Junkyard Find: 2001 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Because high-performance German cars require exactly the sort of regular maintenance and attention that most American car owners aren’t so good at doing, I find plenty of nice-looking factory-hot-rod Audis and VWs and Mercedes-Benzes during my junkyard travels. Most of those cars get scrapped because something expensive broke and the third or seventh owner wouldn’t or couldn’t spring for the repair.

Today’s Junkyard Find is different, though — here’s a GTI GLX that was running well enough to drive to the crash, found in a Denver-area self-service yard.

It wasn’t much of a crash, but enough to fire the airbags and (probably) bend the unibody. That resulted in instant depreciation to scrap value. If the occupants were belted in, we can assume they walked away with no physical injuries.

North Americans could choose from two flavors of GTI in the 2001 model year: the GLS (with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-banger rated at 150 horsepower) and the GLX (with a naturally-aspirated 2.8-liter VR6 making 174 horsepower). The original buyer of this car knew that there’s no replacement for displacement and got the GLX.

The last time I wrote about a discarded Mk4 GTI, it had the 1.8T and the optional automatic transmission. This car has a proper GTI transmission and three pedals.

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see. My extensive junkyard research has resulted in the conclusion that New Car Scent is the second-most-popular Car-Freshner Little Tree placed in cars destined for the junkyard; Black Ice is #1 by a big margin.

I see plenty of Mk3 and Mk4 GTIs in yards like this, of course, but I vowed to ignore the automatics and only break out my camera for examples with manual transmissions. That took a couple of years. Hell, probably half the junkyard Miatas and 80 percent of BMW 3 Series I see have two pedals.

I’m surprised that no junkyard shoppers had pulled any mechanical bits off this car, which had been in the yard for a couple of weeks when I saw it; generally, crashed cars with factory performance parts get picked over fast, since they were proven runners up until the last minute. Perhaps every GTI freak in northeastern Colorado already has a garage stuffed with extra parts by now.

The GTI is… like a boy overinflating an orange balloon?

In 2001 Germany, those damn Generation Golf-ers didn’t care about houses. Just cars.

If you enjoy these Junkyard Finds, check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ for links to 1,800+ more.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • DJA123 DJA123 on Dec 14, 2019

    A VW in a junkyard? So cliche.

  • DIYer DIYer on Jan 12, 2020

    This car is junk, it belongs in a junkyard. You could put $5K into it, and it would still be a whipped, punched, 20yo junker. It is unloved and will go to the crusher, with or without its parts. This fall my sister-in-law picked up a squeaky clean, desirable 2008 Eos with 140K for $1000. An retired couple moving to Florida bought it new and didn't want to take it with them. She talked them down from $2000 asking. All it needed was 2 new tires.

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  • Dale I like it. Not sure when we will be in the market for a 2nd EV, but this looks like a nice hatchback.
  • FreedMike Cute car. If it's priced right it could be a winner.
  • Theflyersfan By the end of the summer, it will be buy one, get one free with a free charger at home install.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Mach-E is very easy to ignore.