Rare Diesel Estate: 1997 Volkswagen Passat TDI – SOLD!

by | Dec 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Wagon Wednesday

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December 13, 2022, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The Volkswagen Passat will likely never rise through the ranks of becoming what we consider “collectible.” And why should it? It’s a plain-jane mid-size sedan or wagon that didn’t necessarily do any one thing well. However, it did have a trump card that few other makes and models could match: it was available as a wagon with three pedals and either a lustrous narrow-angle VR6 or a turbodiesel engine. For that reason alone, we will always consider the Passat wagon one of our favorite long roofs. Once listed in December 2022 on Craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina, this clean TDI model looks like a compelling purchase for $7,900. Comparing that price against the Classic.com model guide shows just one sale in the past year at $6,800, underscoring just how difficult it has become to find a clean B4 Passat in any configuration.

When the Passat entered the U.S. market in the early 90s under the chassis code “B3,” it was a decidedly upmarket move by a company known more for its econoboxes and hot hatches. By modern standards, it wasn’t a very luxurious car, but it was a quantum leap for VW at the time. In some ways, this was the beginning of the company’s efforts to close the gap between itself and its luxury sibling Audi by offering a model that could appeal to traditional buyers of either brand. The Passat evolved to the B4, which featured more conservative looks but also introduced the turbo-diesel powerplant, an engine that Volkswagen has continued to use and promote heavily as a fuel-efficient alternative until “Dieselgate” broke out a few years back. Regardless of past transgressions (real or perceived), the TDI powerplant is one of the smoothest diesel engines you could buy and one of the only options in a standard passenger car. Throw in the wagon configuration with three pedals, and you have instant unicorn status, not to mention car enthusiast darling.

The Men & Motors YouTube Channel features this test drive of a European spec 1997 Passat TDI:

In addition to the smooth power delivery and outstanding fuel economy – try 50 miles per gallon – the best part about owning a TDI is the owners themselves. They are typically one of the most committed groups of enthusiasts you can buy a car from as they know how wonderful the TDI models truly are. Strip away the bunk about diesel engines being repugnant, along with the feigned outrage over fudging some numbers, and you have an exceptional alternative to traditional gas engines (not to mention hybrid models). TDI owners know the truth about how robust these motors are, which is why they do what this seller admits to doing in his listing: taking better care of this car than his girlfriend (he said it, not us.) The list of mechanical servicing is long and detailed and reveals that the current caretaker of this B4 Passat wagon knows how rare his vehicle is. With 200,000 miles, it’s no spring chicken, but in the world of TDIs, that recorded mileage translates to being just barely broken in. The B3 and B4 Passats have practically disappeared from the roads; grab this one for the MPGs and hold onto it for the rarity.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“I’m selling my station wagon 97 vw Passat TDI, turbo diesel, 5 speed manual transmission, 200k milles, this is the most unique wagon tdi , it drives smooth doesn’t have any mechanical issues , everything works, AC cold, heat , power locks , power windows, doesn’t like any fluids, doesn’t have any rust at all, it is very clean and well taken care of it, 100% service, it has a lots new parts.
-new timing belt kit, timing belt , all rotors, tensioners, water pump, camshaft seal, crankshaft seal, 2000k milles ago.
-new ac compressor with receiver and drier and expansion valve. 5k milles ago.
-brand new vr6 heavy duty clutch kit (valeo)
-new rear main seal
-new front wheel bearing, new tie rods inner and outer with boots.
-new valve cover gasket, new oil pan gasket.
-new breather pipe
-good brakes pads and rotors (80%life)
-good truts and shocks(70%life)
-excellent rear suspension
-excellent fuel injectors
-excellent fuel pump (new reseal pump 8years ago)
-good tires (75%life)
-new battery
-new glow plugs (11/21)
-excellent turbo doesn’t have any play at all.

overall the vehicle is in inmaculate condition , extremely clean , original paint, garage keep, I do take care this car better than my girlfriend , all highway milles, the inside and the outside is in excellent condition , it has a new NC inspection. remember this is very rare diesel car , very unique the fuel economy is amazing 50Mpg, feel free to call me.”

Nothing comes close: what else can you buy in a wagon form with a manual and a turbodiesel under the hood?    

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