Build or Buy: Made-in-America GTI

Happy birthday America! This holiday week, we’ve found two Volkswagen GTIs made in the states. If you’re looking for the finest from Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, then look no further. You only have one question to answer: do you buy it built, or build it yourself?

Argument: Buy
Article: 1987 Volkswagen Callaway GTI

Want to own RADwood? This MK2 GTI is the definition of the ’80s and ’90s car customizing. To start, it has a full Callaway (Callaway!) Stage 2 turbo kit bolted to the 1.8-liter 8-valve engine with an upgraded cam.

This ’87 appears to be lowered; the ad only references “Neuspeed adjustable strut cartridges” (which doesn’t add up – we’re guessing Koni struts and Neuspeed springs). There’s also a front strut bar. It may have an upgraded rear sway bar too.

There’s a number of upgrades inside and out. There’s a Hella body kit and MOMO wheels. And everything’s painted white which was fitting for the era.

All this American-made Radness comes with a price: $30,000. The car is at Gateway Classic Cars in Orlando, Florida.

Argument: Buy
Article: 1987 Volkswagen GTI

This one might not crown you the queen or king of RADwood, but it will cost you a hell of a lot less than the Callaway GTI; the current asking price is $1750. That’s not a lot for a running and essentially rust-free MK2 GTI.

But getting this almost-OEM (what’s with the big bumpers?) to rad status will take some work. Callaway isn’t building turbo kits for GTIs anymore. And that Hella body kit is unobtanium we’re sure. But with a solid car like this to start with, half the battle has been fought.

Of course, for $1750 the car isn’t perfect. The trim is very faded, there’s some bondo in a rear quarter panel, and the interior is a little worn. But again, this is a drive-it-home-now MK2 GTI for less than $2000. A steal, really.

This ’87 virtually bone-stock GTI 8V is in Alma, Colorado; take a look at the ad on