Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1982 VW Jetta Diesel

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
rent lease sell or keep 1982 vw jetta diesel

28 years. That’s how long the first and only owner of this 1982 VW Jetta Diesel Coupe kept his commuter. Apparently he didn’t do that much driving. 192,500 leisurely miles with a 55 horsepower engine equates to less than 7,000 leisurely miles a year. That is a mileage figure that borders on the miraculous here in traffic happy Atlanta.In all my years of buying and selling cars I had never seen one owned by the same driver for such a long period of time. Heck, I was in elementary school when Mr. JT Allison bought this thing! It had been on the lot for at least 8 months beforehand according to the Carfax history and with gas prices cratering by April 1983… I’m sure Mr. Allison didn’t pay any more than $8,000 for this thing.So… what should I do with it?

Rent: Hell!Lease: No! Nein! Nyet!

Sell: Yes!… But to who? Every once in a while I’ll get a ‘classic’ that is simply too good to sell to a non-enthusiast. Gray market Benzes. Old Panthers and B- Bodies. Does a VW from the post-malaise era qualify? Absolutely. Here’s why.

Enthusiast sites. Even at a time when the overwhelming majority of Pac-Man era vehicles have gone the way of Jimmy Carter’s reputation, there is still a healthy following for A1 Jettas. I drove it for a few hundred miles and to be frank… I didn’t get it. But apparently there is a groundswell of hardcore ‘semi-classic’ VW owners who do.

The VW Vortex.. TDI Club. Even a bilingual forum offered a healthy number of enthusiasts who could support this car’s health and well-being. I did the usual easy thing which is to put it on Craigslist and wait for the march of automotive Germanophiles. What I got was something completely out of left field.

Apparently this one fellow had taken a look at a Subaru wagon I had a couple years back. We had a nice conversation, and at one point he mentioned that a mechanic, who also was a car dealer, had ripped him off with a bum engine. So I told him exactly what he needed to do, and should threaten to do. He got his money back and was able to stave off another purchase for the next couple of years.

Fast forward two years later, and he has a son coming back from Afghanistan. A hardcore VW enthusiast. Apparently the son already has a Rabbit pickup and was looking for another ride. He sees the car from 10,000 miles away and calls his Dad. After about three hours of catch up time and a healthy bit of driving we have a deal. I sell it to him for $2000.

Keep: I may be a frugal enthusiast. In fact I’m pretty sure of it at this point. But 25+ year old cars are only good for the wallet when you understand them to the nth degree. I don’t know VW’s. I’ve had over a dozen of them, including two diesels, but none of them have ever been keepers.

This car though will be a keeper for the new owner. It has no rips or tears in the interior. The paint is still in good shape. Plus everything is the way it should be. Even the annoying leak around the passenger window that all VW’s of this vintage seem to get. The new owner is already bent on restoring the vehicle and then plans to show me a few pics of his ‘after’ work.

So in the meantime, enjoy these before pictures. It’s not everyday you get to see a true classic that was used for it’s intended purpose.

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2 of 25 comments
  • SuperACG SuperACG on Oct 27, 2011


  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Oct 29, 2011

    Almost never see these things anymore, the first gen's anyway and I live where rust isn't an issue, the '85 through 92 MKII's, yes but even the those are not as plentiful as they once use to be. My best friend had a bright red '85 Jetta GTI 4 door that was fantastic but had lots of mils on it even though it still looked great. I can't recall what he replaced it with though but this was the mid to late 1990's though.

  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.