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.
As Isaac Newton didn’t say, to go up, Volkswagen had to go down.
U.S. sales of Volkswagen brand vehicles declined 18% in October 2013, year-over-year, a 6182-unit decline in a market which expanded by 114,000 units, or 10%. Looking back, October 2013 was Volkswagen’s seventh consecutive month of decline, a streak which would continue all the way through the third quarter of 2014.
Yet this sharp decline last year enabled Volkswagen of America to announce, “increased traffic in our showrooms,” and an 8% increase in total volume for October 2014. Increases, yes, compared with a period of dramatic decrease.
The original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door diesel Dasher.
Despite planning to sell 486,000 units in America this year, Volkswagen has trimmed its sales targets to 440,000 units, after shedding market share in the first half of 2013.
Volkswagen is having a bit of a tough year in America. As of June 1st, inventory for the brand stood at 105 days supply (third highest in the industry, behind Cadillac and Lincoln). 500 workers have been laid off from the Chattanooga assembly line due to slow sales of the Passat, while VW is offering 0 percent APR across the board. What VW lacks, according to dealers, is a mid-size crossover, something bigger than the Tiguan but less expensive than the Touraeg.
Having taken my driver-training classes, circa 1982, in a VW Rabbit Diesel, I thought I’d experienced the slowest car available in the United States during the second half of the 20th century. I was wrong! The oil-burning Dasher (which is what the V.A.G. called the first-gen Audi 80 aka VW Passat in North America) had the same 49 (!) horsepower diesel as the Rabbit, and it weighed between 100 and 400 pounds more. I hadn’t seen a Dasher of any sort for at least a decade, and I don’t recall ever having seen a Dasher Diesel, so this find in a San Jose-area self-service wrecking yard was startling.
German launch catalog for the Polo
Where did the names of Volkswagen’s Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo come from? What is their meaning? For four decades, it was shrouded in mystery. Forty years later, a famous former Volkswagen CEO, Dr. Carl Hahn, and his illustrious former sales chief, “WP” Schmidt, help TTAC get to the bottom of an unsolved question,
Some of the worst performers in the truth department are the gossip press and the automotive media. A good deal there simply is fantasy. Knowing well that no-one will complain or check, bogus new product plans are being published. The large-scale availability of cheap 3D rendering software ( here is how it’s done) and of WordPress turns this disease into a pandemic.
Most of these lies come and go. Some stay and turn into history. A dark chapter of automotive history falsification is about the names of the new generation of cars that, in the early 1970s, rescued Volkswagen from the brink and that helped turn VW into the powerhouse it is today: Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo.
There is so munch nonsense written about those names, that we had to go to the very top, and ask the people who decided these names 40 years ago.
Whenever we post about a Volkswagen, comments about reliability (or, more specifically, the lack of it) inevitably follow. So few will be surprised that, with the latest update to TrueDelta’s car reliability stats, the 2012 Passat again received subpar marks. Though the big sedan’s score is better than earlier, it remains considerably worse than most other 2012s. Digging through the repair reports, a common cause emerges. Ignition coils aren’t failing. Nor are window regulators. Instead, the most common problem for these cars happens to be rattles.
Sometimes it all comes together, doesn’t it — right before it all falls apart. Lightning in a bottle. Never as good before, never to be equaled afterwards. Duane Allman crashes his motorcycle, the sunburst Les Paul yields to the “Les Paul SG”, the perfected Honda VFR800 Interceptor is replaced by something that looks like the Nostromo’s escape pod, the woman you desperately love goes desperately crazy and desperately calls your wife, that kind of stuff.
The family sedan, too, had its high-water mark, its ’59 ‘Burst, its At Fillmore East. The G.O.A.T. The Greatest Of All Time. Once in history, all the tides converged. The resulting car was fast, spacious, full-featured, affordable, safe, economical, gorgeous, desirable. Hmm. We’re missing one quality, aren’t we? We’ll get to that later.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the G.O.A.T.: the 1998 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8t five-speed manual. Yes, I had one.
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