2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant 6-speed with 41,000 Miles

I’m obviously a big fan of the B5/5.5 Volkswagen Passat Variant, having now owned two. They’re fun to drive, have remarkable ride quality and a near-luxury feel, and are hugely capable carriers. Notably, one time I got an entire Ikea kitchen inside the rear of the my 1999 – aside from too-soft springs for really heavy loads, the 5-doors have shrugged off every single crazy task I’ve thrown at them and though parts can be a bit expensive they’ve been very dependable. But there is one thing that really flummoxes my Passat of choice, the 1.8T. Put a few people in it, turn the outside heat up above 90 with high humidity and crank the air conditioning, and the turbocharged inline-4 can barely get out of its own way. The lag, which in most other situations is barely noticeable, suddenly becomes laughable – especially if there are any hills involved. Of course, in the Passat, you had several options for engines which had more power than the 1.8T out of the box; the 2.8 30V V6 wasn’t a bad option, but if you wanted all-wheel drive, too, then you could only get an automatic. But move up to the 270 horsepower 4 liter W8, and you could select a 6-speed manual mated to the 4Motion drivetrain in Variant wagon form. That was something that only 95 people did from 2003 to 2004, making these Passats highly sought “unicorns” for some VW faithful:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion Variant on eBay

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1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX TDi Variant

Something really strange happened to me about a decade ago; I got old. Sure, part of it was the numeric figure I associated with my age, but the bigger problem was that I had a job that I was paying the gas bills for, and I needed to drive – a lot. I was adding between 45,000 and 55,000 miles a year to the odometers (when they were working). My preferred mode of transport to that point was Audis, and while they were quirky, fun, and neat looking compared to a Kia, the fuel mileage was nothing to write home about. My 200 Quattro Avant struggled to get 25 m.p.g., and my V8? If I could manage 20, that was a good day. So, despite my desires for a high performance steed, increasingly as gas prices rose my thoughts kept shifting towards how I could maximize my fuel mileage. One thought I had was to take something like the 200 and swap in a TDi drivetrain. Would it be slow? Sure, it wouldn’t be nearly as quick – but the prospect of 40 plus m.p.g. was infinitely appealing to easing my multi-thousand dollar gas bills. It seems I wasn’t alone in my thinking:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX TDi on eBay

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GCFSB Project: 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant Part 2

It’s been nearly a year since I did the introductory piece to my 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant. Too much of that year was filled with snow in New England, which allowed me to get one more season out of my pretty tired Blizzaks and dream of warmer climates while pondering what to do. One thing that kept coming to mind was that even though the Passat still feels relatively new to me, the reality is that it’s a 13 year old car already. That’s older than both of my B2 Audis were when I originally bought them – something that I still find pretty staggering. As such, there’s a length list of minor things that could be refreshed on the cars, and unlike the lack of aftermarket support for the Type 85 Audis the Passat still has lots of parts available to buy on the open market. Thus, sitting through one of the many snowfalls this year, I crafted some minor upgrade plans to address a few trim items that annoyed me.

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B4 Variant-off: 1997 Passat GLX VR6 v. 1996 Passat GLS TDi

Without a doubt, Wagon Week is one of our favorite features here at German Cars For Sale Blog, and while there are plenty of desirable, big name Avants, Tourings and Estates that grab the headlines and generate the “likes” on Myface or Spacebook or Instaselfie or whatever, if I’m honest I’m always a fan of the underdog Passat Variant. Perhaps it’s because I’ve owned two, perhaps it’s because it’s the less common choice; I’m not entirely certain. True, the Passat isn’t the best performing wagon out there, and I’d concede that it’s not the best looking or best made one either. But in terms of the performance you can get in a stealthy, good looking package on a budget, I think that the Passat may be the real sleeper in the German wagon realm. But the positive aspects of the Passats aren’t unknown to all; the Quantum Syncro is always a popular if rarely seen ’80s icon for the company, and when we got to the Golf-based B3 and B4, there were some cool options too – such as the not-for-the-U.S. G60 Syncro. But even in the U.S., the B4 offered some neat performance options for the wagon aficionado – interestingly, in very different directions. Check the “GLX” option on your order form and you’d get the torquey, great sounding VR6 engine and BBS wheels in a sporty package. Check the “TDi” option, and you had a hyper-miler capable of over a thousand miles on a tank of gas. Yet while both have their niche markets, finding good examples of each can be quite difficult. Today we have one of each to compare, and I think it makes for an interesting showdown. Will either hit the $11,000 mark of the last B4 Variant we looked at?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 Volkswagen Passat GLX VR6 Variant on eBay

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Wagon Week: 1964 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant

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We’ve seen a fair number of Type 3 Volkswagens recently here at GCFSB, notably a rather tasty Type 3 Notchback show up in our Feature Listings earlier this week. However, since we are wrapping up another successful Wagon Week, let’s take a look at the long roof version of the Type 3, the Variant. Known to those stateside as the Squareback, the Variant was a two-door estate model with the familiar “pancake” rear-mounted air-cooled flat four engine. Today we’ll travel across the pond and take a look at a Variant for sale in Lisbon, Portugal.

