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Feature Listing: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Wagon

Long before “Dieselgate” and the unceremonious admission of Volkswagen about cheating on emissions testing, Volkswagen struggled with the image of diesel. The problem wasn’t as much air pollution – there was plenty of that – but it was that diesels were noisy and slow. How slow? Well, consider today’s 1980 Dasher Diesel Wagon, whose 1.5 inline-4 mill produced a twig-snapping 48 horsepower. Despite the relative light weight at only 2,500 lbs, the Dasher Diesel literally and figuratively lacked spark as it’s near 20-second 0-60 time proved. As gas prices fell and fuel injected gasoline engines became ever more efficient (and powerful), the gap between the fuel mileage to the diesels narrowed as the perceived benefit gulf of purchasing petrol widened. However, nearly 30 years before the introduction of the “Sport Wagon” TDi, you can still see the spiritual basis for Volkswagen’s popular 5-door diesel configuration.

The other day, a gentleman pulled up to me right after I parked my Passat. He rolled down the window and asked if I liked the car, then mentioned that it was lovely. I thanked him and said that I loved the car. Sure, even over a decade on B5.5 generation Passat Variants are a dime a dozen around the streets of New England. But while the B5.5 was by far the most popular choice for German wagons in the early 2000s, it wouldn’t be possible without the B1. Styled by Giugiaro, the new chassis completely redefined the platform for Volkswagen. It was followed by the niche but popular B2 (Quantum in the U.S.), then the odd-yet-cool B3, the more traditional B4 and finally the popular B5/5.5 chassis. With some sadness, the B6 would be the last wagon form of the Passat for U.S. customers, but it went out with a bang – being offered in 3.6 VR6 with 4Motion all-wheel drive. It was about as far from the original B1 as you could get, but the mission of each was the same and they were representative of their times. “We think you’ll agree Dasher is setting new standards for roomy wagons, with elegant appointments and fittings” touted the 1980 brochure, and it’s hard to argue that for some time the Passat was the best value not only in German wagons, but perhaps in family vehicles in total. While they were loved by their respective owner pools, they were also used, and each subsequent generation is steadily becoming more infrequent to see. B5s have already started to disappear while B4s rust away. B3s are downright rare, but not nearly as much as clean B2s. But a clean B1? I’d bet you could count the number of examples in this condition remaining on one hand:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Wagon on Cleveland Craigslist

Year: 1980
Model: Dasher Diesel Wagon
Engine: 1.5 liter inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 153,657 mi
Price: $3,250

This is my 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel wagon. This car is remarkably clean, solid and in really good mechanical condition for the age.

This was Volkswagen’s premium vehicle, the first generation VW Passat. In the US it was called the Dasher. Later US versions were called the Quantum, all with the same longitudinal engine/FWD layout.

This car uses the same diesel engine as the VW Rabbit, and the fuel economy can be in the range of 50 mpg.

This was a “snowbird” car that spent the summers in New Hampshire and the winters in Florida. Mrs. Carol Davenport was the careful and meticulous owner.

Included with the car is a folder full of receipts and records that detail the entire history of the car since new. I have a record of every service done to this car since the pre-delivery inspection done by the dealer in Delray Beach, FL on 6/26/80. Everything that has been done including major services such as clutch replacement, timing belt replacements, etc is documented. This is the full history of the vehicle since new.

This Dasher runs and drives surprisingly well for a car of this age. It is tight, solid, stable and smooth. The engine runs well and the transmission shifts perfectly. The clutch is strong and the suspension is tight with no clunks or rattles. The brakes stop well and the steering is tight. This car will do 70+ mph on the highway with no trouble.

The body is very solid. The car has seen more than one repaint, but the paint quality is presentable and carries a decent shine. There is no rust of any consequence- this is a totally clean, solid and well-kept body and exterior.

The interior of the Dasher is clean and in good shape. The seats are clean with no rips, and the carpets are in decent shape.

This Dasher doesn’t have any mechanical problems and it runs and drives well. I would not hesitate to get in this car and drive anywhere- it is THAT reliable. Two items that will be of interest to the new buyer will be the timing belt (replaced 37,000 miles ago) and clutch (replaced 25,000 miles ago).


1.5L Diesel engine with block heater and water separator
4-speed manual transmission
original radio (works)
A/C (not working)

In addition to the complete service records, I also have the original owner’s manual plus several extra keys.

This car is kept inside my heated garage in Willoughby, OH.

Email me or call/text me at 440-339-4341 with any questions.

Finding a B1 wagon at all is fairly difficult, but a clean original example with all records? You guessed it, going on impossible. Admittedly the paint has been refreshed but that’s not surprising given the age and quality of early 1980s paintwork from Volkswagen. Inside the trim looks dated but is all there, a testament to relatively careful ownership this car appears to have experienced for the past 35 years. Look, you’re not going to win any popularity contests in this car, and it doesn’t enjoy the same reputation as similar mission W123 Mercedes-Benz Estates. But if you’re a Volkswagen fan and want something a little different than what anyone else is likely to show up in at the next marque event, this is a timepiece of nearly unprecedented quality which is seriously affordable. Put $10 of fuel in, pack several lunches and some games to entertain the audience while you slowly make your way through the road trip, and enjoy a disappearing yet important bit of Volkswagen history!


One Comment

  1. chrismk1
    chrismk1 December 3, 2015

    Had almost the exact car. ’81 Dasher Diesel Wagon, 4sp, Onyx Green w/ Tan Leatherette – all options, including VW roof rack and window drip guards (those keep the water out of the doors and prevent rust…) It was minister/s car. Barn stored and found in 2010 with 46K summer driver and sorted now with 58K ! Sold though – our kids, little then – loved their own hand crank windows. We loved the flip out vents on the front doors. Check website link for pic.

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