Friday, March 10, 2017

F for Friday, F for Fox, and F for mad Fahrvergnügen

Look at this little box of fun. Doesn't it look like fun? Not really? Okay. Well this was sitting on a Red Hook street recently and I marveled at how long it had been since I'd seen one.
This is a 1990 Volkswagen Fox in (mostly) Tornado Red. Even though it was sold in North America for 8 years from 1987-1993 the Fox is an utterly forgotten car.
Two things happened in the U.S. that facilitated the Fox showing up on our streets: Yugo and Hyundai. These two interlopers came out of nowhere (Korea and Yugoslavia actually) with new cars advertised at astonishingly low prices. VW had these cheap wheels already in production in South America so they quickly brought them north to compete. The Fox was the cheapest VW of its era.
People can't resist striking poses in front of vintage European classics!
In 1990 VW had a new ad campaign centered around the word Fahrvergnügen. This is a made-up amalgamation of the German words fahren (to drive) and Vergnügen (enjoyment). The tagline was "Fahrvergnügen: It's what makes a car a Volkswagen". The campaign lasted only 2 years but this car was sold during that time. I wonder if the driver feels enjoyment every time they turn the key?
The Fox was available in 2 and 4 door sedans as well as a pretty cool 2 door wagon. The wagon was halted after 1991.
The Fox was manufactured and sold in Brazil as the VW Gol. That's right GOL like Golf without the Fun. This was no flash in the pan either. It was introduced in 1980 and production continues today.
All of the Foxes in North America had a fuel injected inline 1.8 Liter 4 cylinder engine. Despite the small engine the gas mileage was rated at 22 city and 27 highway. Not too impressive Foxy!
This interior shot is utterly useless save for one detail: the stick shift that we can see poking up from the floor. This is the one detail that guarantees at least a little Fahrvergnügen: the Fox was only available with a manual transmission. *I can't think of another car between '87 and '92 that didn't have an automatic trans as an option.
*Actually the Yugo didn't offer an auto trans until 1990 but calling that a car is a stretch!
This hardy little beast needs to be commended for existing on the city streets at almost 30 years of age. In many ways this is what VW did best; basic transportation.
Well that's where I'll leave this little lunchbox. These white noise cars come and go throughout history and tend to only get noticed once most of them have disappeared. However unlike other forgotten dogs like the Chevy Beretta the Fox was a good little car. Zero frills, cheap cost, and extremely available parts all make for a usable ride. Just don't expect to restore one as it wouldn't even be worth the cost of a paint job when complete. If you found one in museum condition I still wouldn't think it would be worth more than 3 or 4 grand.
Take a good look folks! These are marching towards extinction.

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