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Wheeler Dealers Project: 1983 Volkswagen GTI

For years, I watched Wheeler Dealers, one of the few programs I actually would make an effort to tune in to and/or record. Unfortunately, they lost me when Edd hit the road. I tried to keep watching, but the new guy there – Ant, I believe his name is – is much too Hollywood for me. Check out his Instagram profile if you want further evidence of this. Edd China was the real deal, a guy we could all relate to in one manner or another, and it’s a shame he’s gone. But that didn’t stop one eBay seller from buying an actual car the new team worked on during Season 16, the second first-generation VW GTI they’ve tuned up. Find it here on eBay with an asking price of $18,500.

The first generation GTI needs no introduction, as it’s a classic in the best sense of the word. It was a car no one was expecting, especially not from the likes of Volkswagen. The small-car-fast phenomenon was on full display here, with modest horsepower but big smiles courtesy of the miserly curb weight. The GTI also handled with the sort of rigidity expected out of high-performance models that cost double what the GTI did, and was even more of a revelation due to its front-wheel-drive layout. The new team of Mike and Ant upgraded this GTI in a few different ways, including with European-market bumpers, a grille and headlights from a second-generation Golf, and a larger throttle body from a later Golf.

The GTI was also treated to a new paint job and had its interior reupholstered. Personally, I like cars closer to stock condition, and the cabin on this example is bit bright compared to the rest of the muted colors in the cockpit. The factory upholstery suited this car just fine, so I wouldn’t pay any more for it simply because it sports these snazzy new inserts. Regardless, the rest of the interior remains largely stock, with a factory steering wheel, gauges, and uncut door panels. The dash doesn’t appear to be cracked, and there’s an aftermarket radio in the dash. One of the upgrades Mike and Ant performed involved converting the air conditioning to R134A, a smart upgrade the next owner won’t have to worry about.

The tidier European bumpers are a great look, but I’d change the front grill back to stock condition ASAP. The later headlights and grille just don’t look right to me, and the same goes for the dark tint on the back windows. Lose those two features and swap out the snowflake wheels for a set of refinished P-Slots and I’d love it. What I don’t love? The limit of Wheeler Dealer’s repairs, as the suspension, should definitely be firmed up with new bushings, shocks, and springs, even if it doesn’t overtly need it. The rest of the car looks quite clean, but the seller’s asking price is a big jump over what it sold for on the show. Does Wheeler Dealers have the kind of star power to drive a strong sale price?


  1. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    I think it looks much better with the nose job myself. Ant had to weld pieces of metal onto the fenders to make it work so it won’t be an easy swap back to stock. The seller is asking double what Wheeler Dealers sold it for.

    Like 10
  2. alphasud Member

    For those looking for a GTI you will notice how quickly prices have spiked for these cars. I personally like the mods done to the car and tartan interior is in right now right along with the bizarre pasha interior on the Porsche 928’s. I have owned several GTI’s in the past the mark 1’s are very fun cars to own. I’m sure it will bring asking.

    Like 3
  3. Steve R

    The dealer that’s selling it has it priced a bit high, but not so far off that he shouldn’t be able to find a buyer. The medications are tasteful, not every car needs to be returned to stock. A large percentage received some sort of modification, that was part of these cars appeal when new, they were easy to personalize. I wouldn’t pay one cent more due to its history, of being on a TV show, but it doesn’t detract from its value either. I’m not sure why the new co-hosts Instagram matters, it has nothing to do with the work done on the car. I don’t know why everyone hates the new guy so much, both him and Ed had their plus and minuses. The show in some ways has gotten better, now they perform more work on the cars and are pushing out a better finished product, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    Steve R

    Like 6
    • Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

      I agree Steve. I liked the original show with Ed. When he left I thought the show should have ended, but the new guy Ant grew on me and I like the new show as much as the earlier edition. As for the front end of his car I think it looks much better with round headlamps, the stock square lamps do not do this car justice. I don’t know how much of a difference it makes in value to keep this car all original.

      Like 7
  4. Mark in WNC

    The wheels are fine…that’s how these cars came. The seats don’t look at all like what came from VW…the inserts were bright but these are not even close. I agree, the Euro style bumpers look good but if you are doing a restoration I would leave them stock.The front end…what a mess: Two fenders a grill and a couple of headlights and you would again have a US spec GTI. Just my opinion.

