Das Seltene Auto: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum

Once a staple in suburban driveways, the station wagon was king long before minivans came along. SUV’s took over the show though and wagons are becoming quite a rare sight. German automakers still believe in the station wagon and sell them to this day in Europe, but most do not touch American soil. Finding a rare gem such as a Quantum among the hills or Golfs and Jetta’s is an offer too good to pass up. This time capsule 1986 Volkswagen Quantum wagon is offered on here on craigslist in Eagle, Idaho for $4,000.

A clean engine bay, simple and paired with an automatic transmission, easy to drive. Look closely. That’s an Audi inline-five in there!


The interior is practically perfect and in such original condition, this wagon will score well at any euro show.

A couple of variations of the Quantum were sold throughout 1981-1988 – a sedan, hatchback, and wagon. The Quantum is really a Passat, sold in some markets as a Quantum, and phased out for the 1988 model year. Rather short lived, a lot of them were produced but this is a model fewer and fewer are seen, so this is a great deal to pick up and humor.

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  1. redwagon

    1986 was – gasp – only 32 years ago! By today’s standards slow, fuel inefficient, unsafe, and a small interior. For example, I got 50.3 mpg in my 2017 gas daily driver this morning. Yes, my DD cost more than this Quantum but it surpasses it in every way imaginable.

    Is the Quantum collectible? I do not think so and therefore I would argue that despite the condition the $4,000 is overpriced.

    Should it be saved/preserved? Possibly but it will require a VW fanatic or a Quantum/Dasher/Passat fan.

    • Rx7turboII

      How do you figure the car is unsafe? It has seat belts, and I know for a fact that it had a very well made inner structure as I’ve had many of these Quantum wagons in the past and the doors shut Rock Solid like a well-built German car has always been. Have you ever even owned one of these? Just curious….

      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        I have to agree. Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s dangerous to drive. If everything on the car works like it should, maintenance has been kept up to date, the car should be as safe to drive today as it was 30 yrs ago.

      • Tim S. Member

        It doesn’t have seventeen airbags and automated programs to stop the car for him when he’s too busy looking anywhere but at the road. Nor USB to charge the all-important phone. Therefore it is old, unsafe, and inferior.

    • Tyler

      I agree, it would take a longitudinal VW fanatic to pay that much for this one, but with that mileage, and if it’s not rusty the right buyer might not balk at $4k. I had an 89 Fox wagon that I swapped a Jetta 1.6na diesel into, so I almost fall into that category!

      I don’t know what your daily driver is, but 50mpg is (sadly) still not very common, and I’d venture a guess that you don’t drive a station wagon and maybe drive a hybrid. Somebody whose priority is stellar mpg obviously wouldn’t be looking at a wagon from the 80s for a DD. Though this one gets (or once got) around the same as a 2017 Infinity xq50 (20mpg). The average MPG for US made cars and trucks in 2017 was only around 24. I’d say that puts this car more in line with today’s fuel standards than yours (as much as I wish that weren’t the case)!

  2. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I remember the VW Quantum. A friend of mine had one back in the 90s. I found the sedan to be the best looking of the two, but I like the practicality of the station wagon. The only thing I’d add to the car is a 1990s TDI diesel engine from a VW Passat TDI.

  3. Steven Gray

    In 1984, I purchased a “leftover” 1983 Quantum sedan, 4 cyl, stick. Kept it 13 years and it served me well.

  4. JunkFixer

    **Hint Hint** This car utilizes a fuel system with a serious aversion to ethanol **Hint Hint**

    • Connbackroads

      That explains why my 4-cylinder, 5-speed Quantum wagon developed fuel delivery issues last summer, about a week after I replaced the clutch, struts, wheel bearings, timing belt, seals, etc.

      I was given a 940 wagon at that time, so I haven’t done anything with the Quantum wagon since.

      Anybody interested in a Quantum wagon for parts or repair in Connecticut?

  5. Pete Phillips

    My cousin had one of these for his family car in the 1980s. I had the chance to drive it once. His was a silky smooth 5-speed manual; had perfect road manners, great precise handling, very well built other than the flimsy window regulators, good on gas, too, and good power. At 87,000 miles this one is just getting broken in. Can’t say enough good things about these cars. If it were a 5-speed, I’d be on my way to Idaho right now to get it.

