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Friday 19th September 2008


SOTW SPECIAL - GOLF GTI 16V BOUGHT!

PH buys a Golf GTI 16V - is this the road to recovery?

The new addition to the PH fleet
The new addition to the PH fleet
So here it is – PH's new shed. For those of you who don’t know the PistonHeads team has been trying to make some cash buying and selling second hand cars, starting with a kitty of £500.

So far the approach has been more Frank Spencer than Frank Butcher and after a disastrous loss with a Mercedes 420SE funds have taken a nose dive. That’s why there is a lot riding on this little Mark II Golf GTI 16V – this could be our last chance of getting back in the game.

I knew there was a lesson somewhere in the fact we bought a V8 Merc in the middle of a fuel crisis and figured going back to our hot hatch roots (having made money on the Peugeot GTI) was the way out of this whole mess. So what have we bought? Well the MkII GTI is arguably one of the all-time best hot hatches so that’s a good start, and this is the rarer, more powerful, 16 valve version.

Forget what you’ve heard about the 8V being better – it’s rubbish – this is the real deal. The car comes with seven months MOT and even a few days tax. The price? Two-hundred-and-fifty of your English pounds. Or in other words a couple of good nights out in London.

Comes with ultra rare DTM exhaust kit
Comes with ultra rare DTM exhaust kit
But to say the sale was easy would be stretching the truth. I saw the ad on Gumtree and phoned up the seller, who lived in Southgate, the other side of London. A quick three-hour slog round the North Circular and I meet him in a side street (rule one of how not to buy a car). The Golf looks OK, if a little tatty, but there’s zero rust and it’s pretty much standard.

The guy then tells me that the car is about to run out of petrol and a test drive is likely to result in us conking out somewhere in the Borough of Enfield. I decide to take my chances and manage to nurse it once more around the block. There’s not much shove but this is traced to the two inch thick rubber matt resting under the accelerator pedal and although finding gears is a bit like stirring a bowl of soup the car seems to be in good, honest nick.

Cleaning car next job for workie (after tea)
Cleaning car next job for workie (after tea)
I’ve done an HPI check on it already and I know it’s not stolen or crashed, so I adopt the your-car-is-a-pile-of-rubbish poker face and go in for the kill. ‘Two hundred quid and I’ll take it now’. It doesn’t work and he won’t budge. Eying the fuel gauge reading empty it dawns on me that I could be stuck with a car that won’t move anyway.

An inquiry of where the nearest petrol station is flusters the chap and he suddenly insists on fetching his brother to continue the transaction. Before I can react off he goes in the car with no fuel, telling me to wait where I am. I figure he’s gone for good but twenty minutes later a Mercedes van turns up and out gets someone new.

It’s his brother, apparently, but where’s the car? Round the corner, run out of petrol, of course. Silly me. We drive 500 yards and there it is. After the two men in the van have waved and said hello to virtually everyone on the street I ask how we are going to get the Golf moving again. It’s going to take half-an-hour to go and get petrol, they tell me, and as it’s now 8.30 in the evening I am on the verge of giving up.

136,000 miles? Barely run-in...
136,000 miles? Barely run-in...
We all agree that I’ll come back tomorrow with Mr Will and grab the Golf. It’s not there the following day and after a quick phone call Man 1 comes sailing around the corner in the Golf. I give him 250 quid, he gives me the documents, and off he goes into the sunset, leaving me with the keys to my very own 16V Golf. With no petrol in it.

Perhaps surprisingly we make it back and even more surprisingly it seems like we might have bought a half-decent car. OK, so the passenger electric window doesn’t work, but the driver’s one does so who cares? There’s a sunroof, all the lights work, the 16V lump pulls cleanly and it’s got a decent bit of shove.

The gearbox linkage is probably a bit worn but there’s no crunch in any of the gears, even second which normally goes on these cars. We’ve only had it a couple of days but already the 250 quid Golf is winning over the PH office. Garlick didn’t want to drive it at first but after ten minutes behind the wheel he didn’t want to give it back.

Hot hatches old and new
Hot hatches old and new
It’s simple, smaller than I remember, and has what all slightly tatty cars have – character. I have to admit I have a real soft spot for MKII Golfs, having owned three of them, and to me the 16V big bumper is an absolute classic. Apart from a dent in the back, most of the panels are unbelievably straight, and as I said before, not a spot of rust in sight. Next up is to give it a good polish and maybe tidy up a few bits, then try and sell it ASAP for a decent profit.

This Golf could be make or break for our shed project, so no pressure then…

The Gumtree ad...
The Gumtree ad...

Author: Oli S