One of the top five cars I drove last year was almost as old as I am. 

I found it in an oceanside parking lot, next to a row of ancient Volkswagens. It fired up with a fitful sputter and found first with less confidence than an American League pitcher at-bat. Once the car was alive, I never wanted the drive to end. 

The 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI is the archetype for budget bliss behind the wheel and to be clear, an automotive legend. I love that car and foolishly dared to lick a New York subway turnstile to buy one for less than $10,000. To just drive one again, I wouldn’t lick a turnstile (not now) but would consider similar stupid acts with less saliva involved. 

To be fair, the 2020 VW GTI is on the Rabbit GTI’s family tree but related like Thomas Jefferson is to Jefferson Airplane—really, name only. I didn’t expect the same life-affirming drive but hoped for…

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