What a year for cars. VW Golf Mk3 replaced the Mk2 in 1991. What made it special?
Car magazine in 1994 deemed the Mk3 (as a VR6) sufficiently poorly made to warrant the re-use of their “Lemon” cover, first used in 1973. It’s interesting that Car would make a long-term test the subject of a whole front cover when they also had the opportunity to put an Aston Martin Vantage and Ferrari 456GT up front. That was then.
Perhaps criticism of the Mk3’s quality lay behind VW’s decision to launch a raft of special editions. Part of the promotional push involved sponsoring three stadium-scaled tours. In 1994 Pink Floyd received a subsidy, money which eventually might have ended up preserving David Gilmour’s collection of Ferraris. The Rolling Stones’ subvention came in 1995. And for 1996, Bon Jovi enjoyed the monetary largesse of VW’s PR department. VW designed special vinyl stickers to
garnish the special editions associated with the tours. A surprising number of these vehicles can still be seen so there must have been a lot of them made. Of the set, I have seen most Bon Jovi versions with the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd a distant second and third. While the graphics of the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi labels are remarkably artless, the Bon Jovi sticker is in quite serious capital letters with a tiny, tiny extra serif on the “B” to hint at the goth inclinations of heavy rockers.
VW produced a few more special editions, unassociated with stadium filling rock bands. The New Orleans, Movie, Savoy, Avenue and Europe editions celebrate nothing in particular. The “Special” special edition must be where the PR people gave up thinking of harmless-sound names.
The customary role of special editions is to find a way to label a version with a discounted assembly of options. It’s a notch below the trim designation where there really must be a proper 3D badge made. A trim designation must have some unique aspect beyond a paint colour and upholstery. The Wolfsburg edition nearly meets those criteria. It came with the 2.0 litre engine, a white-tan interior and, crucially here, smoked tail lamps which (I am assuming here furiously) were not available on other Golfs.
For 1997 VW nearly went down the American path of fitted, branded luggage. They veered off and linker their name to Trek and K2 sports goods. Customers of the K2 edition got a set of skis or a snowboard. Trek edition customers had a bike rack, and a VW-Trek bike. Naturally these cars had limited edition stickers to commemorate the whole deal. There were unique seating trims and fog lights too.
The big question now is, can you still find all this stuff? What would it cost to collect the entire set? I went looking in the used car ads to see if a particularly OCD person could gather one of each of these automotive jewels. In the next instalment I will trace a route across Europe in search of the set and try to estimate the cost of the travel and transport too.