engine has gone AWOL, along with its 90 horses. In its place is the 123-bhp DOHC edition of the 1.8, sourced from a 35,000 mile Scirocco. That's an excellent choice for an engine swap as the A1 Rabbit uses the same engine mounts and fuel distributor placement as the equally A1-based ‘rocco. The ad doesn't go into detail about the swap - like whether or not he also switched out the 90mm Rabbit CVs and hubs with the 100mm Scirocco units - but he does say that the suspension, clutch and exhaust have all been Sach'd. He also notes that the car comes without A/C, just the way it rolled off the line in Westmoreland.
As far as condition goes - although it's hard to focus on anything other than the spectacularly ‘80s rear window louvers visible in some of the shots - the car looks good from far but far from good. The black paint looks serviceable and there's no rust to speak of. The interior - which back in the day seemed so continental - now looks a little lurid with its boxy blueness. Regardless, the velour on the seats remains surprisingly intact.
The seller notes that while the car runs he recommends any buyer more than a c-note away from his
old Kentucky West Virginia home bring a trailer to tote the car. That doesn't bode well for a future of mechanical incident-free driving, and perhaps should be taken into account when weighing this GTI's $3,000 price. You might want that trailer anyway as the price includes the old 8V engine and a couple extra snowflakes.
Offered up both on Craigslist and that bastion of Volkswackiness the VW Vortex, this 16V GTI seems straddle the line of want vs. wary - too crazy for boy's town, too much of a boy for crazy town - which may also play a factor in its valuation. With all that in mind, do you think this GTI is worth three grand? Or is this a rabbit season that you would rather duck?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.