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1984 Volkswagen GTI is the daddy of all hot hatches

36 years later, VW's icon still has what it takes to make you feel like a kid again.

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Chris Paukert

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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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You're looking at a 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, the car that kickstarted America's hot hatch movement.

1985 VW GTI - profile view
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Beloved by enthusiasts, this Mark 1 ("Mk 1") GTI is owned by VW.

1985 VW GTI - rear 3/4 view
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Powered by a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, US-spec GTI models like this one developed 90 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque.

1985 VW GTI interior
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The businesslike interior featured grippy seats and a mandatory manual transmission, its gearshift topped in VW's now-iconic golf-ball knob.

1985 VW GTI - golf ball shift knob
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The GTI's golf-ball shifter has become iconic. It's also screwed to a nice, direct gearbox and an easily modulated clutch.

1985 VW GTI seats
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Remember colorful interiors?

1985 VW GTI - back seats
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Surprisingly roomy, the GTI's practical shape meant that this enthusiast-friendly car could be sold to spouses as a family car.

1985 VW GTI - engine
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0-to-60 mph was pegged at 10 to 11 seconds when new. That may sound like an eternity today, but feels much quicker than those numbers suggest.

1985 VW GTI - front view
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This particular model has had its exhaust system tinkered with, and it's noisy and aggressive in character. 

Fantastic.

1985 VW GTI - rear view
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Although slow by modern standards, the GTI was quick enough to show its taillights to far costlier European sport sedans in its day.

1985 VW GTI - silver
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This GTI didn't receive power steering, but with modest 185/60-series 14-inch tires, it's hardly a problem, and the payoff is great road feel.

1985 VW GTI - profile with tree
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America's hot hatch family tree has its roots planted firmly in this first-generation VW GTI.

1985 VW GTI - front fender and wheel
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These original GTI alloy wheels are affectionately known as "Snowflakes" within the VW enthusiast community.

1985 VW GTI - headlight and grille
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The GTI's red-lined grille has become a well-known styling flourish repeated throughout the car's generations.

1985 VW GTI - tail light
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A new Golf-based GTI has already been revealed, but the Mk 8 isn't due in US showrooms until the 2022 model year.

1985 VW GTI - front bumper
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Keep clicking or scrolling for more images of the altogether wonderful 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI.

1985 VW GTI - rear bumper
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
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