Editor’s note: Today’s article is a revised version of a piece first published on DTW in 2017.
In 1974, a faltering Volkswagen crossed its metaphorical fingers and took a risky punt into the unknown. The Golf was by no means an avant garde product by early seventies standards, but nonetheless arrived slightly left of market-centricity. And while it would be ludicrous now to suggest that it was to prove anything but a commercial success, there was no certainty at the time that this would be the case. In fact, it really wasn’t until its second permutation that the Golf truly began to dominate the sector it would later define.
Like most overnight successes the Golf’s rise to prominence masks innumerable false avenues and bitter reversals along the way, but today, its ubiquity makes for a slightly nebulous subject to pin and mount. After all, the Golf is a such an entity in itself, what is left to Continue reading “CAR is a Four Letter Word.”
A rogue sporty Beetle, a not entirely successful Asian alliance and an aborted attempt at conquering the WRC crown: meet three Volkswagen oddities.
Mach 1: the word will produce a glint in the eye of muscle car aficionados, reminded as they are of manly Mustangs in lively hues powered by a good old fashioned big V8 burbling on premium leaded fuel instead of the watered down stuff that passes for gasoline nowadays.
There was however another Mach 1 which preceded the first so-badged Mustang by four years, and the vehicle first adorned with the moniker could almost not have been further removed from the Mustang in any knowable dimension; meet the Volkswagen Beetle Mach 1.
The jury may still be out on the Mk8, but most commentators would adjudge the 1991 Mk3 to be the poorest articulation of the qualities that made the Golf into an automotive phenomenon over the past five decades.
The 1974 Volkswagen Golf Mk1 was a simply brilliant car. In retrospect, however, it appears to be something of an outlier in the eight-generation history of the model. When one thinks of Volkswagen’s C-segment stalwart, the characteristics that come immediately to mind are the high quality of its design, engineering(1) and build, its sober, timeless styling that eschews fads and fashion, good (but not outstanding) dynamics and most importantly, the quiet self-confidence, perhaps even bordering on smugness, it instils in its owners. Golf ownership says: “I could have spent more, but why would I?”
Unburdened by any of this later baggage, the Golf Mk1 was more Italianate than Germanic in character, with its sharp Giugiaro styling, lightweight construction, and peppy and eager (if noisy) engines, to the extent that nobody would have been surprised if it had emerged as Fiat’s hatchback replacement for the 128(2). It also shared another less desirable Italian characteristic, a propensity to Continue reading “A Poor Round”