In the early 1970s, a major change swept through Volkswagen. For some time, Volkswagen attempted to create unique ways to fit more people into a Beetle. The Type 3 abandoned the Beetle’s 2-door, fixed sloping roof profile for a (slightly) more conventional sedan, fastback and even variant wagon platform. That developed ultimately into the Type 4; the 411 and 412 again further moved VW “mainstream” with their Pininfarina bodies and more practical 4-door layouts.
Still, the writing was on the wall. Corporate partner Audi’s launch of the B1 chassis 80 model complete revolutionized both marque’s lineups over the next decade as rear-engine, air-cooled products were phased out and steadily replaced by new front-drive, water-cooled efficient and cheap to manufacture designs. The Audi 80’s design was refined by Giugiaro, so VW turned again to him to work his magic on the 412’s replacement.
What emerged after brief flirtation with the NSU-based K70 was the Passat. Unlike the traditional sedan that Audi got with the 80, the B1 Passat featured a dramatically sloping rear hatchback which picked up styling cues from both the Type 3 and Type 4, but of course was much more angular. Volkswagen offered three configurations for the first Passat; 3- and 5-door hatchbacks, and a 5-door variant wagon. These were introduced before the A1 Golf debuted in the U.S., and like the Golf, the Passat was given a North America specific name – the Dasher:
A few weeks ago I took a look at a pretty wild, and fairly famous, first-generation Volkswagen Scirocco. Replete with period details and a Callaway turbo kit, it was a hit for sure as it was when it was the signature car for New Dimensions.
First Dimension: 1978 Volkswagen Scirocco Callaway Turbo
While in some ways the mods took away from the beautiful simplicity of the Giugiaro design, it was still a trick car and brought strong bids, selling finally for nearly $15,000. That money is quite close to the 1981 Scirocco I looked at last year. Completely original and very pristine, it sold for over $17,000. Clearly, the market for these cars values both stock and well modified examples highly.
1981 Volkswagen Scirocco
In light of that, today I have an interesting comparison to consider. First we’ll take a look at a fully original, very clean and proper survivor 1980 Scirocco, then we’ll gander towards a full-on show car powered by a R32 VR6 and a claimed 400 horsepower – about five times what it came with originally. Will the bids follow the historical trends?
Yeah. Another Scirocco. If you can be fascinated by the proliferation of the mega-Beetle 911, though, you can bear with me. Volkswagen’s replacement for the Karmann Ghia, what would become the Porsche 924, proved to be perhaps a step too far for the company. What it created instead, once that was abandoned, was a bit of a legend in its own right. Based upon the pedestrian underpinnings of the Golf but actually developed in tandem and released prior to the more famous hatchback, Giugiaro’s penning of a slinkier two-door coupe variant of the platform was simply beautiful. As the Ghia had before it, it married serious Italian styling credentials with the practicality of an economy family hatchback.
Volkswagen’s new EA827 was the power of choice. Here displacing 1588 ccs and generating 71 horsepower, it was adequate motivation to top 100 mph – just. Amazing at it may seem, the nearly 1.6 liter unit in this 1977 was an upgrade over the 1.5 from the model’s 1974 launch in the U.S., though it only gained one net horsepower. They were diminutive cars; a 94.5 inch wheel base and only 155.7 inches overall, the first generation Scirocco is an amazing 10 inches shorter than the model I looked at yesterday. Even though it had little horsepower, road tests revealed that the Scirocco could out-accelerate a Mustang II Mach 1 (its contemporary) in the quarter mile. How dreary must that shoot-out have looked to our modern eyes? Suspension in front was a strut with coil-over spring setup; the rear was technically independent with a trailing arm configuration. Wheels were 13″ by 5″, or about the same size as modern brake discs on high performance cars.
