By on September 13, 2012

Because I have some friends who race a Quantum Syncro, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for junkyard parts sources. After several years (including two of them in a state that has more weird four-wheel-drive vehicles than any other), I’ve finally found one!
Most Volkswagens, Audis, and Volkswagen-Audi mashups that you see in the junkyard show fewer than 200,000 miles on the clock. Not this car! 301,533 miles.
Judging from the bodywork and not-particularly-thrashed interior, someone loved this car enough to keep it in fairly presentable shape for decades.
The Quantum name was used for the North American-market Passat during the 1980s, and the Syncro used the drivetrain from the Audi 80 Quattro. When I called the team captain of the Chicken & Waffles 24 Hours of LeMons Quantum Syncro, he said he didn’t need any parts because the team is building a new car. That means what may be the only Quantum Syncro race car in America is being retired.

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon...”

  • avatar

    Nice find!

    Even though the paint now looks it’s age a bit, still a very clean, straight car overall.

    I have to admit, if you keep paint like this waxed on a regular basis, they’ll hold up for a good long while, and this one’s still mostly bright red too.

    Even in Seattle, don’t see these too often, but these, and the bit older Quantums still get driven around these parts, thanks to the fact that rust forgets we exist.

    However, the Passat, still see those of most years still plying the roads.

    Friends had a very early Passat sedan for a while, then a black Jetta GLI, they bought in Germany while visiting their son who was stationed there, and had shipped here, and that was in the early 90’s.

    My best friend for a couple of years drove an ’85 Jetta GLI, in this same red that he bought used in 1994 when in Lenexa Kansas and put a bunch of mile on it, I forget how many miles it had on it when he sold it, but it still looked very good by the late 90’s. By this point, he’d only had the car a year before moving back out to Puget Sound.

    I have to admit, these were nice looking then, and still hold up nicely now.

  • avatar

    This was a bit of a “Quantum Leap” for VW wasn’t it?

    Bad puns aside, looks like this thing had one could be the rarest but more important thing in the automotive world, an owner that bothers to do a little maintenance!

  • avatar

    B2 and B3 Passats were the by far the toughest and indestructable VWs ever.

  • avatar

    Go Tarheels!

  • avatar

    These were nice, if slow, cars.

    Iirc, the synchro option cost about 1000 bucks more and due to this, i think, fue to lack of popularity VW even dropped it for a few years.

    Of course in the end, syncro was dropped in favor of 4motion (I’m not sure if it was a name or tech change … (something to do with the gleason torsen diff but ill be damned if i know what it was…)

  • avatar

    Wow, that entire gauge cluster is absolutely identical to my ’86 GTI. Guess they were saving on parts inventory big-time.

  • avatar

    I had one of these back in the early 90’s – I want to say it was an ’85, it had the quad headlight front end. Five speed manual, manually actuated differentials, 5 cylinders – fun car. Drove it from Mass to Oregon, not a hiccup. I miss it, although it’s probably worm food right now.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I always liked these. They were very rare even when new. And to this day, I much prefer the name Quantum to Passat, which to me sounds like pissant.

    Those front seats were great, BTW. My gray market 1978 Audi 100 GLS had the same ones, just a different type of upholstery.

  • avatar

    I think 301,533 miles might be a Junkyard Find record.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    It figures that a car with the radiator mounted sidesaddle next to the engine would be German. How did they run the fan? Belt drive down to an extension of the transmission mainshaft?

    • 0 avatar

      Also note the longitudinally mounted engine, despite it being a FWD-based car.

    • 0 avatar

      The fan is electric. High-tech, I know.

      I had an ’84 Jetta GLI through most of college and grad school, then passed it back and forth between me and my best friend. Nearly 400K on it when he finally parted it out and junked the remains about 5 years ago, tin worm finally got it. That car was in Maine its whole life other than the 3 years in Illinois while I was in grad school. Still ran great, motor had never been openned, though it did burn a quart of oil between changes at the end.

  • avatar

    You can say whatever you like about German cars’ reliability, but look at how thick that paint is, compared to what you’ll see today. GM was probably the culprit of the thin-paint phase that started in the early nineties, and I see several sixth-gen Accords with the paint peeling off of the roof and rear deck…

  • avatar

    “That means what may be the only Quantum Syncro race car in America is being retired”

    I think you may be aiming too low with that comment. I can hear Jeremy Clarkson now: “That makes this the only VW Syncro estate-car racer … in the world!”

  • avatar

    301K sounds about right for this drivetrain – they were robust and very unstressed at only 115hp from 2.2 liters. My Audi 4000q with the same setup went to the scrapper with similar miles when the clutch failed (repair cost was stupid high, maybe due to longitudinal layout?). I wonder what killed this one. If the body were better you could probably find someone crazy enough to bring this thing back to life.

  • avatar
    mulled whine

    I had one of those! Metallic blue, 1987 stick shift. Bought it in 1988 with 50k on it for $8k wan sold it in 94 or so with 180k on it. They were around $18k new, even back then.

    Parts were a fortune, especially as the syncho version was so rare, but the engine was bulletproof. Good looking too. Even now.

  • avatar

    Most VWs of that era list less than 200k on them because the odometer usually quits by 150k.

    I had to rebuild mine in my ’88 Jetta in order to keep it ticking, which it did up to 343k and was still ticking away when I sold it ;)

    My Mom had an ’85 Jetta, another damn near bulletproof car, outlasting several friend’s oh so indestructable Hondas, but she didn’t care that her odometer went screwy so the exact mileage was unknown. It was rather amusing though, her’s would just click over the 100k number every so often. I’ll never forget when I got in her car and the mileage said 779k when I knew a month before it sad 170something.
    We’d always joke about how she got 300k out of a tank of gas haha.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    A few years back I saw a charcoal Syncro like this one that had 200k on it for only $600. VW/Audi’s of the era were not the most reliable and I figured 200k was roughly it’s lifespan so I decided to take a pass.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Thought you all might be interested in this find – purchased in Oct 2011. 86 Syncro with 19,000 orig miles. Car has been a blast! We thought about selling at one time but couldn’t figure out what it’s worth. So we kept it and it’s been an excellent car!

  • avatar

    My QSW has 310K miles and counting. had the clutch done locally for $700 last year, and drove from Seattle to Santa Ca tjree times recently. Passed emissions for the last time.

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