VRffordable Double Take: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6

Tired of seeing high prices for Corrado SLC VR6s? Today is your day, because nearly all of the fun offered in the 6-cylinder Corrado was also slotted into the GTI. For a hair under $20,000, you got the same thrilling 2.8 liter VR6 mated solely to a 5-speed manual. Did you want an automatic? Well, then buy the Jetta. Sure, that motor and the bigger body of the Mk.3 meant it was quite a bit heavier than the previous GTIs had been – by 1995, the ‘hot hatch’ had bulked up with 700 additional lbs of super-weight gain Mk.3000 versus the A1. But faster? Without a doubt. With nearly double the horsepower of the original U.S. market model, 0-60 was sub 7-seconds and you could hit 130 flat out. Coupled too with VW’s ‘we don’t care if you think it’s broke we’re not going to fix it’ styling attitude, the Mk.3 might have not looked as slinky as the Corrado, but underneath it was still a Golf and as such, practical.

So while the Corrado pretended to be a Porsche, the GTI remained the answer to the ‘what if’; you wanted a Porsche, but you a) didn’t want to (or couldn’t) pay for a Porsche, and 2) you occasionally needed a car that you could actually use to transport things other than your smile. This was the recipe that made the first two generations successful.

It was no surprise then that the third generation GTI remained a niche hit for Volkswagen even in relatively dire times for European imports. While finding a nice GTI VR6 can be quite difficult, it was a bit of a Thanksgiving treat to see two pop up in my feed. So which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen GTI VR6 on eBay

2000 Volkswagen Cabrio

In an attempt to challenge Mercedes-Benz’s R107 for chassis longevity, Volkswagen’s introduction of a more affordable German drop-top in the 1980 Rabbit Convertible stretched production until 1993. That meant that the A1 outlasted all of the A2 production cycle and was no squarely into the newly launched A3. Volkswagen introduced their replacement for the aging and renamed Cabriolet with the Mk.3 Cabrio in 1994. As with the A1, production again would extend beyond the A3 chassis life, because in 1999 VW introduced us to the fourth generation Golf. As with the 2nd generation, VW didn’t plan a convertible version for the Mk.4 – well, at least, not for the Golf, as convertible duties would be handed off to the New Beetle. But since the launch of the nostalgic Beetle Convertible waited until 2003, VW covered the gap with the “Mk3.5” refresh on the Cabrio. It received softened and rounded bumper covers, Mk.4 inspired lights, and a lightly revised interior. As with other VW models, there was a base GL model or the better equipped GLS, like today’s example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Cabrio on eBay

1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi

Recently, I’ve been spending some time driving an Audi C6 A6 3.2 Avant. While I have a report coming on that car soon, I mention it for one reason – what happened the other day when I was filling it up. The gas light pinged on and I pulled into the station; pop the fuel door, card in, nozzle removed, then I tend to pass my time judging other people’s car choices as they fill up too. As I filled, I made my way all the way around the quite full station and had summed up the rather unhappy lives of most of the vanilla SUV drivers in my head. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I was still pumping gas. Filling the Passat generally limits my prejudice party as I run out of room at 12 gallons. The 530xi allows me to make judgements on more Kia drivers, as I’ve hit 16 and change. But I had strode past 16 with ease and the numbers were still going. Concerned, I stopped and began to look for the gas pouring out of the bottom of the car, much to the bemusement of my captive audience. Unable to locate the leak, in wonder I re-engaged the trigger and watched the number on the dial climb past 18 gallons. Now, the A6 gets pretty reasonable mileage for a big, heavy car – around 23 average, over 25-26 on the highway. And all told, if you ran it dry you’d be 21.1 gallons in the whole. That makes a real-world range of over 500 miles per a tank. Sound like a lot? It’s the type of number the B4 Passat TDi laughs at.

Especially in Variant wagon form, the B4 TDi Passats have become legendary. Equipped with the 1Z motor, they’re capable of a simply bladder-busting range.…