Junkyard Find: 1977 Volkswagen Dasher

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1977 volkswagen dasher

When Volkswagen finally decided to try this newfangled water-cooled engine idea, their first effort was the Audi 80-derived Passat. In North America, this car was badged as a Dasher, and it didn’t exactly break any sales records. Prior to finding this example in a Denver junkyard earlier in the week, I hadn’t seen a Dasher for at least a decade.

The ’77 Dasher two-door hatch listed for $4,510, which was about $450 more than the Datsun 710 hardtop, $850 more than a six-cylinder Chevy Nova hatchback, and $700 more than a Plymouth Volare six-cylinder sedan. With front-wheel-drive and generally more modern design, the Dasher was somewhat more sophisticated than much of the competition, but on the expensive side for car shoppers accustomed to paying under three grand for a Beetle.

DPD air conditioning! That must have presented a challenge for the Dasher’s 78-horsepower engine. I’m going to see if my friend with a ’76 Audi Fox has any use for parts off this thing.






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  • Dingram01 Dingram01 on Sep 30, 2011

    Ah memories. We had the uppity Audi Fox in my family all throughout my childhood. A string of them actually, the first two lasting a year or so before being squished in accidents. The third one was the charm: a brown Fox wagon. Lasted for us for nine years, ultimately with sheet metal riveted to the rusted-out driver's door bottom. No memory of how many miles it accumulated or whether it was particularly unreliable. I think it was mechanically sound for us??? It certainly had a great personality and was considered the "fun" car in the family. I remember it had no power steering! I think of it often as I drive around in my 09 TDI Sportwagen. I wish the TDI had much to remind me of the old Audi, but it doesn't really. The A2 Jettas I had sure did though.

  • Gornzilla Gornzilla on Oct 01, 2011

    The first VW water-cooled car was a rebadged NSU K70. I don't own an NSU K70, I have an earlier 2 cylinder Sport Prinz, but this conversation pops up now and again on the NSU mailing list. The rebadged NSU was sold as a VW from 1970-1975. The Passat came out later.

    • Th009 Th009 on Oct 01, 2011

      And the Passat (Dasher) was built on the Audi 80 platform -- the 80 debuted in 1972, and the Passat a year later. Back then VW didn't have much front-engine, water-cooled technology of its own, and Audi and NSU helped get things started.

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  • Tre65688381 Definitely more attractive than it's German rivals, but I'd still rather have the standard GV80. One of the best looking mid size SUV/Crossovers on the road, in my opinion. And the updates for 2024 hone it gently in the right direction with more tasteful but subtle changes.
  • TheEndlessEnigma GM, Ford and Stellantis have significant oversupply of product sitting on dealer lots and banked up in holding yards across the country. Big 3 management is taking advantage of UAW's action to bring their inventories inline to what they deem reasonable. When you have models pushing 6 months of supply having your productions lines shut down by a strike is not something that's going to worry you. UAW does not have any advantages here, but they are directly impacting the financial well being of their membership. Who will be the first to blink? Those UAW members waving the signs around and receiving "strike pay" that is, what, 20% of their wages? UAW is screwing up this time around.
  • CEastwood Seven mil nitrile gloves from Harbor Freight for oil changes and such and the thicker heavy duty gripper gloves from Wally World for most everything else . Hell we used to use no gloves for any of that and when we did it was usually the white cloth gloves bought by the dozen or the gray striped cuff ones for heavy duty use . Old man rant over , but I laugh when I see these types of gloves in a bargain bin at Home Cheapo for 15 bucks a pair !
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