The 1989 Volkswagen Montana concept had one problem - the public loved it
The concept was rather simple - lift a Volkswagen Golf Mark 2 to a ridiculous height to intrigue Geneva Motor Show attendees and create some fun press. There was one problem, the public fell in love.
Volkswagen introduced the Montana concept at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show. Those who saw it, in print, on TV, or in person started heading to their dealerships requesting one like it. Volkswagen didn't anticipate this. They had no plans to bring the model to production.
The noise from consumers finally caused Volkswagen to take notice. The Golf Country was born.
In 1990 the Golf Country became an early foray into the crossover category, predating the Toyota RAV4's introduction by four years.
It wasn't just its origins that were unconventional. Production was as well. Pre-assembled all-wheel-drive Golf Syncro vehicles were shipped from Germany to Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Graz, Austria where the conversion from four-wheel drive Golf Syncro to Golf Country took place.
The frame was lifted 4.72 inches giving the model more than seven inches of ground clearance. It had 438 uninque parts that changed it from a Syncro to a Country including a revised suspension, front and rear bumper bars, a rear-mounted tire carrier, four additional auxiliary front lights, and underbody armor. Aftermarket parts like a Thule roof rack and PIAA light bar could be fitted.
Like the Syncro the front-wheel drive County was powered by a 97-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine.
Today, the Golf Country is rare. Just 7,735 vehicles produced in two years from 1990 to 1991. Rarer still is one of the few special editions that were offered, such as the "Chrome," which featured chrome trim on the retrofitted tubular steel bumpers and wheels, along with a better-appointed interior. Only 558 Golf Country Chrome editions were produced, and they were sold at a premium over the already expensive utility vehicles.
The specialty "Wolfsburg Edition" models, which came with the more powerful 16-valve GTI engine, were even rarer with just a handful making their way to the U.S.