Like the Scirocco duo from earlier this week, Volkswagen’s “large” chassis has become an obscure name long gone from these shores. The Dasher premiered VW’s use of the shared B1 platform. Marketed in the rest of the world as the Passat (a name, like the Scirocco, for a type of wind), Volkswagen opted to use a name closer to its stablemate Rabbit and came up with “Dasher”. From 1974 through 1981, the B1 laid the foundation for larger watercooled Volkswagens in three configurations; two-door hatchback, four-door hatchback and wagon. Also like the Scirocco, the design came from Giogetto Giugiaro and was forward-thinking. Power came from the EA827 derivatives, with a relative modest 1.6 inline-4 gas motor and later diesel options available. In 1978, the B1 was refreshed and gained quad-round headlights and other light revisions, visually matching the Scirocco lineup a bit more. They’re obscure and relatively rare to see at all these days, but this survivor has popped up on eBay in a no reserve auction:
In 1976, Porsche won the World Sportscar Championship for makes with successful runs in both the 935 and prototype 936 chassis. The 936 was triumphant at Le Mans in the already famous Martini livery, while a series of 935/76s carried the colors in Group 5 FIA sports car racing. It was there that Porsche introduced the ‘slant nose’ aerodynamic bodywork that became the hot mod on 911s in the 1980s; however, in the 1970s you could get a very nice slantnose Porsche – replete with Martini Racing colors – for a lot less than a 911 Turbo.
To commemorate the success of the 1976 season, in 1977 Porsche released a limited run of Martini-colored 924s. Option M426 was the Martini World Championship Edition, and it cost $450. Add in a removable roof like this one for about $350, and the sticker price of this car just passed $10,000. For that sum, Porsche gave you quite a lot of visual enhancement; bathed only in pure white, the 924’s 8-spoke alloy wheels were color-matched to the body. Martini stripes ran the length of the sides, their design mimicking the wedge shape of the 924. Inside, a special two-tone interior of scarlet corduroy and black leatherette was offset with Martini stripes stitched into the upper portion of the seats and blue piping ran throughtout. A commemorative plaque was added to the back of the center console, too, reminding you that the car you were driving was from the house of a champion. You held a real leather steering wheel, and helping execute your commands was achieved by Porsche adding sway bars to the suspension both front and rear. It was a series of small changes that resulted in a neat package, and one that is sought by collectors of the transaxle design today:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini Championship Edition on Hemmings
Last month I wrote an article for The Truth About Cars where I covered the special models of the Porsche 924. Recounting the various special editions drew into sharp focus the general lack of any performance gains with those models. Sure, some had sway bars and fog lights – two of the best known performance upgrades in the 1980s. But generally speaking, most of the Porsche 924 limited models were just a special color stripes and/or special interior. The 1976 and 1977 World Championship Edition 924 is probably the best example of that, but before it’s completely dismissed as a mega-poser, it’s worth a look if for no other reason than it’s quite the looker:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Porsche 924 Martini World Championship Edition on eBay
It’s easy to overlook the importance to Porsche of the 924 model, but it was a significant and successful model – purists be damned. Not only did it make Porsche a viable company so that those precious air-cooled dinosaurs could be produced, but it laid the platform for many enthusiast favorites down the road both inside and outside of Germany. Of course, the most tangible benefit was the later 944 and 944 Turbo spawned from the bones of the 924, but highly prized models from other manufacturers were also influenced; the Mazda RX-7 was a blatant copy for example, but you can also see aspects of the 924 seep in to the Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX designs later in the 1980s.
Like its similarly revolutionary big brother 928, for some time the market did not recognize the importance or the significance of these designs. But while the 928’s needle has begun to head up the tach, the lowly 924 remains an absolute budget bargain for classic Porsche fans. One model that has gained some appreciation of late is the 924 Turbo. Though the technology was relatively primitive compared to more recent turbocharged mills, the 931 packed a potent punch in the early 1980s. Even in detuned American-market form, the 924 Turbo had nearly 150 horsepower from the pedestrian but heavily revised Volkswagen 2.0 liter at the same time that a 5.0 liter Corvette hit the market with 180 lazy horses. The Turbo was upgraded over its relatively short life span too, and models like this 1980 came equipped with a sport package that included 16″ forged wheels, upgraded 4-wheel disc brakes and a sport suspension:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 Turbo on eBay
One of my first days instructing at a high performance driving school, my student walked up to me after the morning meeting and told me he was under the weather and not up for driving. But, he said, he didn’t want to miss out on track time, so would I be willing to drive him around Lime Rock Park in his car? Sure, I said, and we strolled over towards his ride – a track prepared Porsche 968 on Michelin Sport Cup tires. I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive; a car I was unfamiliar with wasn’t the end of the world, but that day track was wet and while I had been the wheel man a few times in my father’s 924S on track, most of my seat time was spent in my front-drive Audi Coupe GT. But out on the track we went, and the 968 quickly proved why it gained a reputation as such a superlative driver’s car. Near perfect balance matched with smooth power delivery. The limited slip differential in that particular 968 also helped to translate the power to the ground, and on a soaked track we were one of the fastest cars that session within two laps – it just felt natural to push the car. Down the “No Name Straight” (which both has a name and isn’t a straight), the 968 twitched lightly under full throttle but was never out of control and never once felt uncomfortable. Even before then I had a high regard for the watercooled front-engine Porsches, but it solidified my love even more and it’s always nice when I see a track prepared 968: