Dashing Diesel: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Hatchback

Most folks are familiar with Volkswagen’s Passat, a midsize vehicle which the company has sold globally since 1973. Even though the Passat name made its way to the United States for the 1989 model year, the automaker sold the model under the Dasher and Quantum names for over a decade before that. This 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Hatchback is available here on craigslist, and it’s neat to observe one the Passat’s earliest predecessors.

This Volkswagen is available in Columbus, Ohio with a clean title. While the seller states that the vehicle began its life in California, there isn’t too much more information about its history.

Volkswagen offered the Dasher in five different body styles, with this example being the 3-door hatchback model. It is slightly hard to tell from the provided pictures, but the exterior of the vehicle looks solid. There’s some faded clear coat and other minor imperfections, but the body looks straight and due to its past in California, it likely doesn’t have serious rust issues.

Though the interior is definitely on the basic side, its condition more than makes up for it. Everything appears to be original, but unfortunately, this Dasher left the factory without air conditioning.

It is funny to see the Dasher parked next to a Tesla, because both are very efficient vehicles from different eras. The Dasher’s naturally aspirated 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine only makes about 50 horsepower, but it achieves fuel efficiency ratings of 45 to 50 miles per gallon. This diesel engine pairs to a manual transmission to drive the front wheels, and the drivetrain has 103,000 miles on it. Last but not least, the seller notes that the car not only starts every time but also runs and drives well.

The seller is firm on their price of $4,200, adding that they would “like to car to go to a home that can appreciate the car for what it is – a quirky piece of the past that’s somehow survived intact.” What do you think of this neat looking fuel sipper?

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  1. GTiDave Member

    I had a 1980 gas model a year ago that only had 65K on the clock, completely mint, garage kept all its life. Fun little cars but not fast or the most sporty handling.

  2. CarCrazyDan

    I had a friend who’s father had a silver wagon version of this car when i was a kid. This one though, has a real early 1980s saab 900 look to it.
    Am I the only one that sees it?

    Like 3
    • UK Paul πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

      I see Saab too

      Like 1
    • Poppapork

      I see an Audi,

      Like 2

    My first car was an 81(?) Quantum hatchback. Rare in 96. Ive the only seen one other ever.


    My first car was a 1981(?) Quantum hatchback [silver]. Rare in 95. Ive the only seen one other ever.

  5. Howard A Member

    Ha! The Dasher, almost forgot about this one. More than a Rabbit, not quite a Scirocco. I had a friend that had this motor ( I think) in a VW pickup. Not sure if it has glow plugs, but this guy had to either it to start in 80 degree weather. It was also pretty gutless, but I don’t think he ever put fuel in it. I seem to remember, they were relatively popular. I think it’s biggest problem, is it wasn’t a Bug, and even in 1980, when people thought VW, they thought Bug. It took a long time to change that.

    Like 2
    • Poppapork

      What! You’re ragging on every opel encountered here yet this crap spikes your intrest? Kaddett would do circles around this thing.
      I still enjoy your comments have a nice weekend

      Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        I swear, you guys put words in my mouth, like this BR saying I said Dayton made tube type rims, I never said that. I had several Opels, all were good, not great cars, and this, hey, like it or not ( calling it crap), it was these cars that paved the way for Americans to accept the “new” VW’s, keeping VW as one of the biggest car makers yet today. And not sure what you mean about Opels “running circles” around this. None of the Opels I had were known for their performance, or gas mileage, for that matter. VW did both with this, and thanks to retirement, EVERY day is a weekend. Peace, my friend.

        Like 1
  6. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    These were great cars. The diesel is about the slowest thing you will ever drive, but a total blast. If the owner would shave $1500 from the price. I would seriously be tempted to go fetch this back to Pennsylvania.

    Like 3
  7. CJinSD

    I knew a girl in college who bought a $50 Dasher wagon when she was on the outs with her parents. It overheated, which I put down to it being a $50 car. Now that I see the radiator placement, it all makes sense. I had an Audi 4000S quattro that had the same Audi layout as this Fox clone, and the radiator in the Audi was fully ducted from the grill opening to promote airflow. How was this radiator supposed to work? The electric fan sucked hot underhood air through the heat exchanger? VW-Audi.

  8. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Rememberance of brand new & engine vibration coming thru cabin so severe that the sales folk were in denial.

  9. Paul McGrail

    A friend loaned me his Dasher wagon for a weekend. After driving it, I was sold(or,rather, the car) was sold. True, it was bog-slow around town, but out on the interstate it was unbelievable. This car, a wagon, settled down to a pleasant cruising speed, returning over 45 mpg. The transmission was smooth and easy-shifting. I don’t remember how many years I kept it, but in the time I owned it I put over 150K miles on it. Outside of normal maintenance, it was practically expense-free. I really hated to part with this car. For a car that I would normally not have given a second look, it turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever owned. It certainly changed my mind about diesels.

    Like 3
  10. Stevieg

    A friend in high school had one of these, a chocolate brown wagon with tan interior. I drove a couple land yachts back then, all Buicks, and used to make fun of him for not having a “real car”. Now I would love something like this for a daily driver. I would also love to have my Buicks back too lol.

    Like 1
  11. That Guy

    I had a 1980 Dasher diesel 5-door hatchback as my daily driver for about eight years. I traded it to a co-worker for a dead Mercedes wagon. During its 180K life it went through three engines, a few more head gaskets, and a transmission. It was a great-driving car but not the most mechanically durable thing.

    Like 1
    • UK Paul πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

      Where were these things manufactured?
      Doesn’t sound like the VW I know.

      Like 1
  12. GTiDave Member

    I believe Wolfsburg. You would know it as a B1 Passat on the continent.

    Like 2
    • UK Paul πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§

      Thanks, I wondered if it was made in Mexico or elsewhere.
      Maybe this is slightly before my time. I got into VW in early 90’s but we were driving MK1 GTis then 82 to 84 models and they were rock solid apart from worn gear stick linkages.
      My recollection was VW were really reliable.

      Like 1

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