At $17,000, Is This Custom 2001 VW R32 5-Door A Labor Of Love That's Worth Your Lust?

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

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe custom R32 says he needed a family-friendly and yet sporty hatch, but didn’t want to spend too much so he built his own. None of us wants to spend too much, and that’s why we’re here to judge both his work and his price.

It’s not often that a NPOCP candidate receives almost universal vitriol. I mean, there’s always going to be contrarians, and the rule of thumb in the world these days is that there’s pretty much an ass for every chair.

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Still, there wasn’t much love for Friday’s custom 1965 Daytona Spyder—at least not as long as it came with a $35,000 price tag. No, the odd combination of never-was body and Buick motor/automatic drivetrain tainted the car, and as we all know, nobody likes a taint. In the end, the Daytona fell in an overwhelming 81 percent Crack Pipe loss.

Have you ever uttered the phrase “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself?” Have you ever then followed it up by actually undertaking the referenced task? How’d that go?

One has to imagine that something along those lines initiated the creation of today’s 2001 VW R32. The seller claims that VW’s hot hatch was his jam, but that family obligations (and, I’m guessing a mad streak of DIY obsessiveness) led him to build a car that Volkswagen wouldn’t sell him— a 5-door R32.

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The MKIV R32 is an awesome car. The narrow angle VR6 up front makes orgiastic sounds while the Haldex-equipped 4motion chassis puts that engine’s 237 horsepower to the pavement in a nearly unflappable manner. When it debuted, many testers compared the R32 to rally aces like Subaru’s WRX and Mitsubishi’s EVO, like-minded car each. The R32 was both much more civilized and far more Germanic in feel than either of the Japanese fighters.

One place where the Volkswagen lagged however—at least in the U.S. market—was in door count. Volkswagen only allotted five thousand R32 for the U.S., which were sold over the 2003-2004 model years. All of those were 3-door hatchbacks.

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This one, as you will no doubt notice on first glance, is a 5-door, and that’s what makes it even more interesting than your average R32, Booboo Bear. The Dr. Moreau-ish car was cobbled together by the seller from a donor ’04 R32 and a 2001 4-door 1.8T.

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The changes are extensive and include the exchanging of the entire rear underfloor section to accommodate the R32’s AWD system. The ad includes pictures of that section being removed and installed, although if you’re stout of heart you can check out the seller’s Flickr page for even grizzlier shots.

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The drivetrain as installed is said to rock a mere 112,000 miles and was given new belts and hoses when the hand off was done. Likewise, the short-shift 6-speed was imbued with poly bushings and new axles when it was moved into its new digs. A good bit of the suspension was upgraded at the same time, and the seller claims that new OEM or name-brand aftermarket parts were used exclusively in the build.

Nothing ever goes quite as planned however, and the seller does note leaks in the cooling system and oil pan (or mains, perhaps?) as well as some fiddly bits inside.

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That interior looks to be reasonably well sorted with R32 gauges and the hot car’s König seats up front. Matching R32 back seats tie the whole thing together. In fact, from the driver’s throne you probably wouldn’t even know you’re carrying around two extra doors.

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You will know that this R32 isn’t quite factory however. The white paint is something also never offered on a U.S. market R32, but it does look pretty nice here, in an understated way. The car is hunkered down on a set of dark-painted TSW wheels in the ad, but the seller says you can choose a set of Enkei EDR9s if that is your preference. The car comes with a clean title and one would imagine that’s for the 2001 1.8T so insurance should not—heh, heh, heh—have the expected R32 hit.

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Okay, I can see a number of you right now leaning back in your chairs, bug-eyed with horror and spittling “but, but, but… that’s SOMEONE ELSE’S PROJECT!” which scrambling to clutch your pearls. Allow me to retort—yes it sure is.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s consider the car’s $17,000 asking price and why it is that the car was built to satisfy a long-term need—family obligations—but is now being sold to fund the seller’s other projects. What’s he building now, an R32 school bus?

Whatever the reason, the ad claims that the $17,000 is a new number, having been lowered from some previous higher amount. Considering the uniqueness of this car, do you think that’s low enough?

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You decide!

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Denver, CO Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to FauxShizzle for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

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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.