Many though that it simply could not be done. The Beetle had been one of the world’s best-selling and best-loved cars for over 30 years, and it was on the way out, to graceful and well-deserved retirement. What could possibly take up the mantle? With the 1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1, VW not only hit the nail right on the head in terms of replacing the famous small car, but it created a whole new segment that previously did not exist: the muscular little hatchback. Available in three and five-door models, the early Golf GTI revolutionized the industry with a low-cost, fun to drive small sports car.
The original Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 was powered by a punchy little 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder engine, that developed 110 horsepower. On paper, the performance was adequate, with a 0-60 acceleration time of 9 seconds and a top speed of 112 mph. In reality, these numbers belie the fact that the GTI was incredibly fun to drive, and with its discreet yet appealing styling, it was a real crowd favorite – for the crowds of people that bought one!
The 1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 managed not only to successfully replace the aging yet popular Beetle, but also enabled the company to go to places it never had imagined.