The cars we loved.
The Scirocco was VW’s sporty front wheel drive replacement for the Karmann Ghia. Introduced in 1974 and designed by renown Italian stylist Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Scirocco combined Italian flair with German engineering and practicality.
It shared popular styling traits with other upscale European cars of the time like quad headlamps while using a hatchback design favored by emerging Japanese coupes.
The Scirocco competed in a crowded segment that included the Mustang, Capri, Celica and Monza to name a few. The clean, crisp lines have held up rather well as automotive design went from boxy to curvy and back.
It was light. With no airbags or even cup holders the less than 2,000 pound car, was lighter than most small cars sold today. Motivation came from a 1.7l SOHC engine with only 76hp. Smaller engines were available in Europe, but Americans of course wanted everything big. There was even a turbocharged version available from Callaway around 81-82. It’s light weight helped it reach a 0-60 time of around 10 seconds. That does not sound like much today but in the 70’s, it was something to bragg about. A typical v8 Mustang II of the time was only within a few tenths of a second from 0–60.
The Scirocco was one of those cars that I liked because it was very economical, fun to drive and came from Germany. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete Europhile, but the bigness of most Detroit iron was just not what I imagined my self owning as a kid. The efficient performance offered by the Scirocco represented the polar opposite of what the big three were offering. Detroit came close in concept with Chevy’s Cosworth Vega and Fords imported Capri, but they were never taken seriously by the American car buying public.
As the Scirocco evolved, it resisted the urge to get much bigger but became more sophisticated. Eventually it was replaced by the Corrado in 1990. Now there’s a new Sirocco on the horizon. Its design looked conflicted with a awkward read end hatch design that betrayed the sleekness of the front. It might grow on me, but would represent the first Sirocco that I did not like at first sight.