The last Golf I took a look at was a high-spec GLS TDi model from the end of the run. A popular niche vehicle, the turbo diesel Golf is a hot commodity and even with over 170,000 miles bids were quick to crest $4,000, finally ending with a $4,350 sale. Yet it’s far from the most desirable, or indeed the most valuable, model within a robust lineup of favorites.
There’s the all-wheel drive 3.2 liter VR6 R32, often with asks that rival multiple generations of M3s:
2004 Volkswagen Golf R32
There’s the 20th Anniversary Edition GTI, a turbocharged terror with great looks:
2003 Volkswagen GTI 20th Anniversary Edition with 9,800 Miles
There’s the Edition 337 – a limited collector-friendly model that kicked off a new generation of turbocharged Golf performance:
Feature Listing: 2002 Volkswagen GTI 337 Edition
And though it carried a ‘Jetta’ badge, we finally got the “Golf Variant” wagon, replete with your choice of 1.8T, 2.0, TDi or even a gutsy 2.8 liter VR6 hooked to a manual:
2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX VR6 Wagon
So the Mk.4 range really has a devoted following and plenty of love to spread around to make you a bit unique. Today’s car, though, is none of those collector favorites. What we have here is a Flash Red first-year Golf. No TDi, no VR6, not even a GLS. No, this is a standard Golf. Except it’s not a standard Golf, because it’s an automatic. But before you click away, this one’s odometer hasn’t yet turned 23,000 miles….
My first thought when I saw this car was literally “Holy Crap. A reasonably priced Corrado!”
And then I saw the salvage title.
But let’s not dwell on that yet. Let’s consider what we have here first. The photos paint the picture of a pretty nice, mostly original Flash Red Corrado SLC. It retains the original Speedline wheels and Baja-1000 ride height. It’s got leather inside, the big complaint of comments on the the last Corrado SLC I looked at. But the big draw must be the price, which at $6,500 is just very reasonably priced in my mind. The last Corrado SLC I considered? Same color, cloth interior, near same miles – $18,995. It’s like the ‘Cult of Corrado’ have decided “Hey, this is basically the same recipe as the E36 M3, and they’re increasing in value, so my car must be worth a lot.” Logical? Well, no one ever said passionate car enthusiasts were logical. In fact the whole idea of sitting around, pontificating about theoretical car values seems inherently illogical. When someone buys it, obviously that’s the price it’s worth, right?
But I digress.
Perhaps the asking prices for Corrados are more in line with their premium stature. Since new, they have demanded a premium; the SLC hit the market in 1992 at $22,000, and tick a few option boxes and you were quickly in Audi money. But you could look at this car as an expensive Volkswagen, or (as magazines did at the time) as a budget Porsche. Instead of the E36, the natural comparison to this car probably should be the Porsche 968. And you can’t get a decent one of those for $6,500…
Edit 11/23/2017 – the asking price on this Corrado has dropped to $16,995.
I think this Corrado SLC is an interesting comparison to yesterday’s Misano Red ALMS Edition Audi TT 225 Coupe. Like the Audi, in 1993 The Corrado SLC with its throaty 2.8 liter VR6 engine was the top of the heap in the 2-door product offerings. It too was a 2+2 hatchback best suited for only the first part of that equation. While the heavyweight Audi packed more punch from the turbocharged 1.8T, the all-wheel drive meant it was quite a bit heavier – so acceleration between the two wasn’t as much of a gulf as you’d expect, with both ticking 60 mph in under 7 seconds. Both have a unique style and both are fan favorites, with the nod probably going to the Corrado on greater market appeal to “enthusiasts”, while more people who drive appliances to work view the TT as a “cute” weekend car.
Yet here we are, in a market where you could buy a very nice example of either for the difference of a latte.
Trying to find a clean 1980s or 1990s Volkswagen is just about impossible these days, unless you’re interested in either of two models. If you want to find a clean Vanagon, you will – just be prepared to pay, as models like the Westfalia Syncro challenge the myth that only air-cooled multi-window VW vans are worth money.
On the other end of the VW spectrum is the Corrado. It doesn’t have the multi-purpose, all-weather camping capability of the T3, true. But what it does have is a serious cult following who have loved and kept these cars up since they were new – rare for this period of VW history. Specifically, when Wolfsburg decided to slot the narrow-angle VR6 into the Karmann coupe, the recipe was transformed into an instant hit. Consequently, it’s not unusual to find an all-original, very clean Corrado SLC like this Flash Red example with only 80,000 miles:
With a bit of nostalgia, it’s sad to reminisce about a market segment which has all but eroded from the automotive landscape. In the 1970s and 1980s, small coupes were the rage; they offered sporty looks and a bit of driving fun for the commute, while still being effectively economy cars underneath. But through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, those economy roots were altered in an ever increasing amount of brinkmanship to the point where the lines between a true “sports car” and the “sports coupe” evaporated. Yet the market was still ripe with plenty of options at the beginning of Bill Clinton’s Presidency; the Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe GT continued to share underpinnings with slightly different style, while the Diamond Star Eagle Talon/Plymouth Lazer/Mitsubishi Eclipse offered technological and performance prowess that really lifted the segment. There was also the Nissan 240SX – not as sporty as the others, but still a popular option. Honda wasn’t left out with its popular Prelude and screaming VTEC motor. There were others, too – even the aging Dodge Daytona IROC R/T offered some 224 horsepower – impressive for the period.
