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The Golf - a benchmark of its time

Clear lines, pure design - the new Volkswagen was a revolution in 1974. It was designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, who created a genuine icon. Since then, the Golf has inspired time and time again, and the latest generation, the eighth, was designed by Volkswagen Group Chief Designer, Klaus Bischoff, and his team. 46 years apart, the two designers were faced with very different challenges, and yet one question connects them both - how do you create a design that stands the test of time?

Giorgetto Giugiaro ... one of the most important automobile designers of our time. He also played a key role in Volkswagen's history - having designed a range of models, this was the man behind Volkswagen's new stylistic idiom from 1970. With minimalist styling, clean-cut aesthetics, and innovative design, Giugiaro is the "maestro of the big change".

Technology from Wolfsburg, aesthetics from Turin

Volkswagen issued definite instructions for the Golf. "We want you to design us a successor to the Beetle. We are happy for the interior space to be roughly the same as that of the Beetle." Giugiaro recalls how Kurt Lotz, Volkswagen CEO at the time, wasted little time in getting to the point in the first meeting in Wolfsburg, back in January 1970.

He also had strong ideas regarding the model type: "A modern compact car with a tailgate - versatile, in keeping with the latest trend. The folks at Volkswagen were right about that back then."

Master of the straight line. Few have had such a big influence on automobile as Giorgetto Giugiaro. In 1999, he was voted “Designer of the Century”. With his company Italdesign, he shaped the design of the new Volkswagen models that emerged in the 1970s: the Golf, Scirocco and Passat all bear Giugiaro’s unmistakable style.

"It is easy to design a beautiful car, if you are only manufacturing a few of them," the Italian designer explains. "However, if you want to make thousands of them ..." Hands that talk, and vibrant eyes - Giugiaro is expressive and gesticulates enthusiastically as he describes the challenge presented by the assignment he received from Wolfsburg: "A range of cars with an easily recognisable design - from a compact to a larger car." Giugiaro immediately set about defining the new lines with his first draft of the Passat. 

What makes the Golf so special? When the Volkswagen Classic editorial staff travelled to Turin to meet him a few years ago, Giugiaro set about drawing it without further ado. The charcoal glided dynamically across the paper. At times his hands flew across the paper, at times they paused briefly for thought at a certain point. A few seconds later, the paper was graced by the global success from Wolfsburg - a Golf, unmistakably, and still incredibly effectual, even in two-dimensional form. Clear lines, reduced to the essential. Particularly striking were the C-pillars, which live on in every new Golf. Good design stands the test of time. Giorgetto Giugiaro smiled contentedly.

Technology from Lower Saxony combined with design from Piemont. Giugiaro combined zeitgeist, technology and creativity in a model that remains legendary to this day, and which set new benchmarks.

Giugiaro had no doubt about the Golf. "I was relaxed, because the result was well-balanced, including the economic aspect. The reason the Golf was so successful: because it was right as a whole!"

The idea lives on

Giugiaro's Golf has done more than just grow up, and the Golf family is now eight strong. Laid out neatly in a row like precious jewellery, arranged from vintage to modern, the Golf generations are presented on the Piazza at Autostadt Wolfsburg. A sight that cannot fail to bring a smile to one's lips, even someone who knows the Golf inside out.

Like Volkswagen Group Chief Designer, Klaus Bischoff. 

The all-new Golf, from Head of Volkswagen Group Design, Klaus Bischoff and his team, impressed maestro Giugiaro at its world premiere.

"I am impressed that my idea has been retained throughout the generations. Like a young girl, who has grown into a beautiful woman."

"The benchmark of its time!" Bischoff taps the roof of Giugiaro's Golf in acknowledgement.

With over 30 years experience with Volkswagen, Klaus Bischoff is at home in the Golf. "An original design, precise and effective," he says, taking his place behind the wheel.

The first Golf looks rather small now, particularly when somebody as tall as Bischoff climbs in. However, this 'little' car is held in great esteem. "Neat, everything positioned within your field of vision, with no embellishments." Bischoff creates a rectangle with his hands: the cockpit is tidy, with everything located within a straight frame.

"The golf came with safety, mobility, sincerity and design for everyone." The Giugiaro-designed Golf was the pioneering first chapter of a success story, explains Bischoff.

"The Golf shaped Volkswagen design - perfectly proportioned, with a clarity unheard of at the time, and well thought out down to the last detail." It was in a class of its own.

Established, developed, but always a Golf - that was the major challenge the design department faced with each new generation. 

The car's global success shows that the Golf appeals to everyone.

The eighth generation is no different. It is powerful and visionary. Bischoff is proud of the new Golf. And he knows what he is talking about. He had been involved in this successful car as a designer since the Golf 2, and was the man behind the interior of the Golf 5. By the time the sixth generation Golf came, he was the Head of Brand Design, and was responsible for its complete design.

Now, as Head of Volkswagen Group Design, Bischoff is still as proud. "I believe this Golf is the best ambassador for our new philosophy. It is well-proportioned, well-toned, aesthetically pleasing, and outright dynamic," says Bischoff. "A loveable athlete with its sights set firmly on the future."

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