After all these years of writing about junkyard-found vehicles (15 years, to be exact), I'm trying to fill in some of the thin spots in these automotive history lessons. I've caught up on some of the post-1980s BMWs I'd neglected, I'm trying to add more SUVs to the mix, and now I realize that I haven't paid much attention to discarded VW Passats built since we called that model the Dasher or the Quantum over here. So, I decided to document the very first Passat I found in a junkyard with a manual transmission (just to make the search more of a challenge), and that turned out to be this '03 GLS.
The final Volkswagen Passat has rolled off the assembly line in Chattanooga, Tennessee, ending the model’s extended run on the North American market.
Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and introduced in 1973 using the VW/Audi B1 platform, the Passat arrived in the United States as the Dasher and was sold as a midsized luxury vehicle to people in the market for an imported economy car. The model carried different names in other parts of the world and even saw a few unique monikers used in the U.S. (e.g. Quantum) to help differentiate between the hatchback, sedan, and wagon variants sold throughout the 1980s. But it was officially known as the (B2) Passat by 1990, regardless of format.
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.
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.
The original Volkswagen Passat (aka Audi 80) was sold in the United States as the Dasher, and we’ve seen a few of them in this series. Then, when the second-generation Passat came out, the US-market version was called the Quantum. These cars, which were available here for the 1982 through 1988 model years (after which VW decided, what the hell, they’d call its successor the same thing they called the European version), weren’t what you’d call hot sellers, and just about all of them are long gone. That makes today’s Junkyard Find a rarity for the 21st century.
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- Conundrum Was unlucky enough to have a ride in the back of one of these things shortly after they first appeared, a project of Mercedes' ownership of Chrysler and that silly German professor with the gigantico walrus mustache who ran the place.Brother rented one of these early Magnums. The ride in the back was of constant wallowing up and down, like a 2015 BMW 3 Series, where my senses were similarly assaulted by lack of attenion to rear ride comfort, Up front was OK in both, back seat ride bloody awful. Must be a Germanic trait.The Magnum had an additional sensory deficit. Interior smelled of the peculiar rubber/plastic dash. Smelled like Chinese winter boots for kids, or Chinese tires of yore. Pass.
- Anonymous My dad drove an 84 LTD. He always bragged about how special it was. Interesting to see that again.
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