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Past Models (pre 1992)

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    6 Reviews
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      13.10.2002 19:44
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      People here will be aware of my fondness for my current car, a 1987 VW Jetta 1.6TX, but this wasn't my first Jetta. Well, sort of. Let me explain... At the garage I used to get my cars serviced at before I came to Guernsey (still do when I'm home, come to think of it), they use a 1997 Civic 1.5 as a courtesy car. One day a couple of years ago I went in to get one of my cars serviced, and asked for the courtesy car. I had a similar-age Civic at the time, so thought this was no hardship. "The Civic's out", they said, "but we've got something else". "Oh yeah, what's that", said I. "A Jetta". Hmm. The Golf with the boot. Hardly the pinnacle of motoring (this was before I was introduced to the delights of German cars, mind). So I dutifully trotted out to be greeted by a faded red (you know the colour, the one that oxidises as soon as it's looked at) H-reg Jetta, with big bumpers, alloy wheels, and "GTI 16v" badging. The mechanics grin at me. I grin back, get in, and drive away. Well, to begin with I was quite impressed. The car had 175,000 miles on the clock but, despite the faded paint, lacked any real rust and, amazingly for an old German car, there was no wear to the seats. It lacked power steering, which made it hard work at low speed, but was solid and all of a piece, lots of space too. I was beginning to like it. However, I was distinctly underwhelmed by the performance. Of course, I was used to my 1.4 Civic, so was short-shifting and keeping it under 3000rpm. I got home and looked at the badges - shook my head. Must be a gussied-up 1.3 in disguise. Went back out after dinner, opened the bonnet. No mistake - there, writ large on the cam covers, was the legend "VW DOHC 16V". That was it - red rag to a bull. I was going to find out what this car was all about. Needless to say,
      once I worked out how to drive it properly, this thing performed. Driving through a 30 zone in 2nd gear, you could boot the throttle at the end and all hell would break loose (not good for tyres or gearbox, but a lot of fun nonetheless). Once the 16v motor gets over 3000rpm, there's no stopping it. And on the twisty backroads, the non-assisted steering comes into it's own and provides beautiful feedback. The one advantage of that ridiculous protruberence on the rear VW call a boot (and most estate agents would try and sell as a spacious flat!) is, to those in the know, the Jetta 16v handles even more sweetly than the fabled Golf because the weight distribution is better. I was smitten when I took it back to the garage 2 days (and 500 miles!) later. It turned out the car had come in with a broken cambelt (despite the previous owner having a full service history). She had given the garage the car who had fixed the motor, and decided to use it as a courtesy car. "Oh course", said my mechanic, "it's for sale. Cars are just a commodity to me". "How much?" asked I. "500 quid". £500? For this much performance and reliability? I went home and talked it over with friends and relatives. They thought I was mad, selling a nearly-new Civic for such a cheap car. But I knew what I wanted. And it was that Jetta. So I went back to the garage the following week. "I want to buy the Jetta." "You can't", they said. And took me round the back. There was my beloved Jetta, bent like a banana. The next bloke who had borrowed it had flown off the road and cleared 20 feet of small trees before coming to rest against a big old oak. Luckily, he was OK, which is more than can be said to how he'll be if I ever get hold of him. The original owner cried when she found out. I know just how she felt. --------------
      ---------------------------------- Anyway, the following review relates to my experiences with a 1987 VW Jetta 1.6TX. I moved to the small Channel Island of Guernsey last September, and despite only being 9 miles by 5 in size, it became clear pretty quickly that I would need some transport. There can often be a long wait for taxis (unless you're at the airport!) and buses stick only to major routes. Guernsey has some advantages over motoring on the UK mainland. For starters, fuel is very cheap at around 45p/litre. Road tax, calculated on the vehicle's weight, costs around £90 per year and insurance is also much cheaper. There are also no parking charges, but parking spaces are at a premium around the island. The disadvantages are a maximum speed limit of 35mph (not that you could really go much faster!) and no MOT. This could also be construed as an advantage but, for the used-car buyer, can also pose problems as many older cars aren't maintained properly. Also, being such a small island, any old car will be in close proximity of the saltwater spray from the sea, so there are some downright dangerous rotboxes on the roads. Because there are only 24,000 cars on Guernsey's roads (for a population of 60,000 or so) sourcing a car isn't as easy as in the UK. There's no equivalent of Autotrader or Loot here. Cars tend to be advertised in four ways - in the daily paper, a weekly free paper, on supermarket noticeboards, or parked at the side of the road with a sign in the window. I set myself a budget of £500 and looked to see what I could find. Four cars in the daily paper one Saturday in late September fitted my criteria, but three had already been sold. The fourth car was advertised as "VW Jetta, 1987, new tyres and exhaust, good runner, £600". Hmm - obviously for these ads you pay by the word. A call to the seller revealed that it was a 1.6TX model, with 51,000 miles on the clock, and was in good con
      dition. The TX model was conceived by VW to inject some younger interest in the range, in a similar way to the Golf Driver - it combines many features of the GTI (wheels, suspension, seats, body trim) with the basic 1.6 litre engine. In the end I managed to haggle down to £500 on the basis that the car had been advertised in the paper for the last three weeks, it was out of road tax, the driver's seat was ripped, and one of the rear windows didn't wind down. On the plus side, the car drove well, had most of it's service history, and was rust-free. Perhaps this is a slightly higher price than would be paid on the mainland, but then the car has a much lower mileage and there isn't as much choice here. As in the UK, the hatchback Golf would command a 50% price premium. It seems strange that the Golf is raved about by all and sundry, while the Jetta isn't so popular, as they only really differ in styling at the rear. True, the Jetta's boot isn't particularly pretty, but it is absolutely huge. Practicality is slightly compromised by the fact that the rear seat doesn't fold, but you do get what is called a "ski hatch" - basically you can feed items like skis through the armrest into the cabin of the car. Now, I don't ski, but it may come in useful if I get really hungry one day on the road and buy a really long baguette. One thing common to Golfs and Jettas of this age is a feeling of indestructibility. Fifteen years young, there are very few squeaks and rattles in the car. The driver's seat trim was ripped (it looked like it had been chewed by a dog), but all the other seats were unworn. In the end I was lucky enough to locate a new complete interior from a 1992 car on eBay for just £30. VW also know their stuff when it comes to rustproofing, as there is very little rust on the car. All I can find is a couple of stonechips that have bubbled up and a spot on the inside of the bootlid. Ev
      en though the TX has all the go-faster body goodies from the GTI, it's never going to win any races. As a former VW mechanic said to me, "it's a 1.6 that goes like a 1.2". But it's reliable and reasonably economical. As Guernsey driving is usually on rural roads, components like gearboxes, brakes, clutches and steering take a hammering, but the Jetta continues to feel solid. Originally there was some clunking from the underside over bumps when laden, and a rocking motion when the car set off from rest. These were traced to exhaust mountings and engine mountings respectively, and fixed cheaply. My Jetta is now up to 54,000 miles, and continues to run well. I had the cambelt changed as a matter of course and a full service, but apart from that I haven't had to spend anything on it, except for fuel. It uses no oil and starts first time, every time. I really think it's a under-rated bargain. The ratings below apply to the TX - the GTI 16v would obviously get higher ratings for performance and driving characteristics!

