• 1974 - 1992 Volkswagen Scirocco History

    Volkswagen Scirocco

The Volkswagen Scirocco was a sporty hatchback sold by Volkswagen from 1974 through 1992. The model was highly succesful, and helped bolster VW’s reputation.

Volkswagen began work on the car during the early 1970s as the replacement for the aging Karmann Ghia coupe, and designated it the Type 53 internally. As a cost-saving method, VW choose to use the A1 chassis shared with the Golf and Jetta to underpin the new Scirocco, although most every part of the car was re-engineered in favor of a sporty-drive, and the model’s all-new styling, penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was sleeker and sportier than that of either the Golf or Jetta. The model went on sale in Europe in 1974 and in North America in 1975.

A heavily re-designed "MKII" variant went on sale in 1982, although it remained on the MKI platform and a more mild, mid-cycle redesign occurred in 1984, which included few outward changes over the 82’ model. A leather interior, power windows and mirrors, air conditioning, and a manual sunroof were options for all years.

MKI models featured a range of four-cylinder engines with displacements from 1.1 to 1.8 litres, all featuring a single-overhead camshaft and 2-valves per cylinder. The MKII generation brought with it a new 1.3 litre base engine and an optional 1.8 litre, double overhead camshaft motor featuring 4-valves per cylinder. Although the 16-valve 1.8 brought added performance to the range, it proved a somewhat questionable choice, as late A2 Golf GTIs were available with a more powerful 16-valve 2.0 litre motor.

Scirocco sales continued until 1988 in the United States, 1989 in Canada, and 1992 in Germany, it was replaced by the Corrado in all markets.

Volkswagen Scirocco I

VW’s evaluation code for the VW Scirocco was EA 398. The Golf was actually planned to be announced as the "Scirocco", the 53 would have been called "Scirocco Coupe". As you know, VW changed this! The VW Scirocco (designated internally by VW as the Type 53) was announced at the Geneva show in March 1974 - pre-dating by several months the announcement of the other most significant VW of that decade - the Golf. The Scirocco filled the spot in VW’s model lineup vacated by the elegantly styled Karmann Ghia. The Scirocco’s design was penned primarily by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design, then refined in VW’s wind tunnel at Wolfsburg.

The 1974 model was available with a 1.1 liter motor (Scirocco, Scirocco L), a or a 1.5 liter powerplant in various configurations (up to 85hp). Apparently, for 1974 only all models came with the large two rectangular headlights except for the TS model, which came with the quad headlamps that were used on all models from 1975 to 1981.

In 1976, VW unveiled the Scirocco GTi to Europe. This was a true performance car when measured against it’s peers. The Scirocco GTi was equiped with front & rear sway bars, vented front discs, and a high compression, fuel injected engine.

Model year milestones:

    • Introduced to North American market.
    • Introduction of mono wiper on front windshield.
    • Fuel Injection introduced.
    • Scirocco GTi unveiled.
    • Wrap around front turn signals introduced.
    • Black plastic bumpers replace previous metal or chrome surfaced bumpers.
    • Scirocco GTi unveiled.
    • 5 Speed transmission introduced.
    • Final Model Year


Volkswagen Scirocco II

As early as 1976 VW began to consider a redesign of the Scirocco. Sketches were made under the designation EA 491 - a Scirocco for the eighties. Two basic requirements applied to the re-design: a more aerodynamic body as well as more room for passengers and luggage. The work for the Scirocco 2 began at the end of 1976, and in the middle of 1977 several larger models were put together. Another design came from Giugiaro of Ital Design, the designer of the Scirocco 1, whose Scirocco 2 alternative strongly echoes the Scirocco1.

The design that VW settled on was developed internally by the VW design team headed up by Sch_fer. The Scirocco 2 which was introduced in 1981 (1982 model year) retained much of the character of the earlier Scirocco, but with smoother and more aerodynamic body lines as well as more passenger and luggage capacity. The new car was 6.5_ longer in European trim. Luggage capacity was increased by 20% and headroom was increased by 0.4_ up front and 0.7_ in the rear. Despite a longer length and improved interior headroom, extensive use of the wind tunnel in the design process allowed VW to improve the Cd figure from 0.42 on the Scirocco 1 to 0.38 on the Scirocco 2. Whereas the Scirocco 1 was known internally at VW as a Type 53, the Scirocco 2 was known as a Type 53b.

