The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most iconic and influential automobiles that Volkswagen has ever produced, every other car manufacturer has looked to this cult masterpiece before designing the own version. VW came up with the idea of a sporty hatchback way back in the early seventies and at the Frankfurt Motor show in 1975 previewed the soon to be famous GTI model. By 1977 left hand drive models started to appear on our shores and finally in 1979 Britain got its own right hand drive version which was worth waiting for.
The VW Golf GTI brought a bit of everything to the table, a practical hatchback, economical with pace and handling at an affordable price, what’s not to love. The buying public agreed as the GTI sold well and it didn’t take long for other car makers to catch on such as Ford’s XR2, Peugeot’s 205 GTI and Vauxhall’s Astra GTE to name but a few started to come out of the woodwork.
All of these hot hatchbacks were of course pretenders to the Golf’s thrown and in 1983 VW replaced the 1.6 engine with a 112 bhp 1.8 engine as well as alloy wheels, Buy 1984 the VW Golf Mk II was launched with a revised chassis structure. In 1986 we saw the birth of the GTI 16v which gave more power, increasing the Golf to 139 bhp. The Mk II surpassed the Mk I sales peaking in 1989 at 17,193.
Today the Golf GTI is still going strong in its 7th generation although the Mk 1 & Mk 2 versions are still classed as the real GTI’s in there purist form and are now both Classic cars in their own right.
- The classic VW Golf GTI is an icon, this is where the whole hot hatchback era started and you can still find some excellent stock examples for sale today. Here’s the Heritage Insurance guide to help you sort the peaches from the lemons.
- Starting with Bodywork, unless it’s had a restoration then there will be rust so check in all the relevant areas such as inner wings, front valance, windscreen pillars, sills and door bottoms, wheel arches, spare wheel well and fuel filler pipe which could lead to other problems as the fuel can become contaminated.
- Engines are strong but as most Mk 1 GTI’s will have done over 100,000 miles you can expect some wear and tear. Start the engine from cold it should turn over for a second and fire up no problem, make sure it’s had regular oil and filter changes through its life time. Also make sure the cam belt has been changed, it should be done every 40,000 miles.
- Gear boxes are generally good just check for 2nd gear syncro wear. Clutch cable housing can perish so check this as the cable can damage the bulk head. Breaks are OK but don’t feel as strong as a modern car but this is normal, just make sure it’s had a brake fluid change in the last five years. Standard suspension feels a bit soft for a sporty car and is very often lowered to help with handling. Don’t be put off by this providing the cars not on the floor.
- Interiors are sparse so not a lot to go wrong just check condition as replacements are not cheap. Good GTI’s are no longer cheap as prices are constantly increasing but I suppose after all you get what you pay for.