...As a former Corrado aficionado, I often thought the car was a tremendous driver and a surefire classic…
To preface this story, I was raised in a family that was staunchly against owning “normal” cars. The Datsun 280z was as close to normal as my parents’ garage would be. They had a myriad of Jaguars, Alfa Romeos, MGs and even a Delorean. My first car purchase was a Merkur XR4ti that I spent the greater portion of my high school life working for in order to buy Sierra Cosworth goodies for it. I eventually inherited a pair of XJ6s and an XJS v12 coupe and worked every waking hour outside of school to pay for gas, insurance and maintenance. As nice as those cars were, I quite nearly broke my neck when I saw a Corrado for the very first time. I swooned over its swollen arches and sweet swooping backside that ended abruptly. It was quirky – the perfect combination of sexy and cute that would get Steve Carell laid.
After numerous years of lusting over it as a new car during my high school years, I finally procured my own in 2002 after a lengthy search. I had been contemplating over a 944 Turbo and a 914 for quite some time when I simply gave up and settled on satisfying my Corrado urges. The example I bought was OK. It was complete. It was stock and it had a stunning blue on blue combo that would’ve made an ‘80s K car jealous. Every little switch worked – even the moon roof. It even came with a stack of receipts for maintenance. It even made 380 mile drive home without a hiccup. Oh, by the way, it was a G60 model. I know, you’re thinking why the G60? Why not the plush and upscale VR6 model? Why risk the headache? Because I wanted the car that I fell in love with back when a Bulls championship seemed nearly impossible. I had achieved an automotive milestone and bought the car I lusted after. And it sucked.
The morning after driving it home, the car wouldn’t start. The battery was drained by the faulty automatic seatbelt relay. People in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s were too stupid to put their seatbelts on so the cars had to do it for them. The problem in the Corrado was that it also meant having your head busted open as you entered the car. Open the door; squat and fall into the car cut your head open on the seatbelt. That’s only the beginning of the rewarding driving experience the car offered. Being a front-wheel drive “sports coupe/hatch”, it had the typical under steer issues. Take a corner hard and throttle through and you could enjoy a push towards the wrong side of the shoulder. The steering feel was OK, but only in the same way your brother-in-law smacking your kid is OK. The shifter felt lost. Like when you have an errant dryer sheet in the leg of your pants. Except that dryer sheet isn’t a dryer sheet at all; it’s a pair of your wife’s panties that you pull out of the leg of your pants just as you’ve sat down in a meeting. You don’t know where to put it. It’s awkward.
And then it gets better. Things start to break, as you’d expect on an older car. Except they’d break while you were sleeping, or watching Cinemax at 2am with the volume set at 2 as to not wake the children. Imagine waking up to a garage floor full of coolant as you set out to go to work, or wonder why the crankshaft pulley is dancing about the engine bay after you turn the key over. And then the spoiler stops working so you can’t show the person that you’re passing in the slow lane that you’re driving faster than they. Then the engine eats a spark plug and bounces it around like someone trying to figure out where to go in City Hall.
So then you realize this car drives like a brick in slush and needs improvement, so you start modifying it. The engine gets rebuilt; the ECU gets remapped with Heiankyo Alien for Gameboy, and a more robust supercharger finds its way into the bay. The car gets lowered and stiffened which only amplifies the head splitting entering and exiting game and the entire interior gets updated with leather from a VR car. Fresh paint, bigger brakes, updated lighting and wheels create a stunning package. So then you have the VW equivalent of Emma Stone with rampant diarrhea. So you’ve spent $14K for a car that looks great, drives like a BBQ grill being thrown off your back deck and defecates fluid everywhere for no reason whatsoever.
And I’ve driven more than a dozen VR versions and more than a dozen G60 models since then. And they’re all awful. I don’t care what you say. They look good, sure, but they’re ripe with enough annoying problems that they aren’t worth the headache. So every time someone asks what car they think was under-appreciated or will be a future classic, some chucklehead says the Corrado and they post a pic of it. Then three other chuckleheads agree and only one chucklehead has ever actually driven one but one of them has a non-running “project car” Corrado sitting in their garage…and it will be there for the next 8 years because parts are expensive and 12 out of 8 people are broke and then they will sell it and buy a MKIV with a quarter of a million miles but buy rims for it that cost more than their annual income…I mean, that’s the scene. And at the end of their life they’ll finally realize that what they really regret more than anything besides using shampoo for lube in the shower is that they really wanted a Porsche 944 Turbo and they settled for a Corrado.