1983 Callaway Turbo Scirocco Is a Hot Rod with a Warranty

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From the March 1983 issue of Car and Driver.

At last you can go to a Volkswagen dealer and buy one of the long-awaited turbo Sciroccos. Unfortunately, they’re available only from a few selected deal­ers in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. And the cars aren’t built in Wolfsburg or even Westmoreland, but rather in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

These blown Sciroccos come from none other than Callaway Turbo Sys­tems. Reeves Callaway, the proprietor, has been marketing well-respected tur­bo kits for Volkswagens—and nearly ev­erything else on four wheels—for sever­al years. In the Scirocco he saw a unique opportunity to expand his business by building on the car’s basic goodness and offering complete package up­grades through Volkswagen dealers. This approach is meant to attract customers who desire the benefits of high­-performance modifications but lack the inclination or skill to perform them personally. It also allows the cost of the improvements to be included in the cars’ financing arrangements.

There are a few catches, of course. New cars must comply with federal safe­ty and emissions requirements, and new-car buyers expect warranties with their cars. Callaway attacked both of these issues head-on. To satisfy the neb­ulous EPA requirements for aftermarket manufacturers, he refined his turbo kit to work with the stock catalytic convert­er until he could demonstrate that it had minimal effect on the standard Scirocco’s emissions performance. The warranty problem was even simpler. Callaway contracted with an aftermarket warranty company (one of the firms that offer extended warranties on regular new cars) to provide a twelve-month/20,000-mile warranty for his car, the same coverage offered with factory Volkswagens. The cost of the warranty is included in the package.

Callaway considered the total-pack­age concept critical to the car’s success, so he upgraded the chassis to keep pace with the blown engine. Starting from the pavement up, 195/50VR-15 Phoe­nix Stahlflex tires mounted on 5.5-inch-wide Centra or ATS wheels replace the standard items. Bilstein shocks and stiff­er springs at all four corners, along with a 19mm rear anti-sway bar, keep the suspension’s motions in tune with the Scirocco’s newfound speed and grip.

Inside, a classic three-spoke, leather­-wrapped steering wheel directs these components. A boost gauge, mounted in a beautifully executed housing to the right of the instrument binnacle, moni­tors the engine’s efforts. The only other interior change is special Callaway-em­blazoned upholstery fitted to the other­wise stock seats.

Naturally, a trick car needs some ex­ternal identification. Callaway has add­ed four tapering stripes to each side of the car to accentuate the Scirocco’s ba­sic wedge shape, as well as “Callaway Turbo Scirocco” graphics to the hatch and rear quarter-windows. Combined with the spacy wheels, these additions clearly differentiate the Turbo from gar­den-variety Sciroccos, yet are still rea­sonably subtle and tasteful.

All of these modifications aside, the heart of the car is its turbo engine. With a mere eight pounds of boost, it’s one of Callaway’s milder installations, yet it still pumps the horsepower from 74 to 117. Water injection and premium-un­leaded fuel keep detonation at bay, while a thermostatically controlled oil cooler keeps the temperature under control.

This engine is hard to fault. It retains all of the stock engine’s docile and re­fined nature, yet can boot the Scirocco around with real authority. Zero-to-60-mph acceleration takes but 7.7 seconds, the quarter-mile is covered in 15.8 sec­onds at 87 mph, and 100 mph comes up in 24.6 seconds. Top speed is improved by an incredible 24 mph, to 126 mph.

The Turbo does have a voracious ap­petite for water when driven this hard. But the two-quart supply, held in the windshield-washer reservoir, will last as long as a tank of fuel under anything but track conditions. Our overall water consumption was 415 miles per gallon during very hard driving. Fuel economy was an excellent 22 mpg; according to the certification tests, the Turbo deliv­ers the same 28 mpg as a stock 1982 Scirocco when driven sedately.

The Turbo’s suspension nearly equals the engine’s all-around excel­lence. Cornering grip is improved dra­matically, from 0.74 to 0.79 g. Equally important, the Turbo responds more crisply and turns in harder than any stock Scirocco.

The engine’s goodness comes with no compromises, but the suspension does extract a comfort penalty in exchange for its handling improvements. Particu­larly on small pavement imperfections, there is a decided increase in ride harsh­ness; still, this seems like a fair trade for the cornering capabilities. We also tried a Turbo with the optional front anti- roll bar. That car was far rougher-­riding, with no commensurate handling benefits.

The only performance aspect of the Turbo that is unimproved is the brakes. While standard Scirocco brakes are very good, the Turbo’s higher speed capabil­ities can push them well beyond their fade limits. Unfortunately, there is no expedient improvement available, although GMP in Charlotte, North Caroli­na, does offer an assortment of upgraded brake components from West Germany.

For $16,495, the Callaway Turbo Sci­rocco is pretty hard to beat. It’s a well­-executed blend of Scirocco refinement, utility, and economy with outstanding performance, tenacious handling, and distinctive appearance. Our only con­cern is long-term engine durability, but Callaway offers an optional extended warranty to put customers’ minds at rest. We can’t help wondering why, if Callaway Turbo Systems can turn out such a car, Volkswagen of America still hasn’t seen fit to do so.



1983 Callaway Turbo Scirocco
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 3-door hatchback


Base/As Tested: $16,495/$17,000

turbocharged inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, port fuel injection
Displacement: 105 in3, 1716 cm3
Power: 117 hp @ 5800 rpm 

5-speed manual 


Wheelbase: 94.5 in
Length: 165.7 in
Curb Weight: 2300 lb


60 mph: 7.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.8 sec @ 87 mph
100 mph: 24.6 sec
Top Speed: 126 mph
Roadholding, 282-ft Skidpad: 0.79 g 


Observed: 22 mpg

City: 28 mpg 


Csaba Csere joined Car and Driver in 1980 and never really left. After serving as Technical Editor and Director, he was Editor-in-Chief from 1993 until his retirement from active duty in 2008. He continues to dabble in automotive journalism and WRL racing, as well as ministering to his 1965 Jaguar E-type, 2017 Porsche 911, 2009 Mercedes SL550, 2013 Porsche Cayenne S, and four motorcycles—when not skiing or hiking near his home in Colorado. 

Source: Reviews -


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