Ratty Rescue: Rough Yellow Bird

It’s time once again for a dedicated VWVortex reader to adopt an unloved car and bring it back to its former glory. Our latest Ratty Rescue is a bright-yellow and big-engined GTI.

The third-generation GTI doesn’t have the same cult following that that its forefathers do. When Volkswagen brought the all-new Golf to the States, it was another huge step up from the previous model. It’s larger, more upscale, and has more modern technology like driver and passenger airbags and optional trunk-mounted CD changers. But the MK3 GTI didn’t fare well in its journey from Mexico. Gone were the rev-happy engines and sport-tuned suspensions. The new GTI was merely a trim level: the 2.0L engine and suspension are carry-over from the standard Golf GL.

The GTI returns with a fury in 1995. For the first time in its history, the world’s first hot hatch added two more cylinders to the fun. Under the hood is VW’s celebrated narrow-angle V-6 engine. The 2.8L single-overhead cam VR6 produces great power in the same space as a four-cylinder engine. The new motor transforms the GTI. The 172 horsepower unit rockets the car to 60 in 7.1 seconds. Not only is it fast, but the VR6 makes wonderful noises that today’s turbocharged four-cylinder powerplants can’t match.

This 1997 GTI VR6 has seen better days but has strong potential. Look past the…interesting graphics (did someone autocross the car?) and notice the great bones of this car. The paint is a bit faded, but the body panels all look straight. A full detail would work wonders. There’s some missing trim, but this generation model is known for peeling door bits. It looks like there’s an aftermarket muffler; could it actually be an entire performance exhaust? And check out the period-correct aftermarket rear wing!

The most important bits though are what’s inside. First, the interior looks like it’s in very good condition. The leather seats are in great shape. And the second great thing on this GTI is what we’ve already mentioned: the VR6 engine. Get this car back on the road and cruise around just so you can hear that low sonorous growl.

If you’re interested, this car is in Santa Ana, California. The seller is asking only $2500. More information is in the classified ad on TheSamba.com