Most Original 1983 Volkswagen GTI Left?

For reasons I will soon disclose, I am currently pretty excited by middle 80s and early 90s Volkswagens. To me, this is a very under-appreciated class of cars right now, as they were plenty iconic when nearly new and it’s become exceedingly hard to find clean examples of the hotter models, be it a GTI or a 16 valve-equipped Scirocco. You can honestly find clean E30 M3s far more easily than you can track down an unmolested GTI, which may be why the seller of this first-generation model listed here on Hemmings.com is swinging for the fences with his $39,500 asking price.

The price is said to be firm, and the seller states “There’s not a more original early GTI on the planet.” With under 80,000 original miles and still sporting original paint with zero accident history, it’s entirely possible – but I’d attribute this selling price with a car that has those qualities and under 50,000 original miles. Still, there’s no doubt that this is a special car, with seemingly all of its original features still intact, from the snowflake wheels to the GTI badges to the red pinstripe. The details are correct, with no evidence of modifications – not even a lowered suspension. The factory fender flares also remain in place, along with the OEM mudflaps.

You typically see one of two colors inside a GTI of this vintage, either blue or red cloth with the stripes going down the middle. The dash and console trim follow suit, along with the carpet. This GTI has the blue interior, and the bucket seats appear to be in mint condition with no signs of significant bolster wear. The factory auxiliary gauge cluster resides in its matching blue housing, and factory floor mats look to be well-preserved. The dash has no cracks, either, and the stock steering wheel hasn’t been swapped out for a more sporting Momo or other period three-spoke aftermarket job. And of course, the iconic golf ball shift knob remains affixed, a must-have for a GTI of this vintage.

The heart of the GTI may have been small, but it was certainly mighty. The following for this car remains so strong because it introduced an entire segment of sporting models that continues to be a force in both the modern and collector car marketplace to this day. Light weight, high-revving engines, and seriously balanced handling means a GTI of this vintage is still a threat at your local road course or autocross event. While I still question whether the mileage gives this GTI the sort of provenance that demands a $40K price, there’s no doubt that the condition is impressive and that it has resided in the care of an owner(s) that clearly doted on this appreciating classic. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Mitchell G. for the find.

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Comments

  1. GuernseyPagoda Member

    $39k. 😂😆🤣

    Like 19
    • Fletch

      Unfortunately, there will probably be some goofball that will pay it, wrecking the market for everyone else.

      Like 4
      • Steve Bush Member

        The asking seems high to me too, but what do I know? A similar 1983 GTI sold for $33k on BaT last year.

        Like 4
      • Eric B

        And one just sold days ago on Bat for $32,500 with 122k by original owner

  2. Fletch

    I get that this is original, but I’m pretty sure I can get a brand new, far more competent GTI for around that much money. I love GTIs as much as the next guy, but this is insane.

    Like 14
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      You are absolutely right! A brand new loaded GTI SE is more fun to drive, goes like he!!, has a good safety rating and the MSRP is 36K. The Westmoreland GTI’s are cool and retro, and would be a great hobbie car to cruise around in, but 40K is simply crazy. If you’re not in a hurry and look around awhile, you can find one of these in nice condition for somewhere between 8 – 12K.

      Like 5
      • Brian Scott

        I did that precisely. Having owned probably 50-60 cars over my lifetime, the one I want back isn’t my 911 Turbo or the other high end ones, it’s the MKI GTI. But for the same coin I bought a GTI Autobahn, loaded with a few dealer miles, then had it tuned to ~375 HP. It’s a quick little hot hatch, plus is just a perfect daily driver. It might be my favorite car that I’ve ever owned.

        Like 2
      • JoeNYWF64

        Good luck finding a new 2 door, much less 1 with a blue interior. I’d rather walk than drive a 4 door! & so would Milner, Falfa & even the Toad!
        & Wow! What a “selection” of colors below.
        What an awful blue!!
        http://www.vw.com/models//golf-gti/section/colors/
        compared to the 6(count em) SIX shades of blue here!
        http://www.firstgenmc.com/tech/72colors.jpg

  3. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    This price is ridiculous and the planet has far better GTis than this sellers seems to believe.
    Here is one with almost half the miles and half the price:
    https://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C1257078
    Took me 30 seconds to find that one.

