Junkyard Find: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Four-Door Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

With the 1986 Quantum GL5 Junkyard Find we had a couple of days ago, we might as well make this a VW junkyard week. With that in mind, I present this icky-looking Volkswagen Dasher today.

I shot this car in Northern California a few months ago, and it showed all the hallmarks of a car stored outdoors for decades: low miles, paint burned off upper surfaces, moss and lichens growing on the shaded areas. Look, not even 100,000 miles on the clock!

This one was a luxurious model with sunroof and air conditioning a diesel injection pump.

The 1980 four-door hatch version of the Dasher listed at $8,190, which was $2,300 more than the Rabbit four-door hatch. Meanwhile, the far more luxurious and powerful (keep in mind that 1980’s standards for luxury and power differ from the ones we might apply today) Datsun 810 wagon (soon to be rebadged as the Maxima) listed at $8,129. Not that Dasher and 810 shoppers were the same people, but these comparisons are fun to make.

Yes, I bought the MotoMeter clock… and it works!

The car of choice for Kentucky Colonels.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Cabriolet Cabriolet on May 14, 2015

    Back in the late eighties i was shipping a lot of diesel 4 door sedans to Ireland for a local wholesaler. At the auction in the Bronx he purchased a 2 door 1984 VW Diesel in error and to dump it offered it to me on the cheap. Car only had 18,000 miles and ran like a top. The car was a stripper with only a heater and radio. Top speed down hill 85 MPH with the windows closed. Have a ticket i got in Penn showing 85. My daughters other half is a NYC Police Capt so i was able to get the ticket cancelled. I drove that car for 5 years and 85,000 miles with only tires and a battery. When my daughter got married i gave the car to her to drive to work. Of course after another 20,000 miles she got hit in the back by a hit and run truck and ended back in my backyard. My buddies son was going to collage in Ct at the time so he brought the car from my daughter and after 4 years of driving to school and seeing his future wife in Ct the car had another 125,000 miles on it. The car is still on the road with 845,000 miles going between Boston and Bridgeport every day. The owner drives with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver in case the car dies. This way he can walk away with the plates. All this on the original unopened engine. The oil was always changed on time and problems were attended to as they are all engineers. As for the matter of engine shake the front motor mount has to be adjusted every couple of years or replaced. A new mount is only $14.00. I wish i could buy another one just like it today.

  • Autojim Autojim on May 15, 2015

    With the power-to-weight of a Diesel Dasher being what it is, it's possible the moss & lichens grew on the car while it was in motion.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.