Published on May 25th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
VW Golf Gti Mk1 1982, Used Classic Hot Hatch
The VW Golf GTi Mk1 1.8 has existed in Europe since late 1982; providing enthusiast with a front-wheel drive hot hatch that generated 112bhp from a 1.8-litre, single overhead camshaft engine with Bosch fuel injection that drove the front wheels via a close-ratio five-speed gearbox. In Europe, the GTi had started life with a meager 1.6-litre engine that was rather uninspiring against the early Ford Escorts and even the E21 BMW 320i. The 1982 GTi’s entered the country with parallel importers (the then importer Champion Motors were looking more towards the lower 1.1 and 1.6 versions of the Golf in 4 doors) and it came standard with electric windows and air-conditioning but missed out on such basic items as electric mirror adjustment, power steering and a remote rear hatch release. However you did get firm red and black lined Recaro designed seats and the legendary ‘golf’ ball gear knob. Steering feel was one of the best on the business and muscle bound heavy if you opted for larger 15 or 16-inch alloys. Standard alloys were BBS 14-inch cross spoke with 185/60/14 tyres. Its front disc brakes were very disappointing and the rears were no better. But the car was a hoot to drive and with a curb weight of less than 900 kilos it had a power to weight ratio that was hard to follow. Most cars arrived somewhere between 1984 and 1987 and they all came with manual sunroofs and some had Zender or BBS bodykits. Only small numbers were sold and only a few are surviving today. All this makes this a very rare car and one that is quite desirable.
Even with the scant level of trim and equipment, the passenger compartment exudes a sense of European class that can still be appreciated today. The seats offer exceptional lateral and side support and the controls and instruments are sensibly placed to deliver excellent visibility. Luggage space is good for a car of this size – and that’s even before when you fold the rear seat. The five-speed gearbox delivers long throws, but they are positive in their extraction of power from the torque filled engine.
Like I said earlier, this is a very rare car and most owners will be unimpressed to sell as the cars would have been fully paid for with no finance on them due to their age and maintenance costs will be low, thus preventing them for wanting to dispose of them. Now if you find one for sale you will need to look over this car thoroughly to make sure you are not getting yourself into a heap of repair bills. The Mk1 GTi is a durable machine like most VW’s and rust won’t be a problem unless the car has spent its life parked by the beach in Penang or poorly rust-proofed after serious accident repairs. Check the sunroof (if fitted) for smooth operation and leaks (look for water water marks on the roof lining at south side of the sunroof. Crash repaired cars are common and can be identified by mismatched paint and poor panel fit (check the bonnet, door and rear hatch gaps). Exposure to sunlight makes plastic rubbing strips brittle and ‘milky’ while the front under bumper spoiler may have suffered from a lot of ‘kerbing’ over the years. Next you need to look under the bonnet. The 8 valve 1.8-liter GTi engine encourages hard use where 300,000+km mileage is quite common but if it has been badly maintained it will invariably need major work. Rattles from the top of the engine are common but persistent smoke under acceleration warns of more extensive wear. Light ticking when accelerating through a bend means that one or more drive-shaft CV joints is on the way out but persistent, heavier knocking can indicate worn differential bearings and imminent major expense. The gearshift should be precise, with worn linkages the likely cause of any sloppiness. Engine overhauls can cost anywhere between RM1400 and RM2900. If the engine is completely shot then it would be better to just junk the engine and get a half cut that has been brought in from Japan or Hong Kong which is very common now. Look at paying between RM4000 to RM7000 for a whole unit, which will get you the dashboard, disc brakes, and front panels, which might be in good nick for you to use. Happy hunting and trust me if you get a good unit you will be thanking me all the time. Prices today hover between RM18,000 to RM28,000 depending on condition.