Do you want a station wagon with eight-cylinders and a manual transmission, but find the Cadillac CTS-V Wagon far too common? Then t is possibly the car for you. As one of 97 reportedly sold in the US, your chances of running to another are quite slim.
Welcome to You Must Buy, our daily look at the cars you really should be buying instead of that boring commuter sedan.
This car comes from a weird time for the Volkswagen brand. In the early 2000s, VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch wanted to move Volkswagen upmarket. Like, way upmarket. That lead most famously to the Phaeton, a luxury sedan whose engineering excellence was matched only by its total lack of sales. With the Phaeton, Volkswagen learned the hard way that even if you built the best luxury sedan in the world, it doesn't matter if it doesn't come from a luxury brand.
Launching in 2001, Passat W8 actually predated the Phaeton, which didn't arrive until 2004. VW actually was in 2004 over slow sales, and apparently, this didn't deter the brand from getting the much more expensive Phaeton to market.
Its engine was fascinating, though—essentially two VR4s arranged in a V-shape joined to a common crank. The idea behind this bizarre layout was to offer V8 power in a smaller package. It made 275 horsepower, and amazingly, it was only ever offered in the Passat. The Phaeton used a more traditional V8, so when this car was killed, the W8 disappeared. It remains the only ever road car to ever use this weirdo engine configuration.
The W8 was offered in the regular Passat sedan and with an automatic transmission, with very few buyers opting for manuals or wagons. Let alone both.
This Passat W8 wagon looks to be in good condition with 115,000 miles on its odometer. Of course, anyone getting into a Passat W8 should know what they're getting into before purchasing. Volkswagens of this era aren't known for their reliability, and the W8 is especially notorious. One imagines parts availability is limited and mechanics who know how to work on these things are in short supply.
But I guess that's the price you pay for weird? And this car deserves to be preserved. It's a great, rare artifact from an interesting period in VW's history, and a tribute to Ferdinand Piëch's (perhaps misguided) boldness.
And you're pretty much guaranteed never to see another one at a Cars and Coffee. That has to be worth something.