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Two Owner 16 Valve: 1987 VW GTI

Despite once being incredibly common, the second generation models of Volkswagen’s U.S. lineup have all but disappeared from American roads. This is especially true of the so-called “hot” models like the 16-valve GTIs and Jetta GLIs. Unfortunately, years of low prices and the popularity of engine swaps with lesser models have all but made cars like this two-owner 1987 VW GTI here on eBay extinct. Bidding starts at $1K and there is a reserve. 

Aside from the aftermarket wheels, this GTI is pleasingly stock. There’s a wide aftermarket available for cars like this, and most of them are riding on lowered suspensions by now. I’d be tempted to source the correct “teardrop” style OEM wheels and simply upgrade to wider rubber and make the necessary chassis reinforcements without slamming it to the ground – it will eventually be worth more that way. I dig the OEM bumpers with the red striping, a GTI hallmark.

Being an earlier model, this 1987 example didn’t have the in-your-face Recaro seats that came in later cars, but they did have these nicely-bolstered sport seats. These are usually trashed by now, so to find a stock car with a mint interior is really reaching into the upper realms of impossibility. The stock steering wheel remains, but a period “golf ball” shift knob should be sourced to be 100% OEM correct. Aside from a new headliner, the interior remains as it rolled out of the showroom, and the seller has also had the transmission rebuilt.

Engine-wise, we have a stock DOHC 16-valve under the hood. This was the engine to get in 1987, even if the prior years’ enthusiastic 8V worked hard to provide a sporting experience. 0-60 in under eight seconds was possible, thanks to the eager motor and light-weight, despite the second generation putting on some weight over the MK1. This is potentially one of the better project-grade GTIs we’ll see this year, with the right equipment and no outward signs of abuse. Easily worth $5K if in-person inspection backs up the condition seen here.


  1. Avatar photo Rx7turboII

    Three things about this listing, first is I’m moving to Washington State, they get all the good cars preserved out there unlike Illinois where I haven’t seen one of these in 15 years at least. Secondly, was there a sale on Armor All for the seller? I think he may have gone a little bit overboard using it. LOL ! thirdly, I like this car! Hate the aftermarket wheels but the rest presents very nicely…. now, what’s it going to cost to get a nice car like this though? 3000?

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  2. Avatar photo DaveT

    This thing is sweet, agree with you these are rare in this condition now. And while the rims are dreadful they certainly are ‘period correct’. Back in the 90’s every teal car had these.

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  3. Avatar photo Adam Wright

    Back in the day this was THE car to have, ask me how I know!

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    • Avatar photo Rx7turboII

      Thank you Adam! The correct 16v teardrop wheels!👍👍👍

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    • Avatar photo Jeffro

      Love the teardrop rims!

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  4. Avatar photo graham line

    Having had a string of GLIs, GTIs, and now a TDi, I seem to recall that the factory wheels were on the heavy side and handling was improved by bolting on something lighter. Didn’t affect Solo classing and made a significant difference. The even-numbered MKs seem to be the best of the bunch, though I haven’t driven a MkVII.

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  5. Avatar photo Superdessucke

    It looks like it’s on tip toes. The stance doesn’t look right but maybe my memory is just fading. Also, now I know why they’re out of Armor All in the Seattle area.

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  6. Avatar photo Steve

    Awful torque steer on these. And yes, the tear drops were heavy. Fun to drive. Not fun to maintain on busted up metro Detroit streets back in the day. Those pot holes ate these cars as snacks. My (ex) wife worked at VW HQ in Detroit and we had several GLIs and GTIs during time there.

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  7. Avatar photo Maestro1

    Derfinately as West Coast car, and a blast to drive.

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  8. Avatar photo Dave Danielson

    I had two of these, an 84 and an 87 GTI and GL. I restore them both and had them for about 10 or 11 years. Mine had the European style grill and wheels on the 87. But they must not of been as popular or in demand as people claim because when I got around to selling them nobody seem to want them and I had to practically give them away. But I sure do miss them because they were a blast to drive

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    • Avatar photo Steve

      Each time I sold a VW, the response was meager, but the one guy who showed had to have it. Odd.

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  9. Avatar photo BitNippy

    Always an interest when Mk1s & Mk2s pop up in good shape, and always think they would be a great project with my boys, and fun to drive while we work on it. Then there’s that money and space thing…

    Drove an 86 8V while @ Sac State in the early 90s. Red over gray cloth.. mildly and tastefully modified. Intake, exhaust, wheels (Borbet Type Cs!), suspension, audio. GF, then (ex) wife, had an 88 Mk1 Cabrio. Red over white cloth. Little brother drove an 88 Mk2 for awhile, too.

    The first german car I ever owned, and my introduction to car culture, if I really think about it. Fun little car. To the beach, to the mountains, to the course…bikes on the back, boards on the roof, or clubs in the hatch, it got me there and was always a fun drive!

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  10. Avatar photo Clay Bryant

    Every year here in Nebraska we have the Big Blue Mile Shootout. What was funny was I was sitting here looking at a pic of one of these out of our paper. It clocked out at 166.888 mph and belongs to Zeke Peterson from Brule , Nebraska. A few cars busted out over 200 mph on the blocked off highway. A lot of out of staters and great fun.

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  11. Avatar photo Brian Sawdo

    I had a red 1985 GTI 8V with wheels off an earlier 1984 GTI. The original wheels were bent from Chicago roads. My ‘85 had 4 wheel disc brakes and I was told they went back to drums in the rear because of problems. My friends ‘86 had drums out back. I had a lot of fun in that car. Great gas mileage too.

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  12. Avatar photo Mark-A

    Pretty sure that if U really detested the Fitted rims there’s plenty of VW Forums that would gladly accept them in the For Sale section, don’t know why but the 5spokes might be an optional rim style? If so it might even be TOTALLY Original which would make it a perfect candidate for a Full Restoration, might just be I’m a VW fan but I’m sticking with it.

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  13. Avatar photo Doug

    Sorry, but I have nothing good to say about front-drive Volkswagens. I had terrible issues with a new 75 Scirocco, right from the start. at about 1400 miles, a bolt that secured one of the shafts in the transaxle fell out, and the transaxle had to be rebuilt. At 17,000 miles, it ate the rod bearing for #3 cylinder in a left hand sweeper – the pan hadn’t been properly baffled, and tough full, the oil climbed the end of the pan and the pump sucked air. Various other issues continued to appear, and at 43,000 the same rod bearing let go again. Athough I had purchased the 50,000 mile warranty, Volkswagen refused to fix the car , claiming that exceeding 50 miles per hour on a non-freeway constituted
    abuse ! After some calls from my attorney, they stated that I would have to deposit $2,000 to have the engine torn down and inspected, and that IF Volkswagen determined that it had not been abused, THEN they would repair it – otherwise I would be S.O.L . Needless to say, I have never owned another VW, nor will I. I bought a junkyard engine with 40k on it for $600, installed it, and traded the piece of crap in on a used pickup.

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  14. Avatar photo hhaleblian

    I will always regret selling my 83 GTI. That’s the main reason I’ll never sell my 03 Cooper S. Both are/were my daily drivers, a hoot to toss around, and reliable as it gets. After all these years, I finally learned my lesson to hang on to something great. Sometimes one doesn’t realize how great something is until it’s gone.
    Ghibli, 275Gtb, Liteweight RS, 67 427 Stingray, Gibson SG, Rickenbacker 12, and the list continues. Good thing the mind is getting feeble.

    Like 0

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