Many of you commented in the “Ads and More” posts how you like the Scirocco. Well, here’s a Road Test.
This is from R&T’s 1979 November issue:
I had an “Automotive Boner” for this car SO very badly in the early 1980’s!!
But Alas, they were wayyyyy out of reach of my budget.
A Fiat 128 was a very poor substitute.
Zero to 60 in 11.2 seconds? Seemed SO fast in that era!
It’s funny, I can’t speak for the Scirocco specifically but I’ve found that there’s a lot of slow cars by today’s standards that feel as fast(or faster) as their truly quicker modern equivalents when you’re driving them.
Neat car, too bad they don’t make lightweight sporty coupes like the 1st gen Scirocco today. I’m not big on the way they load up every sporty car, I like them pretty basic with the right performance options.
I bought a new 1980 alpine white Scirocco 4 speed when I was in college….my dream car….When I turned 50, I found a 1981 Scirocco S with a 5 speed that I restored…still my dream car….Only 74 hp, but weighing only 2000 lbs its pretty peppy. The K jetronic fuel injection eliminates all the driveability problems common to all of its carbureted peers. Attached is my pic
Nice car!…I’m envious, wish I still had my Scirocco…I had a ’78 Champagne Edition, it is still my favorite of the cars I’ve owned. My ’78 was also fuel injected, I did have a few issues with it, but I think I was so infatuated with it didn’t matter to me (at that time). My father had bought a ’80 Dodge Omni coupe, which was nice, but I still preferred the Scirocco. I sold it in 1988, after I had bought an 86 GTI, which I also liked (but still prefer the Scirocco). I’m on my 3rd VW in a row, having bought a 2000 golf 15 years ago…probably better fit for the “non-scrambler” I am now, but I’m glad I had one when I was younger.
I traded in my 80 Scirocco for a 86 GTI, then 88 GTI 16V and finally a 90 Corrado G60….The Scirocco was the most handsome and being my first new car a sentimental favorite…I have to admit the 88 GTI 16V was the most fun
What a handsome car; I don’t see these anymore even here on the west coast. I always admired the Scirocco, and it’s what I should have bought instead of my Accord. You don’t see poor driveability or weak synchros mentioned in this road test. The Scirocco was more money, but worth it.
Love VW’s (in fact my COAL for tomorrow is about VW’s!) and love this generation of Scirocco! I had a friend who’s older brother and older brother’s friend each had one of these in about 1985, and I remember riding in one while the two of them raced across town on the curvy back roads. Not quite as memorable as my first ride in a GTI, but close!
I agree with those above that there is so much that VW got right about these. Its biggest handicap was something that it could really do nothing about – exchange rates. The 1970s was a bad decade for German cars of the lower to medium price classes. Exchange rates killed Opel in this country. I can only imagine how much more successful these might have been had they been able to meet or beat the price of a Prelude.
That the cars sold here as well as they did is a testament to how sweet of a car it was. I was really serious about one when I was ready for my first new car in 1985, but by then it was the second generation that lost (for me, anyhow) most of the charm of the original.
So true. So then VW starting building Golf’s, Rabbits, and lower trim Jettas in the US then after that Mexico and at the same time cheapened the parts and assembly quality. Although the Scirocco, Quantum, Vanagon, some Jettas and Convertibles (until ’93 then the A3 convertible was Mexico produced) were still German built. And the price on these models reflected this fact. They were able to keep the price down on the volume Golfs and Jettas, but the quality nose dived. VW had 2 choices. High price and quality, or lower price and poorer product. We all know what that led to. I once got to drive a prototype Scirocco with a Legend turbocharger (around 1980-81) that the dealer rep had. That car hauled ass. But on twisty roads if you gave it too much throttle it would spin the inside tire. Needed LSD. They were supposed to be sold through dealers new with factory warranty, but if any were sold I don’t recall seeing them actually hit the showroom floor. It appears Legend went out of business around this time so I don’t think they actually were sold.
Next door to where I work, one of the people there seems to have a Scirocco fetish…I haven’t had a chance to ask him about it. My dad worked at a Volkswagen dealership in the mid 80’s and brought one of these home one day and took me for a fast ride. A Firebird felt like a truck in comparison.
