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The VW Golf: 50 Years of the Most Successful European Car

Apr 19, 2024
The VW Golf: the

most

successful

car in the world! Extraordinarily ordinary. But what is so special about it? "Nothing! There is nothing exceptional, but everything fits." An iconic German car that has remained true to itself for 50

years

. Spectacularly unspectacular. "A Golf in its different generations was always recognizable as a Golf." “ You knew what you had.” The Golf, the

most

successful

German car of all time, attracts both young and old. It has found more than 35 million buyers around the world, in all social classes. The boss drove a Golf to the clinic, the postman took one to work in the morning and then delivered his letters in another Golf.
the vw golf 50 years of the most successful european car
It doesn't matter your social class or your job, it's a normal car." The Golf has conquered the entire world. From Brazil to South Africa (in many places it has become part of the national culture) and survived political turmoil. "During apartheid was inaccessible to many of the oppressed. But then, after we gained our freedom, it was accessible to anyone.” “Volkswagen means a lot to Brazilian culture, especially the Golf models we have here.” ?There is a heated and divisive debate about it on its 50th birthday. "The challenge now is to continue this success story." "You don't have to revolutionize everything if you believe that what is there is not so bad." in a way a symbol of the tragedy that is really happening in the car industry." “People still love the shape and size of the Golf.
the vw golf 50 years of the most successful european car

More Interesting Facts About,

the vw golf 50 years of the most successful european car...

Whoever designed the Golf, they did a good job. It was a revolution in design Of automobiles". And this revolutionary star designer comes from Italy: with southern European style, Giorgetto Giugiaro broke all conventions in the early '70s to create a no-nonsense compact car. Its shape, architecture and functional technical framework are like the harmony of a hit song. They are well combined notes that create harmony when you put them together. Giugiaro, chosen designer of the century for creating unique and legendary vehicles for a wide variety of automakers, was commissioned by Volkswagen to develop a successor to the Beetle.
the vw golf 50 years of the most successful european car
And he made it radically different from the perennial bestseller: angular instead of round, front-wheel drive instead of rear, water-cooled instead of air. The Golf was smaller than the Beetle on the outside, but much more spacious on the inside. The key feature of the Golf, I'll show you here, is the sloping A-pillar and sloping bonnet, while the beltline is lower. It is the facets of these notes like those used to compose music. And they surprise those who look at it with a harmony that is not perceived with the conscious mind: they simply feel it. And people immediately felt the benefits of the car.
the vw golf 50 years of the most successful european car
VW soon launched the Golf GTi for drivers who liked it sporty. Since then, the Golf has consistently been the best-selling car in Germany, frequently in Europe and, in some

years

, even worldwide. "Yes, I think the Golf really managed to transform the spirit of the industry into sheet metal. A proven, very solid technology that could be trusted." The Golf is now in its eighth generation. A car that changed the industry and even established a new category of vehicles, the “Golf class”. In essence, the Golf hasn't really changed in 50 years. "In fact, they have managed to change the Golf in a very gradual, slow and evolutionary way, so that the new generation is very reminiscent of the previous one.
Customers have not been scared by a completely new design." "That's why there's a very strong customer loyalty to this car, because they knew what they had." The best overview of the development of the automobile can be found in the world's largest private Golf collection in the Austrian town of Stockerau. Josef Juza has put together 114 Golfs, from the rarest ((06:02)) with sliding doors to the fastest and most tuned GTI models. It is the life's work of the

golf

fan. "The Golf because it was the first vehicle where everything was really good. I used to drive all brands, almost all brands, when I was young.
The Golf really was the car where you sat down and everything was perfect. The Golf Perfect car, as if it had been built for me." Many

