A vehicle billed as the world’s “most original” Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 is heading to auction in the United Kingdom, where it's expected to fetch between £31 000 and £42 000 (R655 000 and R890 000).

Online auctioneer “The Market” says the 1979 Mk1 GTI is in “museum quality condition”, describing it as “possibly the best preserved, most original and most well known Golf GTI Mk1 on the planet”.

The right-hand drive, four-speed model – this gearbox was available for only three months in late-1979 in the UK before the five-speed variant was introduced – has covered less than 17 000 miles (around 27 000 km) in the hands of its three registered owners.

It's finished in black exterior paint and features silver-and-black tartan seats, along with a three-spoke steering wheel, genuine Wolfsburg mudflaps, Toric T-76 buckle-less seatbelts and, of course, a golf-ball gearknob.

In 2015, the dampers, brake components and fuel lines were replaced, while the engine was removed for cleaning, the gearbox rebuilt and the clutch assembly replaced.

The auctioneer says this particular example is well known in enthusiast circles having “featured in a number of specialist magazines as well as making two television appearances”.

“This is possibly the last opportunity that any of us will ever have to own what is still an essentially brand new, unrestored, reference quality Golf GTI Mk1 – and not just any GTI, but the very purist, earliest model of the car that blazed a trail for everything that came thereafter,” said Tristan Judge, director at The Market.

“This is a true collector’s car and a genuinely unrepeatable opportunity. It is also road ready. We believe this amazing Golf GTI will be hard fought over when the auction takes place, potentially providing the opportunity to set a new record price for the model,” he added.

The online auction starts on March 19 and runs for one week.