I always get a bit of a chuckle at the keyboard warriors who love to denigrate manufacturers for not offering the full European catalog to U.S. customers. Really, you’d buy a RS6 Avant if it was offered here? You and what bank account, Mr. Sittinginhisrentedapartmentstealinginternetfromtheneighbors? Manufacturers need to live in the real world, and in the real world of the United States, while there is in fact a market who would purchase top-tier cars like the RS6 Avant, the reality is that the vocal majority of enthusiasts barking about how they’d snap them up like hotcakes would – at best – be hoping to buy a lightly used one downstream. At worst, these super wagons would only become affordable after ten years, at which point their complicated systems would render ownership prohibitively expensive for most. So, they kick tires, simultaneously ruing that such options aren’t available to them while secret thankful that they don’t have to put their money where their mouths are. We don’t have to look back far to find why this market departed the U.S., because when we were afforded the option to buy these cars, we found them unaffordable. Witness the very expensive W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed:
The main problem for the Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant is the plethora of other very capable all-wheel drive wagons that ran alongside it. Scratch that. The main problem for the Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant is that it’s just too damn complicated for its own good. On paper, an 8-cylinder, 270 horsepower all-wheel drive Passat just sounds damn cool. You could even get it with a 6-speed manual, if you could find one. If optioned correctly, the W8 had some pretty trick BBS-made “Madras” 2-piece wheels too, just like the ones we see here. But VAG designs from the early 2000s had a tendency for complicated engineering for complicated engineering’s sake, and it doesn’t get a whole lot more complicated than the timing chain routes on the back of VAG motors. That’s right, the back. Because, of course, if you put a timing chain in, you don’t need to ever service it, right? In the quest for greater performance and numbers, we stumbled through a looking glass of complexity that has rendered an entire generation of cars so massively over-engineered relative to their specific output that it simply makes no sense to even briefly contemplate their ownership:
The words “Q-Ship” and “Sleeper” get tossed around a lot when describing the super-performing sedans, coupes and wagons from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW – but truth be told, virtually any enthusiast and most non-enthusiasts can spot a high performance model a mile away. We have to go really pretty far back to find examples that were true sleepers – models where it was only the number of tail pipes, subtly wider wheels, or maybe one single badge that hinted at their greater performance. There were no extra gills, bulges, flared fenders, red trim, flashy colored brake calipers and 29″ wheels with 375 section tires. For models like the 450SEL 6.9, you had to know what you were looking at to fully appreciate the performance. But even as we got towards the E28 M5, manufacturers were slapping badges, lowered suspensions, spoilers and special trim to help set their client’s substantial investments apart. In the vein of the 450SEL 6.9, though, Volkswagen launched a discrete performance sedan – a true sleeper – in the Passat W8:
The rare to find 6-speed Variant version of the B5.5 chassis Passat W8 that we looked at last month is back up for sale. The seller has dropped the “Buy It Now” price by $1,000 to $8,995 – more in line with top-of-the-market B5.5 Passats like the TDi Variants and low mile examples. While it’s possible to get more performance out of the Audi 6-speed Avants of either B5 or B6 generation for around the same money, this is one pretty neat sleeper if you’re willing to put up with the maintenance factor of the unique engine.
There’s always been a fascination for me with the W8 Passat. Not only did Volkswagen take the B5 and B5.5 models upscale by offering the Audi-based chassis, but they pioneered the new engine configurations that would be the top-tier mills in the Passat. Truth told, the “W” configuration had been around for a few years before it finally entered into the mid-sized sedan and wagon. It was first floated in the Bugatti EB116 16/4, but really came into the minds of enthusiasts with the Volkswagen W12 Nardo concept. Now in appropriately named W12 configuration and powering all four wheels, the 600 horsepower mid-engined Volkswagen captured headlines with its 200 m.p.h. 24 hour run and Italdesign-penned Group C for the road looks. While the Nardo was the prototype for what would become the Veyron after some heavy revisions, the W12 would be an exotic engine only powering the most elite of the VAG range. However, Volkswagen also launched a smaller version of the engine for 2001 in the Passat. It was the first introduction to U.S. customers of the W configuration that would later appear in Bentleys, the D3 Audi A8L and the Phaeton. There was something unique about the Passat’s package, though. First, you could option the mid-ranger in long-roof 5-door configuration. More importantly for enthusiasts, you could select a manual 6-speed, too. The combination of these items coupled with the stratospheric price tag of the model meant very few sold. But briefly, until the new S4 launched in 2004, this was the most powerful manual VAG product you could buy in the U.S.:
In yesterday’s Audi project post, I wrote up two more-rare Audis with potential, though both would require some work and dedication to get to daily driver status. Today, I’ve got two more “project” cars – though, if anything, these two are considerably more rare these days than either of the two Audis. Both are all-wheel drive wagons from Volkswagen, but if you can quint and see a family resemblance, that’s about all that links them together. The first is the B2 Audi-derived Quantum Syncro – essentially, an Audi 4000 quattro with Volkswagen hubs, wheels and brakes and a unique rear suspension under the Quantum body. The Passat W8 also shared Audi A4 all-wheel drive components but essentially was a completely different offering, from the 6-speed manual transmission this model sports to the unique W8 motor stuffed into the discreet Passat Variant package. While there were considerably more Quantum Syncros produced than W8 6-speeds, finding one today can be quite hard – many succumbed to poor residual value, rust and neglect; though not complicated cars, the were more expensive to work on than the standard 4-cylinder models. The W8 is at the verge of falling into the same fate, with the exception of original production numbers – with only a handful of W8 Variants imported originally, both of these cars are serious unicorns these days. Which is your style?
