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Turbocharged VW Mk2 Golf Rallye To Take Center Stage At Grid Icons with H&R
BY Sam Du //
October 19, 2023
Photography: Sam Du
  • The Mk2 Golf Rallye was a “homologation special” built by Volkswagen so the motorsport program could compete in the World Rally Championship. 
  • Only 5,071 units were manufactured and sold in Europe, making it one of the rarest Volkswagen models ever produced.
  • The second-generation Golf became an early trendsetter for being one of the first all-wheel-drive hot hatches and a precursor to the later R32 and Golf R.
  • Seasoned VW veteran and co-founder of fifteen52 Matt Crooke took ownership of this 1989 Golf Rallye last year, which was previously a demo vehicle for NGP Performance.
  • The Golf Rallye will be on display at the Pit+Paddock x H&R Grid Icons car show on October 22, 2023, at 405 Motoring in Los Angeles, CA.

Many people know me for owning Toyotas and running a JDM-focused car magazine, but my roots are in Volkswagens. To this day, I still have a special place in my heart for VWs and still own my first project car: a 2003 GTI 1.8T that’s tucked away in my garage at home. But before I jumped into the Mk4 chassis, my interest in Dubs started piquing with Mk1s, Mk2s and Mk3s. Oddly enough, Mk2 was one of my least favorite chassis because I wasn’t a fan of their boxy shape back then. However, as I grew older, I began to appreciate them more, and then of course, I finally discovered what would be the unicorn of all Mk2s: the Golf Rallye.


Volkswagen nerds will be the first to tell you that the Golf Rallye was the coolest thing ever built in Germany. Its boxy flares were reminiscent of the BMW E30 M3. It wore a unique grille, rectangular headlights, a special body kit, and housed some sweet Recaros. But the ultimate cool factor about the Golf Rallye was that it was a “homologation special”. Volkswagen manufactured the Rallye strictly so they could compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC). To do this, they had to build 5,071 of these Golfs, which came equipped with a permanent four-wheel-drive system and supercharged 1.8-liter engine. They didn’t know it at the time, but creating an AWD and boosted hot hatch would become the precursor to the highly successful Golf R.

How VW Motorsport did in the 1990 season of WRC is something they wish to forget, but because of those rally racing dreams, the Rallye Golf became an instant icon that still garners worldwide fandom today, and why VW veterans like Matt Crooke of California picked up this beautiful example late last year. 


I’ve known Matt since I got my start in the car industry; in fact, he was one of the first European-focused companies to exhibit in the early days of the SEMA Show when he was running Tuning Zubehor. Fast forward more than 20 years and he’s still doing what he loves in the scene, most notably co-founding fifteen52wheels and now running his own marketing/creative agency servicing clients like Mobil 1 and Luftgekulht. Matt has easily owned ten times more Volkswagens than the most hardcore of VW enthusiasts, and it’s no surprise he’s the happy owner of the rarest Golf ever to be produced.


His Golf Rallye is still a new piece in his collection. Its story started at NGP Performance where it was built as a shop car in 2006, then later featured in PVW Magazine in 2014. It’s far from a stock Rallye; however, judging from the outside you would never know besides its stance and Super Touring-inspired wheels. It’s powered by a European 2.9-liter 12v VR6 that’s been rebuilt using Wiseco pistons, a port and polished head, and Integrated Engineering rods. More upgrades followed with an Innovative turbo, 3” downpipe/exhaust, and a host of fueling components resulting in 350-wheel-horsepower. For a lightweight AWD hatchback that came with 158hp stock, this packs a mega punch!


Matt’s Mk2 isn’t something that the average car guy won’t be able to spot or understand, but that’s what makes it so cool, and what was truly wonderful about the modified VW scene back then – less is more, clean is better, OEM+ or bust! As we get older and begin to appreciate more understated vehicles and builds, it gives us more reason to honor our past, and why we’re excited to be hosting our next Grid Icons car show in LA this weekend celebrating performance-tuned Volkswagens that were popular in the ‘90s and through the early ‘00s.





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