This is the forgotten one, the doer, the unstoppable, the sensibly solid one, the one for the people. A life abbreviated, an experiment cut short, a desire unfulfilled. I, the big Audi fan, always wanted one of these close cousins but it never happened and now I’m more or less resigned to it being too late to have one.
There was never one available when I’ve had the time or the budget and I’ve never had the time or the budget when one was available. This one was placed in this spot just moments before I walked through this parts heaven’s pearly chainlink gates as they opened and the sun shone down uponst the hallowed ground. I would have kneeled and genuflected but there’s no way am I going to get on that ground, it’s filthy.
So pictures and some kind words will have to do to console myself with. Sold between 1986 and 1988, our 1987 is from the middle of the run and a curious little experiment wherein VW already had the Quantum which was basically an Audi 4000 under the skin and Audi had their Quattro AWD system, so like peanut butter and chocolate they jammed it all together under the wagon version’s skin and presto, a (sort of) budget AWD wagon for VW.
Audi had the 5000 Avant in naturally aspirated and turbo form but those were pricey items. Audi also had the 4000 but only in sedan form. We never got the Coupe Quattro except in Turbo Quattro form but those were gone after 1986 and as costly as a Porsche 911 anyway. So a regular AWD wagon from VW wouldn’t really step on anyone’s toes and be pretty much a parts bin special, there was never a Quantum Syncro sedan even though that would have been even easier to build.
Like the 4000Q, the Quantum Syncro got the inline 5-cylinder Audi engine that was already being used in the regular Quantum GL5 trim level, but now added the full time AWD Quattro system to it. Blessed with a full time 50/50 split the Quantum also had the lockable center and rear differentials that would help to make Quattros legendary in the winter and snow, especially here in Colorado.
Of course, that 2.2liter 5-cylinder only puts out 115hp (at sea level) which is fine when you are descending I-70 from the Rockies back down to Denver but not as great when you are climbing up it. However, the grumbly little 5 eventually will climb any mountain, ford any stream, and then beg to do it again, eager, delightfully vocal, and torquey when paired with the 5-speed (the only transmission offered).
In later years people have swapped all kinds of engines from the extended family into the Syncro from 10V turbo 5’s to the Audi 200 and Audi S4/S6’s 20V Turbo 5 to that evergreen favorite of the VW/Audi tuner scene, the Audi 1.8T 4cylinder from the turn of the century. All fit with ease and can generally be made to run very well with significantly more power and fun with relatively little fuss.
There’s the 5-speed and ahead of it the selector for the diffs, pull out to the first stop for the center diff and all the way out to lock the rear one in conjunction with the center one. Simple and effective, the car pretty much goes from nearly unstoppable to completely unstoppable.
The biggest difference between this and the Audi sedan lies under the rear load floor where the suspension in this case utilizes torsion bars in order to have a lower floor. Roomy and spacious, there’s a reason the Quantum is so beloved in Germany (always known as the Passat over there).
It’s a bummer the wheels were already gone on this one, but the machined faces with black pockets were the exact same 14-inchers as offered on the 1983/1984 VW GTI and looked great against the chiseled bodywork with all the black trim. Interestingly VW seems to have been the first with the black plastic around the fenders (but started it on the GTI of all things) that everything that even remotely wants to look rugged and 4WD these days sports. Come to think of it, machined faces with black pockets was/is a popular wheel trend yet again too.
As with Audis of the day, there really wasn’t anything particularly shouty to advertise the actual capability beneath the skin, you had to be “in the know” to realize what was going on here.
The inside is similarly no-nonsense, bordering on spartan, but with nice touches such as the optional sports seats here and the steering wheel, again lifted straight from the GTI.
Occupants in the back had decent legroom, and the velour was very comfortable and extremely hard-wearing. The seats of course flip down to create a long and flat load floor.
This one looks to have been towed here using the seatbelt to keep the wheels more or less in place. Someone has picked over a few bits before it got here too, as a few switches are missing. This dashboard design worked quite well with the radio and HVAC bits placed very high, not really any blockier than today’s dashboards with the tablet-looking things perched in the same area.
A VW-branded Blaupunkt stereo cassette player, air-conditioning, and simple slider controls. Enough to keep your inner engineer busy adjusting stuff even if those vents don’t look really large enough to get a big volume of fresh air coming through.
This is pretty much the same gauge cluster that every VW got back then with the single blinking green light if a signal is on, a few red warning bulbs, blue high beam indicator and row of black blanks below. A digital clock at the bottom and an “economy upshift” suggestion light at top. The 151,486 mileage is certainly disappointing, this thing was cut down in the prime of its life (or the VDO odometer is broken, certainly a possibility), at that mileage it’s just broken in!
I think the reason it’s here is due to an apparent rear impact that pushed the tailgage in and smashed the rear lights. As much as there is a cult following for these, actual street value is minimal these days so that’d surely send it here. This one’s color is “Stratos Blue”, but the Syncro was also available in Tornado Red, Charcoal Gray, White, and Silver.
Back in 1987, when this was new, it wasn’t cheap being assembled in West Germany. We got lucky with this one, as it came with the full documentation package.
This one was sold on January 23, 1988 by Manny Lucero at Santa Fe World Automotive Market, proud purveyors of VW, Porsche, Audi, Isuzu, Subaru, and BMW according to the business card. Sounds like my kind of place, the only one of those I haven’t owned would be the BMW. It looks like the VW battery crapped out in October 1990, as that is when the Sears Battery Warranty is punched, but it appears the VW was sitting on the lot unsold for at least six months. The owner faithfully went back to the dealer for service until the last stamp in the booklet at 53674 miles on October 3, 1994, who knows what happened after that, beyond it ending up here in Denver, Colorado. Maybe the original owner is a Curbivore and will recognize his ride…
But we also have the Monroney! $18,870 was the base price, the only options were the Stratos Blue Clearcoat Metallic paint color for $160 and the Sport Seats for $265. Destination charge was $320 (wow, that’s gone up these days!) for a grand total of $19,615 which was quite a sum for 1987, equating to $45,615 today. I suppose that makes sense, midsize AWD wagons like the Audi A4 Allroad or Volvo V60XC start at right around that price today. The closest things that VW offers are the Tiguan CUV which tops out below that and the Atlas CUV, for which you have to really try and push most of the buttons to get up that high in price.
The EPA fuel mileage is atrocious though for something that weighs around 2700 pounds, at 17City and 21Highway. Yes I know the scale was different but that’s fairly poor V8 Crew Cab Pickup mileage these days. I don’t know about those good old days…
Of course there’s also the dealer add-on sticker, or as titled here, the “Add-A-Tag – Protecting The Consumer” – yeah, more like jamming it to the consumer with an additional $145 for a tacky pinstripe, $289 for Dealer Prep which should already be included, that’s called overhead, and then the Total Protect Package for a whopping $589 ($1370 today!) which didn’t do much when beaten down from behind by some jacked-up pickup truck. I hope Manny got a nice cut of that.
I still like these a lot but the time for me with one has passed, my interests have moved on and I’m now more intrigued by other things. But of course I’ll still check Craigslist before I turn the lights off this evening as you never know if one’s out there, just in case…Maybe a red one.