SOLD 1997 Passat TDi Wagon for Sale - Corvallis, Oregon

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
240301 miles
$3500 o.b.o.

Selling my beloved daily driver, a manual transmission VW B4 Passat TDi in wagon form. This was a motor swap from a 1997 Passat TDi sedan, into the body of a Gasoline 1997 Passat 2.8l GLX wagon, the conversion was done by the (now defunct) Nice Car Company in Bellingham, WA.
I'm still amazed at this, but I still get ~45mpg from this car on my daily commute of 26 miles - mostly highway with a little bit of city driving.

While this car drives just fine, it's starting to nickel and dime me on minor mechanical and electrical issues, which are starting to impact it's comfort and usability - we just bought a Nissan Leaf for the daily drive, and I don't have the time or inclination to do this work any more. So i would describe this as a reasonable project car for someone who can turn a wrench, has basic automotive electrical skills, and doesn't mind pulling apart some door panels. Probably, paying a mechanic to do the motor mounts and thermostat is a smart move, but all the electrical and door lock issues - those are labor intensive, so i would encourage you to consider if you are willing to do some of this work yourself.

THE GOOD
This is a runner - totally solid motor, starts first time, runs without knocking.
AC runs nice and cold.
Recent alignment
Front rotors and pads replaced about 4000 miles ago
Tires are balanced and are at ~60% tread
No voltage draw - the battery holds it's charge for many weeks, even in recent cold weather

THE BAD
Central locking does not work - The drivers door only locks from the inside - so to totally lock the car you need to push all the latches from the inside, close the rear passenger door last, and then lock the trunk with the key.
Passenger door handle mechanism is stuck - can't open from inside or outside.
Drivers side rear passenger door window is stuck closed - power regulator needs replacing.
Thermostat is stuck, so engine runs a little cool - ~160°-170°. As a result, in cold weather it takes forever for the blowers to run warm.
Motor Mounts need attention - slight rocking when accelerating through 1st into 2nd gear

THE UGLY
The leather interior is very well-worn. The whole interior needs a deep clean, i've run a shop vac and a damp cloth over the whole interior but some of the dirt is pretty well ingrained into the carpet around the foot wells, and the panels probably need a shampoo if you want it to look nice.
Sunroof switch does not work - the headliner is starting to separate on the sunroof.
Small rust patch on trunk door
The center console lid is removed, cup holder is damaged.
Drivers seat - some of the leather stitching is slightly separating.
Rear speakers are disconnected
Interior dome lights not working
Check engine light is on - I've cleared all the codes multiple times, but i think some sensors are not functioning.

Please feel free to call to ask any questions about this before we arrange a viewing and test drive. Thanks!

Check out my craigslist post for more pictures
Link To craigslist post
 

Mcgink

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2004
Location
South of Boston MA
TDI
I-Red,"The Passat formerly known as Harlequin" 97 B4, a non VW GTDI too
Doesn't look too bad in the CL pics. Are those wheels 5 lug? Looks like it has the standard TDI 14" hubcaps.
GLWS
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
That doesn’t look like an MFA cluster either. But then with NC’s nothing surprises me. Nice looking car and everything is a pretty easy fix, it should sell in a short amount of time.
 

d24tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Location
MT
TDI
96 B4V
Nice looking car and a good deal.

If I had to guess from looking at it, I would say this might be a factory TDI wagon that had GLX leather seats swapped in, not a VR6 GLX car that was converted to TDI. No way they swapped 4-lug spindles onto a VR6 car and I'm not aware of any 14" 5x100 wheels out there that could take those factory B4 14" hubcaps with their unusual attachment points, so it has to have 4x100 wheels. It also seems to have correct TDI cluster and other details. I suppose an outside possibility is that it was a factory gas 2.0L ABA wagon that got converted to TDI, but that seems far-fetched since I think there were even fewer of those ABA B4's made than there were TDIs.

This also doesn't have NCC's signature truck bedliner treatment on the tops of the bumpers and the door rub strips. So maybe it was just a real TDI wagon that they sold.

Whatever the background though, it looks like a solid and presentable driver and the fixes should be doable. I like the silver color on these. Good to see some decent ones still out there, my '96 daily driver is mostly rust-colored at this point, with just a few patches of failed-clearcoat green left. :) Good luck and hope it finds a good home. Even all these years later there still aren't many other cars out there that can do what these B4 TDI wagons can, in terms of mileage/range, interior space, decent driving dynamics, and low operating cost. They have always had their small annoyances and some of those only get worse with age, but for the right kind of user there is not much that can really take the place of one of these.
 

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
This is all really great feedback, thanks everyone! I wasn't aware about the lugs being such a clear indicator of the vehicles origins. I bought this 3 years ago from my boss, who had bought it from NCC, back in the mid 2000's. His memory was a little hazy about the conversion, but when I ran the VIN it comes up as a GLX wagon, and the notes in the handbook and original warranty documents all indicate it was a GLX. Also the fuel tank door clearly has a gasoline sticker underneath the diesel sticker - this always gives the more observant pump attendants here in Oregon a head turning moment!

I'd welcome any other clarifying questions or points of interest from y'all!
 

d24tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Location
MT
TDI
96 B4V
That is interesting. Well I guess there's no reason it would be impossible for NCC to have swapped 4-lug running gear onto a GLX wagon.... wouldn't be the first time they did something strange. Maybe they had taken the 5 lug stuff for another car and had 4 lug parts sitting around. But yes, among other things, the 5-lug suspension would probably be the most obvious and easily seen mechanical ID of whether the car began life as a GLX VR6 B4 or a 4-banger variant. The 2.0 gas and TDI cars had 14" 4x100 wheels while the VR6 GLX models had 15" 5x100 equipment.

