1991 Volkswagen Jetta Carat

When going through the not particularly extensive product range of Volkswagen in the early 1990s, I really find it hard to get excited about the Jetta. Okay, there were fast Jettas, like the GLI. And they were pretty cool in their own right. But as the GLI was available with less weight and better looks in more famous hatchback form, I’ve never been as excited about them.

I also found the trim levels very confusing. There was the standard Jetta, which pretty much got you nothing other than seats and a motor. Then there was the GL, which got you slightly more of something, but I’m not really sure what. Pretty much everything remained optional on these two models. Everyone knows about the Wolfsburg models, of course. They were more loaded, with special colors, interiors, radios and wheels – generally. Each model year was a bit different, and the A2 resource guide is helpful to sort it out..

In the middle was a strange one – the Carat. Technically, this model was placed above the GL and below the Wolfsburg model. But sometimes it wasn’t as well equipped as the GL, and other times it seemed better equipped than the Wolfsburg. It came with rear headrests (shared with the GL), power locks (shared with the GL), delay dome light (shared with the…are you seeing a trend?). So what did you get for the substantial premium in price? Unseen was the motor upgrade, which gave the Carat the 105 horsepower engine. Carats also differed from other non-GLI Jettas because they were equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes – but only for some years. In 1991, drums returned as standard. They also had an upgraded sports suspension, sport steering wheel, cruise control, sport seats and a power package which included mirrors and windows. So, it was a sporty option of the Jetta – wait, wasn’t that the goal of the Wolfsburg? It certainly seems like mission creep. Still optional were sunroof, automatic transmission, and somewhat shockingly alloy wheels. The Carats came standard with “unique” wheel covers – so unique, they were borrowed straight from the same year base Passat. It was a strange package of piece-meal parts for which Volkswagen charged a serious premium; the Carat cost nearly 50% more than a base Jetta out the door.

But in the company of the neat-looking and 2.0 16V-powered Passat, the supercharged and then VR6-powered Corrado, the legendary Cabriolet and Vanagon models, and the best looking GTI ever produced, it’s really hard to see the Jetta as anything other than an “also ran” for 1990-1992. Still, once in a while a nice one comes along…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Jetta Carat on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Weekender

$_57 (5)

My recent project of converting an inherited minivan into a camper has reinforced my interest in tin-top Vanagons. The Westy is certainly the way to go when a whole family is involved, multiplying the available sleeping space – and the price too. Besides affordability, tintops bring a much sleeker look, especially with subtle upgrades like today’s 1990 Carat Weekender. With a South African grille and 17″ Audi wheels, this Vanagon looks like it could be a Porsche Racing support vehicle. Alas, this is no Vanagon B32 (the Porsche-produced and -engined monster) but it’s still a sweet van that shows few, if any, signs of its 279k miles. Thankfully it won’t feel that well-traveled either, as it had an engine rebuild and transmission replacement 100k miles ago; it should have many roads and adventures ahead. While a lot of the Vanagon-love out there is steeped in overindulgence, this is a great example of how minimalism can still provide great versatility.

Click for details: 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Weekender on eBay

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1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat

There is one vehicle I’ve been on the lookout for ever since I started writing for GCFSB. The Porsche B32. Not familiar with this Porsche? Well, that’s because it really isn’t a Porsche. Rather, it’s a Volkswagen T3 Transporter, or Vanagon, as we knew them in the US market, with a Porsche heart. Motivated by a 3.2 liter flat-6 out of a 911 Carrera, this was one quick people mover. Only a handful of these über Vanagons were devised as a chase vehicle for the Porsche Group B 959s competing in the Paris Dakar Rally. The chances of getting your hands on a B32 are highly unlikely, but a few have attempted the Porsche flat-6 conversion themselves. If speed isn’t your concern but you like the aggressive B32 look, this 1990 Vanagon Carat may be the ticket.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Weekender


I’ve always dug the Carat edition of the Vanagon. This top of the line non-Westy version came stacked with all the options and exudes a classy aura, helped by the great 5-spoke blocky wheels and a cladding/bumper combination that makes a more cohesive look. Today’s example is a Weekender, so while it doesn’t have the pop-top, the rear seats fold flat into a bed. Looking at the pictures of the passenger area, it looks so comfortable I kind of just want to use it as my living room. With 150k miles on the original engine and transmission, it still has some good life left in it, but as is the case with Vanagons, a fun engine swap is always a possibility. The non-Westiness helps keep the price extremely reasonable, especially compared to most nice Vanagons you see on the market.

