Somewhere in Connecticut sits an example of one of the rarest modern Volkswagens in the country. What you’re looking at isn’t just some everyday Passat wagon. No, this Passat has Volkswagen’s infamous W8 engine and all-wheel-drive. But not just that, it also comes with a manual transmission and it can be yours.
We use the term ‘holy grail’ around here quite a lot. By now, there are probably more Jalopnik holy grails than there are real ones, but look, a manual Passat W8 is a truly rare vehicle. If enthusiasts tracking the production of them are to be believed, then there are only 424 Volkswagen Passat W8s in America with manual transmissions, and a scant 95 of them are wagons. You’re more likely to see a Ford GT than you are a W8, manual Passat W8.
The Ferdinand Piëch era of Volkswagen produced some of the most downright ridiculous vehicles to ever be adorned with a VW badge. The Touareg got a meaty V10 TDI engine that boggles the mind and empties the wallet. The marque also produced what was essentially a discount Bentley with the Phaeton. The Passat got the silly performance treatment, too, as Volkswagen fitted it with a legendarily complex eight cylinder engine.
The B5 generation of the Volkswagen Passat was available with a surprisingly long list of engines from 1.8-liter turbo to a V6 and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. When Volkswagen wanted to give the Passat 8-cylinder power it couldn’t just shove the company V8 in the engine bay, given the tight space. So in typical Piëch era fashion, Volkswagen made an engine just for the Passat. Here’s a reminder of how the W8 was made:
These Passats feature a unique W8 engine that, loosely speaking, consists of four banks of two cylinders each; it makes 270 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with 273 lb-ft torque peaking at 2,750. (It’s said this engine was made by combining two VR4 engines, but Volkswagen never made a VR4 in a production car. So to make the W8, VW deployed tech it hadn’t previously used.) All this is run through a glorious six-speed manual and transmitted to the mechanical full-time AWD 4Motion system.
I own a W8 manual-shift sedan and it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel of a VW. It may make only 270 HP, but it’s just enough to turn the Passat into a silly sleeper. The experience is made only better by the heart-pumping soundtrack created by that engine. This one has a custom exhaust with pipes that look clean.
This Passat W8 pairs that same thrill with a practical wagon body and making it a little more special is the fact that it’s painted in Pacific Blue, a color that was available only on the W8s.
Sadly, some of the pictures provided are two years old and there are no interior photos. I’ve asked the seller for more current photos and will update when they come. It’s advertised as having 110,000 miles on its odometer.
The seller says that this wagon has seen a lot of repairs from its cooling fans to the climatronic control module that handles the car’s HVAC system. It’s noted to have few problems, thankfully none with the complex engine. There is a code being thrown by the climatronic control module and the air-conditioner is non-functional.
Things get a little ugly with the body. There are a couple of small rust spots and a paint repair done with paint that doesn’t even come close to matching.
The underbody is worse, with the rust you’d expect to see from a daily driver.
Its rust protection undercoating is coming off in a pretty big piece but I don’t see anything under there that couldn’t be fixed.
It’s hard to gauge what these are really worth. I saw another one of these manual W8 wagons for sale earlier this year for $4,000. But that one didn’t have working brakes and its catalytic converters had been stolen. I paid $800 for my sedan and it only had body damage. Others sold on Cars & Bids for a ridiculous amount of money but some on Bring A Trailer were cheaper.
The price for this one is $11,500 on Facebook Marketplace in Vernon Rockville, Connecticut. It’s a lot to pay for an old Volkswagen, but chances are you won’t see another for sale for a long time.