Junkyard Gem: 1990 Volkswagen Fox GL Wagon

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By the late middle 1980s, the most affordable Volkswagen Golf cost quite a bit more than the cheapest Honda Civic, while Tercels and Mirages and Justys rolled out of showrooms for nickels and dimes. Meanwhile, Hyundai was selling Excels for even less, not to mention the hilariously low-priced Yugo GV. It's a sorry state of affairs when The People's Car can't compete on price the way the air-coooled Beetle once did. So, because the suits in Wolfsburg controlled a far-flung manufacturing empire, the call went out to Volkswagen do Brasil for a truly affordable car to sell in the United States. That ended up being the Volkswagen Gol and its wagon version, the Parati. This became the Volkswagen Fox on our shows (not to be confused with the Audi Fox, which was really a Passat), and Americans could buy this car from the 1987 through 1993 model years. Here's a Fox Wagon, found in a San Francisco Bay Area boneyard during the summer.

These cars were assembled at the São Bernardo do Campo plant, and they were priced well below Golf levels.

In fact, the 1990 Fox GL wagon was the least expensive new station wagon available in the United States, with a sticker price starting at $8,550 (about $18,360 today). Even the penny-pinching Ford Escort wagon couldn't touch that figure, with an MSRP of $8,758 ($18,805 now).

For that price, the Fox was a great deal. The problem with extreme affordability, though, is that most of these cars got discarded and crushed fairly early in life. I have documented just a handful of junkyard Foxes over the years.

Not even 70,000 miles on the clock. Perhaps it was owned by a little old lady from Los Gatos and was only used to drive to church.

This one even has air conditioning, which added $715 to the out-the-door price. That's about $1,535 in 2021 bones, or clams.

The engine in the Fox was an 81-horse version of the 1.7-liter four used in so many Volkswagen cars of the era.

As far as I know, Fox buyers could not get an automatic transmission. The proletariat-grade Foxes got the four-on-the-floor manual, while the high-roller GL buyers got a five-speed.

Even if you don't speak Portuguese, you can detect the class of the Parati.

Cheap. Oh yes, it's cheap.

Brazilian German engineering. No problem!

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