You Need This: 1989 Suzuki Swift GTi

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Jun 22, 2017 | Suzuki

For a while there, Suzuki entered the hot-hatch wars with a viable alternative. Someone here needs a 1989 Suzuki Swift GTi.

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Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
6/22/17 9:12 a.m.

I'd much rather have that than my Honda.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
6/22/17 9:13 a.m.

Sure... but unfortunately it's automatic

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof PowerDork
6/22/17 9:16 a.m.

That's a pretty rare car.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/22/17 9:23 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote: Sure... but unfortunately it's automatic

You know, I totally missed that. Still, yeah, rare car. Sadly haven't seen one in quite a while.

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
6/22/17 9:24 a.m.

I had a red '89 GTi. Massively fun little car with some of the best seats in the business. Liked it way more than my CRX Si.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis UltraDork
6/22/17 9:30 a.m.

I saw that before and was saddened by the automatic. I had a '94 which was my first new car purchase. Loved that car and still kinda wish I had it. They weren't tremendously fast or the best handling, but it was an absolute blast to drive.

-Rob

Blaise
Blaise Reader
6/22/17 9:40 a.m.

Sweet, local, and my family has had a white Suzuki since '93.

And then I saw the transmission. Ack.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/22/17 10:25 a.m.

One of these (with a manual) used to dominate local autocross before costly boost buggies became the order of the day. I was always right on his heels.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/22/17 10:30 a.m.

Here's the silver lining of it being an auto: You'd probably want the beefier 1.6L Swift sedan gearbox anyway because the ones that come with the Swift GTi are pretty fragile.

The guy who I was always on the heels of also swapped in an Ignis rack for quicker and more highly boosted steering.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
6/22/17 10:39 a.m.

I bought one new in '89, a red one. I was cross shopping it with a CRX at the time. I think I paid somewhere in the mid $8k range, where the CRX was going to be around $11k if I remember correctly. Kept it for maybe 4 years. A blast of a little car, but it needed a LSD worse than any car I've ever had. Trim and build quality wasn't the best, but it made up for that with light weight and toss-ability. You're right though, I can't remember the last time I have seen one.

I sold mine to a fellow club member, and he sold it on in the late '90's. I once saw it driving around in Birmingham, still with SCCA stickers in the back windows.

drsmooth
drsmooth HalfDork
6/22/17 10:42 a.m.

There used to be boatloads of Swift GT's (not sure the difference between gt and gti) raced and rallied in Canada. Not sure where they all disappeared to although I still see them once in awhile. When looking for my first car I test drove a GT. I was convinced the clutch was slipping. Years later talking to someone with a GT, they told me that they just really like to rev and it was likely the clutch wasn't slipping.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
6/22/17 10:49 a.m.
drsmooth wrote: There used to be boatloads of Swift GT's (not sure the difference between gt and gti) raced and rallied in Canada. Not sure where they all disappeared to although I still see them once in awhile. When looking for my first car I test drove a GT. I was convinced the clutch was slipping. Years later talking to someone with a GT, they told me that they just really like to review and it was likely the clutch wasn't slipping.

STi's were '89 only. VW took a dislike to them using the letters so they dropped the i.

Nick (Bo) Comstock
Nick (Bo) Comstock MegaDork
6/22/17 11:10 a.m.

Way back when the magazine did a buyer's guide to these. It sent me in a months long search for all the information I could dig up on them. I became pretty much infatuated with them. Then I tried to find one and the few I did find were too far away or too far trashed or asking way more than I would have paid.

airwerks
airwerks Reader
6/22/17 11:21 a.m.

I did a manual swap writeup on one: http://www.teamswift.net/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=52368&hilit=airwerks+manual+swap

So don't let the auto scare you away.

Love these little cars, miss my 94 often.

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/22/17 5:17 p.m.

I had an '89 GTi. Loved it. Still have two engines, and a LSD. Mine was beat to heck, but still tremendously fun.

