Volkswagen Mk3 Golf special editions

We’ve got the underrated and usually overlooked Mk3 Golf (1992-’98) down as a future classic. We even published a buying guide here. It’s a great car, with a lot more standard equipment than its predecessor the Mk2 – and it’s much more refined and comfortable. That said, you’ll rarely see the word ‘Mk3’ and ‘special’ in the same sentence. Unless you’re talking about the various Mk3 Golf special editions…

Ryder

Offered from May 1993, the 1.4 Ryder was available in both three and five-door body styles. Looking at it, we’re not exactly sure what made it ‘special’ because it didn’t get alloys or a fancy interior and looked pretty bland to be honest. The white one in the brochure (below) didn’t even get a sunroof – so we’re not sure where Volkswagen added its value?

Mk3 Golf Ryder

Game, set and – Match

Available from June 1994 at the same time as the Polo version, the Golf Mk3 Match was available in 1.4 and 1.9D guise and came with a number of extras, totalling £1,000. These included a Sony CD player with removable front panel, six-spoke alloys, power steering and special ‘Match’ graphics. We’re uncertain as to what the name refers to – Britain’s favourite sport, perhaps, or maybe the fact that the interior trim matches the colour of the bodywork.

Mk3 Golf Match

Driver – the GTI lookalike…

People always liked the Mk3 Golf Driver from 1993 because it looked sporty, but wasn’t nearly as expensive to buy or insure as the GTi. It had the 90bhp 1.8 engine and 6Jx14 ‘Orlando’ alloys, pin striping, smoked rear light lenses, a discreet rear spoiler mounted on the tailgate, central locking, an electric glass tilt/slide sunroof, green tinted heat insulating glass all round and power steering as standard and cost £12,200 when new. It was available in Tornado Red, Alpine White, Green Pearl Effect, Bright Blue Metallic and Turkis Metallic with either black or beige ‘Morse Stripe’ cloth interior.

Mk3 Golf Driver

European Tour Editions

During the mid-1990s, VW sponsored three European tours by world famous rock bands, namely Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi. To commemorate the occasion, three special edition Golfs were launched with alloys, the band’s name on the rear flanks and a more flash interior (with the band’s name embroidered into the headrests). The Pink Floyd version was also available in Cabriolet guise. Various other trinkets were available with the bands’ names on them, including keyrings, models, T-shirts, pens and even braces. Well, it was the 1990s…

Mk3 Golf Bon Jovi

Harlequin

You’ve possibly spotted a Polo Harlequin here; it’s unlikely you would have seen the Mk3 Golf version because it was only available in the US (although we were lucky to be visited by one earlier in the year) Painted in Tornado Red, Ginster Yellow, Pistachio Green and Chagall Blue, if you saw one – you would certainly remember it. Based on the five-door GL model and manufactured in VW’s Pueblo factory in Mexico, the Harlequin was made for the 1996 model year. There’s actually a Harlequin register, which estimates that of the 264 made, just 107 survive.

Colour Concept

Available for the 1996 model year, the GTI Colour Concept was possibly one of the most flamboyant of all the Mk3 Golf special editions. It came in vibrant yellow, red, blue or green. Leather in the same colour as the exterior covered the Recaro seats, doorcards, gear knob and gaiter. The steering wheel was also covered in leather, with colour co-ordinated stitching. Other unique features included 6.5Jx15 ‘Solitude’ alloy wheels and silver faced instruments.

 

20th Anniversary

As its name would suggest, this was a Mk3 Golf special edition made to celebrate 20 years of VW’s GTi model. Precisely 1,000 were made in three- and five-door guise with special chequered Recaro seats, red seatbelts, half-chrome and leather golf ball gearlever knob, and red stitching for the steering wheel and handbrake gaiter. The red theme continued on the piping for the floor mats and brake calipers. It also sported 16×7 split rim BBS alloys, similar to those found on the VR6. Of the 1,000 made, there were 600 8v and 150 16v models. The remainder were the TDi, but these weren’t available in the UK.

Other specials

Special edition were usually launched to attract publicity, or give customers added value by throwing in a free sunroof, a better stereo, different wheels or a spruced up interior. So when the marketing department saw an opportunity to boost sales, another one was made available. Other Mk3 Golf special editions included the New Orleans, Europe, Movie, Joker and Savoy. When they resorted to simply using the badge ‘Special’ they’d obviously run short of ideas…

Ian

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.

 

12 responses to: Volkswagen Mk3 Golf special editions


  1. What about Golf Mk3 vans? They were pretty special.
    I believe they entered the UK as a 3 door car and were converted to a van at VW van centres using rear window panels, a load space floor and bulk head.
    I had an M reg 95 plated one in red that I used for many years and stupidly sold on.

  2. The Ryder, Driver and Match all make something of the Golf name, as does the golf ball gear lever in the GTI Anniversary. Possibly the most notable “special” was the Highline. The top of the range Mk3 came with full leather, BBS solitude wheels and a 2.8 litre VR6 engine. The cars didn’t have any of the GTI body trim and were available only in Pearl Black or Purple.

    Of course one of the most special specials was the still-born Golf A59. This was queued up to replace the Rallye as an all out motorsport machine. Only a handful were ever actually produced and those left live in museums.

    1. Thanks Steve, you’re spot on with the Golf link. The Highline was a lovely car and rightly sought after today of course. We did a blog post on the Golf A59 here if you haven’t read it already. Ian

  3. There were much more than 600 8v and 150 16v 20th anniversary models, maybe those numbers were just for the UK, but in the rest of Europe there were and still exits lots of anniversary mk3s. Depending on the country they have Recaro or standard gti seats with GTI logo in the fabric, and I think (not sure thought) that Climatronic was not available for all countries.

    1. Dani, you are correct in what you say.

      600 8V and 150 16V models for the UK – TDI models were not available in the UK. This (incorrect) information was copied from Wikipedia.

      Europe didn’t appear to be restricted to the numbers produced and Climatronic wasn’t available in the Anniversary models in the UK. A graphic equalizer was available as an option too for some European countries, not the UK though.

  4. Here for sale is my 1995 Volkswagen Golf MK3 GTI in Flash Red colour concept, only 1000 ever built.
    This is a very rare opportunity to buy an Amazing Colour Concept.

    Mileage 157,000 Manual transmission

    Concept Red leather interior
    with heated seats
    Air Conditioning
    Full electrics

    4 new tyres fitted 4000 miles ago
    New crankshaft sensor
    New coil
    New rear shocks last year
    New ECU relay

    Bad things:

    It’s a nonstarter ATM
    Keyed on bonnet
    Engine and gearbox mounts need replacing
    Movement in both front seat backs

  5. Did they ever make a Bon Jovi cabriolet? I’ve seen a guy at a meet who Cab looks all there, with a factory TDI?!? Is this true? A special order perhaps?

  6. Not very accurate in regards to the Colour Concept, not in just yellow, red, blue and green !
    I have a 3 door MK3 GTI Colour Concept in Black Magic.

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