Checking on the EPA's website it does not look like the 2.0 gas ABA was even available in 97 MY Passats, only VR6 or TDI; the 2.0 was only 1995 and 1996 (and not sure if wagons could ever have it, might have only been for sedans??). So if the car is indeed a 1997 model then it would have to be GLX or TDI. Obviously the VIN should give the right details so it must be a 97 GLX that got 4-cylinder suspension swapped on, if GLX is what you see when you run it. (Unless they did a VIN swap from a gas car onto a factory TDI that had title issues -- also not out of the question for those folks -- but that would not explain the gasser details like the fuel door sticker, etc)

Anyway, after all these years hard to see how any of those details really matter much, though. Seems like a good functional example of a B4 TDI wagon that would serve someone well, regardless of whatever the origin story may be. 👍
 

Mcgink

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2004
Location
South of Boston MA
TDI
I-Red,"The Passat formerly known as Harlequin" 97 B4, a non VW GTDI too
Forgot where the other VIN number location is on those, I'll bet that Abacus will know.
 

d24tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Location
MT
TDI
96 B4V
Okay so now I'm definitely sure it started as a GLX - first 5 digits of VIN are: WVWFE
Bizzarro. So they started with a gasoline GLX wagon, which has a handful of reasons why it would be more desirable than a car that started life as a factory TDI or 2.0L to make it worth the effort of swapping TDI drivetrain into, the main ones being 5-lug suspension/brakes/etc, MFA cluster, and GLX leather interior (most of the time).

BUT then they went to the extra effort of REMOVING the 5-lug running gear and installing TDI 4-lug running gear. Same with the MFA cluster. ????

Again none of it matters really now, and also none of it changes the fact that this is a nice looking wagon well represented by the seller that would be a nice one for someone looking for a B4V to drive.

Just strange to imagine the thought process that was going on when they were putting these together.
 

Abacus

That helpful B4 guy
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Relocated from Maine to Dewey, AZ
TDI
Only the B4V left
Forgot where the other VIN number location is on those, I'll bet that Abacus will know.
NC is known for swapping dashboard that has the VIN on stamped them while leaving the chassis VIN intact. Forget the Dash Vin and look at the VIN stamped into the sheet metal on the firewall. THAT will be the true chassis. I even contacted Washington DMV about the problem because a member on here almost bought an 'original 63,000 mile original B4 TDI" when in fact it was a 360,000 mile TDI that had been totaled! The Washington DMV said it wasn't their problem, can you believe it? They were complete scam artists and I'm glad they're out of business. Now if the chassis VIN turns out OK, then you're golden.
 

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
NC is known for swapping dashboard that has the VIN on stamped them while leaving the chassis VIN intact. Forget the Dash Vin and look at the VIN stamped into the sheet metal on the firewall. THAT will be the true chassis. I even contacted Washington DMV about the problem because a member on here almost bought an 'original 63,000 mile original B4 TDI" when in fact it was a 360,000 mile TDI that had been totaled! The Washington DMV said it wasn't their problem, can you believe it? They were complete scam artists and I'm glad they're out of business. Now if the chassis VIN turns out OK, then you're golden.
This is all really great insight folks,. I'm gonna go try and find the chassis VIN tomorrow morning to figure this out once and for all! Any pointers on where I should be looking on the firewall?
 

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
Does that mean it has a smaller fuel tank? I know the gauge says "18" regardless of variant.
Great question! I've successfully got that fuel gauge needle down as far as I felt comfortable on a road trip, and managed to pump 17.24 gallons in... Someone told me if you let the tank settle a bit the foam subsides and you can squeak more in, but I never really felt the need to top off any more!
 

turbodieseldyke

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Location
Free Mustache Rides
TDI
98 jetta
Great question! I've successfully got that fuel gauge needle down as far as I felt comfortable on a road trip, and managed to pump 17.24 gallons in... Someone told me if you let the tank settle a bit the foam subsides and you can squeak more in, but I never really felt the need to top off any more!
The natural-born TDI wagons are supposed to have 25, unofficially. You might squeeze more in with a ventectomy.
 

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
Okay, well I check the firewall stamp, the door sill sticker, and in the spare wheel well in trunk - it's all the same, WVWFE (GLX) VIN. Mystery... Solved?
 

turbodieseldyke

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Location
Free Mustache Rides
TDI
98 jetta
I usually go about 400 miles before the fuel gauge even comes off full.
Lol, that's an entire tank for some cars.

It kind of annoys me that my Mk5 gauge is so inaccurate. They have the ability to create an accurate mapping of the sender, and how the needle should display for any given # of ohms. Instead, it reads very optimistic during the top half of the tank, then drops during the next quarter, and the final quarter it drops like a rock.

I've heard the Mk6 behaves the same. Probably nothing has changed.
 

fabrioni

Member
Joined
Feb 15, 2023
Location
Corvallis, Oregon
TDI
1997 Passat
Found up buyer for this car that's going to put all the necessary TLC into keeping on the road for many years to come. They were very pleased with the condition, having agreed to by it without having seen it directly themselves. Thanks for everyone's input and insights into this vehicle.
 

d24tdi

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Location
MT
TDI
96 B4V
Glad to hear, these B4s still deserve some love. It's always a good feeling to have an old car start a new chapter with someone who will care for it.
 
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