Sitting on the pages of Facebook Marketplace in Indiana is a unicorn of Volkswagen’s past of mad engineering. This 2004 Volkswagen Phaeton W12 for $5,000 is either a super-luxury bargain or the path to financial ruin. Someone please buy it before I do.
The Volkswagen Phaeton was one of the bonkers vehicular offspring of former Volkswagen Group Chief Ferdinand Piëch, alongside the Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI and Passat W8. While those latter two were regular Volkswagens with diabolical engines, the Phaeton was an entire car designed and engineered to fit a silly set of requirements. We’ve covered the car’s history before, and it’s always worth a read.
It’s a vehicle that shared a platform and parts with the Bentley Continental and Audi A8 but wore the badge of the people’s car.
The Phaeton was available with a hilarious number of engines. Buyers in various parts of the world could get it with a narrow bank angle VR6, a V8 or a V6 TDI turbodiesel. Some even came with Volkswagen’s infamous V10 TDI turbodiesel.
Here in America, the ‘holy grail’ engine of what already is a holy grail of a car is the 6.0-liter W12.
Where the 4.2-liter V8 in my Phaeton pushes out a mere 335-HP, the W12 in this Phaeton for sale makes 415 ponies sing. The engine is essentially what happens when two VR6 engines are coupled together and takes up nearly every inch of that engine bay.
And the people got to enjoy a ton of luxury for 2004 from 18-way heated and cooled leather massaging seats, a dehumidifier, multi-zone climate control, LED lighting. motorized window shades and more. So much attention to detail went into making the Phaeton that Volkswagen spent $1.3BB bringing the car to life alongside its luxury marque siblings.
This one has an engine fitting the absurd vehicle it’s bolted into and the seller is a bit of a hero.
He not only has a running and driving Phaeton, but daily drives the thing. It has 133,000 miles on the odometer. The seller does note that it has a check engine light on and a few other problems, but it’ll take you wherever you need to go.
Owning a Phaeton is a risky proposition. As the previous owner of my Phaeton found out, you can get stuck chasing asinine issues for so long that the car just ends up perpetually parked. He’s passed the torch to me, including issues old and new. At this moment, mine doesn’t have working air suspension controls, a motorized vent is stuck, it runs hot, there’s an air suspension leak and the hood’s latch is broken.
There aren’t any interior photos at this time. The seller told me that they’ll nab some pictures. Until then, here’s what a Phaeton’s interior normally looks like.
The sedan looks pretty clean all-around. Even my Phaeton came with more exterior damage.
A Phaeton V8 like mine ran buyers about $64,600 while the Phaeton W12 you see before you was at least $79,900 when new, with options that allowed it to soar above six figures. To see one for only $5,000 is tantalizing. Sweetening the idea is that there are only 1,939 Phaetons in America.
At $5,000 on Facebook Marketplace in Fort Wayne, Indiana this Phaeton is cheaper than any of the ones found on Cars & Bids and dramatically cheaper than the one that showed up in a Nice Price Or No Dice a few years ago. A check engine light and “a few other problems” sounds serious. But the way I see it, if the car can be daily driven, then the problems can’t be that serious, right?
Someone should buy this before I make a bad decision and get closer to completing the Piech Trifecta.