The volcanic islands of Hawaii have been pushing forth from the sea for centuries, the lava flows expanding their footprint on the surface. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW Passat wagon looks like it's been covered in lava, but would its price make you blow your top?
Yesterday, nearly 59% of of you were willing to embrace your inner Eric Bana and awarded the rare in the US '74 Aussie Ford Falcon XB with a fair dinkum Nice Price win. The other 40% apparently feeling that its price was full of didjeridu.
Today's Passat doesn't seem to be full of anything but awesome, although its exterior has been texture coated like a stucco house, giving it the appearance of something extruded from a Stegosaurus' pucker button. It's what's underneath however, that makes this Vee-Dub totally non-shitty.
There was a time when VW's Chairman, Ferdinand Piëch, wanted to move the People's Car company into a price strata that only people of means could afford. The large and in charge Phaeton would eventually top the brand and more than doubled the lead VW price point. Bridging that ode to excess was the job of the existing B5 Passat - heir to the throne of the working German's family sedan, the original Passat, or Dasher as it was so ironically anointed in the US.
The Passat at the time had already grown in size and accouterments offered over its predecessors, but its selection of engines - all stingy fours and capable sixes - did not serve to justify the new price tag that Piëch envisioned. That meant up-kitting the car's mechanicals, and that entailed wedging under its bonnet the company's then-new staggered bore W8 engine.
This 2003 Passat wagon not only sports the 4-litre, 270-bhp conjoined eight, but also the company's 4Motion all-wheel drive system with Torsen center differential. In between W8 and 4WD it touts a six speed manual, most likely with a rubbery shift lever feel, if every other VW on the planet is anything to go by.
So this 84,000 mile Passat has the mechanical goods, but it also is something special in the looks department. The seller has coated it in matte black pebble-tex, perhaps in the hope that, like a golf ball's dimples, the surface irregularities would make the car fly faster. Whatever the reason, this wagon, which also has been denuded of badging, bumper brightwork and other extraneous, and required for legal operation elements, now has the appearance of a very emo leper.
Heavily tinted windows and tail lights enhance the monochromatic presentation, and that dark glass masks the fact that the interior - all gray leather and reliable VW ergonomics - is as stock as they come. To its detriment, the seller notes that some of that leather - notably on the back seat - is torn, and the CD player doesn't work any more. Of course who uses CDs these days?
The side-view mirror knob is probably also useless as the aerodynamic door mirrors have been replaced with a small chrome job that appears to be off of a little girl's bike. Wheels are 17-inch, are made out of steel, and are painted blacker than the bottom of the La Brea tar Pits. Those rims sit on inch and a quarter spacers that push them out past the boundaries of the pebbled arches and probably wreak havoc on both the suspension's geometry and its long-term durability. Despite that, the seller claims the car to now be in perfect mechanical condition.
Volkswagen's dalliance with the upper crust did not pan out as Piëch had envisioned, and both he and the W8 Passat - after only 10,000 cars - are no longer in VW's portfolio. This Passat represents about the ultimate expression of the B5 platform - biggest motor, all wheel drive, wagon body - that one could find, but the customizations that it has endured might be seen as too individualistic and hence may detract from its appeal to the masses.
The seller is hoping someone will show up with a mass of cash for this Passat - $10,999 to be exact. What do you think, is that a price that would make this high-end VW with its custom pebble paint a stone-cold deal? Or, does that make this a Passat that should be passed on?
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