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Practical Fun: 1989 Volkswagen GTI 16V

If you’re a longtime Barn Finds follower then you may remember the first project that Josh and I documented here on the site. It was a GTI that we found along the road. We thought it might be an interesting story so we tracked down the owner and bought it for $400. Then we dragged it home and made it semi road worthy. Since that time I have secretly longed for another…

Our GTI was a MK1 and it was great, but the thought of more power and four-wheel disc brakes made the MK2 16 Valve sound even better. So you can imagine my excitement when this super clean ’89 popped up here on eBay. It looked original and was listed without a reserve! “This could be perfect”, I thought. And then I looked at the location… Georgia. It might as well have been in Europe.

I’ve been hunting for a GTI for a while so it’s hard to write this one up. I figure it’d be better if it went to a Barn Finds reader than some kid who might modify it though. Just look at how clean those sport seats are! Normally that hard-to-find GTI specific fabric is beyond repair. Trim pieces are not easy to find either so the clean interior is a major plus here.

And so is a good solid body. Rust is the enemy here as it is with any classic. Scoff if you will at my comment, but these little hot hatches entered classic car territory long ago. They can still make great daily drivers for a car guy/family-man though. Their sport-tuned suspension, hot-rodded engine, and hatch-back body make for the perfect mix of practicality and fun!

This one may have gotten away, but perhaps one of our readers has something in their garage they might be willing to sell me? Perhaps we could all relive that first adventure once again!

Source: eBay


  1. CapNemo

    You give up too easy. My collection consists of vehicles I’ve purchased from all parts of the country. A pickup and a Uhaul trailer is cheap. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

    Like 4
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      True, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense financially.

      Like 1
  2. Miguel

    This is from the ad

    “The transmission linkage has been rebuilt and shifts like it should.”

    Why would the transmission linkage need to be rebuilt on a car with 200 miles on it?

    I would be scared of the open title from 1995. Where has the car been from then and why isn’t there a close up of the odometer?

    Like 2
    • DN

      As the ad states, it doesn’t actually have 200 miles…..

      Like 0
  3. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

    They mention that the gauge cluster has probably been swapped out. Hopefully the bidders read that part…

    Like 2
    • Tin Shack

      The Carfax on this car stated that the mileage as of 2/24/2018 was 306,915

      Like 0
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Ouch! Hopefully the high bidder looked at that.

        Like 0
  4. davew833

    You were kind of shocked when I figured out the location where your GTI was purchased with just a few clues and a bit of time on Google Maps and Street View. It was a fun way to kill a few hours one evening.

    Whatever happened to that one?

    Like 0
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      It sold to a Barn Finds readers who has a brother who was a VW tech or something. They were able to get it running even better but we haven’t heard from them in a while. Maybe we should check in and see what they did with the car.

      Like 0
  5. DN

    What a small world! My dad worked at Combustion Engineering from ‘73-‘96 and likely shared the same parking lot with this GTI. I even remember his fondness for Gail who handled the credit union loans!

    Turns out, a good friend of mine knows the seller and the back story – the car is legit.

    I still have my high school sketches of these GTI’s, was once obsessed with them…. back when VW’s were cool 😎

    Like 0
  6. Roy L

    A first look, I thought we had another YUGO.

    Like 0
  7. Cameron Falkenburg

    If you still want a GTI, I have one that’s in pretty good shape out in California.

    Like 0

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