Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v (Mk2) From wondering what he’d just bought to its transformation into trackday perfection, Aston Parrott’s Mk2 GTI has been a car he’ll never forget.
End of term Fast Fleet
After six brilliant years of ownership, the time had arrived to say goodbye to my Mk2 Volkswagen Golf GTI 16v.
I can still remember the day my dad and I drove to view the car in Somerset. The plan was to purchase it and then for me to drive on to south Wales where I was studying at university. Luckily for us the GTI was as described and the deal was done.
Driving over the Severn Bridge I went to move the knob that adjusts the side mirror and it fell off in my hand. I instantly started laughing and thought to myself: what have I just spent my student loan on? The GTI was replacing an Audi A3 Sport as my everyday car…
The simple interior design was new to me, but I instantly fell in love with the Golf’s character and the sound from its 139bhp 1.8-litre 16-valve engine. My girlfriend was waiting in the university halls to see what monstrosity I had just bought, and I was expecting a negative response to the older, no-luxuries GTI, but to my surprise she loved the boxy design just as much as I did.
Over the next three years the GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion, from tackling heavy snow to long weekends away with a boot full of camping equipment. It became part of the family and was the perfect car, demonstrating why hot hatches are so popular. Nevertheless, being an older car – and one that I would take to over 180,000 miles – life wasn’t always easy and many parts had to be replaced along the way, including the gearbox. There was also the odd bit of welding. But somehow I could always forgive its troubles because I just worshipped the way it drove.
After graduating I got my dream job as staff photographer at Drive-My and the GTI was no longer needed as my daily driver. So as the car made its debut in Fast Fleet in mid-2015, I began turning it into my perfect GTI. Without the need for it to be so practical, I slowly transformed it into a more driver-focused Mk2, stripping the interior and adding a carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, uprated suspension and Recaro SPG bucket seats. My Golf was also the first car I had driven on track for any decent amount of time. I remember one lovely summer’s evening – my birthday, in fact – at Rockingham and thinking it was just perfection. Despite its modest power, the car’s light weight and general set-up ensured it was quick enough not to embarrass itself.
Driving a Mk1 Golf GTI to the Wolfsburg factory with Drive-My staff writer Antony Ingram really enlightened me as to just how good the Mk2 was. It had better brakes than its predecessor, was faster and had power steering and more headroom. We made the return trip in the then new Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport Editon 40. This and the further honed Clubsport S are two of my favourite modern hot hatches, so much so that I stole the S’s idea of replacing the rear seats with a boot net for my own car.
So why have I sold my Mk2? Mainly down to a lack of parking space and because I simply wasn’t driving it as much as I used to – my 993 Carrera being partly to blame for both of these. So I advertised the GTI online one evening, and the very next morning I got a call from avid Drive-My reader Simon Murray, who explained that he had been following my Fast Fleet reports and had to own the car.
A few more messages and another phone call later and he had secured the car with a deposit, booked a one-way ticket from Scotland and was ready to collect ‘my’ GTI. It all happened very quickly, but I was very happy it was going to a good home.
I collected Simon from the airport on a Saturday morning and we chatted about our passion for cars. After a drive in the Golf, resulting in a big smile on Simon’s face, the paperwork was signed, a quick photo was taken of the handover, and the car was gone. But it’s left me with so many good memories.
Date acquired April 2012
Duration of test 6 years Total test mileage 11,000
Overall mpg 29.5 Costs £6089 since Drive-MY (July 2015), including carbonfibre bonnet and tailgate, paint, seats, suspension, tyres and MOTs Purchase price £3500
Value today £8500
‘The GTI was used nearly every day, in all weathers and for any occasion’