Every decade or so a really great car comes along. In the Seventies it was the Golf. Like the Beetle before it, the Golf was designed to make inroads into world markets; yet while the Beetle evolved into the perfect consumer product, the Golf was planned that way. The idea of a “hot” Golf was not part of the grand plan.
It was the brainchild of a group of enthusiastic Volkswagen engineers who worked evenings and weekends, impressing VW’s board so much that the GTi became an official project in May 1975. Despite its youth, the GTi is as much of a classic as any Ferrari. Its claim to fame is that it spawned a traffic jam of imitators and brought an affordable cocktail of performance, handling, and reliability to the mass-market buyer.
Few other cars have penetrated the suburban psyche as deeply as the original Golf GTi, and fewer still have had greatness thrust upon them at such an early age.
GTi suspension was lower and firmer than the standard Golf, with wider tires and wheels. Front disc brakes were ventilated, but keeping standard drums at the rear was a mistake— early Golfs were very disinclined to stop.
The Mk I Golf was the first of the Seventies’ hatchbacks.
Much admired cross-spoke BBS alloy wheels were both a factory-equipped and aftermarket option.
Capable of 150,000 miles (240,000 km) in its stride, the 1588cc four-cylinder power unit breathed through Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection.
Factory spec Golfs were understated, with just a GTi badge and a thin red stripe around the grille.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk 1 (1976–83)
BODY STYLE Three-door five-seater hatchback.
CONSTRUCTION All steel/monocoque body.
ENGINES Four-cylinder 1588cc/1781cc.
POWER OUTPUT 110–112 bhp at 6100 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Four-or-five-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Front: independent; Rear: semi-independent trailing arm.
BRAKES Front discs, rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 111 mph (179 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8.7 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 18.2 sec
A.F.C. 29 mpg (10.3 km/l)