Family Album. Volkswagen special models have been popular since 1955. It’s a real cast of characters.
WHEN PRODUCTION OF the one millionth Volkswagen Beetle was celebrated in Wolfsburg on August 5, 1955 all eyes were on one particular model. It was painted in gold metallic—with real gold dust, in fact. It had a customized interior and was lavishly decorated with sparkling cut stones on the chrome parts. It certainly was an eye-catcher. Unfortunately (er, fortunately?), it remained a one-off. But that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be other great Volkswagen special editions over the years.
Seventeen years down the line, things were done a little different with the World Champion Beetle. On February 17, 1972 the Beetle exceeded what had been the most produced vehicle in the world—the Ford Model T—with the 15,007,034th Beetle rolling off the production line. The World Champion model came in a special marathon blue metallic with special World Champion wheel rims, black cord seats, halogen lamps, reversing lights, a medal and a certificate. (After all, this was a limited-edition special model.) The World Champion model could only be ordered between February 19 and March 31 of 1972. This 1302 S Beetle proved to be a real hit and now enjoys cult status. More special editions would soon follow. Here are just a few.
Volkswagen makes the Polo wear the trousers
Volkswagen carried the idea of attractive special models over to the Polo. Volkswagen intended this smart Polo especially for young people with limited funds but plenty of flair for fashion. The special Jeans Polo model of 1976 was limited to 9,000 vehicles and was available to order in August and September of that year. It was followed by a second edition of this ‘car for fun, casual and smart people’ in 1978. With special colours used for the paintwork, jeans material on the seats, studs for decor and snap fastener pockets on the front seats, this really took the world by storm.
The Pirelli GTI
From May to October of 1983, Volkswagen offered a model which was quite a treat—and you can still see a few rare examples on the road today: the Golf I GTI Pirelli. It combined the nimbus GTI with 1.8-litre displacement, 112 hp engine and contemporary décor: Bumpers and wing mirrors in the same colour as the vehicle paintwork, specially-designed Pirelli aluminium rims and a limited choice of colours. Only around 10,500 cars were built.
Fire, ice and dynamite
The special “Fire and Ice” Golf II of 1990 is particularly memorable. It coincided with the cinema release of Fire, Ice and Dynamite, a film made by professional skier and designer Willy Bogner Jr. The Golf II played an important role in this action movie. With its unmistakable “dark violet pearl-effect” paintwork (depending on the incidence of light, the colour spectrum ranges from aubergine to near black), a colour-coordinated interior, extended fenders, bumpers partly painted in the colour of the car and “Estoril” aluminium wheels, the “Fire and Ice” is considered to be one of the extra-special special Volkswagen models. In all, 16,700 were made.
Let the music play
The Polo Genesis and Golf III Pink Floyd special models are prime examples of Volkswagen partnerships with big-name music partners. The first tied in with the sponsorship and tour of the well-known British band Genesis, involving more than a million fans at 24 concerts in 17 countries. The special Polo Genesis model was released as a GT and a G40 in June 1992. The 13-inch BBS alloy wheels, partially darkened tail lights and, of course, a Genesis sound system made the Genesis possibly the most attractive of all Polo 2F models. The Golf III Pink Floyd was released in 1994, and was adorned with the unmistakable Pink Floyd lettering and emblems, equipped with a quality sound system and—at the request of band member David Gilmour—it was the most environmentally-friendly engine at the time.
The Super Beetle
Volkswagen’s special models idea was catapulted into a whole new dimension in 2000 with the arrival of the dynamic New Beetle RSI: 225 hp from six cylinders, four-wheel drive, 3.2-litre displacement, a lowered chassis, an impressive body kit in the colour of the car and a striking rear wing, the special Beetle RSI model clearly-shared automotive genes with its racing sibling, the Cup Beetle. The interior was dominated by Tropic Orange leather, anthracite-coloured Alcantara and carbon. A sporty ignition button and bucket seats came as standard. Only 250 were built.