Over the past thirteen years, the silver spoilered brat pictured here has confidently watched its owner acquire - and then rid himself of - a hot red Nissan, two Mazdas, a VR6-powered Volkswagen, three Mercedes-Benzes, five BMWs, and a pair of Porsches. From its heated garage spot, it has snickered at Ferraris outside braving the rain and Aston Martins fighting the cold. And it laughs so hard it pees - Mobil 1, on the floor - every time some expensive, exotic new car sits out overnight, suffering the indignity of being molested by the neighborhood cat.
Such favoritism toward a twenty-three-year-old VW might seem strange, but there is something pretty special underneath the Scirocco 16V's skin: it shares its A1 chassis with the Rabbit GTI - the original hot hatch, the pocket rocket that started it all.
The Giugiaro-designed two-plus-two Scirocco arrived in 1975 together with the taller, more utilitarian Rabbit that shared its chassis. A 1982 update to the Scirocco kept the A1 underpinnings but ditched the Italian bod in favor of more aerodynamic - but just as angular - styling. A nearly identical-looking Guigiaro-designed sport coupe, the Isuzu Impulse, debuted a year later, fueling endless speculation among the Vee Dub crowd that Wolfsburg had simply stolen the Italian design proposal. It's not the case, but the similarity between the cars is unmistakable.
Who's-my-daddy drama aside, the Scirocco's shape was becoming stale as the second-generation car neared its fifth birthday. Midway through the 1986 model year, though, a 124-mph gust of fresh wind blew into dealers - a hopped-up engine made the Scirocco 16V the fastest and most powerful Volkswagen ever. Multivalve engines were just entering the mainstream, and VW's 1.8-liter was particularly advanced, with a slightly outrageous (for the time) 10.0:1 compression ratio requiring a knock sensor to guard against detonation; hydraulic lifters; sodium-filled exhaust valves; and oil squirters to cool the pistons. It redlined at 7200 rpm - a tach twitch below the highest-revving Ferrari V-8s of the day - and produced 37 percent more power than its similarly sized eight-valve counterpart.
A power rating of 123 hp doesn't sound like much today, but with less than 2300 pounds to propel, the Scirocco 16V's eight-second sprint to 60 mph was quicker than Porsche's 944, which cost twice as much. The Scirocco 16V could even threaten BMW's brand-new, 168-hp 325is.
To show other drivers that the 16V meant business, Volkswagen slapped on a body kit replete with oh-so-'80s fender flares and the requisite enormous - but functional - spoiler that split the rear glass. Behind the upsized (fourteen-inch) "teardrop" wheels were disc brakes front and rear. And the pièce de résistance: a small, angled, and amplified antenna on the roof.