From classic color schemes to inviting Recaros to exciting driving sensations, this GLI is the apple in our eyes today.
• This 1988 VW Jetta GLI has charming exterior colors, a refined interior and an interesting driving feel.
Our love for the ’88 GLI stems from a road test we conducted in 1989, where we praised the engineering of the German sedan.
• This slightly modified example now has a $7500 bid for Carry a trailer and the auction ends on Sunday, April 3.
UPDATE: Jetta GLI sells for $29,001.
There is nothing special about this 1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Collectors will likely be dissuaded about its minor flaws and slight modifications, and the fact that its road meter currently displays about 48,000 miles but Carfax reported “mileage inconsistencies” in 2016. However, as soon as I saw this GLI listed on the auction carrying a website trailer – like Car and Driver, which is part of Hearst Autos – I was immediately enthralled by the petite sports sedan and declared this to be our auction pick of the day.
I have to admit that I’ve never flown a second-generation Jetta GLI, which stretches from 1985 to 1991. However, that hasn’t stopped me from admiring them from afar, and this ’88 example on BaT has all the elements that make me want to have one of my own. I’m a big fan of white cars. I think the paint color looks luxurious and sporty. Fight me if you don’t agree. Anyway, this GLI Alpine White paint color with red and black accents impressed me as a quintessential combination. I also like the look of its 15-inch BBS wheel. The car also has a good posture, with the seller mentioning that it goes on shock absorbers and aftermarket springs.
What I think I love most about this particular Jetta GLI is its pristine-looking interior, especially the two-tone material on the seats and door panels. The combination of black leather and gray fabric looks very eye-catching and the quality is no less than what’s inside a brand new GLI. The electric adjustable Recaro front seat from the rear of the year ’88 certainly supports more than the detachable seats in the 2022 model that ended up last in a comparative test with the Honda Civic Si and Hyundai Elantra N.
In inventory form, the 1988 Jetta GLI is powered by a 1.8-liter DOHC engine in line, with a capacity of 123 horsepower. That power is transmitted to the front axle via a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Back in 1989, Car and Driver tested a car with speeds ranging from 0 to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. While that’s incredibly slow compared to today’s standards – jetta GLI did it in 6.1 seconds – the ’88 model doesn’t need to be quick to be interesting. Plus, the 0.80 g traction and 180-foot stop distance from 70 mph (on more than 30-year-old tire technology, no less) are only 0.06 g and six feet behind the new car’s trademark.
When our predecessors drove the Jetta GLI ’88 back on that day, they applauded the German technique and said: “The whole Jetta is better than its individual parts.” That new GLI is still a really good compact sports sedan, but it’s also oversaturated with high-end and technological features that can distract from the driving experience. For what should be significantly less money – the current bid on BaT is $7500 with four days left – I want to drive and own a limb.