The benchmark of its time –
Clear lines, pure design – the new Volkswagen was a revolution in 1974. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who created a genuine icon. Since then, the Golf has inspired time and time again – the latest generation, the eighth, was designed by Volkswagen Group Chief Designer, Klaus Bischoff, and his team. 46 years passed between the first and the latest model. 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?
“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.
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.”
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.
The idea lives on
Giugiaro’s Golf has done more than just grow up. 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.
A car, the likes of which there had never been before: “The golf came with safety, mobility, sincerity and design for everyone.” The Giugiaro-designed Golf is the pioneering first chapter of a success story, as Bischoff explains: “The Golf shaped Volkswagen design: perfectly proportioned, with a clarity unheard of at the time, and well thought out down to the last detail.” This completely new Volkswagen merited a class of its own. Established, developed, but always a Golf – that is the major challenge facing the design department with each new generation. “The Golf became an icon, but it took time and courage! Durability demands strict discipline,” Bischoff stresses.
The car’s global success shows that the Golf appeals to everyone. The eighth generation is powerful and visionary. “An expression of mankind’s expertise and ability to develop – and of what is possible with 70 years of peace and experience.” Bischoff is proud of the new Golf. And he knows what he is talking about. He has been involved in this successful car as a designer since the Golf 2. He was the man behind the interior of the Golf 5. Since the sixth generation of Golf, when he was Head of Brand Design, he has been responsible for the design of the complete car, including the new Golf also as Head of Volkswagen Group Design. “I believe this Golf is the best ambassador, including for the 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.”
And Bischoff closes with a dynamic gesture towards the youngest member of the family: “It is a reference for today!”