You never forget your first
And when you find another one for sale, it all comes back
My first car, as I've probably mentioned on here before, was a scruffy, rusty 1979 VW Scirocco. It had belonged to my dad's friend Dave Zborowski, and I had admired it since I was little. Dave played tennis with my dad in a league that met at the high school tennis courts on Saturday mornings, and it seemed like half of them drove small imported sports cars. There were Triumphs and MGs, a Datsun Z or two, an E-Type Jag, a Fiat X1/9, and Dave's silver Scirocco. I loved them all, as well as Dave's other car, a black Porsche 914, but it was the Scirocco and the X1/9 that really captured my eight-year-old imagination.
Fast-forward almost a decade, and my parents, tired of driving me to my myriad extracurricular activities both before and after school, happily bought me my own car when I turned 16. In fact, they bought me Dave's Scirocco.
The rear three-quarter view of the Mk1 VW Scirocco is one of the best sights in all of motoring, and if you don't agree, just know that you're wrong.
It was not exactly the same gleaming silver spaceship I remembered from my youth. Rust had taken its toll pretty much everywhere. The aftermarket BBS front air dam hung crookedly from a broken bracket. The water pump leaked. And there was a tape stuck in the Blaupunkt stereo, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was now. None of that mattered. I was in love.
For the next two years, I drove the wheels off that car. I spent every free weekend and every spare dime I had sanding and filling and fixing the rust, and by spring of my senior year, I had the bodywork pretty well whipped into shape. I was negotiating with my dad about an Earl Scheib paint job for a graduation present; I took a poll among my friends to suggest a color, and got some interesting answers, among them "plaid" and "hot pink." But the primer-gray had almost become part of the car's personality by that point; my friends discovered they could write on the surface in pencil, and often left me notes on the driver's door.
The photos are as grainy as the memories at this point, but a man and his machine are still a beautiful thing.
But no amout of sanding or Bondo could have saved the poor Scirocco. It had been in an accident at some point during Dave's ownership, and shoddily repaired. The entre left front corner of the unibody had been merrily rusting away while I worked so hard to get the surface in shape, and one day, when I made a hard stop, I head a scraping noise. When I got home I jacked up the car to investigate. The noise was the left front wheel rubbing against the inner fender; the entire lower control arm mounting area had cracked and was hanging by a thread. I could wiggle the strut back and forth a few millimeters, and watch rust flakes fall out of the crack. All that was keeping the front strut in place was the top mount and the tie rod. I have no idea how long I had been driving it like that. I don't want to know.
We tried to save it. My dad had it towed to a body shop; they took one look at the rust and shook their heads and laughed. I looked into pulling another Scirocco out of the junkyard, that I had been stripping parts off of for several months, but the logistics of getting a salvage title for a junked car were just too daunting (and expensive). Reluctantly, the summer after my first year of college, I said goodbye to my old friend. I drove it, carefully, to the junkyard, and transferred its signature 3-spoke aluminum steering wheel to my dad's Golf, so I had a piece of it to remember.
I've thought a few times over the years about finding another one, but what was once an unloved and obscure '70s sports car has now become a sought-after collector's item. This car, which is the exact twin of mine in terms of year, colors and features, sold for way more than I could ever hope to spend on one. Rough, non-running examples have popped up here and there to tempt me, and I have test-driven a dozen or so Mk2 Sciroccos over the years, but none ever seemed "right."
This is what I remember from the tennis courts all those years ago. Giugiaro's finest work, in my opinion. (image: Bring A Trailer)
And just yesterday, I spotted this ad for a 1980 Scirocco here in town. Terse description, terrible photos, but it's all I could ask for: no rust on that crisp Italdesign bodywork, mostly stock and unmolested by "tuners," and current (or recently expired, it's hard to tell) registration, meaning it hasn't been sitting and falling into neglect for too long. It's the perfect example of an affordable used Mk1 Scirocco... and I am exactly $4001 short of its $4000 asking price.
Screenshot for posterity, for when the ad expires
Ah well. Seeing an old flame looking good doesn't mean you heave over your current love, and I wouldn't sell my MGB GT even for this. But I hope whoever does end up with it understands how special it is, how rare these days, how loved these cars are by a few of us who "get" them. And maybe someday when I'm retired, I can go on a quest for another Scirocco of my own.
If there are any left, that is.