Crapwagon Outtake: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1986 volkswagen quantum syncro wagon

Since September, the collective wisdom of the Internet has changed. Before, the ideal car — as decreed by keyboard warriors across this great nation — was an all-wheel drive, manual, diesel wagon. Now, however, oil burners are less popular than even Jeb Bush.

Today’s feature checks all three remaining post-Dieselgate fanboy boxes.

For some brief insight into my process for finding three classics per week for your perusal and ridicule: I don’t read the headlines while shopping. Instead, I quickly scan the lead photos for something that catches my eye. I’m a data geek at heart, and I’ve found that I average over a thousand cars scanned per day. Sometimes this method finds a poor listing, like the car-cover clad Fiat Dino on eBay that I shared to Facebook yesterday. But other times, I find stuff I never would have considered otherwise.

Today’s feature, a 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon, wears the iconic “Snowflake” alloys also found on the original GTI, and thus was immediately thrust into consideration. Those wheels always grab my eye.

This is priced like a future collectible, but I’m certain there won’t be a future at Pebble Beach or Barrett-Jackson for this Quantum. It’s a fascinating, early, all-wheel-drive sports wagon, in the vein of the big brother Audi 5000, nothing more. With under 52,000 miles, it’s in great condition save the fading exterior plastics, but this is a $3,000 car at best, especially considering the lack of undercarriage photos and the Iowa location.

Just because it’s rare doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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2 of 137 comments
  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Feb 22, 2016

    The author is making the mistake of attempting to apply logic to Volkswagen ownership. There are a dozen guys in the country who would do anything for a syncro wagon. This is priced for them, at the high-end of what a pizza deliver guy can manage.

  • Tifighter Tifighter on Feb 24, 2016

    About 1000 years ago, I actually had one of these, 87 and red as well. It was only offered as a wagon so as not to compete with the 4000 Quattro, which was mechanically identical. These are geared short, so the MPG isn't great. Mechanical locking diff. Mine came with the optional feature of randomly not starting when the temperature was below 40 degrees, which is a nice feature on an AWD wagon. Replaced it with a 100 Avant, which was later replaced with a 90 Quattro 20V. Sigh. But I learned eventually. Well, sorta. These days I have a XC70 T6. Back to the future, I guess.

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.