CC Outtake: 1984 VW Jetta – A Well Preserved Survivor

I’m always amazed at how many gen1 VW Rabbits (Golf) are still around. Most of them are diesels, which made them more desirable, as they developed a rather cult-like following. Gen1 Jettas are scarcer on the ground, so it was with some pleasure that I ran into this one in a little alley where there are several cottages rented by students.

The Rabbit/Golf Mk1 had a decidedly shaky start out of the gate; the first year was a mess, and it took a few more to get things closer to the level of quality that had been the hallmark of the Beetle era. By the end of its run, it was really feeling solid and well-screwed together, especially the Jetta, which was made in Germany and not at the ill-fated Westmoreland, PA. factory.

My father in law bought a new red Jetta around this time, with the new turbo-diesel engine. I was very impressed at how solidly built that car felt, and it was a great driver too. With 70hp on tap in that light body, it was also decently well-performing, as the little diesel had some decent torque thanks to the boost. I drove it a couple of times and was rather smitten. This one obviously has the gas engine.

My brother in law ended up with that Jetta and had it for a very long time. he was a fanatic about keeping his cars looking perfect, and that red Jetta looked practically new even after close to 15 years or so. It had a lot of miles on it, like close to 200k, and the engine was still in rude health, but I seem to remember him having to replace the transmission.

Unlike the Honda Accord we saw the other day, these German VWs had upholstery that was significantly more durable. Rear seat legroom wasn’t exactly great, but it was doable as long as the front seat wasn’t pushed all the way back. But the trunk was huge.

Well, these Jettas were all about the trunk. VW saw that Americans’ rather brief enchantment with hatchbacks was quickly petering out, so they slapped a big butt on the back of the Rabbit for those damm Amerikaner. That’s the title of my Jetta CC, and it’s been true ever since. the Jetta has outsold the hatchback Golf ever since in the US, and by large margins.