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1982 VW Golf GTI Mk I

           ith mass production, cars are not built to whim, but literally for the masses, exceptions and tweaks are not allowed, and this especially holds true for a ‘peoples car’. The ‘Sport Golf’, as the engineers called it, was an ‘evening and weekends’ project, developed in secret outside normal working hours. Even when it was shown to the management, their interest was lukewarm. In fact the sales and marketing people were against it, unable to see a market for such a car.


Thankfully, having been developed by engineers, it was devoid of stripes, spoilers and pretensions. It had no rear spoiler because it didn’t need one. It had a front spoiler because it was found to reduce front end lift by 65lbs at 100 mph. It had wheel arch trim to protect it from stone chips, not because it looked good. It had wider steel wheels to provide extra grip, a standard, though widened, exhaust system for the higher capacity engine. Lowered and stiffened suspension was there because it provided the best handling and response.


The car was ordered in white with cloth trim, factory steel sunroof, headlamp washers (a very rare factory option), original Blaupunkt Hamburg radio, standard alloy wheels. It was passed to her nephew in 2001 who stored it and never used it. It has spent the last year being cleaned and detailed to virtually ‘as new’ condition. It has covered 42,000 miles and the interior looks unused, the boot is perfect (no scratches, no dents, even the rear seat back is completely unmarked), and the bodywork is virtually as new save for a couple of small stone chips.


It has never been repaired and no components other than service items have been replaced. It has never been restored. The door handles, bumpers, external trims and front pillar trims fade on these cars. On this one they are still black and as new. The alloy wheels have been refurbished to ‘as new’ condition. The body stripes, front grille surround and wheel arch extensions are perfect. The engine bay has its original factory wax and is in correct original order. The service books and manuals including the radio handbook and the spare keys are with the car. The full original toolkit is in place. Because of its lack of use, it has been treated to a full and comprehensive service using V.A.G. parts. At the service the cambelt was replaced along with exhaust manifold gasket and the front brake discs and pads.

Fortunately for the engineers, at the same time the type 827 engine had been enlarged for use in the Audi 80 GT, which was introduced in 1974. It was decided to go ahead with a limited run of 5000. It was May 1975. The Golf GTIprototype was just completed in time for the September 1975 Frankfurt Motor show, though it did not go on sale until June 1976. Only 22 Golf GTI’s were sold in the UK in 1978, but over 1500 were sold in 1979. In November 1979 ‘What Car?’ lined the 1588cc 5-speed Golf GTI against what they perceived as its nearest competitors at the time; the Ford Escort RS2000, the Talbot Sunbeam Ti and the Vauxhall Chevette HS.


The Golf GTI won by a considerable margin, and history shows that, with the exception of the Ford, the other cars have disappeared into obscurity. By 1980, the hot hatch concept had been established, and rival car makers were producing their own versions. Notable ones included the Vauxhall Astra Mk1, the Alfasud, and the new Ford XR3. But each time the various cars were lined up, there was always the same winner. ‘Motor’ magazine commented that ‘At the risk of sounding interminably repetitious, the GTI still rules!’.


This VW Golf Mk1 GTI 1800, was bought new in 1982 by Dame Rosemary Murray who was the first female Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University.

It was featured in the April issue of Performance VW. This car is in truly exceptional ‘timewarp’ condition. It is kept in specialist storage by its passionate owners, but is frequently ‘enjoyed’ as it should be.

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