1983 GTI v 1979 GTI

CHRISTOPHER SANTOS tells us which one of his two GTIs he prefers.


A series 1 Golf GTI and  the EW chassis Golf GTI Campaign - two very different versions of the Mk1 Golf GTI - and I am frequently asked which car do I prefer?

The Campaign is obviously an evolution of the early GTI and consequently has become a more user-friendly and refined car. Interestingly, there are certain elements of the earlier version that are, to my mind, more superior.

"... it is also worth remembering, the 4-speed GTI can crack the magical 60mph in second gear whilst the Campaign requires an extra shift into third."

 

For instance, the front seats in the 4-speed GTI are better than those of the Campaign, offering more comfortable support, although the larger steering wheel of the early version is inferior to that of the latter. The 1.6 EG engine is more driveable than its 1.8 DX sister and is also more fun to use as it revs easily and becomes almost turbine like in its smoothness. The superior torque of the 1.8 engine of the Campaign makes overtaking slower moving traffic easier. In terms of acceleration and maximum speed, realistically, there is very little between them, although the Campaign is far quicker when progressing through the gears.

Series 1 1979 Golf GTI

Series 2 1983 Golf GTI Campaign

The restrictions of the 4-speed gearbox become apparent on the motorway or any long journey, as the whole car becomes noisy at anything over the legal motorway limit. But it is also worth remembering, the 4-speed GTI can crack the magical 60mph in second gear whilst the Campaign requires an extra shift into third. The gearbox in the 4-speed version is far more decisive than its 5-speed sister, although the throttle response in the Campaign is marginally superior.

One could argue the merits of the different style of interiors. I believe the earlier GTI, with its round dial dashboard and proper centre console (with instruments) to be far more in keeping with the overall character of the car. Conversely, the Campaign's excellent MFA computer, steel sunroof and tinted windows easily equals the balance. The Campaign ultimately loses out because of its deck-chair like seat material, as the tartan upholstery design of the 4-speed GTI is far more attractive.

1979 GTI seat trim is more in keeping with car's character.

"... series 1 models have seen
a dramatic rise in desirability and value."

 

 

Externally, the clean lines of the single headlamps and small rear tail lights of the early GTI are added attractions, although the Campaign has dual interior remote control door mirrors, and built in rear fog lamps.

So, which car do I prefer?

Just like in the 1970s, a good, well prepared, early Golf GTI is an enjoyable driver's car and in recent years these series 1 models have seen a dramatic rise in desirability and value. To counteract this, the Campaign was the limited edition run-out model of the Mk1 and consequently has, to some, become the most cherished.

In the end there is no obvious winner.

These are both great cars.

Choice, it would seem, is not always a good thing.

 

Models of the 1979 & 1983 Golf GTI.

 

 

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