Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI (MK 1 / MK 2)

Volkswagen introduce the Hot Hatchback
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. Volkswagen came up with the idea of a sporty hatchback way back in the early seventies. At the Frankfurt Motor show in 1975, Volkswagen previewed the soon to be famous Volkswagen Golf 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 well worth waiting for.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI brought a bit of everything to the table. A practical hatchback at an affordable price, what’s not to love? The buying public agreed, as the GTI sold well. It didn’t take long for other car makers to catch on, with Ford’s XR2, Peugeot’s 205 GTI and Vauxhall’s Astra GTE.

All of these hot hatchbacks were of course contenders to the Golf’s throne. So in 1983 Volkswagen replaced the 1.6 engine with a 112 bhp 1.8 engine and alloy wheels. In 1984 the Volkswagen Golf Mk II was launched with a revised chassis structure and the GTI followed two years later with 16v, increasing the Golf’s bhp to 139! The Mk II surpassed the Mk I sales peaking in 1989 at 17,193.


VW Golf GTI (MK 1):

Years Produced1977 - 1984
Performance0 - 60mph 8.7sec / Top Speed - 112mph
Power & Torque 110bhp / 96Ib ft
Engine1588cc four cylinder / 8 valves
Drive-train front engine FWD
TransmissionFour speed manual

VW Golf GTI (MK 2):

Years Produced1986 - 1992
Performance0 - 60mph 7.5sec / Top Speed - 127mph
Power & Torque 139bhp / 124Ib ft
Engine1781cc four cylinder / 16 valves
Drive-train front engine FWD
TransmissionFive speed manual

The classic Volkswagen 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 Car Insurance guide to help you sort the peaches from the lemons.


Let’s start with bodywork.

Unless the car has 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.

Problems with your fuel filler piper,  could lead to bigger issues as the fuel can become contaminated.

Under the bonnet

Engines are strong, but as most Mk1 GTI’s will have done over 100,000 miles you can expect some wear and tear.

Start the engine from cold, and it should turn over for a second and fire up with no problems. Make sure the car has had regular oil and filter changes through its lifetime. We’d also advise that you make sure the cam belt has been changed, it should be done every 40,000 miles.

Gearboxes are generally good, just check for second gear syncrowear. Clutch cable housing can perish, so check this as the cable can damage the bulk head.

Brakes are ok but won’t feel as strong as a modern car, 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 car’s not on the floor.


The interiors are pretty sparse in a Volkswagen Golf GTI, which is great as there’s not too much that can go wrong. You’ll still want to give it a once over though, as any replacements could be pricey.

Good GTI’s are no longer as cheap to buy, as prices are constantly increasing, but as they say, you get what you pay for!


The Volkswagen Golf GTI or ‘Sport Golf’, as the engineers called it, was an ‘evening and weekends’ project. Developed in secret, and outside normal working hours, this was because marketing and management just didn’t see that there was a market for it.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says

“The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the archetypal hot hatchback with many car manufactures attempting to clone this icon in one form or another. The Golf is still going strong today in its 7th generation, unlike it’s would be former competitors.”

INSURING A Volkswagen Golf GTI


April 6th, 2017

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