Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI (1976 – 1983) Review

Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI (1976 – 1983) At A Glance


+Brilliant to drive, great performance, and utterly classless

-Poor brakes, potential for rust

The Giugiaro-designed Golf was exactly the right car at the right time, but it was in GTI form, from 1976, that it was most impressive. It was created by combining the Audi 80 GTE's engine with the lightweight three-door Golf bodyshell - and originally conceived as a low volume limited edition. The car that first earned the term ‘hot hatch’ used a Bosch fuel injection 1588cc engine to pump 110bhp through its front wheels and the tight and nimble handling meant all this could be used to the max.

The UK didn't get right-hand drive GTIs until 1979, but sales took off regardless as the fast Golf had the market to itself. A 1781cc engine and quad headlamps marked out 1982’s 1800 model, and the beginnings of the hot hatch craze was fully underway..

Ask Honest John

Could you suggest a relatively easy to maintain and economic to fix modern classic?

"Having sold my two classic Triumphs, I'm at the age where I'm having difficulty in doing full maintenance jobs but still appreciate driving and owning a classic car as my hobby. Is there a car that I could purchase that gives me the thrill of a "classic car feel" and turns heads but is (relatively) easy to maintain whilst, if needed, incur low(er) garage costs for those jobs I am unable to tackle? I have a car for everyday travel and not too keen on a Morgan due to its harsh ride, so could you another two-seater soft top? I have about £40,000 to spend."
It's going to be tricky to tick all these boxes. If you want something that turns heads, that normally means a premium model such as a Porsche. In which case, you'd be expected to have anything but the most basic oil and filter it serviced at a specialist. Plus, if you're after mod cons like power steering, air-con, decent stereo (and soundproofing) then you're looking at cars that are a bit more complicated. If you're after something that's easy to get in and out of and doesn't have harsh ride, then you may have to think outside the box. You could go for something traditional such as a Triumph Stag (assuming you want to keep it Triumph), which is still very much a classic two-seater with a great engine. Alternatively, look at 911 ownership for a bit of wow-factor, and a decent compromise between mod cons and specialist servicing... and don't discount the later Jaguar XJ-S. We know plenty of people who own Honda S2000s and are terrifically happy with them - stunning performance and reliability (see also Nissan 350Z). Sightly left of centre coupe options to consider - BMW 8-Series and Mazda RX-7 or RX-8 if you're feeling brave, Toyota Supra. We'd also have a look at hot hatches - cars like the Mk1 Golf GTi and Peugeot 205 GTI are excellent to drive, have reasonably mod cons, and can be maintained at home... they also have plenty of wow-factor. Perhaps something like a TVR Griffith would also suit you.
Answered by Keith Moody

Can you suggest a family car with classic car potential?

"I'm looking for a family car to replace my 2006 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI. I only drive 6000 miles per year, so depreciation and road tax are my biggest expenses. Can you recommend a used car, that doesn't exceed £20,000, that could hold its value or even appreciate. I'd also like it to be reasonable in terms of road tax and mpg."
Your budget isn't enough to stretch to the high-end cars like Ferrari, and a modern classic within your price range needs to be a sports car if it's going to hold it's value - which excludes your criteria of it being a family car, and being inexpensive to tax and returning decent mpg. Perhaps something like a Renault Avantime would fit the bill? It's definitely a future classic and more than capable of moving the family. Failing that, there's a strong following for Land Rover, so a Defender might work - but it will feel very agricultural compared to your current vehicle. If you need something more middle of the road, try the new Ford Fiesta ST (although you'll have to ride the depreciation curve) or try and jump on the hot hatch wagon, with the Golf GTI or 205 GTI looking like good bets for an all-rounder.
Answered by Keith Moody

Should I get a petrol or diesel estate?

"I currently drive a 2006 Volkswagen Golf GTI and drive an average of 14,000 miles a year. Due to an arrival of a dog in the household, I'm looking to change to a midsize estate but I would like it to be good to drive. What would you recommend? Also given the mileage I do with a daily commute of 20 miles each way, is it worth considering a diesel? I have a budget of £12,000 plus whatever I could get for the Golf on trade-in. "
Stay away from diesel. Try a Peugeot 308 1.2 PureTech 130 6-speed estate. You will be amazed at the performance from only 1.2 litres and delighted with the 45-50mpg fuel economy.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf Mk1 GTI (1976 – 1983) cost?