    Like 3
  5. sir_mike

    I agree Jeff….after Edd left the show went downhill fast.Ant is a joke and then he married that girl from Flip or Flop then she divorced him.But the VW is nice but overpriced.

    Like 2
  6. Stephen K

    I didn’t see the episode, but I find it odd they would work to make a Mk. 2 grill fit instead of swapping to an early Euro Mk. 1 grill. Are we sure that isn’t what they did? Look up 1977 VW GTi and see that clean grill and round headlamps.

    Like 1
    • Craig

      None of the MK2 stuff would fit. Looks like an aftermarket badgeless grille and most likely a Cabriolet core support and belly pan. An earlier comment about welding to the front of the fenders would be to take up the gap left by the lack of turn signals beside the US rectangular headlamps.

  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    I love “Wheeler Dealers”. I loved Mike Brewer and Edd China. I also love Ant Antstead. I remember some of the cars they worked on during the show. This was among my favourites, a Volkswagen Rabbit (Golf) GTI. I’ve never liked the name Rabbit. I’ve never understood why Volkswagen ever decided to use that name for the US market cars.

    Like 5
  8. rex m

    Edd was and is The Man.

    Like 6
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Overall, the car looks awesome! I’m glad Mike and Ant decided to get rid of the Rabbit name in favour of the Golf name. I’ve never understood what Volkswagen was thinking when they offered it to the USA market and named it the Rabbit. The only thing I didn’t appreciate is the front end. I’ve always loved the wraparound turn indicators on the front corners of the Golf.

    Like 1
  10. Jack

    This is a quick flip, the original wheeler dealers buyer sold it on eBay a couple of weeks back for $11,995 check the seller’s feedback and you will see it. I would jump on it for $12k, but not for more as it’s been molested.

  11. Snafuracer

    I like the Euro conversion on the headlights, fenders, and bumpers. It looks great to me! Cool car with a cool story! Love the show. Edd and Ant both are great to me.

  12. Jimbosidecar

    I only watched a few W-D when Edd was working. They bought and sold a Bug Eye Sprite and I thought Edd did an abysmal job on it. So, I kind of turned the show out. I began watching to again after Ant joined the show. Im my opin ion (only) Ant does a much better job of going through the cars, explaining each step. Now I try hard not to miss an episode

    Like 2
  13. Chaz Lang

    Ant’s gone, too.
    Mike’s taking the show back to the UK, and is hiring former Formula One mechanic Marc “Elvis” Priestley.
    Too much bad blood between Edd and Mike for Edd to come back. Mike mishandled that change.
    Ant has great fabrication talents, but the show became more about the dopey antics at the end, rather than the work being done.
    Too bad. I loved that show.

    Like 1

    I like Ant and he is very knowledgeable. The question is why did Edd leave when the show moved to Cali?

  15. david r

    Ant seems to know what he’s doing but Edd will always be the man!

    Like 3
  16. MCH

    Can’t stand Mike’s efforts at being funny – too scripted, and too corny. He is probably a really interesting guy in real life – he should stop trying so hard on WD. Both Ant and Edd were interesting and capable and did a decent job of explaining things, though they made complex projects seem way easier with access to parts and specialty tools. Both are now gone. WIll the show survive a third mechanic? Very mixed feelings about the show throughout its history.

  17. MarveH

    I love Wheeler Dealers it is one of the few car shows I can watch. I keep trying to watch American shows but I’ve had all the Lizard Dick garage I can take with the bleeping, tool throwing, and the constant appearance of Lydia the tattooed lady.
    I first saw Ant Anstead on For The Love of Cars and thought he was a good replacement for Edd, who I also very much enjoyed. Now it’s going to be Elvis from Wheeler Dealers Dream Car, another solid choice.
    As for this GTi, nice car but the ask is a little un-sane. I have wanted a GTi since 1983 but somehow the stars never aligned.

    Like 2
  18. CVPanther Member

    I agree, Jeff. I loved WD and was disappointed when Edd left.
    I have tried to watch the new show with Ant and I just can’t get into it.
    Edd is/was the man and I learned a lot about fixing cars from him.
    My respect for Mike dwindled when he made it a point to slam Edd on numerous occasions after he left, there are even recent videos where he doesn’t talk nicely about Edd.
    To be honest the show was never quite as good after it moved to California.