golf

fans formed clubs to cultivate their passion. At the meetings of a group called "Original Golf 1" only owners of the first series of models from the 70s gather. But people from all walks of life gather here. "The head doctor went to the clinic in a Golf, the postman took one to work in the morning and delivered his letters in another Golf. And the factory secretary drove a Golf, and it is possible that the boss's wife also had a Golf.
Golf as a private car. It is a classless, discreet, reliable and practical car. In essence, it offers everything you still need to get from A to B." There are even some Golf 1 owners who bought their cars in the former East Germany. In 1978, Volkswagen delivered 10,000 Golfs there in exchange for sheet metal, diesel and tires. It was not easy for the people there to get a Golf. Reinhard Martínez was lucky because he had registered a car from East Germany with the authorities long before. And so he was able to get a car from West Germany in which he could work in his garden. "At that time I was working for Interflug as a test engineer.
But I wasn't a colleague, so... I approached it with optimism. I thought: 'You have to get this car.' So, of course, I gave up the Lada that I had registered 12 years earlier to get it. Golf was fashionable not only in East Germany, but also in communist Yugoslavia. The foundations of golf enthusiasm in the Balkans were laid in the 1970s and remain in place today. Back then, Volkswagen produced the first Golf models in Sarajevo, now the capital of Bosnia, as part of a joint venture. The dream of every average Yugoslav was to have a Golf. Of course, we had to wait for a Golf to arrive.
If you had the money for it. The wait was up to 6 months. I was able to save some money so I could make my dream come true. It was very important to me when I was young. My generation will understand what I'm talking about. Volkswagen's production facilities were largely destroyed in the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995. Golf production was discontinued. But people's enthusiasm for the German car has survived. „It's no longer just a car. He is the Emotion. Emotion that the Bosnian people and others keep in their hearts. They are emotions about the years of wealth before the war, about survival during the war.
And after the war, that was the opportunity for people to feel like normal people again, for us to be in the same conditions as before.” Also in South Africa, the Gulf has survived a change in the political system and is now part of the country's culture: as a witness to history, it joined the long journey of the black population from the oppression of apartheid to the present day. „During apartheid it was inaccessible to many of the oppressed. Perhaps it was still expensive for those who were oppressed. But then when we got our freedom, it became accessible to almost everyone.” A very special Golf model was even built in South Africa.
As the Golf 2, which replaced the 1 in 1984, was too complex and expensive for South Africa, the Golf 1 was simply continued to be manufactured there in a slightly modified form, under the name CitiGolf. „This is the car, my 2007 CitiGolf, it was the base model. This is what it looks like from inside. I can come out and show you the outside too. From the MK 1 to the CityGolf: this is how they differ. This line here, that's how it differs. The old MK 1 doesn't have that line, but the CityGolf does.” When production of the CitiGolf was finally discontinued in 2009, the entire country bid farewell to its favorite car with effusive outpourings. „I think he will never die.
In South Africa they will never die, because there are people who care for them, they will live forever. I'm going to save one for my son, he's still 2 years old. Maybe I'll find him when he's 18 or 21. If he is interested, he will have his own, if he is not interested, I keep it for myself.” There is also a Golf model that was built especially for Brazil between 1980 and 2023. The Gol is somewhat smaller and technically simpler than the original Golf, but carries the genes of its older brother. “Volkswagen means a lot to Brazilian culture, especially the Golf models we have here.
They created the Gol to be a cheaper car for families, for simpler people, which is the basis of Brazil.” Whether it's the small Gol or the larger Golf, for Brazilians their Volkswagens are much more than just cars. „They created a timeless car. If you choose a 1994 Golf, it's still a good car. The culture, the way it was produced, the lines they used, the engineering, all of this created this timeless piece. You know, Golf means more than just a car. It's like a culture." And even in France people take their hats off to Golf. A special exhibition at the Retromobile classic car show in Paris commemorates the history of the Golf.
Probably the only foreign car that has managed to seriously compete with the local French favorites. A foreign car that left its mark on the French. Suddenly you were driving an incredibly young car. The Citroën 2 CV, for example, was a comfortable French car, but none of our cars had that dynamism. A Golf is really more than just a car. Golf represents a way of life, almost a profession of faith. "You live with it, you identify with it. So, in a way, the expression 'Golf Generation' makes sense." Volkswagen's marketing department also adopted that slogan, which author Florian Illies chose as the title for a novel published in 2000 that sold more than six million copies.
In it he describes people born in Germany between 1970 and 1985, most of whom drive Golfs. "The Golf Generation is actually also the generation of an average citizen who is slow to change, who is not radical, who does not make waves. And, to a certain extent, that is what the Golf represents." "The Golf is in the middle, it is in the middle in a very nice way: with the ambition to be the best in the middle." I've tried everything in my life, from psychokinesis to TV shopping. But nothing helped. Then I read about this chaos theory and the impact of the cause and effect principle.
And the first thing I did was buy a new car. "I don't necessarily think it's a defect that a generation is not revolutionary. It probably also marks me as belonging to that generation, because you don't always have to revolutionize everything if you think that what there is is not so bad." After 50 long years, The days of the Golf seemed numbered, as Volkswagen prepares for a new era of mobility, electromobility, with the development of the ID model series. But don't rule out the Golf just yet: "At Volkswagen there has been a change in product strategy: the ID 3, which is in the same vehicle class as the Golf, was unable to take advantage of the success of the Golf.
And now Volkswagen is going on the other hand and takes these well-known performance characteristics of the Golf and transforms them into electric mobility. And the goal now is to build on its iconic history and continue this success story with an electric car." And this could be the Golf IX with electric drive, which will be launched on the market in 2026 at the earliest. “The Golf is in a way a symbol of the tragedy that is really happening in the automobile industry. We are switching to new motors, specifically electric motors. There are completely different parameters and yet the car maintains exactly the same shape as before.
So when the Beetle became a Golf, changing the engine, the shape also changed. Now, 50 years after the first Golf, I think we must understand that the way we use cars has changed radically. That is why it is a tragedy that VW says: we will keep the Golf forever.” „We bought the Golf because of its meaning. And in a new world, which is the one we are approaching, there should be new meanings.” Could it be time for Giorgetto Giugiaro to radically redesign VW's best-selling model? Doesn't VW need a small revolution every 50 years? It's unlikely: the Italian now only works for Chinese car manufacturers.
He ended his collaboration with Volkswagen in 2015. In design, it is not democratic. You understand? I did not have the freedom to propose the things I wanted to do when I agreed to join that large business group. They have no value, because they are the ones in charge and they do not want to put their positions of power at risk. They don't take risks, they do things more or less the same as always to avoid risks, but vision is what led Giorgetto Giugiaro to create his milestones in automobile design. I have lived and built a career from my absolute freedom.
Because when I made my first cars, I had incredible freedom. The VW Golf, symbol of freedom and creativity in automobile design. The car for everyone, which young and old people around the world have adopted. A car that has become the flagship of the German automobile industry. Its past is glorious, but opinions about what awaits it in the future are divided. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe to our channel!

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