A Dash of Power: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Wagon

Your dear Aunt Hilda’s hand-written recipe that calls for “a dash of” salt refers to a lost art of cooking. By assigning a calculable measurement (1/8 tsp) to it, modern cooking websites have inadequately quantified what was intended to be an experiential learning method. For all the science within and throughout food production, it is and always will be an art. Just like piloting a medium-sized wagon with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel engine. Modern automotive experts will tell you that 49 measurable horsepower isn’t enough in a 2,400-lb car. But the best way to learn this isn’t from a spreadsheet. It’s from getting messy (or nearly killed) a few times during the learning process. Find this 1980 Volkswagen Dasher diesel wagon for sale in Redlands, CA for $1,500 via craigslist.  

Before the Passat was a Passat, it was a Quantum. But first, at least in America, it was a Dasher. Offered in a variety of configurations, the slowest Dasher of all was the wagon with the four-speed manual receiving power from VW’s 1.5-liter naturally aspirated diesel engine. Later versions got a 1.6-liter. 2015 models get 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine.

Fun fact: While Porsche’s Sport Chrono timer was a popular option when it debuted in the 997 generation 911, the precedent for a performance timing feature in a VAG automobile was set by this Dasher. To use it, the driver fully depresses the gas pedal and watches the minute hand on the instrument panel’s clock. Passengers’ speed-test duties alternate from Googling 1970s vehicular safety standards to counting how many Hail Marys can be said in the time it takes to reach 60 mph (about 19 seconds).

This particular Dasher has had an unusual amount of mechanical work for just 125,000 miles. Everything under the hood has been resurfaced, replaced, or refreshed in some way. The tank has been cleaned (and painted blue), and the always essential mud flaps have been added. For $1,500 or best offer, the buyer gets a few remaining jobs to complete a classic manual diesel wagon that’s said to run well, if glacially slow. It will recalibrate your standards of slowness in a way that no YouTube review can.

See a slow car that you’d love to drive fast? Post it below or email us at tips@dailyturismo.com.

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.