Is an ’83 VW Rabbit GTI really worth $33K?


We’re not sure what goes on in your office, but water cooler talk for us is always about cars. At least once a week, an online sale is the focus of our gossip. The latest point of interest has been the recent sale on Bring a Trailer of a 1983 VW Rabbit GTI for $33,000

We asked Adam Wilcox, a self-confessed GTI fanatic and Hagerty valuation analyst, his thoughts on the big-dollar VW sale. He had plenty to say, “The first GTI that Volkswagen sold in the States was the 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, so there is a little historical premium wrapped up in this sale. But still, this car sold 60 percent over our Hagerty Price Guide value for a #1-condition (Concours) car of $20,600.” 

So what made this car so desirable?

1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI BaT / Turbogator
1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI BaT / Turbogator

1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI BaT / Turbogator

Wilcox noted that at nearly 40 years old, most cars its age and stature would have been treated as any other daily driver. That means the average GTI, while still being more entertaining than a run-of-the-mill Rabbit, could have seen dozens of door dings and nearly that many owners. The fact that this GTI is so far from the norm is what lead to its seemingly outrageous price. “This car is in incredible condition considering it’s 36 years old and has 100,000 miles on it—that’s under 3000 miles per year, just enough to keep the car mechanically sound,” he noted.

Wilcox went on to highlight the extent at which this GTI was cared for, “This GTI is a one-owner car and the original owner babied it from new and even kept old boxes for the aftermarket stereo. It’s received a recent cosmetic refurbishment with new upholstery and exterior paint and has only been slightly modified from new. This could be one of the best-condition early GTI’s in the country and that can result in some insane prices.”

Knowing the car’s history was likely a huge factor that led to three different bidders offering more than $20,000 for this car. Provenance isn’t typically mentioned with a car that was as high-volume and affordable as a GTI, but it puts a lot of worries about the car’s care to bed when there are such exhaustive records and obvious attention to detail.

No doubt, the winning bidder got the exact car they’ve been searching for, and they’d probably been searching for a long time.

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