1990 VW Golf GTi Mk2 8vView vehicle description
The Volkswagen Golf has been around for aeons, and its presence can’t be ignored in the UK where it’s been successful. While not exactly the first hot hatchback, the popularity of the Mk1 Golf GTI effectively started a new segment of cars. And half a century later, even with stiff competition from crossover performance SUVs, the hot hatchback still lives on. Which isn’t surprising at all, but considering the ups and downs it has faced over the years, it’s a remarkable feat what the Golf GTI has achieved.
The Mk1 is widely regarded as the veritable classic, but if you look at it objectively, it’d be clear that the Golf Mk2 was quite some improvement over the Mk1. As a classic, the Mk1 Golf witnessed a substantial increase in desirability — which is reflected in the tremendous rise in residual values. Its successor, while not as expensive now, offered more (and still does) in terms of refinement, drivability, power, longevity, and even less tangible bits like aerodynamic performance/ That undoubtedly makes buying and relishing a Golf GTi Mk2 a more intriguing prospect, even if its Giugiaro-designed predecessor continues to steal the limelight.
Some GTI models left enthusiasts wanting for more, and some exceeded their expectations. The Mk2 GTi gained popularity because it wasn’t just a good car in isolation but also a step upwards from the Mk1. And the best bit about all of this is that one wouldn’t even need to go back to the mid-80s to appreciate that.
Volkswagen began shifting the Mk2 Golf GTI in 1984 and it carried on till 1992. With its replacement, the Mk3, there began a lull (as far as the GTI was concerned) until the Mk5 was launched in the noughties. For the Mk2 Golf, VW kept the basics of the Mk1 intact but improved on many fronts, making it a much more rounded car, and the Mk2 GTI, a better hot hatchback. For almost all markets (barring the US and not counting the special models), the Golf GTI was sold with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine. It was an 8-valve model, which was later upgraded to a 16-valve unit.
The 1990 VW Golf GTI 8V here is a late model replete with all the model-year updates like big bumpers, BBS alloys, front fog lamps, etc. It was registered in November 1989 and has 122,711 miles on the odometer. The car has five former keepers, its MoT history is a mixed bag (the previous MoT was cleared but not without advisories), and the overall condition is good, despite the age and mileage. Its cabin, while not overly tired, has enough signs to honestly give away that it’s a well-used example.
On the Outside
While the Mk1 basically set the rules of hot hatchback design (from VW stables, at least), things took off with the Mk2. The latter benefitted from a lower coefficient of drag and the body panels were made more durable and less prone to rust. Both three and five-door models were on sale, and VW kept updating the car to keep it fresh. For instance, halfway through its life, the Mk2 Golf got more conventional windows (now bereft of quarter-lights) and even large bumpers.
The large bumper 1990 example here is painted red, with no paint change recorded in the paperwork. The paintwork does have blemishes and it’s clear that it’s received its share of touch-ups, too. The bumpers do have scratches and the wheels will benefit from a refurb. On the bright side, there seems to be no unusual rust or damage, the paint has its shine intact, and the windows don’t look bad, either. The classic three-door shape works really well, especially in the current age of convoluted designs.
On the Inside
The Mk2 Golf got a longer-lasting interior, and it’s pretty evident in the way this example has held up. The dashboard looks to be okay, without any cracks or damage to worry about. There’s a Pioneer radio, manual sunroof, matching seats and door cards, and a rear bench that could accommodate three. In terms of wear, while the steering and dashboard seem to have braved the test of time, the gear knob and the driver’s seat have seen better days. The carpet is clean and the boot has the parcel tray still in place.
There’s a fair bit of age- and use-related wear, which is expected. Hard plastic parts, which can withstand years of use and abuse, haven’t disappointed, though. Some other points worth noting are that the little digital display in the instrument cluster seems to be damaged, the pedals are worn, but the seat fabric isn’t sagging. All in all, this Golf GTI’s cabin isn’t what you’d expect in a museum-level example but for a thirty-year old car, which was used regularly, it looks pretty good.
The Golf GTi Mk2, like its predecessor, is a front-engined, front-wheel-drive car. It became slightly larger than the Mk1 (and had more space inside), but still used a 1.8-litre naturally aspirated unit. The 8-valve unit was regarded by many to be better than the more powerful 16-valve because of its wider torque spread and thus better drivability. The car was offered with disc brakes on all four wheels, and as a result, it’s perfectly usable now and commissioning one the duties of a modern runabout won’t be too big a bother. While the bodywork and cabin have negligible damage and rust, the underside isn’t quite as clean and the engine bay can be made to look better, too. The previous MoT (more details on that below) does highlight corrosion and oil leak as advisories.
This Golf GTi was first registered in November 1989 and has since had six keepers, including the vendor. The DVLA records from 2005 onwards show a mileage increase of just 10,000 miles in the last 15 years. The records before that show that in the first three years, the car had already done 44,000 miles and by 1998, another 50,000 miles were added to its total mileage. The RAC records mention a loss in 1995 but other details aren’t available.
This Golf GTi had its last MoT in 2020 at 122,251 miles and was valid till October 1, 2021. The MoT history shows failures and advisories from the past. The last certificate notes corrosion in front springs, wear in the front suspension arms, oil leak, wear on rear brake discs, and chassis corrosion.
What We Think
If you’re looking for a classic Golf GTi, the Mk2 makes a lot of sense, not only because it’s still attainable than the Mk1 but also because it’s a more rounded car. And that adds to its usability as a modern classic now. This 1990 GTi is expected to be valued between £7,000 and £10,000, which is roughly half the money that a similar-mileage Mk1 example is priced at. If that’s not a bargain…
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