Update 1/6/2018 – The asking price on this Corrado G60 has dropped from $5,200 to $4,800.
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. Like yesterday’s Audi 5000 Turbo, 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:
Michael Jordan is one of the most popular athletes and brand in the world. He’s worth over a billion dollars and with that usually comes some expensive cars. Normally, wealthy celebrities go out grab the latest and greatest vehicle, drive it for a few years, then rinse and repeat. But even before Jordan was worth 10 figures, he always had some really enthusiast-minded cars. He had a Ferrari 512 TR, W140 S600, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, C4 Corvettes, SL55 AMG, 930 Slantnose and my personal favorite, a 993 Turbo S. Today’s car for sale in Texas might be one of the rarest cars he’s ever owned. This 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition owned by M.J. is just one of 150 ever built. And judging by its original price tag of just under $500,000, it was probably one of the most expensive cars he has even bought.
Edit 11/3/2017 – I looked at this Dinan modified M Roadster last August, but there was little information and it hung around for quite a while at $25,000. It has now moved on to a new seller who has taken some more photos and raised the price $4,000. After last month claiming it was an ISR3, the seller has confirmed what our comment from Eric indicated – it’s “just” a S3 Roadster. It has about 1,000 more miles since last year but still looks relatively reasonably priced if you like the color combination and gutsy Dinan modifications – Ed
The other day I was talking with my friend about Turner Motorsports. I first met Will Turner when he was a BMWCCA instructor, just trying to establish his business of selling parts on the side. He and his compatriots all sported E30 M3s; this was, after all, the days before the launch of the U.S. E36 M3. Turner managed to parlay early success in a local modification scene outside of Boston into a countrywide business, and after some time in the club race scene he moved into the major leagues. Success against better funded teams was sometimes difficult, but today Turner is still alive and very much kicking, having become one of the two defacto factory-backed teams running the M6 GT3. To get to that point of factory involvement is an arduous journey to say the least, and few who start out make it.
One other who did was Steve Dinan, who took a niche tuning business from the 1980s into a factory option today. You can walk down to your dealer and order up a fully backed, Dinan modified car. That took a tremendous amount of work and is a testament to the quality of the products on offer from Dinan. They truly take the well-engineered BMWs to the next level, but modifying them to do so can be quite pricey. Take today’s M Roadster, for example. While it wasn’t exactly a cheap car to begin with, with entry level prices in 1998 starting around $42,000. This M Roadster, though, went on to get a further $36,000 in modifications from Dinan:
There was nothing particularly revolutionary about the B3 Passat G60 Syncro. The prior Quantum (née Passat) had borrowed Audi’s full quattro setup in the Syncro model. The G60 supercharged engine had debuted in the Golf in Europe as early as 1988, but it wouldn’t be until late 1989 and the new Corrado model’s introduction that the G-Lader would become better known on these shores. But the G60 Syncro Passat was the first time that all three were combined, and it took the more exotic drivetrain setup from the Rallye and brought it to a mainstream market.
The PG G-Lader devoted to the Rallye, G60 and Passat Syncro wasn’t the most powerful unit VW of the time period at 158 horsepower and 166 lb.ft of torque (the 3G 16V version in the Golf Limited had 50 horsepower more), but the combination of these items seemed awesome at the time to U.S. fans because, of course, in the midst of VAG’s early 90s sales slump they opted not to bring the package here. Like the Corrado, based on Mk.2 underpinnings the Passat’s engine configuration had moved from longitudinal in the B2 to transverse in the third gen, meaning that Audi’s quattro system remained unique to that brand. The Golf’s transverse engine placement precluded use of the Audi longitudinal design, which used output shafts and mechanical differentials. Instead, Volkswagen turned to Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch for development.
Noted for development of four-wheel-drive systems and probably most recognizable for the Pinzgauer military vehicle, Steyr’s solution to the transverse problem was to utilize a viscous coupling similar to the AMC Eagle. However, while the Eagle’s system was all-wheel drive, all the time, Volkswagen’s system would only engage when the front wheels slipped.
Like the Audi 90 quattro it competed against, the Syncro Passat wasn’t particularly quick but was pretty expensive in period, and neither sold very well in the grand scheme. The G60 Syncro was offered in the Great White North, though, and now that enough time has passed these forbidden fruits can finally be brought in to the U.S. – if you can find one….
Often we complain about the numerous times German manufacturers have failed to send models enthusiasts want to U.S. shores. But in the case of the Volkswagen Pickup – affectionately nicknamed the “Caddy” after the model that was released later in Europe – was first debuted out of the American Westmoreland, PA plant. The chassis was lengthened and unique bodywork and rear axle were fit, and the Rabbit Pickup was marketed as a comfortable, car-like utility vehicle. Between 1980 and 1982, Volkswagen even offered the Rabbit “Sportruck”. While most would presume this was primarily an appearance package, the Sportruck actually was quite a bit more sporty than the diesel options in the rest of the lineup. You got a 5-speed manual (opposed to 4) hooked to a 1.7 liter 8V, a front spoiler and special “Rally” wheel trim, along with a 3-gauge console and bucket seats with a Scirocco steering wheel. It wasn’t a GTI, but it was a half step in between.
