Last year there were so many automotive anniversaries and resulting special events and commemorative limited edition cars that we were reporting on a few a week. It seems that years ending in a 3 were particularly successful for the motoring industry. This year though, while a few may pop up, the one that will most certainly get the most coverage is the anniversary of a car that created a segment and changed the motoring world - the Volkswagen Golf. 2024 is the iconic nameplate’s 50th anniversary. Kicking off a full year’s reminder of this fact will be the display at the upcoming Bremen Classic Motorshow in the first week of February. The Golf 1 and its ultra-rare 1969 EA276 Concept predecessor will be a main attraction for Volkswagen fans, of which we are sure there are many in Germany. Volkswagen Classic is at the show together with the Autostadt Wolfsburg, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Oldtimers and Audi Tradition, all of who will have displays. The Bremen Classic Motorshow is a big deal, it has been the opening season of classic vehicle shows in Germany for more than 20 years and attracts nearly 46,000 visitors. 50 years ago Volkswagen tried a new recipe for a compact car going from boxer engine to inline 4, from air-cooled to water-cooled from rear engine to front engine and from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. It had better space than a Beetle and was a lot more practical too. We’re sure the company wanted the car to do well because that’s what business is all about, but when the radical new hatchback sold a million units in just two years they knew they were onto a winner. This here SXdrv scribe has just hit mid-40s (vomit) and the amount of not just Volkswagen-related memories, but Golf-related memories I have probably can’t be counted, and it’s the same for many I know. With more and more cars being sold, over 37,000,000 to date it’s easy to find people with similar memories. The Golf is undeniably an icon.
Before the first Golf arrived as we know it, there were several concept cars created to try and find a follow-up to the Beetle. One of these is called the EA 276 and it was created quite a while before in 1969, but it already set the tone for the upcoming replacement with a front engine, a hatchback boot lid and a torsion beam axle. It was still fitted with an air-cooled boxer engine though. Other automakers were moving away from air-cooled powerplants and the inline-4 cylinder was a development of that. While the EA 276 (that really sounds like an aftermarket camshaft for an 8-valve Golf) was a sign of things to come, the actual shape as we know it today was penned by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign fame. His iconic design went into series production as the Golf I at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg in March of 1974, which is 50 years ago now. Having to follow on to the ever-popular Beetle meant the compact hatchback had massive shoes to fill, but thanks to that iconic design and an impressive worldwide network, it came at just the right time. People wanted what the Golf was offering and it became an overnight success. For the last 50 years, it’s been the automaker’s bread and butter-model, the one that everyone has a story or memory about. Over the last eight generations of the car, it’s been amazingly popular and is the heart of the Volkswagen brand. In the subsequent model generations, it was always the Golf that made affordable mobility possible for everyone at the highest technical level. It came with technology like the controlled catalytic converter and efficient drive systems and additionally offered safety features like anti-lock braking systems, airbags and even the first all-wheel drive system in the product line. The secret of success also comes down to the fact that the designers transferred that first generation’s DNA to its successors, cultivating the classic design. The flagship GTI derivative became the world’s first hot hatch and since then has been the benchmark all others are compared against.
Take a look at the YouTube video that's sorta related to the above content. It has some rare footage of the Mk1 Golf production from 50 years ago, and then just for good measure shows off the same for a few of the generations that followed: Volkswagen Golf 1,2,4,5 Assembly | Cars Garage
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