Justifying a love for the Volkswagen Passat GT 16v may be a tall order. You only need to think about the barroom chat that will inevitably unfold once you’ve announced your new car purchase.
Mate: “So, you’ve bought a B3 Passat estate?”
You: “Yes, but it’s the GT 16v model, which was so much better than the 8v.”
Mate: “OK, but it’s still a Passat wagon, right?”
You: “Yes, but it’s got the same engine as the MK2 Golf GTi and the dashboard you’d find in a Corrado VR6.”
It’s at this point you should probably move on to a different topic of conversation. You know, debating the relative merits of the last series of Top Gear, or the chances of Woolwich Arsenal finishing higher than West Ham Albion in the Premier Soccer League this season.
Which of course leaves you to drift into a daydream about what is potentially the coolest car currently for sale on eBay. It’s a 1991 Volkswagen Passat GT 16v and it has been owned by the same person since 1992. Be still our beating hearts.
As is typical of eBay searches, it showed up during a needle-in-a-haystack quest to find a Volkswagen Passat W8. Yes – believe it or not – we’ve been on the look out for a W8 for some weeks now, but – aside from a pair of ‘spares or repair’ nightmares – nothing has showed up. Which is typical. You spend a decade building up the courage to take the W8 plunge, only for said car to disappear into the ether.
Naturally, the Passat GT 16v was immediately plonked into the eBay collection marked Anything (that) goes, before we went off and did something else instead.
Only we couldn’t do anything else, because the thought of owning a two-owner, 104,000-mile Passat with a GTi engine and a Corrado dashboard just wouldn’t go away. At £2,495, it’s not cheap, but try finding a better example than this. And crucially, try finding one that hasn’t been ‘treated’ to some ‘tasteful’ modifications along the way.
Performance Passats have always been subtle affairs. It’s as though even Volkswagen itself couldn’t get to grips with the oxymoron that is Passat and performance. The GT 16v was no exception. The saloon version, with its boot lid spoiler, body cladding and 16v boot badge was subtlety in the extreme. But the estate took the levels of discretion even further, doing without a rear spoiler at all.
Maybe that’s the ultimate appeal of this car. Even with a relatively lowly 136bhp on tap, passive rear steering, all-round disc brakes and low profile tyres, the Passat GT 16v isn’t a performance car in the traditional sense. It stems from a time when having children didn’t result in the horror that is a compact MPV. It opened up the world of understated wagon goodness – bags of space, acres of class and yes, even a smidgen of unashamed performance.
So, back in 1991, when Mr Whoever of Bournemouth drove into his friendly Volkswagen dealer, H602 LEL helped soften the blow of trading in his beloved Golf GTi. A cursory glance at the dashboard (“it’s the same as the Corrado, love”), the discreet 16v badge (“same engine as the Golf, dear”) and seven-spoke alloys, wrapped in Dunlop Sport tyres, meant that all was well in the world.
It’s a testament to the two previous owners that this particular Passat has survived so well. The Calypso metallic paint still looks gleaming and the entire car looks as fresh as it did when it rolled out of the Bournemouth showroom 23 years ago. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t wear its period number plates. But the body-coloured boot badge, offset by the red 16v badge works an absolute treat and is classic period Volkswagen detailing.
It’s got an MOT until February 2015 and full service history. Believe us when we say that – had we not discovered somebody is coming to collect the car from Banstead on Saturday – we’d have probably added this to the PetrolBlog Fleet. It’s just perfect. And what’s more, there only appears to be 21 left on the road.
But with this particular door closed, we’re left with the Passat W8. Of which the door is still very much ajar.
Thanks to Beacon Car Sales for permission to use the photos.