Volkswagen GTI History MK2

When the Mk II Golf was introduced in America for 1985, the GTI became part of the lineup. This was thanks to the success from the sale of the Mk I and calls from Volkswagen enthusiasts for more of the same and better.

Gone was the Rabbit name. The global Golf name took over, but you called the GTI for what it is. And, it was something else!

The new design was cleaner than before. Modern lines that spoke to the times with every attribute of the Rabbit cleaned up and streamlined. The GTI went a step further. It received a specific grille and headlights – flush-mounted units – and that red trim on the bumpers, side protectors and badges. Inside, red trim continued throughout the cabin. The 1.8liter engine offered 110 horsepower for lively sprints around the block and beyond.

The response to the Mk II GTI was off the charts. This was due to Motor Trend awarding their Car of The Year to the Westmoreland, Pennsylvania-built GTI for 1985.

Volkswagen did not rest of their laurels. For 1987, a new 16-valve engine was introduced with 127 horsepower. By 1990, the GTI saw the return of round headlights – four in total, this time around. That year also saw the GTI 16v’s engine increase to 2.0 liters yielding 134 horsepower.

However, 1988 marked the last of the Westmoreland-built Golfs and GTIs, since VW decided to close their first American plant. From the 1989 model year, all GTIs were made in Puebla, Mexico. The Mk II was last sold in 1992.

Two things happened during this generation of GTI. Volkswagen introduced a Golf GT model for 1987 as a less expensive alternative to the GTI. It looked like a GTI, but had the standard engine with some suspension refinements. In fact, if you wanted a GTI with an automatic transmission and five doors, the GT was the only option. By 1989, that model became the GTI with a regular 8-valve engine and its first offering of an automatic transmission. Enthusiast will tell that the best Mk II GTI to get is the more potent GTI 16v.

The second thing that occurred was the rise of the Jetta. This four-door sedan shared the same platform as the Golf; however it would find more customers in America than the hatchback Golf and GTI. For GTI lovers who wanted a trunk, Volkswagen offered the Jetta GLI with the same engine, transmission and a warmer suspension and braking setup.

Ultimately, the GTI will find their customers. These are loyal enthusiasts who believe in the car and the possibilities of what it can ultimately do – including taking it on the track. These fans carried the GTI through perhaps its best generation yet.

Do not think that Volkswagen was done with the GTI by 1992. It could only get better.