Weekend Classifieds/QOTD: Five Volkswagens – Which VW Is For You?

Those of you who are easily tempted by classified ads, look away. Those of you whose spouse is already grumbling you have too many cars, click on another article. Here are five Volkswagens currently on Craigslist that might lighten your wallet and perhaps even drain your bank account.

This 1980 Dasher wagon is in remarkable condition, the only visible exterior blemish being a missing bit of bodyside moulding.

It’s a diesel, producing all of 48 hp. That was 30 hp down on the standard 1.6 four, itself no speed demon. Fortunately, this Dasher has a stick to wring out every last bit of power from that little diesel.

The interior is in remarkable condition and this Dasher has only 101,954 miles on the odometer.

Unfortunately, even the dealer’s website doesn’t go into much detail about the car. By the looks of it, though, it’s probably had just one owner in its life who took very good care of it. It’s listed for $4,995.

If you want something a little newer, a little sprightlier, and a little cheaper, this 1982 Volkswagen Quantum may interest you. It has the water-cooled 1.7 gas engine and a five-speed manual, producing 74 hp at 5000 rpm and 89 ft-lbs at 3000 rpm. With a 0-60 time of around 13 seconds, you’ll be less nervous taking this on the freeway than you would the Dasher.

It’s the less popular three-door hatchback “coupe” body style, available in the US only from 1982 to 1983. The 1.7 was also offered only during this time, making this quite a rare VW indeed.

It’s a Minnesota car so there’s a little bit of rust but it looks to be in pretty good shape, all things considered. The sheer rarity of this car makes it very appealing to me, even if it’s not as well-equipped or powerful as the later five-cylinder Quantums which attempted to move the brand upmarket in the US.

Speaking of more powerful Passats with upmarket aspirations, how about a B5.5-series W8 Passat? Continuing with the stickshift theme, this one has a six-speed manual transmission.

The all-wheel-drive W8 was a bit of a test bed for Volkswagen, presaging the even more expensive Touareg and Phaeton. It made little sense for Ferdinand Piech to push the Volkswagen brand upmarket considering the VW Group’s menagerie of luxury brands and it made even less sense to shove a 275-hp W8 engine into its mid-size sedan, no matter how elegant the car looked.

It probably makes even less sense for you to buy a used W8 considering the cost and availability of parts and the car’s questionable reliability. But with 101,000 miles on the odometer and a $4500 price tag, perhaps you’ll be tempted.

Alternatively, if you’re willing to go without the stick you could get this $1700 W8 wagon. It’s got nearly twice the miles on the odometer, some rust and it needs some sensors repaired but the interior’s clean and its ice blue paint job and handsome wagon body style are easy on the eyes.

Most people won’t even realize what your Passat is packing under its hood because Volkswagen did little to visually differentiate the W8 from lesser Passats. That means every time I see a B5.5 Passat around, the first thing I do is look to see if it has a W8 badge. It never does. This W8 wagon is apparently one of only 710 sold in the US so the odds of seeing a W8 anywhere are very small.

Finally, we come to one of my favourite Volkswagens: Ferdinand Piech’s greatest folly, the Volkswagen Phaeton. This one is the top-spec W12 model, producing 414 hp and 413 ft-lbs and mated to a five-speed automatic.

The Phaeton was designed to be capable of being driven all day at 186 mph (300 km/h) with an exterior temperature of 122°F (50°C) whilst maintaining the interior temperature at 72°F (22°C ). It weighed a whopping 1000 pounds more than an all-wheel-drive Audi A8 and gas mileage was an abysmal 11/17 mpg. But just look at that sumptuous interior! The Phaeton was intended to be more of a cruiser than the more overtly sporty A8. Standard features on the W12 included these plush 12-way power adjustable, heated, cooled and massaging seats.

When new, the W12 Phaeton retailed for between $80-95,000 in the US. Suffice it to say, this big VW was a big flop. You’d have to be very, very, very brave to buy a used Phaeton as these are extraordinarily complicated beasts and parts and repair is probably a nightmare.

If I had $10k to spend on a used car and I wanted to buy something just outrageously foolish, I’d be beating down the door of this Maryland dealership. I’m in love.

Which VW will you choose? The simple, utilitarian 1980 diesel wagon or the 21st-century 12-cylinder luxury barge? Or something in between?