40 Years of Sunny Outlooks: The Golf Cabriolet success story
“Sun, Moon and Cabriolet” is the advertising slogan when Volkswagen launches the topless variant of the Golf I in 1979. Manufacture of the joint development between Volkswagen and Karmann starts on 14 February 1979 in Osnabrück. As the legitimate successor to the famous Beetle Cabriolet, the open Golf has big shoes to fill – and wastes no time in filling within a short time of its launch, as shown in the sales figures.
As well as the folding convertible top, another characteristic feature of the Golf I Cabriolet is its fixed roll bar above the B pillar. This striking design is the response to the safety discussions of the 1970s. As well as protecting passengers, the roll bar also provides an optimal connection point for the front seat belts and guides the rear side window securely and quietly.
Following the launch of the Golf II in 1983, the Golf I Cabriolet is initially produced without modification. The official second generation is essentially based on the old design from just over three years previous. In 1987, it is given a facelift, as part of a major product upgrade. The Golf I Cabriolet is produced in this modernised form until 1993. By the time the production of the second series ceases, 389,000 Golf Cabriolet have been built in Osnabrück. This makes it the most manufactured cabriolet in the world – rapidly superseding its predecessor.
The next fresh air generation
The successor is launched in July 1993: the Golf III Cabriolet, based on the technology used in the third generation of the saloon. Volkswagen once again opts for the striking central roll bar. The car features the same gains in terms of rigidity and safety in case of the car rolling, while systems like the automatically-deployed roll bar are not yet available. When opened, the roof now sits lower down. The generation leap is unmistakable. The Golf III Cabriolet comes equipped with double air bags, ABS and side impact protection as standard. The new topless Golf is another great success for Karmann and Volkswagen: 139,578 units roll off the production line by 1997. In 1998, the Golf III Cabriolet is given a facelift. With a few clever tweaks to the chassis design, the Golf III Cabriolet becomes the Golf IV Cabriolet. Production of the Golf Cabriolet in Osnabrück ends in 2001.
New edition of the open-air Golf
After a ten-year hiatus, the new Cabriolet, based on the sixth generation of Golf, rolls off the production line at Volkswagen’s new plant in Osnabrück on 17 March 2011. The new Cabriolet does not feature the fixed roll bar. It is replaced by roll-over protection that is deployed in a faction of a second. A reinforced windscreen frame, additional structural modifications and various airbags ensure a high level of safety. The first Golf GTI Cabriolet is launched in 2012, followed in 2013 by the first Golf R Cabriolet. The era of the open-top Golf ends in 2016, after the manufacture of 770,039 cars.
The traditional cabriolet expertise at the site in Osnabrück remains unaffected and is now pointing to the future with the T-Roc Cabriolet, among other projects.
Roll bar-free “strawberry punnet”: Volkswagen Classic exhibits prototype
Volkswagen Classic comes to Bremen with a unique cabrio gem: the prototype of the Golf Cabriolet. In 1976, Karmann presented the Volkswagen board with an independently-developed variant of the cabriolet, without the integrated central roll bar. The proposal was investigated thoroughly in Wolfsburg. However, the head of Volkswagen vehicle safety had one major objection: “Not without a roll bar!” ordered Prof. Dr. Ulrich Seiffert, with one eye on the anticipated US safety regulations, which would have a considerable effect on an export-oriented company like Volkswagen. Karmann reacted promptly and came up with a bar that would offer protection should the car roll, whilst at the same time offering improved support for the convertible top and improving the side window guides – and it also led to the Golf Cabriolet’s nicknames: Henkelmann (mess kit) and Erdbeerkörbchen (strawberry punnet).
“Or do you know of another cabriolet of this kind?“
What Volkswagen confidently promoted as being contemporary in one advert is now celebrating a major anniversary in 2019: 40 years of open-top Golf joy. The second Volkswagen Classic exhibit is all about these four decades of the fresh air generation. The early Golf I Cabriolet, in rare Capri Blue, will inevitably stir up that summer, sun and cabriolet feeling in many a fan in Bremen.
Hall 5: Connected by tradition
The Golf Cabriolets of Volkswagen Classic, and other exhibits from throughout Volkswagen’s history, can be seen in Hall 5 from 1 to 3 February. Volkswagen Classic is presenting itself alongside Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Oldtimers, Audi Tradition, Volkswagen Classic Parts, and the 1. Käferclub (Beetle Club) Wolfsburg, under the motto “Connected by tradition”.
Roughly 650 exhibitors from eleven countries will be represented in the 47,000-m² exhibition area at the Bremen Classic Motorshow. As well as the manufacturers’ exhibition stands, more than 100 club stands, an extensive parts market and the international sales exhibition will also attract visitors to the motor show.