An interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s GTI is today’s early 944. They were produced at the same time; the waning days of the normal A1 production, while Porsche was at the same time accelerating production of its watercooled transaxle lineup to meet the demands of the heady 80s. There are other similarities as well; the shape is iconic, they have an oversized (for their class) 4-cylinder and a manual transmission. Both are no-frills, relatively speaking; few electronic or power gadgets adorn the interiors here. And both are heralded as driver’s car, with intimate connection to the road and experience through each corner.
But while the A1 GTI is pretty much universally lauded as a legend, the 944 remains firmly an “also ran” for enthusiasts – even within the water-cooled arena. Perhaps that’s because there were much more potent versions of the 944 out there. Beyond the mid-’85 refresh, 1986 saw the introduction for U.S. fans of the new Turbo model, 1987 saw the 16V version launch and a larger 2.7 8V – and, of course, then there were the 944S2, Turbo S and 968 models. Early 944s, then, are about as unloved as the Volkswagen Dasher.
If you’re an enthusiast, though, that means great return on your investment. And like the GTI, it’s not just entry price that is relatively low on these 944s; compared to the 928 and 911, repairs are far less expensive and the glut of examples (nearly 57,000) brought to the U.S. means used parts – or even entire parts cars – are quite easy to find. So while all of them are worth at least consideration, every once in a while a really neat example pops up that is worth a longer look:
It needs to be said straight away, that I’m a wagon nerd. My first car was a wagon, and I drive one today almost 20 years later. Throw in the fact that I’m a vintage VW enthusiast, and this car pushes all of the right buttons with me.
In 1973, VW decided to experiment with a technology that was “foreign” to them…the radiator. With the introduction of the B1 Passat in Europe, VW used the Audi 80 platform for their first water-cooled offering to replace the aging Type 4. Rebadged as the Dasher for the US market in 1974, these cars were sold as a premium import wagon with prices well above the competition. This is probably why they were late to hit their stride in the US, and why the B1 Dashers are as uncommon as they come. Even more uncommon are clean examples like this one for sale in Hood River, Oregon. It’s no surprise to me that such a clean example is available in the PNW, as it seems to be a safe haven for clean original water-colled VWs.
Up for sale is my 1977 VW Dasher Wagon Wolfsburg Edition. It’s a manual 4-speed, Fuel Injected, 5-door, front wheel drive. This Dasher is NOT diesel. This car is in lovely shape. Daily driver and I would drive it anywhere. Completely stock, original paint. Minimal rust or dent issues. It has 113,000 original miles on it. I bought the car from the original owner. I have meticulous records of every fill up and oil change that this car has gone through since 1977. The car has the original factory window tinting, which is actually steel mesh screens that are mounted inside, over the windows. Plus it has the steel mesh sun shades on each rear passenger window.
With regards to water cooled Volkswagens, the K70 is where it all began. This is also the first front engined, front wheel drive Volkswagen. Designed by NSU, the K70 was intended to be a smaller sibling to the revolutionary R080 rotary engined sedan. After Volkswagen assumed control of NSU, the K70 filled a niche in Volkswagen’s lineup and was marketed as a successor to the Type 4. The K70 continued on until 1973 with the introduction of the Passat. In addition to a water cooled engine, some other interesting features were inboard front brakes, rack and pinion steering and MacPherson Strut front suspension.
Here’s an excerpt from the seller’s comprehensive ad:
There are close to 500 examples in the world and only 3 in the USA. This is an exellent example of a running orginal car and the best car I have ever found. It is the ONLY running K70 in the USA. It’s my great barn find, trailer queen. I purchased it from the original owner out of New York State several years ago so this makes me the second owner. It was brought over from Belgium where it was originally purchased and converted for US import. It has a MPH speedo!
I have pored over 15 grand into this car lovingly. I didn’t skimp on anything. I would consider this car “lightly restored”. My goal was to keep it as original as possible. It has about 90% original paint and 90% original or period correct pieces.
The first water cooled VW.
1 Bavarian folk music tape
1 medium box or original used parts
1 spare windshield (just in case)
technical support from myself and or the K70 club after joining
This car represents a unique opportunity to own what could be considered the bridge between the air-coooled and water-cooled Volkswagen eras.…