    As for this GTI I’ve owned a few Rabbits and a GTI and they were decent cars but I don’t understand the money they bring now. You can still get a lot of vehicle for $18500, a lot more than this one has to offer. To each his own, of course.

    Like 1
  19. moosie moosie

    VERY Nice VW, good show, miss it since the cable company doesnt offer it, Mike is a tool, Edd was great, Ant was O.K. & apparently a competent spanner handler. I have a question, what is the white container with 11 compartments for on the underside of the hood ? A carrier for Bocce Balls ? The wheels are O K, but I’d prefer the grille with the fog lights.

    Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The container you are asking about, located on the underside of the hood, has a tip-off as to what it’s for; That black line coming off of it is for engine vacuum. The unit stores vacuum, and the ball design means it won’t collapse under external atmospheric pressure. I’m not that familiar with the Golf/Rabbit cars, but I suspect it’s used to supply vacuum to open & close the various HVAC vents.

      • moosie moosie

        Bill McCoskey, thank you for that explanation, I kinda thought thats what it was for. Merry Christmas !

  20. Jaxson

    I loved the Mike/Edd China Wheeler Dealers, the Mike/Ant version is ok but not as good to me. The show’s direction has definitely gone too Hollywood (rehearsed gags etc) where the original show just seems more genuine.

  21. Wayne from oz

    Really enjoyed Ed on the show, actually imo HE was the show. Watched 10 minutes of Ant, never again, it was like watching paint dry. Mike was too much like the American shows,(not worth watching). After he kept putting Ed down after they axed him, it just showed the type of person he was. But after all he was a car dealership owner, which is only one rung under a politician for trust.

    Like 1
  22. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I made it a point to always watch the latest episodes of Wheeler Dealer when they were filmed in UK, because coming from the US of A, I enjoyed watching them work on various cars that have never been available in the US. When it relocated to California, It’s my feeling the show lost it’s special edge, and became just another US-focused car show.

    Same with Top Gear. The UK version was far superior to the one they tried to foist on the American public. It was doomed to failure from the very first show. The UK version obviously had a much higher expense account per episode when compared to the US version. The UK version was far more willing to take chances, even taking the 3 Mouseketeers to 3rd world countries.

    Also of note; I have 2 very unusual aftermarket emblems in my car emblem collection, both I found on the hatch lids of Golf/Rabbit cars in US junkyards

    One is of 2 [not 1] rabbits, shown in the expected mating position, as rabbits are prone to do. The other one shows a golfer in full swing of his club, and instead of a golf ball, he’s striking a rabbit that is seen flying thru the air! Don’t know where they came from, but they always get plenty of comments when I show off my car emblem collection.

  23. Davin Sills

    Hello all. I realize this post is over 2 years old. I am the owner of this car. I purchased it in January 2021. I did not pay the asking price for the car.

    Here is what I would say about the car. It was flipped by the original buyer on the show to a dealer in Las Vegas. They person who bought it was another investor / dealer in Miami Florida. He held it in Storage for almost 2 years then decided to sell it.
    I purchased the car and had it transported to St. Louis, Missouri. This is my 2nd Rabbit GTI. I owned an 84 in 87, had to sell it when I was in college. I always missed that car. I know the car, and I know all of the potential problems. It’s not perfect, but that is what we all love about this street legal go cart.
    I would tell you that the car is mechanically in excellent shape. Ant knew the car and restored it perfectly. The nose clip was perfectly converted to round eyes. There is zero rust on this car which is more than I can say for my old ‘84. The interior seats and headliner is excellent and was re done well. Yes, I too loved the OEM cloth but it is no longer available. It needed some additional love to get it back into shape. I have cared for it and made it better that I got it.

    This car was never made to last 40 years. There will never be another car like this. Ever. I am fortunate to own this piece of history. It’s not perfect but that’s what makes it PERFECT. To know this car is to love it. It puts a smile on my face every time I roll it out of the garage. It’s not a garage queen and is made to be driven.

    Yes, these cars are currently commanding ridiculous prices. I didn’t buy it for a flip. I bought it because I love this car. So, my advice to all car lovers. Let’s all enjoy the remaining years we have with our favorite gasser cars. We will all soon be driving E-cars.

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