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VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I've had 4.

First was a red Mk1 1300, which had been modified to look like GTi with the double headlights. Only 4 gears but was my second car after the wreck I bought to be able to get to my first job died after 6 months nearly killing me in the process. That one ate two water pumps and had a problem with the starter that went on for months but was a great car.

Next was a dark blue GTi, the last of the Mk1 with the 1800 Cc mechanical fuel injection engine. And 5 gears. My first car that would accelerate up a hill on the motorway. Needed tuning every 9000 miles and ate two fuel pumps, but went like stink at the time and I loved it. Returning from abroad with a wife and then baby it had to go as it only had two doors and had become unreliable, but did 110,000 miles. Brakes were terrible, mainly because they were designed for LHD and the RHD modification was a weird linkage system. Also no power steering so low speed maneuvering was a test of muscle power with the wider tyres it had.

Got a Mk3 GTi which was bigger, but never really hit the spot. Bit too big and wallowly.

A couple of decades of "Family" MPVs and I'm now the owner of Black Golf R. By far the fastest and best car I've ever owned. 6 gears, 4WD, 300bhp and corners like it's on rails.

So I'm definitely a Golf man.

Actually sat in a Mk1 a couple of years ago and it was tiny. Controls very small and plasticky. Amazing what we put up with back then.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I had a 1986 VW Rabbit that I bought used in 1990. It was good enough to drive to work and to leave at the airport. It had 125,000 miles on the speedometer, but it was broke so who knows. I give it to our middle son in 1992, the same year my wife bought a VW Fox. Our son drove the Rabbit for another nine years, finally trading it in on a 2001 GTI.

In 1994 we bought our youngest son a fully restored 1974 Karmen Ghia.

September 1994 (Minolta X-GM, 35mm)

He promised to make the payments but than two months later, he wreaked it.

November 1994 (Minolta X-GM, 50mm)

Because it was an aluminum body the insurance company totaled it. However, since it was considered a classic vehicle when I insured it, the final payout was about $1,500 more than what I had paid for it. But it was a great car to drive and we were talking about making some changes to the totally stock engine to give it more power, worthy of its looks.

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

My cars were always British sports cars... love-hate relationship.

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates


RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I had a 1991 VW Golf.
I had a lot of trouble with it, frankly. It wasn't the right car for me, because I drive on highways a lot.
Ultimately this balky vehicle redeemed itself. It gave its life saving my family from a GMC Yukon that ran a stop sign and smothered the front end:

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I had the US version 1984 GTI. It lacked any real fit and finish; air leaked in at door seams and the hard plastic interior components rattled. But the engine and 5 speed transmission coupled with the stiff suspension, sticky Pirelli tires (considered nearly low profile sidewalls for '84) made for a wonderful pocket rocket. I was amazed over the 16 years I owned the car how basic and spartan VW automotive design was: when the 1984 era plastic interior components would break or wear out, I was able to go to an auto salvage yard and buy the very sturdy and flex-free metal interior door actuator handles and sunroof handle from a 1960s square back and install them directly into my 84 GTI to replace the broken plastic door actuator handles. Same for the window cranks - no electric windows in that little beast! The hole patterns were exactly the same; so were the finger cup profile, depth and mounting hole position and size. VW kept their manufacturing process lean and changed only the material for a lower cost plastic on the newer cars. I donated the car in 2000/2001 to a high school when it had 222,000 miles on the odometer. Major maintenance items over the time I owned it: a few alternators, a couple of starters, and a few water pumps (and timing belts changed at the same time), and one clutch at about 180,000, and two sets of half shafts for CV joint replacement. I wish I had kept that car just for the fun factor!

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

Brian, sounds like mine. What engine did they put in the US versions?

The suspension was rather teeth jarring at times but gave it a good feel when you decided to push it.

Agree about the plastic feel.

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Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

LittleInch the model I had, had a 1.8 liter engine. The dealer paperwork said the engine and transmission were assembled in Germany, with the car body made and assembled with the engine and guts in Pennsylvania. A Borg Warner A/C unit was installed instead of a Bosch unit like cars straight from Germany. The BW A/C unit made some maintenance instructions in the early Chilton guides inaccurate! 😀.

I forgot one other major replacement - one radiator. Oh yeah . . . and one set of motor mounts and one Cat replacement. It ran great and shifted perfect when I donated it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday


A mk1 or a mk2?
If you had A/C might have been a mk2. the Mk1 didn't even have power steering....


or a mk2? The USA version seems to come with square headlights, but the European version looked very simialr to the Mk1

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Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I must have had a US version Mk1 since it did not have power steering. It was white and just like your top photo, except the headlights were 4" × 5"? rectangular sealed beams. Your history of your four models is great. And reminds me I did have a fuel pump die on me in my GTI. I was out in morning rush hour traffic and four lanes from the right hand shoulder when the engine began to kick and falter. Luckily due to the car's relatively small size and quick steering, I was able to angle to the side to get out of traffic and get a tow truck. The in-tank pump tech was pretty reliable working with the K-tronic fuel injection - as long as the injector o-rings were good!

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I paid some little bit extra to have working 'wing' windows up front. The wings, sunroof, and an option for A/C were about the only choices for factory options! 😀 The exhaust note and short ratio gearbox made the car quite a character for the era.

This guy's review is the model I had:


RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

That's a Mk1 alright and the write up was very accurate.

The first fuel pump died on the M1 right next to an intersection and I nearly died, with the car barely able to do 20 mph as trucks passed me on both sides. Cost me a fortune I didn't have as the Fuel tank needed replacing as rust has blocked the fuel outlet. That needed the rear suspension dropped.

When you heard the fuel pump start to buzz a bit you knew it was on its way out and the second one died on a roundabout in rush hour. I was not popular.

At least your brakes were prob better. I had to put competition/ racing pads in which were much better but only once you had warmed them up.

But in it's day it was a great car. I loved it.

The R I have now is just bonkers in comparison but is a real low flash car. No red stripes or obvious things to mark it out other than four exhaust pipes. With all the electronics you don't spin wheels or lock up or slide, it's just phenomenal. It has a bit of a detente on the accelerator and when you floor it is like you've hit the after burners. And still takes 4 people and luggage.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

Quote (LittleInch)

and the second one died on a roundabout in rush hour. I was not popular.

Yeah, bad place to be stalled out! 😀

I had to look up the specs on the Golf R - you certainly do have an updated pocket rocket! Gotta love a car that can corner as well as go fast!

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

And that was in the days of no mobile phones so had to skulk around trying to find a payphone to call the tow truck with this immobile car blocking two lanes of traffic. Think I drove it on the starter motor 15 yards just to move it out of the way. You could do things like like that in those days.

Yes. I've not really explored the outer ranges of cornering as it scares me too much, but when you want some go it goes.... Also stops very well.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: VW Golf - happy 50th birthday

I never owned a Golf, but I did own a close cousin, 2006 Jetta TDI. Bought new, sold many years later with 430 000 km on it. Good car.

Main reason for Jetta rather than Golf was that in the Canadian market at the time, VW did not sell the Golf with the TDI engine. They did so a few years later, and my father's last car was a 2011 Golf TDI. My sister inherited that one, and then it became part of the "dieselgate" scandal and VW bought it back.

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