The Mk1

The Mk1 Scirocco was a game changer.

Known internally at VW as the Type 53, it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1974. Based largely upon the Mk1 Golf, the Mk1 Scirocco was manufactured exclusively at the Karmann factory in Osnabrück. Legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Scirocco’s ‘folded paper’ styling. Early Mk1s had twin wipers before being updated to a single wiper. A mild facelift took place in 1978. This included fully plastic covered wrap around bumpers, wraparound front indicators, new trim around the side windows and new seats. More than 500,000 units of the Mk1 were produced before its demise in 1981.

To begin with, browse through the excellent Guide that appeared in Classics Monthly with extensive input from our own Autoad

Mk1 Buyers Guide Classics Monthly 2010

Suspension and Steering

Suspension consists of Macpherson struts with wishbones at the front and trailing arms at the rear.  Springs can snap is rusty and the dampers are oil or gas filled.  Make sure the formers are not leaking.  Check the suspension top mounts for signs of fatigue, if they are hard and brittle and the car crashes on bumps then its time to replace them.  Rear top mounts have a much easier time and very rarely need replacing.

The suspension can be invigorated by replacing the top mounts and the wishbone and rear axle beam bushes.  The bushes do have a shelf life and take a lot of punishment.  Replacements are cheap and wishbones can be purchased already bushed, otherwise a press is required to remove and refit the wishbone bushes.  Rear beam pivot bushes will always require a press to replace them.  Bushes can be upgraded to poly replacements if originality is not hugely important.

Steering should be light and precise and it is worth checking wheel alignment and tracking before consigning the rack to the bin.  The rack itself is long lasting but if steering is sloppy it may need replacing.   Steering rack mounting bushes can also perish and will benefit from being replaced.  No Mk1s left the factory with power steering.


Petrol consumption figures are quite frugal, even in the injected models.  35mpg is easily achievable, meaning not much of a headache at the pumps.  All Mk1s will run on unleaded petrol.  Most owners recommend putting super unleaded in these older cars as the higher octane rating is kinder to the engines.

When buying a Mk1, always try to ensure that the car is started from cold.  If it hesitates to fire up and idle smoothly during warm up suspect the carburettor or on injection models the cold start valve (5th injector).  On carb models the original auto-choke Pierburg or Zenith units can become troublesome with age and many vehicles have had their replaced with the simpler and more efficient Weber carburettor with a manual choke.  Both carb and fuel injection models should idle at around 900rpm once past the warm-up period.  Misfiring on fuel injected cars is more likely to be tired spark plugs or faulty HT leads rather than injection system problems.

Throttle response should be smooth and without resistance -if it isn’t smooth inspect the condition of the cable and the mechanism at the carb or throttle body.

The weak link of the mk1 fuel sytem is the metal filler neck which runs from the rear quarter to the tank.  Due to the proximity of the wheel arch this area is a notorious rust trap as the rear wheel throws salt and muck and road debris against the filler neck enabling corrosion to take hold and eventually pit the neck with holes, leading to contamination of the fuel.  If the car suffers from intermittent stalling or does not pick up speed beyond 2000rpm then immediately investigate the fuel system for signs of contamination.  On carburettor cars this can be identified by a visual inspection of the fuel filter in the engine bay or by lifting the inspection panel on the tank (see below).  Also trace the entire filler neck with your hand under the wheel arch and feel for holes or large rust scabs.  Do the same checks for injection cars but be aware that contamination of rust in the injection system can render the fuel distributor and injectors next to useless.

Mk1 fuel tanks are made of metal so can succumb to rusting, especially if the car has been off the road for a long period of time.  The exposed underside of the tank can be visually inspected from underneath the car whilst the internals can be looked at by removing the inspection panel and fuel sender under the back seat.  Again, this will also indicate a rusty filler neck.   Fuel lines that are contaminated will need to be blown through with compressed air to clear any obstructions.

Fuel lines can succumb to rust also, so check thoroughly, especially underneath the car.  On early pre-79 cars the fuel lines run very close to the jacking points at the sill, so check that careless raining of the car hasn’t damaged the lines.  On later cars the lines are moved further inboard next to the chassis strengtheners.

