Spotted VW: Scirocco

In the States, we only got the first generation Scirocco, up to 1981. My friend had a 1979 the same color as this one. I rode in it a million times back in the late 1980s. It was fun and reliable. Not fast compared to cars today with its eye-watering 78 HP, but decent power for what it was back then.  Plus it weighed a fairly-light 2800 lbs, so it didn’t have a lot of mass to move.

Anyway, on this pictured Scirocco, the body looks straight and the paint looks good. Good job, first generation Scirocco owner in the University of Denver area.

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2016 Scirocco – Where’s ours?!

 

Introducing... another VW hot hatch we won't see here! 2016 Scirocco
Introducing… another VW hot hatch we won’t see here! 2016 Scirocco

Okay, we get it.

The American Automobile Marketplace is a fickle dog’s mother.

The bigger our collective waistline gets, the bigger and more comfortable our cars get.

We buy SUVs that never see a dirt road because they’re big and safe and “we can see in traffic,” blah, blah, blah.

The American consumer wants performance cars, but they’d better have an automatic transmission, 500+ hp, and 20″ chromed out rims. Oh wait, that’s a muscle car… What’s a performance car?

Oh wait, that's a muscle car... What's a performance car???????
What’s a performance car???????

 

Turbo Diesel? We’ll only buy it if it’s a 6000 lb pickup truck or delivery van, otherwise the Volkswagen TDI models are almost the only game in town (yeah sure, Mercedes, and Jeep Liberty have models too, ok…)

So, when a carmaker announces a new model, or some rad improvements on an existing model, or a special edition, we Americans – the damn originators of the modern auto assembly line and builders of one the most extensive system of paved roadways in the frickin’ world – have to wait, and hope, and pray to the Car Gods that we’ll get a chance to see, buy, and drive it. Still, we know full well that our chances are slim and that cool new model is not going to be destined for our shores.

Damnit!

I, for one, am tired of it. This least common denominator bullshit is sucking the life out of the car industry and out of my desire to be passionate about cars. And that cannot happen!

The 2016 Volkswagen Scirocco is just as good a place as any to make a stand.

It’s not a new thing, This body style was released in Europe in 2008, but VW has been steadily improving the model, adding features and options along the way.

This Studie R was revealed at the Bologna Auto Show in 2008, and hinted at some of the changes seen in the 2016 model.
This Studie R was revealed at the Bologna Auto Show in 2008, and hinted at some of the changes on the way for the 2016 model.

 

The newest 2016 model year will offer SIX different trims, including a GT, an R-Line, and an R (in all of it’s tire-eating, late-braking glory!), all in standard or blacked-out editions. The Europeans will also get to choose from FIVE different engines! Five! The smallest gasoline engine being their BlueMotion 1.4L at 125 hp to the high-performance 2.0L TSI demon with 280 hp (approx. hp values), and still they have a range of TDI models with the detuned 2.0L TDI putting out 150 hp and the performance 2.0L TDI offering up 184 hp and tire-churning 280 ft/lbs of torque.

Lucky bastards!

Outside the car shows off some subtle differences from the 2014 model. In 2014, VW did some reshaping of the headlights and taillights, some sculpting of the rear bumper, and a general “sporting-up” of the interior with added gauges to the dash and new dials. For 2015, European drivers will enjoy the even more sculpted front and rear bumpers (borrowing design cues from the Golf GTI package), and three different wheel-size options (17, 18, 19″).

Detail view of the front end treatment for the R model.
Detail view of the front end treatment for the R model.

 

That's a nice little rear end...
That’s a nice little rear end…

 

Check out the brochure here

So, here’s the thing, if we, the vocal minority of the American car enthusiast community don’t start raising a fuss, we won’t get these unique models. There’s some historical precedence here , where one automobile enthusiast/dealer introduced our entire country to some seriously iconic European brands. On the horizon from Volkswagen is a model we will likely get if only because of it’s sentimental value and it’s capacity to fill a space in the people-carrier market. The new Microbus/Vanagon concept could be a serious contender for the Family-Truckster segment, but if sales are slow, the American consumer might not see all of the cool concepts that have been floating around the auto shows for the past ten years.

Stay tuned for more news of this little throwback's return!
Stay tuned for more news of this little throwback’s return!

 

If an automaker feels that a car won’t sell here, we don’t get it. I understand. It’s a question of economics, but if they don’t give us chance to prove them wrong, how will it ever happen?

So, speak up for the Scirocco, or any other model sold in Europe but not here. Who knows, it just might work!

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Classic Revisit: Scirocco Mk1 (part 1)

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!

Simple lines hide the tiny heart of this little throw-around!
Simple lines hide the tiny heart of this little throw-around!

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…

Even stock, she felt like this!
Even stock, she felt like this!
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