Junkyard Find: 1985 Volkswagen Quantum GL Turbo Diesel Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1985 volkswagen quantum gl turbo diesel sedan

Volkswagen of America used model names that didn’t match up to those of its European counterparts for much of the 1970s and 1980s. The Golf was the Rabbit through 1984 and the Passat started out as the Dasher and then became the Quantum over here. I find the occasional Dasher or Quantum during my junkyard voyages, but nearly all of the Quantums that have survived into our current century will be gasoline-burning Syncro Wagons. Diesels? After the Oldsmobile Diesel 350 debacle of the late 1970s and early 1980s, few Americans had the guts to buy a new oil-burner.

Here’s an extremely rare ’85 Quantum sedan with turbocharged diesel engine and manual transmission, finally laid to rest in a Denver self-service yard last month.

Most American Quantum sedan buyers in 1985 went with the five-cylinder Audi gasoline-burner, rated at 110 horsepower. The turbodiesel was the only other engine available in the ’85 sedan, and the original buyer of this car said I’ll have that!

Four cylinders, 1.8 liters, 68 horsepower (and a tolerable 98 lb-ft of torque). American VW shoppers in 1985 could get this engine in the Golf and Jetta, too; if they really wanted to be cheap, they could opt for the naturally-aspirated version of this engine, rated at a horrific 52 horses. That was pretty good power compared to the Diesel Rabbits of the late 1970s, which offered just 48 horses.

Fortunately for everyone who ever had to drive this machine, it has the five-speed manual transmission instead of the Matsch-O-Matisch™ three-speed automatic.

Someone bought the gauge cluster before I arrived, so the final mileage figure must remain a mystery to us. The interior looks clean enough for this to be a well-cared-for low-miler.

These pop-out tape cassette holders showed up in plenty of German cars during the 1980s. You push the button on the right and out pops a little drawer containing a cassette (presumably something by Laid Back or Nena, or maybe even some Nina Hagen). The next junkyard-parts boombox I build will feature several of these.

The religious keychain and dash stickers suggest that this car’s final owner belonged to some denomination of Orthodox Christianity.

These saints watched over the car for 35 years, but now its journey is over.

The final Quantums (Quanta?) sold in the United States were 1988 models. Starting in the 1990 model year, we got Passats over here.

It’s German and it’s cheap!

Sensible, too.

Perhaps we’d be better off learning about this car in its native language.

If you enjoy these junkyard tales, be sure to head over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™, where you’ll find links to more than 2,000 more.

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2 of 14 comments
  • JimC2 JimC2 on Jul 29, 2020

    If we're talking music selection for those cassette tape holders and a fine, but slow German automobile, perhaps something by Accept would be suitable??

  • Shane Shane on Sep 19, 2020

    I remember back around 1994, I was in high school, a buddy of mine had what I believe was an ’85 Quantum. I took special interest because I drove an ’86 Audi 5000S, and recognized the Quantum as basically a slightly downmarket Audi 4000. I remember it being a decent car when he first got it. Next time I saw it, not long after, it didn’t run anymore and seemed to never run again. It was weird.

  • Inside Looking Out I used True car once in 2014 and got a great deal. The difference is that you do nothing but dealers call you. No haggling but you can get the same deal browsing inventories on dealers websites. It just matter of convenience, Rich people delegate job to someone else because time costs more.
  • Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars has a new purchase a 1968 LTD Brougham just over 9k original miles. He really finds some gems.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK8R-LhM1LM&ab_channel=RareClassicCars%26AutomotiveHistory
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Diamonds are not really rare DeBeers dominates the diamond market and created the market with advertising starting in the 1930s thru the 40s. Before that time diamonds were for the most part considered for the wealthy and diamond wedding rings were not that common. Go back 100 years and most women wore wedding bands made of gold, silver, or other metals. DeBeers dominating the diamond market also controls the supply of diamonds keeping the prices higher by restricting supply. Sound familiar? Oil companies have learned to restrict supply of oil as well.https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/diamond-de-beers-marketing-campaign
  • Statikboy So they named it after the worst cracker."Perhaps that’s why the autonomous dream appeals to so many - they’ve never experienced satisfaction, or even fun, whilst operating a motorcar.""This 2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo, for example, can certainly handle the drudgery of the daily commute with aplomb but can make a detour on a twisty two-lane a bit more enjoyable."While the autonomous dream doesn't appeal to me at all, I think the reason that it does appeal to so many is because it theoretically has the potential to make the drudgery of the daily commute a bit more enjoyable.
  • Jeff S Arthur and I might be in the minority but we miss cars like this. We will never see cars like this again and it is what it is. I did like driving my mothers 72 Sedan Deville and her 84 Chrysler 5th Avenue with leather interior and Boise Dolby stereo along with some of the other luxury cars I drove from this era. At least I got to experience them and if I want more I can always read Corey's well written articles and watch Adam on Rare Classic Cars.