Milestone motoring occasion as Volkswagen celebrates 50 years of Golf model production

On March 29 exactly 50 years ago, Volkswagen started series production of the Golf in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The successor to the legendary Beetle, the Golf would become the most successful Volkswagen and best-selling European car of all time.

Since series production began in 1974, there have been eight generations of the Golf with more than 37 million units of the adored hatchback sold worldwide. Purely in mathematical terms, this means that over 2,000 Golfs have been sold every single day for the past 50 years.

To date, the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg has produced more than 20 million Golfs alone. The other 17 million have been built in other German plants as well as in Belgium, Brazil, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Slovakia and South Africa.

The Golf Mk1 was designed as the successor to the Beetle by Giorgio Giugiaro and Volkswagen Design. A total of 6.9 million units of the first generation of the Golf, including all derivatives, were sold on all continents by 1983.

Today’s Volkswagen chief designer, Andreas Mindt, sums up the most important moment in the history of the Golf: “It was the switch from Golf I to Golf II. Volkswagen’s then chief designer Herbert Schäfer did everything right there.

"He modernised the second Golf but kept the DNA of the first generation. This bridge is extremely important for the Golf’s history. The Golf has always remained a further development of this original model. That is the special thing about the Golf, and the credit for this belongs to Herbert Schäfer.”

From August 1991, Volkswagen kick-started a new era of safety with the Golf Mk3. This was the product line’s first model available with front airbags from 1992.

The fourth generation Golf was presented in 1997. The debut of Electronic Stability Programme (ESP ) made a further contribution to making safety available to the masses. In 2002, Volkswagen also presented the sportiest Golf to date on the basis of the fourth generation: the R32 with a top speed of 250 km/h. In 2003, this was the first Volkswagen to receive a direct shift gearbox (DSG ). The Golf IV was replaced in the same year after 4.9 million units built.

Four more generations of the Golf were introduced between 2003 and 2019, with the Mk6 and Mk7 both winning World Car of the Year titles in 2009 and 2013 respectively.

While Volkswagen's main focus these days is on its fully-electric ID nameplate, the brand has confirmed that the Golf name will continue to live on well into the future. There's an all-electric version scheduled for launch in 2028, including an electric GTI model.


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