Ratty Rescue: Patina’diesel

Faithful VWVortex readers, it’s time once again for one of you to help save a kicked-to-the-curb Volkswagen. Our latest find is a real diamond in the rough. Well, maybe not a diamond, but “garnet in the rough” doesn’t sound quite right. Diamond status is reserved for GLIs and such. This one’s more…basic.

This $500 1985 Jetta diesel is the perfect fixer-upper for a novice restorer. To start, the seller states their shop serviced the car yearly. The car was owned by an elderly person and, get this, almost never driven in the last 10 years. The car has only 145,000 miles; barely broken in by diesel standards. Looking at the photos, the car appears to be complete, even down to the original hubcaps. And while the car hasn’t seen much road time, the seller says it was driven to their shop and back once yearly, so it runs. It might not be a good idea to drive it home, but swapping all the fluids and checking for dry rot in the tires could get the new owner on the road quickly.


There are some issues with the car. First, the lack of road time over a decade may have caused some deterioration of seals and rubber. Second, that interesting patina may have been the result of some vandalization; there are traces of spray paint on the car. Was a chemical stripper used? Third, the car needs a really good cleaning. Which is the least of its issues, really.

So why this plain Jane Jetta? To start, it’s incredibly complete with all trim and bits on the body. It lacks a radio, but it may never have had one in the first place. It’s also a runner, which is half the battle with any project car. It’s also a diesel. The unmistakable clatter of an oil-burner has a nostalgic quality all its own. For the right owner, this Jetta can be an old-school cruiser. Sure many people want a GLI or a Jetta coupe, but this one is for those wanting to be a bit a different than the crowd.

This garnet-red 1985 Jetta diesel sedan is in Greensboro North Carolina, the seller is asking $500 in their ad on thesamba.com. If it’s not sold, it will be sent to the junkyard, so act fast.