For $12,000, Is This 2003 VW Passat W8 Wagon A Dope Ride?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW says it’s one of only nine Passats in the U.S. with its drivetrain. You’d think if it’s that rare it’d have been left alone but instead it’s been lightly modded for your viewing pleasure. Let’s see if its price needs a mod too.

A Gran time was had by most yesterday, and none more so perhaps than by the dealer selling that day’s candidate, the 2008 Maserati GranTurismo. That Italian suited the majority and so did its price, squeaking by with a narrow 53% Nice Price win.


The Maserati featured a Ferrari-engineered engine which carried its eight-cylinders in a traditional 90° layout. What if, however, your hipster cred demanded that you broke with such traditions, what eight-pot car would you then buy?

Let me introduce you to this 2003 Volkswagen Passat and its W8 engine. Now, it’s not really a W in the sense that there are three banks of cylinders. Hell, that wouldn’t even work with eight holes. Instead, this is an all-alloy V8 in which the two banks of four cylinders each have their bore centers offset, and are set-off at 72°.

That concept of scrunching up pistons was invented by Lancia in the 1920s and has been used by VW in their VR5 and VR6 engines to some acclaim. VW extended that crowded house format to the W8 creating a compact and complicated mill.  It was used in other applications, but the first was in the B5.5 Passat, with the intent of elevating that model to premium car status.


Today the company has reverted to building value-driven models like the popular Jetta and soon to be wildly popular (mark my words) Atlas. We still have cars like this Passat wagon to remind us of the folly that once also gave us the Phaeton.


This wagon doesn’t just have the fairly rare (only 10,000 in this car world-wide) W8 engine, it also rocks a six-speed manual and all of the cars that carried the W8 also featured VW’s 4motion AWD. If you’re thinking that this car tickles the balls of Audi territory you are correct. Everybody except VW thought that back when these were new as well.


The seller says it’s one of only nine cars in the U.S. so outfitted, and to be honest it’s too cold outside for me to go out and check on the veracity of that claim. Suffice to say there aren’t all that many W8, six-speed Passat wagons in the world, and this is one of those few.

It’s also perhaps the only one modded with a blackout grille, black-painted roof, coilovers (yo!), and some sort of medieval torture device strapped to its hatch. That’s all got to count for something.


In his ad, the seller eschews details about the car like mileage and mentions of recent maintenance for the more helpful tact of a total lack of punctuation. It’s a bold statement to be sure. He does claim the car to be in mint condition although doesn’t explain if that comparison is to hot-off-the-press money or a leafy plant muddled in the bottom of a Mojito. There is a difference you know.


The silver paint—at least that which has not received the blackout treatment—looks to be in fine shape, and there are no major boogers evident on the car. The wheels are 19-inch VW Bions, or maybe Spas—to be honest I can’t tell from the pics—and the car is hunkered down on them on the aforementioned coilovers. Those wheels by the way are claimed by the seller to be dope.


Inside, it’s all leather and standard VW switches and stuff. A nice note is that the MFI display in between the speedo and tach seems to be working fine. I wish I could say the same for the one in my old Audi. You can also glean from the IP pic that the car rocks a little over 111,000 miles. Gotcha, OWNER!

You could be the next owner of this one of nine Passats simply by coming up with $12,000. You’d be hard pressed to find another car as unique as this—both in factory equip and later mods—at that price, but is it a deal? What do you think about this rare wagon and that $12,000 asking price? Do you think the seller should get it? Or, for asking that much, would you let him have it?


You decide!


Iowa City IA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.