Paulj
Paulj
8/21/17 10:58 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

Hey would you be interested in selling the lsd

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltimaDork
8/21/17 11:27 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy:

Or an engine?

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UltraDork
8/21/17 12:30 p.m.
spitfirebill wrote: In reply to wheelsmithy: Or an engine?

Or both engines?

gunner
gunner GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/21/17 7:21 p.m.

I almost bought one new back in 94 (a GT). I went to the dealer convinced it was what I was getting. I loved it. How it looked, sounded, fit inside. Then I went for the test drive. Me and my wife in the front and the 400 pound salesman in the back seat. with 800 pounds of people in the car, it was a turd. I left without it and never looked back. I almost regret not taking it out by myself, but after the drive with all the cargo, I was just too frustrated.

SkinnyG
SkinnyG SuperDork
8/21/17 7:27 p.m.

Being an auto saves sourcing an auto shifter for the TH350 once the engine swap is complete.

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof PowerDork
8/22/17 8:11 a.m.

In reply to gunner:

You can look at that as a positive or a negative. The number one performance mod for that car was reducing weight. Stripping a GT turned it into the car it always should have been, and 150lbs made a very noticeable difference. Number two mod? Cold weather. Drive a stock GT, then drive a lightened one on a cold day. You wouldn't believe it's the same car. Everything runs better in the cool weather, but I've never seen anything change like a G13 on a cold day.

CoreyS
CoreyS
10/17/18 9:12 a.m.

If anyone sees an 1989 GTi for sale anywhere, please email me at mboogie76@hotmail.com.  I had one in HS and stupidly sold it.  I'd prefer red with a 5spd and am willing to pay top dollar for a better condition car. 

Quick story: we were dumb and my passenger tossed out a beer bottle and hit a C4 corvette in the hood.  Naturally, the owner was PISSED and gave chase.  Because of the GTi's handling and quickness, I was able to lose him in the alleys and sidestreets of Plano TX.  I blew past my own house with Cliff hitting the garage door opener so it'd be open when I rounded the block.  We slid into the garage at full speed, he hopped out and pulled the garage cord to close the garage immediately.  We got away scot free!   I can honestly say we lost a Corvette in a Swift GTi!  

trucke
trucke SuperDork
10/17/18 9:27 a.m.

In reply to CoreyS :

Thank was me!  Now I know where to find you!  cheeky

Kidding!

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
10/17/18 9:29 a.m.

In reply to CoreyS :

I've had both, back to back. There was no way on this planet a Swift is getting away from a C4 unless it goes down an alley that is only as wide as the mirrors. That wet noodle chassis is terrible. Great engine. Terrible platform.

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
10/17/18 8:27 p.m.
drsmooth said:

There used to be boatloads of Swift GT's (not sure the difference between gt and gti) raced and rallied in Canada. Not sure where they all disappeared to although I still see them once in awhile. When looking for my first car I test drove a GT. I was convinced the clutch was slipping. Years later talking to someone with a GT, they told me that they just really like to rev and it was likely the clutch wasn't slipping.

The last one running in Ontario was sold by the owner to a Chump or Lemons Team in the US. It disappeared across the border, never to be seen again. :-( 

 

CoreyS
CoreyS New Reader
12/6/18 11:48 a.m.
bobzilla said:

In reply to CoreyS :

I've had both, back to back. There was no way on this planet a Swift is getting away from a C4 unless it goes down an alley that is only as wide as the mirrors. That wet noodle chassis is terrible. Great engine. Terrible platform.

Car vs car, you’re right.   I knew the confusing neighborhood amazingly well:  so turned off my Lights, zig zagged and created space. I blew by my house and hit my (back of the house) garage opener from the front of the house.  Then came back around and tucked into my garage. We used the emergency release to drop the door immediately.  It was an orchestrated getaway

 

:) :) :)

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