Xequar goes to NAIAS: The More Interesting VW Jetta

So as is our custom every year, Mr. X (who is not the rando in the picture!) and I went to the North American International Auto Show again this year.  Breaking with custom, though, I took a bunch of photos this year of random things that interested me or I wanted to revisit later.

Here’s something I thought might be interesting to the CC crowd.

Volkswagen was making hay of the fact they’re releasing a new Jetta.  It was very much in keeping with the modern idea of a small(ish) car.  It had all the things one would expect in a modern car of that size.  The styling was fine, but not particularly exciting.  The interior was competitive, but there were nicer in that price and size class on the show floor as far I was concerned (notwithstanding the super-cheap feeling controls like the wiper stick that felt like I was going to break it off entirely).

The new Jetta did not make it onto my camera roll.  The old Jetta that VW brought to show off, though, did.  Oddly, there was no display, and, being not well-learned in the way of 1980s VWs, I can’t tell you more on what year or anything else it is.  Heck, I’m not even sure what I’d call that color; something teal green maybe.


An interesting beast, so very alien to the American iron I grew up around in the hinterlands of Michigan.  Even as an adult who’s interested in these sorts of things, I’m not convinced I like it.  But, a friend that grew up around Boston who was with us thought it was fantastic, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective and what you knew as a kid.


Of course, VW wasn’t about to let 500,000 random jerks mess around inside their neat old car, so I didn’t get to touch, poke, or manipulate anything inside.  Shame that, as I’d love to know if the wiper stalk was more substantial in this one.  I will say, the seats in the new one were probably nicer to sit in than these vinyl-clad babies.  Still, vinyl aside, these look like they were well-made, adequately bolstered, and probably reasonably comfortable.


On the control and dash front, VW’s heritage as the people’s car seems apparent, I could cynically sneer.  If I’m being fair, though, I have no idea why I associate square dashes like this with the worst of state communism, since the Americans were good for these same shapes in that time.  Just something about it, I guess.  Compared to the true people’s car I spent my formative years in, though (a black 1985 Cavalier Type-10 with a four-speed manual with a strip speedometer and no tach, no opening rear windows, and no air conditioning), this is properly luxurious!  A/C, automatic transmission, and even an analog clock-truly decadent!


I wish I could have looked up close at the inside.  I’d have loved to take notes on the state of 1980s VW fit and finish and materials to compare to some of the American iron I remember.  Again if I’m being fair, though, it probably wouldn’t have been a fair comparison anyway.  I’m guessing VW did the business on this Jetta before letting it out for public viewing.


Then again, the pieces had to be decent to start with in order to do a good restoration.  The pieces outside looked like they were decent to start with.  The body lines were as straight as the drafter’s ruler.  The doors were in the right spots, not drooping or tilted.  The bumpers looked to be in the right spots.  Even the lights looked lined up correctly.  Again, it’s amazing what restoration specialists can do, but I have to wonder if they could have done this same work with, say, a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron GTS.


I suppose it’s just as well VW wouldn’t let the unwashed masses try out their lovely new, erm, old Jetta.  Might have cut into sales of their new one.  After all, even if it isn’t quite my speed, this one was interesting enough to cut through the C-car din and make it onto my camera roll!