RAC Cars News


VW Golf Turns 40

By raccars Published

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VW's popular hatchback has become one of those yardsticks of the motoring world by which other manufacturers measure themselves. It's the one they all have to beat when developing an entry into that market sector and has retained that place pretty much uninterrupted since its release 40 years ago. It's been through a few incarnations since then but without losing the essence of the original.

The Mk1 Golf first appeared on the automotive scene in 1974, taking its name from the German word for gulfstream - Golfstrom. While the hatchback sector may be the single biggest selling market sector these days, at the time it was a mere debutante. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that the Golf played a large part in the development of that particular market segment and the automotive landscape, as we see it today. In the last 40 years, more than 30 million Golfs have been sold and the current model is the seventh generation.

Inspired by the success of its Beetle, VW designed another front wheel drive, front engined car. Giorgetto Giugiaro was responsible for its funky modern styling, which saw a million units on the road by October 1976, only two years after its launch. Prized for its neat efficiency, in the late Seventies VW saw an opportunity to come up with a high performance 'Sport Golf,' and hence the legend that became the Golf GTI was born, sparking another segment revolution: the hot hatch.

Subsequent generations of Golf were careful to be sympathetic towards the design of the original, with a slightly larger second generation arriving in 1983. That managed 6.3 million sales before being replaced by the third generation in 1991. This was named European Car of the Year in 1992, before being replaced by the more upmarket Mk4 in 1997. Mk5 came along, larger, curvier and more powerful, in 2003, followed by 2008's Mk6.

Along the way there have been estates and a phenomenally popular Cabriolet, plus numerous special editions. Some of these earlier models have become cult classics among retro car fans and can command high prices in the right condition and among enthusiasts. The high performance Golf R is likely to earn this status in the future.

VW attributes the Golf's success to its consistency. Despite the regular updates, the company has operated on an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' basis, sticking carefully to the original brief that saw the car become a phenomenon. Long may it continue.

If you want to own a VW Golf have a look at the great selection we have on offer, both new and classic, GTi and convertible we can find what you are looking for.

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