In the fall of 1974, the first dust clouds around the launch of Beetle-successor Golf were erected. The Volkswagen compact hatch was well received by the press. Not only the design is praised. The specific driving characteristics of the front-wheel drive VW are regularly praised. In the fall of 1974, Gijs van Lennep is the regular driver of one of the Golfs in the press fleet: a LS with registration number 56-DF-72. The legendary driver is enthusiastic and shares his findings with the house magazine of Pon: the VW.
Van Lennep does not hide his hymn - of course also used for VW advertising purposes - under chairs or benches. The driver - associated with Porsche in those years - called the Golf a “fully modern car” in terms of technical concept, design and interior. And in 1974 Van Lennep continues its stream of compliments. "The visibility is excellent on all sides, all levers and buttons are easily accessible, the meters are clearly visible and the seats support my body well everywhere." Van Lennep experienced the benefits of the anatomically shaped seats during a trip to Austria especially praised the seating position of the VW. He also indicated that he was "not tired" after 2.000 kilometers. Striking: Van Lennep had in its Golf automatic three-point belts from the Repamatic brand fitted and praises the freedom of movement of this safety-enhancing accessory. Apparently Volkswagen in 1974 is not yet fully aware of the importance of the safety belts of this type. Wolfsburg does fit standard hip belts. This old-fashioned and simple application was strongly criticized by 42 years ago by the historical trade press. The three-point seat belts are gaining popularity in that period.
Van Lennep likes the front-wheel drive
Van Lennep appears to be surprised by the front-wheel drive in the Gulf. He unfolds "never to have been so charmed" by this driving method. The experiences in the compact VW have changed his mind. The car steer fine, precisely and without vibrations in the steering wheel. The Golf is not out of the corner. The steering character is largely neutral. ”Of course, those texts are good for VW. In this way it looks like VW has perfected the front-wheel drive. That deserves a nuance. For years VW has been able to see how the application of front-wheel drive could be optimally deployed, since people were long held on to air-cooled engines and rear-wheel drive. The fact is that this type of drive in the Golf of 1974 works extremely well and does its job exceptionally mature. Finally, Van Lennep also praises 1974's suspension comfort, brakes and self-correcting steering system. The 1.471 cc engine from these LS is also praised by Van Lennep.
Autovisie drove the exact same car
A historic test by Autovisie - made with exactly the same car, before Van Lennep got it - also showed a positive tone. However, the placement of the brake and clutch pedal, the operation of the gearbox and the poor condition of the shock absorbers were closely examined. But still: Van Lennep's satisfied tone was in line with the findings of AutoVisie test editor Nico de Jong. And back to Gijs van Lennep: The words of the legendary Le Mans winner turned out to be prophetic. Because the Golf is still important, albeit seven generations further, within the automobile industry. Because not only the design, but all features evolved and make the Golf still a defining factor in the C-segment.
The Golf with license plate 56-DF-72 no longer exists. But the Golf with license plate 99-DL-27 is still among us. That is the oldest known VW Golf production in the world. And in AMK 05-2016 you can read the story about this very special and unusual Beetle successor.
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