As Volkswagen celebrates the 45th anniversary of the start of production on its iconic Golf, find out more about how the model went on to become the most successful car in Europe.
There is probably no greater debate in the automotive world than the one about just which car model can be regarded as the greatest of all time. So many design classics have emerged through the years, while any discussion about specific models is often laced with more than a hint of nostalgia. After all, who doesn’t look back with fond memories of their formative experiences behind the wheel?
However, regardless of where you stand on the great debate, few would argue against the fact that the Volkswagen Golf is one of the most popular cars ever made. Recently, the Golf celebrated its 45th birthday and it seems like there is no better time to look back on the making of a car regarded as a European success story.
The key date in the Golf’s incredible history is undoubtedly March 29th 1974, when the very first Golf I model rolled off the assembly line at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg and production on the series officially commenced. Created as the successor to the hugely popular Beetle, the car was available as either a two-door or four-door vehicle with a boot lid. When it came to the interior, you could expect a five-seater configuration, as well as a 300-litre luggage compartment and a foldable rear bench seat.
But what about the engine? Well, the Golf I came with either a 1.1-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (50PS) or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (70PS), while the model was front-wheel drive with a four-speed manual gearbox. If automatic would have been more up your street, a three-speed alternative was available as an option. When it came to speed, the 50PS with a manual gearbox was capable of 140km/h, with the 70PS alternative achieving a maximum level of 160km/h.
While production on the Golf began in March 1974, consumers had to wait just over three months for the model to finally reach showrooms. Then, on August 5th, delivery of the Golf finally began. Since then of course, Volkswagen has simply never looked back with around 35 million Golfs being sold across the world since it launched. The manufacturer also estimates that a new Golf is ordered somewhere in the world every 41 seconds.
The latter is a truly incredible statistic, and underlines the importance of the Golf for the carmaker, described by Volkswagen’s chief operating officer Ralf Branstatter as being “at the very heart of our brand”.
While it may not have the prestige of some of the most famous models in the automotive sector, few can argue against the Golf’s incredible success. Although many regard the Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen’s own Beetle as among the best-selling car models of all time, the Golf undoubtedly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
The car has been part of driving for so many of us through the years and at this point we would not bet against it touching many more lives in the future.