Today we all assume that a Volkswagen Golf is a compact front-wheel-drive – with some exceptions – and front-engine. In the XXI century nobody imagines a world in which the compact most popular of Europe get the motor behind your passenger. But if we move to the end of the sixties, we find a brand new Volkswagen Beetle the car of the German people, at the peak of their production. We find a whole series of decisions that are terrible (which eventually would lead to big successes) Kurt Lotz, the substitute of the great Heinrich Nordhoff, the only director that had led to Volkswagen after the Second World War. And we find ourselves faced with a scenario of uncertainty, the an automotive industry that looks to the future while the first big oil crisis ravaging the world economy.
A series of catastrophic misfortunes would lead Volkswagen to understand that the future was going to opt for a trio of passenger cars with front-wheel drive, and front engine cooling liquid. Products that still retain their name: Polo, Golf and Passat.
By that time it would have been difficult to imagine that the future of Volkswagen ashoot transform to a Beetle with rear engine, and large overhangs, in a shoe box with a front engine and front-wheel drive. But so it was. Those were the years of the birth of Audi, more or less as we know it now, the merger of Auto Union and NSU, the acquisition of the platform of the NSU K70 (who else would market as Volkswagen). The K70 had come to Volkswagen of a rushed way, with a commercial network and workshops taught in air-cooled engines, and in conceptions of the car very different. The K70 did not have a good reputation, especially in regards to their reliability, and their resistance to the passage of time.
In other words, the Volkswagen K70 would be a disaster, which precipitated along with many other reasons, the resignation of Lotz, and the arrival of his successor, Rudolf Leiding, but also to sit the bases of three key products to the story that we all know Volkswagen: Polo, Golf and Passat.
The Golf Giorgetto Giugiaro fascinated by its practicality, in a few years that the industry was looking for products reasonable. The GTI would put the rest to convert the Golf course into an object of desire.
In those years, even Porsche still saw the possibility of a compact rear-engine, or better said, central, Volkswagen decided that his future was passing by the front-engine, liquid cooling, and the progress of Audi products such as the Audi 50 (soon to be else would market as a Pole), carried to Volkswagen to invest all their resources – and even lead to the brand to major losses in the mid 70’s – in the trio of passenger cars with front-wheel drive.
Aware that to achieve a design as captivating as the Beetle, it would be practically impossible, Volkswagen put all the meat on the grill and turned to Giorgetto Giugiaro, trusting that this would be able to create a product that is attractive, but above all practical, in all the senses. The icon Golf would have to be forged, beyond its practicality, with the arrival of versions, so desired at that time, in the present, and secure in the future, as the GTI.
The provision of the motor would help to Giugiaro to create a car extremely compact, with the same battle that a Beetle of the era – what chance? I don’t think so – was significantly shorter. A car that is agile, with a great turning radius, comfortable fit thanks to a scheme suspensions more effective in the rear, which not only allowed a cargo space is wide and accessible, but also that the passengers were afforded a space for the legs and the torso unpublished at the time, even in cars of larger size.
Before he was born the Volkswagen Golf, there were many, including the own Kurt Lotz, who believed that the days of the Beetle had ended. They were right, Europe needed a new “people’s car”. What you might not imagine is that the Beetle would far exceed the 20 million units, mainly thanks to its production and demand in Mexico.
In those years, a Volkswagen Polo, Golf and Passat would still have a fourth companion, by the way, I still also marketed. The Volkswagen Scirocco…