'86(7?) Scirocco 16v starting problems

I owned a 1986 (or '87) Scirocco 16V for nearly 20 years and 200k miles, and totally loved it. But in the first year of owning the car I had something very funny happen that I have never had explained adequately, and was hoping someone here might be able to solve the mystery. From the very beginning the car was perfect EXCEPT once in a while, under seemingly totally random conditions, it would simply not turn over. The start would crank as long as I desired, but it simply wouldn’t turn over. There was definitely nothing wrong with the engine or the battery. I could roll-start the thing fine (in fact, I took to parking on hills!), and MOST of the time it turned over instantly. In fact, sometimes when it would get into this mode, I could walk away for an hour, and come back without moving the car, and it would start right up. It was just frustratingly unpredictable – maybe 1 in 20 times it would simply get into this mode – no correlation that I could ever figure out – not the car being warm or cold, or the weather, or anything. I had it in the shop twice for this in my first year of owning it (~'87). The first time, they claimed to fix it, and nothing changed – same problem. So I took it back. The second time, they again claimed to have fixed it…et voila! never had the problem again. I have no idea what the problem was or what they did to fix it. Do you?

When you roll start it, do you hold the gas pedal open? The reason I ask is because I’ve had a few cars not start, and the only explanation was a flooded engine. I know it seems strange for an EFI car to flood, but it does happen. Holding the gas pedal down when trying to start it is the solution. The computer shuts down the fuel injectors to give the cylinders a chance to clear up.

I’ve had this happen on three engines over the last several years, one a Ford, one an Infinity, and the other a Volvo. Holding the gas pedal down to get it to start has worked in all three cases. And, to date, the problem has not returned on any of them.

Scirrocco’s did have problems with the relay panel under the dash right above the drivers left foot ! The windshield could leak and corrode the connections and sometimes a relay would just behave erratically .