1980 VW Golf MKI GTI: Reader ride

By: Alex Best, Photography by: Alex Best

Alex Best's 1980 VW Golf MKI GTI

1980 VW Golf MKI GTI: Reader ride
Alex Best's 1980 VW Golf MKI GTI


Alex Best's 1980 VW Golf MKI GTI

I’M FROM Berlin and came to Australia three years ago when I was 22 – I wasn’t even born when my GTI was built. I’ve liked the MKI model Golf since I was a kid; I think it’s the shape with the round headlights and aggressive look, and it’s a little car that has great history. I just love them.

In Germany, Golfs were everywhere but it is very hard to find older cars there because of the rust problem and European winters. I’ve only ever seen about five original MKI GTIs in Germany so I never owned a MKI over there, but I had at least 15 MKIIs; they were the typical young person’s car.

When I came I had a BMW E30 coupe but when I saw this car at Volkspower I knew I needed to buy it. It was in great condition and had no rust. Dean at Volkspower had owned the car and drove it every day and resprayed it 10 years ago but never had the time to restore it. It wasn’t actually advertised for sale but I found out from a friend that he was thinking about selling. It’s my absolute dream car – three-door MKIs are very hard to find, and I’ve spent a lot of time and money on it already.

It is totally original except for the engine, which was a 1.8-litre four-cylinder but Dean had put in a two-litre 115hp (85kW) Golf MKIII engine. With 115hp in an 800kg car it goes really well. I put Vogtland coil-over shocks in it because I started entering gymkhanas and I needed stiffer suspension but I’ve had to stop because I need a new gearbox. The syncros have gone in second and third and they’re the gears you use most in gymkhanas.

It came with the front bumper but I think it looks better without it and I’ve tried to find original bits and pieces for it that were missing, like the rear parcel shelf and fuel cap. I hand polished the rims, found a new grille and replaced the faded lights and I want to return the car to standard as much as possible. The next thing I’ll do is clean up the engine bay and re-do the
interior because it has faded.

I think I will keep it for a long time but I’ve already had offers for it. The guys at my work played a prank on me and advertised it on Gumtree for $600! I had about 50 calls in the first 10 minutes and I had to turn my phone off.



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