Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1
In the mid-70s, Volkswagen was ready to introduce a whole new line of models including the Polo, Golf and Passat to shed the dull, economy-car image of the Beetle. All their new cars featured modern designs and engineering, so what would be the best way to get the attention of the motoring world than by producing a performance model?
So, in 1975, along with the regular Golf lineup, VW presented the GTI version. The Golf GTI featured a three-door hatchback body style, sporty exterior details, a 1.6-liter fuel-injected four-cylinder engine and a 110-to-115-HP power output. With the 0 to 60 time of nine seconds, improved handling and cool looks, the GTI was an immediate hit with car buyers.
This was especially true in the late ’70s when performance levels were low due to tightening regulations. The power went to the front wheels, so the GTI was one of the first models that proved front-wheel-drive cars could be performance models. In America, the Golf GTI could outrun those mid-spec Camaros or Mustangs, making it one of the best performance cars you could buy.
The popularity of the GTI influenced other manufacturers and even coined the term, “hot hatch.” Interestingly, Volkswagen wasn’t the first to produce such a car or even the first company to use “GTI” as a model designation. However, they were the first to market it globally. They made it so popular, it started a trend that’s still relevant today. The Golf GTI Mk1 also started a breed of fast Golfs they sold in the millions during their 42 years on the market.