Searching online listings sometimes brings up interesting dilemmas, like the fact that you can choose between a car that originally sold for $8610 in its year of manufacture, or one that sold for $36,000 in the same year, both in apparently similar condition. Both are faded silver, one has 26,000 more miles, and both have 1980s-ish mesh wheels with rubber that’s too low-profile. All that said, one might be a little more complex to repair and more durable, while the other will have you scrambling to keep up with flimsy rattling plastic trim, but reward you with simpler construction. Yesterday’s 733i is one half of this equation – the other half is this 1984 VW Jetta GLI, for sale for a surprisingly familiar $2400 in Wilsonville, OR.
These tidy, angular little sedans shared a lot with the Audi Fox and 4000, as well as the later VW Fox. As long as 4-door GTIs were not available in North America, the closest you could get was the GLI. With their spartan equipment and performance beyond their size, there’s an easy argument to call these the BMW 2002 of their day. This particular car is said to have a strong engine, new 15×8 wheels, service receipts from Hare Doktor (ha! a pun that requires knowledge of German and that the Mk1 Golf was called the Rabbit here), lowering struts, and new front struts and wheel bearings.
Black bumpers and fender flares are the GLI-specific features visible here. The car is said to sound good and accelerate fairly quickly, so presumably it’s had some engine work in its life. Aside from the paint, other flaws include a failed rear passenger-side door handle, failed odometer, and a collapsing driver’s side seat bolster. A1-generation cars have a reputation for leaking through the windshield seals onto their fuseboxes, causing excitement for the driver, so you’ll want to inspect carefully around there.
The engine compartment looks pretty clean for a driver, and the alternator is shiny enough that you’d be justified in thinking it was recently replaced. No further detail is given on the car’s mechanical condition, and since the odometer failed about 30,000 miles ago, it’ll be hard to judge what repairs were done when. So that leaves you judging the car on its current condition, which looks like that of a reasonably well-kept 31-year-old budget sport sedan.
Interior carpet appears worn, while most everything else looks pretty decent – no readily visible cracks in the dash, and the GLI/GTI-specific center console with extra gauges, sport steering wheel, and tachometer. The rear seats look to be the originals, and are in good condition. Some tearing on the seat-back bolster is also visible here, so you’ll want to budget a little for repairs, or find alternative seats – maybe a contemporary BMW could provide something. Speaking of contemporary BMWs, which silver sedan would you pick?