RE: VW Golf GTI (Mk3): Spotted

RE: VW Golf GTI (Mk3): Spotted

Tuesday 28th May

VW Golf GTI (Mk3) | Spotted

The Mk1 and Mk2 GTIs are bonafide classics. The Mk3 won't ever get there - but it'll hit 25 regardless



'Beginning of the end' might sound a slightly fatalistic way to describe the Mk3 Golf GTI, but there's no escaping the lukewarm reception that greeted it at launch. Compared to the Mk1 and Mk2, this was a heavier, plainer, clumsier GTI - and immediately deemed responsible for tarnishing the Golf's established hot hatch reputation.

That said, it was probably the Mk4 that really did the most damage to the GTI's image, it being plusher and less exciting again, and sufficiently wide of the mark that a replacement wasn't guaranteed. Then the Mk5 arrived, and the rest is history. Moreover, time can often be kind to cars; different generations have different memories of certain models, and those priced out of 'icon' level stuff often want the next best thing. It happened with E30 3 Series, and E28 5 Series, as prices climbed, so why not Golfs?


While it's never going to be a Clio Williams, a Golf GTI like today's Spotted will be eligible in 2019 for all the benefits that classic car status bestows, while also being a relatively simple, 1,100kg, naturally aspirated almost-hot-hatch. It still looks quite smart, it's comparatively rare, and the classic VW community is well known for its knowledge and enthusiasm.

Need further convincing? Thought so. This GTI is £1,800, and reasonable examples surely can't get much cheaper as the years continue to pass and numbers dwindle further. As proof of the fact, see the Mk3 GTIs that are also for sale on PH with fewer miles: £4k is the next most affordable, with anything up to £12,000 being asked for the most lightly used examples.


While this Golf is the less desirable eight-valve, it is at least in Tornado Red and 107,000 miles on the clock accounts for less than 5,000 annually. With main dealer maintenance up to 99,000, specialist services after that and a recent cambelt change, there shouldn't be too much to worry about mechanically. Being from a simpler ought to further reduce the fret factor, as well.

True enough, even the slow passing of a quarter of a millennium won't see it lauded as a hot hatch legend, let along 25 years - but as a 90s throwback, as a piece of Golf history and, yes, as a cheap classic, there is something to be said for a Mk3 GTI. Alternatively, you could have a low mileage VR6, which would be even better.


SPECIFICATION - VW GOLF GTI (MK3)
Engine:
1,984cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 115@5,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 122@3,200rpm
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1994
Recorded mileage: 107,000
Price new: £N/A
Yours for: £1,895

See the full ad here

Author
Discussion

mrpenks

Original Poster:

208 posts

97 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I’m no VW fanboy but these weren’t as bad as we believe today and were quite desirable back in the 90s. The 16v was very competitive, 8v more an Astra SRI or Escort Si competitor. Blame the insurance companies...

sugerbear

1,820 posts

100 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I bought an 8v new in 1998.

It was the blandest car I have ever driven.

I sold it after 12 months for a much better handling / fun car (a Ford Focus!!).



loskie

1,278 posts

62 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I had a 1992 (J) Golf CL 1.8. A basic car but by god it was robust. Bought at 45000m sold at 12yr old 180000m. That car had a hard life, through rally stages after rallies, up farm roads for work, seats down and filled with logs.

No real problems with the car but did overcook the brakes between Moffat and Selkirk en route to watch the Jim Clark Rally.

Mine was Tornado red too, but with the added character of the faded panels.

Turbobanana

1,368 posts

143 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Mechanically and aesthetically dull, but the interiors of these work really well, especially the ergonomic dash.

Looks good value to me.

Miner49er

370 posts

147 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I never understood the hate for them. I had a few back in the day…

8v was an excellent everyday car and one I actually preferred over the 16v.

16v was more frenetic, which I didn’t think suited the package, and it wasn’t actually any faster from A-B.

VR6 was brilliant.

Rose-tinted specs maybe, but I’d be happy dailying an 8v GTI even today.

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Nigel_O

1,619 posts

161 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Although it has been done to death, I'm still amazed that VW had the nerve to put a GTI badge on the back of this.

In the 16 years between the launch of the Mk1 and Mk3 GTIs, VW somehow managed to endow the latter car with an extra 400cc, 6bhp, 20lb/ft and 200+ kg. In doing so, they only just managed to beat the 0-60 time of the original. Hardly "progress"....

Still, its not all about power and I'm sure the Mk3 will have its devotees, much like any middle-age car really

Andy83n

47 posts

4 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
"The Mk3 won't ever get there - but it'll hit 25 regardless"


...in around 14 seconds downhill with a strong wind behind it

5Cylinder

3,045 posts

34 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
People always accuse the mk4 of not being a real Gti (excluding the mk4 2.0 which was just a funny joke)

This on the other hand is a perfect example of what a gti shouldn't be, take a mk2/mk4 over one of these any day of the week.

Money goes on the fact you could beat a mk3 in a mk2.

