Welcome to the first edition of the Classic Revisit!
In this new series, we will explore some beautiful examples of the Volkswagen brand from years past. Expect to see lots of Beetles, Ghias, GTIs, and Buses of all incarnation in the coming months!
Today, however, we’ll revisit one of the brands speedier creations, the Mk1 Scirocco. This writer must admit a bias and quite a wide soft spot in his heart for this car.
In 1991, after off-loading a horrible Dodge pickup for a measly $800, I went searching for another ride. After banging around classic car lots for the better part of a month, drooling over muscle cars and hot-rod pickups, I happened upon little independent lot on the outskirts of Fort Collins, CO. I went there with the specific intention of test driving this lovely 1964 Ford Thunderbird, but after the salesman couldn’t get the damn thing to start (go figure…) this squat grey box caught my eye.
The box, of course, was fairly clean example of 1981 German engineering from Audi meeting the Italian design of Giorgetto Giugiaro, for the low, low price of $2,800. I took it for a test drive and immediately fell in like with the car. It was a good, German color as gray as the Dolomites, Cirrus Gray Metallic, with black leather factory sports seats and aftermarket louvered rear hatch. It looked sporty, yet oddly muscular compared with the spritely roller-skate look of the Rabbit, the cuddly lump of the Beetle, or the slightly voluptuous Ghia. Yet, even after the spirited test drive, I wasn’t in love with the car. I just liked it, a lot!
I eventually fell in love with the car, but like any lasting relationship, the courtship was long and not always smooth, but I can still remember the exact moment…
By now, I’d been driving the car for a couple of weeks, getting to know her, discovering her likes and dislikes. First, she liked a good warm up before she really hit her stride. She didn’t like rough pavement much and would protest with a litany of rattles and buzzes of complaint, but never failed to track properly when the need arose. If I slammed the doors, they would, just as likely as not, bounce right back open, but closing them more gently would elicit a satisfying “thunk-click” of approval. The gearbox was chunky and the engine could be buzzy at times, but mostly she was quick and nimble, and capable of embarrassing certain overly aggressive muscle-bound brutes over short distances or twisty corners.
Then, it happened… Honestly, it was completely unexpected, and many would dismiss the turn as mundane, but it solidified my love of this car. We were zipping around the streets of Fort Collins one afternoon, just she and I, when I approached an intersection that lead back towards home. We’d travelled this route many times before, but this day we were approaching at a pretty good clip with a car waiting in the apex of the four-way on our left and another quickly approaching from our twelve o’clock. Now, any sane driver would have pressed the big left pedal and waited for the approaching car to pass, especially with a squared-off turn-in, but at 21 in my new “sports car” I wasn’t exactly sane… I downshifted into second at 45, dabbed the brakes, and cranked over the wheel while planting my foot onto the go-juice, and dammit if she didn’t just stick that friggin’ turn like a 962. A little sideslip, a chirp of the tires, and just the tiniest waggle of her rear-end and we were hi-tailing it away down the lane.
Any of my previous rides would have ended up in someone’s front yard, or worse, but this little Fraulein merely sidestepped and dragged her foot a little before scooting right along into our next dance. From that moment on, I knew that while she was mild-mannered Fox-Trotter most of the time, with a little more coaxing she could Samba, Twist, or Swing with more refined company.
In the coming years, I would punch her dance card as often as I could over the backroads and twisty canyons of the Western United States. But that, my friends, is a story for another day…