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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.
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.
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