1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
You’d probably never guess that this genre-defining German hot hatch was actually built in Pennsylvania. Or that it was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, better known for his eye-popping supercar designs. Or that nestled underneath that Italian-designed sheetmetal are the goods to make it one of the fastest and best-handling cars of any size offered in 1984. The GTI’s corner devouring ways come courtesy of suspension bits adapted from the European Golf GTI that had been romping around the Continent making drivers smile for several years. Underhood, the federalized 1.8-liter motor is powerful enough to chuck the Rabbit forward with authority, and with more meat on the larger alloy wheels snagged from the Volkswagen Quantuum, twisties are dispatched with Germanic precision. The best part is that all of this fun comes from a practical car that is also quite economical. Not that economy is on anyone’s mind as they surprise far more expensive cars on their favorite backroads. That’s the beauty of the Rabbit GTI: it’s a little car full of surprises.