1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC
1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

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When it comes to sporty Volkswagens, the GTI tends to get most of the attention; it helped to start the trend toward sporty hatchbacks in the early 1980s. But Volkswagen’s first sporty car arrived in North America in 1975, eight years before the GTI landed on this continent, in the form of the Scirocco.

Ostensibly a replacement for the air-cooled, Beetle-based Karmann Ghia, the Scirocco was one of the earliest VWs to use a water-cooled engine. The Scirocco gained a strong following, one that it’s managed to maintain among Volkswagen enthusiasts and car nuts in general. Therefore, when VW fans found out the Scirocco was to be discontinued in Canada after 1989, they were curious to see how the company would follow it up.

They got their answer that same year, when Volkswagen introduced the Corrado. It was indeed a worthy successor to the Scirocco, and was showered with accolades from the automotive media. Many regard it as one of the best-handling cars of its time, and the British magazine CAR named it one of 25 cars to drive before you die.

Initially, the Corrado was offered with a 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder engine making 158 horsepower; these early models were known as the G60, so named for the G-shape of the supercharger’s internals. In late 1992, the Corrado became one of the first vehicles to use Volkswagen’s torquey, 174 hp VR6 motor. Interestingly, there are technically no 1992 model-year Corrados: 1992 G60s were sold as late 1991 models, and VR6 models produced in 1992 were sold as ’93s.

Due to the relatively small number of Corrados built to Canadian specs, all the cars sold here came fully loaded. In the U.S., options were limited to five: a choice of leather of cloth seats, air conditioning, sunroof, cold weather package and BBS alloy wheels, all of which were standard features here. Therefore, don’t count on finding a used Corrado without these niceties; getting a stripped-down model brand new meant placing a special order with a VW dealer. Canadian VR6 models got a leather Recaro seat option that wasn’t offered in the U.S., and as a result, these seats are highly valued by any American Corrado owner lucky enough to get their hands on a set.

One item Canadian Corrado’s didn’t get was the electric seat belt system installed in U.S. market cars, which didn’t meet Canadian safety regulations. Also, the few 1995 models that were produced (only 87 made it to Canada) were the only Corrados with airbags. Volkswagen produced fewer than 100,000 Corrados for sale worldwide between 1989 and 1995.

Fuel consumption was better in earlier models, owing to the G60 engine’s smaller displacement. Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption ratings for the G60 were 11.3 L/100 km city and 7.8 L/100 km highway, while VR6 models used 12.9 L/100 km in the city and 8.9 L/100 km on the highway. Crash safety data is practically non-existent, as neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-tested the Corrado.

1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC
1993 Volkswagen Corrado SLC. Click image to enlarge

The Corrado’s reliability history is spotty at best, and these cars suffered from a lot of problems when they were new. Of course, even the newest Corrados are now more than a decade old, and it’s not fair to expect many 11-year-old-plus cars to be utterly dependable. While a used Corrado is hardly an ideal choice as a daily driver, one would make a terrific weekend car, particularly if you’re a skilled do-it-yourselfer. Key items to look out for in a used Corrado include the supercharger on G60 models (those in the know say it’s wise to rebuild it every 80,000 km or so); vacuum leaks on the G60 engine and blown headgaskets on VR6 models; manual transmission (the synchronizers tend to go south, resulting in that tell-tale crunch when shifting); the clutch and timing chain should be replaced roughly every 130,000 to 160,000 km; and make sure things like the power sunroof, heated seats and automatic rear spoiler – it extends upward (at 70 km/h on G60s and at 90 km/h on VR6s) and drops back down at 20 km/h, but can be raised and lowered manually via a dash switch – work. All of these items can be expensive items to fix should they be broken. For a terrific rundown on what to look for, not to mention hours of fun reading, check out these links:

If you are seriously considering buying a Corrado, reading up is a must, and the Web is one of the best resources at your disposal. The VWVortex, as well as the other online resources listed below, are the best places to start.

The Corrado’s rarity, relative desirability and high MSRP when new means they’re still more expensive than other VWs. For example, the Corrado sold for just under $31,000 in 1995, about the same as a top-of-the-range Passat GLX station wagon. Canadian Red Book lists the value of a 1995 Corrado in good condition at almost $7,000, while it advises that a nice 1991 (the earliest model year the price guide reports on) is worth a little more than $3,000. In the real world, though, the Corrado’s rarity almost ensures that you’ll pay far more than that for a well-cared-for example, so the Red Book values – both the MSRP and used prices – should be taken with a grain of salt. According to Geoff Virgo, administrator of the Corrado Club of Canada’s website (located at www.corrado-club.ca), a well-cared-for 1995 Corrado could be worth as much as $16,000.

You can save money by buying a less-than-perfect example, but be prepared to spend some money on replacement parts and get your hands dirty installing them. As alluded to above, labour costs for Corrado repairs can get pricey, and the rarity of these cars means there won’t be too many mechanics around who are familiar with the many repairs that are specific to the Corrado.

