Find of the Day: GLIde Under the Radar

When you think of Volkswagen’s performance cars, you probably think of the GTI, Corrado, or the Scirocco. But most people don’t think of the Jetta GLI. Tell someone you drive a GTI and many probably know what one is, but tell them you drive a GLI and you’re probably looking at a blank stare. This just doesn’t make sense: Americans love sedans, so why do more people remember the performance Golf than they do the souped-up Jetta? It defies logic.

Since the first gen Jetta hit our shores, there’s always been a GLI–well, except for the third generation model, but that’s another story. VW engineers took the same bits from the Jetta’s hatchback brother and slapped them on the trunked model. Owners were met with the same burbly engine, snappy steering, and lively handling. It was a truly affordable German sports sedan.

When Volkswagen rolled out the second generation model, there was a GLI model available right from the start. The sporty Jetta featured a number of enhancements over the base model: a 137 HP engine, 5-speed manual transmission, larger roll bars, wide alloy wheels, front air dam, bolstered seats, and much more. Not too shabby. But it never reached the same performance status as the GTI. Kind of sad.

This particular Jetta GLI is quite nice. With the exception of the stereo, it appears to be 100% stock. The exterior and interior are in great condition, especially since the car is located in Wisconsin. Even the seat bolsters are intact; a rarity on these models. There may be some rust around the rear license plate holder, but that’s an easy fix. A Saturday with some polishing compound, wax, and a bottle or two of “Back to Black” and you’d have a great car for exploring back roads that would also hold its own at a car show. And you’d have a car that you won’t see coming or going. Anyone can get a GTI; you’re driving something a bit…different. A bit more unique.

The car is listed on eBay with a starting bid of $3000 (no bidders as of publication) or listed on the dealer’s website for $3,995.