1984 VW Rabbit GTI sowed the seeds of the hot hatch


I’m sitting sports-car low behind a low-set dashboard and an upright picture window windshield that provides a view of the front corners of the hood. I fire up the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and the exhaust rattles like a hive of worker bees. It’s full of sound and fury signifying…90 horsepower. When I let off the throttle, the idle drops too low to keep the engine from shuddering and stalling. A few pumps of the throttle are needed until it warms up. I don’t miss those days.

I don’t miss the cars I owned back then, either. Like most kids with Midwestern roots, my tastes ran toward what I could afford among American cars: a 1978 Ford Fairmont wagon, a 1974 Buick LeSabre Luxus, a 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra, and a pair of Pontiac Grand Prixs of 1978 and 1983 vintage. The Pontiacs were the best, but they weren’t this small, didn’t feel this tight, and didn’t have…

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