Gallery: The Golf Country Was Built by the Same Crew that Built the Original G-Wagen

The G-Wagen may now be more common on Rodeo Drive than in the forest, but it should be remembered that the name stands for Geländawagen or “terrain vehicle.” Like the Land Rover, it was a serious off-road vehicle before it became a fancy on-road vehicle.

And the people who actually made it Steyr-Daimler-Puch are the same people Volkswagen chose to make the Golf Country. The company received pre-assembled AWD Golf Syncros in Austria and a rebuilding process that involved more than 438 unique parts took place.

Steyr effectively lifted the Golf by nearly four and three-quarter inches giving it more than seven inches of ground clearance. That came thanks to a revised suspension and a largely tubular lower subframe.

Other mods included underbody protection, a rear-mounted tire carrier, four auxiliary front lights, and front and rear bumper guards.

Despite all the extra weight, VW and Steyr-Daimler-Puch agreed that the standard 1.8-liter was making more than enough power and that anyone who wanted more than 97 hp was just going to have to get it themselves. With slightly lower gearing than on a standard Syncro, though, the car feels plenty peppy, or so says VWoA, which furnished us with these lovely images.

“The Golf Country won’t be giving any GTI a run for its money, but it can cut through a field to get to the finish line first,” writes VW. “There is pronounced body roll in cornering that may catch modern Volkswagen drivers by surprise—the Country is a Golf that loves to lean in. But overall, the drive experience is nothing if not charming—even 30 years on.”

Altogether, only 7,735 of these tall boys were made from 1990 to 1991. That didn’t stop VW and Steyr from putting out a few limited editions, though. The Chrome edition, for instance, put chrome trim over the bumpers and wheels, and provided owners with a more luxurious interior. Only 558 of these shiny boys were made.

The special edition that’s likely to cause the most drool, though, is the Wolfsburg Edition, which threw out the standard engine in favor of a 105 hp, 16-valve GTI engine. According to VW, only about 50 of these were made.