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MK2 Survivor! 1985 Volkswagen Jetta with 18,600 Miles

In 1985, Volkswagen introduced the Mark 2 platform of the Jetta compact vehicle to the United States, offering it as a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan. Most of the vehicles have either succumbed to rust, modifications, or various other fates, but this 1985 Jetta GL that’s here on craigslist is a very clean survivor-quality example.

While this MK2 is available near Milford, New Hampshire, have no fear – the car originally came from California, and it definitely appears to be a rust-free specimen. The seller claims that they are the second owner of the sedan and that it underwent work last summer to “get it running perfectly.”

As a GL trim Jetta, this model has a fairly pedestrian interior, but at least everything is in fantastic shape. The grey cloth seats seem to have no rips or blemishes, nor do the matching door cards.

This Jetta’s 6-digit odometer shows just 18,624 miles.

Jetta GL models featured a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine, which made 85 horsepower from the factory. This example uses an automatic transmission to drive the front wheels.

The seller of this Jetta is asking $4800, which seems like a fair price for a survivor of this quality, especially on the east coast. However, there’s no denying that this Jetta doesn’t have the most desirable spec sheet. Would you purchase this bare-bones Jetta, or would you prefer a flashier MK2?


  1. Avatar photo HydTech

    Interior and the rest of the car looks pretty good. I don’t see any “cards” in any of the pictures. The inner door panels seem to match the seats, and the rest of the interior, quite nicely however.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo kirkm1976

      The GL was not the base car. You had base, GL, and GLI. My family purchased one new in 1985.

      Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Miguel

    I am going to bet the odometer has been broken for most of its life.

    Also, it doesn’t matter how few miles it has, I bet it has electrical problems.

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo 433jeff

    The turbodiesel 5 speed would have been the best, the gas with the 5 speed is still mint with great mileage, The gas auto is a great rig too,long lasting , the heat in these rigs make you go nuh-night, door handles are a wear item. Very nice simple cars

    Like 2
  4. Avatar photo ssatemple

    A bare bones 85 Jetta would have steel wheels with plastic hub caps, manual crank windows, no sunroof, no A/C, non-power mirrors, a manual 5 speed and non-metallic paint. This car is not a GLI, but it is fully loaded for a first year MK2 Jetta.

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo Lance Platt

    Not sure about the accuracy of the odometer either but is a very clean survivor nonetheless. I like the practical boxy shape, the ease of an automatic transmission and German style handling. Should be fuel efficient too.

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Mike

    This car, short of the GLi option, is loaded. Power Pak (power windows & central locks), A/C, moonroof… Nice car.

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo CJinSD

    I had an ’85 Jetta GL 4-door 5-speed in this color for a while when I was in college almost thirty years ago. I liked just about everything about it, but that was because I’d yet to own a car built to a standard where monthly repairs weren’t the norm. West German cars were better dynamically than most Japanese competitors at the time. Since then, German cars have confused driving heavy with driving well and Japanese cars have at least closed the gap dynamically. The day I bought the Jetta, I also test drove a Corolla. There was a difference back then that caused me to put up with fragile engine mounts, heater cores, A/C components, CV-axles, struts, door-handles, locks that froze, vinyl coated cardboard interiors, etc… Today there is no reason not to buy a high quality car. When I saw this listing, I experienced a momentary disappointment that it was an automatic, but now I remember what VW ownership was really like.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo kenzo

    Bought a ’85 Diesel 5 speed in ’91 with 32000 km on it. Replaced the trans and clutch at about 250000 km as it was cheaper than getting it rebuilt. No major problems with electrical. Just the usual cv joints brakes etc. It finally quit at 565000 km. The interior was getting worn but no where near worn out and that includes door panels, trunk liner. carpeting etc. Bought a 91 4 door gas when the 95 quit. It has 360000km and still going with no real issues. If I was closer I’d be there on the weekend for a solid go over.
    My 91 is the 3rd Jetta we’ve owned also had 2 rabbit pick ups, a rabbit, 2 VW Vans and a beetle.
    Can’t beat them.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Dan D

    I bought an ’86 Jetta new. It was also a GL, which, as was noted, was a step up from the base and decently equipped. Mine was silver with a blue interior and a 5-speed. Really loved that car, so much that when it’s time was due, I bought a new ’95 Jetta to replace it. My ’86 was the first year of the CHMSL in the US and had the hand-cranked metal sunroof. Great handling car and wonderful highway cruiser.

    Like 1

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