Estimate : £11,500 - £13,500
The Mk1 Volkswagen Golf was a car built to suit the changing automotive landscape of the 1970s. The Beetle simply didn’t cut it anymore. Rival companies were quickly dominating the small car market and Volkswagen simply couldn’t risk losing out on that vital segment of the market. As such, it launched the Giorgetto Giugiaro styled, front-wheel drive hatchback in 1974 and, well, the rest is history. Now on its eighth generation, the Volkswagen Golf has been a motoring mainstay ever since, maintaining a position of quality, reliability and even luxury. Oh, and let’s not forget the performance angle.
The GTi version of the Golf very nearly didn’t happen. Volkswagen created a sport Beetle (no, really) and the reception was less than dazzling. As such, it quashed the executive's willingness to offer the same with the Golf. However, a skunkworks project rose to the challenge, and built a performance prototype based around the Mk1 Scirocco. This eventually evolved into a Golf, but it wasn’t plain sailing. Executives complained the car was too loud and too harsh. Engineers responded by fitting fuel injection to quieten the intake noise, and they softened the suspension. In 1975, the GTi version was approved, going into production in 1976.
Sadly though, we didn’t get the Golf GTi in the UK until 1979. And it was that delay that gave rise to various companies who would build you a hot Golf. One such company was GTI Engineering, which was a veritable powerhouse by the time the 1980s rolled around, because rather than lose out to the official UK car, this company took that car and made it better. It’s one of those rare, special GTI Engineering models that we have here.
This 1983 Volkswagen Golf GTi is, before you wonder, a genuine Pirelli edition GTi. It started life as a left-hand drive European specification car before being imported into the UK where it was delivered to the workshops of GTI Engineering. We’re clarifying the car’s GTi credentials because some may question it due to being a five-door car. However, in Europe, the GTi was indeed available as a 5-door. Hence the car you’re looking at here.
Of course, GTI Engineering had no interest in keeping the Golf in standard guise, and as such, it was put under the knife and given some serious upgrades. The most notable being the 8-valve RE2000 engine conversion. This was a huge leap for the time, given that no 2.0 had ever found its way into the Mk1 Golf.
The engine boasted an uprated EN24 crankshaft with 94.5mm stroke, the bearings were upgraded to heavy duty items, the cylinder block was machined with an 82mm bore, alloy autothermic pistons were fitted, the cylinder head gas flowed and ported, as was the exhaust manifold. The inlets were reprofiled, 42mm inlet valves were fitted with 35mm exhaust valves, a sports camshaft with 275 degree period was fitted and the injection system was modified. The result was 152bhp and 158lb ft. A lot for a car that weighs little more than a packet of Swan Vestas. GTI Engineering also upgraded the clutch and the brakes, making this the complete package.
They didn’t stop there though, as the interior has been trimmed in high-grade black hide, there is a GTI Engineering leather steering wheel, a brace of auxiliary gauges for oil water and voltage, a sliding metal sunroof and of course, all the GTi trim, badges and emblems all sitting atop a set of 15 inch gold BBS lattice alloys.
The car has had a number of owners over the years, all of whom have cared for the car. The current owner has had the car in his possession for well over a decade and his attachment is obvious. His only reason for selling is the decision to buy a camper, which will better suit the needs of a growing family.
With a car so specialised and so unique, paperwork is key. And we’re happy to report that this car has a veritable smorgasbord on offer. The current owner, fastidious in nature, has compiled a folder full of receipts and invoices for all work carried out. He’s even managed to track down paperwork and press releases from the car’s early days, which serve to further back up the credentials.
The paperwork dates back to 1988, and is comprehensive to say the least. Every nut, bolt and part bought for this car over the course of its life seems to be accounted for, which is impressive to say the least. However, pleasing though all the history is, it’s the time with the current owner that really shines and goes to show just how dedicated he has been to this car.
In 2010 it had a new radiator and a new clutch. In 2011 it was fitted with an Ashley exhaust manifold and given a rolling road tune, new water pipes and fuel metering head were fitted in 2012. Also in 2012, a new TSR 2.0 bottom end was fitted at a cost of over £2,000. New brake hoses have been fitted, custom made discs were fitted in 2018, along with another new clutch and just last year a set of Toyo Proxes was fitted. Everything is accounted for, everything is costed and everything has receipts and invoices to back it up. This is a car you can buy with absolute confidence in its past.