The Scirocco 2 carried forward from the last Scirocco 1 the same chassis and suspension (like the European Golf 1, U.S. Rabbit, Jetta 1, Rabbit Convertible/Cabriolet _ both the Scirocco 1 & 2 were built on the A1 chassis). Another feature carried forward from the Scirocco 1 was the single front windshield wiper. 1982 and 1983 Sciroccos were mono-wiper, but for unknown reasons VW switched to a two wiper setup starting with 1984 model year Sciroccos.

North American Market

The 1982 U.S. Scirocco carried forward the 1715cc 74 hp motor from the 1981 Scirocco. 1983 U.S. Sciroccos continued with the 1.7 motor until the introduction of the Wolfsburg edition mid year. The Wolfsburg edition was equipped with high level trim (leather seats were an option for the first time in the U.S.) and featured a 1781cc _JH_ motor (90hp) coupled to a close ratio transmission. The Wolfsburg edition also featured front and rear sway bars _ a feature that became standard on all US Sciroccos by the end of the 1983 model year. By 1984, all U.S. Sciroccos were supplied with the JH motor. The 8V Scirocco would feature the JH motor until the last year it was offered in the U.S. (1988). The small rear wing offered on the 1982-1983 and early 1984 models was replaced by a larger rear spoiler that ran the length of the hatch on late 1984 models.

During model year 1986, VW (finally) decided to offer a performance Scirocco to the U.S. market _ the Scirocco 16V. Rated at 123hp and equipped with larger brakes and rear swaybar _ all mounted on stylish 14_ _Teardrop_ alloy wheels - the 5 spd only (no automatic version!) charged 0-60 in just 7.8 seconds. Externally, the 16V featured a color coded bodykit and bumpers. Despite favourable press and the introduction of the Scirocco 16V, U.S. Scirocco sales continued to dwindle and the Scirocco was dropped from the U.S. lineup in 1989 as the A2 chassis based Corrado was introduced to the U.S. market.

Volkswagen Scirocco 16V

The Scirocco 16v was a short lived high performance sports coupe brought to the USA starting in 1986 1/2. The Scirocco MK2 actually was produced and imported to America starting in 1982, but it all ended in 1988, for the USA at least. Canadian buyers were blessed until 1989, and the very lucky Europeans held on until 1992. The Scirocco was ultimately replaced in Volkswagens’ line-up by the Corrado, which itself was relatively short lived. Unfortunately, many Americans couldn’t reconcile a real sports coupe with a VW emblem on the grille; twice.

When it was availble, arguably at the peak of it’s performance potential, the Scirocco 16v awarded drivers with power and VW practicality. The Scirocco 16v raced from 0 to 60 in a mere 8 seconds, very powerful for the era. The windtunnel designed bodywork helped slip the car through the air, and reduce rear lift by a reported 30 percent. The exterior was a ’love-it’ or ’hate-it’ affair. If you liked a deep chin spoiler, side skirts, rear valance, wheel arches, colored bumpers, all body colored; then this car was for you! Do not forget the rakish Fuba, first used on the VW line for the Scirocco 16v, and now reused on almost all VW’s produced today.


A successor to the Scirocco is planned for 2008. The new Scirocco is said to be the production version of the Volkswagen Concept R and could be renamed the Rivo. It will be built at Autoeuropa in Setubal, Portugal.

Alina Moore
Alina Moore
Alina Joined the Topspeed.com team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with Topspeed.com ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.  Read full bio
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  (2) posted on 07.24.2010

I had a 77 model and was thrilled by it. Very unique in the little town I lived in and for the time handled great. Wish I would have held on to it.

  (1) posted on 03.10.2010

I hope you guys didn’t mean to plagiarize this source: http://www.t opspeed.com/cars/volks wagen/1974-1992-volksw agen-scirocco-history- ar8267-pa1.html#index_ 1. Seriously it’s a direct copy! :[

Please make sure you cite your work properly.

  (2) posted on 04.7.2007

Awesome, always good to facelift an oldie like they did with the Beetle .......... !! Also love the R32, and plan on buying one in the next couple of months .... !!!!

  (5990) posted on 12.1.2006

i the sirroico

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