1976 Volkswagen Passat GL 1.5 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


A scary death trap


The head gasket went at 152,000. $540AUD to repair.

Coolant ALWAYS leaked - could never properly find the leak with success.

The rings were gone when I bought the car. It didn't really smoke (burn) oil except when you let it rip on the highway, then the oil just blew out the exhaust like nobody's business (the crank case pressure was too much).

The front tyres wore very easily.

The electrical system was diabolical. There was poor earth (grounding) everywhere you looked. Lights were always dim...

General Comments:

The car, on the plus side, had virtually no rust whatsoever (except a little bit under the front edge of the bonnet).

Because of the bad weight distribution, it would slip and slide scarily on a wet road, even without dumping the accelerator. For this reason I really don't recommend driving this car up a hill when it's raining!

Not a bad performer at the lights, (except in the wet).

The interior is inferior. Seats are plastic, and it's easy to 'slide off' them if you know what I mean. The dash had virtually rotted to dust, the dash knobs come loose easily, and most of the window winders had snapped -and they were made of metal!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 25th April, 2003

2nd Jul 2004, 08:44

GLX5 1924cc (Santana)

Good even by today's standards

Weber conversion- goes like a rocket!

Lovely 5 cylinder sound and performance

Good towcar (Jurgens 630kg)

Water leak? check on a cold day- steam is a dead giveaway,

I found the leak on the radiator.

Corrosion (slight) at lower corners of rear window

Important! Ensure drain hole are clear in engine compartment, founed my entire relay system under water one day.

30th Aug 2004, 21:33

I owned a 1976 Passat for 10 years having bought mine in 1980. Sure, I also had a few dramas with it, but after sorting various problems - two head gaskets, extending the top radiator hose to eliminate breakage at the radiator neck due to engine rocking, high-rise springs at the rear to eliminate a sagging rear end, driving lights to see clearly night, ensuring a reliable earthing of the main electrics... and just normal issues with running a car... it was a fantastic car. My Passat had excellent highway performance, fuel economy and handling (with the correct Michelin tyres on it) and in its day, very few cars could beat it at the lights.

16th Jan 2007, 01:32

The Early Passat was a rather revolutionary car in its time. It was the beginning of the "new Formula" for VW based on the DKW / Auto Union FWD platform. It introduced a lot of new technologies into small mass produced motor vehicles.

Its Negative scrub radius geometry and crank torsion dead axle gave the Passat outstanding handing and stability in most conditions and under brakes. I remember its claim to fame was to get the car up to 100 Km/h (60mph) on an unsealed road, let go of the steering wheel and hit the brakes as hard as you could - the car was supposed to pull up in a straight line. I tried it - it worked.

I won many motorkhanas in my "pussycat" which was attributed to the car's brilliant dynamics rather than my driving finesse! Also performance was rather outstanding for a 1600 cc with a single Barrel Downdraught carbie!

Car suffered some reliability problems especially with the electrics, which apparently plagues modern VWs as well. Still it was a great car.