Make / Model Search

Volkswagen Golf

A1 Golf (Mk1) Series 1

1 Mar 1976

For 20 years from the mid-‘50s, Volkswagen was a sales force in the Australian car market, manufacturing the Beetle, Passat and Golf from mostly CKD parts here.

The latter car saved VW worldwide from a Beetle sales slump-led bankruptcy in 1974, and is widely regarded as the father of the modern small car hatchback – although Renault with its 1965-vintage 16 hatch may have something to say about that.

On its debut here in early ’76, the Italian Giugiaro-penned Golf was met with a rapturous reception, winning awards and shaking up the conservative rear-drive sedan-derived small car segment with a bigger version of the Mini/Honda Civic-inspired transverse engine/front-wheel drive mechanical layout.

The Golf’s peppy performance came courtesy of a gutsy 55kW 1.6-litre overhead-cam four-cylinder engine mated to either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearbox. Handling and steering qualities were also considerably above the class average.

For its day, the Golf LS three and five-door models were well equipped, with carpet, a clock, push-button radio and heated rear window.

But its lightweight build and sloppy workmanship marred VW’s hard-won image for solid reliability, forcing its German overseers to cease local manufacture in early 1977.

The new ADR-27A anti-pollution measures significantly reduced the 1.6-litre engine’s responsiveness from July ’76.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Volkswagen models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here