There were no two ways about it. When, one fine winter morning in a local car park, I serendipitously cornered the pristine first-gen Golf (in the obligatory period-correct red/orange hue, to boot) that I had been regularly seeing puttering about my neighbourhood for the past year, I just had to snap it up. But would there be anything left to say on the subject? That, my friends and CColleagues, would prove more challenging.
I’ve been very fortunate in occasionally finding CCs that were never caught by anyone yet, chiefly by dint of being located in Asia, I guess. But in the present case, we’re talking about a classic Volkswagen – the global car par excellence. Whether it’s a Beetle, a Transporter, a Golf or a Jetta, you’re just as likely to run into one in Europe, the Americas, or the Asia-Pacific region, really.
It seems CC really loves the Mk 1 Golf. Actually, it’s well beyond love – it’s closer to complete subjugation. The Wolfsburg Syndrome. I found at least 30 separate posts on this specific model (full list at the end of this post), not counting the pickup version. That’s a lot for a European car. Heck, it’s a lot for any car. So what’s one more post going to change? Absolutely nothing. But I can’t keep such a lovely car to myself; that would be selfish. And if nothing else, it will prove the truly global nature of this legendary hatchback.
The American versions of that era were decidedly a bit different from the original, and that was never more blatant than on the Golf. It was so different once it went Stateside that VW changed its name to Rabbit. I never quite understood why Volkswagen felt they needed to do that (nor why they picked that particular name) – they quit this nonsense after the first generation.
Given how golf-obsessed the Japanese are (talking about the sport here, to be clear), it would have been stupid of Volkswagen to use the Rabbit name on Japanese market cars, so they did not do that. A Golf is a Golf here. Rodents be damned.
The car that Jim Klein photographed extensively not long ago was an eye-opener. It was a US-built example – externally pretty similar to this one, but the interior was oh so alien to my eyes, as it was entirely red. No German-made golf ever came out like that. The above is much more like it (the aftermarket steering wheel and gearstick notwithstanding).
What is puzzling is how this interior seems to have been put together sometime in the last couple of months, as opposed to 40-plus years ago. But then you could say that about the whole car, and I’ve learned to accept the existence of the meticulously preserved vehicles here. It’s some sort of national sport.
In Europe, I’m pretty sure a Mk 1 Golf this clean would be noticed. Heads would turn. People my age and older would literally fawn over it, take photos, leave messages of admiration and/or offers to buy tucked under the wipers, stuff like that. I’ve not seen such behaviour here – and I’ve seen this car in motion and parked several times as previously stated. It never seemed like anyone else took a blind bit of notice. Maybe demonstrative displays of admiration are frowned upon here (they’re not).
It’s incredible how influential this car was on automotive design. It also had a huge impact on Japanese cars, even if Japanese people didn’t necessarily realize it at the time. I’m not sure how many were sold here back in the ‘70s: I see quite a few second-generation Golfs about the streets here, but this is the only non-convertible Mk1 I’ve encountered so far.
Unfortunately, this one has the bigger wraparound bumpers, which arrived in late 1978. Not as nice as the smaller 1974-78 units, but still preferable to the ludicrous railway sleepers they had to affix on the ends of US-bound Rabbits. I’m not sure when the North American versions got a rear-end restyle, but the Euro versions got bigger rear lights in August 1980. Well, there was one exception: given that the cabriolet joined the range in MY 1979, that version kept the small rear lights until the end of its life in 1993, i.e. well beyond that of the saloon.
I hope this completely superfluous post won’t meet with too much CCondemnation. I couldn’t help but photograph this lovely specimen and share it on this Golf-crazed website of ours. I promise to go back to writing about obscure JDM oddities, unlikely American finds and unusual European exotics as soon as. Just let me have this one round of Golf.
CC Outtake: 1986 VW Golf Cabriolet, by Yohai71
COAL: 1978 VW Rabbit Diesel – Bunny Tales, by Len Peters
COAL: 1979 VW Rabbit Diesel: You Can’t Get There From Here, by Heath McClure
COAL: 1984 VW Rabbit Diesel: Volkswagen (and Heath) Does It Again!, by Heath McClure
COAL: The Brougham Antidote, Part 3 – Fiat 128 & VW RabbitBy Kevin Martin
COAL: 1978 VW Rabbit – Mine Was a Good One, by Just Plain Joe
Cars Of A Lifetime: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit – Der Edelkampfwagen, by JunkHarvester
Cars Of A Lifetime: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI -The Black Death, by JunkHarvester