    Like 4
  4. Connecticut Mark

    Would an insurance company insure for that amount?

    Like 1
    • Steve R

      Probably, many classic car insurance companies offer an option for the owner to state the cars value. I’m not sure what hoops the owner needs to jump through or the sort of restrictions apply with those policies.

      A few years ago a friends house burned down, taking with it his 93 Mustang LX which he’d bought in 1994. The car had been extensively modified and was in the process of getting a new engine. In total the insurance wrote him a check for $30,000 for the car and parts he lost. He said they never questioned him beyond asking for copies of the receipts for the parts, which he got from his bank. He had more trouble with the company that insured his one year old daily driver which burned to the ground in his driveway.

      Steve R

      Like 1
    • Jost

      Yes

  5. bud lee

    Will these cars really do 200 mph , as they do on the Playstation games ?

    Like 3
    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      We need answers

    • Dave

      No. 60 mph is 3000 rpm, halfway to redline. I owned one, and while it was a great twisty road car it felt “busy” at Interstate speeds (55 mph). A regular Rabbit turned 2500 rpm at 60 mph. Mine was black like this one, I remember them being in black, white, and red.

      Like 3
      • schooner

        ’83 bought new, red interior. Buzzy on the highway but a diesel .72 5th calmed that down without losing the fun gears below it. The oil ran hot as well, an oil cooler took care of that. Other than those two issues it was a great car that I racked up too many miles in traveling for work to keep.

      • Vwpat

        And silver.

      • Jonathan Devens

        Silver, too, I think?

      • ABikePeddler

        He 1984 has different gearing and is less manic. 84 is the year to get.

      • Vwpat

        Only difference in gearing is 5th in an 84 is 0.89 while an 83 is 0.91. I doubt most people can tell the difference. You could do like the other guy and swap in a wide ratio 5th (gas or Diesel.) 0.71, 0.75, 0.76 and my preference, the 0.80 from a Mk3 are available.

    • Eric

      I had an 83 with heavily ported heads and a huge cam. With the factory ECU it would hit 104 like a brick wall still accelerating. I later ran Simple Digital and an 8000 rpm redline. Never tried top speed in that configuration however. It sure would scoot. I do miss that car a lot. ’84s have air shourd injection for emissions so you couldn’t port the heads as big as on an 83. I tried the diesel 5th and hated it so much I took it back out after a week.

      Like 1
      • schooner

        Must have been fun watching that 85 mph speedo wrap back around to zero (grin). Yeah, diesel swap is a huge step. If I hadn’t been doing a lot of traveling I wouldn’t have bothered with it.

      • Eric

        The GTI had a 120 mph speedo. Ironic since it wasn’t geared to go that fast.

      • Vwpat

        Only late 83s and 84s had the 120 mph speedo. Rest had the 85 mph one.

      • UK Paul 🇬🇧

        Top speed was 112mph so a 120 mph speedo give a bit extra for downhill?

      • Clipper

        My ’83 would have been screaming bloody murder before remotely approaching that top speed. It was buzzy at normal highway speeds. The fun of this car was sprite handling (for its time) and excellent road/driver feedback, combined with economy and practicality (they were/are physically larger in size and could hold more sheer “stuff” than one typically thinks)

  6. ed the welder

    I paid 1300 bucks for the same car ( except mine had the sunroof ) with 93,000 miles in ’92 . It was ridden hard but I took it on a 3000 mile trouble free round trip to Florida about a month after I bought it. Made In Pennsylvania with maybe the worst quality of any car I’ve owned ( I had Opels , Pintos, German made Capris …) It was fun while it lasted and of course that “firm ” price is absurd .

    Like 3
    • JCA

      I had this same car as well, same color combo also with a sunroof, Owned around ’92. Bought for maybe $1200? I can’t recall. I guess I should have kept that one…

      Like 1
  7. Skorzeny

    I like these, in fact rode in one of the very first cars to arrive at West Side VW in a suburb of Mpls with my dad. It was a blast. BUT, they are fragile, and I don’t think very reliable. Wheel bearings for example… That said, I like them a lot, but I would go for a Civic Si for 1/5th the price, and twice the mileage. Sorry, the Honda products are just built so much better. Some fanboy with money from competitive computer gaming will nab it…

    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      Maybe an issue with US built models. I always found the really reliable. Scarily so .. they could take abuse, apart from the easy to sort worn out gear linkage, but even that was after high miles.

  8. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one Jeff. Amazing how these low-mile examples come up looking a couple years old. Who would have thought we’d consider these a classic, but it is! I’m sure opinions vary on the first post-malaise hot hatch, but the GTI certainly represents the class and became the one to beat. I drove several of these back in the day. Oddly the fastest Rabbit I ever drove was a non-GTI four-door white ’84 Rabbit with fuel injection and a five speed. Both GTIs I drove felt like they had the parking brake on compared to that four-door. It must have been one of those magic randomly blueprinted and balanced engines. Once the owner decided to drive to the next town, about 17 miles away, as much as possible with his foot on the floor. The Rabbit responded with aplomb, just another day on the Autobahn. The price indicates this seller wants to be sure there are no regrets! Great find and write-up! My closest vehicle to this was an ’84 Dodge Colt GTS Turbo with twin stick (dual range) manual. These hot hatches make great city cars!

    • GTiDave Member

      There may be something to that. High revving engines need to be used, and I know a lot of people drove them like traditional American machines at low revs. One of my favorite Rabbits was my German ’78 with a 1.6 four speed.

  9. jeffro

    83 GTI would have a “JH” solid lifter head. Bigger valves. Most desirable to VW guys. Love the car. But that’s a lot of $.

  10. Steve-O

    $39,000 is insane but, I wanted this one not long ago….sold for $29,000. I had an 81 Rabbit S (GTI basically but, no golf ball!) cost me thousands to keep running (ie; $1200 for a water pump in 1986 lol) but the engine was great and I loved that car!
    https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1983-volkswagen-rabbit-gti-14/

    • JCA

      I remember seeing a Rabbit S back in the day. Not exactly a GTI without the shift knob as I’m pretty sure it had the 1.7 engine and not the 1.8 that they put in the GTI. Didn’t have the GTI seats either. I had an 82 Black Tie that was also a halfway GTI like special model that had the 1.7. I had the blacked out Chrome, black wheel arches and grill and I think a sunroof. I put snowflakes on it and it looked great.

  11. CJinSD

    For the price I’d want a GLI instead. They were ever so much more nicely made at the time.

    Like 2
  12. Oilyhands

    I so hope that it makes $39K, heck, even more! If it happens I’ll be able to justify to my wife why I’m spending so much time in the garage fixing up my ‘83 GTI…… I can already here the call…. “are you coming in soon”, followed by my “I’m working on a priceless gem of a car, I’ll be in later”

    Like 2
  13. Vance

    Does anyone remember the tv commercial for these? It was The Beach Boys, Little GTO, but of course sung in German, Rabbit GTi. It was catchy as hell but hearing it in German was weird. A good friend was seeing a hot blonde who had one back in 1985. We would borrow it once in a while and beat the hell out of it. Fun little car to drive, I guess the blonde was as well.

    Like 3
  14. djjerme

    Actually, there is a lot of these around in unmolested condition. These weren’t picked up by boy racers or the flat bill hat crowd. I’ve seen many in recent years in similar nick for much cheaper.

    One of my old room mates had one in silver, and like this, kept it in stock condition. The drivers of these tended to be the kind of people who wanted sporty, but also needed to commute and so they didn’t tend to do radical changes other than maybe upgrade the stereo.

  15. Clipper

    Solid examples are available for half the money. Or less. Albeit not this nice. Swinging for the fences indeed…

    Like 1
  16. Dean

    Yes I always liked the GTI. I worked on the assembly line in New Stanton, PA and may have helped assemble this vehicle. I have have about every model be including the sport truck. Happy to see one original. I think the price is a s
    Sentimental value, way over priced. Still nice

    Like 2
  17. MrBZ

    These were cool looking euros that were fun to drive. I always respected them until I raced a new one in 84 with my 82 Omni and beat it hands down twice. That and the diesel Rabbit ended my adoration.

