Complete brake system, exhaust system, and catalytic converter needed replacement over the past three years.
Ignition lock failed twice.
Rear window wiper is defunct.
Driver's seat is starting to disintegrate.
Corrosion on the boot lid.
Various rattles, but nothing you'd not expect at this mileage.
I happened across the 16V as an almost-free parts car for the '89 Golf I was driving then, so all of the above defects were things I'd expected when I decided to keep the 16V instead.
The reason I did so was the much better level of trim, not necessarily the superior performance. But the performance *is* excellent: this 16-year-old compact car can still run with the fast ones on the Autobahn, and run circles around most of them on twisted country roads. And it's great fun to do either.
Both mechanically and corrosion-wise, the GTI doesn't feel like ceasing to exist anytime in the foreseeable future. That's something for such an old car that's already covered more than a light-second of distance, and much of it driven rather hard.
Beside all the power, it's just a Golf, though. That means acceptable interior space, superb handling, acceptable ride (16Vs are lowered by factory), easy repairs, cheap parts (except for 16V-specific stuff like brakes and exhaust) and virtual anonymity: no-one can judge you by your car, because it's so normal.
Others might call it "boring", but in 16V guise, a Golf II really only *looks* boring.
There's really no reason (except passive safety) that I'd want to replace this car with a newer one for. I gladly paid all the above repairs (hey, the car itself was almost free as a compensation), and I plan to drive it for many years to come.
The only thing I don't like is the way I got treated at the VW dealer's; I assume they'd rather sell me something new than service this old car. Pity for them -- I found a make-free auto shop now, and they've proven to be very understanding about poor owner's old car's needs.
Trouble-free like a new one, this car isn't (anymore). But it's so much cheaper, and so much more worthwhile. And someday soon, it's going to be a classic; a rare one, too, because it's gotten rather hard to find an unmodified Golf II 16V already.
If you can find one, consider buying it. Recommended.