2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant

Volkswagen is really great at theory, but not so much at execution. They’ve had a long line of really strange marketing decisions which have at times left the company in dire straights. One wonders how Volkswagen will emerge in the wake of the recent diesel scandal, for example, though many other manufacturers like Mitsubishi (you forgot they still made cars, didn’t you? Me too.) are doing their best to usurp VW’s crown as a manufacturing pariah. Yet, Volkswagen has so many debacles it has run its customers through that it should be amazing they come back for more at all. In the early 1990s, they mis-rated the timing belt service intervals on the early V8 quattros. The result was, predictably, a bunch of engine replacements. The 1.8T became notorious for turbo sludge problems, too – rectified with larger filters and synthetic-only oil, but a fair number (including my Passat) had factory turbo replacement. The 3.0 V6? A timebomb of metal shards working their way from the passenger rear of the motor through the engine, thanks to what appears to be an oil starvation design flaw. The 2.7Ts, 4.2s and all of the FSi motors? Known issues, sometimes very large and expensive. Coil packs, unnecessarily complicated PSV systems, transmissions made of glass and clogging sunroof channels? All the norm in your VAG experience. But Volkswagen really outdid themselves by making a complicated system even more complicated when they introduced the 4.0 W8 into the Passat. Sure, it was a test bed for later W12 models, and viewed in that light it makes some sense. But then, the Passat shown here is much more rare than the Bentleys and even some of the A8 W12 models that derived experience from the B5.5. Volkswagen could simply have taken any one of their proven engines and provided the answer to whatever question they were posing when they conceived this vehicle. Instead, they did things differently. That’s both something to celebrate and something to point out as an inherent character flaw:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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Deja Blue: 2002 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T GLS Variant

Oh boy. It’s a Passat, it’s a B5/5.5 generation, and it’s a wagon so automatically you know I’m interested. And, above and beyond that, it’s a whole lot like my car – a 2002 GLS in Ink Blue Pearl, 1.8T and with a 5-speed drivetrain. So, out come the production numbers! For the U.S., Ink Blue is a pretty rare color – in total, 1022 Passats were sold here in that color. 695 of those were sold in 2002. 485 of those were GLS trim, and now we start getting into the rare part. Only 131 were wagons, and only 49 of those were manuals. 38 of those were 1.8T, in 3 different color interior options and 2 different fabrics. The most common was gray cloth, with 14 sold. I have one of the 6 gray leather cars. There were 9 sold with black cloth and a further 5 with black leather. But I was pretty surprised to see the beige option numbers – only 3 sold with cloth and 1 with leather. This, then, is a 1 of 1 car – the sole 2002 Passat 1.8T GLS Variant with Beige leather sold that year:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T GLS Variant on eBay

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2008 Volkswagen Passat 3.6 4Motion Variant

When it comes to sporty wagons in the mid 2000s, your only options were really Audis and BMWs, right? Well, wrong – because Volkswagen dropped one pretty hot sleeper on our shores before elimination of the Passat wagon from the lineup. Granted, Volkswagen’s hottest entrant into the sport wagon market – the R36 – wouldn’t come here, but the normal 3.6 4Motion was darn close. With 280 horsepower on tap from the enlarged narrow-angle VR6 channeled through all four wheels, the unassuming Passat was the second most powerful wagon offered on these shores from VAG. Unless you spent another 50% to opt for the Audi S4 V8, this was as quick as U.S. bound German wagons got. Unlike the B5/5.5, the B6 chassis returned to the Golf-based platform, which was both a blessing and a curse. From a performance standpoint the change was a good one, as many of the items intended for the R32 model worked on the Passat now. However, the change to transverse engine placement from the inline Audi setup in the B5/5.5 meant that the “true” quattro drivetrain in the earlier 4Motions was replaced by the Haldex setup found in the R32 and Audi TT. Is this the end of the world? No, not really, and in fact because of this change you can opt to alter the power distribution with aftermarket control units. These 3.6 models were expensive and fully loaded, so they’re somewhat infrequently seen and generally unknown and unappreciated even in the German-specific realm:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 19 on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T GLS 4Motion Variant

