Happy 45th birthday, Golf!
To celebrate the Golf’s four and a half decades in 2019, we present 10 fun facts on the world’s favourite hatchback
1. A Golf is sold every 41 seconds somewhere around the world
On 29 March 1974, the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg officially started production of what would become its best-seller. Who would have guessed the successor to the legendary Beetle would end up selling more than 35 million units all over the world and become the most successful European car. In purely mathematical terms, a new Golf has been ordered somewhere in the world every 41 seconds, every day, without interruption, since the start of production (SOP) 45 years ago. That is an average of around 780,000 vehicles a year.
2. A woman's touch on the Golf
The person responsible for the "golf ball" gearknob and tartan seat pattern that the Golf GTI is famously known for is a woman! Gunhild Liljequist was the first woman to work for Volkswagen Design when she joined in 1962. Her tartan design was first featured in the Golf GTI Mk1, and it would then be known as the Clarke Plaid.
3. Ah, the choices …
Although we only offer the petrol engine Golf variants here in Malaysia, the Golf comes with plenty of powerplant options. In fact, it is the only car in the world which is available with electric, hybrid, petrol, diesel and gas powered engine options.
4. All in the family
This is no extinct creature. There are currently 16 (yes, 16!) different types of Golfs found around the world. And the list goes something like this … Golf TSI, Golf TDI, Golf Variant, Golf Alltrack, Golf GTD, Golf GTD Variant, Golf R, Golf R Variant, GTI, GTI Performance, Golf TGI, Golf TGI Variant, e-Golf, GTE, Golf 4MOTION, and Sportsvan.
5. The Golf … was a horse
So Volkswagen has a thing for winds when it comes to naming its models. The Vento meant 'wind', the Scirocco is a Mediterranean wind, the Jetta meant jet stream in German, and the Passat is trade wind (also in German). But … contrary to popular belief, the Golf did not get its name from the Gulf Stream, but a horse. The said gelding belonged to Hans-Joachim Zimmermann, ex-Volkswagen Head Purchaser from 1965 to 1995, and was named Golf as it stood for "top class, elegance and reliability." Here's another fun fact - prior to this, one of the names considered for the Golf was Blizzard - which we think would have been pretty cool too.
6. Long live the Rabbit!
The Golf isn't a Golf everywhere around the world. In the good ol' US of A, the Golf is famously known as the Rabbit, while further down south in Mexico, it is the Caribe - which also means Piranha.
7. The global citizen
The Golf has numerous 'citizenships' as is currently manufactured in Germany, Brazil, China and Mexico, and is exported to 155 countries around the world. However, the Golf units here in Malaysia come from the beating heart of the Volkswagen headquarters, the Wolfsburg factory.
8. Rockin' it with a Golf
Not many car brands can boast to have worked with the best rock bands in the world, but Volkswagen can. In the 1990s, Volkswagen teamed up with Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi to produce three special edition Golf models. The special edition Golfs were launched with alloys, the band's names stickered on the rear flanks, and flashy interiors - we're talking even their names embroidered on the headrests.
9. R was meant to be
The jewel in the Golf lineup surely has to be the powerful R. But it almost wasn't going to be this way, as the Mk5 R32 was meant to be a one-off super-special edition - one where Volkswagen would showcase their best tech and power in. But response was so overwhelming that Volkswagen decided to continue producing the car. The Golf R was also the first production car in history to come with DSG.
10. And the GTI was never in the plans
When the Golf was first launched, there were never plans to produce a sportier version. The much-loved GTI started out as a side project by a group of Volkswagen engineers that wanted to develop a performance version of the Golf. After putting their blood, sweat and tears after office hours, the "Sport Golf" was presented to the Volkswagen management. The decision was made to produce only 5,000 units of the Mk1 GTI, but the hot hatch took off like the pocket rocket that it was, and the rest is GTI history.