The Golf Mk I developed by Giorgetto Giugiaro had to live up to immensely high expectations: As the successor to the legendary Beetle that had been produced more than 21.5 million times, the Golf Mk I had to continue the success story of the most successful car of all time up to that point. However, the modern and safe drive concept, generous space with a boot lid and folding rear seat backrest, as well as its design, were so convincing that the production of the one millionth Golf could already be celebrated in October 1976.
Back in the day, Volkswagen wrote the following about the new model: “The Golf offers maximum usable space and safety. It has been uncompromisingly geared towards practicality. The low beltline gives drivers a clear overview and the sloping bonnet guarantees that the road right in front of the vehicle is always in view. The low rear window makes reversing very easy.” This all still applies today.
Just like all following Golf generations the first generation was also a reflection of the current technical progress and automotive trends of the time. For example, Volkswagen made the vehicle class more dynamic with the introduction of the first Golf GTI (1976). In 1979 Volkswagen launched the Golf Cabriolet – temporarily the most-sold convertible car in the world – and it was like a breath of fresh air for this vehicle class which was already commonly known as the Golf Klasse at that time. Including all derivatives, such as the Cabriolet and the Jetta (back then with identical design), 6.99 million units were sold in all corners of the world – the Golf had proved to be a worthy successor of the Beetle.
Golf Mk I annual figures:
1974: Debut of the first Golf
1976: 500,000th Golf in March
1,000,000th Golf in October
First Golf GTI
First Golf with diesel engine
1978: 2,000,000th Golf in June
Debut of the US Rabbit version in July
1979: 3,000,000th Golf in September
First Golf Cabriolet
Debut of the Caddy van
1982: 5,000,000th Golf in February
First Golf with turbocharged diesel engine (GTD)
1983: First generation phased out in western Europe
after 6.99 million units had been produced