Seven generations of Passat have graced streets around the world, and today is the long-running Volkswagen's 40th birthday. Looking at the car today, it's hard to imagine that it was offered as a hatchback in its first and second generations, in addition to the sedan and wagon body styles. But there's no question Volkswagen has sold a lot of Passats over the years, with over 20 million produced.

VW started delivering the B1-generation Passat on July 25, 1973, and sold it until 1980, when the second generation came out. The B2, which went by many names in different markets, was produced from 1980-87 (longer in some markets, such as China, where it was produced until 2012) and featured technology you might recognize in many of today's VWs, such as a turbo-diesel engine option. The B3 generation was produced from 1987-93 and, styled with aerodynamics in mind, starts looking more like a Passat in this writers opinion. The B4, produced from 1993-97, was safer and had a stiffer body but followed the same formula as the previous generation.

The B5 Passat stepped up the quality quite a bit from the previous model, and it came with a wide range of four-, five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines. It was produced from 1996-2005. The sixth-gen Passat was produced from 2006-09 and could be had with a double-clutch transmission for the first time. It even spawned the good-looking Passat CC, which became its own model in 2010, when the current B7 Passat was released.

The B7 is a curious model. While Rest of World markets all get the same car, the US produces a unique Passat for its own market, and China makes a derivative that VW sells there called the New Midsize Sedan.

Give in to nostalgia and check out the gallery we've included to see how the Passat has evolved over the years.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      rocketmoose
      • 1 Year Ago
      The first-gen Passat looks very, very cool. Love it.
      berto
      • 1 Year Ago
      My dad had a '79 Dasher 5-door hatch that he bought new after his friend special ordered it and then backed out of the deal. Horrible brownish maroon with a 49-horsepower diesel. Would lay black smokescreens for what seemed like miles on downshifts just to get me to laugh. I actually remember riding off the dealer lot in it as a four-year old kid. Great memories.
        Jim Pease
        • 1 Year Ago
        @berto
        I remember the smoke screen from my father's 78 Rabbit Diesel.
      artandcolour2010
      • 1 Year Ago
      One of Giugiaro's best production efforts, should have been mentioned in this tribute article. The original Passat, or Dasher in the USA, along with the Gold (Rabbit) and Scirocco, really kickstarted VW's efforts to leave the rear-engined layout behind. They were clean, glassy, high quality, and completely up-to-date mechanically. Really an affordable tours de force. The "sedan" Dashers looked exactly the same as the hatchbacks. There was no 3-box Dasher sedan. It was a fastback with a trunk and not a hatch.
        artandcolour2010
        • 1 Year Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        "Golf" not "Gold." wish we could edit posts.
        dearest rat
        • 1 Year Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        I've never seen the first generation until just now, and she's a looker! Couldn't put a finger on why it seemed so familiar until you said "Giugiaro"
          Shiftright
          • 1 Year Ago
          @dearest rat
          The Italians always design the best looking cars
        • 1 Year Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        [blocked]
        Alex Ellsworth
        • 1 Year Ago
        @artandcolour2010
        We had a '77 Dasher when I was growing up, and let me tell you that nothing about that car was a tour de force! Slow, rattly, broke down a lot, tape deck ate tapes, hubcaps and side view mirror fell off spontaneously, air conditioner refused to work no matter how many times we repaired it so just gave up, and the darn thing rusted even though we lived in San Antonio, TX and it never saw snow.
          andrite36
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Alex Ellsworth
          I am old enough to remeber when that was a stunning new design. I never knew they had that much trouble. Darn. It was a radically different way to make a car look though.
      Gugue
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nice! Here in Brazil the B1 received the same body of its twin brother Audi 100, as the B2 lived together with the B1 until the end of 80's, it received the name Santana and the Variant was called Santana Quantum, for unfortunate the B3 wasn't sold here officially, only by importers. At this time the B2 got the same snout of the coeval Audi 100, this one was exported in early 90's to German also named VW Santana for fleet and released in China as Santana 2000. Ford also released its version, the Ford Versailles and the 2 doors SW Ford Royale named Ford Galaxy in another countries, this one were soon replaced by Mondeo. The B4 was released here in 1994 and was a best seller, both sedan and Variant in the VR6 were a nightmare for premium brands (!!!) The B5 was released here two years after its debut in Germany, anyway, this generation and the following ones became pretty expensive, good for Ford, the omnipresence of the current Fusion means that the Passat is too expensive for what it worths.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      The early ones are the size of a current Golf.
      Eta Carinae
      • 1 Year Ago
      The passat has come along way........good ? Bad ? .........
        Andy Dufresne
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        My 2002 successfully managed to convince me to never EVER buy another Volkswagen again, as long as I live. So... no, I don't think they've come a long way. I do have some nice memories of the original my father owned when we lived in Brazil in the late 70's, early 80's.
        Shiftright
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        First ones were horrible, they were actually good and even desirable at one point, now they're just big and bland
      reattadudes
      • 1 Year Ago
      ah, such fond memories of my neighbor's '74 Dasher. it was about 6 months old at the time, and never liked to start in cold weather. I was awakened many times to the sound of the tow truck backing down the narrow driveway between the two apartment buildings to hook the car in the garage. and absolute, utter piece of junk from day one. other than time passing, nothing really changes, does it?
      Krayzeeass
      • 1 Year Ago
      By my count there have only been five generations in Europe, and six in the US. The B4 was merely a facelift of the B3, and by that logic the B5 should be split into two generations as it had a significant facelift too. The current Euro Passat is merely a facelift as well. Why, the same could be said about the mk.6 Golf. Jus' sayin'.
      dukeisduke
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here in the US market, the B1 was known as the Dasher, and the B2 was called the Quantum. Also, the Dasher was only sold here as 3-door and 5-door hatchbacks, along with the wagon. The B1 Audi Fox (I had one) was sold as a 2- or 4-door sedan.
        aatbloke1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dukeisduke
        Everywhere else the B1 was a Passat and Audi 80, and the B2 was used for the Passat and Audi 80/90. US market nomenclature eventually fell in line with the rest of the world.
          dukeisduke
          • 1 Year Ago
          @aatbloke1967
          Correct. Also, Passats were sold (and built) in China as the Santana.
      Phil B
      • 1 Year Ago
      This was probably just me being an impressionable 10 year old but I always loved those early '90s Passats with no upper grille...they gave its face a certain Teutonic mystery to 'em that I always liked.
      wilkegm
      • 1 Year Ago
      I grew up in the back of a safety-orange B2 wagon. That thing had a 4speed manual and 1.3L powerhouse under the hood. it would do about 110 with a tailwind. Seems like dad was forever and a day patching rust-spots in the driveway before TUV inspections.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
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