1983 Volkswagen Golf II GTI | Volkswagen Cars
Volkswagen Cars: 1983 Volkswagen Golf II GTI

1983 Volkswagen Golf II GTI

Volkswagen Golf Mk II (1983–1992)

The second-generation Golf was launched in 1983 (launched in North America in 1985) and featured a larger bodyshell and a wider range of engine options, including a GTD (In euro markets, using the 1.6 'umwelt' diesel engine), a DOHC 1781 cc (1.8) 16-valve version of the straight-four GTI (as well as the tried and tested 1781 cc (1.8) 8v GTI), the supercharged 8v "G60" with 2wd and 4wd options, and a racing homologated variant of this, the "Rallye".

This Golf was marketed for the first time with that name in the United States and Canada. The Rabbit name used on the Mark I was meant to give a car a cuddly image, but with the eighties redesign of the car, Carl Hahn, the former Volkswagen of America president now chairman of the whole company, dictated that Volkswagen model names be standardized globally. James Fuller, head of the Volkswagen brand in North America, concurred in using the Golf name to stress the car's Teutonic character. The GTI continued to be sold as a trim level of the Golf in Europe, but in North America it was (and continues to be) marketed as a separate model line.

A very limited edition hand-built Golf II variant exists, including all of the best features available at the time. Designed and built by the Volkswagen Motorsport division, only 71 of these "G60 Limited" models exist; featuring a unique number and plaque, the G60 supercharger was combined with the 16-valve GTI engine, mated to a sports transmission and Syncro four wheel drive mechanism. All of these special edition models came in black, with four doors (except two in three door), a plain two-headlight grille (not the usual GTI four headlights) and a unique blue grille detail (not red, as the GTI) and motorsport badges. It is rumored that two models were produced with air conditioning. In 1989, these cars cost in the region of £25,000 each and were primarily sold to VAG executives and management, although a few exist in Britain as of 2005. These cars produced 212 bhp, making them the most powerful VW Golfs ever produced, until the introduction of the MkIV Golf R32 in 2003.

There was also a version called Golf Country, designed for light off-road driving. It had more suspension travel, four-wheel drive, bullbars (generally over a single headlight grill), a skidplate for protecting the engine area, and a spare wheel mounted externally on the back. In Europe it was offered with the acclaimed 114 bhp 1.8 8v petrol engine, and in smaller numbers, the 75 hp 1.6 GTD turbo diesel engine. The Golf Country was particularly popular in Alpine regions in central Europe.

During the life of the Golf II, there were a number of external style revisions. The most notable was the introduction of so called "Big Bumpers", which were introduced in the European market with the August 1989 facelift. Other notable changes to the looks of the Golf II include the removal of quarterlight windows in the front doors, in favor of single piece glass, and the introduction of larger grill slats with the August 1987 facelift.

As with the North American Rabbit, the second-generation Golf was produced in Pennsylvania. When sales in North America failed to live up to expectations and with increasing productions costs, the Westmoreland plant was closed in July 1988. Subsequent Golfs sold in North America came from Germany and Mexico. The Mark II Golf was discontinued in Europe in 1991, but Mexican-made Mark II models remained available in North America for another year.

The GTI was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1985, as well as VWVortex's "Best Golf of all time". The MkII GTI failed to make the same waves as the MkI, and failed to win back the Golf GTI's fanbase which had adopted the Peugeot 205 GTI. In North America, where Peugeot did not sell the 205 in any guise, Volkswagen faced tough competition from the Honda Civic S (later Si).

As with the Mk1, there was a "warm hatch" version known as the Golf Driver. Introduced in 1988, it featured the GTI's exterior styling, namely the twin front headlamps, and wheelarch spoilers but with a standard 1.6 L engine. For the last year of production, the Driver was given a carburetted version of the GTI's 1781 cc engine.