Rare Rides: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum, From Volkswagen of Yore
After our last few Rare Rides were utterly luxurious and brougham in nature, it’s time to get back to the basics of motoring. A practical box where the windows are manually operated (quaint!) and number of buttons on the dash can be counted on two hands.
It’s a Volkswagen Quantum wagon from 1986.
The Quantum arrived at an interesting juncture for Volkswagen, as the automaker’s first real midsize offering in the North American market. For 1986, Volkswagen’s American division offered a total of five models: Golf (regular and Cabriolet), Jetta, Quantum, Scirocco, and the Vanagon. Quite a contrast to VW in 2018, which spoils North America with twice that number (or more, if you’re generous with what separate model means).
Though the Quantum was a brand new entry for North America in 1982, it was in fact the second-generation Passat in most other places around the globe. Based on the same platform as the Audi 80, the Quantum was available with three doors in weirdly-shaped hatchback form, or as a four-door sedan or wagon. Various displacement inline engines of four or five cylinders were offered, with either front-drive or four-wheel drive Syncro. Syncro versions came with the top-spec Audi 2.0-liter inline-five, which is the one powering today’s Quantum.
In addition to the Audi platform underneath, the Syncro components were straight from an Audi 80 Quattro. Quantum Syncro sedan owners paid the price for their skinflint nature in purchasing the cheaper Volkswagen offering; they had no spare tire well because of the four-wheel drive’s axle layout. On the Quantum wagon, Volkswagen tried a little harder and swapped the axle with one from a Vanagon in order to offer a flat rear floor. This was a worthwhile endeavor, as there was no competing Audi 80 wagon.
The Quantum would live on through the 1989 model year, when it was replaced by the third-generation Passat for 1990. Volkswagen was fond of renaming the Passat throughout the world. In addition to Quantum, it was known as Carat and Corsar. In the Japanese market, it wore a Nissan badge and carried the Santana name. Finding huge success in the Chinese market, that very same traditionally boxy Santana would remain in production there between 1985 and 2012.
The grey box we’ve been admiring today is located on Craigslist, in Idaho. With a single owner and 86,000 miles on the odometer, it’s in just about museum-quality condition. The seller is asking just $4,000 for the 32-year-old family hauler. Feel like taking a Quantum Leap?
[Images via seller]
Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.
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