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Did You Know There’s a Rare Lifted Convertible MK2 VW Golf Variant?

Blame the Italians.

Look hard enough, and you’ll find plenty of automotive oddities to draw you down the rabbit hole of the classic car internet. The folks at Volkswagen public relations clearly know this, because in their Throwback Thursday post for this week, the company reminisced about a short-lived and very rare car that was based loosely on the Mk2 Golf hatchback at the time: The VW Passo. The Passo was an all-wheel drive, off-road convertible that was slapped together by Biagini, an Italian company whose only vehicle appears to be this one. 

Biagini took the Golf in an odd direction, to say the least. The Passo was an Mk2 Golf Country underneath an Mk1 Golf Cabrio’s shell. If you’re not entrenched in VW history you might not have heard of the Country, which was a four-wheel-drive version of the car that has flared fenders, a factory lift, and a skid plate up front. The car had a raised ride height, external bull bar, and various parts borrowed from other manufacturers—a recipe for success by any measure—of course. Volkswagen says that with the top down, the Passo could carry five people, but the car’s 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine put a damper on any high-speed ambitions of the driver.

The Meyers Max-inspired buggy was originally meant for central and Eastern Europe, but VW says it’s unclear how many were actually built. Some believe there were 300 cars built, while others say that fewer than 100 ever saw the light of day. What is clear is that there are very few Passos still rolling around today, which according to Volkswagen is mostly due to lax rustproofing efforts on the Italian company’s behalf.

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