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Hagerty Employee

Callaway might be known for Corvettes, but its spicy Mk. 1 VW GTI remains one hot hatch

Almost 40 years after its release the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI is having a resurgence—or should we call it “The Rabbit-issance”? That’s terrible. I’m sorry.


We first took notice back in September when an original-owner example with 100,000 miles sold for $33,000, breaking the record for a Mk. I GTI sold at auction. Since then, several Mk. I GTIs have sold for north of $20K. This phenomenon isn’t limited to North America, either: In February, one sold for $30K at Retromobile in Paris. Now, this 19K-mile 1983 Rabbit GTI Callaway Turbo sold for $38,000. What gives?


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Hagerty Employee
Hagerty Employee

This car might be my new spirit animal.

New Driver

I have owned a couple MK1 GTI’s one of them I made a MK1 Rabbit into a GTI. VW’s back in the day were fun and easy to modify. I bought a 1985 MK2 GTI and I would have to also give it a honorable mention as I felt they still captured the essence of the GTI with a stronger chassis. 
Callaway also made a couple Alfa Milano’s and I believe a GTV6. When I was at the Alfa school in Orlando they had a bi-turbo Busso V6 on the engine stand. 


Had a '77 Rabbit in baby poo brown that I GTI'd, sort of.  Bilsteins, biggest Phoenix Stahlflex tires that would fit, sway bars.  Kamei front air dam, and hatch lip.  Painted the 13" wheels and bumpers body color, and semi-gloss black around the rear window.  Still slow, but boy, could it handle.  Loved that car.  Oh, and a golf ball shift knob, gotta have that.

Pit Crew

I bought a 83 GTI new which I loved and drove to it's demise. Replaced it with a new 03 Cooper S which I still own and considered it the spiritual successor to the GTI... until I added an 06 Cooper GP which is simply the best car I've ever owned in 68 orbits.

New Driver

I added a racing steering wheel, GTI round headlight grille and a Hurst T handle to my 1984 Bunny Boy 1. I loved driving that car and the 33 MPG, which I haven't seen since.

Intermediate Driver

I had no idea a Calloway tune was available to the VW GTi. What a beautiful beast!

I have always owned VW's. A 2012 GTi is my current driver, an MKVI "Autobahn Edition", in stock form, light years removed from the MKI. I'm not sure that's a plus. They are still fun but definitely are a bit more bloated these days (like me). It's been a wonderful driver with 165K miles on the clock, a fun car to go to battle during what used to be the daily "commute". We are now retired.

Still puts a grin on my face when I activate the "Launch Control"!




yeah, I couldn't believe that one got same - $38K at BaT last wk...


The 1976 German Golf GTI had the 1.6 EG engine with Heron heads and not a 1.8 as stated.


Save your money and find a Dodge Omni GLHS.  Nearly the same econobox look but better in every respect, because Shelby. 

Advanced Driver

Oh boy were those fun!  Torque steer would run the car into the curb at launch if you were careless but that was just part of the fun. 


Not so fun was having Chrysler deny warranty coverage on our Omni GLH’s clutch throwout bearing because it was “...not part of the powertrain...”!

Intermediate Driver

I bought a 1985 Omni GLH Turbo and wished I had waited a year when the GLHS came out.


Apparently I made the right choice in adding this to my small gathering of cars in my garage. 

Advanced Driver

Hell, even my 1980 diesel was fun to drive. I can’t imagine what an additional 152 horsepower would mean...


The original song was Gay-Tee-Eee. Went with a new Euro-spec '85 GTI which was a blast on der Autobahn (almost 200kph). Sad to have had to sell it when returning back to the States.

New Driver

My 1984 Rabbit GTi had a 100 mph speedometer, it was only the 1983 that stopped at 85. What a fun car, one of those "should have kept..." ones.

New Driver

i was driving a mk1 Scirocco, and pulled into the dealer lot circa 83, and drooled while checking out a black one of these, sigh my young ass could not / did not want the payments, but whoa, it was a sweet ride.