• Germany's news in English
 
jobs_header_v3

Legendary VW Golf turns 40

DPA/The Local · 8 May 2014, 17:31

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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 news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Berlin vs Munich: whose newborn polar bear is cuter?
Berlin's (left) and Munich's (right) newborn bears. Photos: Tierpark Berlin / DPA

Both city zoos welcomed baby polar bears into the world in November, with Berlin zoo its releasing first photos on Friday. But which one is more adorable?

Learn how to speak German like a silver screen icon
Dirty Harry. Photo: DPA

We all agree that there is no other option than to learn irregular German verbs by rote. But when you want a bit of downtime, why not learn from your big screen heroes?

Stolen Dachau 'Work will set you free' gate found: police
The entrance to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Photo: DPA

An iron gate from the former Nazi concentration camp in Germany's Dachau with the slogan "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work will set you free") has been found two years after it was stolen, police said Friday.

Mystery flight path artist draws new message in sky
Photo: DPA

A pilot who likes to draw patterns in the sky using his flight path has returned with his greatest artwork yet.

Berlin 'abusing power' to stop Snowden coming to Germany
Edward Snowden. Photo: DPA

Opposition parties have accused the coalition government of overstepping its authority in its attempt to block American whistleblower Edward Snowden's trip to Germany.

Germany gains record number of Michelin-star restaurants
Head of the Michelin Guide, Michael Ellis (centre) with Michelin-star chefs at a presentation in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Germany had a slew of newly minted Michelin-star restaurants this year, and its top-rated establishments held onto their prestigious three stars.

At last: Germany passes major disabled rights reform
People in wheelchairs watch as the German parliament deliberates on the new disability rights reform. Photo: DPA.

For years people with disabilities in Germany have called for legislation to provide them with better benefits and opportunities in life and work. On Thursday the German parliament passed such a reform - but is it enough?

How new German rules are holding refugee families apart
Children wait for food in Jarablus, Syria. Photo: DPA

Germany, trying to staunch the flow of Syrian refugees, has placed high hurdles for them to be reunited with their families, creating a Kafkaesque nightmare in the courts.

10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Photo: DPA

Fire up your ovens and get ready to bake - here are ten festive German cookies and pastries that'll send your senses into paroxysms of yuletide joy.

5 things we learnt reading Germany's first Charlie Hebdo
Photo: DPA.

The very first German edition of Charlie Hebdo hit the shelves across the country on Thursday. So what can Germans expect if they buy it?

Lifestyle
10 German Christmas cookies you have to bake this winter
Sponsored Article
The key to launching your international career
Lifestyle
Our 10-step guide for doing Christmas just like a German
National
Here's why so many Germans vote for the far-right AfD
National
7 events in Germany that'll make December unforgettable
Lifestyle
7 frosty German sayings to make you a winter wordsmith
National
This is how unequal German society has become
National
Six things you should know about the Lufthansa strike
National
9 ways living in Germany will make you a better person
National
These 10 German Christmas markets cannot be missed
Features
8 German words that unlock amazing secrets in English
Culture
10 German words with simply hilarious literal translations
Lifestyle
7 things Germans do that make foreigners feel awkward
International
Why Donald Trump's grandad was booted out of Germany
National
This is what is really inside your Döner kebab
National
Rejoice! Christmas markets start opening across Germany
Education
These German universities are best at landing you a job
Travel
Why Heidelberg is Germany's most inspiring city
Lifestyle
This soppy German Christmas ad will bring you to tears
National
Here's where Germans speak the best (and worst) English
Culture
10 German books you have to read before you die
Culture
U-Bahn train found filled with autumn foliage in Berlin
Features
Seven German words that unlock amazing secrets about English
Travel
Germany's ten most beautiful towns you've never visited
6,627
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd