In Sync: 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fan of unusual options and configurations on vehicles. There are a few Holy Grail things that I like to have, not necessarily in any particular order and not necessarily having them all on any one vehicle. Things like AC, power windows and locks, convertibles or a sunroof, manual transmissions, station wagons, and 4WD or AWD, or both. No, wait.. that would be 8WD. This 1986 Volkswagen Quantum Syncro has a few of those options, but how cool would it be to have a convertible 4WD wagon with a 5-speed and AC!? Ok, back to reality. This 4WD winter wonderland warrior is in Minneapolis, Minnesota and it can be found on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $2,000 and there is no reserve!

Did I mention orange wheels as being a Holy Grail item? What nice features that this car does have? Well, you can see that it’s a wagon, you can also see by the 4WD sticker that it’s either fake, or it really has 4WD. It does, in fact, have what is basically “the legendary Audi quattro system, center and rear locking differentials that both function properly. This car is unstoppable in snow and off-road.” It was Audi’s Quattro system but it was called Syncro and VW offered it from 1984 to 1988. The Quantum came in not only the wagon as seen here, but also in a sedan and a three-door hatchback. Our own David Frank wrote about one here on Barn Finds about a year ago. But, back to this 4WD Quantum Syncro wagon!

The current owner got this car from someone in Nebraska, who got it from someone in Kentucky, who got it from someone in Florida where it had been restored. It appears to be in nice condition but the seller does mention some rust in the driver’s side floor, but that’s about it for rust. Yeah, you’re going to want to fix that floor rust pronto. They mention that the “sunroof doesn’t work, never did while I’ve had it. Apparently it’s a common problem for this generation of VWs.”

VWs have some of the nicest, tightest, most-tailored interiors this side of Audi, which is no coincidence. The back seat looks great as does the rear compartment, or what can be seen of it under the “rare leather cargo area cover.” This car has a 5 speed manual transmission and it “shifts smoothly”, according to the seller. A 4WD wagon with a 5-speed, power windows, and AC! Well, unfortunately, the air conditioning “doesn’t work; needs a new belt.” See how that’s done, “needs a new belt”, not “needs belt! I’m guessing that once a belt is put on there it still won’t work or there’d be a belt on there now. If life were only that easy, just put a cheap belt on it, presto: the AC works!

This is a “2.2L 5 cylinder engine. With a custom exhaust, this car sounds awesome.” This is basically Audi’s 5-cylinder engine which would have had around 110-115 hp. The seller has a YouTube video showing the car in action and also a build thread on the VW Vortex Forum. I have to say that I prefer the look of the stock configuration and wheels, but that’s just my personal preference. This does look like a heck of a bargain for $2,000 if it could possibly be gotten for that opening bid. Have any of you owned a VW Quantum or any VW Syncro?

Fast Finds


  1. David Frank David Frank Member

    It’s a 4WD wagon and it’s close to you Scotty! Is there room for just one more car in your collection? It would go very well with the Sentra! And why orange you a fan of those lovely wheels?

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha. I really like this car, David, but I’d probably go for the ’86 Nissan 720 4×4 pickup; like I need another vehicle..

  2. Carter

    Pedantic, I know, but “Quattro” properly only refers to the original boxflared model; the all-wheel drive system has a lower “q” when equipped on subsequent models. Engine and drivetrain are the same as the 4000S/CS quattro, including the JT 2.2 115 hp inline-5. However, the Quantum has unique bits like the rear uprights and uses smaller brakes and 4×100 hubs (the Audis went 4×108 on Type 85 B2 models). That’s what allows these cars to run GTI “snowflakes” originally, and this example has A3 “fliers”

    The Syncro setup in this car was different than the other two contemporary Syncros, as all-wheel drive was also available in the Vanagon and Golf (Europe only), but each was unique and the other two shared nothing with Audi.

    The Quantums are nice but didn’t seem to have the same zinc body treatment that Audi used in period, and they rust quite easily. The VWs interiors also weren’t up to par with the Audi interior quality. However, Audi didn’t offer a small quattro wagon until the B4, and that was Europe only, so this was a very interesting and infrequently seen option in the late 80s.

    Having spent much time with T85s and still owning two, they’re great cars but the Audis are (IMO) better built and more fun to drive.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You are correct on Quattro/quattro, Carter. I’ve owned a quattro TT ALMS coupe for almost 15 years and am a huge fan. Thanks for the great info on the Quantum, Syncro, and Audi.

  3. sir mike

    Looks like a tagger got his wheels.I worked for a VW dealer when these came out….JUNK…don’t know how this one survived for this long.

  4. Metoo

    Those rims gotta go.

  5. Aaron

    Have fun with that K-Jet.

  6. HeadMaster1

    I had an Quantum Syncro wagon. My was a base model, not the GL this appears to be (power widows & locks). I loved that wagon, mine was bright RED with the stock GTI snowflakes and dark tinted windows. I actually auto-crossed it. Usually got a lot of laughs and stares the beginning the event, and a lot of people taking a much close look as he runs progressed. Very comfortable car, Ended up blowing the head gasket returning to CA from a Vegas trip :-(. No doubt the Audi 5kTQ wagon is more fun and better looking, but the VW didn’t have all the electrical problems the Audi’s did……BEST feature of is era VW’s is that you can set the HVAC to blow ice-cold A/C out the dash vents onto your face while blowing heated air on the windshield and your feet, all at the same time…..that right there is a real road-trip setting, wide-eyed cold air, yet your body and passengers are still comfy

  7. Rustytech Member

    Ok I like everything about this vehicle EXCEPT those orange wheels. It’s not like you would need them to pick your car out of the crowd of look a likes on the Wall Mart parking lot!

  8. scotto

    this looks way too much like an 80’s celebrity or cutlass wagon at a glance. especially with those wheels and roof rack.

  9. Dolphin Member

    I wouldn’t touch this car with those pink wheels.

    I would need to see polka dots on those suckers to even consider this.

  10. Dovi65

    The orange color on the wheels is likely ‘plasti-dip’ or ‘plasti-kote’. It’s a rubberized paint coating that is removable. It’s a trend [not so much a good one] that allows customization of your ride for little investment. I think it looks ridiculous.

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