• Germany edition
 
German of the Week
Legendary VW Golf turns 40
The Golf Mk1 GTI is the original iconic example of Volkswagen's world-beating hatchback.

Legendary VW Golf turns 40

Published: 08 May 2014 17:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 May 2014 17:31 GMT+02:00

As the successor to the famous Beetle - the air-cooled rear-wheel-drive workhorse which sold over 21.5 million units since its design as the Nazis' "people's car" in the 1930's - the Golf Mk1 revolutionized small car design with its lightweight construction, water cooling and front-wheel-drive set-up.

Marketed as the VW "Rabbit" in the USA and Canada, the Golf sold over 100,000 units in the States in its first year alone – the most successful European imported car to date, according to VW.

But the Golf really made its name with the Mk1's sport variant, the GTI. Launched in 1975 as one of the first small cars with fuel injection systems, the GTI was also one of the first vehicles to demonstrate that a small, cheap, practical runaround could also be sporty and fun.

UK motoring magazine Top Gear said many praised the original GTI as "the spiritual father of hot hatchery" and said the car was so light and nippy when it came out in the 70's it could outrun a Ferrari 308 sports car – but only on country lanes.

The soft-top cabriolet version of the Golf (or "Rabbit convertible") was also popular in the 1980's, when it became the ride of choice for rich young Californians in many US teen movies.

CLICK HERE to see the VW Golf through the ages

And during its 40-year history the Golf has evolved with each generation changing its design, packing different engines and innards and adding ever more new technologies, from anti-lock brakes to parking assistance.

The seventh generation of Golf, released in Europe in 2012 and on its way across the pond next month, includes a fully electric model (the e-Golf) with a range of 190km. It will soon be joined by a plug-in hybrid variant, the Golf GTE.

The name "Golf" is often assumed to refer to the sport, and VW have never ruled this out, saying at the car's release in 1974 "Golf stands for endurance, dynamism and perfect technology – just like in any 'sport of kings'."

But in fact the inspiration for the car's naming came from the European weather.

"We actually meant the Gulf Stream, to which Europe owes its good climate," Volkswagen said (Golf being the German word for "Gulf").

Other VW models, such as the Passat saloon car and the Scirocco, are also named after wind currents.

SEE ALSO: BMW and VW celebrate strong sales

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
North braces for storms and floods
Cars waiting to be loaded onto the ferry at Bremerhaven, Lower Saxony, were caught in flooding on Wendnesday. Photo: DPA

North braces for storms and floods

UPDATE: The remnants of hurricane Gonzalo have drifted across the Atlantic and are now threatening North German cities with flooding, forecasters warned on Wednesday. The news followed a night of accidents caused by heavy winds in southern Germany. READ  

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall
US Secretary of State John Kerry at the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA

Kerry's challenge to Russia at Berlin Wall

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited remnants of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday and warned that East-West tensions again threaten freedom in Europe, 25 years after its collapse. READ  

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Sonneborn in the EU Parliament. Photo: DPA

Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train

Martin Sonneborn can’t believe his luck. The German comedian, leader of the political party “Die Partei”, managed to get elected to the European Parliament in May, and has found himself overwhelmed with fresh material. READ  

The Local List
Which high school cliche is your city?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock

Which high school cliche is your city?

This week's Local List takes a leap of imagination and finds German cities fit perfectly into high school cliche categories. Who's the class clown? Who's the nerd? READ  

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria
A screen grab from a jihadist video showing the grenades. Photo: DPA

'German' hand grenades paraded by Isis in Syria

The German military was on Wednesday investigating reports that Bundeswehr hand grenades have fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group after a video appearing to show captured weapons surfaced on the Internet. READ  

Indian schools drop German teaching
Indian pupils enrolled in German classes prepare for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit to their school. Photo: DPA

Indian schools drop German teaching

Thousands of children in India will no longer be taught German after the country's education ministry allowed a contract to lapse. READ  

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt
A passenger plane landing at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Syria-bound US teens stopped in Frankfurt

Three teenage girls from Colorado were arrested by German police at Frankfurt airport after running away from home, reportedly on their way to join Isis in Syria. READ  

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine
Tuesday night's rescue operation Photo: DPA

Tourists stranded on cable car over Rhine

Six people, including a family and two American tourists, were left dangling 40 metres in the air over the Rhine for hours late on Tuesday after Cologne's cable car came to a halt. READ  

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome
Arjen Robben celebrates the first goal against AS Roma. Photo: DPA

7:1! Bayern celebrate record in Rome

Bayern Munich were elated on Tuesday night after securing a 7-1 victory against Roma in their group stage Champions League clash. READ  

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast
A preserved World War II U-Boat on the beach near Kiel, Germany. Photo: DPA

Nazi U-boat wreck found off US coast

A World War II German U-boat and an American merchant vessel it sank in battle have been found deep in the ocean off the coast of North Carolina, officials said on Tuesday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,490
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd