Volkswagen Corrado SLC VR6: The Geriatric German Grand Slam

The premise of this weekly column is that it’s fun to search for cars on a limited budget.  Since many consumers find themselves looking in this price range, I’m here to help.  

The only rule here, is that there are no rules — (just kidding):

  1. The car must be listed on www.CARS.com or www.AutoTrader.com, www.Craigslist.com, or www.Bringatrailer.com.
  2. It must be for sale by the time this article comes out.
  3. It must be under $5,000.
  4. It can be any type of car. Bonus points for enthusiast cars.
  5. It must be for sale in the United States (local in DC is best).
  6. Creativity (I know it when I see it) is welcomed.
  7. I’m open to submissions, mthompson@rightfootdown.com.

NOTE: Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware.  This is not an endorsement of this particular car for sale.  I have not driven it nor do I know the seller.  

The Volkswagen Corrado SLC VR6 was always on my short list of cars when I was shopping for an affordable enthusiast pocket rocket.  My dad would point them out to me and we didn’t see them too often in New Jersey, but when we did, it got our attention.

The Volkswagen Corrado was the perfect combination of sports car, practical car, and unique design that it always peaked my interests….till I heard about its maintenance history.  When you buy a Corrado, you go into the deal knowing that something will be broken.

If your Corrado has above 100,000 miles and the timing belt hasn’t been changed the engine is basically a ticking time bomb.  The sunroof was so poorly designed, that there isn’t a chance in HELL it works.  Its coolest feature, an active spoiler that raises and lowers with speed, is definitely broken.  The engine probably overheats, the Corrado has a huge VR6 jammed up front, so the heater core tends overheat and explode.  You will probably need to replace engine bushings, the front struts and ball joints.  Explaining that made is making me “tie-rod” of what can go wrong with the Corrado, oh yea, the tie-rods go bad too.  I can keep going, it doesn’t stop.  If it moved or had wires on the Corrado, it probably broke.  If I haven’t scared you away yet, keep reading below.

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If you can look past all the electrical and mechanical gremlins, then you have a real gem on your hands. The Corrado was known as Volkswagen “first sports car.”  In 1992 Volkswagen replaced the supercharged G60 four-cylinder engine with a VR6, which is kind of a hybrid in between an in-line six and a V-6.  It was a 2.8-liter natural aspirated VR6 engine making 178 hp and 177 lb-ft.  It hustled to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, enough to compete with a Ford Fiesta ST.  The VR6 engine is the one you want, but if you find a G60 Corrado, be sure to make sure the supercharger is in working condition– that too will break.

Straight line speed and gobs of torque aren’t its only capabilites, it could handle too.  Volkswagen was aiming at the Porsche 944 when setting up its chassis dynamics. Volkswagen used the MKII Volkswagen Golf chassis, gave it four way independent suspension and it only tipped the scales at 2,800 pounds.  Car and Driver complained about its “lift-off oversteer” in a 1993 comparison test, sound familiar Focus ST?  When it wasn’t going sideways, it was known as one of the best driver cars built.

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This week’s winner was found on www.CARS.com and can be found here.

It is a 1992 Corrado SLC VR6 with 92,000 miles and the seller is asking $5,000 even.  That’s right at the top of my $5,000 budget, so there won’t be much money left over to fix the broken sunroof, ABS and air conditioning.  Who needs that stuff anyway?  When you drive a Corrado, it gives you instant cool points, especially when the paint color is dark burgundy pearl metallic. It looks to be in great condition, just make sure to pick up this clean example before someone else does.