At $8,000, Is This 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI A Hot Hatch With An Even Hotter Future?

Nice Price or No Dice: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
Photo: Craigslist

The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice Rabbit GTI claims its value will multiply just like real rabbits do when left to their own devices. Let’s see if its current price adds up at all.

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The entire era of hot rodding cars by increasing horsepower and reducing unnecessary weight was started by cars like the Bucket T we considered last Friday. However, in much the same way that powdered wigs and vacationing in the countryside during cholera season have fallen out of favor, so too have cars of this ilk. That was evident both in the comments, which vacillated between horror and offense, and the vote on the T’s $9,500 price, which dropped in a 67 percent No Dice loss.

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Photo: Craigslist

Today we’re shifting from one era of hod rod to yet another, that being the age of the hot hatch. The concept was to take a utilitarian car and tart it up with more horsepower, better handling and some good looks to let other people know it’s something more than just a tepid hatch.

The whole idea of taking cheap, small cars and making them go faster actually predates the era when the hatchback was king of such cars. But once big booty doors did become a thing, the whole thing kicked into high gear and the hot hatch category was born.

This 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI is one of the earliest cars in this category, and it remains to this day the standard-bearer for the class. Sure, there were others before and since, but it’s generally considered that the Mk1 GTI was a near-perfect example of the concept. This one looks pretty good in most of the pictures, but as we shall see, it’s far from perfect.

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Photo: Craigslist
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The Mk1 GTI arrived in the States with four paint colors — white, black, red, and silver. This one is painted Royal Red (mostly) and that’s supported by a lurid red interior. Yes, the hot hatch era overlapped with the age of the color-keyed interior. On the plus side, those extremely red cloth seats are Recaros out of a Mk2 and they have been nicely reupholstered. The car still has its factory three-spoke steering wheel and dimpled “golf ball” shift knob. It’s all reasonably clean and tidy, although the dash does have enough cracks to warrant a carpet toupee, while the rest of the plastic throughout appears to be a bit tired.

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Photo: Craigslist
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There are 190,000 miles on the car, and while it looks pretty solid in most of the shots, the roof seems to have borne the brunt of the years and those miles. That’s worn not just through the coat of paint but also through the primer. It’s a bit alarming considering how good the rest of the car’s paint appears. At least the sunroof in that roof is working. Down below, the factory wheels have been given the heave-ho, but at least have been replaced by some interesting and period-appropriate BBS units.

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Photo: Craigslist
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Under the hood, the 90 horsepower 1.8 liter four has been given a Neuspeed throttle body and sits beneath the same company’s strut bar. Other than those additions, it appears to be all stock and, according to the ad, well maintained.

Issues noted in that ad include nonworking windshield wipers, an air-conditioning system that’s show-only and a driver’s seat that refuses to go back and forth. Add to that list a nonworking tach, non-wired triple gauge cluster, and a minor dent on the passenger door, and you come to the realization that this GTI is a project car. That’s OK as long as it’s a solid base for rejuvenation, and if the car itself is worth the trouble.

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Photo: Craigslist

The seller addresses both of those concerns, noting that the GTI “drives and handles absolutely great, it is like a go-kart and has no mechanical issues.” It noted to have a clean title and to have passed a recent emissions test. The ad also claims this to be a car that will no longer depreciate, explaining further that it will “only get more expensive and rarer.” That may be something to take with a grain of salt, but it is safe to say that MK1 GTIs are not as common these days as they once were. It’s also a car that has a following and a venerated history, which can only add to its appeal.

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The question at hand, however, is whether or not it’s worth the $8,000 the seller is asking. What do you think, could this classic hot hatch be worth that kind of cash? Or, does that make this a bunny that loses by more than a hair?

You decide!

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Los Angeles Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Don H. for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOND. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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

DISCUSSION

factoryhack
factoryhack

Nice wheels don’t make a tired $3,000 car into an $8,000 car.

The non-working wipers and A/C is a nice bonus. Love the seats and dash cover too. Classy.

ND.