The Volkswagen Quantum is the North American version of the Volkswagen Passat/Santana. The Volkswagen Quantum was sold as a three-door hatchback, four-door sedan and a station wagon model. It was also available as the four-wheel drive Syncro model. The Volkswagen Passat has been in production since 1973, and has undergone 8 generations of vehicles. The Volkswagen Quantum is part of the second generation of Volkswagen Passat cars.
The Quantum traces its origins back to the early 1970s, when Volkswagen was encountering major troubles. The company's flagship product, the Beetle, was over twenty years old by that time, having been in production since the late 1940s, and had changed little over that time, and American drivers were gravitating toward high-powered muscle cars and big sedans. The low-powered Beetle was becoming a bit of a joke, sometimes derisively referred as an "overgrown motorcycle." Attempts to replace it with similar models with rear-mounted, air-cooled engines didn't work out too well. Radical change was called for.
Salvation for VW came in the form of an economic near-disaster for the West, when Arab countries decided to stop selling oil to western countries in 1973 over geopolitical disputes. This action caused the price of gasoline to double almost overnight, with shortages, long lines at the pump - and fraying tempers. It also presented VW with a golden opportunity to present something different in the form of a gasoline-sipping economy car. The first of these was the famous VW Rabbit, which has continued in production for the past forty years under various names. This was followed up in 1974 with the Passat, which was sold in North America as the Dasher.
The early Passat/Dasher was based on the Audi 80 platform. In fact, it was essentially a rebadged Audi Fox, an economy car long popular in Europe, where gasoline has always been far more expensive than in the States. This vehicle had unibody construction, with a front mounted 1.5 liter water cooled inline four with a single overhead camshaft. At 75 horsepower, it wasn't the peppiest car on the road, but it was a distinct improvement over the Beetle. Customers could choose between a four speed manual or three speed automatic transmission. The suspension consisted of MacPherson struts in the front and a beam axle riding on coil springs in the rear.
The Passat followed two years after yet another oil crisis, first rolling off the assembly line in 1981. It was the second generation of the line, and was called the "Quantum" in the U.S. and Canada. The Volkswagen Quantum Syncro was the four wheel drive variant of this model. Production on the Volkswagen Syncro Wagon and the hatchback continued until 1988, when it was replaced by the VW Passat B3 for the 1989 model year.
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