Unicorns. They’re what automotive enthusiasts refer to as the cars that just can’t be found easily; they’re out there, people know they exist, but they just don’t come up for sale very often. Such is the case with today’s 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed; a car which very infrequently turns up for sale because of how devoted the owners of similar models are and how few were imported. While we see W8 6-speed sedans on an infrequent but semi-regular basis the wagons are just very hard to come by. How rare are they? W8s are pretty rare to see in any event, with only around 5,000 imported to the U.S.; but in the case of the 6-speed Variant, less that 100 were imported here – a reported 56 in 2003, and 42 in 2004. A decade on, figure a few of those have disappeared in crashes or other untimely deaths and you have yourself a very rare car, indeed:
Model: Passat W8 4Motion Variant
Engine: 4.0 liter W8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 95,000 mi
Price: Reserve Auction
YOU ARE BIDDING ON A VERY NICE 2003 VOLKSWAGON PASSAT W8 ALL WHEEL DRIVE WAGON!
DARK BLUE EXTERIOR
TAN LEATHER INTERIOR
275 HP -275 FT LBS
RARE 6 SPEED!
TRACTION CONTROL ABS BRAKES
SPORTS PACKAGE (FACTORY 17 INCH BBS WHEELS)
FAST FUN SAFE PRACTICAL!
HAUL THE FAMILY AND STILL HAVE GO FAST FUN!
BELOW ARE SOME OF THE NEW PARTS INSTALLED IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS:
Valve Cover Gaskets and spark plug hole seals
Front and rear temperature sending units and seals
Front vent hose valve cover to valve cover (front of motor)
Double Serpentine belt
Lower radiator hose
External balancer cogged belt and tensioner and all bolts
Water pump (metal impeller)
Front bumper/ motor mount
Both Front Axels
How rare is this car?…
A few weeks ago during wagon week, I wrote up an unloved pair in the German cars enthusiast world; a 6-speed Passat W8 sedan and automatic W8 Variant. While in general most would prefer the manual, in this case throwing the versatility of the Variant into the mix confused matters. Ultimately, though, it seemed like no one really liked either of these complicated Volkswagens. That’s a shame, because unfortunately companies like Volkswagen and Audi at least in part determine which of their elite models to bring over to the U.S. based upon sales, and in that regard models like the W8 Passat and Phaeton are examples of why the niche cars aren’t brought over here. When they’ve been available to us, we simply haven’t bought them in great number.
Today is another example of the neat W8 platform, this time a darker Silverstone Metallic sedan that also has the desirable 6-speed manual transmission:
Model: Passat W8 4motion
Engine: 4.0 liter W8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 73,000 mi
Price: $8,500 Buy It Now
We are selling a 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4motion with only 73k miles. It comes with the VERY RARE 6-speed manual transmission and full BBS sport package options. It is super clean and runs excellent. Very smooth and powerful car. Please see all the pictures for exact condition. Warranty options are available up to 3 years. We finance and accept credit cards for full/partial payment. We also take trade-ins and can arrange shipping if needed (ask for a quote). Feel free to call us with any questions at 516-543-4600. Thank you
This is a great looking sedan in very good shape; the wheels on the W8 are usually the tell-tale if the car has been well maintained.…
Volkswagen has a tendency to introduce “misunderstood” cars in the US, and in recent memory two really stand out; the ultra-luxury Phaeton and the crazily-engined Passat W8. Existing only for a brief time, the W8 was the test platform for many of the W-engine variants. Linked to 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive, these cars were only slightly more luxurious than the run of the mill Passat, but did pack a lot more punch on the freeway. The W8 remains a discrete performance package in the truest sense of the word; few outside enthusiasts even understand what that “W” means. Perhaps that’s why Volkswagen sold so few of these pricey mid-range cars; today, though they hold a special place in VW fans’ hearts and minds, W8s in good condition are hard sells that generally don’t bring much higher prices than V6 or 1.8T models. That means you can get a unique performance bargain if you’re a careful shopper not afraid of the equally unique engine. In honor of wagon week, then, we have an either/or – 2003 Passat W8 6-speed manual versus a 2004 Passat W8 Variant. Let’s start with the manual
Model: Passat W8
Engine: 4.0 liter W8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Price: No Reserve Auction
2003 VW PASSAT
4.0L W8 AWD 6 SPEED
Clean inside and out
Runs and drives 100%
No warning lights on
No known issues
Good clutch, brakes and tires
If you are thinking of purchasing this vehicle, no need to wait until the end of the auction.
We advertise our vehicles on many other websites as well as our own.
Most of the auctions could be ended earlier with a reasonable offer. So do not wait till last minute.