Used Car Face Off: A Dasher Or Diamonds?

Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!

Sometimes you'll be driving to the post office or whatever and see a car you completely forgot existed. I feel like it happened with a mid-80s Mazda 626 two-door I saw a few weeks ago. The elderly man driving had his handicapped parking placard hanging from the window, the original blue California license plates with dealer frames on and was driving no more than 27 MPH in a 35 zone.

I happened to find a couple cars, coincidently both wagons, that I haven't seen regularly in at least a decade and I'm sure will bring back some memories for some readers.

I had no idea what a Volkswagen Dasher was until my mother explained it to me when I was 4 or something like that. "Well, you know the Passat? It was the Quantum before and the Dasher before that." Mom's so smart. Maybe she spent too much time at the VW shop, but she summed it up quite well.

The Dasher was the federalized first-gen Passat with a new badge and few US buyers. It's been something like 30 years since you could buy these new and I think the last time I saw one on the streets was in 1998.

Then along comes this really pristine 1978 Dasher Wagon, with a sunroof and 23,000 miles, finished in gleaming Medical Device Beige. (At least that's what I think the color was called.)

Used Car Face Off: A Dasher Or Diamonds?

This one has a gas engine, a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with all of 78 horsepower. Who really needs 200 horsepower in a midsize car? I do, because when it was new this car got from 0 to 60 in 13 seconds! At least it wasn't the non-turbo, 48 horse diesel model.

Regardless of how slow it is, I really have a soft spot for these old, quasi-Audi VWs. I'm sure this Dasher, mismatched wheels and all, would be a laugh.

But I have three words that, when put in this order, are even funnier: Mitsubishi Diamante Wagon. The Diamante, the only car with diamonds in its first and last names, itself was an entirely forgettable appliance. But honestly, how many people remember there was a wagon version of the first-gen car, sold between 1993 and 1996.

Mitsubishi's answer to the Acura Legend, Mazda 929 and loads of European sedans that did mid-level luxury a whole lot better, the Diamante was an entirely mediocre effort that didn't get any traction in the upscale sedan market – so what hope would the wagon have?

I really did think these had all vanished or long been sabotaged by high school kids, until I found this 1993 example at an Orange County, Calif. dealer.

Used Car Face Off: A Dasher Or Diamonds?

My Diamante-spotting skills are rusty, but I'll take a guess this is the ES with leather seats and the 3.0-liter V6 out of a 3000GT. Compared to the Dasher, this is a thoroughly modern car that can actually pass things on the freeway. Plus it's Japanese, so it shouldn't go too wrong and it's cavernous. It's like an alternative Audi A6 wagon or something like that.

I like the quirky idea of a Diamante wagon, but I really can't imagine paying money for one. These things were bought by Orange County women in the early ‘90s before they bought a Mercedes ML320 in the late ‘90s. The Dasher, especially this beige/brown one, has "hipster car" written all over it. And I'm fine with that. I can let my patchy facial hair grow in, wear more plaid shirts and I already wear Ray-Ban Wayfarers year-round. There's plenty of space to throw my fixie in the back, too, if I had one.

OK, talk me out of it. What do you guys think? Is it the Dasher for you or are you brave enough to rock diamonds? Start your Kinja.

Photos credit eBay, Cars.com