1990 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

Volkswagen's diesels are legendary. They aren't fast. They aren't revolutionary. But they're relatively simple and extremely reliable and efficient. These were common in third world taxi fleets and went for half a million miles before a rebuild.

Today, Volkswagen's diesels are a mixed blessing. They have more power, but the price premium over gasoline variants almost eliminates any savings gained fuel efficiency, and I heard quality and reliability was a concern, for a while not to mention the notorious high cost of VW parts.

That makes their diesel engines of the 70s and 80s extra appealing, which is why my fingertips tingled at finding this example.

The second generation Jetta lasted from 1984-1992. It's a classic three-box shape, all sharp angles and hard corners. In fact, the only circular shapes are the wheels. Many people hated it, but just as many are looking back fondly as car design gets uglier and poorer each passing year.

Underneath the hood is a small 1.6 liter 4-cylinder diesel. There was a turbocharger fitted on one engine, but the seller is unclear if it's turbo (in fact, I don't see any diesel nomenclature on the car itself, puzzlingly). Knowing my luck, it's a non-turbo. The turbo adds a nice little boost. But either way, these are slow cars. Getting on the highway is a feat. Passing traffic is out of the question. Thankfully it's a 5-speed.

Another high point is handling. FWD setup aside, these are tight, taut little cars that are lightweight enough to feel nimble. Clutch feel is also said to be nice.

The seller claims the miles are low, but don't elaborate on the exact figure. They do say it's a 1-owner that was well-services and runs and looks new.

Sine the price is right, this is a nifty car that could last for a long time. It could also be ripe for bio-fuel conversion.

Available here on craigslist for $2,950.

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