Box flares? All-wheel-drive? Extra power? It should be no wonder why we fawn over homologation rally specials, and the Rallye Golf is no exception. To counter the likes of the Lancia Delta Integrale in the World Rally Championship, VW Motorsport crafted its own rally weapon. Take one 158-hp, supercharged “G60” 1.8-liter I-4, mate it with a five-speed manual transmission and the company’s Syncro all-wheel-drive system, and wrap it in monochromatic bodywork complete with flared fenders, and boom: you have the Golf Rallye. In order to appease the FIA’s rulebook, VW hand-built 5000 road-going homologation copies for sale to the public.
Had things gone a little differently years ago, a handful of those cars would have even been sold in the United States. Automobile had the fortune to drive one of a handful of U.S.-spec Rallye Golf prototypes VW brought to the states. “One run through the first few gears proves this is no mere tart-up job on a basic Golf,” we wrote. “The G-Lader engine pulls smoothly and evenly, feeling much like a normally aspirated engine of perhaps 50 percent greater displacement. Once the tach needle clears 3000 rpm, revs seem to build exponentially, the car lunging forward on a satisfying wave of rising noises.”
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. James Fuller, the Volkswagen of America executive most in favor of selling the car stateside, perished during the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing in December of 1988. Had VWoA proceeded to sell the car in America, it would have carried a steep price tag – early estimates suggested a Rallye Golf would have fetched nearly $24,000 in 1989, or roughly $10,000 more than a GTI 16V.