When it comes to rare German cars that came to the U.S., one does not immediately think of the Volkswagen Passat. The B5/B5.5 generation helped to transform the image of Volkswagen from a quirky mid-range also-ran to a more upscale, premium product – effectively, affordable Audis, which is what they essentially were. As such, the 5th generation Passat was pretty popular in North America, with a total of nearly 486,000 models sold here over its 8 year production life. While that’s not Camry numbers, compared to where Volkswagen stood in the early 1990s it was positively a blockbuster. But while that production success made the Passat a common sight on most road, there are still some very rare variations of the B5 chassis that could easily slip by most non-enthusiast’s eyes as just another example. Obviously, when “rare” and “Passat” come up in conversation, almost immediately “W8” follows. And rare they were, as only a total of 5,361 W8s made the trip across the Atlantic; just over 1% of total Passat production. But even more rare is the car we see here. The all-wheel drive Passat, dubbed “4Motion” though it was the same drivetrain as the Audi quattros, was not a new thing, being available on both the B5 and B5.5 in V6 and W8 form. But in 2004 and 2005, you could also get a 1.8T 4Motion Passat. The 1.8T had previously been available in 4Motion form in 2001, but only in Tiptronic form – by far, the most frequently selected option for transmission. A total of 23,606 1.8T 4Motions were sold between 2001, 2004 and 2005 in Canada and the U.S. in sedan and wagon form. Now, I know what you’re saying…”Not particularly rare, Carter!” But let’s break it down a bit. If we filter down to Variants, the number drops to 5,962. That number gets even more rare when you see how many selected the manual transmission option; a scant 657 between the U.S. and Canada in both 2004 and 2005. Drop down to this model – a U.S. spec 2004, and it’s one of 416 sold. 33 of those were selected in “Shadow Blue Metallic”, the color of this example, and of those only 6 were equipped with Anthracite Leather:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T GLS 4Motion Variant on Boston Craigslist

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1980 Volkswagen Brasilia

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Paul has featured a couple of Brasilias here before, but its small original market means we almost never see them in the US. This one has made its way to Florida and looks to be in great shape after just 66k miles. The ones Paul featured were 2-door shooting brakes, while this one is the slightly less elegant 4-door. Interior and exterior look extremely nice, even in the frunk. It’s pretty much a Beetle but with a lot more practicality and a bit less cuteness. Who needs cute when you can be funky and rare?

Click for details: 1980 Volkswagen Brasilia on eBay

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2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed – REVISIT

The rare to find 6-speed Variant version of the B5.5 chassis Passat W8 that we looked at last month is back up for sale. The seller has dropped the “Buy It Now” price by $1,000 to $8,995 – more in line with top-of-the-market B5.5 Passats like the TDi Variants and low mile examples. While it’s possible to get more performance out of the Audi 6-speed Avants of either B5 or B6 generation for around the same money, this is one pretty neat sleeper if you’re willing to put up with the maintenance factor of the unique engine.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Wagon

Long before “Dieselgate” and the unceremonious admission of Volkswagen about cheating on emissions testing, Volkswagen struggled with the image of diesel. The problem wasn’t as much air pollution – there was plenty of that – but it was that diesels were noisy and slow. How slow? Well, consider today’s 1980 Dasher Diesel Wagon, whose 1.5 inline-4 mill produced a twig-snapping 48 horsepower. Despite the relative light weight at only 2,500 lbs, the Dasher Diesel literally and figuratively lacked spark as it’s near 20-second 0-60 time proved. As gas prices fell and fuel injected gasoline engines became ever more efficient (and powerful), the gap between the fuel mileage to the diesels narrowed as the perceived benefit gulf of purchasing petrol widened. However, nearly 30 years before the introduction of the “Sport Wagon” TDi, you can still see the spiritual basis for Volkswagen’s popular 5-door diesel configuration.

