Thanks for the great replies everyone! The seller emailed me the original quality pictures of the Carfax, so I replaced the potato versions with the new ones. The seller also knew the name of the repair facility, which is Spectrum Auto Works in Oak Park, MI. I called up the shop, and the guy said he's fixed 7 or 8 Golfs, so didn't remember the exact vehicle, but he said that all the cars with no body damage were engine replacements. Something about the plastic oil pans cracking or something if they run off the road. Seems plausible, but the MK7 composite oil pans are actually less prone to cracking or shattering than aluminum ones. Additionally, the salvage auction said the car ran and drove... Auction could've been wrong on that, though since auction houses tend to try to pump cars through as fast as possible for good turnaround. The Spectrum Auto Works guy said that he bought 5 or 6 test Golf engines with a few hundred miles on them for cheap from some company, so he would specifically buy GTIs with little to no body damage but underbody damage and damaged engines. The seller says that he's had no issues running or driving during the couple years he's owned it. Could be trying to get rid of a lemon, but maybe he also just wants something new...
Definitely seeing what you guys mean about too much sketch so best to avoid! This sleuthing is pretty fun though I'll say.
A couple of replies are mentioning that the price isn't that good, and I can find better deals, but have you guys checked the market lately? Not sure if these have inflated recently since I've just started looking within the past week and a half, but I'm not seeing any accident-free GTIs with low mileage for this price, let alone Autobahn editions. $17K seems to get ≈80K mile '15 or '16 good cosmetic dealer GTIs that are S or SE. And according to KBB, this car (priced for $16,395) is worth $22846. That's assuming a non-salvage title, of course, but I wouldn't call it overpriced for the market. Anyway, if you gents have links to nicer cars in this price range, I'd love to see them since I'm not coming up with anything low mileage around $17K. Really don't care about the Autobahn edition or luxury features, just would prefer low mileage since I plan to keep the car till 200K+ miles most likely.
I think you're underestimating how much a salvage title lowers the value of a vehicle. The market is indeed crazy right now, and with the current environment, $22,846 sounds about right for a 2017 with 27k miles, with a clean title.
However with a salvage title, it should be close to half of that.
Like I said in a prior reply, I'm not part of the "run away immediately!" crew. It doesn't hurt to check it out in person, and if you're serious about buying it, paying $100 - $200 to have someone check it out is a good idea. Get all the info and facts before deciding to move forward or walk away. But again, a salvage title doesn't lower the value of a vehicle by a couple thousand dollars. A salvage title tanks the value of a vehicle. I'd say that guy would be lucky to get $12k for that vehicle.