Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Car Pr0n #79

Well, here we are. Last car of the 1970s. The decade started with the Chevelle 454SS and the GTO Judge and ended with this:


1979 Volkswagen Jetta. While it was introduced a year earlier in Europe, the Jetta (basically a Rabbit with a trunk) hit US shores in '79. There were no American-made cars introduced in 1979 (The Dodge Ram 50 was a rebadged Mitsubishi; it doesn't count. Right on the tailgate, in the "D" for "Dodge" were the words "Imported for". I kid you not).

It's rather puzzling why Volkswagen even offered the Rabbit/Golf and the Jetta as separate vehicles. The only difference between the vehicles is whether it had a trunk or a hatchback, and pretty much every manufacturer on the planet keeps the same nameplate - except VW. I could understand it if the Rabbit/Golf was 2-door only, but it comes as a 4-door, and the Jetta was initially available as a 2-door. Same car...

I owned an '86 Golf GTI for a brief period after I graduated from college. My little sister got her license and I gave her the Buick Regal that had served me through most of my college career (she killed it in less than a year...), and I was looking for something sporty. I checked out a Mustang GT, a couple of Camaros, and then, finally, the GTI. Several friends had owned them, and they were awesome on the autocross track, so I trundled home with my new (to me) GTI. It was fun to drive - when it wasn't falling apart...

And next week we start the 1980s - be afraid.

That is all.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The '80s. What a desert for sport car lovers. No new Lotuses, Ferraris were made of steel and some had four seats, Jaguar would continue to swirl down the British Leyland toilet, Aston Martin would still be building V8s that debuted in the late '60s.

There were a couple of bright spots, I'm pretty sure I know what #87 will be.

Al_in_Ottawa

Chris in TX said...

The early 80's was really the last hurrah of the big, boxy land yachts that those of use who went to high school in the late '90s bought from little old ladies as our first cars. The really bad US car desert starts about 1984 and runs straight through til the redesign of the Mustang. "If this beige Ford Escort Wagon is too plain for you, sir, might I interest you in the wind-in-your-hair excitement of this Fake Wood Paneled Town and Country Convertible?

Kermit said...

The 80's may have sucked for sport/performance/muscle cars, -but-...
My first truck was a (late) 80's S-10, the first and last GM product I've ever bought. It was a miniature tank on wheels, had been beaten to hell and back, looked like it came out of Ciudad Juarez, and despite having a "mere" 4-cylinder engine instead of a V-6, would still accelerate uphill without strain while maintaining 24 miles to the gallon (and this is with a couple hundred pounds of camping crap in the truck bed). The only downsides to the truck was that it had no A/C, and it ate a quart of oil with every fuel up (but so long as you kept feeding it oil, it was fine). That truck went cross-country with me multiple times, off-roading in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, and hunting in deep mountain snows. It was simple enough to do all mechanical work in the driveway, and rugged enough to be a learning platform for an amateur shade-tree mechanic just starting out.

No other GM product I've seen since has been able to do so much with so little, especially not in such used and abused condition. Even their heavy-duty trucks these days are more fragile than that old rolling pile of rusted and dented sheet steel.

I kinda miss it.

Ed said...

You could have bought a late '70's / early '80's Dodge Omni, which used a modified VW Rabbit/Golf/Jetta engine with a carburetor instead of fuel injection along with a few other changes:

http://www.allpar.com/omni/engines.html

Fun to drive with the 4-speed manual transmission and relatively good in New England snow.

Ed said...

Oops! I left out the other link on the Dodge Omni:

http://www.allpar.com/omni/omni.html

Chris in TX said...

Ed,

My Dad had one of those when I was 3 or 4 years old!! 4 speed and everything!! They weren't terribly bad-looking cars, in a 1st-gen Golf sort or way.

Bradley said...

Dude, 79 was the first year of the Fox Body Mustang! Factory 4link, an engine bay you could put a 351C or 351W with out any mods! Yeah nasty under powered smog motors, but some of the fastest street legal cars at the track are Foxes!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Mustang_%28third_generation%29

Old NFO said...

Yeah, the downhill slide continues...

Jay G said...

Kermit,

Your experience, then, is the mirror image of mine.

My first vehicle was a 1985 GMC S-15 Jimmy. Same body.

4WD. 2.8L V6 - the same engine they put in the Cavalier Z24.

In a truck with 4WD and a plow.

I called it "Lurch" because that's what it did going around corners...

John said...

For a while we had a VW rabbit, 4 speed and fuel injection. Based on the reputation of VW we thought it would be clear sailing. Wrong, it was as if Italy had set up a Fiat branch at the VW factory.

Only good point, if you carefully fit the chains, the chains would clear the front and then you were pretty much unstoppable in snow.

No good memories of that one.

At least the Fiat 850 Spyder was a huge bunch of fun to drive when it ran.

John in Philly

Will said...

Had a neighbor in the early 80's who was a SCCA racer. Ran a '79 Rabbit. He told me that "stock class" Rabbits were turning 2:03 at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma CA, on three wheels, as they lifted the inside rear wheel while cornering. I don't recall modified Rabbit times.

My BiL had a (Golf)GTI, and the reduced power in lower gear(s) was something new to me. You vill be safe! Ve order it so!

It did handle well, as the clown who tried to rear-end me on an off-ramp discovered. He tried his best to hit me, but ended up blowing straight across the surface street, with center island, when he failed to make the final turn. He came screaming up on my tail as I was slowing for the first turn of the off-ramp. That's when I discovered the power limiter in low gear. He couldn't hang with me, and did major damage when he hit that divider island curb. :-)

Comrade Misfit said...

1980s?

One word:

Yugo!

The longest rolling line of vehicles I was ever in on Rt. 2 in Western MA was due to a Yugo at the head of the line.