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Rally Legend in the VW Golf: Golf in San Marino

Arturo Rivas
Rally Legend in the VW Golf
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Our first rendezvous took place in Buxtehude - on the first ring, a rally cross track near Hamburg. For the VW Golf II from 1987 in Group H-Trim it was almost a home game, as it was active in the Swedish Rally Cross Championship.
F For its second career, the Golf was given a passenger seat. In addition, the license plate 'WOB-DW 89', which had already been worn in 1987 by a works car. On top of that there was the look of the Bandama emergency car.

The VW Golf II still felt quite comfortable on the rally cross track. I quickly got used to the five-speed dogbox gearbox, which the Swedish tuner Sellholm modified and reinforced. Instead of the 1.8-liter engine from the GTi, a two-liter four-cylinder works here. Its 225 hp are transferred to the two front wheels via a lamella lock. The Golf demands a strong hand on asphalt, when it pulls hard on the steering. It's easier to get there on gravel. If there are tighter turns, the chauffeur has the chance to help with the handbrake. You turn on the Golf a bit and pull the handbrake lever that rises up next to the gearshift lever. If the timing is right, you don't have to turn the wheel at all, just stay on the gas.

We tried a few hardness levels on the rear shock absorbers. And then decide that the VW Golf II should have harder springs for its second career, the use in the San Marino Rally. When I saw Per Eklunds Pierburg-Golf in the paddock in San Marino, I realized: Our car is way too high. After the first test test on undulating asphalt with some gravel, but a lot of dirt from the many short cuts across the meadow, I changed my mind: Maybe a taller car is not so bad here.

Slide at the Rallye Legend

While the Pirelli rain tires had proven to be quite good in the morning test, everything suddenly changed in the evening at the start. Already on the way to the prologue I had doubts about the tire choice for the VW Golf II. We had zero traction on the two-lane driveway to San Marino. And we were not alone in that: Rally champion Markku Alen drove a Lancia 037 and said: 'I was really scared. I only had the wheels spinning, no matter what gear.'

I stood on one nasty slide. But it got worse. The wheels of the VW GolfII went crazy. Instead of the possible 8,000 tours, I put the next gear in at 5,000. Which didn't really help. And once the load was in motion, it was correspondingly difficult to slow it down again.

In the cockpit of the VW Golf II, something like despair spreads. Not only with me, but also with my copilot Peter Thul. Arrived at the destination, Per Eklund was still at the control. And Peter said: 'We caught up. The comparison of times made it clear: We weren't that badly slid across the slippery parquet - and had lost the grandmaster twelve seconds.

VW Golf II with a broken drive shaft

The next day it should get really serious. One stage by day, a second by night. Contrary to the weather forecast, the rain was not less, but heavier.

And on the second stage there was an immediate one Aha experience: At the finish it burned under the VW Golf II. I could see the flames through the holes in the floor pan. So full throttle to service. A bit hectic. But the problem was quickly recognized. The handbrake lever had suffered a bit on the test, stood And the brake fluid had dripped from the small brake cylinder not only into the interior but also onto the exhaust pipe - and ignited. It only took minutes, then the brake cylinder was sealed - on to the next one n exam.

If Saturday was rainy, the sun shone on Sunday - and it was just damp. Time for lightly cut slicks and a good dose of motivation. But it was gone after a few meters. It went quickly to a small town, flavored with a chicane that elegantly led into a right branch. That was what the note said, that was how Peter had read it. But the pilot and VW Golf II continued to flow quickly. Reverse gear in. Anger in the stomach. And straight into the next mistake. A narrow path leads into a main street. Peter warns: 'No handbrake, go far back.'

The VW Golf II comes around the corner with a lot of momentum - and slides into the next problem. The main street is divided into two parts, and we stream towards the opposite lane - right in front of a barrier tape and a spectator trellis. So again in reverse. And I realize that when you attack, you should train the key points more intensively. A drive shaft collapses on the final test. But we come out of the test, roll to the finish and make it over the ramp. The Golf II has mastered its first rally adventure with flying colors.


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