As Monday mornings go, my one wasn’t bad. For a few hours I had the opportunity to shoot a stunning Dragon Green Corrado VR6 in the small Norfolk town of Attleborough.
A brief history
The Volkswagen Corrado was first produced in 1988 and manufactured by Karmann, who were the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany until 2009. Overlapping the production of the Scirocco and eventually superseding it, the Corrado was built to accommodate the growing sporty-coupe car market and in typical German fashion it absolutely dominated it. Widely regarded as one of the greatest VW driver cars (Auto Express UK), the Corrado combines superb styling with excellent performance. Spanning an eclectic range of variant models produced over its seven-year production, it dominated the market with nearly 100,000 units sold. Not bad for a sporty coupe, especially when it rivalled cars such as the Nissan 200SX, Ford Probe 24V, Alfa Romeo SZ and BMW Z1.
The mechanical elements of the Corrado were a huge reason as to why it became successful. All Corrados were front-wheel drive, petrol powered cars that were bolted down to a light weight chassis. Over the production span there was a choice of 5 different engines, ranging from the 1.8L I4 engine right up to the hugely desirable 2.9L VR6. The VR6 is by far the most wanted variant of the Corrado, producing 190bhp and 180 torque the car could shift from 0-60mph in just 6.9 seconds, which is blisteringly quick even compared to today’s standards. The power delivery is smooth, which made it more appealing than some of its rivals such as the 200SX since there was no turbo lag to worry about. This meant that it was always fastest off the line and unlike some of its rivals you could be sure that it would still run the next day.
After reading the weather forecast the day before the shoot I was not looking hopeful, heavy rain was expected and I really didn’t fancy getting wet. However, on the day of the shoot I was blessed with intermittent sunshine and cloud that served as a very nice diffuser which helps get rid of harsh sun light reflections. Very kindly the owner and his dad picked myself up from the station in the VR6.
My first reaction was “What a colour!”. The Dragon Green paint really stands out in the sunlight and is potentially one of my favourite colours I’ve ever seen on a car. As I hopped in the back on the way to the first shoot location I did notice a downside to the car, Volkswagen don’t exactly prioritise legroom! Soon after getting in this didn’t matter though as the VR6 roared into life I instantly became fixated upon the continuous beat of 6 cylinders firing.
Talking to the owner about the car, he told me he had always been a fan of the Corrado. From a young age he even played in it on Forza!
Asking the owner why he bought the car, he told me ‘I was at a car show in Bury St Edmunds and saw that it had a for sale sign’. ‘Joking to my dad about suggesting to-buy the car, one thing led to another and it actually happened’. The car was purchased to get enjoyment out of driving it but also because of its potential as an investment opportunity. Values are rising steadily, and the later models such as the VR6 are selling at very respectable prices.
An element of the styling that caught my eye almost immediately after parking up was the rear wing, which automatically is raised at 45mph and then retracts at 15mph. The Corrado had one of the first production pieces of active aero fitted to a car, which is quite remarkable considering it has 4 seats and a big boot. Its styling was well ahead of its time with the defining lines and angles making it instantly recognisable. You can also manually raise the wing, which makes for some pretty cool photos!
The owner of the car has had it for little over a year, with the vast majority of the car still being stock. Mechanically it ran silky smooth for the whole day, however it did struggle to start on one occasion! Apart from that the only other fault was a broken sun roof. The previous owner lowered the car 4cm which explained the bumpy ride however the current owners are planning to revert this back to stock. Aside from this modification the only other mod will be a stainless-steel exhaust, quite a relief when looking at the huge amounts of heavily modified Corrados.
On the motorway to the second location, the owner put his foot down and the car roared into life. Rather surprisingly a lot quicker than I expected. Even with the windows up you could hear the V6 produce a glorious sound as he hit 5,000 RPM.
Being quite expensive to repair if things were to go wrong, the car is mainly driven to car shows and to Corrado events. Despite this I’m sure that when raised to the stock height it would become quite a bit more practical and potentially more useable as a result.
After nearly getting chucked out of the second shoot location (an industrial estate), we finished up and I was given a lift back to Attleborough station where I had a 40-minute wait ahead of me for the next train. This gave me some time to reflect upon my morning with the Corrado, and what the car means to people within the community.
The Corrado is a hugely influential and iconic car of the 1990s yet rather ironically not many people know it exists. Without it, we would not have engines such as the W12 and W16 (the engine in a Veyron!), as they are all loosely related to the VR6 engine. It also revolutionised active aero on road cars, something that not even supercars were doing at the time.
The Corrado is and always will go down in history as a truly incredible classic that shaped the way we look at super-coupes, I’m just glad I had the opportunity to spend time with one while they're still knocking about.