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Volkswagen Golf (Mk3) | Shed of the Week

The Mk3 wasn't exactly a high point in the Golf lineage. But no Shedman can resist a minter

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, February 07, 2020

In answer to a recent thread question from PHer marksx about how many McLaren Speedtails will ever see their 250mph+ top speed, PHer thegreenhell replied "probably the same number as with any other production car in 2020, ie **** all."

Shed would never condone such foul language, if only because so much of it comes out of Mrs Shed on a daily basis and he does get tired of hearing it. In this case, however, he fully agrees with thegreenhell's sentiment, if not his exact choice of words.

Ask the question "have you ever taken your car to its top speed" on a website like PH, and a larger percentage than the national average might answer in the affirmative. There will be another clump of readers who would like us to believe that they have when really they haven't, though. Even if you add those two percentages together, Shed would bet his last corned beef sandwich that they'll still be a minority.

The next owner of this week's Shed could easily join that minority because the top speed of a 59hp Mk3 Golf 1.4 is not even a three-figure number. But why, you may then be asking, is the automotive equivalent of a Metacam-mainlining two-toed sloth appearing on a website once subtitled 'Speed Matters'? Two reasons. One, it's nice to be able to extend your motor to the outer edge of its performance envelope without worrying that you might be breaking the national speed limit by a licence-losing amount. And two, owning a really slow car can be very relaxing, as it presents the driver with no anxious overtaking decisions and replaces them with many interesting new opportunities to wave gaily at the passage of middle-aged men in lycra as they cycle past you.

Normally these wouldn't be sufficient reasons on their own to justify laying out very much cash for any car, let alone the puniest Mk3 Golf ever made. But for this car in particular, Shed's case is bolstered by two important factors: condition and price. This Golf seems to be in amazing shape for its age. Base-spec CLs were never posh, but this one has all the hallmarks of having been kept in a garage all its life. Plus, it has the advantage of coming in the Mint Green metallic that was the colour of choice for 'posh' Mk3s like the first press cars put out for testing by Volkswagen UK in 1991. So it's got that going for it.

Then there's the price. £500 is back-pocket money for any MOT'd car in a halfway decent state. For a very useable Golf in this condition and with only a couple of 'I've got to find something' style advisories on the ticket, £500 could be seen as quite a steal.

All Shed is saying is, let's not tar all Mk3 Golfs with the same manky brush that quite rightly besmirched the dismal 115hp Mk3 Golf GTI. Even with nearly twice the power of our 1.4, that GTI could claim to be injected but it could never be called Grand or even much of a Tourer. Less pretentious Mk3s like our shed were far more honest than the GTI. Remember, it was European Car of the Year in 1992, and today the annual road tax for pre-March 2001 cars below 1,549cc is a piffling £160.

Shed loves the 1.4 CL's total lack of affectation. It actually acknowledges its own turgidity by putting a dirty great analogue clock where the rev counter should be. That might come as a shock if, on a particularly sleepy outing, you forget it's not a tacho and are jolted fully awake by the fear that you're accidentally redlining the hell out of it, when in fact all that's happening is that it's 4:22 in the afternoon.

As it stands, our VW is slightly too modern to be included in the judging categories for this year's Festival of the Unexceptional car show, an annual celebration of all that was average in cars of the 1970s and 1980s, but you could easily imagine this Golf raising an admiring glance or two in the public car park. With such a low asking price, as long as it's kept in the same sort of trim that it appears to be in right now, it's a lot harder to imagine it losing money for the next owner. When it's depreciation you're talking about, slow is good.

Apologies, PHers - Shed did his job a little too well this week; the Golf was sold at the death on Thursday leaving no time for a replacement. Normal service will resume next Friday. For posterity, if nothing else, see the full ad here

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