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The coupé icon A look back on three generations of the Volkswagen Scirocco

'We could do that, and better too,' they said back in 1971 in Wolfsburg - marking the starting point for the development of a coupé designed to turn all heads. The buzz surrounding the project was going strong and rightfully so, as Volkswagen wanted the Scirocco as an answer against its competitors' recently launched Ford Capri and Opel Manta. This was achieved with brilliance; while the aforementioned models still used a rigid axle and rear-wheel drive, the new Scirocco won admirers for its transverse engine, front-wheel drive and modern chassis - all at an attractive price. It proved a worthy successor to the highly successful Karmann Ghia Type 14 Coupé, which had been produced for 19 years. 

 

Right: The first generation of the Scirocco came onto the market in 1974.

The cult of clear lines

When unveiled in 1974, the Scirocco was not just a hit technically, but it was also visually stunning. It stands to reason that designer Giogetto Giugiaro - who also drafted the Golf I - would conceive the bodywork of the coupé with the same technical basis. And what a beauty it was! The 'maestro' designed an incredibly beautiful, functionally and elegantly stylish 2+2-seater that was 3,850 millimetres long and just 1,310 millimetres high. With the engine and transmission, the Scirocco weighed in at just 800 kilograms. Like the Karmann Ghia, the Scirocco also rolled off the production line of the Karmann factory in Osnabrück. 

 

Left: The Scirocco cockpit - the sporty three-spoke steering wheel was also used on the Golf GTI later on.

The first GTI was a SciroccoT

The sporty Scirocco GTI entered production in the summer of 1976, while the cult Golf GTI wasn't unveiled until later in autumn of the same year. Its high-revving, 81 kW / 110 horsepower 1.6-litre engine featured mechanical fuel injection and just like on the Golf GTI later on, was a constant source of pleasure for drivers. The smaller engines were capable of between 37 kW / 50 horsepower and 63 kW / 85 horsepower.

The chassis was modified as a result of the higher power. From the outside, the GTI and GLI models were primarily recognisable by their front spoiler. The interior featured a sports steering wheel, rev counter and centre console with clock and oil temperature gauge. Particularly pleasing, however, were the sports seats with the characteristic check pattern. The GLI was the luxurious version and came with tinted windows, carpet inlay in the door panels and height-adjustable front seat with special seat upholstery.

 

Right: The dynamic Scirocco GTI with 81 kW / 110 horsepower.

 

 

The Scirocco rocked the VW Junior Cup

Hockenheim Motodrom, April 1976: 80,000 spectators followed the action in the first race of the VW Junior Cup, in which the modified 77kW / 105 horsepower Scirocco competed. The first Volkswagen one-make race series was very popular, and among those behind the wheel in the first season was Formula 1 driver Manfred Winkelhock (1951-1985).

 

The star of the 1980s: Scirocco II (1981-1992)

After 500,000 Scirocco I models had left the production line, its successor was introduced in March 1981 with a completely redesigned look. It was once again based on the platform of the Golf I, but the interior and boot space were more spacious and the drag coefficient had been improved to reduce fuel consumption. 

 

Left: The first season of the VW Junior Cup featured modified Scirocco I cars.

'I count on 16V'

The engines from the Scirocco I were initially fitted, although real power appeared under the bonnet later on when the 16-valve engine capable of 102 kW / 139 horsepower from the Golf II GTI made its appearance in 1985. The powerful engine received praise for its high revs and was available in the new top-of-the-range Scirocco GTX 16V.

 

The Scirocco special editions were always a cut above

White was the new black in 1985, when Volkswagen produced the 'White Cat' special edition. The completely white paintwork, rims and seats, the rear lights featuring white stripes and the all-round spoilers and Zender rear spoiler transformed this Scirocco into a real sporty eye-catcher. The 'Scala 16V' took a similar line, but was also available in other colours. The dynamic GTS special edition came with powerful engines, but was mode affordable than the GTI. Around 290,000 Scirocco MK II were built in total. 

1988: The Corrado enters the game

The Corrado was initially meant to replace the Scirocco II and would have turned 31 this year. Its development began back in 1981, and at the time its project name was the Scirocco III. However, a decision was made to rename the technically more sophisticated model to 'Corrado', and it was launched in 1988 as a higher-positioned coupé alongside the Scirocco II. The Corrado was retired in 1992.

 

2008: A new wind blows in from Portugal

After a long hiatus, Volkswagen finally began producing a coupé again in 2008: the Scirocco III, based on the fascinating 'iroc' concept car. 

The Scirocco III was presented to the public two years prior, and proved to be immensely popular. In fact, the powerful Viper Green Metallic colour gained so much attention that it was later used for the Scirocco production models.

The Scirocco MK III built in Palmela (Portugal) was based on the platform of the Golf VI, and was driven by modern turbo engines with power ranging from 90 kW / 122 hp to 206 kW / 280 hp (Scirocco R). 

In Malaysia, the well-loved coupé made its debut in 2009 when Volkswagen Malaysia launched the 2.0 TSI version. Demand was so high for it that the 1.4 TSI was later introduced in 2010, and the Scirocco R later in 2012.

 

Left: Particularly popular and still sought-after: The 'White Cat' special edition from 1985.

Scirocco R Cup - the eco-friendly, one-make race series from Volkswagen

In the world of motorsports, the Scirocco III offered spectators plenty of action and thrilling entertainment on the racetrack. The Scirocco R Cup, held between 2008 and 2014 as part of the DTM, gave up-and-coming talents a welcome opportunity to get into motorsports, and was the perfect career springboard for climbing through the ranks to higher series. Famous guest starters from Formula 1, DTM and rally sport also joined in. The series was also eco-friendly, because identical Cup Scirocco cars capable of 173 kW / 235 horsepower were driven, whose engines were powered by compressed natural gas. 

After 272,150 cars from the third generation were produced, the Scirocco era came to an end in autumn 2017. The cool coupé had driven its way into the hearts of its fans over the decades and there it will rest for a long time.

And on that note, it is time to say 'Bye-bye, Rocco!'