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        03.10.2002 05:34
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        After purchasing a cheap car recently a 1990 mk 2 for the princly sum of £200, I must say I have been pleasantly surprised, it is the Golf with a bum as it were the Jetta TX for those of you who do not know is the poor relation of the now famous VW Golf. It is identical mechanically to the Golf with cosmetic differences only, therefore it has similar handling qualities and reliability but of course without the street cred, an old man?s car probably but do I really care, no. All I require is reliability and reasonable performance and this can be achieved in this vehicle to a practical level with a willing 1597 cc engine and five-speed gearbox. There are various options of engine size from entry level of 1300 cc, 1600cc, and an 1800 cc fuel injected GT for the more sporty of us, all with Volkswagen quality of build, and there is the CL a diesel version, but you don?t see this too often. It has a nifty little feature within it?s rather large boot space that is a ?ski? compartment or anything else that is long, you remove a panel in the rear seat and a kind of bag unfolds into the rear cab area all the way back into the boot, to fit the rear area so if it is sharp it will not cut seats or dirty them for that matter, it is also very reasonable on fuel and drives almost like new ( for a twelve year old) One of the only drawbacks with this model is it just misses the cheaper Road tax bracket by about forty cc but I guess you can?t have everything. To be recommended with the added bonus of little street cred you?re not likely to get it pinched unless you live near me that is.