The other day, a gentleman pulled up to me right after I parked my Passat. He rolled down the window and asked if I liked the car, then mentioned that it was lovely. I thanked him and said that I loved the car. Sure, even over a decade on B5.5 generation Passat Variants are a dime a dozen around the streets of New England. But while the B5.5 was by far the most popular choice for German wagons in the early 2000s, it wouldn’t be possible without the B1. Styled by Giugiaro, the new chassis completely redefined the platform for Volkswagen. It was followed by the niche but popular B2 (Quantum in the U.S.), then the odd-yet-cool B3, the more traditional B4 and finally the popular B5/5.5 chassis. With some sadness, the B6 would be the last wagon form of the Passat for U.S. customers, but it went out with a bang – being offered in 3.6 VR6 with 4Motion all-wheel drive. It was about as far from the original B1 as you could get, but the mission of each was the same and they were representative of their times. “We think you’ll agree Dasher is setting new standards for roomy wagons, with elegant appointments and fittings” touted the 1980 brochure, and it’s hard to argue that for some time the Passat was the best value not only in German wagons, but perhaps in family vehicles in total. While they were loved by their respective owner pools, they were also used, and each subsequent generation is steadily becoming more infrequent to see. B5s have already started to disappear while B4s rust away. B3s are downright rare, but not nearly as much as clean B2s. But a clean B1? I’d bet you could count the number of examples in this condition remaining on one hand:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Wagon on Cleveland Craigslist

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2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed

There’s always been a fascination for me with the W8 Passat. Not only did Volkswagen take the B5 and B5.5 models upscale by offering the Audi-based chassis, but they pioneered the new engine configurations that would be the top-tier mills in the Passat. Truth told, the “W” configuration had been around for a few years before it finally entered into the mid-sized sedan and wagon. It was first floated in the Bugatti EB116 16/4, but really came into the minds of enthusiasts with the Volkswagen W12 Nardo concept. Now in appropriately named W12 configuration and powering all four wheels, the 600 horsepower mid-engined Volkswagen captured headlines with its 200 m.p.h. 24 hour run and Italdesign-penned Group C for the road looks. While the Nardo was the prototype for what would become the Veyron after some heavy revisions, the W12 would be an exotic engine only powering the most elite of the VAG range. However, Volkswagen also launched a smaller version of the engine for 2001 in the Passat. It was the first introduction to U.S. customers of the W configuration that would later appear in Bentleys, the D3 Audi A8L and the Phaeton. There was something unique about the Passat’s package, though. First, you could option the mid-ranger in long-roof 5-door configuration. More importantly for enthusiasts, you could select a manual 6-speed, too. The combination of these items coupled with the stratospheric price tag of the model meant very few sold. But briefly, until the new S4 launched in 2004, this was the most powerful manual VAG product you could buy in the U.S.:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed on eBay

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1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon – REVISIT

The impossibly clean ’86 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon we featured last month is back up on offer, this time with a Buy It Now price of $4,450. Let’s face it, for not much scratch, this would look a lot better than that anonymous SUV in your driveway, wouldn’t it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Wagon on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site September 16, 2015:

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2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant with 46,000 Miles

Does the Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Tiptronic make any sense as a driver? Not really. If you want something as quick, a chipped 1.8T will easily keep up and is available as a manual. If you want something as luxurious, for much less money than this example you could get into a very pretty, bigger, and all-wheel drive Audi A6 quattro Avant. And if you had to have a Volkswagen Passat with 4Motion, the V6 model represents most of this car minus a bit of grunt, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in reliability and cost of bills compared to the W8. But shouldn’t we celebrate that Volkswagen even offered us this car? It’s easy to forget that this was top of the heap in 2003 for VAG wagons; the B5 S4 was out of production, and even then this car made more power than the twin-turbo V6 did stock. The B6 S4 was yet to be introduced, and while the engine in that one was a screamer, you’d need to wait another year to order one. On top of that, we often lament as enthusiasts that we didn’t get the top-spec model; not true of the W8 Passat, which minus a few minor details was the same car offered in Europe. A little over a decade later, most are heading the way of the dodo; this is likely to be a car you seldom see anymore in just a few years. There are a few devoted fans, but few who will contemplate taking on a complicated, one-off motor like the W8 as a daily driver. But what if it appears to be nearly new?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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