The Volkswagen Tarek debuted at the 2002 Essen Motor Show. Its next big debut came a short time later at the 2003 Paris-Dakar Rally where it put its rally-specific design to the test.
Volkswagen designed the Tarek as a rear-wheel drive buggy with a tubular construction. It was lightweight, rigid, and easy for them to complete in a very short window of opportunity before Dakar. ItalDesign out of Italy was responsible for the design and tested the car thoroughly in Morocco. This led to the development of two additional Tareks.
Testing in North Africa put 1,864 miles on the Tarek that November with a second test in Decemeber putting on another 932 miles in testing the vehicle’s engine cooling. This extensive testing assured the Tarek was ready for racing, meeting T2 regulations.
Power for the buggy came from a 1.9-liter, 4-cylinder TDI engine capable of 218 horsepower.
This paired a well-tested engine with newly developed bodywork and chassis. Given the incredibly short development time, the Tarek did quite well in Dakar with Stephane Henrard and Bobby Willis in sixth position and eighth place for Jutta Kleinschmidt and Fabrizia Pons.