Click on the sequential picture-story thingies below to get the whole story of downward spiral and redemption for this Wolfsburg classic.
This car, equipped with a rare automatic transmission, lived in my neighborhood for a couple years. Clearly a work in progress, I never saw it leave its parking spot. Sadly, parking vigilantes on the block- a real problem in garage-short Alameda, where parking can be a challenge- grew enraged, and eventually the Squareback was red-tagged (which means the owner has 72 hours to move the offending vehicle) and towed away.
The first I heard about this tragedy was via an email from a tipster who lives near the towing company tasked with extracting such cars from city streets in Alameda and Oakland. He sent a photo of the cool old Volks imprisoned behind a chainlink fence, and I recognized it immediately.
Auctions are held weekly, and any car that doesn't get the minimum bid ($100 to $200) heads straight to the junkyard down the street. You know, the yard where totally restorable old cars go to be stripped, then fed to The Crusher. I decided to stop by, and if nobody was willing to pay 100 bucks to rescue the Squareback… well, I'd buy it, even though I don't have a place to park it at my house.
The auction takes place in an industrial area of East Oakland, and between the elderly, soft-spoken auctioneer and the screaming BART trains going by, it was pretty tough to follow the bidding. There were some steals to be had. How about a running, late-model Toyota Tacoma for $1,800? Or a somewhat battered but still serviceable Infiniti Q45 for $275?
This gentleman, who once owned a VW shop, was there just for the Squareback. That meant that I wasn't going to have to buy it, and I breathed a sigh of relief about that. The final and only bid? One hundred dollars! That's right, he bought a solid, rust-free Squareback with Panasport-esque wheels for a single C-note.
And that wasn't the end of the cool machinery. Here's a late-80s Ford EXP, which was to the Escort what the CRX was to the Civic. Runs fine, registration is current, ugly paint but otherwise intact. Final bid? 200 bucks.
Imagine what a great 24 Hours Of LeMons car an EXP would make! Escorts do very well in LeMons, so a two-seater lightweight version should be a real contender.