The world's best Volkswagen MK1 GTI is up for auction.
With each year more legacy cars become modern classics and for South Africans, the original Golf GTI remains an icon like no other.
Perhaps it is a question of the country’s special relationship with the first-generation Golf platform, locally built for decades after its international discontinuation, that makes the MK1 GTI such a South African hatchback hero.
Finding a perfectly original Golf GTI is deeply challenging. Many cars have been slightly altered over time, especially with regards to cabin comfort and upgraded radio/infotainment systems. But if you seek a unicorn first-generation GTI, in concourse condition, your Golf of destiny might have just come up for auction.
An original MK1 1.6 GTI has been released for sale in the UK and it appears to be the world’s finest running example in right-hand drive. The car in question was bought in September 1979 and has only done 27 358 km since then.
Powered by a 1.6-litre engine, good for 82 kW, and weighing only 840 kg, it is a reminder of a time when performance-by-lightness was the design mantra of hot hatch engineers.
This 1979 GTI’s configuration adds to its historic value with a treasure of small details. Perhaps the most important of these is its four-speed manual gearbox, which was upgraded to a five-speed shift pattern later in 1979.
Beyond the mechanical novelty of this GTI’s gearbox, it also has some charming cosmetic quirks, such as the fuel-filler cap, which doesn’t have a key slot lock. Inside you’ll find the traditional three-spoke Wolfsburg steering wheel and dimpled golf-ball shifter top. True to its original GTI roots, this 1979 car does not have a factory fitted radio.
Based in the UK and immaculately maintained, the claim of this GTI being the finest original car available for sale, is not ridiculous. What is it going to cost? Regarding the issue of price, auction projections are that it is expected to go for between R660 000 and R900 000 when the bidding starts later this month.