Ghibli’s Cousin – 1981 VW Scirocco S

Car Trivia Quiz: What do the Maserati Ghibli and VW Scirocco have in common (Hint: it doesn’t matter if it’s a first- or current-generation car)? The Scirocco was a great example of sporty-car-on-budget-platform, using the Mark 1 Golf/Rabbit for its mechanical bits. Interestingly, the Scirocco was launched before the high-volume Golf to do final debugging on the platform. Featuring a 5-speed transmission and a 1.6-liter engine putting out 70hp, the car was no tire burner, but the performance lay more in its light weight and handling. You can find 1981 VW
Scirocco S
for sale with bidding at $3550, reserve not met, and 5 days left to go, in Hayward, CA.

1981 VW Scirocco S right front

This particular car is finished in Cirrus Gray Metallic, which was only available for the 1981 Scirocco S. It’s a color that’s still contemporary, and works well with the red trim accents all over the car. It also does a good job of obscuring the fact that the bumpers and other trim bits have not been able to escape the rays of California’s sun. Quad headlights make for an aggressive look, recalling some BMWs and Alfa Romeos, and later cars got wrap-around indicators and a single wiper. Note the grey-market Mercedes SLC in the background – these two are more interesting than the cars in most suburban neighborhoods.

1981 VW Scirocco S left rear

California blue plates speak to the car’s original sale there, and aside from lightly oxidized trim, everything looks good. The left rear tire seems to be the original spare, as it doesn’t match the other tires on the car, and the seller includes it on his list of needs. On the other hand, that rock-hard old tire might help with some crazy power slides. The car has had much recent work in the owner’s 8-year tenure, including a rebuilt transmission, new clutch, a/c service, new paint, and much more. You’ll have to ask to see service records to determine what was replaced early on and may need attention soon.

1981 VW Scirocco S interior

The interior looks great, with just a little fraying at the base of the bolster on the driver’s seat back. A good used dash, door panels, and parcel tray were all included in the owner’s work. The car still needs shocks, tires, alignment, and miscellaneous other bits and pieces.

1981 VW Scirocco S engine

And here’s the engine. The seller went through the entire electrical system to correct a rough running/hesitation issue, which seems excessive. You’ll want to poke your head under the dash to make sure the work was done to a high standard, although the seller’s attention to detail and the quality of the photos suggests everything should be good. Oh, and to answer the trivia question – Scirocco is derived from the Greek word for a wind coming out of North Africa, known to Libyans as Ghibli.


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