With over 400,000 miles, this is not your average Jetta.
The Volkswagen Jetta isn't exactly a rare find. We get that. But as the years go by, chances of seeing a first-generation Jetta on the road become increasingly remote. Unlike today's model, original Jettas were not necessarily sedans only. They were also designed by one of the finest automotive designers of all time.
Volkswagen launched the first-gen Jetta for the 1980 model year not long after its platform-mate, the original Golf, went on sale. VW realized that not all Golf buyers, especially those in North America, were enthusiastic about the hatchback body style. As many Americans still do to this day, they preferred a more traditional three-box design, hence the Jetta. It soon became the best-selling European car in the US, Canada, and Mexico while also finding plenty of buyers in its home country of Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
The simple yet elegant exterior lines were penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the famed Italian designer whose other works include the DeLorean, Audi 80, De Tomaso Mangusta, and Lotus Esprit. Coupe and sedan body styles were offered with the goal of attracting as many buyers as possible.
Although both gasoline and diesel engines were offered overseas, only the former was sold in the US. VW opted to standardize its engine lineup at the time, which made financial sense, so the original US-spec Jetta came powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with just 76 horsepower. This engine was also found in the VW Scirocco and Audi 4000. In only the Jetta's second model year, VW decided to upgrade this engine to a North America-only 1.8-liter four with 74 hp. Exterior styling remained unchanged but the dashboard received some minor upgrades. In fact, VW made all Jetta interiors in all markets more upscale than the Golf, with velour seating and color-coordinated sill-to-sill carpeting.
While it's easy to track down an original Jetta in good overall condition, it's harder to find an oil burner. Remember, diesel Jettas were limited to overseas, a policy that later changed when VW began selling its TDI line of diesels years later in the US and across the globe. We all know how badly that ended. But if you're looking for a truly original classic VW then look no further because this 1984 Jetta diesel is up for sale on Bring A Trailer. And yes, it's currently located in California with a clear title.
It was purchased new by its original owner in Germany through VW's Tourist Delivery Program but was immediately shipped to the Golden State, where it has remained ever since. Its second owner acquired it in 2013 and its current owner and seller took possession in 2018. Power comes from a 1.6-liter diesel inline-four paired to a four-speed manual transmission. Total mileage: 418,000. You read that right. She's still going strong after almost half-a-million miles.
Instead of leather, the interior is finished in tan over beige vinyl with the optional radio, AM/FM cassette player, and sunroof. Supposedly, 12,000 two-door variants were made for North American from 1979 until 1984, the first-gen Jetta's final model year. It's quite obvious this Jetta has been beautifully maintained despite its many miles. Just this past year, for example, its 13-inch steel wheels were sandblasted and powder-coated silver. They were then mounted with whitewalls tires and VW hubcaps for a wonderful vintage look. An original owner's manual comes included with the sale. As of this writing, the highest bid was only $2,000 but there are still several days remaining until the auction ends. And no, there is no fear of a Dieselgate-related recall.