Bodywork and exterior

All Mk1 Sciroccos demand very close scrutiny of their bodyshells.  The cars can rust virtually anywhere, so moving front to back closely look at:

  • Front valance and slam panel for signs of it detaching itself from the body.
  • Front wings at the bottom leading edges, around the indicator, the bottom rear corner and along the top edge of the wing where it bolts to the inner wing.
  • Inner wing around the indicator, the front lower corner and the upright of the A pillar.
  • Engine bay, particularly where the front engine mount attaches to the front panel and around the suspension turrets.
  • Bonnets can rot at the leading edge.
  • The bottom corners of the windscreen and in the rain tray below the scuttle panel.
  • Outer and inner sills can rust badly, particularly if the drain holes become blocked.  Lift the carpets in the car to check that the inner sill is still attached to the floor.
  • Underneath the car, check the chassis strengtheners and the condition of the underside of the car.
  • Doors rot at the bottom each side.  Open the doors and check the undersides where the metal is double skinned and folded to house the rubber seal.
  • Around the rear side windows.
  • Rear wheel arches can rust very badly.  Also check the inner arch to see if the rust has spread.
  • Lower rear corners where the rear quarter meets the rear panel.  Disintegration is common here.
  • Rear panels can rot at the lower edge, particularly where it meets the spare wheel well.
  • Check the boot floor and spare wheel well for holes.
  • The rear hatch can rot along its lower edge and around the rear window.

Check the rear beam mounting points thoroughly, this is an exposed and vital part of the car.  Major rust here can be terminal or very expensive and time consuming to fix.

If looking at a Scirocco Storm, check the front airdam for damage and cracks.












Check visually sound cars closely for signs of bodged repairs and poor welding -you could be paying for this later.  If the car has an aftermarket sunroof check that it is fitted soundly and for signs of leaks in the roof headlining.

As above, as you are checking over the car make sure that the filler neck and fuel tank are both sound.

Bumpers should fit squarely, otherwise check the chassis legs for signs of accident damage.  Early chromed bumpers should be straight and kink-free, whilst plastic bumpers should only have suffered the odd scrape, rather than gouges.

Brightwork on 1970s cars was made of metal, on later cars it was a plasticised compound that discolours and becomes brittle.  Window seals can become hard and brittle but can be revived if they are not too far gone.

All Mk1 Sciroccos were fitted with chromed door handles as standard


Interiors are generally durable and hardwearing.  Seats can wear at their bolsters, especially the sports seats fitted to Storm models.  With the Scirocco Storm check that the leather is in good condition throughout the car as repairs can be expensive.  Seats in other models generally wear hardily, TS model cloth insets suffer from sun bleaching.  Occasionally the tilt mechanism of the seats can be rendered inoperable due an internal wire coming loose or snapping. This is fairly easy to fix.  Rear seats should be in very good shape, Mk1 Sciroccos rarely carry passengers in the back!

Dashboards crack at the heater vents at the top surface but are otherwise sound, whilst carpets will only really be damaged by water ingress to the cabin.

Check that all electrics work and that the heater fan operates its three speeds.  Check that the heater blows hot air, the valve in the engine bay can be at fault.

In the boot check the boot carpet for signs of water ingress (likely either from the rear lamps or boot seal) and check the rear chassis legs where the bumper bolts up for signs of previous impact damage.

Parts availability

Service items are readily available from VW dealers and aftermarket suppliers such as GSF and are generally inexpensive.

Mechanical components are shared by Volkswagens (and some Audi) of similar vintage and of later vehicles up until about 1991 so are very easy to source and again are generally available from VW dealers and aftermarket suppliers.  Fuel tanks can be obtained off the shelf but filler necks are unique to the Mk1 so are very difficult to find new.  Filler necks from mk1 Golfs can be modified to fit.

Body panels are available from aftermarket suppliers but supply is hit and miss.  Floor and lower chassis panels are the same (or very similar) to Mk1 Golfs up to 1984 so can be easily sourced.  Rear arch panels, inner and outer sills, filler cap panels, rear panels, door bottoms and 74-77 front wings can be sourced from Germany without too much trouble, but scuttle panels, front panels, rear quarters, roof skins and 78-81 front wings are near impossible to find off the shelf.  Scrap cars, parts hoarders and occasional motor factor clear-outs are the only way of finding these panels at present.


Comparison picmk1