2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup

Although I’ve espoused my love of wagons and their do-everything nature, the reality is that I live in the suburbs and there are certainly some times (read: pretty often, actually) that I could use a pickup truck. But, if I’m completely honest, I’ve previously owned a big Chevrolet 2500HD pickup and I’m still not convinced that I’m a pickup kind of guy. Worse still, have you priced a pickup out lately? HOLY MACKEREL. A base Silverado starts at almost $30,000 and if you want things like…seats, and/or wheels, you’ll quickly need more than $40,000. When I see $40,000 asks on a pickup which a) I know will be rusting in 5 years no matter what I do and b) because it’s a GM, will almost certainly break, I get pretty annoyed. Worse still, the “Heartbeat of America” isn’t built in America. I know. I live right by the port where they all come in on a boat. Beside the steady stream of Fiats, Volkswagens, Porsches and Alfa Romeos, there’s a long line of Chevrolet and GMC pickups being driven into the United States for the first time.

So how about a pickup that’s a bit more my speed? Built in America with tons of European flare by utilizing recycled Audi/Volkswagen products, there’s always the Smyth Pickup:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta Smyth Pickup on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Fox GL Wagon

The Volkswagen Fox is a model which is almost entirely overlooked by us. It’s not because we don’t like the concept of the entry-level Volkswagen brought to the U.S. from Brazil, but the budget pricing coupled with legendary 1980s Volkswagen reliability and build quality (cough cough) hasn’t exactly left a plethora of examples of these small VWs left to contemplate. The Fox was offered in three configurations – two door coupe, four door sedan and two door wagon. Without a doubt, it was the wagon which gets the most enthusiast attention these days. In profile, it looks a bit like a B2 Audi if they had made a wagon, and indeed pop the hood and you’ll see the same longitudinal configuration. Some parts are even interchangeable with the B2 Audis, like the steering rack. But more of this car was shared with the Golf than any Audi product, and though the Fox resurrected the Audi B1 nameplate here the two shared only a passing resemblance. Infrequently seen, these little wagons are neat cars that march to the beat of slightly different Brazilian drummers:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Fox GL Wagon on eBay

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2007 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 4Motion Variant

When it comes to sporty wagons in the mid 2000s, your only options were really Audis and BMWs, right? Well, wrong – because Volkswagen dropped one pretty hot sleeper on our shores before elimination of the Passat wagon from the lineup. Granted, Volkswagen’s hottest entrant into the sport wagon market – the R36 – wouldn’t come here, but the normal 3.6 4Motion was darn close. With 280 horsepower on tap from the enlarged narrow-angle VR6 channeled through all four wheels, the unassuming Passat was the second most powerful wagon offered on these shores from VAG. Unless you spent another 50% to opt for the Audi S4 V8, this was as quick as US-bound German wagons got. Unlike the B5/5.5, the B6 chassis returned to the Golf-based platform as with the B3/4, which was both a blessing and a curse. From a performance standpoint the change was a good one, as many of the items intended for the R32 model worked on the Passat now. However, the change to transverse engine placement from the inline Audi setup in the B5/5.5 meant that the “true” quattro drivetrain in the earlier 4Motions was replaced by the Haldex setup found in the R32 and Audi TT. Is this the end of the world? No, not really, and in fact because of this change you can opt to alter the power distribution with aftermarket control units. These 3.6 models were expensive and fully loaded, so they’re somewhat infrequently seen and generally unknown and unappreciated even in the German-specific realm:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 4Motion Variant on eBay

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2008 Volkswagen R32

Will the second generation R32 ever reach collector status? In January I took a look at a pretty nice example in signature Deep Blue Pearl:

2008 Volkswagen R32

I was left pretty unimpressed by the lack of detail on what should have been a pretty prime example. However, I found an even better one to consider, and pricing…well, let’s just say it’s not cheap.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

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2007 Volkswagen GTI Fahrenheit Edition

So we just looked at the Fahrenheit Edition appearance package on the Jetta, and by an interesting coincidence a GTI popped up. The package was more or less the same between the two cars, though the GTI was Magma Orange instead of Imola Yellow. Otherwise, you got the same wheels, interior package, and performance. Similar to the Jetta, this particular car is claimed to have lived with one owner from new, and it’s racked up a lot of use – even more miles than were on the last example. But this one is a lot cleaner, has a bunch of recent maintenance, and (for better or worse) is fitted with the DSG gearbox. What does that do to price?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Volkswagen GTI Fahrenheit Edition on eBay

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2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

A few years before TDI-gate broke, Volkswagen did something that seemed to me to be quite strange. The MQB-based Jetta had launched in 2011 and carried over the then-popular turbodiesel. With a boatload of torque, the TDI was reasonably sporty to drive, returned around 40 mpg on the highway, would clip to 60 in about 8 seconds, and had a base price of about $24,000 in 2013. But the same year, Volkswagen introduced a new hybrid version of the Jetta. This had a turbocharged and intercooled 1.4-liter inline-four mated with an electric motor and a 1.1-kWh battery for a combined output of 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While the TDI could be had in six-speed manual form, the hybrid only came in DSG 7-speed guise, and it was rated* at 48 mpg on the highway, would do 0-60 in 7.9 seconds, and had a base price $2k higher than the TDI.

