At $4,000, Would Owning This 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro Wagon be Totally Rad?

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

I saw today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW Quantum at the L.A. Radwood show, and I must say, I was duly impressed. It’s going to be up to you however, to determine if I was four-grand impressed.

A trailer for the upcoming movie, Ford v. Ferrari dropped just a couple of days ago, and boy does it look to be a high octane hoot and a half. The film, helmed by Walk the Line director James Mangold, chronicles the war between the American Industrial giant and the small Italian sports car maker at Le Mans over the waning half of the Sixties. Ford may have won those battles, but seeing as they are presently abandoning car sales entirely in the U.S. while Ferrari continues to sell every batshit performance model they introduce, it’s questionable as to who actually won the war.


It would seem that the ultimate buyer of yesterday’s 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS might be a winner too, at least at its $39,999 asking. That price was awarded a narrow 54 percent Nice Price win despite there being almost no description for the car in its ads, nor any shots of the driver’s side. The rest of the car looked beautiful as Ferrari 308s often do, and that was enough to sway many in the car’s favor, including me.

Hey, did you know that there’s going to be a Radwood meet-up at New Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend? If you like all-things ‘80s and ‘90s you should go because it’ll be a total throw-back throw-down.

I know this from experience. That’s because I got my Radwood on at the Los Angeles gathering earlier this year, held at the prestigious Peterson Automotive Museum, in their equally prestigious parking lot.


Fun fact—I used to work across the street from the Peterson and once held a contest to see who could land a paper airplane on the museum’s roof out of my office’s balcony window. Yes, my office had a balcony. Weird, I know.

Alas, I digress. We were talking about Radwood and the awesome show that Brad and company put on at the Peterson. It was a great show, and there were a few cars there that really called to me. One of those was this 1988 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro wagon, because… well, it was just so rad.

Photo: Rob Emslie/Jalopnik

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s VW gave America their own set of car model names, for the most part separate from the wind-derived names the same models carried in Europe. That resulted in the Rabbit and Dasher here while Europe got the Golf and Passat. The Dasher nameplate was shelved at the first major retooling of VW’s then-biggest car and we instead got the Quantum. That, it must be said, is a pretty dumb name.


This Quantum however, has Stacy’s Mom-levels of got it going on. First off, it’s brown. We love brown. It’s a longroof wagon, we love those too. Lastly, it sports an Audi-esque five cylinder engine, a five-speed manual transmission, and VW’s capable Syncro AWD system, aka the Audi Quattro drivetrain. That’s a good thing too.


You might also note that it’s been jacked up a healthy bit and rolls on GTI Snowflakes wrapped in aggressive BFG rubber. Euro headlamps and Hella-big rally lights top a Euro-model bumper up front, while down underneath there’s a skid plate to keep you from popping a hole in something expensive and disabling. Yes, this is a semi-serious Syncro.


The mods and upgrades don’t stop there, and in fact the car comes seemingly all sorted out and ready to rock the rocks. Jump into the ad to see the whole list.


The interior is a mad mix of Quantum and GTI, sporting Recaro sport seats up front and matching upholstery in back. A Momo steering wheel and GTI golf ball shift knob improve the tactile elements, while the old-school dash reminds you just how much things have changed over the years. A clean title means the car is on the up and up and won’t get you dirty looks at the DMV.

Is it all Peaches and Herb? Not quite, but it’s close. The ad notes that the rear diff is noisy. A spare is included in the sale but its replacement is not a fun job. Another problem is the radiator fan which apparently only works when the A/C is switched on. That’s not a problem since the A/C has been yanked from the car.


The bodywork exhibits a few chips, dings and patches of rust, plus some clear coat de-lamination. Perhaps most alarming for some, the car rocks a remarkable 322,000 miles on the clock. I don’t think Volkswagen ever engineered the Quantum to do that sort of odometer aerobatics but this one has gone the distance and still seems kicking for more.


The asking is $4,000 and having seen the car in person, I’m going to have to abstain from voting since I’m already smitten. The rest of you will just have to weigh in and say whether that’s a fair price for this customized Quantum, or if you think it’s rad, but for that much, you wouldn’t.

You decide!


Reno, NV 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.