Brazilian Import: 1988 Volkswagen Fox

This Fox, located in Great Barrington, MA is in surprisingly good condition for a 1980’s northeastern VW. Turns out it spent most of its life housed in a garage in Atlanta. That explains the rust free exterior and shiny paint. From what we can see in the one picture provided, the interior has emerged from the years largely unscathed as well. Find it here on craigslist with a $4,999 asking price.

I have a soft spot for a square Volkswagen. My first car was a used 1980 VW Dasher diesel wagon with a 4-speed manual. Slow as a dog, but a great passport to freedom that sipped fuel and just kept on going. When it came time to replace the Dasher, I took a long hard look at the Fox. It was much quicker, though still not fast, and a great handler. In the end, I couldn’t pull the trigger and accepted a donation from my dad in the form of a 1987 Buick Century wagon. I loved the Dasher. Surprisingly, I loved the Century even more but that is a story for another time.

Golfs and Jettas were getting pretty expensive in the late 1980s. The strong German economy was wreaking havoc on exchange rates. VW needed a cheap car to bridge the gap. Enter the Fox. Built in Brazil, the fox wagon, coupe, and sedan were brought to America in 1987 and lasted, largely unchanged, until 1993. Powered by a 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder engine that pumped out about 80 HP the Fox wasn’t fast, but it was fun with its standard 4-speed manual. I know that I thoroughly enjoyed my test drive.

This wagon certainly looks lovingly maintained. The interior looks good aside from some saggy driver’s seat bolsters. You’ve gotta love the window cranks and the tweedy looking door cards!

The engine compartment is clean and there is no rust on the strut towers. In fact, though the picture count is low, no rust is visible anywhere on the car. The driver’s side door sill looks showroom clean. 

New, without options, this Fox would have set you back about $7,000 in 1987. The owner claims that it “runs like a dream” and it certainly looks great. Still, is it worth $4,999? I might be more tempted if I’d actually owned one back in the day. As it stands, nostalgia can only take me so far and $4,999 is too rich for my blood. Any takers out there?

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  1. UncleJoe43119

    I love it, but not for that price. I’ve been waiting for a nice one to become available to use as a puppy hauler around town… This may be the most expensive one I’ve seen.
    I had a 91 Fox Sedan my last year in high school. Definitely wasn’t the coolest car in the parking lot, but I had so much fun with it. I eventually traded up for my father’s town car, and that was a whole different kind of fun

  2. Miguel

    This is one of the worst cars ever sold.

    A friend bought one as her first new car.

    The mechanic at her VW dealer told her to sell it before it reached 30,000 miles to avoid the major problems these cars had.

    I wouldn’t touch one today if you paid me to take it.

    • John

      That’s odd. I bought one brand new and it served me very well for 4 years until i got a company car. I had lots of fun beating on it and it never gave any problems. Of course i maintained it properly.

    • Miguel

      We took the mechanics word for it at the time.

      After all, he worked on them every day under warranty, as they had just come out on the market.

  3. NotSure

    My brother bought a new 88 and ended up swapping it to the mother of their child. She’d been driving a poorly cared for Chevette and he thought that it would be better for her to have the newer car. I believe that the deciding factor stemmed from her complaint that there was a squeaky noise under the hood on the Chevette. She asked him to look. With the hood up and engine running my brother sprayed some veiner-slidin on the belt and pulleys which stopped the squeaking. However excess veiner-slidin spun out onto the never-before-waxed fender and made it nice n shiny subsequently making the rest of the Chevette dull in appearance. A quick check of the dipstick convinced him to swap titles and to keep a close eye on the Fox that she’d just acquired. Ah, love….

  4. keith arnold

    I grew up in a VW family. I had an ’81 diesel Rabbit (first car), mom had an ’85 Golf, and step dad had an ’83 Scirocco. My mother had an accident with the Golf and bought an ’88 Fox wagon. It was fine but not near the quality of the others. You could just feel that it wasn’t the same…

  5. Unobtanium Matt

    There were a few of these around when my brother and I were obsessed with water-cooled VWs. They were as reliable as any other Volkswagen. Engine and transmission were bulletproof, but they needed lots of nickel and dime repairs. I don’t think they were much more than $4995 new. I agree that this is too rich an ask for it, especially considering it’s not in mint condition.

  6. Fiete T.

    Remember being warned “Back in the day,” that these were ‘cheap for a reason.’ Co-worker had one, got in a wreck close to work…folded up like a middle school cafeteria table, put them out of commission for 2+weeks. Wasn’t even a ‘medium speed’ collision

  7. emeltz Member

    I worked for a VW/Audi dealer in 1987 and I don’t know about reliability but the sales dept had a waiting list for the Fox. Audi was hurting from the “unintended acceleration” dust up but VW was selling pretty strongly. Cabrios were the other hot seller as I recall.

  8. Tyler

    I had an 89 Fox wagon, put a diesel engine from a Jetta and a 5spd from a Quantum into it. Fun to bomb around town. Cheap to fix, good mileage. Wouldn’t want to be in an accident greater than a fender bender, though!

  9. Wayne

    I like the style, engine/drivetrain. The assembly/ body/electrical leave a lot to be desired.

  10. George

    They were cheap but reliable for a new car. It was the Audi Fox from the 70s that was a dog. Almost bought one. Had the sale all lined up and the dealer called and said they wanted $1000 more than we had agreed on. No sale! AC was a $1500 option.

  11. Rafael

    Still for sale?

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