Blue Volkswagen Corrado

The History of the Volkswagen Corrado

Volkswagen introduced the Corrado in 1988 and captured the fantasies of many young auto enthusiasts throughout the 1990s. Most people do not remember the Volkswagen Corrado. However, Volkswagen’s hot hatch shows up on many “best of” lists and is still one of the most desirable collector cars from the Sport Compact era.

What was the VW Corrado?

Volkswagen executives made the decision to retire the aging Scirocco, a sporty model that had developed a cult-like following. The German auto manufacturer built the Corrado using major components from Mark 2 and Mark 3 Volkswagen products. The body was a three-door coupe with flush-mount side windows. The Corrado had a fast and agile appearance. It had an aggressive stance backed up by some of the best driving characteristics of the decade.

Was the VW Corrado Rare?

In terms of production, the Corrado was not a great seller. Volkswagen sold a total of 18,648 Corrados in the U.S. during the production run. Acura built about as many NSX sports cars in the first generation. The base price of the Corrado was $17,900, with ABS, a sunroof, and a leather interior as expensive options.

Volkswagen Corrado G60

Black Volkswagen Corrado G60
The Volkswagen Corrado G60 can be identified by the red badge on the grill. The G60 is a supercharged four-cylinder engine used in the early Corrado model among other Volkswagen products.

European drivers got the Corrado in 1988 and Canadians received the car a year later. Surprisingly, Volkswagen only introduced the Corrado in the United States in 1990. The Corrado G60 featured an eight-valve cylinder head and a centrifugal supercharger. The Corrado G60 could accelerate from 0-60 in a little more than eight seconds, thanks to its 158 horsepower in factory trim.

The name G60 reflects the type of supercharger — the G-Lader, and the intake port size of 60 mm.

The G60 promised a lot to drivers but was largely viewed as a failure by owners and reviewers. Volkswagen engineers tuned the supercharger to provide a boost above 2,000 rpm. The design tended to lead to sluggish acceleration, but plenty of power from 3,000 to 6,000 rpm. Volkswagen engineers used a manual transmission, widely regarded as terrible by automotive critics at the time. The shifter is known for being particularly sloppy and prone to failure.

Volkswagen Corrado VR6

Black Volkswagen Corrado equipped with a VR6 engine
When Volkswagen installed the new narrow-angle VR6 engine, the Corrado finally got the power it needed to be a serious street car.

Volkswagen finally built the Corrado we all wanted for the model year 1992. That year, VW introduced the brand-new VR6 engine. The VR6 was a narrow-angle V6 with a single cylinder head. Overhead camshafts aid the 15-degree six-cylinder in running with the smoothness of an inline and the power of a V-engine.

The VR6 produced a respectable 172 horsepower and provided the Corrado with 0-60 acceleration times in the mid-seven seconds. The new motor, while radical in design, was quite simple. The VR6 proved to be a robust and reliable motor for many Volkswagen fans. Its innovative design led to the eventual development of the narrow-angle VR5 and eventually, the W-series. Volkswagen W-series engines combine two VR8 engines to build the monstrous quad-turbo W16 used in the Bugatti Veyron, as well as the W8 and W12 found in the Volkswagen Phaeton.

Volkswagen uses the VR nomenclature to identify its “V-engine, Reihenmotor”. The nomenclature refers to the German words for V and Inline engines.

Bugatti Veyron W16
It might be hard for you to believe, but the awesome power of the W16 engine in this Bugatti Veyron was developed because of the success of the VR6 engine.

What Makes the Volkswagen Corrado Desirable for Collectors?

Rarity is not the only quality that makes a particular car desirable. Plenty of cars were not produced in large numbers, but are not popular with collectors. The Volkswagen Corrado is popular with collectors because of its combination of style, performance, and attitude.

What the Corrado lacked in straight-out performance made up for it with nimble handling, dynamic steering, and excellent braking. The low-slung body also provided an excellent center of gravity. Another interesting feature is the electronically-operated rear wing raising at speeds above 50 mph to improve downforce and high-speed handling. The steering was light and predictable and without too much steering wheel torque often common with front-wheel-drive cars.

When Volkswagen engineers installed the VR6 engine, the Corrado gained new steering and suspension, along with a wider track. The Corrado VR6 is often on lists such as “Ten Cars You Have To Drive Before You Die.”

Corrado G60 vs. VR6 – Which is Better?

Enthusiasts typically seek out good examples of the VR6 model to drive. However, the G60 model is arguably a better collectible. The only years of production to exceed 4,000 U.S. sales were during the production of the G60. Somewhere around 12,000, G60 Corrado cars were sold in the U.S., but barely selling 7,000 over the next three years.

The G60 is a vetter collector’s choice simply because of its oddity. While Volkswagen built lots of G60 cars, not many survived. There is no exact answer as to how many Corrado cars still exist today. The U.S. VW Corrado World Registry only lists 328 registries. This being said, it’s hard to know if more G60 models are hidden in some dudes’ garage.

G60 cars can offer some problems over the VR6 model. The G60 supercharger is known to fail unexpectedly and replacing it might be quite costly. However, both VR6 and G60 models share many parts with other VW models. Finding replacement parts is fairly easy for those who are interested in restoring these cars using a factory Volkswagen Corrado repair manual. Many drivers prefer the automatic transmission available in the later cars over the five-speed manual option, mostly because the automatic gets better mileage and accelerates faster than the stick model.

Repairs and Customization

The G60 Corrado shares many of its parts with the VW Golf II. Luckily, Volkswagen sold 6.3 million VW Golf II vehicles on the global market. Finding replacement parts for most of the suspension, brakes, steering, and most engine parts should not be difficult. Even the G60 supercharger can be purchased online these days. A rebuilt supercharger runs about $700.

Red Volkswagen Golf GTI
Many aftermarket replacement parts for Volkswagen Corrado cars are available because the same spares are needed for other models, as this second-generation VW Golf.

Unlike more recent VW models, Corrado vehicles are German-made by hand. Very few of them have major rust issues. Most owners report that rust damage is more common on vehicles that have been crashed and repaired. Body panels and patch panels can be difficult to find, so buyers looking at a Corrado with significant visible rust or accident damage should be warry.

Aftermarket Options

Reviewers found the G60 to be underperforming in its day, and age has not improved the opinion. Aftermarket companies stepped in long ago to address some of the issues with Volkswagen’s supercharged inline four-cylinder. Everything from full-power kits that promise as much as 225 hp to twin-screw supercharger kits that will boost from idle to 6,000 rpm and can handle 300+ horsepower.

You can find aftermarket body panels made of fiberglass and carbon fiber to create a racy new statement with a Corrado. Body repairers can use some of these panels to hide or repair rust or body damage. Aftermarket companies make custom cold-air intakes and full-flow exhaust kits to improve power and fuel mileage.

About Derek F

Derek grew up in Southern California and started working on cars when he was a child. He learned from his father and grandfather how to make basic repairs and maintain cars correctly. Derek rebuilt his first engine at 15 years-old, beginning an automotive career that took him to many interesting jobs. Derek has worked as an automotive detailer, managed parts warehouses and auto parts stores, and worked as a mechanic for several years doing brake and suspension work. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in government journalism, Derek worked for an auto museum where he started to write about cars. Today, Derek uses his expertise gained from many years of practical experience to help educate DIYers and share interesting knowledge about various types of automotive repair and service. Writing about cars helps fund his numerous classic car restoration and customization projects.

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