So at first glance, the hybrid seemed to offer a reasonable return on investment; for only a small up front price, you got 20% better mileage right? Not so fast. In the real world, the TDI would return better mileage than the numbers suggested, while the hybrid returned worse….a lot worse. Real world testing suggested that on the highway, the more slippery Jetta only got about 38 mpg. Considering the technology thrown at it, that was pretty horrible. After all, my twin-turbocharged inline-six 135i, which was not designed with fuel economy in mind at all, will return over 30 mpg on the highway at 70 plus mph. On top of that, the hybrid didn’t sound as sexy as the TDI did (strangely) to a lot of people, and, in hindsight and considering the buy-back credits, the TDI was a much better purchase. How about today?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2016 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid on eBay

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2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Fahrenheit Edition

Back in 2007, Volkswagen launched two special editions with the same name but different specification; the Fahrenheit Editions of the GTI and GLI. Effectively these were limited-edition appearance packages; 1200 each of the GTI finished in Magma Orange and the GLI finished in Imola Yellow. Both got 18″ Charleston wheels, a numbered steering wheel with contrasting stitching, upgraded audio, the Premium Package, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, and leather interior with heated front seats – otherwise, these were stock 2.0Ts with your choice of the DSG gearbox or the six-speed manual. They weren’t exactly cheap when new – you’d have to plunk down nearly $30,000 to get into one, at which point you were about $3,000 shy of a BMW 328i. Still, with only 2,400 imported, they’re somewhat rare to see, and this one has been owned by the seller since it was just 10,000 miles old. The thing is, that doesn’t mean it’s a keeper.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Fahrenheit Edition on eBay

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2004 Bentley Continental GT

Okay, I know. A Bentley? Assembled in Crewe, England, this should not be appearing on these pages, no? Well, the truth is that you almost certainly already knew that under that slab of English exterior lies a mostly German heart. It was based on Volkswagen’s D platform, which gave us the outrageous Phaeton and was in part also based upon Audi’s D3 architecture. The engine was, of course, the twin-turbocharged version of the W12 motor, which saw its evolution from humble roots in the Passat W8. Beyond that, the resultant Bentleys – the Continental GT and its derivatives and the Continental Flying Spur sedan – employ Audi’s all-wheel drive system and share many components with the other two brands as well.

As you’d expect with the rundown of those models, plus the Bentley name, the price when new was expensive. But repair costs mean depreciation is pretty amazing on these, and you can now get one for a song. Let’s take a look at this particular GT, which is just the most awesome combination of colors!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Bentley Continental GT on eBay

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2012 Volkswagen Golf R

I suppose I’m not a very fair consumer, if I’m honest. For years, I decried Volkswagen for depriving Americans of the very best offerings it had. Golf Rallye and Country? Nope, and not the Limited either. Passat G60 Syncro? Nope, we didn’t get that either. There’s a string of great TDis that didn’t come here (and still don’t), along with one of the ones that really bugged me – the 4-door GTi. It just never made sense to me how you could argue the GTi was a super practical car when they made a more practical version that just wasn’t brought here. Of course, that ended with the Mk.V, so then my annoyance turned back to the Golf Limited. Sure, we had the R32 – by all rights, a great car, that was not available in 4-door version in the first generation and then not available in either a 4-door or manual in the second generation. To me, in an effort to be gimmicky Volkswagen had really lost the bit. Apparently I wasn’t alone in that thought, because Volkswagen finally made my GTi wishes come true in 2012 with the U.S. introduction of the spiritual successor to the Golf Limited – the Mk. 6 Golf R. Gone was the VR6, replaced by the more potent and tunable 2.0T which could now be specified with a manual and all-wheel drive, and importantly in 4-door guise. Did I buy one? Nope, because this German wonder priced in at a shocking $36,000 with options. For a Golf, mind you.

Today, though, the first generation of Golf Rs has become in some cases cheaper than the car it replaced, the Mk.5 R32 , which as I just explained only came in two-door DSG. This Golf R, though, has four doors and 1.5 manual gears per a door:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R on eBay

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2008 Volkswagen R32

The 5th edition of the Golf brought a new level of refinement and better build quality over the Mk.4, but performance was relatively unchanged due relatively unchanged power and weight. One thing that did change was that the U.S. bound R32s only came with the DSG automatic gearbox. In a straight drag race and around a track, the DSG was quicker, but is more expensive to run and lost some of the feel of the manual “chuck-ability” of the Mk.4. The real shame with the Mk 5. is that there was a 5-door version and manual option in Europe but VAG opted to not import them. It’s too bad because they might have been a clear challenger to not only hatches but the WRX/Evo crowd. However, one thing is for sure – they’re now cheaper than equivalent 4th generation cars. Today’s 2008 model is represented in Deep Blue Pearl, the signature color for the R32:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen R32 on eBay

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