It isn’t always the flashiest car that pulls your attention, and such was the case for me when pondering this 1986 Golf. Let’s get beyond the diesel scandal and its impact on the company for a moment, as I want to talk about the noise. In this case, it’s not the wind noise generated by the relatively upright Mk.2 design. It’s not even the substantial clatter coming from the engine bay of the 1.6 liter inline-4 diesel. No, seeing this car is a trip down memory lane because of the noise it makes when the key is in the ignition. 1986 was the year that changed at Volkswagen, and I just so happened to have a 1986 Golf 4-door. The noise was the warning chime, and Volkswagen’s clever marketing campaign proclaimed it as a digital “Volks-wa-gen” repeated until you either had to start the car or yank the key out. Fans of the marque have dubbed it “La Cucaracha”, which it vaguely sounds like, though it’s clearly a rip-off of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Rip out is what I, and many others, did to the door chime relay in an effort to maintain sanity when working on the car. The signature door sound would carry on for a few generations but finally died in the 2000s like most VW electronics. I openly wonder if, in an effort to re-brand itself in the post-Dieselgate world, VW will reintroduce the theme song as a “throwback” to gain back its original fan base. After all, I’m sure I’m not the only one who vividly has those three tones repeating in my head as I look at this Golf:
Coming across a low mile, “time capsule”-esque Porsche isn’t a particularly rare thing. While it’s hard to conceive of a time when they were considered cars rather than investments, even when new the high entry price and exclusivity of buying a top-tier German car meant that quite a few were treated more as prized possessions to be preserved rather than as transportation. Though less frequent, the same goes for Mercedes-Benz models, as we roll across quite a few pristine and original low mile SLs, S-Class and even less expensive models. Certainly, it is less common among BMWs and downright atypical to find a low mile, original and unmolested Audi, though one wonders if recent market trends have inspired a generation with disposable income now to buy and squirrel away brand new RS, M and AMG cars in cocoons to emerge in a few decades as a retirement fund. It’s all a bit nuts if I’m honest.
But a Volkswagen? Low mileage, original time pieces are beyond atypical. When they do surface, they’re not always the most desirable model, either – Grandpa’s 1979 Rabbit in all-brown, for example. Sure, it’s got only 11,000 miles on the clock but it’s like donning a polyester suit and slapping on a fake mustache to go to a Halloween party as Ron Burgundy. No, no, I’m sure you do the best Will Ferrell impersonation in the world, but the situation is a bit worse than the plotline to Anchorman 2. But once in a while something comes along that is truly special AND cool:
The Volkswagen Passat [nÃ©e Quantum (nÃ©e Dasher)] has always been a bit of the odd-man out in the Volkswagen lineup, but each successive generation has offered something special – even in the U.S.. As Paul wrote up last week, in the B7 you could get a TDi manual – something of an oddity in the marketplace last year, as automatic whirring hybrids have ruled the minds and pocketbooks of middle management for the last decade. The B6 had a fantastic hidden gem in the 3.6 4Motion; an unappreciated car in general but perhaps the car Audi should have built. The B5? It was the car that finally made the Passat successful in the U.S., and introduced the cool if too complicated W8 4motion package. The B3/4 had the you-can’t-kill-it-unless-it-rusts 1Z diesel and sonorous VR6 motors. The B2’s trump card over the Audi 4000 it closely resembled was the Syncro Wagon. And the B1? Well, if you wanted a 4-door Volkswagen hatchbach that was a bit more substantial than the Rabbit on offer, briefly your wish could come true:
For a decade the Mercedes-Benz R107 SL held a monopoly on topless motoring in Germany. Granted, the Beetle Convertible ran alongside the R107, but honestly they were no where near the same product and certainly didn’t appeal to the same clientele. The company narrowed the gap in 1980 though; Beetle Convertible production ended and a new topless VW came onto the market in the Golf Cabriolet. Modern engines and driving dynamics made the Cabriolet a much more appealing affordable option to those who wished to have some fun in the sun, and though Porsche and BMW would join the topless crew a few years later it still seems that the R107 and the Cabriolet personified the ends of the market and both were extremely popular in their own right. While the Mercedes-Benz has been gaining traction as a collector-status car, the Cabriolet has been slower to be appreciated by enthusiasts but a mint condition original model in European trim is certain to raise some eyebrows as it drops its top:
The 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit with 2,000 miles we featured a month ago is back up for sale, with a lowered Buy It Now price of $7,700. Is this possibly one of the lowest mileage, unmolested Mk1s out there?
The below post originally appeared on our site June 20, 2014: