At $16,500, Could This Be The Ultimate 1992 VW Jetta GLI 16V?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

It’s very likely that the price for today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW Jetta GLI is about what the car cost new. It’s been renewed and looks to be... well, better than new. Could that all add up to that almost as-new price?

I’ve been hearing a lot of late about fantasy sports lately, which naturally I took as a shortening of the term “fantasy sports cars.” Well, it turns out that’s not the case and now I’m not allowed on FanDuel any more.


That’s okay though because I can still get my fantasy sport fix with cars like yesterday’s 1998 Mitsubishi Montero SPORT. That rugged wagon even offered the tantalizing opportunity to shift your very own gears which, in the automotive world, was once the height of sportiness.

Being sporty and being in remarkably good shape went a long way in proving the Montero worthy of its $4,995 asking—so much so in fact that it won an impressive 83 percent Nice Price win.

Being sporty has always been a plus. In high school, the jocks are pretty high in the pecking order, while commercial airline pilots like to describe maneuverable aircraft as having “sporty handling.”

When it comes to the automotive industry, the practice of tightening things up, adding a few extra ponies, and slapping on a distinctive badge has long been a tried and true way to build brand interest and increase sales through the creation of a sporty car. Don’t believe me? Well, just take a look at this tastefully restored 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V, and see if that doesn’t prove me right.


The Jetta as we all know was the Golf with a trunk. That, of course, makes the GLI a GTI that’s also answered a booty call. The long-running model took the GTI’s winning sporty car formula and applied it to the more stately sedan body style. Thus was created a car that served a different enough market that both could it and GTI live side by side in VW’s showrooms without people wondering why they didn’t fight over buyers.


Globally, the Golf and GTI have long been the better sellers. Here in the U.S. however we tend to equate hatchbacks with the have-nots and hence the Jetta with its big booty has long outsold the Golf in the States by almost two to one.


That’s brought us cars like this GLI, although it’s unlikely that any MKII Jetta GLI ever looked quite this fetching as this right from the factory. The ‘90s Jetta also didn’t benefit from decades of updated and improved parts but this one does. Some of the most notable of those are a set of Koni coilovers matched with MKIII strut caps. Further suspension upgrades include a spate of Neuspeed and Autotech components all mounted with poly bushings.

Power comes from a 2-litre 16-valve four that’s been imbued with a hotter cam and a Euro-spec intake. The updated header and exhaust still include the cat however, the aftermarket stuff may mean that the car won’t pass a visual smog inspection should one be required in your locale. The factory parts are included with the car, just in case.


Backing up the modded mill is a five-speed manual and that has seen attention too. It shifts through an upgraded linkage and clutch and drives the front wheels through a Peloquin limited-slip diff. Staggered BBS RS wheels wrapped in Toyo tires put all that to use.


Being capable is all well and good, but won’t get the opportunity to show off if nobody looks at you. People should be looking at this GLI. After all, it’s pretty darn pretty.

The car has been resprayed in its factory teal and enjoys new rubber all around. The rectangular headlights in the nose have been switched out for a four-lamp set up nominally from the GTI, the inner set in foggy yellow. G60 flares adorn each wheel arch while a modest duck tail caps the boot.


The interior is just as immaculate as the exterior, although should you be seeking luxury accouterments you might want to look elsewhere. Everything here—mirrors, windows, climate control—is manually operated. Of course, that’s all befitting a car that puts its sporty nature first and foremost. On that account the car’s Hella steering wheel and substantially bolstered cloth sport seats look like they get the job done. The dash has been replaced and the center console boasts one of those funky cassette or CD drawer things. Everything is very tidy in here and also extremely old school cool.


There’s a lot more to this restored GLI, and with just 122,000 miles on the clock and a clear title, there’s also a lot to like—that is, if you’re into such cars.


That’s right, this GLI, nice as it is, will have a very narrow audience. Those who appreciate the car for what it is will want to know what such things might cost. Others—those appreciative of the work that has gone into the car if less so of the car itself—may not care a whit.


For the former group, we now need to vote on this Jetta’s $16,500 asking price. See? That’s why I prefaced this part by noting that the car will only appeal to aficionados. The question then is whether or not those jonesing for an old-school GLI should pony up $16,500 for this seemingly exemplary example.

You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Danny T for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.