Click for details: 1964 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant on Mobile.de

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Wagon Week: 1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi Variant

There are plenty of popular Volkswagens that demand premiums, sometimes inexplicably. These special models have a draw and demand money that makes people laugh. Sure, in the car world, it’s become accepted that vehicles like the 21 window Samba are now $100,000 plus fully restored; however, tell that to my father-in-law, who grew up driving them, and you’ll get nothing but boisterous laughs. Other Volkswagens exhibit charm or were class leaders; the GTi, the Vanagon Westy, the Corrado – stylish in their own ways, with charm to match. Then there’s the Passat. Despite the serious popularity of the B5 and B5.5 chassis, I still feel like I need to explain to people that they’re really quite nice cars. Do you know why? Mostly it’s because of the reputation of the B3 and B4 Passats. Poor build quality coupled with an unerring tendency of early 90s Volkswagens to rust heavily meant they’re an odd choice for the Volkswagen fan. And when I consider the B4 Passat, all I can think is that it’s arguably the most vanilla Volkswagen ever produced. I praised Volkswagen when they launched the B3; smooth, aerodynamic with a distinctive wedge shape, it looked very different than any other sedan on sale at the time. Most of that distinction came down to the grill-less front end, but regardless it was cool. It was so cool, in fact, that no one got it. Of course, it didn’t help that it was pretty expensive and not particularly reliable in the best trend of early 90s VWs. So it probably came as no surprise when the revised B4 Passat in 1995 when more mainstream. New wheels, mostly new body panels and some minor interior changes signaled its introduction, but that’s not what people sought. No, the big news was under the hood; Volkswagen moved the 1Z 1.9 TDi into the Passat – and behind the headlines of the Vans, Corrados and GTis, it’s probably the most sought 1990s Volkswagen – especially in 5-speed Variant form.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi Variant on eBay

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Wagon Week: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant

While “Wagon Week” is one of our favorite features, I’ve tried to look at cars this go around that are slightly different than the normal candidates we examine. As such, while typically I look at the infamous W8 version of the Passat and it’s headline grabbing, innovative engine or the lighter weight 1.8T 5-speed, my preferred configuration, this time we’re looking at what was a popular platform – the GLX 4Motion. Equipped with a silky smooth 30V V6, as it was with the B2 generation underneath the B5 Passat was effectively an Audi A4 and shared the same all-wheel drive technology with updated 4-link suspension. That gave the Passat a refined and capable drivetrain and composed suspension setup that made it feel more upscale than the B3 and B4 generation had been. For enthusiasts, unfortunately if you wanted the all-wheel drive option coupled to a manual, you’d need to select an Audi over the more budget-friendly Passat or wait until the introduction of the 1.8T 4Motion later in the B5.5 model run. But many selected the package none-the-less, a capable and competent upscale cruiser that punched north of its price point and was a value luxury car:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 Volkswagen Passat 2.8 GLX 4Motion Variant on eBay

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2004 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant

Off the bat, I’ll admit that the B5 and B5.5 Passat is not the most exciting or best looking car in the world. It was, however, a serious step up in quality and design for the company. As they had with the B2, Volkswagen turned to partner Audi for the platform for the B5 and B5.5 Passat. It launched after the Audi A4 by one year and was decidedly more conservative in styling, at least originally. As it had been in the B1,2,3 and 4 platforms, the B5 was available initially in two configurations – sedan and Variant wagon. Motivation was provided either by the new 1.8T turbocharged inline-4 or the standby 12 valve V6. In 2001, Volkswagen refreshed the package with styling that brought the Passat closer to its B6 Audi cousins; new projector beam headlights were the largest notable change, though truth told most of the exterior trim changed in between the B5 and B5.5. Engines were also upgraded; the 1.8T changed to the newer, higher output 170 horsepower model shared with the A4, the V6 sprouted 18 more valves for a few more horsepower, and the new W8 engine was mated to the Audi all-wheel drive now badged 4Motion instead of Syncro. You could also get the frugal TDi motor again; something that was left out of the U.S. Audi lineup at the time and had skipped the B5 generation. What the Passat gained by these interactions with Audi was a level of build quality and refinement that hadn’t previously been seen in the top of the range Volkswagen; if you knew what you were looking at, it was indeed as nice as the Audis, had slightly more leg room and was just as nice to drive. While they weren’t the headline grabbers, my favorite of the model run are the 1.8Ts in upscale GLS trim – and of course, you had to get a wagon:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T Variant on eBay

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1985 Volkswagen Passat Diesel Variant

I make no pretensions that my 2002 Volkswagen Passat is the most special car that has ever been made; heck, it’s not even particularly special amongst Volkswagens. But to me, it’s a very nice car, very fun to drive, it looks great and it’s very capable. It gets good gas mileage and can carry a huge load of cargo and it’s a rare color combination. I try very hard to keep it in good shape; to me, it’s hard to believe that it’s already 13 years old but time seems to click quickly. My hope is that someday my rather run-of-the-mill Passat will be like this car is; a throwback, a car rarely seen, and one that makes even the modest spec seem quite special indeed:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Volkswagen Passat Diesel Variant on eBay

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10K Friday Family Truckster Edition

I got to laughing the other day during a National Lampoon marathon on television when the memorable “Family Truckster” came onto the screen. The inclusion of that heavily ornamented and modified car in the movie was truly a stroke of genius, but once again a sad reminder that many of the wagons that previously were available to us are gone, replaced by crossovers, “GT”s, or SUV/SAV vehicles. Of course, because of this you don’t have to go back very far in time to find great deals on the last generation of premium 5-doors. Today, with that in mind, I’ve rounded up a set of all-wheel drive sporty wagons to consider – which is the winner?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz E500 Estate 4Matic on eBay

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