Time for me to wax poetic again about my late lamented 1981 Scirocco. Re: the exchange rate shock, it was even worse in Canada – I remember paying C$11 200 for mine although that was probably with tax. But it was definitely a significant price step above Honda and Subaru coupes at the time, and was only possible because of a recent financial windfall. Spending more than $10 000 on a car at the time seemed almost irresponsibly extravagant.
It was a pleasure to drive of course, but wasn’t the best for long freeway trips. My non-AC car could be pretty tiring if windows had to be cracked for ventilation, and road noise at 60 or 70 mph was noticeable (more of an issue in hatchbacks of the era). That, the poor quality standard speaker system, and the surprisingly poor lumbar support (I used an extra back support cushion almost from day one), were the only things I found disappointing about the car.
But for shorter trips on two-lane highways it was a joy – the road feel, responsiveness, engine sound. Fuel economy was excellent for the time – fill-ups in the city regularly indicated 10km/litre (23 mpg US) and it was possible to squeeze out 33 mpg US (40 Imperial) on long interstate trips with a gentle foot.
It was a maintenance nightmare to be honest. Major problems with the fuel pressurization system (which VW, to their credit, covered completely even though the car was out of warranty), repeated mysterious electrical problems involving the wiring harness, and a lot of relatively expensive repairs (CV joints, head gasket) even though the car had ‘only’ about 160 000 km on it when it disappeared one night from in front of the house, never to return. Friends who had a very basic and inexpensive Ford Festiva at the time used to shake their heads when I told them how much I was spending on average on maintenance and repairs.
But it didn’t matter overall. It was a car which (for me) was impossible not to love. The overall design was always stunning to my eye, the paint and exterior finish quality seemed Mercedes-like, and the interior design and fit & finish were significantly better than other cars in its general class. When it was new there were several occasions when strangers came up just to say what a beautiful car it was – always a gratifying and reassuring experience for a new car owner! Combined with a machine that was such fun to drive, the small matter of maintenance costs were just something to put up with in my pre-mortgage years.
>>Major problems with the fuel pressurization system <<
The first car I bought w/ my own money was this model and, while I loved driving it when it ran, the fuel system and pump drove me to distraction.
Meaning, I went through pumps every other month and swore to myself I would never buy another German car. Ever.
Replaced it w/ a 1984 CRX which took 7 months for Honda dealer to get to me due to the shortage and an unscrupulous salesman. THat car was great and never needed a repair other than maintenance for the 17 years I owned it.
$8,700 as tested in 1979 is about $30,200 today.
I cannot imagine paying 30 large for this today.
when viewed through that lens the cost for a brz or a gti may not be too far off the mark.
I always loved these cars. Back in 1980 my brother made a choice between the Scirroco and a 320I. His bargaining chip with the Bimmer salesman was that if he didn’t knock a few hundred off the sticker he was going down the street to the VW dealer! He got the Bimmer at a lower price but he would have won, either way!
My buddy had a couple of the 2nd generation of these up until a few years ago. He got a decent rust free one for $500 about 6 years ago but sadly in one of his rare house cleaning fits recycled the title and was to lazy to get it sorted out and off to the wreckers it went. He now drives a first gen Hyundai tiburon which has a similar fwd coupe layout but every so often he reminisces about his old Rocco until he remembers the cost of parts and slim availability if the component wasn’t shared with the golf’s of that era. I liked the look but preferred my 1980 GTI ( Canadian market German built model)…
Wow those plaid front seats look like they could interchange with those from a ’16 Golf GTI
Back then, “pure” sport cars were available. However, they all became bloated as time moved on.
The 240Z grew into the 280Z. The Toyota Celica morphed into something nobody wanted. The Mercury Capri got expensive and ugly in its second edition. The same thing happened with the Scirocco. Both the Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar went down the same path.
Loved the styling of these First Gen Sciroccos, inside and out. This era really represented the high water mark for VW in my eyes, since then their cars have gradually porked up – in price and complexity as well as weight and size – and lost their way.
One of my roommates had this generation Scirocco, and it was an eye opening experience for me, as it was my first modern small sports car to spend time inside. Practical, fun and of outstanding quality, it was more desirable than my other roommate’s SAAB.
Problem was the reliability and cost of ownership. It was new, but it had problems. The SAAB ran forever. My Valiant was dependable. The Scirocco was a daily mystery.
I admire these cars, but I don’t think I could ever keep it running.
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