VW Golf GTI. From small-scale project to resounding success.


At the 1975 Frankfurt IAA, Volkswagen shows the first real hot-hatch: the VW Golf GTI. It was soon praised for its excellent driving characteristics. These not only invite sporty driving behavior, but can also be excellently combined in everyday use.

Role of Ferdinand Piëch decisive in the “Sport Golf” project

It is hard to imagine, but initially Volkswagen doubts the usefulness and necessity of the VW Golf GTI. Nevertheless, the responsible team for the “Sport-Golf” project is allowed to work on a production of 5.000 GTIs. The engine costs headaches. The project team wants to let the engine breathe through two double Webers. That will be too expensive for a small-scale project. Ferdinand Piech - head of development at Audi- at ​​that time - provides the solution. He invites VW-PR director Anton Konrad to take a ride in the new Audi 80 GTE with a boosted 1.6 power source. Konrad immediately concludes that this is the engine that fits perfectly with the “Sport-Golf” project.

Group sister provides power

The chosen block of concern sister Audi 80 GTE measures 1588 cc. It features Bosch K-Jetronic injection and some other modifications. They are such that 1588 HP is squeezed out of the said 110 cc. The power source also turns out to fit perfectly with the VW Golf GTI in practice. The unladen weight of 810 kilos helps the Volkswagen to accelerate to 9,1 kilometers per hour in 100 seconds.

The rider has to let the power source climb considerably in the revs. The maximum torque of 140 Nm is only fully released at 5000 rpm. The oil supply takes place from an enlarged crankcase to 4 liters. The performance potential must be properly managed. To add luster to the GTI driving characteristics, VW places a torsion stabilizer both at the front and rear and the suspension is shortened.

In addition, the GTI is supplied with the brake booster that is not always common at that time. Ventilated discs at the front are also part of the GTI. Remarkably, he has to make do with rear drum brakes. The biggest criticism was also mentioned with the braking system of the first VW Golf GTI. Nevertheless, the driving characteristics are experienced as excellent.

External differences

The VW Golf GTI also distinguishes itself cosmetically from its base brothers. In the sporty interior, the diamond pattern used on the sports seats to this day is common. Furthermore, the interior has many black accents. In addition to additional gauges (rev counter, cooling water thermometer, oil pressure gauge), the GTI has the typical steering wheel, with a recessed hub. From the outside, the Golf is recognizable by, among other things, a large front spoiler, black horizontal stripes over the sides, black fender extensions, a black-framed rear window, a spoiler on the windscreen wiper, the grille rimmed with red piping and the GTI badges. The VW Golf GTI also has considerably larger tires than its standard brothers: 175 / 70R13.

Project becomes a fixed value in the Golf range

The VW Golf GTI, initially intended as a project, is an immediate hit. The 5.000 planned “trial copies” are sold out in no time. VW decides to include the Golf GTI as a fixed value in the range. From the outset, he puts the existing sporting competition in the shade. According to the international press, it also sets completely new standards in terms of performance and driving experience. In the meantime, the Golf GTI is constantly being refined. In 1978 and 1981 changes took place (better braking system, 5-speed gearbox, different bumpers, different layout, larger and more flexible 1.8 engine). In 1983 - after a production number of 450.000 units - the first generation Golf GTI is sounded out. To this day, the GTI version is undisputed within the Golf range.

Also read:
- VW Golf GTI (1983). The sacred cow of Eelko
- VW Jetta. More than a custom Golf
- The VW Golf Cabriolet by William Mast and the love for open driving
- Revolution in 1976. The VW Golf Diesel
- 1974. The VW Golf by Gijs van Lennep


Leave a Reply
  1. On Discovery's “World Greatest Cars” I recently saw the genesis of the “mother of the GTIs”.
    According to the makers of this program, a number of VW engineers started designing behind the scenes and without the knowledge of the then management. When they had a good prototype, the management, who indeed did not like it at all (just like the Golf anyway) such a fast Golf kid, gave permission for 5000 pieces under the guise: “Kein guter Verkauf dieser 5000 Stück? Schluss damit denn ”.
    Well “that's haben sie gewusst”.

  2. Piëch; how many times has that vd been a judge, and how many more times does he have to? German hierarchy ...
    The marketing = better than the product ……

  3. Volkswagen and Golf. Man man what a fuss about a copy of what was there before. And Volkswagen with their water-cooled engines, what a misery in the first years, they had a head gasket every 10000 turn and no warranty. For example, Volkswagen keeps their image high, lots of words and little news and a lot of problems, such as with the tsi and tsfi engines, and then lose the shamel software with the necessary value for the customer.

  4. Hi …. co car crazy .. haha. of course you are right, there are so many nice other awesome cars. But in this case we are talking about this GTI.

  5. For the first time in my life I am going to use the word “kek” because that is what this primal Golf is! A nice 45-year-old model. young: mein Gott. Unleash young draftsmen and you get a simple city car that looks good in 2020. Such simple lines and yet so beautiful. And yes, I vaguely see a rabbit in it.

  6. Nice car such a Golf GTI I. It is a pity that this car is so praised, while cars that deserve that more, are concealed. Like the first general hothatch: Autobianchi Abarth and the second the Renault 5 Alpine. Both well ahead of the Gulf. The Simca 1100 Ti was also there before and it was even one of the best-selling cars in Europe and in the Netherlands even for the Kadett!

    • The others are rear-engined or mid-engined cars ...
      Either way different from the Golf, which was the first (as far as I'm concerned) 'modern' fast family car.
      Front engine, front-wheel drive, all things that his classmates still have today.

      Nothing wrong with the predecessors, but they were quite different from what we have now ..

      • Maybe check the facts before you post a response? The cars that Henk mentioned above really all have their front engine and front wheel drive and are “hatchbacks” just like the Golf GTI. You're probably confused with the Fiat Abarths and the Simca Rally that had their rear-engined, and the Renault Turbo that had a mid-engined engine. But the Simca 1100 is a hatchback and in general the TI is really seen as the first real “hot hatch”.

        • That's how it is!
          Nice cart, such a Wave I, certainly such a red one.
          What I always dislike is that Volkswagen and / or Volkswagen enthusiasts and people who look no further, pretend that VW is always 'the first' with something or the inventor of something etc. For example, the Golf would be the first compact diesel; not true Peugeot 204/304 were there 10 years earlier, now with electric they pretend to have the 'game changer', while other brands have been busy for years. And there are many more examples.

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