The Volkswagen ownership experience in any corner of the world has a certain consistency to it. Whether you own a classic VW Bus in Rio de Janeiro, a sleek Karmann Ghia in Geneva, a thoroughly modern Passat in the congested roads of London or a Beetle based surf buggy in California, the VW badge stands for two things; German build quality and the undying spirit of connecting with the people who drive and own them.
The same is true for Zaeem Aziz and his Volkswagen Golf, right here in Dhaka. Asad Moyeen, restorer of classics and owner of Motorwerks, the classic restoration experts in Dhaka, bought the Golf from a German diplomat. It was kept stock, and eventually found its way into the hands of brothers Imran and Zaeem Aziz in 2011.
With a very low mileage of 34,000 kilometres on the clock, its easily one of the lowest mileage Mark 2 Volkswagen Golfs on the planet, as confirmed by internet forums and VW Golf owners clubs. The paint is completely original and has never been touched up, with no instance of bodywork fixes in the car's history. As with low mileage German cars, there's no evidence of rust anywhere on the body, and a peek underneath reveals the same is true for the chassis. As an important low mileage relic of European motoring history and largely original aside from a few personalising touches here and there, the Golf is a certified classic.
The first step to personalising the Golf was giving it a few GTI inspired touches, with badging and red exterior trim,GTI spec bumpers, fenders, grille and rear spoiler. The front has the quad headlights as per the GTI spec, while the taillights are smoked.Tasteful selection of Euro stickers finish off the exterior.
The interior is pristine, a cocoon of striped fabric and spotless plastics. The only update is a modern stereo and the genuine Nardi steering wheel, which is so beautiful that my editor and I considered nicking the car just for the steering.
The squat, low stance of the Golf is achieved via Eibach lowering springs, while the BBS style alloys and low profile tyres set it nicely on the ground with minimal wheel to fender gap. It's not as extreme as other examples of tuned and lowered Volkswagens elsewhere, but considering Zaeem's goal was to keep the Golf as original as possible, the subtle modifications are more than enough to compliment its character.
Under the hood beats a carbureted 1.6 litre 4 cylinder, which developed around 70 horsepower. That doesn't sound like its fast or even sprightly, at least on paper. Here's the catch though, on the road, the Golf has a surprising amount of pace and it feels quite fast. The engine note is typical of late 80's carbureted engines: wheezy at low revs but when the revs build, it's a solid mechanical noise that gives off the impression of a higher displacement motor. The noise is further amplified through the Cherry Bomb shotgun exhaust, which gives the Golf a throaty baritone from mid to high RPM ranges. The 5 speed manual gearbox is difficult to shift for the uninitiated, making life difficult for people who've not driven older cars. Once you get the hang of it though, the Golf almost feels modern in the way it squats during acceleration.
The low mileage has sealed its fate: Zaeem has no future plans for the Golf, instead, he wants to focus on the other two Vee-Dubs in his collection. One is a widebody Beetle with loads of custom work done to it, the other is a barn find Golf MK1 which he plans to convert to a turbocharged monster. The Beetle is almost complete, expect a feature on Shift soon. The Golf MK1 is being worked on currently, and when it sees the light of day, we'll be there.
Considering the track record Zaeem Aziz and his older brother Imran has in terms of cars, it'll be a sight to see.
Photos: Rahin Sadman Islam