Volkswagen Golf Rallye

Remember when Volkswagen built its first Golf R car?
By Dejan Jovanovic, Features Writer
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March 19, 2017
Supplied

What's the point of buying a classic car if you're not going to drive it? We've never understood it -- keeping your classic pristine for the next owner to enjoy? Ridiculous.

That's why the vast majority of cars featured in Classic Corner are normally interesting but attainable classics, and often modern classics, too, young-timers, that can be enjoyed every weekend often regardless of weather, and maybe even daily driven, too.

This brings us to today's entry, which is just a Golf. But it's also a homologation-special Golf built by Volkswagen Motorsport specially to legalise the car for competition in the new World Rally Championship. So in that sense it shares something with the 288 GTO...

The lethal Group B era had come to an end and those fire-spitting gravel monsters were banned from racing, so manufacturers went back to their production lines and plucked cars freshly stock to turn them into new Group A rally cars.

Yes, fans were disappointed because they looked like the cars parked at their local supermarket, and went half as fast as the Group B cars, but within a couple of years steady development dropped stage times to below the Group B era. As for Wolfsburg, the VW giant decided to hit the forests with a Golf Rallye powered by a blown 1.8-litre eight-valve GTI engine, blistered and swollen arches and bodywork everywhere, plus some special wheels and spoilers. The resultant Golf Rallye certainly looked the part, and backed up the muscular body with all-wheel drive. The traction plus the relatively low 1.2-tonne kerb weight (which was actually deemed heavy in 1989) meant 0-100kph came in about 8.5 seconds.

That engine only made around 160bhp, which sounds like nothing today, at a time when you can have darn nearly 400bhp in a Focus or a Civic.

But as ever with the Eighties nostalgia hitting in for everyone who grew up in those days, the aggressive Rallye -- homologation rules stipulated a production run of 5,000 -- is a rare and desirable car today so don't expect prices of just any Mk2 Golf GTI. This thing cost twice as much as a GTI when new, and the gap has only widened with age. Today the best cars in Europe command Dh125,000, which is as much as a 2016 GTI.