Welcome back to the party. If you caught my first coverage of VW Days 2022, you’d have seen my promises of a second course, one made up of all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that goes above and beyond what you might expect to see at a single-make car show.
Let’s open up with a classic recipe – a VW Golf on BBS wheels, but this time cooked with a whole load of spicy seasoning in the form of a Rieger GTO wide-body kit.
Whilst today Rieger are a tuning house who focus on more subtle aesthetic mods for VWs, in the 1980s and ’90s they were known for flamboyant bodykits that turned Golfs and Corrados into spaceships from… well, the ’80s.
If you aren’t into the MK2, perhaps the MK1 is more your thing. VW Days has something for every car enjoyer.
You don’t need wider arches in order to stand out from the crowd here. As the show is for both the tuning part of the VW community as well as the classic car owner, rare Dubs could found all over the place.
This one really got me Googling – a Mk2 Golf 16S. No, not 16V, a 16S. I’ve never seen this badging before, so at first I thought it was an aftermarket touch of some sort. But it had the badges everywhere, including on the dashboard and stickers in the rear windows. As it turns out, the ‘S’ stands for ‘soupapes’ which translates to ‘valves’. Yup, it’s a 16V, with French factory badging all round.
Another unusual gem was this original B1 Passat. Known amongst enthusiasts as the ‘Typ 32′, this model laid the foundations for the Golf’s big brother and the successes it still sees in the present day.
I had more head-scratching moments with this yellow… Scirolf? Golocco? While VW never made a Scirocco convertible, the original hatchback is based on the VW Golf. It didn’t take long before clever VW enthusiasts figured out that you can stick the Scirocco front end on a VW EOS (the name of the convertible Golf) and create an OEM-looking Frankenstein concoction of the two.
VW naming conventions really are all over the place. Another example of how different shapes of the same car received different names is the VW Santana. Based on the B2 hatchback Passat (the model after the orange car above), the Santanas were actually built in China. This car began China’s manufacturing involvement with VW, something that still exists today.
To add to the naming confusion, after VW face-lifted the Santana saloon in 1985, they decided to drop the Santana name and adapted the original Passat name onto the remaining production line of these cars. So yes, you could essentially buy the same car with two different names from the same manufacturer.
Here’s an iconic car that most readers will be aware of, but most would have never seen. The original Audi RS2 came as an estate only, and was never available in the USA. Those in the know see this car as the grandaddy to the modern day, supercar-killing Audi estates.
The RS2s are scarce at the best of times, so seeing an original one on air suspension and split wheels is a rare sight indeed.
And parked next to it? A homologation special Mk2 Rallye Golf. Think factory 4WD and 160bhp with the wide flares present – all in line with the other homologated legends of the day, including the Lancia Delta and E30 BMW M3. Again, the Golf was never available in the US, but not because VW didn’t want them in the states.
Here’s some more nerdy trivia for you: VW sent seven of these Rallyes to the US for evaluation and crash-test purposes. Volkswagen America’s vice president at the time, James Fuller, was a huge advocate for getting this model in the US line up, however, in 1988, he was tragically killed in terrorist attack which saw a planted bomb go off on his flight above Scotland.
Fuller’s executive-level peers didn’t fancy the Rallye as much as he had, and with his replacement in place came the new understanding that the model was simply too expensive to bring to America.
But here’s a model the American readers can hold with pride: the Mk3 Golf Harlequin. With under 250 made, and all for the US, seeing a genuine Harlequin in Europe is uncommon. Check out the wheels too, straight out of a ’90s import car tuning magazine.
It would be rude not to cover the other VAG products on show at VW Days, so let’s kick things off with a hybrid Porsche Panamera. This model is nod to the future, showing that whilst internal combustion engines are destined to one day meet their demise, the aftermarket sector will live forever and us car owners will continue to strive for individuality through things like air suspension and aftermarket wheels.
Here’s another one for our American readers – the Seat Leon Cupra R estate. Essentially a Golf GTI in a Seat, big-booty body it makes for a great blend of practicality and fun. Also, it’s Spanish, and that makes it sexy.
A quick trip down Seat memory lane reveals more hot hatch goodness. While the Leon is like the Golf, the Ibiza is like the Polo. Despite not being that old, the Mk2 is rare even here in Europe, especially the UK. A subtle drop and OEM wheels gives it some bonus road presence too.
Before the Mk2, of course, came the Mk1. I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time in a Mk1 GTI in the past, and they leave a real spell on those who experience them. A peppy engine and charming interior are all part of the package.
Another fast Audi, this time in the super saloon flavour. The original RS6 is a model that never got the attention it deserved, and was generally outsold by its competition (the E55 AMG and M5.)
But the VAG charm and build quality really puts it in a league of its own. The model’s scarcity also makes it sought after today.
Let’s jump away from the VAG stuff for the last chunk of this article. If you’ve been reading my Speedhunters posts for a while now, you’ll be well aware of my affiliation with BMWs, so naturally I’ll touch on this first.
And what a place to start – this car blew me away. Little compares in character to a standard out-of-the-box E30, but this one is far more special. This is a legit, fully-bred AC Schnitzer E30 S3, housing a bored-out version of the M20B25 – a 2.7L M20B27 – producing roughly 210bhp. It’s an extremely rare car with equally rare, full AC Schnitzer kit and engine. Interior, wheels and livery also fittingly in theme. The plaque on the dash tells us that this is build number 0034. Simply brilliant.
Many of the cars at VW Days were on air suspension, including this Jaguar XJ300 running a set of rare Weds Kranze LXZs. I love the way the chrome faces and lips tie in perfectly with the chrome trim throughout the car. Chrome is classy, and perfectly suited to a big boat of this nature, especially a Jaguar.
I’ve left my personal favourites until last. Hidden in the corner of the event flew a Brazilian flag representing a couple cars running matching ‘Low Family’ stickers. A Chrysler 300C dumped on 24-inch TIS wheels…
…Next to a dumped Range Rover Sport on a matching set of 24-inch DUB Edition wheels. My mind was instantly transported back to the early ’00s era.
My weekend went from looking at VW Golfs, learning about what makes them and other VAG cars tick, before drastically escalating into motors you’d see in a 2003 DUB magazine. It’s a nice metaphor for my time in France as a whole. I’ve been before and knew what to expect, but nothing could prepare me for a dumped Range Rover sport on 24-inch wheels. I love it, and I’m looking forward to going back already.