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Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Volkswagen Passat GL5

by Antony Ingram
15 October 2021 2 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Volkswagen Passat GL5
Photos: Car & Classic

Price: £6250
Mileage: 144,108
Condition: Dashing*
Seller: Car & Classic

Follow discourse on social media and there is discontentment at the ever-increasing values of some classic cars. If you’re a seller, holding onto an appreciating asset is a great position to be in, but it can be understandably frustrating for enthusiasts who’ve spent years saving for their dream car, only to have it constantly inch out of reach.

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There’s not a lot you can really do about it – the market pays what it pays – but the inflated price of one or two cars doesn’t necessarily mean the entire hobby is closed off. Look to the fringes and there are cars of a lower profile, but often plenty of appeal, that are much more attainable.

This week’s unexceptional classified is an example of just such a car. While the price of Golfs (particularly those of GTI persuasion) grows ever higher, quirky and characterful models like the B2-generation Passat hatchback are still well within reach.

Just how quirky you view the second-generation Passat probably depends on where in the world you live. In Europe it disappeared from production in 1988 after an eight-year run, but Volkswagen continued building and selling a variant in the burgeoning Chinese market, badged Santana, until 2012. So the Chinese are probably a bit bored of them.

We see a touch of Rover SD1 about it though, plus a hint of Audi (unsurprisingly, given it shared its platform with the second-generation 80), and also a strong 1970s flavour, belying the period in which it was designed. It’s easy to see it originating from the same family as the pert Scirocco.

Inside, with its squared-off dashboard and four-spoke wheel with four horn buttons, it resembles a kind of upmarket Mk1 Golf GTI. With a 2-litre, five-cylinder engine under the bonnet, the Passat GL5 almost certainly makes a better noise than a GTI, and with 115bhp to call upon and a kerbweight of under 1100kg, you’d likely get a taster, if not the full course, of GTI-style performance (officially, 60mph comes up in 10.5sec from rest).

Like many contemporary Audis the odometer of this particular Passat shows a generous number (just over 144,000 miles), but it’s recently had a new cambelt, water pump, plus oil and filters. The seller seems to have gone through it with a fine-toothed comb over the past year or so, turning numerous small MOT failures in 2020 into a completely clean ticket good until July 2022.

Okay, so the price of this one isn’t quite rock-bottom, and might still put it out of reach of floating voters or younger enthusiasts, but consider that a condition 4 “fair” example of a Mk1 Golf GTI is now £8000 in the Hagerty Price Guide, and an “excellent” car nearly twenty grand, and you can see how it pays to cast a broader net.

Plus, you might even enjoy it more, confident in its lower value – and maybe feel more compelled to add to the 144,000 miles driven by all those previous owners.

(*Yes, I know the Dasher was actually the American name for the B1 Passat, not the B2, I just liked the pun, okay?)

Read more

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The One That Got Away: the pint-sized Golf that Jon Bentley squeezed Jeremy Clarkson into for a trip to the pub
The Volkswagen Corrado VR6 sounds like a winner | Revelations with Jason Cammisa

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Comments

  • Giles says:

    Almost the worst car I’ve ever had, though I might have had a Friday car; overheating the main problem. Almost as bad as the ultra-unreliable Freelander 1 I had later, which is saying something. So no thank you.

  • Jeff Egan says:

    I first got to drive a GL5 (estate) as a company car in 1982. Trouble free it was blasted all over the UK and Europe covering well over 100,000 miles in 2 years.
    The version I speak of was a 1921 cc carburettored version. Later I had the 2ltr fuel Injection. Both cars sang really well, and I went on to own several passats since.
    So, it’s a yes from me. A bit cheaper and I would be there.

  • A different Giles says:

    My grandmother had an estate, from circa 1988. It was the family hack and never missed a beat, despite being thrashed mercilessly by all of the grandchildren. Even now, some 25 years after it departed, the siblings/cousins will occasionally reminisce about what a great car it was and how badly we treated it.

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