8th February 2022

Modern classic: The Volkswagen Corrado

In this new feature, we’re exploring the future classic cars waiting in the wings. We’re kicking things off with a car that’s been patiently awaiting classic status for what seems like an eternity – the Volkswagen Corrado.

VW’s nineties performance offerings are remembered for being a little hit and miss – the Corrado coupe will be remembered as the former.

Often mistaken as the successor to the well-received Scirocco, VW’s Corrado was actually sold alongside its other Golf-based coupe for two years. The truth is, the Corrado established a sector of its own; at launch, it was the most expensive car Wolfsburg had ever produced up until that point.

Like the second-generation Scirocco, it was penned by VW’s in house styling studio, at the time led by Herbert Shafer. Its minimalist, wedge-shaped design carried the Golf’s trademark thick C-pillar, echoing the Golf Mk2 on which it was based, but the Corrado proved to be far more than the sum of its parts. It was built by Karmann, the Osnabruck based coachbuilder previously entrusted with the air-cooled Ghia and original Golf Cabriolet.

At launch, VW offered a choice of two engines previously sampled in the Golf GTI; a 1.8 litre sixteen valve, or the supercharged 1.8 litre eight-valve as seen in the ultra-rare G60. Both were potent performers, but things got even more exciting in 1992 with the arrival of the Corrado VR6.

The VR6 really was a game changer for VW, a car still regarded as one of the sweetest handling front wheel drive cars of the ‘90s, along with Honda’s Integra Type R. This accolade is an incredible achievement when you consider the Corrado was ultimately based on a chassis developed at the dawn of the 1980s. Here was a coupe aimed squarely at BMW’s 325i, a rival the VR6 was more than capable of defeating in contemporary road tests.

In period, Autocar magazine named it as the fastest front wheel drive car they’d ever tested, delivering the 60mph sprint in 6.4 seconds and capable of a 145mph top speed. Those numbers still sound impressive three decades later, achievable thanks to VW’s legendary narrow-angle six-cylinder engine.

Lauded as a ‘future classic’ for what seemed like forever, ‘the people’s Porsche’ is finally having it’s time in the sun. The days of the £1500 VR6 are long gone, although clean examples of 1.8 or later 2.0 16v editions can still be had for around £5000. While all flavours of Corrado handle brilliantly, the 2.0 litre eight-valve will be the least rewarding to drive – if given the choice, opt for the 2.0 litre 16V ‘9A’ engine instead.

If you’re in the market for a usable, retro coupe to cherish, remember VW’s coupe for the nineties is more than a Golf in a party frock. Though the Corrado has already begun to appreciate sharply, it may be a case of better late than never…

Have you ever owned a VW Corrado? Let us know your ownership experiences in the comments below.

I bought my first Corrado in 1990 a 16 valve which I had for 10 years. I knew when I set my eyes on one at a motor show that it was going to be a classic I currently have a 1993 VR6 Corrado that I have owned for 18 years. Mine is standard, non-modified and in superb condition. Although I have other cars, nothing comes close to the excitement of owning a Corrado. It has always been this way for me. I don't dream about owning a different car, I am perfectly happy with this one, my dream car! Footman James has been insuring my Corrado for many years, I think a higher valuation is required at the next renewal! So glad that the Corrado is, at last, being recognised for the truly remarkable car that it is. I enjoy attending classic car shows with mine and seeing the look on people's faces when they spot it! I personally love the shape and styling of the Corrado. It is difficult to believe that mine is 29 years old!

Barbara, 08/02/2022