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          06.05.2001 21:20
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          There seems to be a concensus on dooyoo.co.uk that Volkswagen produces some of the best built and most reliable cars you can buy - new or secondhand. It's all true and what's more backed up by some of the best residual values around for a popular manufacturer. Eat your hearts out Ford, Vauxhall, Renault etc. Over a period of 37 years which have featured a wide range of secondhand cars as personal transport, from a Morris Minor 1000, Ford Anglia 105E and Vauxhall Magnum 1800 I'm presently on my second VW Jetta. The first was bought in 1992, a 1989 1.3 four-speeder with 66,500 miles on the clock. There were no worries about the mileage as I know that, providing VW engines are serviced regularly, they last virtually for ever and it came with a full service history. This Atlantic grey coloured 1.3C never used a drop of oil in between changes, nor created those annoying oil patches on my light grey coloured driveway. I kept it for three years before deciding that a larger engine was needed as the 1.3 would run out of puff trying to pull the big body, especially when an overtaking manoeuvre was attempted. A VW franchise salesman friend kept an eye open for one and came up with a silver "big bumper" 1990 1.6 TX in unbelievable condition for a five-year-old car. The proud owner had ordered the then new Polo, but had to wait five months for delivery due to VW UK not ordering enough when it was launched (it's built by Seat in Spain). I eventually took ownership of the TX, which had 52,500 miles on the clock, in June 1995. The larger engine, because it did not have to work as hard as a 1.3, brought the financial benefit of even better fuel consumption - up to 44mpg on a run - while again the engine proved both oil-tight and did not require topping-up in between 10,000-mile basic services. The massive 23cu ft boot, one of the largest on any size of car you can buy,
          holds an astounding variety of objects. Be warned though that if something you need is right at the back; you often have to climb in to retrieve it! A point which might prove of interest is that this Jetta is on its third registration number. Its original G-plate was changed for a cherished one by the second owner and I, in turn, was given a new G-plate registration when I bought it. It's now covered 78,100 miles and it's still as solid as the day it was built. At its latest MOT just before Christmas the mechanic who carried out the test described the car as "99.9 per cent right". Only out of the ordinary replacements have been an air supply hose to the air cleaner (it became worn after rubbing on a hose clip) and a front brake hose. Brake pads and linings are still only about 30-35 per cent worn all round; the original dampers and springs, along with the exhaust, are still sound and the car feels as solid and safe as the day it was built. Only problem was that the 300 extra cc for the engine plus central locking meant that the insurance group went from an already high 7 to 10. There seems no logic for this but insurance companies won't elaborate on the reasons. Although my second Jetta would provide reliable and low cost motoring for many more years to come, I'm now keen to eventually acquire a Vento or, even better, a Bora. The build quality of VWs is always outstanding, but that of the latest Mk IV Golfs and Boras are akin to BMW and Mercedes standards. No wonder that residual values are so high. You have to shell out initially if buying a new one, but get double back what you would for a Ford or other mass produced vehicle when selling or part-exchanging. It's interesting to see just how many Mk I and II Golfs and Jettas are still knocking about. They will always command an above average resale price no matter what their age, but if you spot one you like m
          ake sure that it has not been brought in from South Africa. They are still on sale there, including the Mk I Golf, but I noticed when I visited SA in 1996 that their build quality is not always up to European standards. Only negative point of my Jetta is that it lacks power steering but, on the other hand, the feedback is first class and you always know what is happening under the front wheels. An alternative way to land VW quality at even keener prices is to look at the latest new or secondhand Seats or Skodas. They represent VW build quality and components at prices that truly are a steal.

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            14.02.2001 18:41
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            I bought this car looking for a small car with with good performance and I got a lot more than I was looking for. This car is a 1989 VW Jetta Gti 16V. It has the 1.8 litre DOHC engine, which is great, it has awesome acceleration and gets about 35 mpg. The car handles like it is on rails. The ride is a bit stiff, but it corners so good i dont complain. It has 85,000 miles as of last week, which isnt a lot for a VW. The Gti's interior is great, it has the Recaro bucket seats, the same brand found in Porsches and many other sports cars. They are the best seats ive ever had in a car. It has lots of room in side which I value as I am over 6ft tall and it is hard to find a roomy car. The Luggage space is also huge for a smaller car. It is black in color and has the VW alloy wheels, which compliment the car nicely. This is a very good car and i would reccomend it to anyone who want a family sports car.

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              07.01.2001 19:15
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              I had the jetta in a sky blue colour. It looks like something that has come out of the crusher but it is more reliable than most cars suprisingly. It only ever broke down once in the 3 years that i had it. It is comfortable enough for an old car and the steering is easy. I recommend this car if you are looking for something cheap and reliable..well mine was in good condition when i got it so make sure it is road worthy!!! It is a very noisy car however and we did have to tune it up a few times to keep it going..so be prepared to pay a bit extra!!

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                01.12.2000 16:52
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                This is great car. It has everything a car of today should have. Comfort to die for. It just shouts class. It is an amazing car. But let me tell you about some of its pitfalls, as their is a good few. The radio. In a car of it class you would exspect a decent system, but no, not only does it not have a cd player as standard it also quite simply sounds crap. The boot. Yes you may seem suprised. There is just no room in their.Also the tyre quite awkwardly sticks out and the wheel archers just pertrude into your space. Well enougth of the bad. The good points. It hasn't some excellent safety features, most of them coming as standard, but all of them worth paying extra for. Also the dashboard is to die for, with its look of elegance which just screams class.

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