  6. Gay Car Nut Seattle

    @ Tim S – Then perhaps people should pay less attention to what’s on their cell phones and more to their driving. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure he/she gets herself safely to her destination.

    • Tim S. Member

      Agreed completely. That’s just what a lot of people call an “inferior” car these days.

      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        Inferior? How so?

  7. Mikestuff

    1982 was the end of me working at the local Volkswagen dealer in both sales and financing –I wasn’t much good at either portion of that career. I was married with kids and always had a demonstrator, so my wife got a couple of new VW products over the years.

    The last one was a 1982 Quantum wagon, 4 cyl. automatic. The power window switches were in a little box right in the console but it had a sunroof which she loved. She got about 3 years of driving this car and 2 wrecks in that period, neither her fault. One was where she’d parked on the road outside her work in an area in the hilly avenues of Salt Lake City and a guy in a big delivery truck backed into the left rear and pushed it into the curb and then up. Damage on both sides. We were leaving for Disneyland about a week later so we ended up getting a rental Ford wagon (Granada?) with all the crap you have to take on the road with 3 kids.

    It still took about 30 days for all the repairs. Then several months later, (I forget the exact time frames) she was going grocery shopping with just one kid, our daughter standing up in the front seat as one would do in those days. age almost 3 I think and a 16 year old driver in a Toyota truck hit the rear, pushed her into a car in front (forget what kind), my daughter rolled to the floor but happily no damage to her and she just celebrated her 36th birthday this month. They totaled the Quantum given the amount of damage and how long it would have taken to get parts. Because I got a deal from my employer, we came out ahead on that one and we bought one of the first Ford Taurus’ off the lot. And as happens, about a year later I saw the Quantum looking kind of sad at an off brand used car dealer. It probably shouldn’t have been repaired.

    She’s been my ex-wife for 20+ years and is getting ready to retire from 44+ years of working at the same hospital, although it’s in a new location. She was going to have both of her knees “fixed” after that many of years of nursing and got one done last summer and the 2nd one scheduled for last October. Instead of that, she was doing yard work and took a backwards plunge into a window well, the knee was shattered and she ended up needing 3 surgeries to get all the repairs done. The last work was just done last month and it’s a damn good thing she’s retiring.

  8. Billy Bob

    Bought a new ’87 Quantum with manual shift, at Jim Ellis VW in Chamblee, GA. Car was fund to drive, sounded great, well built, drove over 220,000.

  9. SubGothius

    My folks had an ’84 Quantum sedan with the 2.2L 5-cylinder when I was in high school and college, so I got to drive it plenty. We got it used at mid-high 5-digit mileage; it took a beating at my and my sister’s novice-driver hands for several years and well into low 6-digit mileage. Not exactly fast yet still reasonably peppy, appreciably taut ride and handling in the German tradition — under the skin, this is basically an Audi 4000 in VW drag. Ultimately a strong crosswind in a sudden storm blew my folks off a slippery freeway and into a rollover, from which they escaped unharmed, tho’ the car was a total loss.

    Fortunately right around then, the daughter of my Dad’s old bridge-playing partner had an Alfa Romeo Milano Verde she wanted to sell with only 14k on the clock…

  10. David Miraglia

    I’ll take any VW. Quantum’s are nice. I’ve owned two Rabbits and a Sirocco.
    Unsafe my…..

    • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. I regret that I’ve never owned a Volkswagen. But I’ve known people who have, and they said they’d buy another of the same year or newer.

  11. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Our ‘86 Quantum auto was turning about 4500rpm at approx 85mph. Car liked to run. Really liked its Amsoil synthetic oil & 2 & 1/2 times larger Amsoil oil filter.

  12. Miguel Member

    Here in Mexico they are called a VW Corsar. They were available in the sedan and wagon.

    They do have the European front end here, I think.

    They are extremely cheap here. I think people are scared of the repair costs.

  13. Bubba5

    Automatic for stop and go traffic, A/C works, Fwd good in snow. Wagon for Costco runs and all that crap you need to haul… Seems to be a dang good commuter rig.

  14. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I agree. Most of the cars I’ve owned had automatic transmission.

  15. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I’d buy a Quantum Turbo Diesel if there were still any running examples.

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