Build or Buy: Off Road-Ready Reno Wagons

Here’s another one for the wagon lovers. We know you are a passionate bunch, and while the new Golf Alltrack is nice, it’s just not hard-core enough for some. Enter the Quantum Syncro Wagon (QSW for short): full-time all-wheel drive, locking differentials, five-cylinder engine, and a 5-speed manual (giggity) transmission. It’s the un-SUV. And if you’re looking for a great car for light off-roading, this is a great option.

Argument: Buy
Article: 1988 Quantum GL5 Syncro Wagon

This car has adventure written all over it. At first glance, this QSW looks to be simply a lifted wagon. Yes, it has a 2-inch lift with heavy-duty Bilstein shocks and struts, but look closer. The stock “snowflake” alloy wheels sport larger BFG all-terrain tires. It has a custom European front bumper with recovery points. There are the Hella off-road lights and the roof-top cargo basket. Out back there’s a custom aluminum rear skid plate.

Inside this QSW has Recaro front seats with rear seats in matching fabric. There’s a MOMO steering wheel, and a GTI “golf ball” shift knob. And the headliner is recovered in a dark fabric.

This QSW comes with a bunch of extra parts. Check out the ad on for more information, and make sure to look at the pics in the owner’s Google Photos gallery. This QSW is in Reno, Nevada, and the seller is asking a very reasonable $4000.

Argument: Build
Article: 1985 Quantum GL5 Syncro Wagon

If you want to build your own overlanding wagon, this ’85 is a decent place to start. First off, the price is low; the seller is asking $1200 firm. If you can do your own work and source your own parts, you may be able to come in under the “buy” option above.

A second great point with this “build” car is the low mileage; it has only 120,000 miles on the (replacement) engine. That’s less than half what’s on the “buy” QSW.

Last, the car has been in an accident, so it’s not perfect. But if you’re looking for a car for outdoor adventures, pristine paint and body panels will be damaged quickly, so the body comes pre-dinged. Coat the whole car in bed liner and be done with it.

Strangely enough, this QSW is also in Reno, Nevada. Check out the craigslist ad for more information.