We spend an awful lot of time banging on about ‘high mileage heroes’ here at Car Throttle. Recently our editor-in-chief Alex Kersten bought a 217,000-mile Techno Violet BMW 330i, and it wasn’t so long ago that we were poking around a half million-mile Audi A4. Hopefully Miles the Skoda, still going on strong beyond 430k miles, should need no introduction.
If we were so inclined, this VW Phaeton could be the jewel in the crown of our well-travelled steeds. In terms of distance covered it’s roughly in the middle of the cars mentioned earlier with around 360,000-miles on the clock, but c’mon - it’s a Phaeton. Aren’t you curious to know how a famously over-engineered car copes with such a figure?
The Phaeton was the final project of the late Ferdinand Piech, then VW’s chairman. The story goes that Piech insisted the team stuck to 10 ‘parameters’ he thought up himself, which were said to be so demanding it was initially deemed impossible to meet them all. Of these, only two are public knowledge.
The most quoted of the two is the climate control’s ability to keep the cabin at 21 degrees celsius with the car bombing along at 186mph in 50-degree ambient heat. Not that any Phaeton could go that fast out of the box - the most powerful ones were electronically limited to 155mph.
The development process saw the filing of 100 patents specifically for Phaeton tech. This was a VW like no other, but it simply had the wrong badge to succeed in the luxury market. There were hopes to shift 20,000 a year, but in the end, VW managed less than a quarter of that figure. The company lost a huge amount of money on the car, as did anyone who paid cash for one, with hellish depreciation hitting every Phaeton the moment it left the showroom.
Buyers can now use this to their advantage, with even the fanciest Phaetons going for a fraction of their original cost. Our pick for today, for instance, is up for a mere £2,500. And Although the quality of the images on the Autotrader advert is shocking, it looks to be in remarkable condition considering the lofty mileage figure. There doesn’t even look to be much bolster wear on the grey leather seats.
As for how good an idea it is to buy such a leggy Phaeton, there are two ways of looking at it. On the one hand, yes, these are complicated cars, and not everything on it is going to last forever. At some point, something will have to be replaced, and this could end up being expensive. On the other hand, given the kind of resources VW hurled at this thing, it might stand the test of time better than the average luxury barge of the era.
It certainly helps that this particular Phaeton, the facelift model, has a nice, simple V6 diesel engine. It does have only a month of MOT left, which is never the most promising sign, but it did pass last time with no advisories.