Let me take you back to the 80’s, a time in which the GTI-battle was heating up. The Golf II also came in GTI-spec, which used the engine from the Golf I GTI. In its final years, the Golf I GTI was powered by a 1.8-litre producing 112 horsepower, a 1.2-litre 8V, and that found its way into the Golf II as well. Of course, Opel couldn’t stay behind. Opel and Volkswagen were fierce rivals, they were always on each others skin.Opel produced a GT/E-version of their Kadett D, but when they released the Kadett E, they also introduced the GSi, the fastest version. That was first introduced at the end of 1984, and the first version was powered by a 1.8-litre producing 115 horsepower. The battle between a Golf II GTI and a Kadett GSi, the battle of the 80’s. A Golf GTI never really showed off its power. They didn’t have special bumpers, no alloys, they came on steel wheels as standard. This is fitted with optional BBS-alloys however. I really think that BBS-wheels are typical for Golf II’s. The GTI II received quite some criticism actually, because it was heavier than the Golf I GTI whilst retaining… the same engine. First, a 1.8-litre producing 112 horsepower, but then catalytic converters came along. Those reduced the power output even more, which eventually meant the 1.8-litre 8V only produced 107 horsepower, just like this very car does.It’s a swift car which is pretty woke, but it’s not very quick. Back in the day, it wasn’t either. If you want a fast GTI, you should get the 16V. That produced 139 horsepower, and with a catalytic converter, it still produced 129 horsepower. In its final years, when the Golf II was already facelifted, the GTI got bigger bumpers in 1989. That’s when you could get a G-Lader with a scroll compressor, producing 160 horsepower. Those were the really quick Golf’s. Normal GTI’s like the one we’re driving right now remained available with 107 horsepower, but they were a little tame. It’s not entirely standard anymore however. It’s been fitted with a Schrick-camshaft with a different profile. That means it’s a little nervous when stationary, but it should create an advantage in higher revs.That makes it feel a little wilder. It’s a lot of fun to drive a car like this. Everything’s very direct. If you touch the throttle, the nose instantly moves. It still feels good, very decent. That’s really what distinguished Volkswagens from back in the day. These cars are renowned for their
rust solutions. I still remember the end of the 80’s. Whenever it was a hot day, you could see the tectyl-tracks… dripping down from the license plate. That’s how good they had been covered in the factory. This particular car has quite a lot of options. It was first registered in the Netherlands in May 1989, which was just before the big bumpers were introduced. Its owner thought ‘I don’t want a 16V, but I’ll get a 8V, but I’ll get the BBS-wheels, the nice Recaro-wheels and the digital dashboard.” A digital dashboard was standard in the Kadett GSi, but it was an option in the Golf.It’s a typical 80’s-thing, a good looking instrument cluster. It’s very clear and that’s what we wanted in the 80’s. If you’re older than 35, you might remember K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, and that’s how this dashboard made us feel back in the day. A Golf just feels solid. It’s feels good the road and there aren’t a lot of cracks. Also, the engine runs very smoothly. If you want more excitement however, I would keep saving up money and find a 16V, but they’re starting to become unaffordable. The Golf II-specials like the 16V and the G60 are heading towards €20.000 in good condition, whilst you can get an 8V in good condition for under €10.000. That’s a whole other story than €20.000… In the early 80’s, Opel didn’t have to explain themselves when it came to sporty versions. All of those GT/E’s from the 70’s, the Kadett C and D GT/E’s, the answer to the Golf GTI… Opel really offered a lot of sporty versions, but the Kadett GSi is the very first with that designated name. In the mid-80’s, Opel changed the name to GSi, so it was Kadett GSi and Manta GSi from then on. Opel liked that name so much that they used it on…The new Insignia as well. Right, the Kadett GSi then. I really liked it, and do you know why? You could always recognize the GSi as a different, faster version of the Kadett. You could spot it from a mile away because of the different bumpers, the bonnet with inlets, the spoiler and the rear lights. It was fitted with alloys as well. You could just tell it was a sporty Kadett, the GSi, and that wasn’t the case with the Golf GTI. The Kadett GSi had a digital dashboard as standard, and just like I said with the Golf, that was a really special thing in the 80’s. It was a trend as well, because all special cars had that. Naturally, the Kadett GSi was also fitted with a digital dash. Other cars include the
Audi UrQuattro. A digital dashboard was really something back in the day. A Kadett GSi has always been a very fierce car. This particular one has the first engine, a 1.8-litre producing 115 horsepower. That’s the same engine as the Kadett D had, and it wasn’t available for a very long time. At the end of 1986, Opel knew Volkswagen was going to release…A GTI 16V. Opel’s 16V wasn’t ready yet, so they installed a 2.0-litre 8V without a catalytic converter, which produced 129 horsepower, so a faster version than this was available very quickly. But was it necessary? Well, even though it’s not as woke in lower revs as the Golf, but… It sure loves to rev. You can see the digital bars rising, and going down again from 5.000 RPM onward, but it just likes it. That’s when you notice this 1.8 is actually pretty quick. Of course, it only weighs 920 kg. The throttle response is good, just like in the Golf, and when you get to higher revs, it starts feeling more comfortable. Anyway, they still didn’t have a party piece in the Kadett GSi, but that arrived in 1988. That’s when the Kadett GSi 16V was introduced, heads with four valves per cylinder. 156 horsepower without catalytic converter, but those are really rare. With a catalytic converter, it produces 150 horsepower, so it has always had more power than the Golf GTI 16V. The real answer to the Kadett GSi 16V was the GTI G60, which produced 160 horsepower. The Kadett was really quick, and I have to say that this 1.8-litre even feels very quick.It really gives you that 80’s-feeling. It’s a small car, you’re close to the A-pillar with your head… It does have a very different dashboard than the Golf. The Golf is kind of a shoebox with a dashboard, but Opel has clearly made a bigger effort when it comes to design. The middle console is aimed at the driver, something Opel has done very good. And in the 80’s, the Kadett was an incredibly popular car. However, how much Kadett’s do you see nowadays? And how many Golf’s II? That was kind of a thing, because these were incredibly susceptible to rust.Especially in the rear wheel arches. This car suffers from that as well, but they’ve treated it well. That was quite the problem. Also, try to find a neat and original GSi for yourself. We’ve spent months to find this one, but boy am I happy that we did… The Golf GTI and the Kadett GSi have their own fan bases, but what stood out to me, is that the Kadett GSi
was a little more exciting. It distinguished itself more from the regular Kadett… than the Golf GTI did compared to the regular Golf. The Golf GTI, especially the 1.8-litre 8V, is a little tame. If you wanted more excitement, you should’ve chosen a 16V or even a G60.However, the Golf feels incredibly decent. It’s almost like it’s meant to survive. But, and this goes for both cars, you can still have lots and lots of fun with them, and that’s the most important thing, right? .