Friday 6 April 2012
Like its predecessor the Volkswagen Beetle, the Volkswagen Golf Mk1 has proven to be influential. In continuous production since 1974, the Golf was one of the first widely successful front-wheel drive hatchbacks. In the USA, the Morris Mini, Honda N360 and Fiat 128 saw only limited success, but it was the Rabbit, along with the Honda Civic that sparked another generation of European-derived front-wheel drive American compacts, such as the Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon, Ford Escort and Chevrolet Cavalier in the 1980s, just as the Beetle inspired Falcon and Corvair in 1960s and subcompact Vega and Pinto in the 1970s.
Replacing the Beetle was a vital goal for Volkswagen's continued survival. By the early 1970s, the company had fallen into financial difficulties and Beetle sales began to decline sharply. Water-cooled, front-engine, rear-wheel drive small cars began enjoying customer loyalty.
The solution arrived with Auto Union. They had attracted a small following with their technologically advanced Audi front wheel drive medium sedans. Volkswagen had acquired the Ingolstadt-based company in 1964 from Daimler-Benz. Audi's expertise in water-cooled engines and front-wheel drive would be essential in developing a new generation of Volkswagens. FWD offered more performance with lighter weight and more room in a smaller package. The Audi technology in the Golf would regain for Volkswagen the engineering lead over rear drive cars that Ferdinand Porsche had bestowed on the original Beetle over its large conventional peers. The small Golf had to succeed in replacing the high volume Volkswagen sedan. The upmarket Dasher/Passat would be VW's first front wheel drive car, and it was relatively well received for its lower volume market. The Golf would adopt an efficient "two-box" layout with a steep hatch rather than a formal trunk, which would be later added in the Jetta. The water-cooled engine would be mounted transversely in the front. Work on the Golf began in 1969, shortly after Kurt Lotz became head of Volkswagen.
Capacity: 1457 cc
Power: 70 HP
Top Speed: 160km/h