    • JCA

      Lol. I’ll leave it at that. Just look at the market demand price of this car vs an 82 Omni and that says it all. I’ve owned many cars that would beat my 84 GTI in a stoplight race but that’s not the point of the car. This GTI was fun and light and felt much quicker than the 0-60 numbers you read about. And the engine was bulletproof. I’d you were mechanically inclined, you can pick up the VW quirks and keep them running cheaply. I always had a muscle car for summer and I would drive these in winter. My GTI just like this one was actually my winter beater lol. I had a 78 champagne edition 4 dr, an ’82 black tie edition 2 door, 2 ’83-’84 GTIs 2 ’83-’84 GLIs. Who knew they would be collectable…

      Like 2
      • UK Paul 🇬🇧

        Agree, the Golf GTI is an icon. It broke the mould and others tried to follow.
        It was fun to drive, well made, handled well and cheap to maintain.
        Not many cars have had the impact of the GTi.

      • UK Paul 🇬🇧

        I had never heard of an Omni. I looked it up and saw a photo of one…..

  18. Louis Chen

    These Rabbit GTI were great handling cars for the price at the time. I had one also an ’83 also black like one. As luck would have it, I was working for a VW dealer in Houston so i could buy the needed parts I needed. I really liked the car and kept it until ’86 then I moved on a Scirocco. It was also great, very tossable and back in the day, there was a road that all “hot roders meet on weekend and since there was empty before subdivisions moved in an the cops don’t bother us! Those were the good old days in Houston. Too bad these GTIs were not German made! The price on this specimen is a little high!

    Like 1
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      Where were they made? There is differences I spotted beyond the lights, wheels and bumpers.

  19. ABikePeddler

    Mark my words. These super clean and original first-generation VW GTI’s will be six figure cars in short order. Has the author stated, cars that created a new category that continues on to this day are prime candidates for future appreciation. Fox body Mustangs, 22R Toyota pickup trucks and Datsun 240Z’s are all showing real strength in the collector car market and that is going to continue. Those of you that don’t get that will be scratching your head even harder as these numbers increase. I remember back thinking $100,000 for a Mercedes-Benz 300s
    SL Gullwing was utter madness. Wow, was I wrong.

    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      I have no doubt, in time. This one is just priced 8-10 years ahead of itself.

      Like 1
  20. Matthew S

    I’m reading all these comments about the price and I have to ask if anyone has seen what they are bringing on BAT?

  21. ABikePeddler

    Yes, Hagerty will insure for current auction values you just have to be willing to pony up the money for the premium. From my experience (at my zip code) Hagerty cost about $100 per $10,000 insured. My Renault R5 Turbo is insured for $100,000 and cost me $1,000 a year to insure. My 64 VW bug is insured for $10,000 and cost $100 a year to ensure through Hagerty. I don’t work for them I’m just giving you my experience. It is my opinion it would be hard to keep up with the increasing values on these Mark 1 GTI’s.

  22. Miguel

    Anybody questioning the price should look at this current auction on BAT. These people are bidding with real money.

    https://bringatrailer.com/listing/1983-volkswagen-rabbit-gti-16/

  23. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    They are overpaying on BAT. Maybe the demographic that use BAT don’t value money as much as others.

    Like 2
  24. ABikePeddler

    First, I value my hard-earned money Paul. The fact I have purchased three vehicles off of BAT does not mean I’m wasteful. In all cases the only source for the vehicle’s I purchased was, at the time of their purchase, BAT. And not all of us are in Europe… the U.S. GTI had a lower top speed then the European GTI.

    Like 1
  25. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    My comment was aimed at those overpaying, also as you said the cars you bought were not available elsewhere so it’s a different situation anyway.
    I don’t know BAT but it was being used as a benchmark to prove this was not overpriced. There are many examples in the replies above of real life purchases and many for sale that show otherwise?
    Maybe the red interior is rare? Here in Europe they were much more conservative with the interiors.

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