Ratty Rescue: $750 VR6

Who doesn’t want cheap power? Today’s Ratty Rescue’s low cost can have you cruising the streets in a torquey V-6. Well, once you find a transmission.

Let us once again sing the praises of one of Volkswagen’s most incredible engines: the narrow-angle six-cylinder, or VR6. Before turbocharging was all the rage, the way to grant more thrust to cars was by adding cylinders. Both traditional 45-degree “V” six-cylinder motors and inline orientation are too big to fit in the engine bays of compact cars. Volkswagen split the difference by creating an inline “V” engine; the cylinders are staggered by only 15 degrees. This tiny powerhouse could fit in almost all of their cars and helped make their six-cylinder models seem a bit more upscale than their competitors.

When the MK4 Jetta debuted, the 2.8L VR6 was available right from the start in 1999. This 2001 Jetta is the top-of-the-line GLX model with leather interior, power windows and locks, sunroof, and 16″ alloy wheels. Many regard the GLX VR6 as a “poor man’s BMW” with its premium interior and torquey powerplant. The growl that comes from its buttery 174hp (hey, this was a lot at the time) is infectious. Is that a tunnel ahead? Lower the windows, open the sunroof and take in the underhood orchestra when you drop the Tiptronic transmission down a gear.

That is if you could drop it down a gear. First you’ll need to drop the entire transmission: it’s shot. Scour some parts yards, our classifieds, or your local Craigslist for a used one. If you’re really adventurous, swap in a manual transmission and never worry about another failed tranny again. Just don’t fry the clutch, which will be hard to avoid with that Chewbacca sounding engine up front.

If you’re looking for cheap power, take a look at the car in our classifieds. VWVortex member blkhothatch (who’s ironically selling a black sedan) just dropped the price to $750. You can see the car yourself in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.