All of them are long gone.
Gone, too, is the Volkswagen Corrado. It didn’t have all-wheel drive or the popular for the period “Turbo” badge stuck everywhere. It was refined, smooth and clean looking. The styling wasn’t exotic or futuristic, and the recipe was simple – especially when it came to the VR6. Quite simply, Volkswagen built the best Mk.2 Volkswagen they could, but compared to the competition in period, that wasn’t quite good enough. Nearly all of the competition had new-for-the-90s styling and chassis, and the VW felt decidedly 80s in comparison. And it was expensive, clearing $23,000 before options in 1993. So even though it was really as good as the 80s VW got, it was a soft seller (as most VWs were). Fast forward to the first of these cars about to be antiques, and suddenly a new light is cast upon the model; it doesn’t look as dated, gimmicky or used up as any of the others, and unsurprisingly has become one of the market stars as a result:
The stunning original condition, low mileage 1992 Volkswagen Corrado we wrote up last month is up on eBay in a no reserve auction; the owner needs to move on before the snow flies and it’s coming! This is certainly one of the best condition Corrados we’ve ever seen, but will remain quite affordable compared to similar low mileage M3s. These cars are destined to be classics and buying the best one you can find will certainly save you money long term!
The below post originally appeared on our site October 16, 2014:
The seller of the two recent fan-favorite Volkswagens has been in touch and lowered the price on both offerings; the GTi is now listed at $6,500 and the Corrado is listed at $12,500. He’s included links to more photos on each car, as well.
You can contact the seller if you’re interested directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click Here For The GTI Post
Engine: 1.8 liter inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 104,500 mi
Click Here For Additional GTI Photos
Click Here For The Corrado Post
Model: Corrado SLC
Engine: 2.8 liter VR6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 36,750 mi
Click Here For Additional Corrado Photos
Having now written up my fair share of cars on this site, I’m asked from time to time “what’s the next E30 M3?” Certainly the trend that created demand on the M3 would have been hard to predict; while it’s a desirable package for certain and has an illustrious race career, I’ve also outlined how very similar cars haven’t achieved such notoriety. The Audi Quattro and 190E 2.3-16V, for example, though noted for their importance and with strong fan followings just don’t command the premiums of the M3. The Volkswagen world has been similarly fickle; the original GTi has certainly taken off in value, with prime examples now pushing well past $10,000 in today’s market, while other models that are arguably better cars don’t command the values of the GTi. Perhaps part of that appeal lies in the few that remain in good, original condition – especially with lower miles. But if you ask me what I think the next big thing in the Volkswagen market will be, I’d have to answer that the Corrado SLC has to be up there. A popular car to modify, there aren’t many that are left with low miles in pristine original shape. Couple the dwindling good examples with what is acknowledged as one of the best driving platforms Volkswagen has made and good looks, and the Corrado is sure to be a hot item for years to come. They don’t get much hotter than this example, either – with perhaps the lowest mileage Corrado we’ve seen on the market in the past few years, this Flash Red example is stunning:
Well, I hope this will stir some interest, as I think this is a bit of an interesting comparison. What level of performance can you buy for $10,000 (give or take) these days? Surprisingly, there are a lot of options – and those options vary pretty seriously in their execution and packages; there’s a wagon and a sports car, two sedan-based coupes and a hatchback. Engines range from a 2 liter turbo to a V8, with a bit of everything in between. Yet, what appears to be a very strange comparison linked only by price is revealed to be much closer when you look at performance figures:
E36 M3: 240 hp, 0-60 6.0 seconds, 3,200 lbs
944 Turbo: 220 hp, 0-60 5.9 seconds, 2,900 lbs
CLK500: 302 hp, 0-60 5.7 seconds, 3,800 lbs
S4 Avant: 250 hp, 0-60 5.6 seconds, 3,700 lbs
GTi: 200 hp, 0-60 6.6 seconds, 3,200 lbs
The range is much closer than you’d expect – especially when you consider that these figures could easily be equaled in margin of error, driver skill and reaction time. In the twisties, the lower powered cars like the GTi catch up to the higher power CLK and S4. All are, in one way or another, practical choices. Some are destined (or already) classics, while others will likely fade away. So what would be your choice? Let’s start with an M3 we’ve already seen: