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23 June 2011

History of the Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • Written by Aitor

Although the Golf GTI was officially born 35 years ago, his story begins long before course unofficially. A group of enthusiasts more sporty Volkswagen launched the "Sport-Golf" (Sports Golf) project from 1974, initially in secret. Project leaders were Anton Konrad, former Head of Public Relations, and Alfons Löwenberg, an engineer with gasoline in their veins.


Alfons Löwenberg recalls: "The March 18 1974 I sent an internal memo to my colleagues in R & D, as usual me, considering the possibility of creating a new sporty Golf model for younger people." The proposed Löwenberg found support among his colleagues, which "is expected", according to Anton Konrad: "Back then, Volkswagen was fully concentrated on promoting its new range of models, therefore, the brave Löwenberg project did not wide acceptance. " This did not discourage far Löwenberg followed to develop the future GTI chassis in hiding ...

Preliminary phase

The engineer installs a Weber carburetor double body in 1.6 liter engine Golf, integrated into one body approved sport exhaust and lowers the chassis considerably. Comfort is practically nil. The "artifact" of Löwenberg created a sensation in the Volkswagen test track in Ehra-Lessien, however, is too risky and invites you to Prof. Dr. Ernst Fiala, Head of the R & D, to circle aboard the noisy car. Löwenberg recalls: "The result was disastrous, roaring much or more than the exhaust of a racing car. 35 years after smile to remember this moment. " "It is impossible to drive this car!" Was the reaction of Fiala. From overnight, the project was in danger of failing. "We had to quickly change strategy," says Anton Konrad. For this reason, 1974 decides to convene a meeting with some of his colleagues: Hermann Hablitzel (Development Manager and Project Manager of Golf), Jürgen Adler (Head of Interior), Herbert Schuster (Head of department tests), Horst- Dieter Schwittlinsky (Marketing Department) and Alfons Löwenberg. Konrad is aware that if he wanted to present the new model to fruition, it was necessary to keep the conversations on the project outside the company and the ideal framework for this would be her living room.
Of course, think more than one, now comes the story of the meeting with tapas and beer! Anton Konrad insists correct version of events: "Not so far, the meeting was held sipping coffee and enjoying a rich cake made by my wife."

The beginning

The "Sport-Golf" project to consolidate itself every day. The engineers are very clear: the aim is to design a comfortable, sporty and versatile car that has nothing to do with the loud racing sports. Initially it was agreed to make a special edition of 5.000 units that form the basis of approval for admission in motor sport. "A too low to make a profit with your marketing after subtracting manufacturing costs," recalls Horst-Dieter Schwittlinsky. "We were very clear," analyzes Herbert Schuster, "that the only way to make the GTI project was to reduce manufacturing costs using standard parts." The result of that meeting was the creation of a magic recipe that knew so well as the guests exquisite cake served that evening. The team begins to break through thick and thin.

The ingredients

In order to save weight and costs, the engineers decided to use the basic version of the two-door Golf GTI basis and adapt the chassis to the additional engine power. Herbert Schuster said: "We equip the front axle with a stabilizer, brake calipers and larger brake disc with internal ventilation. Shortened suspension springs in millimeters and cushions 20 tailored specifically lowered the Golf discreetly. The modification of the chassis was provided to future Golf great stability at high speed and ride comfort at high speeds. " Brings Recaro sports seats. The sports steering wheel is adopted Scirocco TS which was recently released. The design department takes Brainstorming to determine the look that would give the exterior of the new model. "At that time, the red-black combination seemed very appropriate for a sports car," said Gunhild Liljequist, antique designer fabrics for upholstery, door trim and interior equipment Golf GTI and later also designer Special versions of Volkswagen. Precisely this was the designer who created the legendary tartan upholstery. One of his colleagues devised the red trim grill, she in turn had the idea knob shifter shaped golf ball.

And motor

Everything was going well, however, still had to solve a problem: "The instruction of the art of body double Weber carburetors, and all for an edition of only 5.000 cars - A completely absurd idea," says Anton Konrad that in the midst of the project, receives an invitation from the former head of R & D area for Audi, Ferdinand Piëch, to visit him in Ingolstadt. Says Anton Konrad: "Mr. Piech introduced me the new Audi 80 GTE and asked if I wanted to try. Without hesitation I said yes. " Anton Konrad experience the powerful engine 110 CV being impressed; knows instantly that he had found the engine that was looking for his "project." Konrad Anton Piëch tells his idea and he decides to grant spontaneously Volkswagen 5.000 GTE engines for the new model Golf. "This was the turning point," adds Anton Konrad, "we knew that the car was officially complete and ready for submission to the management."


Konrad Anton confirms the President of the Board of Directors, Toni Schmücker, which until now seemed to be a secret: the existence of "Sport-Golf" project then subjected to vote. The rest is history: the 5.000 units planned, initially, for the Golf GTI has become today almost 2 million ...

Viewed 22181 times Last modified on Wednesday, April 16 2014 18: 25
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