Guest contributor: Tim Stemmann on his 1990 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Unmolested Mk2 (and Mk1) Golf GTIs that haven’t been badly modified are rarer than, well, fill in your favorite cliché here. Tim Stemmann is lucky enough to own one such example, and we suspect his tale will sound familiar to many. If the following images don’t instantly make you want one, then nothing will. Read on to learn and see more…
Like so many of you, I have loved cars since I was little, especially cars of the ’70s and ’80s. Some of my all-time favorites are classics like the BMW E30 M3, the Peugeot 205 GTI, and the Porsche 964 911. But I lost my heart to another car brand. I am a VW guy and the car I wanted to own for many years was an old Golf GTI.
I like the Golf MK1 very much, but the MK2 is the one I prefer. Looking back on the used car market here in Germany, the best time to buy a MK2 GTI was seven or eight years ago. Unfortunately, I missed the best moment to buy a GTI for a ridiculously low price. About three years ago, I realized that prices were rising for the good ones. So, I decided to start the search for my very own GTI.
At first it wasn’t important to me whether it’d be an 8V, 16V or G60 engine. The only condition for me was to find a three-door (not the five-door model) and that it should be 100% original without any modifications. But after awhile the G60 was out of the race— the good ones were simply too expensive for me. Checking the Internet day after day became a bit disappointing, because there were so many modified and disfigured GTIs on the market, but few that were original. Some cars looked great in pictures but when I went to look at them in person they weren’t as mint as I would have wanted.
Then one day in 2012 I saw a nice GTI advertised not very far away from my hometown. The pictures were not very informative but the description of the car was very interesting. So I reached out to the owner. It was a bit difficult to make an appointment with him for a test drive but after a few weeks he was willing to show me the car.
I saw the car, gave it an inspection, and I was sure that this would be my GTI! The car is a 1990 three-door VW Golf GTI 16V, 100% stock like it came from the factory. The color is royal blau (blue) metallic. Depending on the light this blue looks like black or in direct sunlight it has shades from deep blue to violet to red.
It has no special electric features, no electric windows, no electric mirrors, no central locking system, and no air condition. My Golf does not even have a sunroof, which is relatively rare for a GTI. Most people back then who bought a GTI ordered it with a sunroof.
All the missing options make it very light.
It has BBS RM 012 wheels on it. These BBS wheels have a regular VW part number on them because they were fitted as standard on the Golf MK2 special models “Edition One” and “Edition Blue”. You also can find the wheels on some original VW Passat 35i and on the Corrado.
I lowered the Golf a bit by mounting modern coilovers. I like lowered cars; however, they must stay driveable. I would never drop the car to the point that I have to modify the wheel arches! For such modification, this car is too rare and well-preserved.
It’s a pleasure to drive the car. There are no electronic driving safety nannies which impair the pure driving feel. The car doesn’t even have ABS. The only driving aid, which comes as standard on this GTI, is the power steering.
Driving it is so much fun! People who don’t know these old GTIs think it’s an old Golf and nothing special. But when you give it throttle, most of them are very impressed at how fast this old car can go. Chasing some modern cars on the German Autobahn is great fun.
And if you´re seen by other enthusiasts, it´s really cool to see them smiling and admiring the car. Often at car meetings, people who got their driver licenses in the ’80s will come and talk to me to about the car. For most of them the GTI MK2 was the dream car of their youth, or they owned one when they were younger. No matter where one turns up with such a car, be it an event for youngtimers or tuned cars, everywhere you go you will be well-received.
But what I like most is the look of the car and the fact that it’s so simple to work on. You don’t need expensive special tools to fix issues or to perform maintenance. A basic set of tools is enough for most repairs on such an old car. It is a typical car of the ’80s with its sober exterior design language and the exposed mechanicals when you open the bonnet. Only some features like the red accents, the emblems, and the spoilers give away that it is not a normal Golf. It´s a GTI, and it’s mine!
I don’t plan to sell it.
My plans for the car are to keep it clean and alive. Depending on mood, I may occasionally swap the wheels for more contemporary sets.
My motto for this car is “Stay true, stay original!”
Images © Tim Stemmann