“Memories light the corner of my mind. Misty water-coloured memories of the way we were.” The lyrics to a Barbra Streisand hit might be an unusual way to begin a new PETROLBLOG post – the first in a while, as it happens – but it seems perfectly apt given the subject matter.
This post is focused on the Mk1 Volkswagen Scirocco, you see, launched in the same year Babs released her Academy Award-winning single.
The Mk1 Scirocco – more specifically, the Storm – occupies a little corner of my mind, but it’s less about the way we were, and more about the way it could have been.
I’m blaming Tim Pitt for this trip down memory lane, as he recently drove Volkswagen UK’s immaculate Scirocco Storm as part of a heritage drive for Motoring Research. Forget ‘water-coloured memories’, I’m more green-coloured with envy.
My love for the Mk1 Scirocco goes back many years and I hold the coupe aloft as one of Giugiaro’s finest pieces of work. There’s an effortlessness to the design – it’s free of fuss and needless trinkets.
Launched in 1974, it was the second car to benefit from the fruitful Volkswagen-Giugiaro partnership, appearing after the Passat and a few months before the Golf, the car it happened to be based upon.
It was effectively a replacement for the Karmann Ghia – the Osnabruck company handled production of the Scirocco – and it ushered in a new era for VW. Compare and contrast the Scirocco with the hugely successful Beetle, which remained Volkswagen’s best-selling car. Chalk, meet cheese.
The similarities to the Alfa Romeo Sud Sprint – launched two years later, but designed much earlier – are uncanny, if unsurprising. Both cars were penned by the Italian maestro, with the Scirocco showing the progression of Giugiaro’s thinking.
But while I admire the Sud Sprint, I’ve never really wanted one in the same way that I fancied a Scirocco. Growing up, this was one of the cars you’d find stuck on the inside cover of my school textbooks, photo hastily torn from a magazine and applied using Pritt Stick.
While other lads fantasised about kissing Sharon from class 2C behind the bike sheds, I daydreamed about spending quality time with a Scirocco. For a while, it was my go-to dream car, filling the gap between the Lancia Delta Integrale and Ford Lotus Cortina.
I had eclectic tastes, even then, although, looking back, my choices were less rubbish than they are today. Still, that’s progress for you.
So, you can imagine the thoughts that ran through my head when I stumbled across a Mk1 Scirocco Storm for sale on the edge of the New Forest. I had driven past the house twice a day on my way to and from the college, but I’d never noticed the Scirocco hiding behind the bushes.
I popped in on the way home from college – I skipped the last lesson through excitement – only to discover that it wasn’t taxed or tested. This probably explains why I hadn’t seen it before – it had been sat in the garage for what looked like an eternity.
But, it was complete and, to these lovestruck eyes, a vision as lovely as a night in with Cindy Crawford and a chocolate fondue set. I had to buy it.
So, I did. A deal was struck for £300, on the basis that I’d go home and arrange the necessary insurance cover.
These were the days before you could buy insurance online using websites like GoSupermarketCompareMoneyExpert.com.
It didn’t go well. After half a day spent on the telephone, using rival quotes as bargaining tools, I couldn’t get the insurance below £3,000. Even if I had the cash, this would have been a nonsensical move.
My hopes of Scirocco Storm ownership were over – I’d have to go back to daydreaming about a chocolate-covered Cindy Crawford as I made my way through the New Forest in my Vauxhall Viva.
A few days later, the Storm disappeared from view, seemingly off to an owner unhindered by the cost of teenage car insurance. I guess I’ll never know what happened to the car, but much like my visions of Cindy Crawford, this particular dream never came true.
A year later, I bought a Capri 2.8i Special, having managed to get the insurance premium down to a more manageable £500. I guess the insurance companies saw a tail-happy Capri as less of a risk than a front-wheel-drive coupe.
Sadly, classic car values are such that I’m more likely to see Ms Crawford standing on my doorstep armed with a carrier bag filled with Dairy Milk than I am finding a Scirocco Storm sat in my garage. It’s just another tale of regret and a misty water-coloured memory to fill my mind.