Phaeton: writing off for advanced students

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Cars as an investment? Classics as an investment? Sometimes that sounds more like: “Investment Tering!”. Have you ever thought of investing in such a very rare Rolls-Royce beater: the Phaeton 6.0? That just might be the best investment right now. Our fashion model cost more than two tons in 2006. The VW XXXL is now for sale, fully documented and in top condition for € 8.950. Not with a top-class specialist, or a classic or a young timer dealer, but 'just' at Henk Jansens trading company in Beneden Leeuwen.

Phaeton, by Volkswagen

The Phaeton? That was an automobile from the absolute top segment. And VW put 'the brand' without an all too clear VW link. Because otherwise you would just think that it could be a Wave with kapsones. The Phaeton was presented at the Geneva Salon in 2002. And production continued until 2016. After that, a fully electric version was provided. However, due to lack of perspective, production was converted to that of the profitable idea E-Golf.

Better than the competition

The Phaeton was invented by Ferdinand Piëch, the then chairman of Volkswagen Group. Piëch wanted Volkswagen engineers to create a car that would surpass the German prestige market leaders Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The decision to release the Phaeton was also a reaction to Mercedes' decision to compete directly with Volkswagen on the European market with the cheap A-Class.

An image booster

The Phaeton was also intended to boost Volkswagen's brand image. Although the Volkswagen group already had a direct competitor in the luxury segment on the Audi A8, the Phaeton was intended as a more comfort-oriented limousine, such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS, and Rolls-Royce.

Thanks to Bentley

The Phaeton platform, the Volkswagen Group D1 platform, was shared with the Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Continental Flying Spur and would later be adapted for the Porsche Panamera. Certain systems, such as the automatic transmission and some engines, were also shared with the Audi A8.

Compared to the Audi A8L 4.2 liter FSI quattro, such a Phaeton is 247 kg heavier. But it is still competitive with the lighter A8, thanks to the Phaeton's greater power output (335 hp vs 330) and a shorter gear ratio (3,65: 1 vs 3,32). The development of this masterpiece led to more than a hundred individual patents specific to the Phaeton. Distinctive features include a draft-free climate system with four zones and the special standard four-wheel drive.

Comfort and speed

For high driving comfort, it introduced Adaptive Air Suspension with Continuous Damping Control (CDC). The same suspension system, with firmer settings, was introduced in November 2002 in the technically comparable Audi A8. The Pheaton was also the first Volkswagen to have an adaptive cruise control with radar: the automatic distance controller (ADR).


The Phaeton was assembled by hand in an eco-friendly factory with a glass exterior, the Transparent Factory in Dresden, Germany. That plant had a capacity of 20.000 vehicles per year and was intended to expand to 35.000 Phaetons per year. Unfortunately, sales were very disappointing. The customers were mainly in Germany itself, in China and South Korea. In 2006 the counter was - after 4 years - at over 25.000 pieces. Annual production remained at something like 6000 units.

A classic in the making? Worth something?

And that such a noble Anglo German is too new for a classic magazine / site? There is a fallacy in that approach. It is a matter of moment, time and vision. Because in my MTS time I was also declared crazy when I bought an 'old' but neat Mustang convertible for 400 guilders. A white with red trim. And with a V8. By the way, he left a year later for the same money. You could drive a neat Beetle for a few hundred guilders, a 2CV too. But times change. And those were once all cars that were worth nothing. We now know a very nice 2CV for 24.500 euros. And there is hardly any stretch in the asking price.

So maybe in 25 years or so, buying a used Phaeton will turn out to be the best retirement plan you can dream of. Maybe… But at least now it costs little. Still.

Also interesting to read:
- Yes, it also exists: Plymouth Phaeton PA Cabriolet. An exotic on the IJsselmeer
- Youngtimers stock in the Netherlands: strong growth since 2008
- Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II, the golden Rolls from Zsa Zsa Gabor
- The VW Golf Cabriolet by William Mast and the love for open driving
- The Jaguar XJ. The End of the Show


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  1. A new money-guzzling ego project from Piëch. Just like the bugati heavily lossy. I want to but cannot car. If one had the money for it, one bought an audi or id Marketing issue. Where this group is very cunning and handy

  2. Zeus threw a lightning bolt at Phaëton, it fell out of the wagon, crashed down and died.
    That is pathetic, no one wants to fall out of the car.
    And if you want to put a top model on the market and you named it after this sad mythological figure, it is at least as pathetic.
    Then you also hang it lavishly with flashy chrome emblems that say it is a car for the people, then you really have no chance.
    If, as a potential buyer, you nevertheless want to be seduced by the chic appearance and the luxurious interior, you will beat off on that horrible dashboard with that misplaced chrome clock.
    So I understand that it should not / could not be a success.

    • You are razor sharp in terms of marketing. Maarrrr. No success. So rare. So probably a lot of 'worth' in the future. Just like many other sought-after classics that no one previously wanted….

  3. People who have money for a top segment do not want to be associated with “civilian male brands” like VW or Citroën.
    And so the Phaeton for VW was what the C6 was for Citroën was… an expensive lesson.

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