Click for details: 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat on eBay

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1991 Volkswagen Vanagon GL

If you missed last week’s awesome Westfalia that Nate wrote up, you missed a great example of the breed – as Nate put it, all you could ask for in a Vanagon. But if you don’t need the kitchen and awesomely cool pop-top, you can save a bunch of money and still have the Vanagon experience. Granted, you could argue that a large part of the appeal of the Vanagon is those camper Westfalias, but there’s a neat simplicity about the non-camper version. Today there is a stunningly clean version of the regular Vanagon GL on Ebay:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon GL on eBay

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1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat with 71k Miles

I featured an impossibly low mileage Mk2 Jetta Carat a few months ago and amazingly, here comes another one. I thought this might have been the same vehicle had it not been for the automatic gearbox inside. Anyone lusting after a clean Mk2 Jetta should have a look at this one.


Year: 1989
Model: Jetta Carat
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 71,000 mi
Price: $4,400 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat on eBay

I plan to take this car to Fixx Fest in Bradenton, FL this Saturday so if you’re in the area stop by, it’ll be parked in the general Euro parking lot. If I get a reasonable offer there, I reserve the right to cancel the ebay auction.

Known issues:
1) FM radio only heard through right channel. Every once in a while when driving on rough road the left channel will work for a few seconds. It’s got to be a connection. AM and Tape work fine and come through both left and right channels.

2) The power antenna is suppose to go up and down when you turn the radio on and off. It stays up all the time.

3) The window wash works sometimes. When I first got the car it worked about half the time. For the past couple months it hasn’t sprayed at all.

4) There are a few (4-5) light dings on the roof(see picture). The original owner said it was due to a hail storm some years ago.

5) The tires are in good shape. Fronts are at about 60% rears are at around 40%

6) Sap stains on the hood(see pic).

A car very similar to this one sold on Ebay in September for $7500. That car had 34k miles so I know this one is worth a bit less. Search ebay completed auctions to see it. http://www.ebay.com/itm/181213536885

Excellent condition. Always Garage kept.
I bought this car 13 months ago in Melbourne, FL with 64k original miles on it.
The original owner stopped driving it years ago due to her failing eyesight.
She sold it to her neighbor when it became evident that she would never drive again.
I bought it from her neighbor with the understanding that there were some issues with the fuel system. Normal for a car that has sat in a garage for a few years.

The car runs great now I’ve been using it mostly for trips between Tarpon Springs and Orlando. On I-4 I’ve had it up to 90mph and it drives perfectly smooth. Not a single vibration.

Here’s what I’ve replaced over the past year:
Fuel pumps. Bosch in-tank prepump and main pump.
Fuel injectors
Fuel pressure regulator
Fuel filter
Pcv valve grommet
Transmission service, seals and filter
Bosch knock sensor
Bosch plugs and wires
Bosch distributor rotor and cap
Bosch ignition coil
Bosch Oxygen sensor
Rear exhaust
Front motor mount
Vacuum hoses
Valve cover gasket
Water temp sender
Coolant temp sensor
Rack and pinion
Timing belt
Cam and crank shaft seals
Cleaned ignition lock cylinder and cut new keys from factory code

Optional equipment:
Comes with rare original VW 14″ forged alloy rims.

Standard equipment:
Air conditioning
Black rocker panel mldgs/wheelhouse flares
Carpeted luggage compartment
Center rear armrest
Cruise control
Dome light w/time delay feature
Dual pwr remote mirrors (RH convex)
Dual vanity mirrors (RH illum)
Eurostyle halogen headlamps
Front spoiler
Leather-wrapped 4-spoke steering wheel
Tinted glass


This car presents a dilemma. While it has more mileage than the 5-speed manual Carat we featured a while back, it is still an impossibly mint example of a car you just don’t see in good nick, if at all, these days. So would you dare swap out the transmission and engine in this thing to make it something a bit more desirable? Say, drop in a VR6 or a 16V lump? I certainly would. And I would keep the color, trim and wheels about the same as well, just to add to the stealth factor.


1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat with 34k miles

The 1988 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16V Trophy that Nate posted at the end of last month garnered a lot of interest and a $6,600 final bid in the end. Without a doubt, these Mk2 Volkswagens, whether they be Jettas, Golfs or GTIs have a strong enthusiast following, especially for those well preserved examples. I’m not sure when the last time I saw one was, but this 1990 Jetta Carat has covered by a mere 34,000 miles. It might not have the more desirable 16V engine, but at least it’s a 5-speed manual. For a car that has resided in New England, it’s clean.

