What is the Volkswagen story? Maker of people's cars? Innovators? Leaders? Followers? Forever indebted to national socialism? Regardless of personal opinions they have been extremely influential in the automotive industry since their formal inception in 1937. For most of the late 20th century, they pushed a fundamental philosophy: the sophistication of rear-mounted engines available prices farmers and peasants could afford. There's a lot to respect there.
This all shifted with the 1974 Golf, however. Sure, the angular styling by Giugiaro was superb, and it was still affordable, but it was otherwise a front-wheel drive economy car. The same consumer money that was used to buy rear-engine technology was being used to buy simplistic front-wheel drive. That is not a fair exchange anymore. You're getting less.
To add insult to injury, their front-wheel drive cars grew more expensive than comparative American and Japanese offerings. Suddenly, the people's car was a snob's car. This fate was sealed by the late 90s and early 2000s.
Their Passat of the 80s and 90s did make some practical sense, however. Given the choice of a 1994 Toyota Camry or Volkswagen Passat, I'd choose the Passat. For starters, the 1988-1996 "B3" generation is really good looking, way cooler than the Camry or Accord. For mid-size sedan money, you got very neat and clean German design the Japanese and especially Americans just couldn't imitate. The grille-less front and minimalist headlights are a nod to the company's rear-engine past when grilles weren't necessary, and look to the future with influence from their super low drag coefficient concept car. So the aesthetics were nailed down well.
The other neat thing about the Passat was the range of engines, from four and six cylinder gasoline engines to diesel engines. Their diesels are legendary. For those who want more power, however, there was the VR6, which stood for "Verkurtz Reihenmotor". This was a 2.8-liter 6-cylinder engine whose two banks of cylinders were offset and titled from each other at smaller angles than on traditional Vee engines, so it is not quite a Vee, and yet not quite an inline. It gave the B3 Passat 172 horsepower.
The seller of this example says it only has 62,130 miles, qualifying it as a low mileage survivor. Volkswagen sold a ton of Passat, but most were in Europe. It still lagged behind in sales to the Taurus, Camry and Accord at the time. I can't remember the last time I saw a B3 Passat, but I'll take notice next time I do. This one looks good in a dark exterior color, and comes with top-of-the-line goodies like a factory rear spoiler, alloy wheels, fog lights, and heated leather seats.
Available here on ebay in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with bidding at $1,075.