VW Phaeton



I was at the car wash one day last week, and a guy pulled into the line for detailing right behind me, with a beautiful sedan. He opeend the door to get out a briefcase, and I saw a nice console, beautiful burled walnut, and some other interior touches that just reeked of money.

I complimented him on the car, and as the words were coming out of my mouth, I saw the VW emblem on the wheel hubs. I was a bit shocked, and asked about it. It was a Phaeton, he explained, and further that is was actually built on a Bentley chassis, bought by VW/Porshce/Audi, and labeled with the VW logo. I looked it up online and saw the MSRP is in the $100,000 range. That’s one hundred thousand dollars.

My comment is this: With the 3 product lines they have, what would have possessed the firm to market this model under the VW name plate? With Audi having its share of luxury Euro sedans, and VW having the Passat, it’s luxury sedan, why not label it under Porsche?

Now that Porsche has the Cayenne, a luxury sedan would have been the logical model to round out its product line. The typical VW buyer who is expecting to pay maybe…$35,000 for a high end Passat, will not bump it up a bit and buy a $100k Phaeton…would they?

This reminds me of the blunder Ford made in the late 80’s with the Merkur XR4ti. That was a very nice Euro touring sports sedan, and what label and dealership chain dp they place it in? Mercury. Why? Placing that car in the Ford delaerhips would have taken the potential Mustang or Probe shopper, and luredthem across the showroom to the Merkur.

Instead, they took your typical Mercury shopper…probably looking at a Grand Marquis…and trying to take grandpa and drag him across the showroom to look at a sports sedan.

Whats up with this decision?


vw needs all the help it can get is why.


You may notice that the Phaeton is no longer sold in the US . It bombed . No one wants a luxury car with a VW nametag besides which VW has a luxury brand in Audi . It was a typical dumb VW move .


The VW Phaeton was a massive marketing failure, hence its withdrawal from the US market after a fairly short period of time. And, if it has the “traditional” VW/Audi level of reliability…


The VW Phaeton was the worlds fastest depreciating car, losing 80% of its value in the first year…


Bad marketing decision. VW is generally thought of as more of an inexpensive vehicle and it’s very difficult for someone to equate a 100 grand with a VW badge.
When I first read about the Phaeton being introduced, that was my first thought. A hundred Gs for a VW???
Maybach can get away with something like this.

I’ve got an XR4ti (V-8 powered) and it’s neat. The problem with the Merkurs is that the market would be slim and the cars would probably not survive at a stand-alone Merkur dealership.

The cars were considered more upscale just as Mercury is considered a bit upscale to a Ford
The XR4s were about 19 grand back then and Ford could not put them on the lot with a herd of Mustang GTs. The 2.3 4 cyl.was the only engine option and it’s unlikely anyone would give 19 grand for a 4, even turbocharged, when they could buy a GT with a 5.0 for less than 14.
Ford even introduced the SVO Mustang (2.3 turbo) back then and it was also priced less than the Merkur.

Therefore, they pitted them against the slower selling Cougar (still a cheaper car) and Ford never really promoted those cars as heavily as they could have.
They did not want to distract too much from the Mustangs, which were popular sellers.


All comments reflect exactly my feeling…sometimes a good car is marketed wrong (can’t attest to the Phaeton, but it looked really, really nice).

As for the Merkur, I fell in love with the first one I saw, and fell for it further when I went to Lime Rock Park (a really great race track in Northwestern Connecticut) back in…1988??? or thereabouts.

The track was hosting a Merkur dealers/owners weekend. Anyone who went to their Merkur dealer and owned a Merkur would get a pass to get their car in for free, and there was a concours where all the XR4ti’s drove a parade lap or two around the track. It was very cool, but at the time, with 3 kids, a sports sedan was not on the horizon for me.

Thanks…enjoyable thread


So…I guess finding one for $20k is about what you would expect in a used VW. lolo!!!


Not really. The depreciation is steep for a luxury car but a 2004 will run about $40k-$45k for the w-12. I have driven the car and its an incredible one and much better than the nameplate.


We have a road racing course fairly close to me (Hallett) and about 5 years ago a guy showed up with an XR4 for a weekend race.

Stock lower end on the engine, ported head, cam, and bumped up boost pressure (21 PSI); all on the 2.3 4 cylinder.

This guy was beating all of the old 427 Corvettes, 428 CJ Mustangs, etc. even though they were killing him on cubic inch displacement.

The Merkurs have a road racing ancestry based on the Cosworth, but another guy took one out on the Bonneville salt flats and turned something like 208 MPH with the 4 cylinder engine running in a straight line. (800+ horsepower out of a 4!)

Some Merkurs have popped up on eBay for very reasonable prices but it seems like over the last year the value has been going up.

Here’s a pic of the one at my house. 308 supercharged Ford, Lincoln AOD trans, and shaker hood.

Just some misc. Merkur trivia I thought you might enjoy. :slight_smile:


I haven’t really heard much about the Phaeton since it came out, but I was under the impression that it was sort of a prestige/proof of concept car, not one that was really designed to sell in big numbers or for many years. But perhaps they couldn’t even sell the limit numbers they tried to.

Here’s a silly British car show review of it:


VW experimented with selling a luxury car with the VW badge. They wanted to upgrade the VW to luxury car status over time, since they can make more money on luxury cars than mid-size and compact cars. The Phaeton is quite similar to the Audi A8. They were even both available with the W-12 engine; also available in the Bentley. It rates very well as a fine large luxury sedan. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell well enough in the USA to continue selling it here. You can get the Phaeton W12 for about 15% less than the A8 with the V8. A great batgain!