I think it’s safe to say that the resale value of most Volkswagens of the past decade or so is falling fast, whether they are affected by the scandal or not. So naturally it’s a perfect time to pick an unaffected car on the cheap. And since we’re at it, why not one that had already depreciated like a rock anyway.
The Volkswagen Phaeton represents Ferdinand Piech’s ultimate act of waving VAG’s engineering prowess around (until the Bugatti Veyron came along at least) A Volkswagen for the finest Volks around and built at great expense around a set of requirements that at the time were thought impossible. The result was a brilliantly engineered car that was far too expensive for people that were in the market for something with a Volkswagen badge. Especially when next door you could get an Audi A8 to satisfy badge snobbery for around the same price.
With less than 1000 Phaetons sold in 2005 VW decided that it wasn’t on their business interest keeping it on the showrooms in America. In Europe however it got a couple more facelifts and it’s still being sold. Apparently the Chinese market has also taken a fondness to it. Development of a Second generation which would bring the model back to America were rumored a few weeks before the whole company became engulfed in the Diesel emissions scandal. Time will tell if the project will continue or their newfound legal expenses and management puts a halt on any non-critical projects for the time being.
And if the Phaeton does come back it will have to fight against its reputation for reliability that is questionable at best. Something that has been said about most vehicles wearing the people’s car badge in the last couple of decades. It was the combination of this and their badge that made Phaetons lose their value quicker than a property at Centralia. Of course, there are some owners that swear by them and insist that they just need to be treated with a lot of care and you’ll be rewarded with a superb car. Our featured model’s owner hasn’t been doing that “care” bit all that well. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Our featured model is a 2004 Phaeton, 1 in 1,433 sold that year, finished in Silver with a black interior. Power is provided by a 4.2-liter V8 developing 335 horsepower and mated to a six speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. The combination is good for 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and for a top speed of 155. The odometer is showing (allegedly) showing 88,752 miles. For your money you get sumptuous leather seats, a sunroof, a four-zone climatronic system (draftless) and the sense that a lot of people were racking their brains long and hard to come up with clever engineering solutions. The price for this almost-Bentley? $11,900.
Faults? Well, eagle-eyed readers will have already noticed the rear driver-side is missing some chrome trim and the wheel is missing its VW crest. It also seems that the previous owners were rather enthusiastic with the buttons and knobs on the overhead console and they look very worse for wear. Would you be one of those lucky owners that have struck gold with their Phaetons? The listing is here. In any case, if you want to buy a Phaeton remember: ist nicht ein Passat