Double Trouble: Volkswagen Motorsport's Twin-Engined Golf

By Jim Pettengill
Sep 12, 2019 | Volkswagen, Grassroots Motorsports, Golf, Auto-X, Twin-Engined | Posted in Features | From the Jan. 1988 issue | Never miss an article

This story initially ran in our January 1988 issue. Why are we bringing this back after 31 years? We're glad you asked. We jumped at the recent chance to revisit the Golf (itself only just brought back into working order) and speak to its legendary driver, Jochi Kleint. That story will feature in our upcoming November issue. Subscribe to make sure you don't miss it. 

Pike's Peak stimulates the imagination, not just in the minds of artists and tourists, but also in the minds of race car designers. To find a faster way up the Peak, designers have probably tried every possible powertrain configuration: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, front engined, mid-engined, rear engined, twin engined… TWIN ENGINED?

That's right. Volkswagen Motorsport, VW's European racing affiliate, has been racing a twin-engined Golf at Pike's Peak since 1985. We caught up with their latest concoction at the 1987 Peak event last July. The car features two engines, two gearboxes and four-wheel drive. Actually, the concept is nothing new. BMC raced "Twini Minis" (twin-engined Mini Cooper Ss) in the Targa Florio in the mid-sixties. The modified Minis were very fast, but suffered from overheating.

The Volkswagen Motorsport Twin Golf has been developed through several different versions, first with normally aspirated engines, then with turbocharged 1300cc units. This year's car looks pretty tame from a distance, but it is stunning when close enough to see the details.

First, the stock-looking body shell is actually a monocoque center section constructed of 2mm thick aluminum sheets that are glued and pop-riveted together. It was designed at the Technical University of Vienna by Walter Bussek under the direction of Volkswagen Motorsport's chief engineer, the aptly named Kurt Bergmann.

The powerplants/transaxle units are mounted longitudinally on subframes. They displace 1800cc each and use the twin cam, four-valve heads of the GTI 16V. The compression ratios are 8.5: 1. The engines total 3600cc and eight cylinders; they use KKK turbos with intercoolers and engine management systems to produce 600 horsepower. The twin engines drive the 7.75x16" wheels through locking Hewland gearboxes.


Even with two of nearly everything, the VW Motorsports car weighs just 2285 pounds dry. With the short straights available at Pike's Peak severely limiting top speed, the Twin Golf is geared for a top speed of just 114 mph; but it has blinding acceleration to that speed!

Volkswagen Motorsport's driver at Pike's Peak has always been 39 year old Jochi Kleint, a veteran rally driver in both Europe and South Africa. Jochi was Rally Division Rookie of the Year in 1985; his driving style is characterized by controlled, smooth aggressiveness.

This year, the Twin Golf experienced overheating problems during qualifying but appeared to be going well on the lower part of the course on race day. At the finish, however, the gray Golf came up missing—the complex machine had failed to finish.

The potential is there; it's just an example of what can happen when you knowingly disregard the K.I.S.S.(Keep It Simple, Stupid) theory of design, since a complicated car has more things that can go wrong than a simple one. One thing is certain: Volkswagen Motorsports will be back—and when they get it right, this is one innocent-appearing econobox that will really get some attention.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Digital Editor
9/12/19 3:48 p.m.

I'm excited for everyone to read our revisit. 

californiamilleghia HalfDork
9/12/19 7:23 p.m.

Does it still exist ?

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela GRM+ Memberand Digital Editor
9/12/19 7:44 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Yup, and it's in the November issue. 

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