Update 10/18/19: This Corrado sold for $5,650.
While the second-generation Scirocco was a re-body of the first-generation chassis with some upgrades, when it came to the end of the 80s and the launch of a new sporty Volkswagen, they turned to…another antiquated chassis. Prepared for the 1990 model year, the A2 chassis was already the best part of 7 years old and not the most refined unit out there. Despite this, plans moved ahead at cash-strapped VW to produce two “new” models that were adaptations of the A2 chassis.
The result was the third generation Passat and the sporty Karmann-built Corrado. The design was more VAG evolution than revolution; in many ways, the Corrado’s profile and several aspects mimicked the upscale Audi products. Volkswagen again went to the tried-and-true ‘Operation Copy Giugiaro’ plan that worked with the Scirocco. It looks like a shorter, chunkier Audi Coupe GT to me – especially in its original G60 supercharged guise. While the GTI went to the 2.0 16V and slick BBS wheels making an instant classic, Volkswagen relied on the G-Ladder supercharger that was seen in the European Golf Rallye and G60 GTI for the motivation for the Corrado. But the Corrado wasn’t made to challenge its siblings; it was aimed at the 944 crowd, replacing the 924S as a ‘Poor Man’s Porsche’ rather than just an expensive GTI alternative.
Ostensibly, this made it the top-trump at Volkswagen, what with 160 horsepower and good torque. But the heavy weight and complicated nature of the model meant that the GTI retained greater appeal. It seemed as though Volkswagen hit a home run when they finally slotted the even more potent and better sounding VR6 into the Corrado for 1992, relegating the supercharged model to obsolescence and obscurity. This model was thoroughly overshadowed by the VR6 and GTI, so values sunk quickly. Often they landed in the hands of those not able to afford the expensive repairs. And, no surprise, the result is that finding clean G60s is pretty tough today – but they don’t get much cleaner than this Alpine White one:
Collector Volkswagens from the early 1990s are now very much a thing, but supply – especially of original condition examples – can be quite difficult. Still, every few months we roll across some clean time pieces that are worth a look. Earlier this year I took a look at two nearly identical Tornado Red Corrado G60s, explaining a bit about what made them so special:
1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60
As a coming-of-age driver, while red was often associated with sporty hatches for me it was Volkswagen’s introduction of Nugget Yellow on the Corrado that captured my attention. Perhaps it’s because the ad campaign and a fair amount of the magazine tester cars came in the shade, but regardless, this was the ‘Montana Green’ of the early Corrados. It just looks right! So when this apparently clean, lower mile and original 5-speed manual 1990 popped up for sale, I had to take a closer look:
I still remember the moment as the wave of envy set over me. A struggling college student, I had tried hard to balance my love of cars with the multiple part-time jobs I fit in between classes. Ultimately, cars probably came before some things they should have, but still fell staunchly behind the realities of life. Rent. Tutition. Books. Utilites. FOOD. These necessities multiplied themselves together over the years, grasping at my meager weekly paycheck more rapidly than I could deposit it in the bank. Trips to the pump were always metered; weeks went by holding breath at every turn of the key, praying for a safe completion of circuit. And when you own a ’84 Volkswagen that sat in a driveway not running for decade rotting away before you resurrected it, often your dreams of a trouble-free commute are unrealized.
As a result of my shoestring budget, I often turned to a friend to help with mechanical work that my GTI often needed. He’d stop by my house after work and wrench for a bit, or I’d drive it by his place for a replacement part or ten. He also had a A1 – a sweet special edition Cabriolet from ’85 which he had spent years tricking out. But on one of these repair stops, he introduced me to his new toy.
It was 1998 and he had picked up a ’90 Corrado G60. He had picked it up cheap, too, as they often broke even when pretty new. Two things struck me about this car. Though it was only 6 years newer than my GTI, it might as well have been a spaceship. The two shared nothing in common outside of the badge. My pyrite-in-the-rough GTI was rusty and not so trusty. Horrible build quality meant things regularly broke, or fell off, or rusted off; often, the trifecta struck. It was a square slowly-deteriorating block of iron oxide in a rounded-off world. In comparison, the Corrado looked well-built, felt modern, was comfortable, had air conditioning and electronic items that…well, functioned, and even had paint all in one color. But the other thing that struck me was just how tired and old that Corrado already felt in 1998. I rarely buy cars that are newer than 10 years old, but this Corrado felt a lot more than that already. Perhaps that was because the VR6 model had so quickly replaced it. Or perhaps it was because I was still excited for new cars to launch in 1998. Looking back, though, my initial impressions of the Corrado G60 still hold true. But am I still jealous that I didn’t have one?
Update 11/28/18: This Corrado G60 sold for $3,650.
If you’re into the small, sporty coupe, the other alternative to the 924s I’ve written up if don’t have the big bucks to buy a super clean 944 is Volkswagen’s answer – the Corrado. While that may generate a chuckle from some, if you breakdown the numbers, the Corrado was pretty close to the recipe of the outgoing 924S. Adding the G-Lader supercharger to the 1.8 liter inline-4 gave the Volkswagen similar punch; 158 horsepower and 165 lb.ft of torque with about 2,700 lbs to motivate. It was a 2+2 hatch as well, with more practical seating in the rear and plenty of storage space. The 195-50-15 tires gave plenty of bite, making the Corrado the equal of the 924S through corners, too. And early on it was even a bit cheaper than the 924S had been because, you know, it wasn’t a Porsche. It’d cost about $20,000 out the door; expensive compared to the GTI, but then this car was really intended to compete in a more upscale market.
Like the 924S, there are foibles. There’s a more potent version that’s quite a bit more popular in the later VR6, though it should be noted that just like the 944, by the time the SLC VR6 models bowed out of the marketplace they were 50% more expensive than the 1990 launch version. It can also eat up a lot of money in repairs, especially if the supercharger that made the package get up and go has got up and went. Also like the 924S, asking prices are usually out of line with market value, and there are quite a bit more abused ones out there than clean examples. I last looked at a clean, but at least partially (and poorly) resprayed example in November:
1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60
The asking price was originally $5,200, but it eventually sold for just under $5,000. That puts it squarely in line with the price of those two 924s from last week. Today, we get to look at another Tornado Red with dark gray/red stripe velour manual. While it has more miles on it, it looks clean and importantly is a no reserve auction:
It’s hard to think that the Volkswagen GTI has been with us for forty years. In that time, the we’ve seen everything from 2.0 liter, 115 horsepower 8-valve Mk3s to an insane GTI concept car with a mid-mounted W12 engine. In between, there’s been a number of variations on the hot hatch theme, including this car, the Mk2 Golf GTI G60. For those of you non-VW aficionados, the G60 pertains to what’s under the hood, in this case, the 1.8 liter supercharged inline-4 with 160 horsepower that saw duty in the Corrado when it debuted and later in the rare Golf G60 Limited. This GTI G60 for sale in Switzerland has had a complete overhaul and looks sharp sitting on aftermarket, deeper offset Ronal alloys.