This Caddy, though it isn’t one of the Sportrucks, is a huge leap for Caddykind:
The W124 500E/E500 was a tough act to follow, but Mercedes-Benz stepped up to the plate well with the new AMG collaboration W210 E55 AMG. The M113 power plant generated an impressive 350 horsepower and 391 lb.ft of torque – more than had graced that legendary W124. In its own way, the E55 AMG became a legend, too – subtle looks offering a velvet wrapper on one hefty hammer. So when it came to replacing it again in the new W211, AMG was forced to turn the dial up a few more notches. It was forced because the market had moved on, and the W210’s power output was no longer competitive in the early 2000s. So forced it was, as in forced induction. The M113 now featured an IHI supercharger, and power increased dramatically. This was no small step for man, this was a giant leap for Mercedes kind. The W211 E55’s power output leaped to 469 hp and it now 520 lb.ft of torque. Of course, it needed those numbers because the competition from Audi in the 450 horsepower twin-turbocharged RS6 and the outgoing benchmark BMW M5’s 400 horsepower S62 V8. Going nuclear on the power level meant AMG needed to upgrade the rest of the hardware, as well. Airmatic adjustable suspension with sport tuning gave the hefty E55 poise in the bends, while 14.2″, 8 piston calipers hidden behind huge split 5-spoke AMG wheels with 245 and 265 section tires kept grip and speed in check. The results were palpable: in a 2003 Car and Driver comparison against its nearest rivals, the new E55 AMG simply outpaced everything in a straight line. 0-60 was dispatched in just 4.3 seconds. 100 came only 5 and a half seconds later. The quarter mile was done in 12.5 seconds. Forget sedans, those were numbers that challenged the Corvette Z06 at the same time, and close to a decade and a half later are still very impressive:
Fast wagons are perhaps one of the most cultish of vehicle genres to date. There are those like me who have disdain for most SUVs and realize there are alternatives to moving your stuff around. As a single person without children, minivans are overkill for my demographic. It was Jeremy Clarkson who was quoted as saying a minivan signals to the world that “I’ve done my breeding. I’ve served my biological purpose, and now I’m waiting to die.” So ruling out a small van, where is one to turn for their hauling needs? How about Mercedes-Benz? Unlike Audi, Mercedes-Benz has not given up on a segment in the US market which it began to popularize decades ago. There are still loyal fans of the five-door variant of the E-class, now on its sixth generation if you count the W123 T-modell which started it all. Luckily, Mercedes-Benz has been kind enough to bring AMG tuned variants to a market with otherwise vanilla tastes when it comes to family cars. Today we’ll look at two very similar looking but different beasts, the E55 AMG and E63 AMG estates, both wearing the same shade of Graphite Gray Metallic for sale for sale from the same dealer outside of Philadelphia.
Following up on the 10,000 mile 1993 Corrado SLC from two weeks ago, today I have a lovely trio of Corrados to take a look at. Covering the model years and changes from 1990 to 1994, these three are low mile, impeccable condition and it’s a stroke of luck to see them all at the same time. As the expensive Corrado sold rather slowly on these shores, numbers have always been a bit short and now that the first models can be registered as antiques in most states they’re firmly into collector territory. As the Corrado is pretty well known on these pages, I won’t go into extreme model history today as we’re looking at three examples. For an excellent look at the history of the Corrado, take some time to read the Hemming’s take on it back in 2013. The previously mentioned 10,000 mile Corrado failed to meet its reserve despite shocking bidding which ended at $27,400. Clearly, there’s a market for these clean examples, so is any the match for the 1993?
We live in a world of soundbites and short attention spans. Some days it seems like a bit of a coup to remember just what you had for breakfast or where you left the keys last night – never mind to go back a week, a month, a year, or a decade. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a history teacher when I’m not doing this, and I’ve found it increasingly difficult to keep the attention of my students through the 1.5 hour lectures and if it’s a night class, forget it. The proliferation of the internet – the promise of limitless and immediate information – instead seems to be a flood which has washed away the interest, the researching, the enthusiasm for finding something new. But I came across something very interesting when looking for more information about an interesting duo of Corrados that our reader Jesse sent in. It was an internet thread on a forum – nothing special there. What was special was the timeline that thread covered and the subject matter. It started with the announcement of the purchase of the two prototype Corrado Magnum wagons in February, 2007. What followed was 15 pages of comments that spanned an amazing 9 years in what must be one of the longest threads out there documenting the owner trying to get these two unique G60 Corrados to the U.S.. If you want a snapshot of the development of the internet fora in one spot, look at the comments here. In typical VW Vortex style, there are insults tossed, claims the cars don’t exist, that the seller is a liar, threats to steal the cars and that they’re ugly. But there’s also adoration for the buyer who endured an arduous 7 years of storage in the Netherlands before finally getting the clearance to bring the forlorn Volkswagen prototypes to the U.S.. Back to my original point, though – after all that, you’d assume that they’d be locked away by the new owner, never to be seen again save an occasional show, yet here they both are for sale today, along with a few other neat and unique Corrados from the same collection:
You might not like this Corrado when it’s angry. In fact, you may not like it ever. With a face only its builder could love, this G60 has had enough modifications under the hood that the new front-mounted intercooler got pushed outside, like a child reluctantly spitting out chewed metal. I think the seller probably envisions the FMIC as an ersatz lower grille, but it mostly looks like a fragile and expensive snow plow. God help the buyer if they ever see a speed bump – say bye-bye to all that expensive plumbing.
This little Hulkorrado actually has received some good attention to make this a strong runner. Yet while the seller has updated and redone a lot of parts, I’d be wary of all the relocating causing headaches down the line. That’s if you don’t have a headache already from the proboscis, super-Green pearl, O’Reilly tail lights (both fake AND real!) or hood louvers. However, if you are blind or really good at dissociating form and function, it’s actually a decent G60 deal.