Luxury is the name of the game with this Golf. Inside, there are seemingly acres of fine grade black leather. The seats and door cards have all been expertly trimmed and are in excellent condition. There is no significant wear nor any signs of damage. The only sign of age is some light discolouration on the driver’s bolster, which is to be expected on a car of this age.
The door shuts are clean and free of corrosion and dirt. The headlining is spotless, while down below the carpets are in excellent order. The GTi Engineering leather steering wheel has been retrimmed, too, meaning that all important point of connection between driver and car is uninterrupted.
The dash is bright, clean and free of sun damage and cracks. The auxiliary gauges mounted down in the lower section of the centre console all function as they should, and also add a purposeful edge to the cabin. There is a modern Sony head unit fitted.
Gloss black is an unforgiving colour, and as such it will tell you of fault and imperfections with a disconcerting keenness. Happily though, the bodywork on this Golf has little to complain about. The current owner is not a man to simply throw a sponge at this car, and as such, the paint has been regularly cleaned and properly polished. There is no egregious swirling in the paint, nor is there any significant damage. Is it perfect? No, it’s a thirty-seven year old car, so there is some life to it. Some age. But in a pleasant, honest sense. It’s not a car that has ever been abused.
There is some light chipping on the kick plate area of the sills, and on the edge of the driver’s door frame. There is also a small amount of ‘burn through’ on the paint on the driver’s side B pillar (pictured). There’s a small amount of stone chip damage on the front valance, which to be expected, and the silvering on the rear badges is a tad faded. That’s about it. As we said, it’s a car with a bit of age to it, which is nice. It makes the car a driver, not something to be intimidated by.
The gold BBS lattice alloys have been recently refurbished and as such, are in perfect condition. They all wear recent (2019) Toyo Proxes.
The interesting thing about the look of this car is the collection of Zender parts. The rear panel under the lights, the spoiler and the A pillar trims are all nice little touches, and sure to send VW enthusiasts into a frenzy at the next show!
As you would expect for a car in such condition, the mechanics are in superb order. Open the bonnet, and you’re greeted with a pleasant sight. Again, this is an area that shows its years, but in a positive way. This is a performance car and it’s been built for driving, as such, there is a bit of engine dirt here and there, there’s a bit of surface rust on the timing belt cover and the strut brace, but it’s nothing a bit of Hammerite couldn’t sort, should you wish (though we like it as it is).
The engine barks into life at the first turn of the key, and the stainless performance exhaust system has a nice, but not too intrusive growl to it. The clutch, being new, works without complaint and all five of the gears are easily selected. The bigger brakes fitted to this car would be capable of stopping a much larger vehicle, they’re that good. This gives the driver a pleasing confidence behind the wheel, helped even further by the lowered, stiffer sports suspension.
There are no leaks, no untoward noises, no creaks and no knocks. This is a car that doesn’t know its age. Thanks to a fastidious maintenance regime, it’s got the get up and go of a much younger machine.
This is a truly standout opportunity to own a car that represents the evolution of the most loved models out there. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to own a car that has been cared for in such a way it could make a modern luxury car blush. This car has lived a life with owners that respect it and know what it is, and it has been treated accordingly. There are no modifications (other than the GTI Engineering package, of course), there are no holes for 6x9s, there are no stupidly low coilovers. This is pure, and unaltered from what a manufacturer approved tuner saw fit to do in 1983. It’s a time capsule in many ways.
It’s also an icon of motoring, but one with more interest and intrigue than other GTIs. The five door nature, the GTI Engineering aspect, it’s all unique and special. And within a following so vast and so popular, that’s a hard thing to have. But that’s what this car is. Unique. And who doesn’t like to be unique?
The seller has indicated that the following items can be included in the sale of this vehicle:
- Weathershield HP Car Cover (Specifically designed for this vehicle)
- A spare front grill with red metal trim
- New front number plate holder