Well, after kicking the idea down the road for at least the last five years; I have finally bought a diesel. It's not perfect since it has 120,000 miles, but I'm sure it will last. Not only that, but I only paid $5400 for it, as is. The previous owner (female, I believe) had it lowered, and rather cutely added "CART" to the "GOLF" on the rear hatch..... :dunno. There are some issues though that I have to address, such as: replace bushings on right lower control arm, replace or turn front rotors, and the turbo seems to have the carbon build-up issue about which I have been reading. Also, the turbo vane control actuator has a leak in the diaphragm, so that will need replacing. Metal Man Parts has it for $99, free shipping.
Question: Is it worth finding a used VNT; what sort of life can I expect from a VNT?
I will be using the "oven cleaner" method to address the turbo limp, and I have read that using Audi rear bushings on the control arms is a good idea; What about the front bushings? There were some postings from members who were taking their synthetic bushings out because they squeaked too much.
I'm raising my glass to a long and fruitful friendship with this Golf. Thanks so much for the forum, it is a time and money saver. Kudos to everyone.