VW’s Pioneering Hatchback: Long-lasting Success
One way to differentiate a critically important model and a game-changing one is to look at Volkswagen – their landmark car, the Passat, is an iconic model of note worldwide, but it is the Golf that is truly legendary. The classic Beetle was replaced by this ground-breaking newcomer, signaling a new era in compact cars. As such, the Golf’s importance has extended far beyond Volkswagen and into automotive history as a whole.
In the approaching year, the fiftieth anniversary of the Golf brand will be marked; for this reason, many times VW will display classic Golf cars from its stock. Before immersing ourselves in commemorations for the model’s milestone, let us mull over why it was so momentous.
Welcome to Timeless European Classics, a weekly feature focusing on the cars from throughout Europe that have truly shaped automotive history.
There is undoubtedly no doubt that the Golf will forever be remembered as being a revolutionary model for Volkswagen in addition to the whole entire automobile sector. Replacing the much-adored Beetle, it indicated an alteration from the traditional and also declared Volkswagen’s movement away from rear-wheel drive as well as rear-mounted air-cooled motors to front-wheel drive along with front-mounted, water-cooled engines – a pioneering transform that characterized a new generation for the company.
It extended far beyond a simple renowned vehicle. Countless people from the corners of the planet, bought this as their initial completely new car. A strong car that could fulfill all the requirements of an everyday driver and was effortless to preserve, it also happened to be thrifty – hence the ideal pick for younger families.
Let us not overlook the Golf GTI. A cornerstone of hot hatch pioneers, it made its debut in 1976 and promptly gained a lot of fans due to more powerful engines, bigger wheels, and a sportier style. Volkswagen was taken aback with the success of the GTI version – more than 462,000 units were generated by the time the automobile was retired. It is still thought by many as the original hot hatch; however, some individuals argue that models such as the 1967 Simca 1100 Ti and 1971 Autobianchi A112 Abarth predated the GTI.
The Golf first appeared in Europe in May 1974. After a span of over two decades, Volkswagen was eventually able to refine and finalize their concept and design for the successor of the Beetle. Countless prototypes were tested in order to demonstrate different powertrain configurations, exteriors, and interiors. The culmination of these endeavors resulted in the release of the distinguished Type 17 Golf.
In March 1974, the Golf Mk1 saw its inception, and with that, by May commenced official sales. A mere year afterward, the hatchback mentality penetrated the United States when referring to the vehicle as a Rabbit. Origins of the modern car design came from an assemblage of German factories before ultimately being shipped out to North America. Then, four years later, Volkswagen launched localized production at their Westmoreland facility.
Depending on its market, the first-generation Golf can be found with a selection of in-line four-cylinder engines ranging between 1,093 cc and 1,781 cc. The mightiest GTI models boast either a 1.6- or 1.8-liter motor depending on their specific year with up to 110 horsepower. Two years after its introduction, the hatch added a 1.5-liter diesel engine, only to have it replaced by a larger 1.6-liter version later available in both naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms.
In January 1970, when Giugiaro was invited to Wolfsburg, he was presented with a design brief for a C-segment car with both three- and five-door versions. His renowned “origami” or “folded-paper” style, featuring sharp corners and flat planes, was implemented in the design. Giugiaro himself would later consider the Mk1 Golf the pinnacle of his career in design.
The success of the debut Golf was remarkable. Soon, it grew to be highly desired and in 1976, Volkswagen rejoiced as they sold their first million units. Ultimately, more than six million were crafted and released worldwide. Theauto featured such broad appeal that even after its discontinuation,Volkswagen kept producing itin a modified formaton the South African market for another 25 years.
Through successive generations, the aggregated sales of every Golf model has facilitated its emergence as the top-selling European auto and Volkswagen’s all-time best seller, having already sold over 37 million models thus far. Setting a new chapter in the iconic history of this car, the facelifted Mk8 Golf is scheduled to debut in January of next year.
In 1975, Volkswagen brought air conditioning to their native nation as an optional feature. While this may not seem like a significant addition to the average small car from the 70s, what truly astounds us today is that the company actually offered a retroactive AC installation with a more hefty battery for all existing Golf owners.