Year: 1989
Model: Jetta Carat
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 34,663 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat on eBay

Up for sale is a rare chance to own a 1989 Volkswagen Jetta with 34,663 miles. The car is near flawless for its age. Never in an accident. This car was bought brand new in Manchester NH and has been in the family ever since. Low, low miles, very clean car. If you have any questions, call me at 781-530-6593

If my instincts are correct, I’d suspect bidding on this Jetta may wind up around $5,000 to $5,500. While it has less mileage than the aforementioned GLI 16V Trophy, it appears to be in similar condition. It’s doubtful that you would have to worry about values skyrocketing on these Mk2 Jettas, but the supply of good, original examples like this will probably evaporate at some point.


1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat TDI

It seems there is an infinite amount of ways to customize the Volkswagen Vanagon/T3 Transporter. Engine swaps seem to be the order of the day, as we’ve seen a few of these vans turn up with Subaru flat fours and sixes, and others with Porsche lumps hanging out in the rear. The owner of this Vanagon for sale in British Columbia, however, went a more economical route and replaced the original wasserboxer engine with VW’s tried and tested TDI formula. In addition to the engine swap, the van was given a full restoration, with a coat of BMW’s Tourmaline Violet paint.

Year: 1990
Model: Vanagon Carat TDI
Engine: 1.9 liter inline-4 TDI
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 6,000 mi since conversion/restoration
Price: $29,900

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat TDI on Craigslist Portland

Over $47K invested in this complete restoration and diesel conversion of this 1990 Vanagon in 2011. 6K miles on rust free Oregon body since makeover at 150K miles. Always garaged. Completely rebuilt engine and 4spd trans with limited slip. Gobs of low end torque. 29.5 mpg in suburban driving. Factory queen-size bed, folding table and auxilliary battery for camping.

Specs/photos here: http://s1366.photobucket.com/user/canuckster1/library/?sort=3&page=0

If you are serious I can bring it to Seattle [family there] for a look see.

While violet might not be to everyone’s tastes, I really like this van. The color in combination with the leatherette and wood trimmed interior provides a rich look to what was originally a rather utilitarian package. Done up properly, Vanagons are pulling strong money these days, especially the Westfalia campers. The Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Editions we featured yesterday is closing in on the $10,000 mark, which isn’t surprising given the other 1990 Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition that sold for $10,500 back in June. With the amount of work and money invested, I’d say the price is fairly reasonable for what seems to be a well done rebuild to an old favorite.


1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition

In the 1980s, the minivan was billed as the next big thing. Smaller and more fuel efficient than full sized vans more suited to commercial work, this new vehicle segment was the ideal solution for the family seeking to break from the traditional wagon mold. But, as the saying goes, if it ain’t new, it’s through. Soon came the SUV craze of the 1990s and consumers seemed to never look back. Sure, there are still plenty of minivans on the market, but most are bought for practicality than a lifestyle statement anymore. And save for the compact Mazda 5, gone are any interesting choices like the Dodge Caravan Turbo, the mid-engined Toyota Previa or this van, the Volkswagen Vanagon.

The Vanagon was an evolution of the basic box formula of the T2 Transporter/Bus that hippies knew and loved. Towards the end of the model run in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more luxurious trim packages, Syncro four-wheel drive and an updated front fascia were the order of the day. While this particular Vanagon isn’t a Syncro, it’s a sharp looker with under 80,000 miles on the clock.

Year: 1990
Model: Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition
Engine: 2.1 liter flat-4
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Mileage: 77,600 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition on eBay

Hello and thanks for having a look…If your checking this Vanagon out, you know them and what their all about..This Tornado Red Carat Weekender with Z bed and Jump seats is truly one of the last produced. It came with both badges Carat and Wolfsburg. Research says it was due to the rare Color combo of Interior package and Color itself. I have owned many Vanagons and will honestly say it has been one of the best. Running with true 77,600 original miles, it glides down the road flawlessly. The 2.1 Boxer runs very strong with no leaks anywhere. It runs on Mobile 1 Synthetic (only the best ). The transmisson shifts nicely and will kick into passing gear upon command in normal daily city traffc speeds. The Air Conditioning is nice and cold as the Heat is hot. It has been dealer maintained. What it needed it got.

