While the US celebrated its bicentennial, Volkswagen launched a seminal car known as the GTi at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1976. To the rest of the world, it was called the Golf GTi, but in the US it was known as the Rabbit GTi because apparently, Americans are too stupid to differentiate the sport versus the car.
The importance of the GTi cannot be overstated as it heralded the advent of a new category called the hot hatch: a sporty, versatile, and economical car for the masses. Back in the day, the GTi packed a 1.6 4-cylinder good for a little over 100 hp and 0-60 in 9 seconds. It was only offered from 1983-1984 so very few are around today and if you happen to find one, they are typically beat to hell by neglect and old age.
Which makes our featured GTi all the more special. This nice example benefits from a complete bare-body respray with new seals and trim, coilover suspension and bushings, new brakes, restored interior, and some sweet-looking BBS basketweave wheels. At the heart of this build is an engine swap with 1.8t from a 1999 Audi A4 good for 200 hp and 33 MPG. As Garth would say, “Schwing!!” I’m not sure you could get any better than this if you are seeking a nostalgic ride with modern amenities, comfort, and reliability. Check it out at VW Vortex offered for $12,500 before it is too late.
Model: Rabbit GTi
Engine: 1.8 4-cylinder turbo (200 hp)
Transmission: 5-speed manual
I will start by saying that Ive owned this car since the summer of 98 and it has been nothing but a pleasure. Anyone who remotely knows me, knows this car. I gathered the best quality parts available to build this car with no expense spared. Since the car has been complete, it hasnt even as much as spent the night outside.
The Body This car was originally an accident free, rust free, local car. After I gathered all NOS bumpers, window seals, body moldings, wheel arches etc. etc., I completely disassembled and prepped it for paint. The car was then painted inside and out with PPG global basecoat/clearcoat. Its easy to see that there were lots of hours of blocking/ sanding/ polishing put into the car. This is no “budget” paint job- it is the real deal- even the paint on the battery tray is as slick as the rest of the car. All of the window seals are new, VW parts. The vent windows are rebuilt with new seals/ pivots. The sunroof is rebuilt with new guides/ cables and a new seal… just to break the surface-
Drivetrain The engine is a low mileage AEB 1.8t from a 99 Audi A4 while the transmission is a cable shift 02A from a corrado G60. In doing this swap, my goal was for everything to fit like it came in the car. The wiring harness was custom tailored by me. It ALL fits and operates as it should. Unlike most all other 1.8t Mk1’s out there, there are NO problems with this swap. I added an OBD port inside the car so that the ECU could be accessed by VAG-COM. The cooling system is all new and operates flawlessly. The ECU has a custom tune by APR. The downpipe and exhaust were custom made by TT and fit the car as they should… I could go on and on..
The outcome is a 200hp 1.8t mk1 that doesnt use oil, leak, or have drivability issues. I wouldnt be afraid to drive this car ANYWHERE. It consistently gets 33mpg on the road.
Suspension The car is sitting on weitec coilovers and all new poly bushings. the manual steering rack was rebuilt with new boots, tie rods and the ball joints are new. The brakes consist of a new rocco 22mm master cylinder, new brake booster, ss braided lines and drilled/slotted rotors. As you would expect, the car drives great and is in perfect alignment. You can even take your hand off the wheel while on the interstate if you feel so inclined
Interior The interior consists of a new headliner, a nice dash, near perfect helios recaros, custom door panels, and nice original carpet. The roll bar is a “bolt-in” autopower approved roll bar.. Simple, yet, very functional.
Well, im sure I forgot a number of things but, this gives you the general idea.