VW Golf GTI Mk2: PH Carpool

Name: Jason Easton
Car: 1986 VW Golf GTI Mk2 8v
Owned since: April 2017
Previously owned: Renault Clio GT, various VW Boras, VW Golf Driver Mk1, VW Golf GTI Mk5, Mazda Roadster RS, Alfa 156, BMW 330Ci, Skoda Octavia vRS, Toyota GT86. Currently have a BMW E92 M3 and 2017 Golf GTI.

Why I bought it:
"I'd wanted an early small bumper Mk2 GTI for quite a while; I particularly liked the 'Typ19' cars. These are the earliest models, you can tell them apart due to the fact they have left-hand drive wiper blades and a quarter light in the door. Anyway, one quiet lunch break at work and one trigger happy eBay finger meant I finally bought one. It was by far the cheapest I've seen with an MOT, I only had a few sketchy photos to go off and I was picking it up that weekend. Whoops.

"My very understanding girlfriend was on taxi duty, and the guy assured me it would make the trip back to Oxford from North Weald. I was greeted by a dented, patchy and faded car which was pretty much as per the advert. It was obvious someone had been trying to look after it at some point in its life, there were lots of new mechanical bits and some questionable body touch-up repairs. Either way it was now mine, and I had to make the trip back to my storage place. Remarkably it drove great, with only the smells of the neglected interior to bother me the whole way back. In fact, I was so pleased with it, I decided then and there it had to be saved. And thus begun my restoration of a 173,000-mile car with little to no value..."

What I wish I'd known:
"Whilst I am a self-confessed VW geek, there was always going to be a few things that caught me by surprise. Due to the popularity of Mk2s there are an awful lot of parts available out there, both replacement and upgraded items. However, being such an early car, and because my aim was to go 100 per cent original, I was shocked at just how many things tripped me up. One of the more extreme examples was when I ended up driving to Norfolk before Christmas to pick up one rain gutter trim. Thanks to Matt at Mk2 Spares UK for saving me on that one!" 

Things I love:
"For the most part I love the way it drives; it's raw enough to give the old school feel but not a complete buzzbox like my Mk1 Driver was. It's actually surprisingly refined for its age, it has no issues cruising at motorway speeds and you could drive it every day and not get annoyed. I think most would want the power steering offered to later vehicles, but personally I prefer the non-assisted feel.

"I also love its mechanical simplicity. Whilst it was advance for its time, it's super easy to work on by modern standards. I've had one breakdown in it, which turned out to be a fuel pump, and just doing the simple checks I managed to diagnose and fix it myself without too much of a headache. No laptops, no electrical gremlins."

Things I hate:
"I hated it a lot when it broke down the other week, that's for sure. It managed to die in between two blind bends on a country road, the day before its first outing as a freshly resprayed car. In the process of trying to fill it with more fuel to get it going (which didn't work) I scratched it with my coat. Many swear words were had with myself.

"The fact I don't get the chance to use it! I'm lucky enough to have access to the fantastic Oxford Car Storage, so at least it's being kept nice. However, the main draw of the car is how it drives, so I can't wait for some nicer weather! Since the respray in December it's only been out three times, and that's just criminal."

"This is a bit of a scary one; whilst I've kept track of restoration costs I try to bury my head in the sand as much as I can. The purchase price of the car, the respray, purchasing spare parts and refurbishing the factory steel wheels all adds up. It's quite scary how even a simple resto job can spiral, but I don't regret it one bit! There were areas I could've saved money, for example doing the bodywork prep myself, but I just don't have the time with work." 

Where I've been:
"Well, unlike my M3 this thing has been the garage queen so far! But I do plan on using it as much as I can during the summer and would love to get it to some events."

What next?
"I'm hoping this one's a keeper. I'd like to continue tidying it up, keeping it clean and keeping it running. The idea was always to have a usable classic that wasn't too mint to enjoy, and I think I'm almost there in that respect. I just need more excuses to go for a blast in it!"

Want to share your car with fellow PHers? Course you do! Email us at carpool@pistonheads.com


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Comments (38) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dale487 16 Apr 2018

    It that your MK7 GTI in the back ground of the pictures? Shame they aren't in matching colours (In my opinion)

  • JMF894 16 Apr 2018

    Mum had a none gti B reg mk2 Golf years ago when I was a yoof. I remember thinking how solid it felt at the time. No power steering either I recall.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Mr Peel 16 Apr 2018

    Good choice. I had one of these about 10 years ago. The early Mk2s really stand out from the later cars, both in terms of style and rarity. What's the interior like on yours?

  • pete.g 16 Apr 2018

    I've had my big bumper Mk2 for 12 years now - I bought it for £1500 as a runabout, but over the years have spent a lot on a re-spray and an interior retrim, including the headlining, as well as replacing lots of things myself - the heater matrix was possibly the worst job.

    I had two of them back in the early 90s and I've always loved them.

    As stated in the article they are so easy to work on and parts are easy to get and often quite good value.

    My next project is a full suspension refresh.

    Despite owning a complete and roadworthy car, I still find myself looking at project cars and weighing up the cost of a restoration. If you buy a runner you can do a lot while the car is still useable.

    Well done!

  • Klippie 16 Apr 2018

    I bought one of these new in 1988 (F-Reg) it was the first of the right hand wiper / no quarter light model with the Digifant engine...how I loved that car.

    It annoyed me they never came with alloys and the Teardrop's were a £1000 extra on a car that cost £10k new, they were worth it though as it made the car look stunning.

    I'll have to dig out my pictures some time and scan and post them.

    Edited by Klippie on Monday 16th April 12:19

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