Volkswagen has managed to do something that no other car manufacturer has been capable of: they have three cars that have been listed in the top 10 best-selling cars of all time. These three cars are the Volkswagen Beetle, the Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen Passat. All three of these vehicles are still being manufactured today and each one of them has a unique history to tell. This, however, is the story of the Volkswagen Passat.
The Passat in the Beginning
In the early ‘70s, Volkswagen was searching for a new car to help them compete in the market. The already popular Volkswagen Beetle was losing its momentum. Other cars on the market were offering more than the Beetle.
In order to compete, Volkswagen introduced the 411 and 412. Many Volkswagen owners have never even heard of these vehicles and that is because they were not very successful. Volkswagen was searching for something different. Thus, the Passat was born. It was the first front-wheel drive Volkswagen available in the United States.
The First Passat in the United States
The first Passat in the United States was not actually called a Passat. In the United States, this vehicle was known as the Volkswagen Dasher. This same vehicle was available all over Europe as the Passat, but for some reason it was called the Dasher stateside. There were a few differences between the European and American models.
The European model used hexagonal headlights, whereas the American model had round headlights. There were a few changes under the hood, too. These changes were made so that the car could be sold in the U.S. There is a secret hidden behind the grill of the Dasher: the Dasher was really an Audi 80, but in the United States the Audi 80 was known as the Audi Fox. It was confusing, to say the least.
At Volkswagen’s headquarters, this first introduction of the Passat was simply labeled the B1. It was manufactured from 1973 to 1981.
The Second Edition of the Volkswagen Passat
When Volkswagen decided to roll out their next version of the Passat, internally they called it B2. It was manufactured from 1981 to 1988. In the U.S., though, it was still not yet known as the Passat. This time around, it was called the Volkswagen Quantum and there was more than one version. There was a four-cylinder version, and a more popular five-cylinder version. However, this second version of the Passat was still not seen as a success.
The Third Edition of the Volkswagen Passat
Would the third edition be a success for Volkswagen and would it finally be called the Passat in the U.S.? When Volkswagen created the third version of the Passat, it was called B3 and B4 at their internal manufacturing plant.
When this model was released in 1990, in the U.S. it was called the Passat and experienced mild success. It wasn’t until the 1996 and 1997 models that the Passat started to achieve more success, though, in the United States. The gas mileage on the 1997 Turbo Diesel model was rated by the EPA at 47 miles per gallon. This helped boost sales and popularity. The third edition of the Passat is model that many Volkswagen enthusiasts still own. They have managed to keep their older Passats running by performing routine maintenance with parts from a VW Passat parts store.
The Fourth Edition of the Volkswagen Passat
The third edition of the Passat may have started to receive some success in the United States, but it was not until the fourth edition hit in 1998 that the Passat started to see huge success. This version has been reported as being similar to the Audi A4. Was Volkswagen borrowing ideas from Audi, again? That could be because Volkswagen, in fact, owns Audi. Volkswagen continued to enjoy success with its Passat throughout the fourth generation. Internally, this version was known as the B4 and the B5.
The Fifth Edition of the Volkswagen Passat
During the final edition of the Passat, the popularity did not decrease. It was introduced in 2005, and it was known as the B6 and the B7 internally, keeping with that pattern. This Passat, though, was no longer based on the successful Audi A4. Instead, it was based on a modified Volkswagen Mk5 Golf. The Volkswagen Passat continues to see impressive sales to this date. It’s a trend that will likely continue with whatever new models of the Passat Volkswagen rolls out in the future.
About the Author: David Genz is a contributing author who has worked at a Volkswagen dealership for the past 18 years. He often consults with customers on the best Volkswagen Passat parts for their own edition. Personally, he is a fan of the fourth edition Passat.