At $7,650, Is This 1984 VW GTI a Hot Hatch or a Hot Mess?

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

The ‘Hot Hatch’ is an iconic car type, and there’s perhaps no more so than VW’s Golf-based offering represented by today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe GTI. Will its price however, leave you cool?

Convertibles offer a world of tradeoffs. On one hand you get a unique, wind in your hair (or over your bald belfry, let’s be inclusive here) experience. On the other, convertibles are almost always less capable than their fully enclosed cousins owing to their inherently higher weight and lower structural integrity. You have to determine the value of the concession.


You also had to determine the value of yesterday’s $15,800 1990 Porsche 944 S2, and seeing as it was a convertible, your choice was not an easy one. In the end, that beautiful Cabriolet came out with a narrow 54 percent Nice Price win, with even the naysayers leaving comments apologizing for their votes. See? It does pay to be pretty.

At what point do you think a car transitions from being just an old car to being a ‘Classic?’ Ten years? Twenty? And yes, I know that not all old cars do become classics. That’s why we have Meh Car Monday.

Today’s 1984 Volkswagen GTI certainly fits the classic classification. It’s a well respected model, is more fun to drive than the average bear, and it’s older than most of you.

Many even equate the model with being the first ‘Hot Hatch.’ That is however, in the same vein as people saying that Apple Inc. invented the smart phone. They didn’t, and neither did Volkswagen invent the Hot Hatch. It’s just that both companies did such a good job of defining their target market needs that today the iPhone and GTI have become the de facto standard bearers of those individual categories.


Another similarity, both iPhone and GTI have evolved from their initial forms while attempting to stay true to their intended purpose. The current versions of each are are easily identifiable as their predecessor’s familial descendants, but obviously with a more modern aesthetic. Oh, and bigger. Everything always seems to get bigger.


You might not want to use a first generation iPhone, and in fact I don’t think you even can as the radios it used are no longer available through AT&T, its only carrier. The GTI on the other hand, while perhaps lacking in many modern safety, emissions, and convenience features, is still a viable option at its intended task, which is making driving fun.

This one is described in its ad as a ‘Show Car’ and it does present as extremely tidy. The car looks to be a mix of old and new—an original interior with what’s said to be a show-quality paint job wrapping around that.


The paint is black with the GTI’s iconic red trim to liven things up. That black was one of four colors offered on the U.S. GTI in ’84, the others being Royal Red, Diamond Silver Metallic, and Cashmere White. The interior here is a gloriously color-coordinated burgundy red, and aside from the steering wheel and a late model stereo staring at you from the dash, looks just as it did when it left Westmoreland.


The seller says that mechanically it’s not quite all Westmoreland either. The ad notes: “Drive train slightly modified as well as suspension and exhaust system.” There’s also an oversized rubber spoiler on the hatch, and the factory wheels have been powder coated black and red down below. The seller says a refinished set of stock snowflakes come with the car.


No mileage is given, however the reason for the sale is provided. That’s a recent back surgery that’s keeping the current owner—the car’s third—from enjoying his beloved ride. That’s too bad because even with just 90 horsepower these cars are a hoot and a half to drive. The close ratio 5-speed makes use of every one of those ponies and that’s abetted by an appreciably light weight and extremely flingable chassis.


You rarely see MKI GTIs in original shape anymore. Volkswagen’s lego-like parts interchangeability means that when parts wear out owners often replace them with more modern analogs, and they tend to bolt right in. This one seems appreciably original, and hence should offer a pretty authentic driving experience. I think that, and its age, allow it to be considered a classic.

The price is $7,650 which interestingly is just a bit below what this GTI would have cost when new. The question for you is, could it actually be worth that much now that it’s old?


You decide!


Boise, ID Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Fauxshizzle for the hookup!

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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.