Saturday, April 16, 2016

Zero to Sixty in NINETEEN SECONDS? Let's call it the Dasher!

On a nice block in the South Slope area of Brooklyn I recently ran across this little lunchbox:
Yes! This is a 1979 Volkswagen Dasher Station Wagon in either Malaga Red or Indiana Red.
In Europe this model was known as the Passat since its launch in 1973. At that time it was mechanically identical to the Audi 80. As quirky as it looks now this car was one of the most advanced in the world back then.
This is the U.S. spec front end with 4 round headlights. Many parts of the world got one large rectangular headlight on each side. It looks eager to me, ready to dash! The tiny horizontal lines on the turn signal are just my kind of unnecessary detail.
For a 37 year old economy car this design holds up today. Not to mention it's in really spectacular condition overall. The soft downward curve of the hood is enough to differentiate it from the completely squared-off Japanese compacts of '79.
When I peeked inside I realized this really was my type of car because it has the manual transmission! It could be either a 4 or 5 speed. Those peanut butter pleather seats are even in good condition. The dashboard has some of the chintziest faux woodgrain possible but I think it adds to the quirky charm (kind of like that speaker right in the middle of the dash above the glove compartment). That is a tiny Castle Wolfsburg on the steering wheel by the way.
What car this age doesn't have any rust on the quarter panels? Amazing condition.
I'm totally into the practicality of small station wagons. Look at the visibility this thing offers! With such a large amount of glass there are virtually no blind spots.
O.k, let's talk about this for a minute. These days VW + diesel = global scandal. However in the '70s they were becoming known for insane reliability and unheard-of mileage. Reports of 50+mpg were common in diesel Rabbits, and they would run with only standard maintenance up to 300,000 miles! In the heavier Dasher the 48 horsepower motor (!) made it abysmally slow. You bought this to get somewhere at your own pace while filling up once a month.
It's the little details that signal a good design for me, such as the little kick-up at the lower rear edge of the rear side window. Take a look at just how odd the overall shape of this piece of glass is! On its own it looks like a dented rhombus, but on the car it helps it flow.
I'll take this rusty wheel well and rocker as proof that she's never been restored. The screws holding the trim in place over that repair might speak of a bottoming-out or minor accident.
Yeah I'm kind of thinking this was driven over too-high-a-curb at one point because this is really the only damage I can find. Once you let the rust in it creeps along munching the fender.
Woodgrain was mandatory in the '70s. Volkswagen complied in the most subtle way; roof rack woodgrain! What weirdo came up with this extra cost detail? I'll shake their hand!
Chrome on the door handle too; very classy. If you've ever opened the door to a Rolls-Royce it probably feels a bit like this.
*Up close and personal it does seem that there's some heavy makeup on this aging starlet. The orange peel of a so-so repaint is showing through.
This sweet little miser checks off so many marks for me; station wagon, vintage VW, stick shift, boxy '79 design, and old diesel technology. I would absolutely LOVE to own and drive this beast daily. If the owner ever googles their make and model and comes across this post looking to sell hit me up!

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