Junkyard Gem: 1987 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 Syncro Wagon

One great thing about Colorado junkyards is that you can still find examples of long-forgotten four- or all-wheel-drive cars as you walk their rows. Remember the Toyota

Previa All-Trac? Just spotted one with a 5-speed. The Mercury Topaz AWD? Still shows up in the Denver boneyards. The bewildering Eagle Summit AWD? Certainly. The strange-O Nissan Stanza 4WD wagon? Hai! Every outdoorsy Subaru you could ever imagine? Of course
! Volkswagen got into the AWD game pretty early here, soon after the AMC Eagle sold better than expected and Audi developed the Quattro system, with the Passat wagon getting a Quattro drivetrain start ing in 1984. You could get one of those cars on this side of the Atlantic, for just a few years, and I’ve found a rare ’87 GL5 in Denver.

The North American-market Passat was known as the Dasher (1974-1981) and then the Quantum (1982-1989), prior to getting the European name over here. The GL5 version of the Quantum got the Audi five-cylinder engine.

However, all US-market Quantum Syncro Wagons got this five-cylinder engine, so the trim-level badging seems redundant (though it makes sense on the sedan version, for which the 5-banger was an extra-cost option). This one made 115 horsepower when new.

Audis have always required conscientious maintenance, so the ones that get abused and/or neglected tend to end up discarded before their time. This car made it past the 150,000-mile mark, which is decent by mid-1980s standards. Quantum Syncro owners seem to love their cars, and so I do find the occasional junkyard example with amazingly high final mileage reading

(though nothing approaching what 1980s diesel Mercedes-Benzes get).

Look at that, a five-speed manual transmission to go with that Syncro-badged-Quattro drivetrain! Unlike the Toyota, Honda, and Subaru four-wheel-drive wagons of this era, this car has a genuine full-time all-wheel-drive system that requires no driver input when switching from the slippery stuff to dry pavement. Once Subaru went to true AWD a few years later (and AWD on all US-market vehicles starting in 1996), sales skyrocketed in Colorado.

It appears that Curbside Classics got to this car before I did (I think Jim Klein and I photographed it days apart), and you can learn even more about it here.