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No Reserve Hot Hatch: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI

Has the first-generation Volkswagen GTI gotten so valuable that it’s worth buying a rusty one that’s cheap but clearly needy? The jury may still be out on this question, as the market for early water-cooled VWs has been hot lately, but it hasn’t gotten to the level where every MK1 GTI is selling for big money. This is a fairly needy car that has a gorgeous interior, which may indicate it was cared for but sadly left outside. The GTI is listed here on eBay with no reserve and bidding up to $3,550 at the moment.

The GTI may be wearing two shades of paint based on the way the rear half appears to be slightly darker than the doors forward, but that could be a trick of the lighting as well. The seller does come right out and say this is a rusty example, and while we can see it on the edges of both doors, it’s less obvious whether it goes inside the jams or into the floors. The GTI is located in Indiana, which certainly isn’t the best place for a fragile classic like this to live outdoors. The GTI appears to remain largely stock with the standard “Snowflake” wheels and OEM right height – no sign of a lowering kit here.

The MK1 Volkswagen interior is typically pretty hard-wearing, so it’s not a surprise to see this one look as clean as it does, but it strikes me as being nice by more than just “accident” like a previous owner was actually working to keep it in good order. The upholstery looks quite fresh and the seat bolsters show no sign of sagging. The door panels also present quite well, and for having 168,000 miles on the clock, the lightweight hot hatch actually presents better than you’d expect inside when you consider the mileage and the exterior condition.

That being said, the odometer doesn’t work so the mileage may actually be higher. The GTI is clearly described as a project that starts, runs, and stops, but that’s about it. The seller notes up front it could use a valve cover gasket and a tune-up, but I’m guessing the actual list is even longer than that. If the rust doesn’t go into the floors, I’d say this is a good buy for a project-grade GTI, as the doors can be replaced or repaired without too much consternation. My prediction is that it will stay under $5,000, but with the surge in interest in 80s enthusiast cars, anything is possible.

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    This one deserves a real close inspection. The first place I look for rust is in the strut and rear shock towers. That is usually what ultimately kills the car. From what I see it looks promising and I may be just be limited to the doors and rockers. You are right in that these are tough little buggers. It could have 300K and still be okay as engines and transaxles outlive the body structure. Same could be said of the CIS injection unless the car goes dormant for an extended period. To those who have never driven or owned a MK1 GTI you won’t be disappointed. They are super fun, economical, reliable, and love being driven hard but not beat on. Your friends will also get a kick when they see the rear inside tire lift off the ground during hard cornering. Like a dog lifting his leg on a tree.

    Like 11
    • Rick Dickson

      I had the pleasure of driving these from time to time while washing cars at a dealership in 1983. They were an absolute blast to drive. So quick, so nimble.

  2. Bo

    I always think of the first generation GTI as the round headlight pre 1980 version (in Canada anyway). The round headlight version has lighter and cleaner styling both inside and out compared to the 1980 square headlight models.
    I test drove a used and very rusty ’79 GTI in the late 1980’s and was astonished at how fast and how well it drove. I ended up with a 1979 diesel Rabbit. It’s one of the cars I’d love to own again.

    Like 4
    • alphasud Member

      I’m not sure what engine was used in the Canadian models but the early GTI models had a 1.6 engine with the high compression heron head. I built one for our 80 Caddy parts runner. They ran strong.

  3. Rob

    I had an 87 16 valve. The 8 valve is actually more fun to drive even though it makes about 20 less hp.

    Like 1
  4. srintimidator3 Member

    The first new car my wife & I bought was a Black 84 GTI with red interior & manual crank sunroof! That car was a blast to drive… it was like a go cart on steroids! We drove it for several years with no real problems, replaced tires brakes & struts & that was it. We finally traded it off when the family grew & we needed a bigger car with more doors. Would love to have one again but not fond of rust buckets!

  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $5,301.25.
    I would have kept looking.

    Like 1

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