MikeyC

549 posts

169 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Engine: 1,984cc, four-cyl
Power (hp): 115@5,400rpm

Is this right ?
The Mk II 1.8L 8V was 112bhp
seems surprising that the larger engine has liberated all of 3 bhp - and it's probably heavier aswell ....

g7jhp

5,974 posts

180 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
The Golf GTI Mk4 1.8T was so much better than the Mk3. It looked less like a GTI but was a much nicer place to be, was well made and the turbo ensured you could hustle it along at a reasonable pace. Cheap as chips to run.

bmv6197

22 posts

45 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Agree that by today’s standards, 100hp is pretty uninspiring in any car, let alone a hot hatch. However in the simpler times that were the 1990s, there was still a lot to love about these cars.

I had a black one of these when I lived in Canada, and while it took a glacial age to build speed, it was still relatively quick once up to speed, handled well, was well built and super comfortable for long journeys (plus had heated seats, thankfully). With a set of winter tires it used to plough through snow in the winter, and accomplished plenty of summer road trips providing great driving memories through the glorious Rocky Mountains.

I even recall on a road trip to Moab, Utah, hitting 120mph in rural Montana - the speed limit there during daylight hours used to be signposted as “Whatever is sensible & prudent” - at 24, 120mph seemed to tick those boxes...

A good car - not a great one - but much enjoyed and fondly remembered.

Miserablegit

521 posts

51 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
I had a 1.8CL as a station car when it was already 20 years old- interior was still in great condition- Unfortunately they tended to rust from the inside out which is why I never replaced it with another MK3 when it eventually died- Had been tempted by a VR6 to replace it (I'd had a VR6 Corrado years before) but the potential to rust put me off. As there are still quite a few around I'm guessing the quality of steel/rustproofing must have improved in later cars

Jonny_gti

147 posts

22 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
Had a few mk3 golf's but always been the VR6 which I stil consider one of my best cars owned. The mk3 16v GTi was actually pretty decent and the ABF engine is a sweet unit however the 8v really shouldn't have the GTI badge the best use if for the engine to be stripped for the bottom end to be put on the mk2 8v.

Lowtimer

4,034 posts

110 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
"While it's never going to be a Clio Williams, a Golf GTI like today's Spotted will be eligible in 2019 for all the benefits that classic car status bestows"

What is this rubbish?

Enough with the "25 years" thing. PH, please tell me you haven't planned a whole series of this stuff on the completely spurious pretext that a car hitting its 25th birthday means anything at all in the UK?

FrancisRo

2 posts

17 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
One man's meat is.... I had one for several years as I couldn't afford to change it. On the good side the paintwork was built to last forever and it swallowed endless amounts of baby stuff. I saw it around relatively recently and it still looked brand new. On the bad side it ate window winder motors. VW simply shrugged and pointed at the small print in the guarantee, despite this being a well known problem: That'll be £450 please sir.... I thought the chassis one of the worst I have encountered. Stiff unyielding suspension that should have provided a thrilling ride was actually so badly tuned that on rough roads the thing was dangerous. I remember one dip with an awkward bump at the bottom almost throwing me into the bushes - just awful. Also, decidedly gutless. I haven't bought a VW since. My Mk II 16v was one of the most exciting cars I ever drove but the Mk III was a terrible disappointment.

5harp3y

1,316 posts

141 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
not the most desirable of the golfs but we've had a 8v, 16v and Vr6 and they were massively reliable over the years we had them.

solid little cars that can eat miles with no problem and are massively practical. there was a time when these were sub £500 but i think good ones will start to climb

mint Vr6's and anniversaries are already commanding ok money

my dad sold these when new too and he always had a nice Vr6 on demo which as a kid was like being in a supercar

C.A.R.

3,521 posts

130 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
My neighbour had a MK3 VR6 in a kind of turquoise green colour, really well kept. He offered it to me for half what he was selling it for when I was 17 and taking driving lessons (from memory this worked out around £2,000 at the time) as he was leaving the country and he knew I was fond of the car.

I pleaded with my dad but the insurance companies wouldn't even offer me a quote laugh

I'll always have a soft spot for the MK3.

bitcrusher

143 posts

126 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
A good friend of mine lent me his 8v in that unappealing dark green lots were made in, back in summer '08 when I was between vehicles. He didn't like it much and was hoping I would keep it. Memories of it were that it drank fuel for a pastime - I once got the OBC to allege 40mpg but it was usually low 30s even tickling it about. It wasn't very quick, felt heavy and ponderous, and had ditchfinders on the rear so could be provoked easily enough into lift off oversteer antics on quiet, damp roundabouts. I suppose I might consider a 16v as a cheap daily semi-classic today.

Dale487

966 posts

65 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
C.A.R. said:
My neighbour had a MK3 VR6 in a kind of turquoise green colour, really well kept. He offered it to me for half what he was selling it for when I was 17 and taking driving lessons (from memory this worked out around £2,000 at the time) as he was leaving the country and he knew I was fond of the car.

I pleaded with my dad but the insurance companies wouldn't even offer me a quote laugh

I'll always have a soft spot for the MK3.
I had similar problems at aged 18/19 - I found a tidy MK3 Fiesta XR2 (may be an "i") in black for c£500 & a very nice looking MK1 Clio 16 Valve in metallic blue (Gold wheels away for looking like a Williams) but no insurer would touch me, not that I blame them with the benefit of hindsight.

Lotusgone

128 posts

69 months

Wednesday 29th May
quotequote all
My mk3 VR6 was a hell of a good car. I upgraded from a Fiesta RS1800 and loved the extra power and better handling (the RS tended to hop around corners on the bigger wheels). The market's opinion did result in some hefty depreciation, though.