The second surprise to emerge from the VW Motorsport workshops was their answer to the Audi quattro in the form of a twin-engined Jetta. This prototype, affectionately known as the Twin-Jet, was painted banana yellow with a colour-coded grille and had a headlamp set-up similar to the US-market version. A body kit with integrated front spoiler and over-bumper sections that blended into the extended wheel-arches gave the car a more purposeful look and covered the 205/60VR-13 Pirelli P7R tyres that were supported by 6J x 13in ATS alloy wheels. The Twin-Jet was the brainchild of Klaus-Peter Rosorius, Head of VW Motorsport since 1972, and Kurt Bergmann from Vienna, one-time builder of all-conquering FV cars. The idea was a bit of a wild card in the pack, but Rosorius was determined to pull it off as a good PR exercise even if it did not work as a rally car. Because the Jetta has a transversely mounted engine, it was necessary to have another complete drivetrain package at the rear, whereas had the engine been mounted north-south, a single gearbox could have been used. In the event, the underbonnet structure from a second Jetta was spliced in to a reinforced boot area. This gave the car a suspension identical to the front save for the a use of Heim-jointed tubular lower arms in place of the front-end’s pressed steel arms. A new heavy-duty anti-roll bar was made up for the rear to balance things out, and a pair of front ventilated discs joined the rear axle assembly. As things were arranged, you could choose from front drive, rear drive or four-wheel drive, so a brake proportioning control was mounted on the transmission tunnel. The handbrake had hydraulic actuation.
The two power plants were standard 110bhp 1,588cc GTI units and the Twin-Jet thus had a combined thrust of 220bhp at 6,100rpm and 202lb/ft of torque at 5,000rpm. The ignition and fuel systems ran independently of one another, but a large capacity radiator served both engines and this was supplemented by an additional electric fan at the rear. While the gearboxes were standard Jetta GLI close-ratio five-speeders, the final drive was raised from 3.90:1 to 3.70:1 to make full use of the greater power in top speed terms. A limited-slip differential was incorporated into the rear transaxle. The kerb weight of the car was just 2,3101b compared to the 2,0461b of a normal Jetta GLI. With superb traction in 4WD configuration, this gave the car very impressive performance and, in truth, the car worked out far better than its builders had hoped. In 12,000 development miles, covered in just a few months after it was built in 1981, the Twin-Jet spurred Rosorius into giving the go-ahead for a twin-engined version of the just-launched Scirocco Mk2.
For many years, VWs have been enthusiasts’ vehicles, witness the huge number of Beetle owners world-wide who make the effort to join VW Clubs and take part in organized events. But even the Beetle craze has been overtaken by the fanatical following of GTI owners. In Germany, almost every large town has a GTI Club and in both Holland and Germany there are Scirocco Clubs to cater for the VW coupe as well. Germany also has a few Golf Cabriolet Clubs for open air fans, and we will probably see Corrado Clubs starting up before long.
The Americans tend to integrate GTI enthusiasm into their normal VW Clubs but in Britain there is the GTI Drivers’ Club and Club GTI while the hard-core South Africans have the very active GTi Club of SA. Club gatherings in all countries range from a monthly regional get-together for drinks and car talk to full-blown events at racing circuits. But the most spectacular GTI events occur at an international level. These tend to involve the VW importer and main dealers in the host country and are professionally organized, with technical lectures, exhibitions, film shows, sprints and slaloms.
The most famous of these giant GTI gatherings is the annual GTI Treffen (Convention) at Maria Worth on the edge of the Worthersee, a lake in Southern Austria. The first of these events in 1982 started off quite innocently as a small gathering of GTI enthusiasts. The meeting was a success and Volkswagen fuelled the fires by circulating details of the 1983 event to VW owners in Germany and Austria. Nearly 800 cars turned up for the second event. The scale of the event took it beyond club-level organization, and so Volkswagen took over the logistics in association with the local tourist board. The numbers of cars and people attending has been growing every year, and in 1985, the cars attending produced a six mile long GTI traffic jam. Last year, with a record number of 1,160 cars at Maria Worth including a contingent from the British Club GTI, a monument to the GTI was carved out of stone by a group of craftsmen.
Another growing event is GTI International which is organised by Volkswagen Audi Car magazine in the UK. In its second year in 1989, GTI International moved to the Transportation and Road Research Laboratory in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and under brilliant May sunshine, was a stunning success with 1,000 cars turning up over the weekend. The test establishment has a huge car park with room for slaloms and handling tests and there is a timed quarter-mile sprint, concours d’elegance, technical seminars, exhibitions and displays. In 1990 there will also be a sound-off competition for cars with customized audio systems. In 1989, several participants came over from Germany and as the fame of this event spreads, it could well equal the GTI Treffen in attendance in the years to come.