This van has always been well cared for, always kept clean with a good coat of wax.The paint shines nicley however it is not perfect as its 23 yrs old and has 77,600 original miles. There is some minor clearcoat peel (see photo on left rear quarter) and a few small dings, chips and scratches here and there ..It has been used but never abused..Always starts, runs great and is happy to move you along the freeway or back country roads. I would not hesitate driving this van across country and back again. The exhaust system has been modified from manifold to muffler (no more rusty bolts)..It has a nice rumble and runs very strong. Brakes are good along with power steering, power windows, front and rear wipers and washers, plus central locking all work. The cruise is not working. Interior, headliner, carpets all clean and well kept but again this is a 23 yr old car…Did I mention 77,600 original miles,

Now the fun stuff, The Ronal Rims DO NOT come with the van. It will be sold with the Orignal Carat Alloys with almost new tires. The auction has a reserve based on the going market, the condition, and miles. If you want make an offer before it ends, do so by email only. I know the value of these (and so should you) and the Vanagon wave is coming. With that said dont be afraid to bid, It is a well cared for, nice looking, wonderful running LOW MILES Vanagon Weekender that gets looks and smiles everytime it hits the road.

If you win, you must put 500 deposit at end of auction, Cashiers check,or cash upon pick up. There will be no warranty implied. The van is being SOLD AS IS… please no tire kickers, or dreamers. I just dont have the time to weed those out. I have discribed to the best I can, I may have left some things out, so ask questions. I will try an answer accordingly. Dont miss out on one Last of the Mohicans Vanagon.

Thank you and good luck to all…

There’s something about a Vanagon in Tornado Red that does it for me. I’m not a van guy, but if I had to have one, this one would be at the top of my list. Sure, it’s not that quick with the 2.1 liter/automatic transmission combination, but it’s nothing a Subaru or Porsche engine swap wouldn’t take care of. Given the low mileage of this example, it would almost seem blasphemous to do so, but that would just allow you to enjoy it in stock form a few years more before doing the surgery.

We featured a 1990 Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition with 142,000 miles back in June that sold for $10,500. That car was a 4-speed manual variant, which is more desirable for some. I’d suspect bidding on this Vanagon will wind up somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000, given the condition and mileage.


1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat


By the time the 1990s rolled around, the Volkswagen T3 Transporter, known as the Vanagon on these shores, looked a bit of a relic from an era of cab forward vans gone by. A new crop of minivans had shifted people’s tastes when it came to utilitarian vehicles, offering more car like ride and comfort. However, there was still demand for these one box haulers and today we are witnessing a renaissance that has seen values on these Vanagons surge. While Campers of all varieties tend to be the most desirable, I can’t help but love this Vanagon Carat in Tornado Red.


Year: 1990
Model: Vanagon Carat
Engine: 2.1 liter flat four
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Mileage: 142,000
Price: No reserve auction

Click for Details: 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat on eBay


1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Wolfsburg Edition!

Volkswagen arguably invented the minivan with their original Microbus released in 1950 that would become synonymous with the summer of love and good times in the slow lane. It was a tough act to beat, but in 1979 the VW Vanagon was released, complete Polo/Golf/Passat-esque hard lines and boxy shape. It retained the original’s rear engine/rear drive layout, but added space and a water cooled engine. These days most Vanagons have been ridden hard and put away, making this clean – late series Carat model really standout!

1990 Volkswagen Vanagon Carat Wolfsberg Edition in Tornado Red. One owner vehicle in beautiful condition! 2.1 Liter H4 SOHC 8V FI Engine, 4 speed manual transmission. 142,000 original miles! Great condition inside and out: 14″ Inch alloy wheels, rear window defroster, special factory paint, 7 passenger seating. The light grey cloth interior is all original in excellent condition, this includes the rear bench seat fold out bed and fold out table. All seats, headrests and original privacy curtains are included. Original carpet in excellent condition. I have the original tool kit, keys, manual and manual case. All electric works: rear heater, cruise control, power steering, power windows, rear window wiper, power door locks, power exterior mirror. Just serviced and tuned!

Exterior: The Tornado Red exterior is bright and in good condition. There are a couple of minor faded sun spots on the roof . Absolutely rust free original San Diego California vehicle!

The VW Vanagon is the ultimate traveling companion! These are getting hard to find in good condition and working (they stopped making these in 1991)! If you have been looking, you know how rare they are! This is your chance to own a truly unique, well taken care of Vangon! You won’t find a nicer Vangon around! Please feel free to email me if you would like to see any additional pictures or have any questions.


This Carat caught my attention because it’s hard to come across a Vanagon that hasn’t been personalized one way or the other. It might not be the fastest people hauler out of the gate with the wasserboxer engine, but at least the 4-speed manual lets you make the most of what its got. As it sits, a Carat like this might bring somewhere between $10,000 and $14,000. If it had under 100,000 miles on the clock, then you would be into more serious coin. For the family who can’t bear the thought of a soft-roader or run of the mill minivan, a rig like this would at least let you keep some of your dignity and alert people that you march to the beat of a different drum.