Thursday, December 11, 2014

20k: Kick Some Asphalt: 1985 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk II Callaway Turbo

Reeves Callaway was an aspiring race car driver who ended up working as an instructor at Bob Bondurant's racing school in the 1970s.  He fitted a turbo system on a BMW 320i and loaned the car to Car and Driver journalist Don Sherman who wrote a one page article on the beast.  At the time, the number of folks who had the capability to turbocharge a car without grenading the engine was extremely limited and in 1977 Callaway Cars was incorporated.  In the following years Callaway worked closely with several OEMs to develop turbo systems for BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi,  Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet, some of which maintained factory backed warranty.  Callaway eventually became world renowned for his bonkers twin turbo Corvettes, but this next feature comes from the early days and was the subject of an Autoweek magazine spread.  Find this 1985 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk II Callaway Turbo here on eBay currently bidding for $18,650 reserve-not-met with 1 day to go, located in Woodland Hills, CA.

The first thing that jumps right out of the page (and rabbit punches you in the face) is that body kit and hood scoop.  A bit like putting lipstick on a bunny rabbit, but it sure adds some needed sportiness to the vanilla Golf body style. 

According to the seller, this car was built by Callaway, BBS and VW of America to promote the Mk II GTI.  But, if you purchased this setup from the Callaway catalog in 1985, the parts would have almost doubled the initial MSRP.  Regardless, getting to 60mph in about 7.2 seconds in 1985 was a feat that few new cars could match, but the off-the-line performance wasn't as impressive as the thrust at passing speeds.

The 8-Valve 1.8 liter GTI engine would have pushed out 110 horsepower before Callaway got their hands on it and slapped on a turbocharger.  With the turbo/intercooler (and possibly some internal engine changes -- the car sports a Callaway valve cover) it makes 185 horsepower.

This car features a few additional modifications, included a period correct aftermarket steering wheel, a set of Recaro seats and a vintage Alpine stereo.  It isn't clear how much of this customization was done when the car was new for the Autoweek article, and how much in the years since.

See another oddball tuner classic? Send it here:


  1. Way cool! I remember reading about these in Road & Track back in the day. I wanted one then and still want one now. $18k is a lot of bread though for a 85 Golf.

  2. I drove an '87 GTI normally aspirated for about six years. Enjoyed the heck out of it. I can't imagine the feeling of the turbo boost in passing or the need for it. Nonetheless it would be fun to have. My GTI was like a slot car. That said, at this point , I would be more inclined to get a later model GTI with the more modern suspension enhancement that came around later.

    In any event supper cool car.

  3. What a terrific car! I bet these will continue to go up in price.

    I wanted that Alpine SO bad when I was in high school.


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