A lost passport. I have a lost passport to thank for being reunited with an old flame. After an absence of seven years, my old Volkswagen Corrado VR6 is back in the PetrolBlog fold.
Actually, that’s not strictly true, because my ownership of the Corrado pre-dates PetrolBlog by a year. It was sold – somewhat reluctantly – to fund a new boiler, way back in 2009. You’ll remember the Corrado was the star of first ever Regrets feature, which you can read here.
Right, back to that missing passport. Back in early February, I had a call from Alex, the chap who bought my beloved Corrado. He had found my expired passport in the huge folder containing the Corrado’s service history and out of courtesy had phoned me to ask if I wanted it back.
Naturally, I let it slip that I could be interested in buying the Corrado, should he ever decide to sell. I requested a pic, just for old time’s sake, but thought no more of it.
That was until a month later when I received a text from Alex letting me know that he would sell the Corrado, not least because he has a rather lovely Porsche 911 in the garage and a project 924 in desperate need of attention. Could I, should I, buy it back? A proper head vs heart decision…
The fact that I’m writing this tells you all you need to know. In many ways it was an easy decision to make. In the seven years of absence, Alex had improved the Corrado in a number of ways, but crucially, he had done so sympathetically and with originality in mind. It still looked and felt like my Corrado. Only better.
New shocks and bushes all round, new headlights, aftermarket headlight loom, full closure alarm, de-locked door handles, new sunroof cables, roof liner cleaned and replaced, knock sensor, water pump, thermostat housing and new leather seats are amongst the highlights. The folder of receipts was burgeoning back in 2009. Today, it’s fit to burst. Proper maintenance of a VR6 doesn’t come cheap.
If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have considered fitting leather seats, but having seen them and, more importantly, perched my bottom in them, I’m totally won over. They also have the heating elements fitted, so I could upgrade to the warmth of heated leather seats. Middle age means features such as this are a bonus.
It also helped that Alex is one of us – a proper petrolhead and a decent bloke. It’s often said that you buy into the seller before you buy into the car and it was immediately obvious that Alex had taken great care of the Corrado. Following a test drive, a number of texts, some head scratching and a lengthy conversation about the state of the classic car market, a deal was done. The Corrado was coming home.
The relatively short drive back from North Devon was like getting to know an old friend. The subsequent tweet said it all and received more than its fair share of comments, likes and retweets. Seems like there’s a whole lotta love for Volkswagen’s coupe of the 1990s.
— Gavin Big-Surname (@MajorGav) March 30, 2016
Of course, the danger of becoming reacquainted with an old flame is the gradual realisation that there were reasons why you drifted apart in the first place. OK, in this instance the divorce was caused by the urgent need for heat and water, but was the Corrado VR6 really that good? Two weeks on, and reaching for some wood, the answer is yes.
There are things which are as good as I remember, like the terrific noise, the sweet handling, the wonderfully direct steering and the low-slung driving position. By today’s standards, 190bhp doesn’t give the Corrado VR6 the right to sit at the performance top table, heck it only puts it alongside the Nissan Pulsar 190, but it’s the way it delivers the power that matters.
Low-end grunt makes way for top-end thrust, as the VR6 delivers the magic. The 0-60 time of around 6.7 seconds is quick, even today, and the power is delivered with that oh-so-wonderful accompanying soundtrack.
There are also things which aren’t quite as good as I remember. Like the brakes, which are rubbish. And the gear-change, which is nowhere near as sweet as I recall. The brakes can be improved, but the gear-shift is something I’ll have to learn to live with. Again. Not that I’m complaining.
But it’s the little things that stand out. Chief of which is the smell of a cabin, which I’m finding impossible to describe. It’s a pleasant whiff, but it’s unique to Volkswagens of this era.
There are many other things to say, but for fear of overloading you with saccharin-enriched sweetness, these will be delivered in the fullness in time. For now, this is a welcome back message and a thank you to Alex for giving the Corrado a good home.
Because the car isn’t perfect there are things to be done. Thankfully – and touching even more wood – the issues are cosmetic, like the need to respray the front bumper and to sort the peeling lacquer on the driver’s door. It was passable when I owned the car, now it’s much worse. I’d also like to refurbish the alloy wheels and consider replacing the modern Sony headunit with something a little more contemporary.
I’m also toying with the idea of slamming her to the floor, fitting some Lexus-style rear lights and putting a huge subwoofer in the boot.*
I’ll readily admit the car isn’t perfect, but it’s mine, and that’s something I never thought I’d be able to say again. Only time will tell if I learn to regret the Corrado VR6 for a second time, but for now, it’s great to have her (it) back. And this time it’s back for good.
*None of this sentence is true, obviously.