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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. 

Intermediate Driver

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.

New Driver

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.

Pit Crew

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.

New Driver

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