The Volkswagen Corrado Magnum Sport Kombi – to give it its proper name – previewed a shooting brake version of the coupe, of which 200 units were planned. Volkswagen pulled the plug at an advanced stage, leaving the prototypes to serve as a reminder of what might have been.
It was a bold concept. The long roofline, glass tailgate, roof rails and Audi 80 rear lights change the character of the Corrado. Not necessarily for the better, but it would have been an interesting extension of the Corrado badge.
In many ways, the shooting brake – built by Marold Automobili – would have been to the Corrado what the Z3 Coupe was to the BMW Z3. Indeed, the more you look at the stillborn Corrado concept (shown below), the more you mourn its passing.
But here’s the thing: the more practical Volkswagen Corrado could have looked even more wild. VW design chief Herbert Schäfer had visions of a car looking more like a Volvo 480 – a car that premiered two years before the Corrado.
As the main image at the top shows, the Corrado spin-off was destined to have shades of the 480 and even the Honda Accord Aerodeck. “A multi-purpose vehicle does not have to be a mini-van,” said Schäfer in a Car magazine supplement.
“I am more interested in a compact sports utility that combines driving pleasure and practicality. To turn it into a really competent all-rounder, I equipped my dream car with four-wheel drive and height-adjustable suspension.”
Sliding doors, top-hinged side windows and a long roofline are the other key attributes, along with a set of clubs in the boot – Schäfer was a keen golfer.
In fairness, the Car feature was focused on car designers’ flights of fancy – their personal dream cars. But while the other designers went all out, Schäfer’s approach was more down-to-earth. The creation of the Magnum suggests that Volkswagen was serious about building a practical Corrado.
Schäfer had dropped subtle hints in the past. Speaking to Georg Kacher in 1988, he said that the Volkswagen board was against a square-back design, similar to the Honda Accord Aerodeck and Reliant Scimitar. There were even calls for pop-up headlights, but Schäfer was opposed to this idea.
“With the Corrado, the headlamps were just about the only controversial item. Quite a few people said they preferred the modern pop-up design, but eventually I convinced them that hiding the headlamps does not suit the purpose of this car.
“Instead I used big rectangular headlights because they spell power and performance. There is no reason at all to mask the front end by fitting revolting headlamps and soft, body-coloured bumpers. Everyone does that. A VW must be different from the rest.”
Volkswagen sold 97,535 units between 1988 and 1995, but you have to wonder what would have happened if ‘Herbie’ Schäfer had got his wish for an Aerodeck approach. Heck, imagine if Volkswagen had insisted on fitting ‘revolting’ pop-ups…
A missed opportunity or a bullet dodged? You decide. One thing’s for sure: a supercharged Corrado Aerodeck would have been one hell of a car. With or without pop-ups.