Forbidden Fruit: 1992 Volkswagen Passat G60 Syncro Wagon

As we saw in last week’s Quantum (née Passat), underneath the Volkswagen was almost all B2 Audi. They had borrowed Audi’s full quattro setup in the Syncro model until 1988. That was the same year that the G60 supercharged engine had debuted in the Golf in Europe, but it wouldn’t be until late 1989 and the new Corrado model’s introduction that the G-Lader would become better known on these shores.

The PG G-Lader devoted to the Rallye, G60 and third generation Passat Syncro wasn’t the most powerful unit VW of the time period at 158 horsepower and 166 lb.ft of torque (the 3G 16V version in the Golf Limited had 50 horsepower more), but the combination of these items seemed awesome at the time to U.S. fans because, of course, in the midst of VAG’s early 90s sales slump they opted not to bring the package here. Like the Corrado, based on Mk.2 underpinnings the Passat’s engine configuration had moved from longitudinal in the B2 to transverse in the third gen, meaning that Audi’s quattro system remained unique to that brand. The Golf’s transverse engine placement precluded use of the Audi longitudinal design, which used output shafts and mechanical differentials. Instead, Volkswagen turned to Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch for development.

Noted for development of four-wheel-drive systems and probably most recognizable for the Pinzgauer military vehicle, Steyr’s solution to the transverse problem was to utilize a viscous coupling similar to the AMC Eagle. However, while the Eagle’s system was all-wheel drive, all the time, Volkswagen’s system would only engage when the front wheels slipped. The Passat added new electronic features to the range topper, too – including anti-lock brakes and an electronic differential lock, and the new shape dropped the drag coefficient to .31.

The best part about the G60 Passat, though? You could get one in wagon form:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Volkswagen Passat G60 Syncro Wagon on Seattle Craigslist


Year: 1992
Model: Passat G60 Syncro Wagon
Engine: 1.8 liter supercharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 272,000 km (170,000 mi)
Price: $4,500 Buy It Now

1 of 200 all-wheel-drive Passats sold by VW of Canada. Not many remaining, none sold new in the USA.
This car was imported from Vancouver, BC.
Steel blue metallic – paint is in very good condition.
ca. 271,900 km on odometer = 170K miles.
160 HP G60 engine (1.8 ltr 4 cyl. supercharged) with 5 speed manual transmission
All the parts of the Syncro driveline except viscous coupler replaced last year.
The driveline runs very smoothly.
15′ inch Estoril (VW factory) wheels with new tires. Original grey leather. New windshield.
Power windows, power door locks, headlight washers, roof railing, glass sunroof from a 97 Passat as my mechanic could not locate new seals for the old one.
I just received a low mileage instrument cluster for installation for those of you who do not want to do the mental math from kilometers (original Cluster) to miles.
With close to US$ 10K invested, I am firm on price.
Own a piece of VW history!

For the longest time in the early 1990s, I thought that this was one of the coolest Euro sleepers out there. Supercharged. Wagon. Manual. Forged Wheels. NEAT! But as with so many older cars, time has worn the shine away slightly and the reality is that you can get much better performance out of newer cars. The uniqueness of the Passat Syncro was undone in the B5 and B5.5, as Volkswagen returned to the Audi underpinnings for a superior all-wheel drive system, and the novelty of an all-wheel drive Volkswagen 5-door washed away. Dynamically, you’d be much better off finding a B5.5 1.8T 5-speed Passat; better driving, better parts availability, and in all honestly they’re probably quicker and much easier to tune if you’re into that sort of thing. Then there’s the even more obvious question; why not just buy an A4 Avant? The novelty of the first two all-wheel drive Volkswagen wagons was, of course, that there was no equivalent Audi wagon at the time. But the B5 undid all these dreams, bring far more potent, refined and impressively designed cars to the U.S. masses.

Does that completely wash away the mystique of the Passat G60 Syncro? I don’t think it does. At $4,500, you’ll be driving the only one you’re likely to ever see in the U.S. unless you own a full parts car. These are mega rare at this point in history. There are known and well-established upgrades for the G-Lader, and the rest of the car doesn’t wear unobtanium parts so it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep it going. The third generation Passat arguably won’t go down in history as the best looking or best driving, after the boxish B2 the angular and rakish lines of the B3 and the hugely controversial (for the time) lack grill totally grabbed my imagination at the time. I love seeing B3s still, even if they’re not the most desirable Volkswagen out there.

-Carter

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4 Comments

  1. These were really good looking cars, I think the design looks pretty good today. That grill-less snout is pretty unique and original, but still looks very German.

  2. Beautiful car!

    Park it next to your early Q45 for the full no-grille effect.

  3. I dunno, I think this is pretty neat and a lot more interesting than a later Passat, even if that could be considered a better car. Nothing is really unobtanium – it’s just a unicorn combination of parts. And if you want more power, it’s not too hard to make happen. Plus that back seat is enormous.

  4. The Syncro Heresy presents to you a detailed introduction to the Passat b3 (b35i) Syncro g60:

    http://www.vwsyncro.eu/p/blog-page_72.html

    You are welcome.

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