The Person

Welcome to my website dedicated to my MK1 Golf Gti ‘Sportline’ convertible.

My name is Hugh Coffey and I live just outside Kilkenny, Ireland. I am a Technology teacher in the south east so I have very little spare time these days!! I enjoy cleaning, polishing and the mechanical upkeep of my MK1’s, and to be honest have developed a passion or an obsession with overhauling them when my funds allow. I enjoy all things Volkswagen with my daily driver being a diesel Passat estate. I have added to the fleet with a mars red Mk1 tintop and an oakey Mk2 GTI. I also enjoy going up mountains mainly hill walking, browsing the internet and the of course the vw forums!

The Purchase

I purchased the Mk1 Sportline in October 2009, from Dan a VW enthusiast who lived in Cornwall, UK. I had just completed the refurbishment of a white mk1 clipper cabriolet and so was looking for a new project to undertake. When I saw this car, I knew it was a car I had to have. From my internet studies, I had seen the car for sale the April of that year. So I made contact with the previous owner, Steve, and got the low down. I booked a Ryanair flight to Bristol on a Friday evening, did the deal and within 24hrs was back with the car sitting on my drive via the Pembroke­-Rosslare ferry.

The Project

My intention with this car is to keep everything standard (as supplied by vw) and that’s what I have done. Within reason… It has some subtle modifications to include a H&R cup kit suspension, anti roll bars & Milltek stainless steel exhaust. I have an extensive service history from the original bill of sale, every MOT & NCT through to the 18 stamps in its service book over its 20 years.


The sportline scooped a first in the ‘standard cabriolet class’ at the 2013 Mk1 Owners’ Club AGM in Uttoxeter surpassing the runner up position it took at the 2010 Mk1 Owners’ Club AGM both awards which I am very proud of. The sportline was also runner up in 2010 at the VAGE show and winner in the cabriolet class at the 2011 & 2013  shows. It also took a first at Dubshed (Belfast) in 2012 and a first in cabriolet class at the 2013 Limerick Show where over 55 mk1’s turned out. Got a few niggles here and there to sort out, but overall I am very pleased with how she drives. It has the “MK1 Golf” feel and I love to get the hood down and let the countryside aromas in! I have had several other MK1 owners ask me questions about the car and I am very happy to help and explain. I intend on putting together a register of sportlines so if you would like your car listed on the website don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Here’s looking forward to seeing more sportlines on the road in the near future.

Thanks for reading, Hugh

The Cabriolet

Overview & full history

The Mk1 Golf Owners’ Club website claims that there were only 449 Sportlines cabriolets registered in the UK from 1991 through to 1994 when 1 car was registered in that particular year. This Sportline model, was only available in Flash Red or Black, with a black hood and hood cover.

Outside the BBS alloy wheels and “Sportline” decals combine with the colour coded mirrors and tinted glass to create a look which is unique of the Golf. Inside this feel is continued through the special instrumentation with red needles, the leather steering wheel, and the Recaro sports seats with Jacquard sports trim.

This makes the Sportline model fairly rare and sought after. 388,522 Golf convertibles were produced, when on June 24th 1991, the golf convertible became the world’s most sold convertible which set a new world record.

Full History

In January 1979, VW launched a cabriolet version of the Mk1 Golf. It preceded the change to series 2 (Aug 80), so for 1½ years series 1 convertibles were available. Initially available as GLS (1.5 litre carburetor engine) and GLi (1.6 litre fuel injected engine, the same as the contemporary GTI hatchback), it used familiar Golf mechanicals but Karman designed and manufactured the body shell and convertible parts. Design differences include frameless doors, strengthened sills, A pillars and additional bracing between the rear suspension turrets and under the dash; wind down rear windows; a thick rollover bar; top hinged boot lid going down to bumper level; and a glass rear window (with heating element). The design was well thought out and the 3 layer hood is easy to operate, so a convertible Golf is almost as practical as the hatchback in day-to-day use.

Later on, the cabriolet went through a series of minor design and specification updates. The 1.5 carburetor engine was replaced with a 1.6 for the UK (1.3 engine models were also available, although only on the continent). Then the 1.6 injection engine was replaced with the 1.8 injection, giving a useful increase in performance. In 1984 the Mk1 Golf hatchback was replaced with the Mk2 but convertibles carried on with the Mk1-based body shell, although through its life parts consolidation meant that Mk2 items were used more and more. In 1986 the Clipper trim level was introduced, to replace the GL as the carburetor model below the GTI.

A short time later, the convertibles gained a body kit. This is often called the ‘clipper kit’ although this is inaccurate, since it was fitted to Clipper and GTI models alike. Through time the cars gained a number of other detail differences including a different fuel tank, exhaust and 100mm CV joints.

As time progressed, the general specification also increased including electric front windows, central locking and speaker upgrades to 13cm + tweeters at the front, and eventually a power hood as standard.

There were also many special editions in later years, mostly involving some variation of different colours available, logos, stickers, seat trim and possibly extras like electric windows and powerhood.

Some of these included the All White, All Black, Azure, CC (Christmas Cabriolet, NOT Coco Chanel as is often misreported), Quartet and Genesis. Two special editions are notable, since these were the last ones.

The Rivage was available with cloth trim and injection engine; and leather trim but with a detuned, emissions-compliant engine offering less power. It has 15″ Le Castallet wheels and was available in metallic blue and metallic green.

The Sportline was available in black or red, and has a smart recaro interior, 15″ black BBS wheels and orange needles on its dials. These models are desirable and are perceived as the best convertibles!

Production continued until 1992 with the last few sales of cars in 1994. It was replaced by a convertible based on the Mk3 Golf.


  • Targa-style rollbar
  • Removable, carpeted parcel shelf behind rear seat
  • AM/FM stereo cassette anti-theft radio with 6 amplified speakers
  • Remote-operated outside mirrors
  • Swivel sun visors; vanity mirror in passenger sun visor
  • Light in luggage compartment
  • Intermittent windshield wiping system
  • Carpet trim on lower front door panels
  • Cigarette lighter & ashtray
  • Inside hood release
  • Fresh air and heater control with 3-speed fan
  • Courtesy light with switch
  • Fully carpeted floor with carpeted floor mats; rubber-backed carpet for luggage compartment
  • Reclining front bucket cloth Recaro sports seats with individual, adjustable headrests & height
  • adjustments; rear seatback folds forward for additional cargo space
  • Leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel, gearshift knob, handle for brake lever and steering wheel
  • MFA instrument cluster
  • Color-matched mirror housings
  • Color-matched bumpers and fender flares
  • Lockable fuel cap
  • 3-layer canvas top with electrically-defrosted glass rear window; vinyl top boot cover
  • Black VW grille emblem
  • “Sportline” decal on rear quarter-panels
  • Front-wheel drive
  • Engine: SOHC, transverse-mounted, fuel-injected
  • Manual 5-speed transmission
  • Dual-tone horn
  • Sport, lowered suspension (front: independent Macpherson struts with coil springs and shock absorbers; rear: independent stabilizer axle with trailing arms, coil springs and shock absorbers)
  • 256mm front disc brakes; 180mm rear drum brakes
  • Rack & pinion steering
  • 55 litre fuel tank with two fuel pumps (one internal, one external)
  • 90 amp alternator
  • No Power steering
  • Electric hood
  • Electric windows