Many enthusiasts – particularly Volkswagen fans – love the Corrado, but the word is that the ownership experience can be frustrating, so be prepared for that if you’re thinking of parting with thousands of your hard-earned dollars for a used one. Do your homework, though, and you’ll have plenty of fun behind the wheel.

Online resources

www.corrado-club.ca– Here you’ll find a ton of info on these cool but hard-to-find cars. There are all kinds of technical resources covering most of the car’s major systems and a great listing of shops, both online and otherwise, specializing in Corrado parts, repairs and aftermarket stuff. As might be expected, there’s a forum too, and it’s fairly busy, making it a good place to get Canadian-specific info on the Corrado.

www.vwvortex.com – This place is like Mecca for VW owners on the Web. The forums here cover a variety of makes, as well as several general-interest categories, but it all started with VW, and those sections boast the most activity. The Corrado gained quite a following during its short lifespan, and it shows here, where the Corrado forum is one of the busiest on the site. Owners here live and breathe their VWs, so if you need help, advice or just want to talk cars with other like-minded types, the Vortex is a good place to start.

www.corrado-club.com – There are no forums here, but there is lots of technical information to be had. Find out how to fix common Corrado problems, and check out the informative FAQ and tech tips section.

www.vwfixx.com – Close to 20,000 VW drivers call VWFixx.com their home on the Web. Click over the forum page and you’ll find a Corrado forum on the Volkswagen Models page. There’s not as much activity here as on the Vortex, but smaller forums can have a friendly feel, and just as much helpful information as the larger communities.


Transport Canada Recall Number: 1996109; Units affected: 1,132

1989-1990: Increased coolant pressure due to engine overheating could result in rupture of heat exchanger causing personal injury, or steaming of interior. Correction: heat exchanger will be replaced on affected vehicles.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1993143; Units affected: 3,370

1990-1993: Note: Passat VR6 – 1,400 units. Corrado – 2,000 units. The fuel hose attached to the fuel distribution rail, located in the engine compartment, may not be adequately clamped. This could lead to fuel seepage at the hose connection. Escaping fuel could come into contact with hot engine components and possibly cause an engine compartment fire. Correction: fuel hose attached to the fuel rail will be replaced and existing hose clamps will be replaced with a new spring-type hose clamp.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1991104; Units affected: 1,104

1990-1991: Under certain operating conditions, the fuel filter housing, which also serves as the base for the fuel pump, could deform, resulting in the fuel pump becoming loose. A loose and thus improperly seated fuel pump could cause reduced fuel flow to the engine resulting in possible driveability problems and vehicle stalling. Correction: fuel pump will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1990105; Units affected: 8,911

1990: These vehicles do not comply with C.M.V.S.S. 108 – Lighting. Daytime running lights will not operate with the three position light switch in the second position. Correction: main light switch will be replaced on Jetta, Corrado and Passat and a relay with wiring harness will be installed on Cabriolet, Vanagon and Transporter vehicles.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1998231; Units affected: 1,120

1992-1994: Excessive temperature and cooling system pressure could result in coolant leakage in the system including leakage from the heat exchanger. Leakage of coolant from the heat exchanger could cause injury to the feet of the driver, steam up the interior of the vehicle and temporarily impair the driver’s vision. Correction: Dealer will conduct a functional check of the cooling system and install a pressure throttle which will result in reduced coolant pressure in the heat exchanger.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1995221; Units affected: 19,932

1993-1995: Note: includes Passat, Golf and Jetta turbo diesel. On 1993-94 models, the radiator fan motor shaft could seize and render the fan motor inoperative. 1994-95 models could experience a condition whereby the lock nut securing the radiator fan blade hub to the motor could lose its required torque. A loose lock nut could cause the fan hub to loosen from the shaft and cause the belt pulley to run “off-centre”. This in turn could cause the fan belt to disconnect or break. Either of the above conditions could result in engine overheating and stalling. A vehicle stalling in traffic could cause an accident. Correction: vehicles with either have the complete cooling fan assembly replaced or a new fan blade with a new lock nut installed.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003194; Units affected: 90

1994: On certain vehicles, excessive temperature and cooling system pressure could result in coolant leakage in the system including leakage from the heat exchanger. Leakage of coolant from the heat exchanger could cause injury to the feet of the driver, steam up the interior of the vehicle and temporarily impair the driver’s vision. This is an expansion of recall 98-231. Correction: Dealer will conduct a functional check of the cooling system and install a pressure throttle which will result in reduced coolant pressure in the heat exchanger.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 1994025; Units affected: 583

1993: An electrical wiring harness in the engine compartment could become damaged due to chafing. This could result in an electrical short causing the engine to stall or the radiator fan to stop operating, causing the engine to overheat. Either condition could cause an accident. Correction: wiring harness will be re-routed and special shielding will be installed in all affected vehicles.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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