For many years, my trips to Lime Rock Park in the Coupe GT for Patroon Chapter BMWCCA driver’s events were accompanied by a similar soul; there was a ’84 Volkswagen Jetta GLi that seemed to always be joining me. On paper, the two were probably quite similar in terms of all-out speed; the Jetta had less power, but was also quite a bit lighter than the Coupe. But in fast corners, the better balance of the GT and equal-length driveshafts meant it was a bit easier to carry speed and get power down. Over the years, we both modified our cars in turn. I went to a Ground Control coilover suspension and steadily upgraded the engine and he followed suit. Squint a bit, and in the first generation Jetta you can see the similarities to the Audi GT. Both were Giugiaro designs as was the original Golf/Rabbit; but the Jetta went slightly upscale compared to the Golf. Ironically, in recent years that role has reversed – top of the range Golfs are even more expensive than mid-range Passats. But in the early 1980s, Volkswagen made the U.S. market A1 Jetta have slightly better interiors and, aside from the obvious trunk, a different grill with 4 rectangular sealed-beam headlights led the way – very similar to the U.S. spec Audi GT. They were available in 2 or 4-door configuration with a range of motors which matched the Rabbit; trim levels were base “L”, upscale “GL” and performance oriented “GLi”. Today, Jettas are far less common to come across than the more popular Rabbit variants, especially when they’re in the condition of this Inari Silver example:
Last month, Carter featured an impossibly clean Corrado SLC with very low mileage. A lot of these sport coupes were snapped up by young enthusiasts a few years on and sadly were modified beyond recognition. I remember frequenting Volkswagen shows during my college years and seeing many of these cars chopped up, driven hard and laid up wet. Now two decades since the last Corrados were sold new in the US, a good one is hard to come by. This silver, one-owner Corrado G60 for sale in Connecticut is fairly original with little modification but has high mileage. The G60 isnâ€™t the more desirable powerplant in the model lineup, but given the condition, this car is sure to catch its fair share of attention.
Edit: One of our Facebook readers – Steve – correctly noted that this is Capri Green and was an 8V Golf to start out. In some ways, that makes it better that a real 2.0 GTi wasn’t sacrificed, though my feelings about most of the modifications stay the same. Thanks Steve, and sorry for the mistake!
I’m fairly certain that with the right backing and skillful marketing I could pitch a show to one of those
crappy cable networks. My premise? Take a car that has been modified and return it to OEM or OEM+ standards. Seriously, when talking about rare cars, aren’t there buyers for these rides? Don’t there seem to be lots of people endlessly browsing the internet looking for that hidden, unmodified and well-cared for gem that rarely surfaces? Heck, it’s what we’ve built a fair amount of our writing around. And even though there are plenty of people pining for original BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche models, there’s a special lot that love original Volkswagens. One of the biggest reasons they long for these “unicorn” models is that so few were properly cared for, and many of those that were have been modded within an inch of their life. Take the Mk.II GTi; a solid performing replacement for the “original” hot hatch. It’s near legendary status is well cemented in the halls of automotive history, and it’s even one of the few models that carries brand awareness outside of motoring circles. Seriously, even people who know almost nothing about cars know what a GTi is. Within the Mk.II crowd, there are several limited models that the U.S. didn’t receive, so our top of the heap has to be the 1990-1992 16V edition. With a close-ratio gearbox, revised and better integrated smooth big bumpers, the best set of BBS wheels and Recaro seats ever fitted to a Volkswagen and one stunner of a revy 2 liter inline-4, it was an awesome package. Specify it in Montana Green, and you’ve got the crowds drooling. Then someone goes and does this:
The strange thing about “unicorns” in the Volkswagen world is that they’re not always the most rare, the fastest, the rarest, or the prettiest model. Unicorns are the models that everyone wishes for though, the cars that are so hard to find that people are willing to pay a serious premium when they pop up. What constitutes “hard to find” in the Volkswagen world is an unmolested example and that seems to be especially true in the higher performance models; the GLi, the GTi and above all the Corrado:
The Volkswagen Golf was never what you would call exotic, but sometimes the most pedestrian of cars makes for an interesting base for something a bit more special. Race homologation has brought us many great cars over the years, like the Porsche 959, Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 and Audi Sport Quattro. At double the price of a standard 8V GTI, the Rallye Golf was built so that Volkswagen could compete in the World Rally Championship. With Syncro four-wheel drive and a supercharged 1.8 liter, this car started a trend of ultimate Golfs and GTIs that we see up to the present day. This example for sale in England has been lightly used and a perfect piece for someone who is into the box flare style of the 1980s and early 1990s.