Build or Buy: Little Dós Coupes

Build or Buy? This week it’s more like Build or Build. Kind of. You see, we’ve found two little red MK2 Jetta coupes, and they both need some work. Well, one more than the other. Maybe it’s Build-ish or Also Build-ish.

Argument: Build-ish
Article: 1990 Jetta 16V Coupe

Look at the photos and you’ll see why this ’90 Jetta coupe is in the “Build” category: it needs some work. But look closely and you’ll see it doesn’t need a ton of work. In fact, it needs a lot less work than some of the cars we’ve featured in the past.

To start, it doesn’t quite run. According to the current owner, VWVortex member Tornado2dr, there’s a fuel supply issue. The parking brake isn’t working, but new cables are included. There’s been some bodywork over the years, and the repainted areas don’t exactly match the untouched panels.

But what about the good stuff? Pop the hood and you’ll find a 2.0l 16V engine originally from a Passat. And it’s bolted to the matching 5-speed manual transmission. The car rides on an H&R Cup kit. It has 11″ brakes from a Corrado, and much more.

In terms of a fun car, this has great bones; a lot of the work has already been done. So the build on this one is pretty light.

Unfortunately, Tornado2dr hasn’t listed a price (*cough* forum rules *cough), so you’ll need to get in touch with him. This ’90 Jetta coupe is in Chesapeake, Virginia. Take a look at the ad in our forums.

Argument: Also Build-ish
Article: 1990 Jetta 8V Coupe

A quick glance at the photos of this ’90 Jetta coupe and you’d think you’re looking at show car. It’s shiny, it’s lowered, and it’s Recaro’d and BBS’d up. A nice GLI.

But it’s not exactly a GLI. Pop the hood and you’re looking at the good old 2.slow engine and not the revvy 16V you were expecting. Weep whomp.

It does have an upgraded cam, header, and a short shift kit, so that’s something. In the owner’s defense, it is a daily driver, so the engine downgrade could be for added reliability. You’ll have to take that up with him.

With the exception of some paint fade, this car is a looker. But you’ll want a power upgrade. The seller is asking $5000, the car is in Downey, California, and you can see the ad on

Our take: buy both and swap the 16V into the GLI. Wink emoji.