In roughly 1999, a local-to-me European car business turned up with something quite unusual. It was a pastel blue 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit. There was nothing particularly special about it; it was a base model with steel wheels. It wasn’t unusually optioned. It wasn’t a GTI. In fact, there was only one really remarkable thing about it – it had only 5,000 miles on the odometer from its single owner, and was in close-to-new shape.
The story went that the original owner had suffered a heart attack when the car was quite new. The widow had left the car in the garage, untouched by all but dust, until finally an estate sale liberated the single oil change bunny. The condition was certainly astounding, but to me the asking price at that time was, too. The seller was looking for $5,000.
It was pretty cool that the car was like a new fifteen year old car, but then cars had come a long way since 1984 in 1999, and the collector market on the Rabbit hadn’t really taken off. In 1999, $5,000 would have bought you a very nice 2.0 16V GTI, after all.
Fast forward to today.
It’s been an astounding nearly twenty years since today’s equivalent to my parable was new in the dealership. Like my memory, it’s a very basic Golf in very good condition with very low mileage. Similar to my story, cars have come a very long way in the past twenty years, and a quick jaunt in this buzzy, basic and slow Golf will quickly remind you of that. So has the market on a clean, low mileage automatic base Golf taken off yet, or is this doomed to a similar fate as my Rabbit – to sit and wait for jsut the right nostalgic buyer?
Following up on the 10,000 mile 1993 Corrado SLC from two weeks ago, today I have a lovely trio of Corrados to take a look at. Covering the model years and changes from 1990 to 1994, these three are low mile, impeccable condition and it’s a stroke of luck to see them all at the same time. As the expensive Corrado sold rather slowly on these shores, numbers have always been a bit short and now that the first models can be registered as antiques in most states they’re firmly into collector territory. As the Corrado is pretty well known on these pages, I won’t go into extreme model history today as we’re looking at three examples. For an excellent look at the history of the Corrado, take some time to read the Hemming’s take on it back in 2013. The previously mentioned 10,000 mile Corrado failed to meet its reserve despite shocking bidding which ended at $27,400. Clearly, there’s a market for these clean examples, so is any the match for the 1993?
Considering popular Volkswagen chassis for enthusiasts, it would be natural to equate the many generations of Volkswagen Golfs to BMW’s 3-series. Models like the legendary GTi 16V mimic the Munich brand in several ways, with high revving inline-4s, BBS wheels and the later models even sported quad round headlights. The models that followed plumped up a bit and went to sonorous 6-cylinders and even more recently turbocharging both has become the factory way. Following in that comparative logic, the Corrado SLC is more like the M5. It’s a bit more grown up, more refined – yet has an equal mystique and base of fans. For Volkswagen faithful, clean Corrados are like India was to the British Empire – the crown jewel of collectables. And no gems come to the market more brilliant than this basically new emerald-colored 1993:
We have a tendency to look at older cars through rose-colored glasses. Today, by all accounts, the Corrado SLC is a modern classic – but was it always so? In fact, if we go back to the original tests of the cars, as with most Volkswagen products it wasn’t the fastest, quickest, best turning or braking. It didn’t turn the fastest lap times and yet was usually the most expensive. As such, in comparisons like Car and Driver’s 1992 Sport Coupe comparison, the Corrado finished only mid-pack. But as with other Volkswagen and Audi products, there was an intangible element to the Corrado that made it somehow more appealing than the competition.
By 1992, the supercharged Corrado G60 was underpowered compared to the competition given its relatively high weight. Volkswagen solved the problem with the introduction of the awesome narrow-angle VR6 motor, rated at 178 horsepower and 177 lb.ft of torque. New wheels mimicked the design of the of the outgoing 1991 BBS wheels on the G60, but were subtly different; underneath hid now 5 bolts and a redesigned suspension, brakes and electronic traction control system. Subtle changes were new clear signals and a re-sculpted hood, along with new nomenclature – the VR6 model was now dubbed the SLC. Further changes were rolled out in 1993; a change of wheels again to the more purposeful 15″ x 6.5″ Speedline 5-spoke design was most notable outside, while inside a revised dashboard had mostly new and more upscale switches, dials and gauges. A fair amount of the 1993-1994 Corrado SLCs were shipped fully loaded, now with a price a staggering $10,000 more than the 1990 base price at a lofty $28,000. That meant few sold, but even though by the numbers these Corrados weren’t the best deal, much like the contemporary Porsche 968 the SLC proved more than the sum of its parts. Even a decade ago some like Richard Hammond from Top Gear were declaring the still fairly new Corrado a future classic, but more recently established collector organization Hemmings tipped the Corrado as a great potential collector. Great! Now, where to find a nice one? That’s a larger problem; the Corrado was so expensive that few were sold here, with low thousand numbers in each 1993 and 1994 production which would be the last year of offer in the U.S.. We’ve got quite a great example to feature today, though: